Skip to comments.Rebellion of the Crunchy Con Catholics?
Posted on 05/10/2006 5:48:08 PM PDT by sionnsar
A great deal of attention has been given to Ron Drehers announcement he is considering a move to Eastern Orthodoxy. Dreher, a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, gives as reasons for his possible change of ecclesial allegiances the fallout from the sex scandal, the lack of any real sense of Catholic belief and practice at the parish level and concern for his childrens spiritual wellbeing. Al Kimmel gives a fairly strong critique of Drehers possible move at Pontiications and it is fine as it goes but I believe there are a few things that may be a factor in Drehers case that Kimmel has not considered.
In the last few years there has been quite a move of prominent Protestants to both Rome and Orthodoxy with Anglicanism often as a transitional phase. The reasons for this often stems from the Evangelical Protestantisms confusion over authority, its lack of theological depth, the absence of any rootedness in history, and the banality of its worship. Once one has decided to move, the question becomes where? Anglicanism might seem like a good place but the current state of the ECUSA almost rules it out entirely for an orthodox Christian. This leaves it between Rome and Orthodoxy.
For a number of reasons, Orthodoxy is more often than not the loser. The identification with various ethnic groups and the distinctly Eastern atmosphere can intimidate those considering a move in that direction. Many at least have an idea what to expect in a Catholic mass before they get in the door. Furthermore, many Catholic parishes have toned down the distinctly Catholic elements so much that the boundaries between Catholic and Protestant styles are not as great as they once were. Then of course is the Pope John Paul II factor. The late pontiff was such an admirable figure on the world stage that his very presence at the helm could convince potential converts that Rome was the right choice.
I believe a number of Protestants did not (and, in fairness, probably could not) work through every single issue in their minds before making a choice for Rome. Thus, many decided that the Catholic Church was right on so many issues that they would trust her for the remainder. Perhaps they didnt quite get papal infalibility or the Immaculate Conception but one look at the history of the Roman Church vs. Protestantisms confusion and it was a no-brainer.
Catholicism is much more attractive when the focus is on Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and St. Thomas Aquinas than on Cardianal Law and the actions of the USCCB. Dreams of woshipping God in a stately liturgy can be dashed by one experience with the banal ICEL translation of the Novus Ordo. This is not to single out Rome. As an Anglican, I would much rather identify myself with the Caroline Divines and the Tractarians than the current apostate ECUSA. Similarly, Orthodoxy looks better when the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated than when the infighting occurs that gave rise to the expression Byzantine Intrigue.
In Drehers case, I suspect he had a romatic view of what life in the Catholic Church would be like. Perhaps he trusted the Church to overcome his lingering questions. Now the trust has, in his eyes, been violated and perhaps his doubts about the Roman distinctives are becoming more solidified. I think there are a lot of Catholics like him - conservative, desiring an expression of Christianity rooted in history, subscribing to some variant branch theory (with both Rome and Orthodoxy both Catholic), and for various reasons having decided to trust Romes claims. If the scandals continue this could be a prelude to a larger shakeout but I dont think Rome is so foolish as to let it get that far. What it does indicate is that the patience of even the most faithful Catholics in America has its limits.
It's very easy to understand his looking about given the muck and mire.
Maybe Dreher needs to read church history again, especially those earlier centuries when there was a blatant need for a house cleaning, to understand how the domestica ecclesia has always been the structure that held it all together when times became confusing or dangerous. Rome wasn't built in a day and it won't be cleaned in a year....sometimes it took a century or so but there always were some amazing Saints who came broom in hand.
My impression is that Rod tends to be a bit hysterical and only sees the glass as half empty and has sort of a Donatist view of the Church. The Church is a school for sinners and not a society of saints. But if one really believes that Christ founded his Church on the rock of Peter and the apostles and their successors in union with him, one would not be so quick to flee to Orthodoxy. And one has to view the broader historical context. Obviously there was a lot of disruption and modernism that erupted in the Sixties and Seventies, and the child abuse problems I believe is fundamentally a result of the lack of defense of doctrine by Church leaders who should know better, especially moral doctrine, in the Church. And sure, the current leaders don't crack down as much as one might like, but things are slowly getting better. Dreher seems like he doesn't want to give any good faith or credit to the previous or current Pope, who are at heart decent and orthodox fellows who are doing the best they can according to their own judgments. I think we Catholics need to rally round the rock of Peter, the Pope, and sound doctrine.
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine............
Mr. Dreher never lost his Protestand outlook. If you are not entirely comfortabld with the church you attend, move to another one. One never has to realize that one's own outlook might be faulty, rather one finds a church in accord with one's preexisting views, or one's social preferences.
I am sorry for him...he has a real anger problem with the fact that the church has human members with feet of clay...but those of us with a deeper, perhaps, historical perspective knows sin happens, the church goes on. It's Christ's church, but made up of human people, and all branches of it have people who have besmirched Jesus' good name...We were even told this is the way it was going to be, tares in the wheat.
May God lead him to where he can find peace. May he learn to forgive so he can get beyond this hurt.
That's an excellent summary. I wish Mr. Dreher and his family the best, but "hysterical" is precisely the word for the mental state indicated by his recent writing.
One's Faith ain't all its cracked up to be if one is so easily scandalised
U.S. is right about the Donatist tinge. It has ressurrected in these days. It is part and parcel of the sspx propaganda
His blog entry is consistent with his published writings over the years ... "If only everyone else were as perfect as I am, what a wonderful world it would be!"
In religious terms, unfortunately, that reasoning leads relentlessly to "The Church of You and Me, and I'm not too sure about you." Also I sympathize deeply with his desiring to protect his children from abuse (like, don't we all?) I don't think church-hopping teaches them a good lesson. Sorry, there's not a single church out there where everyone is perfect, "just like us."
"I don't think church-hopping teaches them a good lesson. Sorry, there's not a single church out there where everyone is perfect, "just like us.""
I agree. We were hopping around last year because we lived in a diocese where even the TLM indult was not "fulfilling". So, we decided to move in order to stop this practice before our children are old enough to realize what we were doing. I struggle with the "perfect church" thing, but for the last few months, Sundays are now finally peaceful for both of us.
Changing parishes is different from changing denominations, in many ways. To jump around churches with different beliefs implies that it's not the truth of the faith that's important, but rather how a person feels about the other church members.
C.S. Lewis recommended that Christians attend their local church (local Anglican parish, in his case) in order to avoid the temptation of searching for a church where everything and everyone was perfect. In his day, an Anglican probably wasn't going to find Gaia-worship or "gay" sacraments, of course :-).
Still, I think he made a good point, that we can fall into pride and begin to think that we're so special that we *deserve* a church with a perfect pastor, a liturgy that exactly suits us, and only the *right* kind of membership.
I am very sympathetic toward Mr. Dreher's desire to keep his children faithful Catholics (or Orthodox, apparently?).
However, he will not do much toward the accomplishment of that task principally by finding the ideal parish, church, faith, etc.
The task of rearing one's children in the faith falls first and principally to oneself. The more help one has from one's parish community, the better, but a mom and a dad who do their best to practice and teach the faith are the crucial element.
The challenge regarding changing parishes is walking a fine line between what is morally/spiritually dangerous to what is subjectively wanted/desired. My new parish has a few things missing, but they in no can be classified as spiritually dangerous (as was the case before), so I think I walked the fine line to a reasonable solution.
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