Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The ouroboros is the image from ancient mythology of a snake consuming its own tail. I note it here because I can never remember the word.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fr. Longnecker on the Immigration Act of 1924

Fr. Longnecker, the South Carolina priest and convert from evangelicalism who writes the Standing on My Head blog (which apparently has been absorbed by the internet amoeba of vapid religious prose,, has not technically voiced his support for the Johnson-Reed Act. But he doesn't particularly care for your grubby, knuckle-dragging, Romish ancestors with their bad genes and undemocratic racial dispositions.

The comment boxes at the Internet Amoeba of Vapid Religious Prose are onerously regulated by software I dislike, so I'll make a note on Fr. Longnecker's point here. To wit:

Fiddlesticks. Catholics in every age have abjured the Faith because the prince of this world tempted them to do so through his assorted allurements, of which wealth, social acceptance, and worldly interests are but notable examples. They did so in unprecedented numbers in the West during the twentieth century because their priests, bishops, and school teachers stopped telling them to do otherwise. The role that the relationship between their culture and the Faith played was merely that they continued (and in some cases still continue) to call themselves "Catholic" long after they ceased to be such in any but the strictest canonical sense.

These people who Fr. Longnecker thinks were so misguided---these Poles, Irishmen, Slovaks, Czechs, Italians, and Irishmen---were the faithful. There never was any Catholicism other than the Catholicism that they, and their confreres in other societies, lived out within the milieu of their cultural experience. Of course the faith shaped their culture and became a part of it: the cultural expression of the faith, in immigrant communities in the U.S. and back in Europe, was the residue of a civilization that had been transformed by the Church. This is precisely what the Faith's role vis-a-vis the world is supposed to be: if the Church is something to which we belong on days other than Sunday, it must play a seminal role in defining our other activities, our meals, our celebrations, and our mourning.

The decay of cultural Catholicism proceeded along with the decay of Catholicism in the United States and the West generally. The demise of those communities was a feature of the self-immolation of American Catholicism. But they were not the cause of the disaster, nor even the differentia of the occurrence. They were merely victims, along with the rest, of worldliness and foolishness.

The sweeping criticism of the way in which an entire civilization lived the Faith is absurd. It is beyond absurd when contrasted unfavorably with the supposed virtue of assorted bands of Dutch heretics. And coming from a WASP convert, who lives in a part of the country (one, mind you, of which I am quite fond) that has about as many yak farms as old ethnic Catholic enclaves, it resembles nothing so much as mere chatter from the peanut gallery. Fr. Longnecker has gained wide respect for his often insightful commentary. But his foray into internecine warfare on a topic on which he appears poorly equipped to comment---and in which his rhapsodic praise of his heretic ancestors raises all manner of questions---is lamentable.

For another critique, may I recommend The Bellarmine Forum.