Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ageing liberals and middle aged fogeys

Over at Cath News there seems to be some angst about my occasional use of the term 'ageing liberals'.

Am I a young upstart being rude and disrespectful of the elderly they wonder, or an example of the 'less-than-thoughtful older generation', ossified in her thinking?

The answer is, both literally and metaphorically, neither!

The demographics of dissent!

To be clear, it is the word 'liberal' they should be offended, or rather shamed, by - it is, in most cases, a euphemism for heretic.  It should be read as a call to abandon 'dissent' and return to faithfulness.

The reference to ageing just points out the obvious - the Spirit of Vatican II generation has not reproduced itself.

When nuns flung off their habits and priests their cassocks, the result was people out the door, not reinvigoration as had been hoped.

There are no hordes of young people chomping at the bit to carry on the revolution.

The young conservatives

On the contrary, what we are seeing is the rise of a young generation who crave clarity of teaching, and love the rituals and patrimony of the Church.

There is a great video by Fr Kramer of the FSSP (thanks to Rorate Caeli for the alert) that explains some of the reasons why the Vatican II generation view them as young fogeys, so do watch it.

And for the record, I'm a middle aged: too young to have any real memories of the pre-Vatican II Mass beyond vague impressions (though I do have those); but someone who made a deliberate choice to come back to the Church as an adult after being brought up as a protestant through my teens, converted, above all by that traditional liturgy with all the bells and whistles!

Like most of my age group, my views on theological matters has certainly evolved a lot as I've learnt more.  And I'm sure my thinking will continue to develop. 

But that development will, I pray, be within the bounds set by the Church: doctrines about grace, original sin and sexuality are not up for grabs as some want to suggest, even if they way we help people understand them are.


Martin S. said...

"The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past." GKChesterton

To speak authoritatively about how to situate the Church within modernity an understanding of liberalism as a tradition is essential.

" Liberalism (with its economic counterpart, capitalism) is the dominant system of belief at the political, economic and cultural levels, which has remained in the world after the fall of communism (with the possible exception of the Islamic countries). As a system of belief, I consider it to be a major danger for the freedom of the Church and for the future of the world. In a sense, it is a danger that could prove worse than communism, because it masks itself and remains hidden, and for that reason, it does not generate resistance against itself. It might well happen that liberalism could succeed where communism has failed, that is, in destroying the Church as a real people with a culture and a tradition, and in emptying Christianity of its human substance. "

The above quote comes from a talk given by Archbishop Javier Martinez entitled 'Beyond Secular Reason' which Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski highly recommended here: and in the comments here (along with Remi Brague's essay). The entire territory was mapped out by Alasdair MacIntyre a quarter century ago in 'After Virtue' and should be common knowledge.

It would save alot of angst if your interlocuters at CathNews got up to speed and thought with the church, rather than so much with the liberal tradition.

Hoping we can all be of one mind.
Martin Snigg.

Anonymous said...

Someone once made the astute comment that liberals do not have church-going children who are also liberal. Liberal children of liberal parents do not usually carry on the practice of the faith, but in most instances stop going to church once they're past their teens.

In other words, liberal Catholicism doesn't have the power or the substance to perpetuate itself like traditional faith and practice do. And thank God for that!


Maureen said...

I am most definitel"old"- a teenager at the time of Vatican 2, and, as you say, the changes were too much for me and I stayed away for so many years. Always knew, though, that the pendulum would swing in due course, but I never dreamed it would swing in my own lifetime.
Sadly, my own children remain part of those lost generations. The Church in which I tried to bring them up did not resonate with them - and they regard my love for the Latin Mass now with a good deal of distrust.Some of my grandchildren have not even been baptised.
So much damage done.

Martin S. said...

It ought to be mentioned just in case, Archbishop Martinez sides with Milbank/de Lubac uncritically, which in that part of his essay could mislead. It is in fact highly disputed territory.