Tribalism and Blowing an Evangelistic Opportunity

Tribalism and Blowing an Evangelistic Opportunity October 3, 2013

I have heard from any number of people expressing horror–yes, horror–at the idea that people on the cultural and political left find Francis attractive.  In the early Church, a Paul would have seized such an opportunity to preach the gospel to a receptive audience.

But in our tribalized culture of identity politics, and aided and abetted by the Conservative Anti-Charism of Discernment, the Reactionary (whose primary interest is in driving out the impure, not in reaching out to the sinner) no thought is given to Francis as an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus.  Instead, the focus is entirely on the terror that if Jane Fonda or Obama or Jon Stewart or Tina Fey like him (based, of course, on lousy MSM reportage about him) then the main thing we need to devote our energy to is not, God forbid, having a conversation with such people about the Faith Francis proclaims, nor even coming to clearly understand the distinction between what he actually says and what the media reports.

Nope. The *main* thing we need to do is tremble with terror that the Pope is spoken of with approval by the Wrong People.  Has NARAL praised him based on garbled press?  Then the key thing is that the Enemy likes him, not that it might be a chance to speak to the Enemy (a view shared by the people offended that Jesus spoke with centurions).  If Those People like him, why then something is terribly, terribly wrong and we need to panic because a False Prophet and Heretic now sits upon the Chair of Peter.  God forbid we should be glad of the chance to talk about the Catholic faith with an Obama, Fonda or Stewart.  Let’s appoint ourselves Defenders of the Faith against the Pope instead.

The vision of the Church here is simple, clear, and desperately wrong: it is the conviction that the Church is on the ropes, fighting a defensive battle and that, any minute, the Pope (and lets face it, the whole magisterial office) is going to sell the gospel down the river and that only Reactionaries–and in particular some folk hero like the quack Maria Divine Mercy–can save us.  And salvation consists, not of evangelizing, but of retreating into Fortress Katolicus.  The Reactionary goal, as ever, is to *retreat* from the world, to shrink the Church, to keep as many people out, and to regard any moment in which the culture opens itself to the gospel as a Very Bad Sign, not as an opportunity.

Or we could seize this opportunity, stop assuming the Pope is a threat to the Faith, think like evangelists and not people playing defense, and proclaim the Faith to a culture that, for a very brief window of opportunity, happens to be listening.

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