Remnant Editor's Note: I was spending a few quite hours after Mass today editing some articles for The Remnant's last issue of 2015 (delayed by the holiday weekend, but to be mailed on Monday), when suddenly something rather startling happened. Halfway through Hilary White's latest, I became convinced I was reading one of the more important articles I've read in some months and felt compelled to share a taste of it here. Why? Because, clearly, our society is being systematically driven mad and at an accelerated rate of speed. The question Hilary is asking is this: What part does the Internet play in expediting our societal madness?
Today I want to swing the camera outwards to the wide world and ask what do we see has been the effect on our civilisation of the nearly total take-over of our institutions by the online culture and internet technology. What is it doing to our cultures? What effect has instant global communication had on geopolitics? What about the gruesome spectre of Islamic jihad?
Christians and others are worried, and rightly, about the internet’s content. Quite apart from the porn, there is serious concern that the material we are being fed is nonsense; trite, shallow and banal “think pieces” on pop culture trivia and the doings of celebrities. There is a running joke on social media: “What would they think of us in the Middle Ages if we told them, ‘I have in my pocket a device which gives me access to all the accumulated knowledge of mankind. And I use it to look at cat videos.’”
You can’t play Catholic in NuChurch: So what now?
One of the things I keep saying over and over is that we are entering a period of great clarity in the Church. It is becoming impossible to continue to adhere to what I have called the “Catholic conservative compromise” – events and persons are forcing closed that comfortable conservative middle ground. (Noteworthy: this Catholic “conservative” phenomenon is mainly an American thing, born out of the political alliance between Protestants and Catholics over the life issues during the Reagan era. It is practically nonexistent in Europe where there are only two categories and not much in the way of pro-lifeism.)
We can no longer hide behind the nostrums of American Catholic conservatism that carefully ignores the contradictions in the data.
Thoughts on the last Sunday of the year...
This morning I woke up to two surprises. As usual, I staggered blearily off to the kitchen to give the kitties their breakfast, put the coffee on and went out for my daily breath of fresh air while it was perking. Every morning this little ritual reminds me where I am – the ancient town of Norcia in the mysterious Valnerina – and why I live here. I stand on my front step and look out at the valley, the trees, the sheep pasture at the bottom and the fields stretching up the lower slopes of the mountains on the opposite side. I look at it and let it sink in, listen to the birds, breathe in the clean air, think about how ancient this place is and how many wars and fears have come and gone and left almost no mark on its people.
Today, I hugged my coffee cup to my chest as I stood, because it was cold. So cold that the peaks and upper slopes were covered in white. Not much, but enough that it meant the winter had come, and with it our town’s quiet, peaceful time. The last of the tourists will go away and it will be just us and the sheep and the cows and the ravens and wild boar, and perhaps the occasional wolf.
"I spent a long time in the pro-life movement, and I met a lot of good people who have given their lives to the struggle against abortion. But among them, I have met very few who understood how their own acceptance of the new mores of the Sexual Revolution have affected them and the movement." . . . Hilary White
In front of the entrances of many Italian churches, including St. Peter’s Basilica, visitors will find a sign that asks them to remember that the building they are entering is not a museum, not a tourist attraction, but a holy place.
At St. Peter’s the long, serpentine queue is punctuated along its length by signs showing stick figures wearing shorts, short skirts and sleeveless t-shirts covered with a big red slashed circle. Italian churches expect a base-line level of modesty and respect from visitors, even if they are expected to know nothing about the Faith for which they are built.
When you were a kid, and went to the pool, did you play the “how low can you go” game? Using keys or any object that would sink to the bottom, you stood at one end of the pool and threw it as far as you could into the deep end, then swam down after it. The game was really about nerve. Most pools are only about 10 feet at the diving end, and the lifeguard was always watching, so our daredevil diving was harmless.
But I get the impression that no matter how far down any bishop goes in the current synodal version of the game, there’s going to be someone ready to follow him a few feet lower. And the lifeguard on duty doesn’t seem to care one way or another. This rivalry among the Synod’s ultra-progressives (“heretics,” in Catholic) to see how outrageous they can get, right in front of the pope, seems to be bringing us to new depths that perhaps most ordinary Mass-going novusordoist Catholics had previously never guessed existed among the episcopate.