Follow up conversation with my thoughtful reader…

Follow up conversation with my thoughtful reader… February 14, 2017

with whom I corresponded last week.

He writes:

Mark, thank you so much for that kind note, it has given me a lot to think about.  I personally don’t see Trump as that big of a threat, but if you do, than I agree, you shouldn’t worry whether or not conservatives think you are being mean.  But look, your note got my attention, so St. Francis de Sales is right, “you always catch more bees with honey, than with vinegar”.

I agree with St. Francis.  The hard part is that when bees are stinging you, it’s often more prudent to swat them. 🙂

A lot of conservative Catholics are strange though, its true, when you go to a Latin Mass crowd event, more than a few are a couple fries short of a happy meal, and they won’t hear the truth, the rest do have a desire to be faithful to all of the Church’s teachings, so I see welcoming them as your best approach, although I get the sense sometimes your trying to win over people on the left who do have a lot in common with the Church, and I welcome that, even if you are a little mean to people like me in the process J

My purpose is twofold.  Short term: get rid of Trump.  He’s a menace.  Any person of good will who will help is welcome.  It’s all hands on deck.  So everybody from Glenn Beck to Samantha Bee is on the side of the angels if they seek to stop this peril.

Beyond this, my overall concern is to bear witness to the Church’s whole teaching  And the problem is that Trump is not the problem: It’s a conservative Catholic subculture that is now, by far, the loudest and most powerful enemy of the Church and the magisterium.  Most conservative Catholics are now in the position Screwtape loves: running around with fire extinguishers during a flood and crowding that side of the boat that is already nearly gunwale under.  The overwhelming number of conservative Catholics I run into not longer measure their thinking in comparison to the Church’s teaching.  They measure in comparison to what they imagine their hated culture war enemies would think and do and say at their very worst.  And since that will *always* appear to them far worse than what they (who are servants of God and, sure, not *perfect* but far better than those damned liberals) want to do, everything they do is great.  Once that habit takes root, anything that the Church says that smells “liberal” is deemed giving aid and comfort to the Enemy while any evil thing culture war allies do is seen as “gritty and realistic”.  So brutalizing refugees, torture, unjust war, grinding the face of the poor are all “realistic horse trading” and Pope Francis and the bishops are all ivory tower ninnies who don’t realize what it takes to Keep America Safe and get Roe overturned (which is the great eternal fantasy of the prolife right).  So we perpetually play along with Trump and the Vandal Horde who are currently doing everything in their power make America safe for polluters, crooks, and the 1%.  And the result will be, among other things, a rise in our abortion rates, since poverty is the biggest abortifacient we have.

None of this is escaping the notice of our children, who are bearing the brunt of the concentration of wealth in fewer hands and the flatlining of income for the middle class.  They know they are being fleeced.  They know who is fleecing them.  And they know that conservative Christians blindly cheer for the fleecing in perpetual pursuit of the prolife carrot those guys have no intention of ever giving them.  Our monomania about abortion and our refusal to listen to the rest of the Church’s social teaching (because it “sounds liberal”) has guaranteed that we will get neither the rollback of abortion, nor anything else but despoilment at the hands of con men like Trump.

Meanwhile, a real evangelistic opportunity has appeared.  People on the left are *really* listening to the gospel.  Yes, it’s true they are not able to hear the whole thing yet. (That is common most places, as the Cafeteria Right abundantly demonstrates).  But nonetheless, the Left is discovering that the Church has something to say to them and paying attention.  So we see, for instance, Elton John (who a decade ago was calling for the worldwide destruction of the Church) speaking with respect for Francis.  We saw, just a few days ago, a really respectful conversation between atheist Dave Rubin and Bishop Robert Barron.  I have had numerous fruitful conversations with a number of atheists and leftists who have remarked on their surprise and delight over the discovery that Catholic social and intellectual tradition is not simply composed of a few pelvic prohibitions and that it really does have a great deal to say about the real goods that they really do genuinely care about. One of them has actually taken the trouble to read Benedict and has remarked with surprise that she would never have believed ten years ago that she would be making real friends with a bunch of gung ho Catholic types. Indeed, the great irony is that noisiest opponents of evangelism are people like Lifesite News and the Reactionary Catholics who find it offensive and somehow proof of some kind of sinister agenda at work that people like Francis and Bp. Barron are getting a hearing from the Wrong Sort of people.  It reminds me of nothing so much as the Pharisees who were certain that the welcome Jesus got from tax collectors and sinners was prima facie evidence that he was a threat.  Me: I’m happy whenever anybody takes a step toward the gospel.  That’s my overriding goal always.

I will keep you in my prayers, best!  Thanks again

And thanks to you too.  God bless you and thank you for a thoughtful and charitable letter.

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