What doth it profit a man to attend Latin Masses, but not live like the Good Samaritan?
Email: torontocatholicwitness@outlook.com

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The lure of the easy answer to the so-called "true traditionalist"

Over the past few days, while the not-about-sex-abuse summit has been happening in Rome and Heresica was being embarrassed, I was privy to an interesting Twitter exchange between sedevacantists and non-sedevacantists - or, "true" traditionalists and "fake" traditionalists.

Sidestepping the usual ad hominem attacks and accusations of heresy, I noticed something quite interesting about the exchange on the part of sedevacantism - its framing as an "easy answer," as if embracing that line of thinking will solve all of your problems and dilemmas regarding the Church in this time and place.

Sedevacantism is only one such line of thinking that advocates an "easy answer" to what we can call "the Problem." I have seen this elsewhere in non-sedevacantist channels, particularly amongst those that consider themselves "counter-revolutionaries."

Although it will be detailed later, the "counter-revolutionary" position argues that if only the Church and State were reunified, Catholic monarchies restored to their proper glory (with a particular attention to France), with the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ guiding every aspect of daily life, everything will be as it should be, as it was before the French Revolution. The world would not be in the mess it is in today.

The storming of the Bastille

As one can see, the position is quite complex to whittle down to one sentence. But the counter-revolutionary position - as I can attest to from first-hand experience, having once considered myself a counter-revolutionary - is alluring. It drapes itself in historical examples and precedents, and presents a "before or after" dichotomy. If only humanism hadn't happened, one hears, if only the French Revolution hadn't happened, we wouldn't be in this situation. If we go back to what life was like before all the mess started, the world would be as it should be. The counter-revolutionary position is remarkably like sedevacantism in this regard.

Sedevacantism and the counter-revolutionary position both present prospective "candidates" - to use the term - with a glimmering promise that is all too false. To take the counter-revolutionary position as an example, life was not all peaches and honey before the French Revolution. There were real abuses perpetrated under the union of Church and State. The First and Second Estates of France were largely tax-exempt, while the Third Estate (by far the largest of the three) was burdened with the tax of the entire nation. Life was pretty miserable if you were not a priest or noble ... the smaller the settlement, the worse off things could be for you. It is eerily similar to what we see today in the world at large.

Sedevancantism likewise presents a rosy "before" picture - as in, before 1958, things were peachy with regards to the papacy, but after that, well, Hell broke loose, to put it mildly. That is also false. As I pointed out some time ago, treating the pope like an absolute monarch is problematic. It was already reaching absurd levels in 1958. It is even worse today.

Friends, I know we are in a very tough, and scary situation. We are all trying to make sense of what is going on, and recover our lost heritage while we are at it. But we must resist the temptation to go looking for an easy answer. I have already highlighted what I think to be the two most common sub-groups of "traditionalism" that people run to and aggressively defend, to the point where they refuse to listen to those who disagree with them.

The reality is that there is no easy answer, or an ideology that we can embrace which will pave a sure way forward in the time to come. Not only do they defy logic, these so-called "easy answers," but they promote and propagate division by their very existence. That, frankly, is something we cannot afford to have.

More will come on this topic.

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