Tag Archives: heresy

The modernist heresy and the populist revolt

By Augustinus

Ever since Brexit, in Britain, the Italian referendum vote last week, the many polls showing the rennaisance of the Catholic right in France and Germany and now the Trump victory here in the states, there have been many analyses of what is happening in the west these days. Some say that all of these events represent a kind of populist revolt whipped up artificially by demogogic politicians using hate speech to corral the votes. Others say the populist revolt is real and would have happened without demogogic politicians because of the ravages causes by globalization on populations in every country throughout the world. Globalization has meant that the super-rich get richer and most of the rest of the world’s population gets immiserated. The only thing that interrupts this inevitable dialectic imposed on us by the neo-liberal elite (and embodied by the Clintons and the Obamas) is the occassional world economic collapse like we saw in 2008.

While there absolutely is a large scale reaction against the neo-liberal order going on across the world (as evidenced by the Sander’s campaign on the left and the Trump campaign on the right), I do not think that this analysis of the current political moment captures the whole story. Most especially I am interested in what the present political moment means for the Church.

When people rebel against globalization and the neo-liberal order with its identity politics, its politically-correct thought control police, its creation of “sacred victims” everywhere you look (from gays and lesbians to blacks and muslims etc), its promotion of abortion and pornography with the concomitant suicide of the west, its promotion of constant apologies for what the west supposedly inflicted on sacred victims and the constant war on religion, and the elevation of scientists as the new clerical order etc etc…I say when people rebel against all this …in my view they are rebelling against heresy. Therefore the so-called populist revolt is really a revolt against heresy.  These practices and ideologies are all legacies of the French revolution and then of the various incarnations of Marxist philosophy. They can all be conveniently referred to as modernism or the modernist heresy.

The populist moment then represents a kind of general revulsion or rejection of the bill of goods being sold to ordinary people over the last few centuries of “enlightenment”. When ordinary people living in southern France in the middle ages came across the Albigensians or the Cathari they were both impressed and repulsed by them. They were impressed by them because these fanatics were clearly intelligent, good people. The problem was that they were clearly insane. They urged everyone to stop reproducing because they saw the world as entirely evil. Yet they practiced free love and despised marriage. They practiced abortion while counseling abstinence. They accumulated wealth while preaching voluntary and literal starvation so one could leave this vale of tears and so on. The Cathari women were given the political and religious power so the women basically ran the cult.

I think people today see the left-wing ideologues, the social-justice warriors so commonly produced by our universities today exactly as ordinary people in the middle ages saw the Cathari. There is a mixture of admiration concerning their fanatical passion to fight injustice and to stop all hate speech and protect all victims and so on…and then repulsion at the fanaticism and the effeminate hatred of the world and the worldly things of the flesh. just as their was an overt suicidal ideology at the heart fo the Cathari heresy, so too there is an overt suicidal ideology at the heart of the leftist ideology. The left sees the West as the source of all evil in the world and the Church as the source of the West. Thus, there is an almost fanatical hatred of the Church among “progressives” and other leftists in the West.

The Cathari Albigensian heresy contributed to the ideologies that the French philosophes picked up on and that then fueled the French revolution. It is an old story…gnosticism in new guises. That is what modernism is–a world-hating, effeminate gnostic ideology. And that is what the populations around the world are reacting to. they are rejecting on a mass scale the old gnostic heresy in its most recent incarnation in the ideologies of the neo-liberal elite.

The clash of religions

By Augustinus

We have all heard about the clash of civilizations but if you really study history you will see that it is religion that soaks the earth in blood. “Civilizations” are an abstraction–a fiction invented by historians searching for a clue as to how to understand historical change. The things that move the earth and cause historical change are the things that people are willing to die for-family, tribe and religion. Actually, all we need to say is religion as religion is the thing that makes the other two values, family and tribe, possible.

If you were a seasoned diplomat, surveying the balance of forces today in the world you would of course look at nation states and the economic and military forces associated with each nation state. But nation states can crumble overnight and then tribal and religious loyalities remain and take over. So a seasoned diplomat has to look at the religious forces within each nation to really understand its stability and ability to project force.

What then is the balance of power within the world today? What ideas command men’s loyalities around the world today? The religion called neoliberalism or secularism has largely captured the world’s elites and it therefore rules the world today. It is the bithchild of internationalist Marxist-Leninist communism and what was left of Protestant Christianity in Europe and the Americas. Like all new religious movements the neoliberals cherish their new gods and rituals and they look with disdain on traditional religions. They are allied with the remaining communist regimes like China and Vietnam and they attempt to stamp out the old religions in every nation state where they hold power which includes most of western Europe, most of the America’s and most of Asia and the south Pacific. In the past 20 years neoliberalism has attempted to make inroads into the middle east. It has failed for the most part… with most of the Shia states rejecting the religion. The Sunni states partially embraced the heresy as it was in their economic interests to do so being the world’s largest oil producers. But because the Shia states rejected the religion they needed to be destroyed, thus the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Afghanistan and Libya were special cases. The Afghans sided with the rejectionist camp within Islam and therefore had to be destroyed and  Gaddafi was not a reliable ally to the neoliberals so Libya had to be destroyed. Israel was created after WWII under the influence of the neoliberal ideology calling itself a socialist state but the inherent contradictions between neoliberal ideals and the ethnocentrism of Judaism made it impossible to maintain the illusion forever and in recent years Israel has rejected the ideology of neoliberalism–especially its central religious tenet “diversity”.

Other opponents to neoliberalism include the Orthodox communions in eastern Europe and Russia.  Large swaths of the Muslim world (e.g. Pakistan), and the traditional Hindus in India vacillate back and forth between embracing the neoliberal ideology and rejecting it outright.

Within the belly of the beast in North America and Europe the protestant communities have largely embraced the heresy wholesale and therefore these communities are disappearing altogether. The Roman Catholic church is divided. Its official doctrine is in obvious contradiction to all of the neoliberal doctrines so the catholic church has been under constant attack from the neoliberals for decades.

The crisis in the Church is due to the embrace of neoliberalism by many in the Church in obvious and flagrant contradiction to settled dogma and doctrine. So what is to be done?

The first step in any war is to identify the enemy. The main enemy today is the heresy neoliberalism. But there are signs that it is crumbling. The brexit vote and the awakening of many in Europe concerning the dangers of Islam are signs of life yet in Europe. The situation is more bleak in America as even the most conservative Christian groups embrace many of the tenets of the neoliberal ideology.

But all is not lost. Recall the global dominance of the Arian heresy in the early years of the Church. The Arianists had captured all of the elite among the the remaining Roman aristocracy including several Emperors and their families. It also commanded the loyalty of the most powerful military nations at that time the Germanic tribes. it also commanded the loyalty of most of the magisterium of the Church, all of Northern Europe, Spain and northern Africa and most of the middle east and Arabia. Yet it took only a handful of Church Fathers to defeat the heresy in Councils and then in publications and then in the pews. Arianism temporarily faded from Europe but never from the middle east and Arabia. It was revived in the form of Islam and then implicitly in the form of reformation Protestantism in Northern Europe in the modern age. The neoliberals, and the liberal protestant congregations. the Jews, and Islam all share the Arian ideology concerning Christ. He was a great guy but he was not divine –he was not God….

So the battle over the nature and person of Jesus is once again the pivot of world history.

Its not about Pope Francis

The conservative Catholics keep sounding the alarm about Pope Francis while the liberal Catholics keep celebrating his every utterance. Neither group sees the man or his office clearly. In this the conservatives and liberals do the Church a dis-service as what the Church needs is people who can see clearly in this time of acute crisis.

Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make huge mistakes and these mistake have and will damage the church. Like every other Pope before him Francis has and will make some positive contributions to the Church and these contributions have and will advance the protection and growth of the Church in this time of crisis.

The Pope is a product of his years of training in a jesuit order that both benefited from the the post Vatican II changes and damaged by those changes. Similarly, the modern Church will continue to produce people like Pope Francis…people who combine the best and the worst of the modern intellectual landscape.

To save the church, the task is to learn to discern the times; to learn to identify the gold within the dross, to learn to nurture what is theologically sound from what is heretical and unsound. But there are very very few individuals who can do this. Most people in the church cannot see past “conservative” vs “liberal” labels and rush to identify themselves with those labels and then all too readily “agree” or consent or acquiesce to seeing the entire world through those labels. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy to do so.

In past ages, in past Church crises the people who saved the church were the great anti-heriesiarchs, the great doctors of the Church. They were not necessarily saints. in times like these it is necessary to strive NOT to be saintly but to see clearlyas you will have no chance of becoming a saint unless you can first see clearly.

A clarifying moment

By Augustinus

The Paris attacks of November 2015 constitute a clarifying moment for the West. When trained soldiers of an Islamic death cult systematically and point blank kill hundreds of defence-less civilians for the express purpose of outraging the West it is clear that we are dealing with a fanaticism that can justify any crime.

The core of the West is the Roman Catholic Church. The Church lies at the root of Western culture. Western culture is dying because the Church, itself, is in crisis–thus the need for this blog. The Church has undergone many previous crises and it will get through the present crisis. but we need to be clear that part of the crisis concerns Islam.

For much of the history of the Church it has had to fend off attacks, physical attacks, from Islam. The Church has to get clear about the nature of Islam. Vatican II (Nostra Aetate 3) had this to say about Islam:

“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.

“Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.”

We can applaud the effort to live in peace with others who have attacked us in the past BUT we have to be clear about the nature of Islam. Just like any other heresy it has rays of truth in it and it has its saintly, upright people BUT it is fundamentally a Christian heresy. Our main duty to Muslims is to refute the heresy and convert them to the true faith.

Conservatives vs liberals in the church

By Augustinus

Pope Francis’ actions continue to cause controversy in the church. The Washington Post yesterday published a story https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-conservative-revolt-is-brewing-inside-the-vatican/2015/09/07/1d8e02ba-4b3d-11e5-80c2-106ea7fb80d4_story.html detailing the alleged rise of an emerging conservative backlash against the reforms the Pope has instituted. While the secular press attempts to frame the Pope and the church’s recent actions in terms of a conventional liberal vs conservative struggle within the church, the Catholic blogosphere is not doing much better. It is, of course, natural that the secular conflicts that rage within the society as a whole inevitably get reflected within the church herself but that is certainly not the whole nor even the most interesting story.

We all have a responsibility to take a stand regarding the great political conflicts fo the day but we need to do so with wisdom. Wisdom suggests that the putative differences between conservatives and liberals are really not that great. Both wings of the American political establishment are utterly and entirely invested into the worst aspects of the modernity. The republicans are a little less bamboozled by the endless creation of victim groups than are the democrats and the democrats are a little less bamboozled by the endless military pursuit of “freedom” and “democracy” across the globe both wings of the Americanist heresy endorse the positing of sovereignty within “the people” rather than with God and by extension his Church.

Both conservatives and liberals tend to see the church as nothing more than just another interest group, just another power bloc. because it has a little bit of power the church needs to be occasionally placated but basically it is a non-entity for American elites. These elites would like to have the church endorse its policies but beyond that endorsement they do not much care about the church.

American elites certainly do not see the church as the body of Christ or as a site of God’s authority and sovereignty and therefore the “thing” of ultimate importance in any culture or political system. The elites and their media and press outlets therefore are not equipped to see what is really occurring in the church today.  What IS occurring is what always occurs in the church. It continually rediscovers truths hidden within the ancient deposit of faith and it does so, as John Henry Newman pointed out, by struggling against heresy.

While the wrapping or package changes the content of heresy does not change very much over the course of the ages. The battles within the church therefore are battles against heresy-not struggles within the conventional conservative vs liberal storyline.

Reflections On the Much Discussed “Benedict Option”

By Augustinus

The crisis in the Roman Catholic church is occurring within the larger context of the collapse of Christian civilization in Europe and North America and indeed in large parts of the world in general. What can we Christians do to reverse the collapse of Christianity? Rod Dreher has suggested that the first step in responding to the crisis is to wake up and realize just how serious the crisis is. Not only is Christianity no longer the background moral and cultural ethos in Europe and North America -it is in active retreat and very likely going to see a coming persecution. So what can we and what should we do? the “Benedict option” would have us focus on preserving what we can within our own communities while not retreating from the battle in the world at large. like St Benedict who created monastic communities while the Christian Roman Imperium was collapsing all around him, so too should we create vibrant local Christian communities where the faith is preserved while still somehow continuing the fight in the public arena. Critics of the Benedict option have pointed out that the insular monastic model of tactical retreat and rebuild cannot address the pressing issue that the barbarians are at the gate or are actually in charge and imposing a kind of Arian heresy on orthodox christians everywhere….Arianism says Jesus was great but not God so there is no real presence, no real sacrifice at calvary, no real resurrection etc..these are now all the standard positions of many protestant sects and certainly the current media take on Jesus. It also happens to be the Islamic Koranic take on Jesus…

Over at TAC blogs Dreher has attempted to answer critics of his “Benedict Option” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/critics-of-the-benedict-option/

Despite Dreher’s spirited response to critics I do not think the Benedict option is correct for us at this historical moment. The Benedict option would work if it weren’t the case that Arianism has already triumphed among ideological elites. If i am correct in my assessment that the Benedict option is not appropriate for these times then what is? I would call it the Augustinian option or the Athanasian option…We need less a modern St Benedict like Dreher or Alasdair McIntyre assert…instead we need a modern anti-heireasiach like Iraneaus, Augustine or Athanasius. In Dreher’s reply to his critics he quotes the personalist philosopher Claes Ryan whom I much admire who argues that we need to do battle at the level of culture and ideas and I agree wholeheartedly. We need to specifically develop a critique fo modern version of gnostic and Arian heresies in order to win back the culture.