"We Catholics must stop seeing our nations as 'our society.' We must create our own tribes of relationships. The nation, diocese, and parish are no longer the units of society. With the automobile and the internet, tribes can be created that transcend the nation, state, diocese, and parish." (Taylor Marshall)
[Dr. Taylor Marshall is a great teacher and an internet phenomenon. He is a former Episcopalian priest, who converted to the Catholic Church with his wife in 2006. They live in Texas and have seven children. He is funny, honest, and an engaging teacher -- especially of all things Thomistic.]
What's your take on Taylor Marshall's invite to the virtual tribe?
David Pence: First let me praise him. Dr. Marshall started a kind of alternative Boy Scouts. He calls it "an adventure fraternal apostolate for Catholic men and their sons: The Troops of St George." He is not one of the "thin-chested orthodox." But his statement floored me.
Well, then, get back on your feet and answer the bro!
Pence: It is so utterly unmoored. Let me be brief. In a world besot with evil, organizing protective order is always about taking territory. That was true in Eden, and was the saving space on the Ark. We establish safe precincts where the family lives and the Church worships. The Church is apostolic, so the diocese defined by the physical presence of a bishop is the center of the Eucharistic body. A man can leave the Episcopal Church, but a Catholic can't opt out from the episcopal "overseer" of his diocese. The parish households led by priest fathers are part of this local Church defined in terms of the bishop. Only for grave reasons (and the state of our priesthood supplies many grave reasons) should a Catholic not remain a member of his territorial parish. Like your family members, they are dealt to you -- you don't pick them.
Meanwhile, Dr. Marshall, whether he recognizes it or not, belongs to the male protective communities called the city of Irving, the State of Texas, and most profoundly the American nation. I hope in the Catholic tradition he is teaching his troops of St George that as men they have a protective obligation to their city, state, and nation. These are political traditions which were instituted in the Christian soil of the Americas. Diocese and nation are not volitional communities like a web tribe. They are real and they make true claims on us all. I can't think of a statement more at odds with our whole project here in understanding a Catholic anthropology of territorial male groups. Those are exactly the groups he says are "no longer the units of society." Do you think Mr. Marshall has lost our address?
Can the good doctor make amends?
Pence: Taylor Marshall is self-reflective enough that I expect he will make some kind of clarification, though it would be best if it was a clarifying retraction. He is our sacramental and American brother temporarily deranged by the internet noosphere. He will return.