Your Church Might Be Populated By Humans If . . .

In my reading this past week I was struck by a passage that seemed to sum up the state of the Catholic Church in the United States today.  It’s describing a completely different time and place, but if we switch out a few words (noted by italics), we get:

Indeed, the effects of doctrinal and liturgical conflict were even more far-reaching than changing religious attitudes and parish membership patterns suggest.  A decade of “enforting themselves,” of hearing the horror stories of refugees and the rumors of atrocities, of constant vigilance, of neglecting their ministries for fear of going into their parishes, and of readiness to “run and fly” to safety at the first alarm, had instilled habits of suspicion that the people of the Catholic Church carried into other areas of their lives.

In continuing, I’ve left the word kin in place, but for the purpose of this exercise take it to mean, in contemporary Church-politics, spiritual kin — the people we find to be like ourselves in the ways we think matter most:

These habits were not easily broken, and they were reinforced by the kin-centered social order of their community.  Insofar as kinship made for cohesion, security, and stability, it also made for insularity and intense localism.  To the extent that Catholics depended on neighbors and kin, they were also controlled by them.  To the extent that they placed kinship at the center of their social and economic life, they excluded and even demonized those outside the kin-neighbor nexus.

I think this experience can describe certain circles all across the Catholic spectrum.  I thought it a striking paralell because I think defensiveness and fear is very much at the heart of some of the excesses we see around St. Blogs and elsewhere.

Related posts, and be forewarned a couple of them are rant-o-rama, but some of them are downright calm and civil:

***

Now, history buffs and curious readers, here’s the original passage, of interest in its own right:

Indeed, the effects of Indian-settler conflict were even more far-reaching than changing racial attitudes and settlement patterns suggest.  A decade of “enforting themselves,” of hearing the horror stories of refugees and the rumors of atrocities, of constant vigilance, of neglecting their crops for fear of going into their fields, and of readiness to “run and fly” to safety at the first alarm, had instilled habits of suspicion that the people of the Waxhaws carried into other areas of their lives.  These habits were not easily broken, and they were reinforced by the kin-centered social order of their community.  Insofar as kinship made for cohesion, security, and stability, it also made for insularity and intense localism.  To the extent that settlers depended on neighbors and kin, they were also controlled by them.  To the extent that they placed kinship at the center of their social and economic life, they excluded and even demonized those outside the kin-neighbor nexus.

From World of Toil and Strife: Community Transformation in the Backcountry South Carolina, 1750-1805, by Peter N. Moore, 2007 University of South Carolina Press,  p. 31.

File:Giant Manta AdF.jpg
This photograph has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. It just looks cool. Okay, it’s a giant filter-feeding manta ray. Maybe it is on topic. You be the judge.

Photo by Arturo de Frias Marques (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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