Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Review.

Anti-Catholicism and Nineteenth Century Fiction by Susan M. Griffin.


J. Hershaw said...

Anti-catholocism is an interesting topic. Its reflects a prejudice I seldom had personal experience with. As a white male growing up, I didn't know anyone who was anti-catholic, yet I am aware intellectually that such biases existed. Even now when I read a modern work of fiction like The Davinci Code, they always seem to me to be completely fabricated works of fiction, fabricated for the sake of story versus fabricated to generate some sort of catholic bashing.

Peter, do you think serious anti-Catholic bias in literature and in society in general has reached a point where is it mostly irrelevant, or does it still have significant detrimental impacts on the life of catholics in the is country?

Peter Bradley said...

I would have said that anti-Catholicism was a trivial issue prior to about twenty years ago.

However, because of the internet, I have come to see that there remains a loud and virulent anti-Catholic minority out there who really speak in the tropes that we can read in 19th century fiction.

In addition, the focus on Catholic priests feeds off and creates anti-Catholic tropes. Other groups - particularly teachers - have as a big a problem with sex with minors, but it is the Catholic priests who have been villified as a group. I saw my priest apologizing in tears for the scandal and explaining that parents warn their children away from him. Is that fair? No, but it is a piece with 19th century fiction.

Finally, the growth of the secular left clerisy feeds into anti-Catholicism. The Catholic Church stands against much of the conventional wisdom of the hedonistic secular left and bears the brunt of the left. The left is getting more virulent in its opposition, which ties into something else I've posted today about Catholics moving away from the Democrat party, in part after the horrible display of secularism at the 2012 convention.

So, yeah, it is still a big deal.

J. Hershaw said...

I totally understand and respect your view. Not being Catholic, I'm sure interpret circumstances with respect to Catholicism differently. Couple of things that come to my mind as a non-Catholic.

1. The vilification of priests was to some extent self-imposed by the church as opposed to the result of outside prejudice. Priests as a group are supposed to be better then teachers. Much is expected of everyone representing the spiritual side of any church. That comes with the territory. Couple that with the church "management's" handling of the issue and the church got heaped with ridicule it mostly deserved. Nevertheless, the church will survive this failure and the warranted and unwarranted attacks that followed, and over time reference to those failures by outsiders will sound more and more hollow and irrelevant (that does't make it easier to handle in the meantime).

2. I think the Internet has exposed a lot of things about our society that would be better kept under some big rock. When those things attack something you love, its particularly foul. However, I'm not sure that means there is an increase in anti-catholic feelings. Maybe what does exist is just more visible? Like I said earlier, I am not aware of any anti-Catholic feelings held by people I know or would care to interact with.

3. I had to look up the word "clerisy." Thanks for eduction! It seems like "a distinct class of learned or literary people" has been at odds to some extent with the church (in all its manifestations) for the last 2 millennia. I suspect catholics and the Martin Luther of the 1540's would be stunned at modern practices, dogma, and beliefs of most modern churches. Its tough as a church to line up over time only with the forces of historical conservatism. People and the Zeitigeist are in a constant state of change. To the extent it does change, the church seems to follow a little behind. Birth control and out of wedlock sex seem to be issues the church and the laity are currently significantly out of sync on. I suspect the church will eventually relent somewhat on these issues. Other issues related to sexuality, perhaps not.

4. To me, the modern Catholic church in the United States is a force for thoughtful consideration of so many social issues. The Catholic church and Catholics being mostly oriented towards the Democratic party also seems to have helped bridge the gap between social liberals and social conservatives. I'd hate to see that gap widened by a major shift in Catholic sensibilities towards political conservatism.

5. At some point, society resolves its social issues one way or the other. As a non-Catholic, I respect that many who are Catholic and the church itself has to draw their own lines. Those lines represent an absolute set of values that are not situational and not subject to societal norms. However, the larger society is allowed to draw lines on many of these issues as well. I worry that if the church is seen as too far out of main stream thinking on too many issues, it will be rejected by many more people and thereby diminish its significant and important social influence.

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