March 16, 2013

Inconsistency is not Orthodoxy

Listening to Mary Eberstadt of the "Ethics and Public Policy Center" this morning I was at the end struck by the incredible gaps in her thinking, and the logical non sequiturs and other fallacies (mostly of causation) she managed to fit in a very short interview.

She pressed for cleaving to "Orthodoxy" rather than becoming a bellwether of the wider society because it is necessary for  "families of a certain size to carry on the Christan Tradition." (I suppose the Holy Family wasn't big enough. She also tipped her hat in favor of continuing the celibate priesthood rather than giving in to pressure to change from so-called Catholics, deploying an example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.)

She noted the "graying" and "few children" among mainline Protestants, and the booming "Orthodox" evangelicals. (Has she considered it might be the music and atmosphere, rather than the doctrines? Are Pentecostals "Orthodox"?) She made the telling observation that "If you water down Christianity by telling people to be nice to each other.... people figure out they can be nice at home..." So it isn't really about the central moral teaching of Jesus, focusing on how you treat others, but about, as the English say, "bums in pews."

But wait... When faced with the decline in the Roman Catholic Church she then ended all of this with the astounding assertion that "It's not a numbers game; it's a Truth game..."

After building up an entire argument about numbers, it's really about Truth. So why was the bulk of her talk devoted to family size and demographics?

No thanks, Mary; you can keep your incoherent "Truth." This is not Orthodoxy, but Conservatism.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

Update: and here's some evidence of the wrongheadedness of Eberstadt's argument. The Pew study shows that, yes, "strong" protestantism is on the rise, but in addition to Roman Catholicism's general decline, there is a particular decline among "strong" RCs, in relation to the total population.

14 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

I'd ask Mary, "Why priestly celibacy?" Why aren't Roman Catholic clergy encouraged to do their part to produce "families of a certain size to carry on the Christan Tradition"? By doing away with mandatory celibacy, the church might have greater numbers of priests, producing greater numbers of little traditional Christians - a win-win situation for the church.

Tobias, the link led to a blank page for me.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi. My thought exactly.

(I've fixed the link...)

JCF said...

Good Lord, the copious BS she deployed!

She contrasted the RCC's losses, w/ Mainline Protestantism's losses (and conservative Protestantism's supposed gains). Isn't the REAL contrast, w/ ***secularism's gains***? If more and more people are voting (w/ their feet---AND increasingly at the ballot box!) "None of the Above", that kind of blows the whole "Conservative Orthodoxy Demographically Does the Best" argument, doesn't it?

Gandhi once said "If, in the face of Oppression, the only choices I have are Violence or Doing Nothing, I'll choose Violence EVERY time" (said the great apostle of NON-violence!).

Similarly, if the only choice *I* have are Secularism or Oppressive "Orthodoxy" (so-called), I'll choose Secularism EVERY time. [As w/ Gandhi's schema, THANK GOD those aren't my only choices!]

Tobias Haller said...

Copious indeed, JCF. I get very weary of the incoherence of the self-styled "Orthodox." Of course the entity she is part of is really a political action group dressed up as a think-tank. I think most of the thought has tanked.

A denomination that offers security, infallibility, and the denigration of others will sadly always have a following. Such is the nature of the both "leaner and meaner" and wildly growing church of which she speaks... NOT. Without all of those "cafeteria catholics" of which M.E. is so dismissive, the RC church would be leaner and meaner, and lonlier and minor, than it now is.

Those who want to follow such teachings are welcome to them. I'll stick with the Gospel. That's "orthodox" enough for me, without the strain of the incoherent confections of what passes for theology from the more recent residents of the chair of Peter. Francis seems to have a good heart, unless it's all show; we'll see if that comes through in actions as well as words.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I've listened to the interview, and my commentary would be the same. Physician, heal thyself.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi. The problem is that sometimes people who are sick don't realize they need a physician. That's the most dangerous illness...

What really amazes me is her apparent blindness to the devastation in and of the Roman Church. The parishes I know that are doing well are mostly made up of the "cafeteria" catholics she derides. They ignore the "conservative" teachings and get on with life, but enjoy the worship and the fellowship, and have a sense of loyalty to the church even if they disagree with its teachings. Lose them, and there won't be much left.

Grandmère Mimi said...

What about the polls on the use of birth control among young Roman Catholics? Where are the those who are returning to traditional methods? The young Catholics I know don't even question the concept that they will use whatever form of birth control they think best to time and space pregnancy.

Tobias Haller said...

... yes, Mimi. Those are the "so-called" Catholics she's prepared to write off. Clueless.

JCF said...

A corollary of "No True Scotsman":

If you've noticed, when the Popoids (i.e., RC hierarchy and their sycophants) want to exert Power-Over in the secular sphere, they'll cite "how many Catholics" there are ("a quarter of all Americans!!1!1!")

...and at the SAME TIME, they'll then dismiss a HUGE portion of those Catholics, ala "No TRUE Catholics support gay marriage!"

It's one or the other. Either there's a large number of Catholics---including those who SUPPORT Obamacare's mandate for birth control---or there's a MUCH SMALLER number, and why should we care all that much? [Y'know, the way Christianists often say "there's so FEW homosexuals: why should we care?"]

Tobias Haller said...

JCF, this is one of the more bizarre inconsistencies of thinking in the panoply of Christianist errors. There is much reliance on fallacies of antiquity, majority, authority, and so forth, rather than reliance on demonstrative reason. In this present instance, Ms E. rests on all of these fallacious supports, but in the end reverts to some unassailable "Truth" -- in spite of the fact that her numbers argument falls to ruin around her.

As I've often said, things are not true because many people think them so, because people have long believed them, or because some authority so declares them. Things are true when they can be demonstrated to be so by Reason. The problem for ideologues is that they confuse the strength of their convictions, or the numbers of their supporters, with proof.

This is just one more naked emperor.

Edo said...

Ugh. I love orthodoxy, but not for Gnostic rigorism or party-line dogmatics: I love it because it leads to orthopraxy. And a big part of why I'm Episcopalian is because I can try to practice that orthopraxy without the institution being a millstone around my neck.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Edo. What you are saying is very much in keeping with the sentiments in the Epistle of James, and in the Johannine literature. The tree is known by its fruit...

Daniel Weir said...

Her comment about the pope's seeing himself as the divinely appointed custodian of the Truth illustrates why I feel no optimism about the pope changing the position on birth control. To change it would be to say that his predecessors gt ur wrong. The Lambeth Conference could do that - and did - but it seems inconceivable for the pope to do so. There might be a chance for an end to mandatory celibacy.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Daniel. I don't look for any quick changes any time soon. The RCC has rather painted itself into a corner on birth control; and would seem to have done so on the ordination of women -- although there are a few carefully placed loopholes on that one, jut the right size for a Jesuit to slip through. On priestly celibacy, there is really no doctrine involved -- as they've been saying for some years -- so change is quite possible there. However, the practicalities of a church that can no longer afford a rectory full of monk or friar or jesuit clergy will not likely prove attractive to young marrieds. My local RC parish has lost 90% of its members over the last 20 yrs, and what used to be a whole Augustinian household supporting a dozen masses on Saturday and Sunday, is down to one resident priest and three masses supported by ringer clergy who "work for a living." I used to say I could see Rome going for celibate women clergy before married male clergy, and I still see that as possible -- for practical and doctrinal reasons. Time will tell...