Truth or Consequences

Posted on 2023-07-20
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I was somewhat startled at the reaction to my last piece on my disaffection with Pope Francis and his crew of theological vandals. Oh, I had a few of the usual cranks who explained to me how I am wrong about everything or citing their simplistic literal take on some prophecy to refute me. I had one fellow who is fully orthodox, but also fully supportive of whatever Francis does. It’s a contradiction, but he is a very good man, trying to find his way in difficult times as are the rest of us. There are a few others like that that I have not heard from this time.

But the bulk of the reactions left me thinking that the Vatican and heterodox Bishops are now sitting on a powder keg of their own making. I heard from a lot of Priests who were very glad I was talking bluntly about the whole thing without opining that since there are some bad clerics, all clerics are bad. There is a huge amount of dismay and resentment from the most docile and obedient Priests.

I had one Priest of a particular order tell me that he agreed with everything I had written, but his order had discussed it and is going to keep their heads down and pray for relief. That seemed perfectly legitimate to me. With various religious orders, we have some which work in public actively, some which are contemplative, and some which are cloistered. We are not all the same, but all work together from their authentic calling to build up the kingdom.

Of course, Diocesan Bishops are called to publicly defend the faith and the faithful. They can do it subtly with diplomatic elegance or they can do it boldly and full-throatedly, but they must do it with fidelity to the Master of all. To fail to do it in particular instances can be forgiven: to refuse to do it for worldly considerations is to repudiate the Master, Himself. As a fellow I much admire once said, “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

I wonder, sometimes, how many of our leaders believe in God at all anymore. I do not get disconsolate when I am treated unjustly because I know the Lord of Hosts sees all – and will repay. I fear not doing the most right thing I can think of because I know the Lord of Hosts sees all – and will repay. Whether leaders believe or not, the Lord will reveal Himself in His time. The question is, “When the son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) Woe to those who have not considered the Lord, in order to make the world think they are smart! Those who have taken an oath to defend the faith and the faithful and yet refuse, in order to make the world think they are smart, might as well take their millstone fitting now.

*********

I do not believe the country will hold together to the next election. I think we will go into real secession, full catastrophic collapse, or open civil war before we get there. I’m rooting for secession as the least violent of the alternatives before us.

Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter has been on fire lately about where all this dysfunction is leading. He is also right on target about the co-conspirator culpability of the establishment media.

That said, I will still opine about our political “choices” for two reasons. First, I might be wrong. While I have historically been deadly accurate about substance in my analyses, I have also been off on timing. (Cranks like to focus on extraneous details I miss, but who cares? Cranks are going to crank.) Second, it is what I have spent most of my life doing. Old habits are hard to break.

It has dismayed me to see conservatives, who think they are immune to leftist depredations, approach the primary elections as a flame war rather than a vigorous debate of actual issues between candidates. The supporters of Trump and DeSantis have besmirched themselves with false, nasty smears about the opponent. They may not have adopted the ideology of the left, but many have adopted wholesale the lying smear tactics of the left.

I think Donald Trump will ultimately be regarded as a great hero in the American tale. He was the first to openly and bluntly challenge the noxious dysfunction which has pretended to be wisdom in our elite ruling class. America was founded to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Little men of great self-regard took control and made it a government of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite. Trump broke the ice protecting that cadre of experts without expertise.

Trump ignited a movement for the people and against the elite. That movement is only picking up steam as it goes. Yet if Trump ignited the movement, I can’t help thinking that he may, personally, already be a spent force in that movement. Everything is so bloody personal to him. That is partly understandable, as there are few figures in American political history who have been so unjustly and relentlessly persecuted. I want accountability for the persecution. I think a lot of mainstream leftist leaders deserve prison for their dishonest, vicious, and illegal tactics. But I can’t help notice that the majority of people Trump denounces these days are people he, himself, hired. His personnel decisions were often made based on who flattered him best in the moment. He suffered more sabotage from the deep state than any of us imagined possible, but his often scattershot approach to key issues did not help. On the few that he maintained consistent focus, he did well. But Trump’s approach to governance could hardly be called consistent or disciplined.

Ron DeSantis does not have the charisma that Trump has at all. Nor does he have the presence or political judgment that Trump does. DeSantis actually is what a lot of Democrats falsely brag about: a policy wonk.

When DeSantis decided to make anti-wokeism the centerpiece of his early campaign, I thought it a very serious mistake. In my estimation, a campaign theme is a sort of coat hanger which should capture the essence of a candidate’s nature and on which he can hang each of his specific policy positions. For DeSantis, I would have chosen something like, “He gets it done.” He is not going to out-charisma Donald Trump – or out-insult him, either, for that matter. A campaign theme should put your best foot forward and keep people focused on what the primary benefit you bring to the position is. That DeSantis gets it done is his best quality – and his theme should keep this front and center all the time. His personnel decisions are routinely good and dispassionate. When he takes on an issue, he carries it through to fruition by having command of all the details. He wastes no time or capital raging about things he cannot or will not change. Florida did not elect him because of his great charisma. He barely won the first time. But once Floridians saw how effectively and surely he gets it done, and how consistent he is in what he champions, they re-elected him in an historic landslide. If DeSantis engages in a flame war with Trump, he will lose. If he keeps it focused on how determinedly and effectively he gets it done without extraneous battles, he will win.

In this election, I prefer DeSantis. But I have seen Trump govern before, so I would feel reasonably confident that if he prevails, he would put aside the flame-thrower and focus on priorities for the good of all. I will not flame either of these men.

Of course, I think it won’t matter because we are coming up to fundamental disruption. But it DOES matter. We are going to need good, solid men and women to rebuild from the ashes the left is bent on leaving us with. Now is a time when character is revealed – and that matters a lot, however things play out.

*********

It has dismayed me to see some arguments over denominational triumphalism erupt on some of CORAC’s Signal discussion threads. I won’t have it.

I am a committed Catholic, committed with my whole heart. But from the beginning, I made it clear that, “all faithful and orthodox Christians of any stripe, and orthodox Jews, as well, are full and equal partners in the work before us. There are no “junior” partners here. And all people of good will, whatever their faith, are true neighbors to us. If we devote ourselves to the work before us well, God, Himself, will see to the unity among us after the storm has passed.” This is foundational to everything we do.

I agree with most Protestants that your level of holiness is mainly dependent on your relationship with God. Denominations give you tools to achieve that. I think the deposit of faith has been entrusted to the Catholic Church. That means that Catholics have the best tools to develop relation with Christ, particularly the Eucharist. What that means is that a bad Catholic is the worst of the worst – a man who has squandered the elegant tools Christ has given him. I admire my Protestant brothers who boldly seek the will of Christ and  do it. That I think they do so without as many sacramental tools as I have makes their accomplishment all the more praiseworthy.

No person living today is responsible for the divisions in Christianity. We are all responsible for doing the work that God has laid out for us. If we do that well, not one person who has put his shoulder to the plow will be deprived of his heavenly reward – and part of that reward is unity, which we will get only after we have done the work God intends for us.

I am thinking of getting a moderator for the threads, similar to what we do on this site. We very rarely have to remove anyone. Once people get the idea of what the bounds are it makes for fruitful, fraternal discussions rather than mere flame wars.

If you are mainly interested in proving that the Catholic Church is the only way to achieve unity with God – or the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or whatever, there are places for you on the Internet. This is not one of them. We are focused on authentic brotherhood and the work before us…and all who call on the name of the Lord are welcome here. Those who believe that God’s word is binding and decisive are my brothers, even if they interpret some things a bit differently than I do.

If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.

Find me on Twitter at @JohnstonPilgrim

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