Friday, February 3, 2017

Kozinski on the Rejection of Imperial, Modern Culture

The “earthly city” has always been opposed to true religion, and what Catholics, in America especially, need to grasp is that the culture in the West is neither liberal, tolerant, rationalist, materialist, religiously neutral, enlightened, morally progressive, secular, nor non-violent. At the heart of culture, pace the Enlightenment, is always the Sacred, and at the heart of our post-9/11 imperial culture is a terrifying sacred power in mortal conflict with the injunctions of compassionate belief. As for the primary Girardian directive for Catholics: it is nothing else than the wholehearted rejection of the imperial culture at the heart of today’s City of Man, one that has eclipsed the City of God through its counterfeit imitation of it. What this rejection looks like when translated into Catholic teaching and everyday life, as well what a blueprint for building an anti-imperial culture in the name of love might look like, are matters that need urgently to be addressed by Church leaders, lay and clergy.


Source: Thaddeus J. Kozinski, "René Girard and Modernity’s Apocalypse," in New Directions for Catholic Social And Political Research: Humanity vs. Hyper-Modernity, ed. by Guido Giacomo Preparata (New York: Palgrave Macmillam, 2016), ch. 6.


Comment: Perhaps the blueprint is found in Sacred Tradition.

Archbishop Francisco Javier Martinez on Secular Society and Its Monsters

The secular society lives in daily violence, violence with reality. This violence shows that nihilism cannot and does not correspond to our being. But it shows also, in a very concrete way, how the secular society annihilates itself by engendering the very monsters that terrify it most and that it itself hates most: the twin monsters of fundamentalism and terrorism.


Source: Francisco Javier Martinez, "Beyond Secular Reason," Communio 31/4 (Winter 2004), accessed February 2, 2017,

Girardian Analysis of Modernity's Katechons

The so called peace-making state, the free market, international law and transnational organizations, a commercialist, utilitarian culture of mass-produced consumer products, technology, science, the privatization of religious belief and practice, the declaration of and enforcement of human rights and the dignity of every human, the universal concern for victims institutionalized in law and government—all of these katechons, according to modernity, prove modernity’s moral superiority, even its more perfectly Christian character; for, these institutions and practices require no scapegoats: no human sacrifices, on the one hand, no suppression of religious freedom, on the other—and they have brought about an unprecedented material prosperity and moral consciousness to boot(!).

However, with a Girardian lens, things look less rosy: the prolongation and escalation of violence and millions upon millions of human sacrificial victims—the unborn, the elderly, the handicapped, the poor and middle-class in the first world, the vast majority in the third world; religiously, culturally, and intellectually starved souls; the normalization of political propaganda; pathological violence and plasticized sex in media and entertainment; massive private indebtedness; masses of brave new world soma addicts (in forms Huxley couldn’t have dreamt of), the so-called collateral damage of millions of innocents in perpetual, epic-scale wars; the perpetual fear and terror of the national security and surveillance state; wars and rumors of wars; the renewed threat of nuclear Armageddon.


Source: Thaddeus J. Kozinski, "René Girard and Modernity’s Apocalypse," in New Directions for Catholic Social And Political Research: Humanity vs. Hyper-Modernity, ed. by Guido Giacomo Preparata (New York: Palgrave Macmillam, 2016), ch. 6.

Repost: Thaddeus J. Kozinski on "René Girard and Modernity’s Apocalypse"

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Rene Girard on the False Promise of Modernity

Great novelists, however, such as Stendhal, Proust, and Dostoyevsky, show the truly negative nature of the modern project: “In the eyes of the novelist, modem man suffers, not because he refuses to become fully and totally aware of his autonomy, but because that awareness, whether real or illusory, is for him intolerable.”[1] But they also show that modern man is very good at deceiving himself. He sees that the promise of autonomous fullness is not realized in himself, but he continually finds others in whom he suspects it is being fulfilled:
Each individual discovers in the solitude of his consciousness that the promise is false but no one is able to universalize his experience. The promise remains true for Others. Each one believes that he alone is excluded from the divine inheritance and takes pains to hide this misfortune. Original sin is no longer the truth about all men as in a religious universe but rather each individual’s secret…[2]
The contrast between the pre-modern “religious universe,” and modernity is important. In more Christian times, it could be recognized that the emptiness and misery of man were the products of original sin, and thus common to all, but in the age of secular humanism the experience of nothingness is a shameful secret. We can see here a reason for the infinity of desire that Girard does not make fully explicit: desire (especially in its modern form) is the desire to be God. God is therefore the ultimate rival, and desire includes an implicit hatred of God.



1. René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, trans. Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1965), 159

2. Ibid., 57.


Source: Edmund Waldstein, "Desire, Deicide, and Atonement: René Girard and St. Thomas Aquinas," Sancrucensis blog, May 12, 2016, accessed February 2, 2017, 

Edmund Waldstein on the Egalitarian Interpretation of Active Participation

The principle of active participation, which the Second Vatican Council was so right to insist on, has been nearly everywhere misunderstood and misapplied. This is because in modern democracy participation in the political order is understood in terms of being one of the rulers. We see this understanding of participation taken over so that active participation in the life of the Parish or Diocese is understood as participation in “pastoral councils” and similar tom-foolery. In the Sacred Liturgy active participation is taken to mandate all kinds of laypeople messing around in the sanctuary as lectors, ‘introducers,’ extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, etc. This banal caricature of true active participation and the priesthood of the faithful persists despite all efforts of the Magisterium to correct it. The problem is that when political government ceases to be what it should be the “wonderful resemblance” that it bears to God’s government, of which Pope Leo XIII speaks, is destroyed. But grace builds on nature and men ought to be disposed to the higher by the lower.


Source: Thomas P. Waldstein, "Unity, Order, and Peace: On the Superiority of Traditional Hereditary Monarchy over Modern Liberal Democracy" (bachelor's thesis, Thomas Aquinas College, 2006), 36.


Comment: Hence we see that our political-social context can sometimes unconsciously color our philosophical and theological conceptions. A hierarchical society would preserve a proper sense of active participation; an egalitarian society would corrupt it.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Repost: Peter Kwasniewski on "A Defense of Liturgy as 'Carolingian Court Ritual'"

Source: Peter Kwansiewski, "A Defense of Liturgy as 'Carolingian Court Ritual'," New Liturgical Movement blog, January 30, 2017, accessed February 2, 2017,

Monarchy or princedom, the oldest and arguably the most natural form of political organization, has been a far more consistent part of the human experience and of the formation of Christian culture than the democratic/egalitarian ideology of “self-evident truths” of which we have persuaded ourselves in modernity. Regardless of whether we think democracy can be made to work or not, in the realm of supernatural mysteries, Christianity is purely and entirely monarchical. Against the backdrop of the Old Testament revelation of God as the (one and only) great King over all the earth, and of the people of Israel as a kingly, priestly people ruled by prophets, judges, and ultimately the Davidic dynasty, we profess that Christ is our King, the Lord of heaven and earth, of all times, past, present, and to come, of this world and of the next; that His angels and saints are His royal court; that He deigns to call us His friends and brethren, yes, but such that we know that we never cease to be His servants. We long for His courts and tabernacles. The thick “politicism” of the imagery points to the real, sovereign polity of the Mystical Body, subsisting in the Roman Catholic Church as a societas perfecta and altogether perfected in the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the great King. Our ecclesial sacrifice, the Most Holy Eucharist, is a kingly and high-priestly oblation.

Consequently, the modern fixation on democracy, as if it were the best or the only good form of government, not only does not abolish our need for the language of kingship and courtliness, but makes it far more needed than ever before, in order to impress on our minds the way things really stand in the definitive reality of the kingdom of God. All of our democratic and egalitarian experiments will fall away at the end of time, as the glorious reign of Christ the King is revealed to all the nations, and those who have submitted to His gentle yoke will be raised to eternal life in glorified flesh while those who have rejected Him will wail and gnash their teeth, condemned to eternal fire in unending torment. The liturgy should reflect the truth of God — His absolute monarchy, His paternal rule, His hierarchical court in the unspeakable splendor of the heavenly Jerusalem — and not the passing truths of our modern provisional political organizations, or, in other words, that continual redesign of the liturgy, in language and ceremonies and ministers, for which the noveltymongers [sic] are agitating.


One of the greatest blessings of the traditional Latin liturgy, therefore, is its pure, open, unembarrassed representation of the court of the great King of all the earth, in all of its prayers, rubrics, and ceremonies, and in the magnificent art forms that emerged from its “courtliness” and reinforce the “drama” of the holy mysteries of our redemption. We find in it an uncompromised and unapologetic expression of the divine monarchy as it radiates through the panoply of sacred symbols and the ecclesiastical hierarchy endowed with fatherly potency. We are wrapped in an atmosphere of spiritual aristocracy, namely, the world of the saints, who reign with Christ as his vicegerents. After all, this liturgy was not produced by a committee of experts, as laws and bills are manufactured in contemporary parliaments or congresses, but emerged slowly over time from innumerable currents of doctrine and devotion espoused by an elite of pious souls and assimilated by God-fearing laity. The traditional liturgy, in short, challenges everything modern man has come to take for granted, everything he has persuaded himself to believe “self-evident.” It throws down the gauntlet to our modern assumptions, routines, and expectations. It is an enormous challenge to our collective social hubris and cultural pride. This is why it is hated and feared by those who embrace modernity as a primary value, giving value to all else; this is why it is passionately loved by those who recognize in it a call to a higher, deeper, and better way of thinking, loving, and living.

Fr. Anthony Ruff on the Intentions of Vatican II

From Fr. Ruff's post:

As soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted. [Cdl. Robert Sarah;]
Of all the arguments for ad orientem – and there are valid arguments out there – this isn’t one of them. Anytime anyone makes a claim about what the Council Fathers wanted, alarm bells should go off for all of us. The discussions of the fathers in the aula, and the things said in the documents they approved, witness a range of views. One has to be cautious about suggesting that all the fathers wanted anything unless the evidence supports the claim.

Furthermore, the Council fathers didn’t get into all the specifics of the reform of the liturgy. They left most of that to a future commission under the pope. The fathers approved a major paradigm shift – from liturgy as Carolingian clerical drama to liturgy as act of all the people – and then left open what the implications of that shift would be. No doubt some or many of the fathers didn’t yet have in mind all the possible implications of the paradigm shift. Nor did they need to.

Source: Anthony Ruff, "Cardinal Sarah on Mass Not Facing the People," PrayTell blog, May 26, 2016, accessed February 2, 2017,


Fr. Ruff, it should be noted, is somewhat well-known for his liberal views.


Father says elsewhere (

It’s time to say it: the so-called “hermeneutic of continuity” proposed by Benedict XVI in 2005 has outlived its usefulness as a tool for understanding the Second Vatican Council. Its proponents, who frequently carry the proposal further than Benedict ever did, have shown in abundance that the proposal obscures rather than clarifies the paradigm shifts clearly called for by the Council. For liturgy, the paradigm shift is from Carolingian clericalized sacred drama to an act of the entire community. Just let the full weight of that shift sink in, including all the possible implications for liturgical practice. There is a reason why the Fathers of Vatican II decided that the 1962 missal would not remain in use in its unreformed state.

Source: Anthony Ruff, "The Worst Reasons for Ad Orientem," PrayTell blog, August 18, 2016, accessed February 2, 2017,


Food for thought...

Commentary on "Is Contemporary Christianity a Suicide Cult?"

My commentary on the following essay:


This is a very interesting essay, and I agree largely with its analysis of the dire social problems of modern, Western Christianity. I agree with the trajectory that the author notes, namely, this form of liberal Christianity will biologically kill itself within a few generations.

Perhaps I am reading too much into the author's intent; perhaps the author intends simply to point out the unfortunate social/biological consequence of this form of Christianity, but I can't help but notice that the principal criticism it gives to contemporary ecclesiastical leaders is that they "have bad genes for self-preservation."

This analysis, without further qualification, implies a reduction of religion to its evolutionary usefulness. If it does not transcend this pragmatist analysis, then the alternative proposed (as in "ethno-religion") is only another mountain of the modern political topography, one more option on the smorgasbord of liberalism, placing the individual above all.

So very likely contemporary Christianity is a suicide cult, and perhaps the real reason is that it has lost its moorings in the supernatural reality that started it.


Source: Alfred W. Clark, "Is Contemporary Christianity a Suicide Cult?," Occam's Razor blog, January 28, 2017, accessed February 2, 2017,

Commentary on "What Is Identitarian Religion?"

My commentary below on an interesting essay:


The article begins by recounting that an internet friend of the author, a self-identified "Trad Catholic," has left the Church because of the liberalism of his parish priest. Whatever the true details of this story, the very act of apostasy reveals that "Trad Catholicism" was merely a political label or at best a self-imposed identity, rooted only in the lightest sense in supernatural Faith, for there are few sins greater than deliberate apostasy.

The article notes the modern evolution of Christianity in its two main forms, one outside the West (especially in Africa and South America) and one within the West, which is dominated by "Cultural Marxism." These observations are astute and as far as I can tell accurate.

The author cites the well-known biologist E.O. Wilson's comment that religion is adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint, providing multiple benefits to the social cohesion of a group. Modern Western Christianity is "maladaptive" because of its complete assimilation and equation with Marxism through the philosophical impetus of the Hegelian dialectic and the principle of immanence, by which man judges all values himself.

The conclusion: the author sounds a return to "ethno-religion," the combination of an acceptance of the hard reality of "race" in defining social groups as well as religion. The historical support is that the vast majority of humans have fallen within this group. I am not sure of the legitimacy of this "fact," but let's assume it is true for the moment.

The author continues with this line of reasoning: "But the question here is whether competing forms of Western identitarian religion can get along. Within the larger framework of Western identitarian religion, can, for example, Identitarian Christians and Pagans coexist. I don’t see why not."

And even further: "And what of identitarian atheists and agnostics? Can they co-exist with identitarian religion? Since identitarian religion is not at odds with nature, and thus not at odds with evolutionary science, it does not threaten secular knowledge but offers itself as an additional societal glue." (Source)

Something has gone terribly wrong from the perspective of objective truth. The core of Christianity is faith in a supernatural reality, independent of any construction of the mind or for the purposes of any social cohesion or evolutionary fitness. God exists as a Trinity, and this Trinity has revealed itself specifically in Jesus Christ, God and man. If this is true, paganism is false. If this is true, atheism and agnosticism are false. These facts have political and social consequences, particularly in human relations and the ordering of society.

But the point of the article is not a return to true religion, but it merely adapts religion under the broader category of pragmatic truth, the truth that works, according to the pragmatists. This conception of truth follows immediately from the philosophical acceptance of evolution and Hegelianism. Religion is seen as useful and perfectly compatible with atheists/agnostics/neo-pagans in a libertarian commune and hence is stripped of the absolutely core question: is it true? Regardless of its social usefulness, is it true beyond the feelings, beliefs, and perceptions of finite minds?

Hence we return to the so-called "Trad Catholic." This person did not sufficiently consider the fundamental question: is it true? And therefore, he did not beg God for the grace of perseverance because to him, whatever the details of his belief may have been, we can at least say they were not sufficiently rooted in reality, supernatural reality.

This brings us, at last, to the irony of this article. In condemning cultural Marxism, the article itself adopts the very philosophical foundations that make Marxism possible: philosophical evolution, Hegelianism, immanentism, and all the trappings of Enlightenment epistemology. How, then, can "ethno-religion" be a true solution to the problem of the decline of religion in the modern West?

The answer: it cannot.


Source: Alfred W. Clark, "What Is Identitarian Religion?," Radix blog, March 24, 2014, accessed February 2, 2017,