I am learning a lot about Critical Theory, because it is pervasive in our culture and coming to a Church near you. It is an ideology that is clearly opposed to Christianity especially Catholicism.
It is a subject I want to explore on this blog. But I have an article in a print publication, that is due on Sunday. I have been working on it for weeks, but I still have lots more to do. Sure wish the Holy Spirit would zap me already.
Anyway. For those of you who are interested, here is a video by an evangelical Christian who explains what Critical Theory is and why it is not compatible with Christianity (H/T Rod Dreher). He (Neil Shenvi) is giving the lecture to high school students, so it is very accessible.
The lecture is over an hour, but I urge you to make the time to view it.
Here is a link to Dr. Shenvi’ s site which has links to information on Critical Theory.
This might be a bit of a ramble. On a previous post,Descent into Madness, I wrote about trying to get my brain around Critical Theory, that is the philosophy which is the foundation of the so called Woke belief system. It is difficult as Critical Theory is not really about employing critical thinking skills. It is about criticizing western civilization and it’s traditional structures and institutions.
Now the legion of Foucault’s disciples in the Western academy continued this archeological project after their master’s death, looking especially into issues of colonialism, gender, homosexuality, and race. And what they found in all these areas, unsurprisingly, was a Nietzschean power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. Once awakened to this reality (woke), they endeavored to foment confrontation between the powerless and the powerful, and here the influence of Marx cannot be overlooked; indeed, one of Foucault’s greatest mentors was the French Marxist Louis Althusser. Appeals to order, social norms, objective ethical values should be swept aside, for they are but a camouflage for the real social dynamics. Vive la revolution! I trust that much of this is sadly familiar to any American who endured the worst of 2020’s social upheaval.
These theories are atheistic. They reject the idea that there is any objective moral order. Everything boils down to power. Those who have it; those who don’t. They also reject–or at least are suspicious–of science and logic, because they are instruments of oppression.
It seems–at least as regard to race–the Church is trying to reconcile Critical Race Theory into the Social teaching of the Catholic Church. I hope that I am wrong, because it is just not possible.
But. My favorite deacon and I were invited to a study day on zoom from the diocese. Full disclosure, I didn’t last much past the intro, and my husband lasted slightly longer. So it is possible I did not get the full picture. Sorry at our age we have to worry about our blood pressure as well as the well being of our souls.
The presenter began by insisting that we all have implicit bias. In critical race theory that is code for if your are white you are a racist. Period. It is the original sin of whites. To deny that you are racist proves that you are. To say that you don’t see a person’s color–as in Dr. Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream Speech-is to be a racist. It is a zero sum game.
But it is not just a problem for white people. I read quite a few articles by black writers, who think the current anti racist rhetoric is harming black people by turning them into poster children for victimhood.
But I digress. Back to the Study Day event.
Then the presenter, bizarrely, went on to show traffic signs without words. You know the universal sign shapes that almost every country uses. So when we traveled in France a few years ago, when we saw a red octagon we knew to stop even though we can’t speak French.
Anyway he asked the audience what the signs meant. When it was answered correctly, the presenter claimed that to identify the signs with any one meaning showed bias.
Facepalm. Every driving test I have ever taken in several states requires that you identify unlabeled traffic signs in order to pass. Same in Ireland.
But the presenter claimed we are wrong to make assumptions. That is true about people. We should never judge people based on the color of their skin, body shape, attractiveness etc..
How in the heck does knowing that you should assume that a certain color and shape of a sign means something specific prove implicit bias? At the very least is was a very bad analogy.
I ended the session because I had a sick feeling in the pit of stomach that it was going to be down hill from there.
Yes racism still is a big problem. But we have come a long way from the pre civil rights era. As a Catholic Christian, I know that the only solution is to turn back to Christ. To believe deep in our souls that every human being is sacred, unique, unrepeatable, and created in the image and likeness of God.
Every human being bears the face of Christ. Even people who are mean and destructive and wish to harm us. The trouble is it takes an awful lot of grace to see some people as made in His image.
Donald Trump? Hilary Clinton? The backstabber at work?
Let’s face it we are living in a post Christian culture. It is getting harder for orthodox Christians to navigate it and live our faith without capitulating. Most people want to be liked. Even white martyrdom takes courage.
What we need from the Church is guidance on how to live as an intentional disciple. We need to learn how to suffer with Christ on the cross. We need to learn how to truly love our neighbor–and I mean the ones who are more like enemies. It is easy to love the neighbor who brings food when a loved one has died. Its not so easy to love the neighbor who tried to prevent your elderly parents from moving in with you.
In other words we need to turn away from our sins and turn back to God. Appealing to Critical Race Theory is not going to do it. It can only divide us.
Only Christ Unites.
Today is the feast day of Katharine Drexel who is the patron saint of racial Justice.
Today we begin the season of Lent. Yes I know that this past year has felt like one long lent. We didn’t even really celebrate Easter last year. But here we are. In the desert again.
To be honest I still have a lot of repenting and conversion to do before I return to dust. The 1st reading for Mass today is heartbreaking yet full of hope:
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; Let the bridegroom quit his room and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people. Joel 2:12-18
The culture we live in today is one without forgiveness or mercy. But we know that God’s love is merciful and just. He is always ready to take us back not matter how great our sin. He will never cancel us, shun us or try to destroy us.
All he asks is that we repent of our sins and turn back to him with all of our hearts.
And cling with all our might to the cross of Christ.
I have been reading everything that I can get my hands on to help me understand the concepts and philosophies that are clearly sending our country down a very dark path. So I have been studying Critical Theory especially in regard to critical race theory and critical queer theory.
It has been about as easy as peering into a vat of dark chocolate to try and see what is at the bottom.
Critical Theory divides everyone into oppressor and the oppressed. In critical race theory, all white people are oppressor’s no matter their station in life. But is also systematic, that is baked into every aspect of communal life and institution.
Critical theory, whatever form it takes, relies on the concept of false consciousness—the notion that the oppressors control society so completely that the oppressed believe their own interests are served by the status quo. This is a wonderful idea. It allows every piece of evidence that might refute one’s theory to be transformed into further evidence of how deep and comprehensive the problem of oppression is. If factory workers buy houses in the suburbs and vote for Republicans, that’s not a fact that requires rethinking Marx’s theories; it’s a sign of how all-powerful bourgeois ideology has become.
Erich Fromm and company thought in terms of class and economics. Ibram X. Kendi and his allies think in terms of race and discourses of power. But the postmodern twist does not change the basic logic. As a former colleague used to quip: same horse, different jockey. Critical race theory is the Marxist horse, ridden by the jockey of identity politics rather than the jockey of class warfare.
I don’t see how any of this is compatible with orthodox Christianity. It really is a civil religion.
More Carl Trueman:
All-embracing and transformative views often have a religious quality. Critical race theory is no exception. It has a creedal language and liturgy, with orthodox words (“white privilege,” “systemic racism”) and prescribed actions (raising the fist, taking the knee). To deviate from the forms is to deviate from the faith. Certain words are heretical (“non-racist,” “all lives matter”). The slogan “silence is violence” is a potent rhetorical weapon. To fail to participate in the liturgy is to reject the antiracism the liturgy purports to represent—something only a racist would do.
It is a long article and Truman is writing about “Evangelicals and Race Theory”. But I found it enlightening and applicable to Catholic Christianity. Do read it.
I will be writing more about this. But I have to end now.
Please don’t bury us while we are still alive. Pandemic or not, we still have some living to do.
I am writing this because, the one complaint from my cohorts and older seniors is that their kids won’t stop nagging them. While we get that our kids are concerned, we can’t stay under house arrest for ever. That will kill us even sooner.
My kids have given up for the most part. But I am sure that it drives them crazy that we still socialize and that their Dad is still going to work. Well they think that he should have retired after he had a stroke over a year ago. Now that WOULD kill him.
Of course we do have to act with prudence and common sense. Wear masks. Social distance etc. etc. .
it is hard to realize that it is possible that we could die without seeing our wonderful children and grandchildren again.
But it is a real possibility especially since my daughter and her family live in Ireland. Travel to and from Ireland is banned indefinitely.
Hopefully we will be able to travel to Boston this summer to visit our son and his family if Boston opens up by then.
Maybe if people can actually get vaccinated we can return to some kind of normalcy. Its not looking to good though. My favorite deacon and I are over 65 and in a high risk group. We have been trying for over a week to schedule an appointment. But no luck. Oh and there is no way to contact an actual human being to get answers or help.
But hey pharmaceutical sales reps. have gotten them. Sales people. Sigh.
Since today is his Memorial, I thought I would share with you the 2nd reading from today’s Office of Readings:
The cross exemplifies every virtue
Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.
It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.
If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.
If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.
If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.
If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.
Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourging’s. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
From a Conference by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Here is a clip from Fr. Barron’s The Pivotal Players.
I haven’t been blogging in a few days, because my old demon MS has flared up.
Hence brain fog. Just so it doesn’t start affecting my speech, because then I can sound like a sailor who chugged a bottle of rum.
Perhaps I will be able to write a real post tomorrow.
To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity. In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the President said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.” My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this:Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation.
I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Every new president deserves a chance. But he really blew it by signing this executive order on day one:
Many women see this as a War on Women, and an end to women’s sports. Amy Welborn has some insight on the issue here (she includes a link to a radical feminist group) and here .
President Biden wants to unite the people of this country? Really?
On a more positive note the Us Bishops have issued a statement on the inauguration of President Biden. It is a much stronger statement than I anticipated.
At the same time, as pastors, the nation’s bishops are given the duty of proclaiming the Gospel in all its truth and power, in season and out of season, even when that teaching is inconvenient or when the Gospel’s truths run contrary to the directions of the wider society and culture. So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.
Our commitments on issues of human sexuality and the family, as with our commitments in every other area — such as abolishing the death penalty or seeking a health care system and economy that truly serves the human person — are guided by Christ’s great commandment to love and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable.
For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the “preeminent priority.” Preeminent does not mean “only.” We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion.
Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities.
Rod Dreher, over at The American Conservative, received a letter from a reader that feels that they are stuck in the middle of the political spectrum. A friend told Rod that “The problem is that you are in the middle, but the middle has shrunk to the size of a knife’s edge, which is why it’s so painful.”
Yes! That is exactly how it is! I am not a liberal (old school or progressive). I am not a political conservative. There are some policies where I am more aligned with Democrats, and some where I am aligned with the Republicans. But the Democrats radical stance on abortion and their often hostile rhetoric on religious freedom makes it impossible for me to vote for them.
Too often I end up voting third party or writing in a candidate. The problem is that there is a growing mentality in this country that if you aren’t on one side you must be on the other side.
Perhaps that is one reason, in addition to the summer riots and the even worse 1/6 assault on the Capital, that there is some concern that a civil war is brewing.
Not sure. But we the people are more divided than ever. It came a little too close too home for me recently. I was talking to a very dear family member who seems to have accepted all of the hashtags, slogans, and axioms of the woke crowd. It is not insignificant that this person also has rejected Christianity (especially orthodox beliefs). The more I tried to explain that I am Catholic and vote accordingly, the angrier they became.
This person seemed to think that I and my favorite deacon are to the far right of Q Anon. I think it is because of the you are either with me or against me mentality that is becoming more prevalent.
It. Is. Frustrating. And very sad.
Until recently we Americans could agree to disagree. There was an understanding that you could love a friend, parent, adult child fiercely and still have very different viewpoints. But few seem to understand the concept of unconditional love, i.e “I love you no matter what” anymore.
I am just stating to read it, but I think that it is a very important book for orthodox Christians of all stripes to read in order to understand the culture we are living in. We have a traditional understanding of self and of what it means to be human that is going the way of the Dodo bird.
“We pray O God of might, wisdom and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.
Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.”
I am late posting today. Its a combination of attending a funeral and MS fatigue striking. But I have been thinking a lot about Martin Luther King lately. While I have read many of his talks, sermons and speeches over the years, I came across one today that I had not encountered.
It is a sermon that he gave on Matthew 5: 43-45 that is profound and timely. Do read the whole text here .
“The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape, and agape is more than eros. Agape is more than philia. Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen. 7
And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.
Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.
I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”
Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights.8 And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”
Wow. Let us pray that someone in our country has sense to dim the lights and cut off the hate that seems to be gathering into a great destructive force.