In answer to that important question, my friend, the invaluable poet Pavel Chichikov, writes me:
There’s another foaming at the mouth op-ed piece in the NYTimes today, by Bill Keller, who describes himself as a ‘collapsed Catholic.’ Yells at the Pope for being undemocratic (‘soviet’) and says the Catholic Church is stupid and reactionary for not supporting:
Abortion on demand
Gender differences ( read homosexual ‘marriage’?)
Ordination of women
congregational ( I guess that’s what he means) governance.
Since none of this sounds like the Catholic Church, what would anyone need the Catholic Church for? There’s a perfectly good branch of the Ethical Society a few blocks from here.
When a Catholic who hasn’t collapsed yet says the hierarchy needs to get its act together, I listen. When somebody collapsed who believes in abortion on demand says it, I begin to squint and get suspicious.
The reason my friend Pavel acts this way in the presence of the sort of folly Bill Keller utters is as follows: He’s Not Dumb and He Cares What the Holy Spirit Says. Bill Keller is dumb and doesn’t care. He cares what the NY Times editorial board thinks. That’s why Pavel can understand Bill Keller but Bill Keller couldn’t, in his present unrepentant arrogance, understand Pavel or his Lord if his soul depended on it (and it does). The light shines in the darkness but the darkness cannot comprehend it. Anybody who attributes to a too-powerful Catholic orthodoxy the reason that boys, boys, boys, boys, boys, boys, and boys are raped by Cutting Edge Progressive Priests like Paul Shanley–a man who vigorously upheld precisely the agenda Keller advocates–is simply a fool. You might as well blame drought on heavy rain.
But Keller is not merely a fool: he is a wilful fool, a living laboratory demonstration of C.S. Lewis’ remark that “The trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you can often succeed.” His problem is not lack of information. His problem is that he hates the gospel because it does not conform to the worldview of the NY Times editorial board and never will. Sin, as the theologians used to say, darkens the intellect. In plain English, sin makes you stupid. And the cleverer you are, the stupider it makes you. Only exceptionally clever people like Keller or Maureen Dowd can write nonsense as deeply shallow as they so regularly produce in their hatred, not of Catholic sins, but of Catholic truths.