…of fresh air. But please don’t tell anybody since, you know, it’s an established fact that I hate all Traditionalists.
If Kevin Tierney reads Steve Skojec and decides that he must criticize Simcha Fisher, he is not that much fresh air. Skojec writes about the “deadness in the eyes” of Francis, like not a few odd folks who claim to read folks’s souls.
Mr. Tierney has chosen to defend his tribe against a phenomenon I noticed too, in real life, the concern of Traditionalists who are anti-semitic. Not that Mr. Skojec has basically indicated the an “eye-deadened” demon-possessed pope sits on the throne of Peter.
Simcha Fisher is not the problem, and I have criticized Simcha Fisher for narrow assumptions of late, particularly a reflexive rejection of liberals. Mr. Skojec is the problem, as are those who discuss matters in his terms. Mr. Teirney practices the “don’t criticize another member of the tribe” policy.
Skojec is a big dollop of poison. He has indicated on matters of the New Evangelization, he cannot be reasoned with.
So Kevin critiques both Steve and Simcha and he is a tribalist.
Dan critiques Steve, Kevin and apparently sometimes Simcha when she critiques liberals and ostensibly he is not a tribalist.
I will absolutely admit to waging culture war. I will not suggest otherwise. I have maintained any number of particular oppositional positions to conservative and Traditionalist matters. I have as part of my genetic structure, tribalism. I am unclear where I deny that. (Taking the last point first.)
Mr. Skojec does more than criticize though. This is more than presuming the pope is mis-speaking, incautious with language or access to the papacy, or even wrong about things. This is not about ideas. This is a judgement on character that is absolutely beyond discussion. Skojec admits this:
“And yet, when I saw Francis that first moment as he stepped out to face the massive crowds in St. Peter’s square, I found myself filled with inexplicable dread. I had no idea who the man was or what he was about – I had never even heard his name before that moment. But there was something in his face, in the deadness of his eyes, that inspired in me a feeling of revulsion. I have always had a strong ability to judge character, but I tried to suppress it. I attempted to find ways to give the benefit of the doubt. I could not discount a successor of St. Peter because of nothing more than a feeling. But that feeling was strong, and I have never been ill-served by listening to my feelings about people.”
Tierney dances around this foundational premise. Skojec: The pope has bad character. Skojec stops short of saying: do not listen to this pope, he is evil. This is based on that initial judgement of character.
This is not something easily remediable, or perhaps ever remediable. Tierney does not seem to attend to the level of seriousness of this charge. Can we bring to the table for normal discussions someone whose initial assessment of the pope, based on a constellation of matters hard to define (“a deadness in his eyes”), suggests the pope is evil? But doesn’t really come out and say it, but leaves this implicit point hanging in the wind.
In the past three paragraphs, I did the heavy lifting of the core matters anyone critiquing or defending Skojec faces. What is he implying? That the pope is evil.
Why did Tierney scoot around the edges of Mr. Skojec’s foundational premise? Why not shoot at the heart of Mr. Skojec’s rejection of this pope and the foundational inspirations?
I claim the tribalist allegiances held sway. Mr. Skojec holds some troubling opinions on the order of an LCWR plenary speaker encouraging exploration of post-Christian communal evolution for women’s orders. Maybe higher. As such, these need to be dealt with directly. When Benedict released a direct, highly critical response to an atheist recently, he was lauded. This approach by Benedict is always a less enthusiastically embraced by conservatives when it comes to directing such criticism toward members of their tribe.
I agree. I think Kevin is trying to be nicer to Skojec than he deserves. But on the whole, it’s a very rare fault in the Tradosphere to find people who err on the side of kindness.
Why did Tierney scoot around the edges of Mr. Skojec’s foundational premise? ——————– Because Kevin wanted to highlight one aspect that was interesting to him. Nothing more.
I would recommend you not attempting to read hearts and minds and just stick to words.
I didn’t like that “deadness in his eyes” statement either. I watched the same footage and saw no “deadness” in Pope Francis’ eyes.
At worst, he may have seemed a little overwhelmed by it all, but wouldn’t you feel that way, too, had you just been elected to the See of St. Peter a mere hour or so before? That’s a lot for a mortal man to have to absorb in a short period of time. Ever hear of the “Room of Tears”? They don’t call it that for nothing.
Is it wise to judge a man so harshly by first impression – if that impression comes shortly after he’d just gotten the shock of his life? Since then I’ve seen plenty of life in the Holy Father’s eyes as he settles into his position as the Vicar of Christ.
What, exactly, is your point, Dan C?
This reasoning is so bizarre I don’t know where to begin.
I basically said that if Steve Skojec is right, we might as well stop being Catholic and “go and serve strange Gods.” (Go look up in the Bible what that phrase REALLY means.) I’ll wait.
I think Simcha Fischer’s heart is in the right place, but for one reason or another, she can’t write calmly when a traditionalist is involved, and she ends up making statements that go too far. Maybe it’s the internet. I dunno.
Here’s the thing: In the end, I actually want these kinda guys still in the Church, in the confessional. The Pope talked about engaging those we disagree with on faith or who lack faith, and always using an approach of mercy.
Like so many “defenders”, they don’t actually want to listen to the Pope’s words. They want ot use him as a club to beat that godless tribe over there with.
Sorry Dan C, but I’m not Dan C. That’s basically your beef. That Kevin Tierney isn’t Dan C, and doesn’t approach things the exact same way that Dan C does. I’m not a tribalist. That means I go after those “on my side”, and I go after those who aren’t, more often than not with equal vigor. As far as “scooting” around Skojec’s critque, I didn’t “scoot” around it. Since September 24th, I’ve written almost 5,000 words defending the interviews as not just perfectly orthodox, but full of far more wisdom than anyone seems to be admitting. I’ve done those to death.
I am not even a Francis fan-boy. I am actually promoting Benedict (who is my kind of teacher, if decidedly non-confrontational).
Thank you for your response. I am stunned by the “dead eyes” deal. The implicitness of Skojec’s assessment of evil. This seems to be the core or foundation of his critiques that began immediately in this papacy.
As such, it is hard to address Skojec as either a serious thinker on this matter (that he is influential may differ from serious thinker) and that he or his followers will ever be happy with Francis, even as he teaches only what Benedict taught.
I have been overtly clear that these folks should stay in the Church for the betterment of the rest of us (even though I am sure they are disproportionately libertarian- not my favorite economic system) , and I am not a fan of supporting Traditionalism (that is for another day).
I use Benedict as the answer to folks like Skojec, who clearly indicates that salvation occurs outside the Church, “on a large scale” on “why be Catholic?”
Ratzinger in 1964:
“…Everything we believe about God, and everything we know about man, prevents us from accepting that beyond the limits of the Church there is no more salvation, that up to the time of Christ all men were subject to the fate of eternal damnation. We are no longer ready and able to think that our neighbor, who is a decent and respectable man and in many ways better than we are, should be eternally damned simply because he is not a Catholic. We are no longer ready, no longer willing, to think that eternal corruption should be inflicted on people in Asia, in Africa, or wherever it may be, merely on account of their not having “Catholic” marked in their passport.
Actually, a great deal of thought had been devoted in theology, both before and after Ignatius, to the question of how people, without even knowing it, in some way belonged to the Church and to Christ and could thus be saved nevertheless. And still today, a great deal of perspicacity is used in such reflections.
Yet if we are honest, we will have to admit that this is not our problem at all. The question we have to face is not that of whether other people can be saved and how. We are convinced that God is able to do this with or without our theories, with or without our perspicacity, and that we do not need to help him do it with our cogitations. The question that really troubles us is not in the least concerned with whether and how God manages to save others.
The question that torments us is, much rather, that of why it is still actually necessary for us to carry out the whole ministry of the Christian faith—why, if there are so many other ways to heaven and to salvation, should it still be demanded of us that we bear, day by day, the whole burden of ecclesiastical dogma and ecclesiastical ethics? And with that, we are once more confronted, though from a different approach, with the same question we raised yesterday in conversation with God and with which we parted: What actually is the Christian reality, the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism? What is that special thing in Christianity that not only justifies but compels us to be and live as Christians?
It became clear enough to us, yesterday, that there is no answer to this that will resolve every contradiction into incontrovertible, unambivalent truth with scientific clarity. Assent to the hiddenness of God is an essential part of the movement of the spirit that we call “faith.” And one more preliminary consideration is requisite. If we are raising the question of the basis and meaning of our life as Christians, as it emerged for us just now, then this can easily conceal a sidelong glance at what we suppose to be the easier and more comfortable life of other people, who will “also” get to heaven. We are too much like the workers taken on in the first hour whom the Lord talks about in his parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-6). When they realized that the day’s wage of one denarius could be much more easily earned, they could no longer see why they had sweated all day. Yet how could they really have been certain that it was so much more comfortable to be out of work than to work? And why was it that they were happy with their wages only on the condition that other people were worse off than they were? But the parable is not there on account of those workers at that time; it is there for our sake. For in our raising questions about the “why” of Christianity, we are doing just what those workers did. We are assuming that spiritual “unemployment”—a life without faith or prayer—is more pleasant than spiritual service. Yet how do we know that?
We are staring at the trials of everyday Christianity and forgetting on that account that faith is not just a burden that weighs us down; it is at the same time a light that brings us counsel, gives us a path to follow, and gives us meaning. We are seeing in the Church only the exterior order that limits our freedom and thereby overlooking the fact that she is our spiritual home, which shields us, keeps us safe in life and in death. We are seeing only our own burden and forgetting that other people also have burdens, even if we know nothing of them. And above all, what a strange attitude that actually is, when we no longer find Christian service worthwhile if the denarius of salvation may be obtained even without it! It seems as if we want to be rewarded, not just with our own salvation, but most especially with other people’s damnation—just like the workers hired in the first hour. That is very human, but the Lord’s parable is particularly meant to make us quite aware of how profoundly un-Christian it is at the same time. Anyone who looks on the loss of salvation for others as the condition, as it were, on which he serves Christ will in the end only be able to turn away grumbling, because that kind of reward is contrary to the loving-kindness of God.”
Then-Father Ratzinger is pretty clear and direct. Francis is making this same message known.
I’m also gobsmacked by the “dead eyes” comment and by the confident “I’m a good judge of character” *based* on such a manifestly flimsy surface assessment. It all just seems to go with the massively bad charism of discernment that Conservative Catholics keep displaying, even as they continually regard themselves, despite dozens of proofs to the contrary, as the gold standard for decreeing to the world who is truly Catholic. Hubris.
So…as a lefty, I am accustomed to be written out of the Church, being “heterodox” due to economic beliefs and my refusal to promote violence, etc. Such has been the case since I discovered the Catholic blogosphere in 2004. I am accustomed to discussions of “abuse enablers,” to discussion of bishops in which the writer or commentator decries the hierarch as being weak on abortion, etc.
The anti-Francis thing is at a new level though. I will tell you what this looks like, and this is how I see it from my side of the fence. It looks like what certain conservatives do whenever a Democrat becomes President. There is a denial of the legitimacy of the election, a denial of the good character of the man (even if-as Clinton and Obama have done- the same policies are enacted as the previous Bush), and every utterance or every act must be opposed.
Just a thought.
I say that as I peruse The American Catholic and see that Obama and Francis are treated with similar contempt.
With this as the analogy, the trouble with Skoje bein politely entertained without attending to the wack-a-doo premise of demonic possession of the pope (because this can go this route), Catholic conservatism will be troubled policing itself years from now (long after damage is done to its image) as American political conservatives had to do about whether Obama was a natural born citizen. So much damage had been done to the brand of “conservative” at that point, in 2012, some sense of seriousness of Republicanism had been lost.
I recommend that more direct attention be paid to such undisciplined wild talk as Mr. Skojec.
I’m no “Catholic conservative” for precisely those reasons. I think a lot of “consevatives” in the Church don’t really care about the Pope. They just more want to use the Pope as cover for tribal loyalties. This is also why I can do business with Mark, even though the two of us have clashed in public (here on his blog over time) and in private (a few very nasty email exchanges where one Catholic blogger said “you guys are great when you are angry!”) I think Shea has been right to call out a lot in conservative circles for their attacks on the words of the Pope (you can at least understand traditionalist concerns, most of the conservatives aren’t even trying to make this something other than a political drive by), and that while he might not like the reactionary spirit within some circles of traditionalism, they don’t have a lock on that reactionary spirit. I can respect that and do business with that. Heck, a lot of the really acrimonius infighting regarding traditionalism could have been avoided had everyone (Shea included) said “reactionary”, pointed out it exists in all circles, and we need to fight it, rather than the whole “radtrad” stuff.
I’m no “Catholic conservative” for precisely those reasons. I think a lot of “consevatives” in the Church don’t really care about the Pope. They just more want to use the Pope as cover for tribal loyalties.
This is also why I can do business with Mark, even though the two of us have clashed in public (here on his blog over time) and in private (a few very nasty email exchanges where one Catholic blogger said “you guys are great when you are angry!”)
I think Shea has been right to call out a lot in conservative circles for their attacks on the words of the Pope (you can at least understand traditionalist concerns, most of the conservatives aren’t even trying to make this something other than a political drive by), and that while he might not like the reactionary spirit within some circles of traditionalism, they don’t have a lock on that reactionary spirit.
I can respect that and do business with that. Heck, a lot of the really acrimonius infighting regarding traditionalism could have been avoided had everyone (Shea included) said “reactionary”, pointed out it exists in all circles, and we need to fight it, rather than the whole “radtrad” stuff.
Traditionalism as a world-wide phenomenon is in danger if Traditionalists happened to be part of the oppressive right wing political structures of their countries. As such, they are likely to have found few allies, or, if permitted to proceed, have been given permission grudgingly by Church ordinaries, especially ones who have had to beg for their priests lives, or have had colleagues murdered by such a regime.
This creates “barriers” to understanding, as the euphemism goes.
Just a recent hypothesis. Not one I am so attached to that I can’t let go.
Money Quote: “Today, our Church is ‘earthy’, no doubt about that.”
This has many practical applications… “My marriage is kinda ‘earthy’ of late”… “My appetite for food is on the ‘earthy’ side”… “It would be ‘truthy’ to say that politics is hopelessly ‘earthy'”.