by David Pence
The Catholic Organism can only thrive as a Body if those of us who are members of the Body are formed as personalities which perfect the larger whole. Christianity is transmitted by the vitality of Christians. A culture is carried by the characters it forms. When a culture loses its authoritative ability to seal the member’s soul, it will give way to some communal body with a more binding power. The test of any given manifestation of a Catholic parish or diocese is what kind of men and women are being shaped by its communal liturgical life. Are the men capable of being fathers, craftsmen, business and civic leaders, and strong priests? Are we forged into a public brotherhood of fathers? Are the women capable of being good wives and mothers? Is virginity a high-status role among women, and is courage a necessary trait to win respect among men? Above all, does our life of worship form men and women who submit their souls to the authority of a Living and Present God?
The destruction of such religious culture and personality types was a major cultural goal of Marxists throughout the Cold War. Theodor Adorno’s influential post-WWII book, The Authoritarian Personality, pathologized the character of religious believers as the cause of Fascism. It never occurred to the leftist professor and his Frankfurt school collaborators that it was not intellectuals fleeing Germany that ended Nazi rule. American soldiers, following orders as a disciplined army under authority, invaded Germany and vanquished the real totalitarians.
When a culture becomes atrophied or corrupted, it produces men with the same attributes. If a culture is emasculated, it cannot make men. If it substitutes the ideology of feminism for the cult of Mary, it will not foster feminine women. The emasculation of Catholic priests and its effect on Catholic culture has led to an emasculation of Christian laymen and a subsequent diminishment of the martial virtue of citizens. Christ built the Church on a sacred apostolic brotherhood--that was the love relationship which forged his priestly caste. These new men and their brotherly love for one another manifested the Father/Son relationship which defined Christ. The modern corruption of this sacral apostolic personality has left us priests who are neither fathers to the people nor brothers to each other. This softness in the Catholic priesthood and the embrace of feminism and homosexuality by mainline Protestantism has created a softness in Christian culture which has led abroad to a contempt for us, and allowed a demonic death cult within Sunni Islamic culture to emerge. The breakdown of authoritative fathers in our urban areas has led to a disintegration of the protective brotherhood of City Fathers and the emergence of predator gangs and hyper-male brutes. The more we see a return of a masculine Catholic priesthood, the more we will see the emergence of serious Catholic laymen acting as political leaders committed to protecting their own cities and nations. There are, of course, remnants of apostolic men who give great hope. Among the most inspiring are some remarkable characters forged in the atheistic terror of the Soviet Union. There are many problems among the Orthodox, but the masculinity of their priests is a light unto the nations.
Three authors who teach about culture and character:
Philip Rieff (1922-2006) was a sociologist, an expert on Sigmund Freud, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote brilliantly about the decline of religious character and the spawning of therapeutic man. He understood the relationship of authority, character, and communal identity and was especially piercing in his analysis of Jewish intellectuals without G-d.
On Charisma and the necessity of prohibitions in defining character. Our book review of 'Jew of Culture'.
The Dominican priest, Nicholas Lombardo, on shaping character by disciplining the emotions in his book The Logic of Desire. This kind of emotional learning comes from being in contact with virtuous and authoritative teachers. Real virtue (because it is an ordering of loves by a disciplined practice of emotions) is transmitted more by mimicry and repetition than syllogism.
Christopher Lasch wrote The Culture of Narcissism in which he described the kind of personality which emerges from a political system dedicated to the maximization of consumerism. He began as a critic from the Left. He influenced President Jimmy Carter's 1979 speech admonishing Americans for choosing the "path of self-absorption and fragmentation." Lasch ended as a critic of the sexual revolution and saw modern progressives as consistently betraying the working class while forming a new soulless financial, bureaucratic, and cultural elite.
Before the social disruption of the Sixties there was a Catholic culture that produced a very different kind of man. Authoritative leaders who emerged from the public masculine fraternal culture of mid-20th century American Catholics were football icon Vince Lombardi, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, and President John F. Kennedy. It is interesting that many of the thin-chested Catholic intellectuals who are so shocked by the personality of Donald Trump have written equally negative posthumous critiques of the imperfect, but praiseworthy, American patriot and Cold War warrior JFK.
For a full outline of the Catholic Sociobiology series-see here
|President Kennedy greeting Mayor Daley's family|