Star Wars Christianity

Star Wars Christianity

This is by far one of the best articles I have read in recent times on the matter of laity vs. clergy. Mark Shea is a great and profound writer whose wit is matched and exceeded by his knowledge, and while he has an edge to his writing it’s not unkind (Notice how he doesn’t resort to correcting spelling and grammar).

This is the best defense of clergy and Orthodox Faith I have seen in a long time. It’s seriously an awesome article that all Christians can garner a little bit from, and I hope you read it. It blessed me greatly.

A few of my favorite observations by Shea were:

The notion of the Church as neatly divided between hidebound clerics defending Fortress Catholicism and a marching army of Progressive Laity whose sole desire is for truth, justice, love and freedom is one of the many myths that Generation Narcissus has suckled itself to sleep on ever since the Council.

Too True. Also, I love that he has dubbed our generation in the fallout of baby boomers ‘generation narcissus’ I could not agree more.

What simple-minded believers in this simple minded “Evil Empire Clerics vs. Plucky Rebel Alliance Laity” myth never seem to understand is that it was just as often the laity who were eagerly tanking up on the Blood Libel and chucking Jews down wells for the supposed crime of drinking the blood of Christian children while it was the clerics who were telling everybody to cool off and stop believing urban legends.

He even has a source to back this up: Here

Everyone harps on the Inquisitions of the Church, to which Shea responds:

Indeed, the reason for the Church’s creation of a system of Inquisitions was precisely that laypeople were, in their profound wisdom that needed no guidance from celibate old men, already running around doing it on their own as vigilantes and lynch mobs. Turns out the Church thought that having a system whereby the facts were obtained and evaluated in an orderly way was better than something like this.

Shea is clear, witty and polemically charitable and brilliant, I expect to become a regular follower of his blog. If you’re looking fro great Catholic work written to today’s issues, this is the place to find it.

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7 thoughts on “Star Wars Christianity

  1. I agree. He’s a brilliant guy and one of the best Catholic writers I’ve seen. His insights are sharp and original, and as you said — his wit is edgy without getting nasty or severe.
    Thanks for posting this — I’m glad someone else sees the rare gifts that Mr. Shea has cultivated.

    • thanks for your comment. Shea is indeed a wonderful writer. I wish he would have touched on the historical outworking of the council’s liberal fathers and their detrimental effects, but it is what it is.

  2. Interesting point, Eli (and thanks for your private post). I think Mr. Shea will usually avoid getting into that kind of issue. I understand the point you’re gettting at, but I think he will look at the goodness of Catholicism in universal terms and avoid some of the difficult specifics that have arisen since VII. Having lived through most of that era myself, I think it’s hard to fully get a grip on what happened.

    • Agreed, and that’s a good point. I loved the article either way, and I appreciated Shea’s perspective. Thanks again for the comments, please drop by and continue the conversation as my future posts will be my interactions with the Catechism on my road to confirmation.

  3. Thanks for the invitation to drop by again — I’ll gladly do so. Wishing you all the best on your pathway to Confirmation also.

  4. I’m not sure if you bother reading comments to older posts but I thought I would add a bit of a different viewpoint to Mr. Shea’s piece.

    His first point – that you can’t neatly divide laity and clergy into good/bad categories – is entirely correct. Unfortunately Mr Shea tackles the analysis in a rather confused way.

    He takes two contradictory approaches to his explanation. The first approach is that, in an organization the size and complexity of the Church, saying that “the clergy believe this” or “the laity did that” is so generalized that it becomes meaningless. Sentences such as this one:

    “not least because it was not all laypeople opposing it (lots of laity got stinking rich off it) and it was not all clerics supporting it.”

    Support this viewpoint. This is, I believe, the correct approach to his explanation.

    It is a shame, then, that Mr Shea contradicts himself and continues to neatly divide laity and clergy into two monolithic groups in his second approach. See for example:

    “It is the laity that, again and again, rushes off all agog for some form of extremist rigorism”

    “Indeed, the reason for the Church’s creation of a system of Inquisitions was precisely that laypeople were, in their profound wisdom that needed no guidance from celibate old men, already running around doing it on their own as vigilantes and lynch mobs.”

    Despite saying earlier that you cannot neatly map laity to one viewpoint and clergy to another, Mr Shea does exactly that. This confuses his explanation and weakens his argument.

    To sum up what I’m saying, I think Mr Shea tries to make a good point – that an antagonistic clergy vs laity approach to Catholic history is counter-productive. However his argument is weakened by the fact that he readily divides the Church into these two groups, despite saying that the reality is much more complicated.

    Anyways, my apologies if that turned out overly long. I like your blog, especially your commentary on the Catechism.

    God bless.

    • Mike, great thoughts. I guess I didn’t initially notice, but now that you point it out his analogy is flawed because he does digress into what he decries.

      Great observation. I don’t disagree.

      Shea does exactly as you illustrate and I do find that view horribly incompetent for talking about history. Especially Catholic history which is always bound up in multiple other events. Nothing is ever as simple as lity x and clergy x in most cases.

      I appreciate you speaking up, because it is important that we recognize these things and clarify while sticking to integrity in thought.

      Also, I liked your thoughtfulness in presenting your comment. I appreciate you putting that much effort into it. Thoughtful readers are always a plus. Thanks for the encouragement, by the way.

      I will keep reading the Catechism and offering commentary. I had thought about getting back int that actually.

      I have been busy writing two other blogs. You can check them out @ practicalcatholic.wordpress.com which is my conversion journal of sorts, and pjpiitheo.wordpress.com which is my reading of the Theology of the Body by JPII.

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