One of the weird things about the 21st century is that the democratizing effect of social media means that anybody–anybody–with a keyboard can spout any damn fool nonsense and find a willing networks of cranks who will believe and promote it. What used to require a mimeograph and a lot of licked stamps now can be done with a spam list and a kickstarter campaign. And so we live in an age when a growing number of quacks are reviving the absurdity of geocentrism. Karl Keating’s new book The New Geocentrists does a nice job of tracing the history of this boutique silliness, and of showing why it is simultaneously hilarious and yet something that people who care about the reputation of the Church must confront. Technology, especially information technology, is a force multiplier and smaller and smaller numbers of well-networked kooks can, as the folly of The Principle demonstrated, have an impact wildly disproportional to their numbers. Thanks and “well done” to Mr. Keating for doing the research on this strange subculture. It used to be that the fringes of Catholicism were divided between devotees of pietism who distrusted human reason and devotees of scientism who distrusted revelation. Now we live in a strange time when we are witnessing the rise of a growing cadre of Catholics who reject both revelation and the best of human reason and are cobbling together a weird do-it-yourself fundamentalist pseudo-Catholicism based on scraps of scripture and Church teaching, as well as whatever they pick up from their peers and junk they Googled. It will not end well. Keating points us back to Catholic common sense and reliance on the Magisterium, the Tradition, and the best of human reason.
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