Church of the “Nice Guy”

From my friends over at Les Femmes, a terrific article refuting the “Nice Guy” approach to Catholicism  advanced by effeminate clergy and idiotic feminist types” – La Salette Journey

The Church will – through the power of the Holy Spirit

The City of God has a problem, a big problem. Many of those charged with protecting and defending the city have gone over to the enemy. Some are active members of the treasonous conspiracy, but others commit treason by their silence and capitulation. They are the “nice guys” who want to be liked and admired. They don’t want anyone rocking the boat by insisting on unpleasant truths and they fear epithets like “rigid” and “medieval.” And so they say and do nothing when the active conspirators within and the enemy without take their jackhammers and wrecking balls to the foundations of the holy city.

In a recent article at The Catholic Thing, Deacon James Toner discussed The Nice Guy Syndrome and raised some provocative points:

Nice guys are sincere….. Nice guys are tolerant…. Nice guys are “authentic”….That there can be sincere rapists, tolerant drug dealers, or authentic terrorists; that abortionists can be pleasant people; that those planning a political paradise marked by eugenics and euthanasia can simultaneously be loving grandparents – all these things testify to what Hannah Arendt famously called the “banality of evil.”….
Nice guys…have done, and can do, great evil because of apathy, because of unwillingness to seek the truth and then to do it. Truth obliges. Knowing the truth requires us to act in that truth – to “do” the truth. (James 1:22, CCC 898) If being a “nice guy” means that we must be wishy-washy or apathetic about knowing and serving truth, then we must be as disagreeable, as dyspeptic, as possible….

Smiling nice guys are legion: we find them in parliaments and in pulpits, in chancelleries and in colleges, in the public square and in religious synods….
… if I do not trouble myself about the truth – about its certainty in Christ – then I need not concern myself about doing the truth, about testifying to that truth by what I say and do, and thus risk alienating those very people who see me as a “nice guy.”[i]

This article will focus, not on the “nice guys” of the world who lack the advantage of the fullness of the faith; rather it will look at those within the City of God with the responsibility to teach: the men in Roman collars with multiple letters after their names, the Catholic educators and writers willing to purge the truth from their institutions and works, and the laity in the pew who pick and choose their beliefs in accordance with their pet sins. Not all these “nice guys” are merely silent about the truth. Some actively seek the approval of the world by vigorously defending what’s popular and politically correct. They may even uphold certain teachings of the faith when it is easy and costs nothing. Their silence, however, is deafening when it comes to hard truths that make them targets of criticism and ridicule. These are the “nice guys” committing treason against the City and her ruler, Jesus Christ.

The word treason derives from the Latin “traditionem” meaning to hand over, deliver, or surrender and from the Old French verb “trair” meaning to betray. Under old English law, high treason involved a subject’s betraying his sovereign (in our case Christ Himself) or the state (the City of God). Petit treason involved a subject’s offense against a fellow subject. Today, “nice guys” commit both of these treasons. They violate the two great commandments to love God and neighbor. They undermine the faith and weaken the ability of the City of God to carry out its proper role of bringing the entire world to the service of Christ the King. They also undermine the faith of Catholics.
Let us examine several common spheres of silence that reflect the failure of “nice guys” to defend the faith and rob the Church of her evangelical mission to proclaim the truth and spread it to the ends of the earth: silence in the pulpit about moral evils common among the flock, silence from the hierarchy about syncretism, the belief that all religions are essentially the same and all can lead to salvation, and failure of the laity to defend the faith in the marketplace.

First of all, consider the silence of the clergy to teach the faith clearly and boldly. This problem plagued the Church from its very beginning and often arises from human respect. Peter himself fell victim when he stopped eating with the Gentile converts in order to please the Jewish converts.[ii] St. Paul called him to account and, when the first council met in Jerusalem, the Church spoke clearly about the limited obligations of the Gentiles to follow Mosaic Law. But it took a very UN-silent St. Paul to chastise the pope himself. How many clergy fall into the same trap as the English bishops who chose silence to please a king and avoid martyrdom? And the clergy today do it with much less cause, since they will hardly be executed for making a handful of parishioners angry. The bishop may lose some big contributors, of course, which seems to be an important consideration with nice guys in the chancery.

There are several particularly pernicious areas of silence for which our teaching shepherds are culpable. Humanae Vitae, the encyclical condemning contraception, remains unproclaimed after fifty years. The silence in most dioceses and parishes is deafening. Most clerics never challenge the sins of the flesh common to their flocks: abortion, contraception, pornography, immodesty, etc. Have you ever heard a sermon on the seven deadly sins or the four last things? Hell and damnation are very real, but those words are seldom heard. Instead, the Sunday homily, the major opportunity each week for the clergy to teach doctrine and morality to their parishioners, often has little more substance than a bowl of jello. How many clergy will have to answer to Christ, because they abandoned their flocks to spiritual ignorance?

We should be especially aware of the damage of silence in this anniversary year of Fatima since Our Lady told the three shepherd children that sins of the flesh send most sinners to hell. And certainly the sin of our day is lust. Contraception, pornography, and immodesty give free reign to fornication, adultery, and the perversion of the marriage bed. Contraception often leads to abortion since many couples cite contraceptive failure as the reason they kill their children. According to a 2011 U.K. study by the largest abortion provider in the country, two thirds of women choosing abortion were using contraception when they conceived.[iii] When I was sidewalk counseling, several abortion-minded women told me it wasn’t their fault since they conceived while using birth control. Hence, in their minds, abortion was justified.

And yet the silence about the immorality of these evils continues….

Read the rest, plus Footnotes, THERE.


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8 Responses to Church of the “Nice Guy”

  1. A really excellent, EXCELLENT essay. One of those “almost-knocked-me-off-my-chair” pieces. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Roger says:

    – Bicentennial talk given in the United States by the future St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Kraków, Poland
    (41 years ago)
    “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.
    “We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”

  3. Cassie says:

    I love a good post that holds no punches. Keep ’em comin’ please! 😊

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    The word treason derives from the Latin “traditionem” meaning to hand over, deliver, or surrender and from the Old French verb “trair” meaning to betray

    Close, but quite deeply wrong — Old French trair, traïr, trahir is from the Latin verb tradere, to give, to abandon, to give up, to give over. The “to betray” sense is metaphorical and post-Classical.

    Traditio, tradition, is from the past participle of the root verb, traditus — so it means, what has been given, abandoned, given up, given over. The suffix -io merely nominalises it, but it is important to note one fundamental difference here — traditio represents what one has given over in the past, whereas tradere concerns doing the same in the present.

    Traditio therefore represents the solid ground of the necessary give and take that has led one to a certain point ; whereas tradere represents the giving away of that which is valuable here and now. Metaphorically, these two processes are diametrically opposed ; in Church terms, what one has accepted as being given away to the Church, to God, to fellow Christians and non-Christians in Tradition constitutes the solid basis of the Religion ; to give over any such things today, if not in Conversion towards the Religion at the personal level, is to barter away and betray that same foundation.

    The author of the article fails to fully understand that a single verb or noun in Latin can incorporate totally opposite meanings (a common cause for certain misunderstandings of both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Latin Novus Ordo BTW), depending on the particular direction of movement that will be provided in the meaning of a sentence — to have given over into a traditio, individually or culturally/religiously, is the opposite of to give any part of this over for something else entirely, constituting betrayal.

    But to give over one’s personal lack of Faith, one’s selfish individuality, one’s sinful desire, towards God, and Christ, and Church is OTOH exactly central to the nature of Conversion itself.

    The essential difference in perspective from the Latin root meanings here is that Conversion is the giving away of one’s selfishness for Faith, whereas Apostasy is the giving away of one’s Faith for selfishness. The difference is what is being given away and for what in exchange, rather than in any ambiguity between the modern English terms tradition and betrayal.

  5. toadspittle says:

    V. G. – Jabba, eight-and-a-half out of ten. At least.
    You really should consider taking this kind of thing up seriously.

    “The author of the article fails to fully understand that a single verb or noun in Latin can incorporate totally opposite meanings ..
    Perhaps this will help:
    ” ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’ “

  6. JabbaPapa says:

    ” ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’ “

    This illustrates a particular difference between English in particular, and other languages, Ancient and Modern.

    English is a language of trade, and so its vocabulary is both vast and precise, both to establish the detail of what one is discussing, and to avoid as far as possible any risks of confusion or ambiguity.

    It’s why various deliberate satires from violations of these basics, from Carroll to Monty Python and so forth, even Dr. Seuss, are so funny in English.

    It’s why I think English-speaking Faithful Catholics are so hungry for precise teaching documents from the Church, devoid of such problems — the trouble being that neither Latin nor Italian are terribly useful for such purposes, so that translations therefrom are problematic by default.

    Latin deliberately cultivates multiple meanings (when it is not being peasant-like down to earth), and the art of good Latin is often to write something capable of multiple interpretations, but where none of those interpretations can be found to be wrong. Italian OTOH specifically uses contexts rather than direct meanings to convey what it intends, always, so that what would literally be approximations if taken word for word, when the extra information from context is included, subtle meanings become apparent which you might be completely unable to convey in so many words.

    French is a good compromise between these types of thinking and writing — for whilst individual words can have multiple meanings, these meanings are virtually never self-contradictory, whereas subtlety of speech remains a possibility ; so that French can be used quite properly to express the same manner of clarity and sharpness that English requires, or just as properly the multiplicity or subtlety of meanings that Latin or Italian enjoy. So it’s natural that it became the language of Diplomacy, the natural go-between for the opposites.

    One can of course try and force Latin or Italian to be precise and unambiguous — but then your writing or speech will be bad, and your meanings flat. These languages have not the wide-ranging-ness of the English vocabulary, which can give even the flattest statements an air of liveliness.

    One can also attempt an Italianate English — but frankly, unless you’re a Chaucer, a Malory, or a Shakespeare, your chance of success will be slim indeed.

    Which is to veer somewhat off-topic — but still, overly literalist interpretations of Church teachings remain of dubious value, from whatever source, where no effort is apparent in the original Latin or Italian to be perfectly clear (and such efforts are not nevertheless uncommon) ; but then neither does the greater fluidity of Latin or Italian allow them to be translated whichever way you want, in the Humpty-Dumpty-like manner of certain post Vatican II English-language translations of even Council texts and the Order of Mass.

    Such failures first of understanding perhaps, but then in mistranslation and mis-teaching, accidental or deliberate, lead to some of the very ills that the article denounces ; to understand a deliberate ambiguity as something hard and definite either on one side or another (“conservative”, “liberal”, whatever) is to factionalise and divide us, or to translate a perfectly good Italian/Latin ambiguity into an unacceptable English one is to betray the duty of Faithful teaching, but to misuse the (good) multiple meanings of an entire text to promote a partial and ideologised version of it from one’s own prejudices is to violate and betray the original text entirely. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ Humpty Dumpty is the Modernist par excellence

    With no proper sense of where the teaching is clear and unambiguous, and where elsewhere it deliberately encourages multiple interpretations, and all else in-between each in its own order, Catholics can be trapped in confusion and doubt, or ambiguity and vagueness, or politicised factionalism or sectarianism, or simple doctrinal ignorance, all of which, fertile ground for heresies and Protestantism.

    Sadly, all of these things have become very common flaws in the English-language Church teaching especially, but in several other languages too.

  7. toadspittle says:

    Nine out of ten, Jabba. Gold star! With oakleaf cluster.

    “Humpty Dumpty is the Modernist par excellence …”
    I think so, too. He could give Derrida a century start* – and still beat him in straight sets.
    Which is why (IMAO) Carrol is, even today, so underrated for his wisdom, which is still roundly regarded as childish nonsense.
    Although, I’m not quite clear if you are saying is that we can read whatever we choose, into any text – or if that’s precisely what we we can’t do.
    Depends on the rext, I suppose. And/Or the reader.
    For example, only the other day, someone on CP&S quoted, “Thou shalt not kill.” What, exactly, does that mean?
    Thou shalt not kill anything at all? Or just not kill other men? Or only kill other animals? Or only kil bad men? Or what?

    * Like God did to the Devil

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    Although, I’m not quite clear if you are saying is that we can read whatever we choose, into any text – or if that’s precisely what we we can’t do

    The reference work on this question is Umberto Eco’s Lector in Fabula / The Role of the Reader.

    In a word no — in more detail, some texts grant very broad interpretative freedom (stuff by Antonin Artaud probably being the worst offender here) ; some texts grant virtually none (a highly detailed computer-controlled purchase list for example).

    A central key to proper interpretation is to understand how much freedom and what restrictions a text and its author provide for the reader. Another is to understand that personal interpretations are, besides being completely unavoidable, not the substance of the text as such, even though they are the substance of each individual reading of it.

    For example, only the other day, someone on CP&S quoted, “For example, only the other day, someone on CP&S quoted, “Thou shalt not kill.” What, exactly, does that mean?

    The original Hebrew verb means both kill and murder, so it means “Thou shalt not kill another person”. Using the word “murder” is a (deliberate) mistranslation of the Commandment (usually by those in favour of the death penalty), but that sense of the verb does clarify that it is the killing of other people that’s being forbidden here.

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