Steve Bannon and the Seduction of the Church

Steve Bannon and the Seduction of the Church February 8, 2017

Jesus never warned the Church to fear persecution. Indeed, he promises it. What he warns of is seduction:

[D]o not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28).

Steve Bannon is one of the major voices of seduction in the Church at this hour.  Like all seductive voices, he plays on fear and desire.  The fear, of course, is fear of liberalism.  The desire is the desire for power.

Bannon is about earthly power.  And he has made common cause with Alt Right racists in his lust for it.  His intellectual sources are racist cranks like Mencius Moldbug, whose belief in the Big Lie for the Noble Cause is now gospel for the majority of “prolife” Christians, as I discovered the hard way when I dared to point out the Church says lying is a sin:

Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name “Mencius Moldbug,” attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that “nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.” When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.

Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—“What’s so bad about the Nazis?” he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. “To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,” he writes in a May 2008 post.

In one January 2008 post, titled “How I stopped believing in democracy,” he decries the “Georgetownist worldview” of elites like the late diplomat George Kennan. Moldbug’s writings, coming amid the failure of the U.S. state-building project in Iraq, are hard to parse clearly and are open to multiple interpretations, but the author seems aware that his views are provocative. “It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,” he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.”

Bannon, the architect of Trump disastrous and unjust assault on refugees, is one of those guys who regards himself as a visionary and the vanguard of history.  He is the man in the grip of a Big Theory that matters more than the truth.  Trump, apparently with no clear idea of what he was doing, demoted the Chair of the Joint Chiefs and the Director Nation Intelligence and, in an unprecedented move, put a bomb-throwing political hack who boasts of making his Breitbart site a “platform for the Alt-right” in a top position on the National Security Council.

Bannon’s instant first move was to decree that there be no paper trail for the public to know what he is up to there.  So that’s, you know, reassuring, especially since he has “no doubt” we are going to war with a nuclear nation with 1/5 of the world’s population and soon.

Bannon give every sign of subscribing to an elitist vision in which democracy weaken a nation in need of “unity” behind an authoritarian leader in a Grand Civilizational struggle for an ethno-nationalist supremacy.

And most sinister (from a Catholic perspective) is that he gives every sign of pursing an Americanist Catholic heresy at war with the pope.

The amazing thing to me, is the fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-ten-thousand-times-and-I’ll-just-keep-falling-for-it credulity of the suckers who buy all this stuff.

During Mr. Bannon’s April 2014 trip he courted Edward Pentin, a leading conservative Vatican reporter, as a potential correspondent in Rome for Breitbart, the website that is popular with the alt-right, a far-right movement that has attracted white supremacists.

“He really seemed to get the battles the church needs to fight,” said Mr. Pentin, the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?” a book asserting that Pope Francis and his supporters railroaded opponents. Chief among those battles, Mr. Pentin said, was Mr. Bannon’s focus on countering a “cultural Marxism” that had seeped into the church.

“Cultural Marxism” is a beloved Alt Right code word for “anything the Church teaches that we hate”.

And here is an even more egregious example:

Mr. Bannon also reunited with old friends, including Breitbart’s eventual Rome correspondent, Thomas Williams.

A former priest, Mr. Williams said that he used to have arguments with Mr. Bannon about whether the pope subscribed to a hard-left brand of liberation theology, with Mr. Bannon calling the pope a “socialist/communist.” Mr. Williams said he usually defended the pope, but that recent statements by Francis convinced him “Steve turned out to be right. That happens more often than not.”
So Williams, a former Legionary priest who not only served one of the greatest monsters ever to disgrace a Roman collar, but also himself committed grave sexual sins, lied about it, and is now serving a website devoted to legitimating Alt Right white supremacy filth a bowtie. (His “apology” was telling: “I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation”.  Because the problem is not that he sinned, but that it was discovered.)
This guy is who Breitbart taps to give Catholicky legitimacy to the swill they sell.  And this guy is who we are to listen to in legitimating Bannon’s analysis of the Holy Father as a “socialist/communist”.
And the bulk of Trump’s Catholic supporters are totally ready to buy this and do what they can to battle the Church and the Holy Father in favor of Trump.
Nor is Williams alone. Just today, Fr. Peter West, in a move perfectly reflective of the Trump Administration for which he does unpaid propaganda work, sent his flying monkeys to attack poor Mark Mueller for writing a piece that accurately quoted him.  Said he to his audience:
“A newspaper in NJ is planning on running a hit piece on me that I expect will include half-truths, distortions, if not outright lies. I may be compelled to leave social media. Please pray that my enemies do not prevail over me!”

West has assailed millennials as “snowflakes” who attend “cry-ins” and described liberals as “smug and arrogant” people who find solace in puppies and Play-Doh.

He has called Hillary Clinton an “evil witch” and former President Barack Obama a “bum,” at one point sharing a post that challenged Obama’s authenticity as an African-American because he wasn’t raised by a poor single mother in the inner city.


A minority of commenters on West’s Facebook page have denounced him as a “hatemonger” who promotes divisiveness, and at least one person complained about him to the archdiocese in December — a development announced by West himself on Facebook.

His response? A harangue against “leftist apparatchiks” and “Comrade Obama.”

Directly addressing the complainant, whom he did not name, West added: “You should be ashamed of yourself for supporting pro-abortion, anti-family politicians. If I get in trouble for denouncing them, so be it! But I won’t be scared off by a totalitarian jerk like yourself!”


On Nov. 12, for instance, he shared a post that read: “Liberals are acting like Trump is going to kill all the gays, make slavery legal again and take away women’s rights. … Like he’s a Muslim or something.”

While Cardinal Tobin and the Vatican have opposed the president’s travel ban, West has repeatedly shared Facebook posts suggesting Muslim immigrants are a dire threat to the United States.

He also differs with the pope — and has taken shots at the pontiff — on the legitimacy of climate change, calling it a “hoax pushed by pro-abortion population controllers and Leftists who want to destroy Western economies based on faulty computer models with no real data to support it.”

West doesn’t apologize for his opinions, even if some find them offensive.

“People ask me, ‘Father, shouldn’t we try to convert liberals instead of making fun of them?'” he wrote on Facebook after the election. “My answer is that mocking is part of the conversion process.”

All perfectly accurate quotes.  But as with the Trump supporter, the reporter was attacked viciously, not for falsehood, but for accurately portraying the object of a cult of personality in a way that does not give glory to him.

And, as is the norm, with this subculture the actual teaching of the Church and the Holy Father is treated with scorn because politics trumps the Church’s teaching. Hence, Deal Hudson also weighed in to urge the devotees of this cult of personality to protest the ecclesial authority for the sin of saying they would curtail his outrageous behavior.


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