Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Catholic Kids Have the Most Fun

Here is a girl dressed as St. Mary Magdalene, complete with her traditional skull. Nice!

Her siblings get in on the fun, too. 

What a strange place the internet is!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Beat Them with Fists!

"They want them to be treated with oil, soap and caresses. But they should be beaten with fists. In a duel, you don't count or measure the blows, you strike as you can."

This is pretty much the sentiment I have been expressing in recent blog posts on the subject of debate and political correctness. But who said those words?

Was it Michael Voris, controversial founder of Church Militant TV?


Was it Dinesh D'Souza, pugnacious conservative pundit?


Was it Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and hate figure of the metroliberal media in Britain?


It was St. Pope Pius X, and he was talking about theological modernists-- which today we would call theological liberals.

By all accounts, he was a deeply charitable and gentle man. But he obviously knew that the clash of ideas is not the place to pull punches.

A Holy Advent

I am sorry I have not yet wished my readers a holy and fruitful Advent. To be honest, I am finding it hard to get into an Advent mood, being very busy. However, I don't think a Catholic blog should let the season come in without acknowledgement.

God bless your Advent!

Identity Politics and Grievance

A very quick post, just some remarks on identity politics.

Social and cultural conservatives like me often decry 'identity politics', and this is in reaction to the kind of victomology and grievance-mongering whereby everybody belongs to some perceived oppressed minority (or even majority): Irish Travellers, gays, people with Asperger's syndrome, and so on (and so on, and so on, and so on)....

This is particularly understandable when the (supposedly) oppressed group plays the 'structural inequalities' card, which means that fairness and objectivity are to be thrown out the window-- that society is (supposedly) so tilted against this or that oppressed group, or indeed all of them, that 'social justice' demands we can't be neutral but must always favour the (supposedly) oppressed group, even in our language and discussion.

This leads to absurd claims, such as that you cannot be racist against white people, or that you cannot be sexist against men.

Given all this nonsense, isn't it predictable that conservatives and classical liberals would want to do away with 'identity politics' entirely?

I think this is a mistake-- perhaps not for the classical liberal, but certainly for the traditionalist conservative, who should realise that people are not just atomised individuals, but that tradition and history and community and belonging are essential to them.

This flies in the face of the individualism that emanated from the French Revolution and the Age of the Enligtenment. One French Revolutionary famously said: "The Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals". But that's the kind of 'emancipation' that's not going to satisfy anybody, in the long run.

This is why, although I often criticize multiculturalism in some senses of the term-- in the sense that we should be neutral regarding different cultures, or that we should not privilege a particular culture, or that we should not seek to preserve distinctive cultures-- I'm entirely in favour of multiculturalism in another sense.

I am a multiculturalist in the sense that I think ethnic and religious minorities should be allowed and encouraged to preserve their own traditional cultures-- and to develop them, as well. I also think they should be given official recognition and State funding, where appropriate. "Integration" should not have to mean abandoning your heritage.

There was some controversy in Ireland recently about Polish language Masses-- the suggestion was made that this was hindering Poles from integrating into Ireland. That is the sort of 'integration' I would not like to see. Indeed, the Catholic Church has always cherished particular traditions, as the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Anglican Ordinariate shows.

If this sounds awfully liberal, my response is twofold: 1) Good! There's a good liberalism as well as a bad liberalism. 2) I also think ethnic minorities should be respectful of the majority culture, and not seek some kind of equal billing or neutrality when it comes to State occasions, holidays, TV schedules, etc. etc

Recognition, yes. Resentment, no.

I learned a lot about American culture from the American version of The Office (my favourite TV show, along with Star Trek: The Next Generation). It's where I first heard of the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa, which I found very interesting.

Now, you may consider Kwanzaa a silly made-up tradition. But as I've often said, I'm in favour of all traditions, even made-up ones. If I was African-American, I would celebrate Kwanzaa.

I think I'm being consistent here. I've always disliked the kind of Irish nationalism, or Irish cultural heritage, which doesn't want to affirm anything but only wants to wallow in victimhood. There seems to be a kind of Irish cultural identity which rests entirely on an animus towards British 'imperialism', the Catholic Church (and, simultaneously, anti-Catholicism), and historical discrimination against Irish immigrants in the USA and elsewhere. The Irish-American website Irish Central is a good (or bad) example of this. Their entire vision of Irishness seems to be victimhood of one sort or another.

Indeed, the proponents of this kind of Irish identity usually kick against any sort of vision of Irishness which they perceive as too 'prospective' or 'narrow'; such as the Irish Revival, with its ruralism and Gaelicism and traditionalism. They want everything, in both religion and culture, to be vague and amorphous and misty; they are very often Catholic in a sentimental kind of way that makes no demands on them. That kind of thing makes me nauseous.

In brief: I am all for identity politics when it is about affirmation and celebration, but I am all against identity politics when it is about victimhood, grievance and seeking to silence those outside your identity group with the words "You can't understand what it's like etc. etc. etc."

Prayer Request

Yesterday I heard the very sad news that a good friend had lost his father.

There is a unique loss in the loss of a parent. I still dream about my mother all the time, and she died in 2001.

Please pray: Eternal rest grant unto Vittorio Giuseppi, oh Lord. May perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reading and Writing Makes you Liberal

According to Stephen King, anyway.

He suggests that people who are well-read would be somehow immune to Donald Trump's crude and vague use of language. I wonder how many millions of Trump voters were highly literate?

He also dismisses non-readers as people who get their knowledge of the world from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

Stephen King is a genius and I've happily lost myself in many of his books; he has that primary gift of a story-teller, that the worlds he creates have a solidity and a reality of their own, which has nothing to do with how realistic or plausible they might be. 

But quite a few of the things he says here irritates me. He lists off a few names of contemporary writers of literary fiction, and suggests ordinary Americans are semi-illiterate for knowing nothing about them. Why should they? What's so great about literary fiction, particularly contemporary literary fiction?

I don't know what makes people liberal or conservative, but I'm pretty sure it's more elusive than whether or not a person is an enthusiastic reader.

All my life I've felt ill-read. I can hardly ever remember 'devouring' a book. I have never felt the inclination to read for hours. I share King's view on the importance of reading, but I think there are many different sorts of reader, and I certainly don't agree that reading (by itself) necessarily inclines you towards any particular view of the world.

This is Reassuring

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that Catholic teaching on Communion for the divorced and remarried has not changed, and cannot change.

The permanence of Catholic doctrine is the Faith's single greatest 'selling point' in modern society. If that is undermined, everything is undermined.

The enemies of the Faith realise this-- that is why they are always trying to convince people that changes in discipline (such as clerical celibacy) or plurality of opinions amongst theologians before a doctrine was infallibly proclaimed (for instance in the case of the Immaculate Conception) are changes in doctrine.

'Mercy' that undermines the authority of the Church, or that creates confusion and ambiguity, is not mercy at all.