Saturday, July 4, 2020

GetReligion on former MIT chaplain Daniel Moloney

It is to be expected that when someone is mistreated that he should ask after God's justice, but when that same man errs himself he wants less justice and more mercy. It being one thing to clamor for the prosecution of the man who speeds past you on the highway, but you must also acknowledge the same man will find it perfectly reasonable - and even desirable - to be given a warning in lieu of a ticket for his own speeding. Mercy is a strange thing. We find it natural when applied to ourselves, but difficult to cultivate in response to the actions of others. And we can apply this "self" to people we identify with and those deserving what we perceived justice for those who we do not.

So it is that a Catholic priest attempted to tackle this interplay of justice with mercy and got burned. He called for societal reflection and personal introspection, and was punished for not saying the right words in the right order. A chaplain's role is not that of the shaman's rote incantations. His role is in no small part to tackle the difficulties of right now and apply them to the timeless wisdom of God and His Church. That is rightfully going to prove uncomfortable. MIT didn't want to be discomfited and opted for a bubble of silence in an ocean roaring waves.

The problem is that such a unity of opinion doesn't exist. There are people who believe that racism is systemic, that our nation at its core is irredeemably unfair, and that the only answer is to tear it all down and build something new. There are people who believe people with long rap sheets are being released too easily already and so a knee on the neck is a reasonable and "just" response. And there are people who believe all this has nothing to do with them and they deserve to be left alone. We as a people don't agree. There must be a national dialogue before we are so far apart that we can no longer even hear each other. Perfect justice and perfect mercy are impossible on this side of heaven, but we are obliged to seek after those things according to God's plan.

Our path to the other side of this maze is not obvious. Pulling people such as this cleric out of his position as he tries to navigate towards a solution is done in the name of some perverse justice, at the expense of peace, and in the absence of mercy.

(GetReligion) - Earlier this year, a Catholic priest published a book entitled "Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know," focusing on doctrine and discipleship issues that, ordinarily, would not cause controversy.

But these are not ordinary times. Acting as a Catholic chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Father Daniel Moloney tried to apply his words about mercy and justice to the firestorm of protests and violence unleashed by the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.

In the end, the priest resigned at the request of the Archdiocese of Boston, in response to MIT administration claims that Moloney, in a June 7 email, violated a campus policy prohibiting "actions or statements that diminish the value of individuals or groups of people."

Moloney wrote, in a meditation that defied simplistic soundbites: "George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn't have been. He had not lived a virtuous life. He was convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery. … And he was high on drugs at the time of his arrest.

"But we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel. Catholics want all life protected from conception until natural death."

Criminals have human dignity and deserve justice and mercy, the priest said. This is why Catholics are "asked to work to abolish the death penalty in this country."

On the other side of this painful equation, wrote Moloney, police officers struggle with issues of sin, anger and prejudice. Their work "often hardens them" in ways that cause "a cost to their souls." Real dangers can fuel attitudes that are "unjust and sinful," including racism.

In a passage stressed by critics, the priest wrote that the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck "until he died acted wrongly. … The charges filed against him allege dangerous negligence, but say nothing about his state of mind. … But he showed disregard for his life, and we cannot accept that in our law enforcement officers. It is right that he has been arrested and will be prosecuted.

"In the wake of George Floyd's death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don't think we know that."

An editor who has worked with Moloney stressed that the scholarly priest – with degrees from Yale University, Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame – is a precise writer.

Thus, it's important to note what he was "actually saying and, equally important, what he was not saying," noted Joseph Pearce, in The Catholic World Report. "He wasn't saying, as some have alleged by misquoting him, that George Floyd's death was not an act of racism. He was simply saying that we don't know whether it was racist."

Citing Catholic teachings, the priest noted that "racism is a sin. … So is rash judgment." The email ended with these words: "Blessed are the peacemakers, our Lord tells us. May we all be counted among them."

In an online post the day before writing the fateful email, entitled "Mercy in a time of national anger," Moloney said that it helps to remember that leaders of the Civil Rights Movement – especially the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – struggled to obtain justice, but also sought to "cultivate mercy."

Right now, Americans are shouting at one another – or worse – about politics, class struggle and violence.

"Some people think that the right thing to do is to enact reforms of the police; others think that the right thing to do is to kill the police and bomb the precinct," wrote Moloney. "Some people think that nonviolent protests are an appropriate response; others think that injustice justifies robbing the local Target. Some people are satisfied when the bad cops are arrested, prosecuted and convicted; others want to overthrow the government. Some are just so upset that they don't know what to do.

"All agree that something deeply wrong happened to George Floyd, but our consensus stops there, at the level of justice. Mercy is the virtue that comes into play when things go wrong. Once we decide that something is unjust, we still have to decide what is the right thing to do."


  1. We have already begun the Jacobin phase of the revolution IMO. To save oneself it has already become fashionable to accuse oneself of all sorts of ideological sins and metaphorically prostrate oneself before the mob.
    There is no common ground any more because "we all like sheep have gone astray everyone to his own way"
    We can not agree on what it means to be human. That is entirely up to each humanoid unit.

  2. In the end, the priest was guilty of going against the mainstream narrative that Floyd's death may not have had anything to do with race other than the skin color of the cop vs. the skin color of Floyd.

    Everything else the priest said wasn't anything controversial at all! At least it wouldn't have been in an era in which justice was accepted.

  3. From St. Paisios the Athonite:

    I once met a theologian who was extremely pious, but who had the habit of speaking to the secular people around him in a very blunt manner; his method penetrated so deeply that it shook them very severely. He told me once: “During a gathering, I said such and such a thing to a lady.” But the way that he said it, crushed her. “Look”, I said to him, “you may be tossing golden crowns studded with diamonds to other people, but the way that you throw them can smash heads, not only the sensitive ones, but the sound ones also.”


    These are very sensitive times, as we know. As St. Paisios notes, How you say something is just as important, if not more important than what you say.

    I don't think the good Chaplain should be run out on a rail, but the way that was worded lacked prudence and discernment (there is a distressing deficit of that all around these days). His point could have been made without all of that. For those who would counter that he shouldn't have to "censor" himself and the like, I would gently remind you that he is a Chaplain (and a Catholic priest), with a very prominent and public position (MIT is not a small school).

    1. We need more explicit questioning of the Racist Orthodoxy, not less...

    2. I would counter that "explicit" is what got us here in the first place.

      I don't mean sex or any of that culture war nonsense. What I mean is the complete loss of Love in the name of "being right." Dialogue is no longer possible, because "dialogue" itself has become a weapon to hurt people. It is akin to the "I'll pray for you" that some Christians direct at people they don't like.

      When the very means of human connection have been converted into instruments of destruction, what is left for us?

      I would say that perhaps a little less talking would be better, and more listening. I don't mean in the "woke" fashion, I mean to actually listen. See beyond the words and placards. It's too easy to blame BLM or Donald Trump.

      "Jesus Wept." Maybe our tears will contribute more to healing than recriminations.

    3. No, some sort of therapeutic "listening" is going to make modernity into something it is not. It also is not Christianity - we don't "listen" to the devil - on the contrary our healing comes from NOT listening.

    4. I am not talking about "modernity." I'm talking about people. I advocate the complete stripping of abstraction and "ideas" from our interactions with others. Christianity is not a philosophy, it is a tangible experience of the Living God. We have forgotten the tangible and have gotten entangled in "ideas." The people who are protesting and tearing down statues have names, they have families, they have stories. We should listen to their stories, not in some insipid attempt at "solidarity," but to understand why they are broken, because we are them, and they are us.

      A whole generation has been hardened against the Gospel message. Why? It's too easy to blame "The Devil" or "Modernity." It is a way to avoid responsibility. Where were we? What did we do?

    5. David B.

      I don't believe the good Catholic priest was being idealistic, reducing others to "isms", or anything like that. He was speaking the truth - any therapeutic 'listening' detached from the truth can not further the Gospel or heal ourselves/others because it is then just an "insipid attempt at solidarity" or something similar. Your criticism of the priest does not ring true.

      Sometimes, the Devil and 'the world' act on their own and "we", as Traditional Christians, did not do anything, participate, etc. If I were to identify a sin on the part of the good priest and "us", it would be not understanding (not listening one could say) to history, to the culture, and how it has becoming and already become anti-christian, anti-human, and not capable of "dialogue". There is a vanity in a Christian priest being a Chaplin in a High Cathedral of Secularism like MIT. When he spoke the truth to them about Racism they purged him, because that is what the darkness does. The light is not "responsible" for this as you say...

  4. Our host says:

    " We as a people don't agree. There must be a national dialogue before we are so far apart that we can no longer even hear each other..."

    It's too late. Like Mr. Bauman says there is no recognition of unity, no common humanity. C.S.Lewis recognized that our humanity has been *destroyed*. Dialogue can only take place between humans.

    This is not to say that Providence will not mercifully keep "the country" or "the culture" from violent destruction in the short term, it's just to acknowledge that dialogue - communication - requires prerequisite that are not present in our circumstances.

  5. "...Pulling people such as this cleric out of his position as he tries to navigate towards a solution is done in the name of some perverse justice, at the expense of peace, and in the absence of mercy..."

    Moderninities morality, logically and coherently following its flat metaphysics of world/life, is merciless. Mercy only makes sense in a hierarchy. Modernity believes not in hierarchy, but "equality", and anything less is a moral failure and betrayal.

    Christian (or any other kind really) hierarchy, and thus sin/mercy/redemption has no place in such a worldview, at least not as anything more than a "personal comfort" to those less enlighted.

    Of course, too many of us Christians (as individuals, as the institutional church, as "a religion", as "Orthodoxy") are trying to reconcile such secular flatness/mercilessness with Christianity. What is the fruit beyond compromise which leads to faithlessness? Living at peace with destroyed humanity does not mean being "in dialogue" with them, trying to insert ourselves into their Cathedrals (such as MIT). Rather, it looks more like what goes by 'Benedict Option' today...

  6. Our humanity has not been destroyed, only obscured. It is akin to an Icon being painted over by Andy Warhol. The Icon is still there, it is just covered by a soup can.

    How to restore the Icon? Chip away at the desecrating paint. How can we do that? That is the question.

    1. Sometimes you have to let the soup can be a soup can, and not try to make it into something it is not. Some things are best left up to God...

    2. Yes, leave it up to God always. But, we have to take responsibility for our failures and sins. All people are Icons of the Living God, without exception. Many of those Icons are painted over with graffiti and "stuff," but they don't cease to be Icons.

      That is the point I am making. They are not Soup Cans. That is the deception of the Enemy. We must never forget the Icon that exists underneath in all its glory. The person who is tearing down George Washington is also an Icon. People are confused with ideas----people are sacred, the equal of the Iconostasis and the Frescos. Tearing other people down is also a form of Iconoclasm, one which is too easy to do. It is something I have thought about much these days.

    3. David B,

      It is not a sin to recognize sin - on the contrary, it is necessary for repentance/healing. Recognizing the Icon of Christ in everyone does not preclude us recognizing that they are, ontologically, soup cans in their and our present circumstances in this age. You seem to be pitting truth against truth with your emphasis.

    4. I would argue that we are not ontologically soup cans. That is a mass delusion fostered by the Enemy. It is the same absurdity of people trying to "undo" their Baptism or somehow detach language and iconography from that which it signifies (Post-Modernism loves this----reading that stuff is like strolling through a desecrated graveyard).

      It is delusion---a vapid form of prelest that may try to make life a Fun House mirror, but in the end what we are left with is still the Icon, the original image. It is a surrender to the Passions, but God's presence is inescapable. My whole approach in the Spiritual life now is to reject the delusion (the "Culture Wars" is part of the delusion).

      As a father, I deal with my young son's tantrums. It has definitely been Spiritual food for me----How must God see our flailing against Him? The Loving Father patiently waiting for their child to stop raging and ranting. AND THEN, when we've quieted down to sniffles, His Grace can work.

      We can recognize sin, but we have to see ourselves in the other. There is no "they".....There is only us.

  7. Jake,

    See the quote from St. Paisios. It is not "therapeutic listening detached from the truth" to listen to others. Why are they doing what they are doing? We stopped really asking that question, because its too hard and "American Christianity" can't be bothered. The "Culture War" narrative has taken over. It's just easier to compartmentalize and label people.

    There are people in this with sinister motives that are trying to stoke passions. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the everyday person who is in the street. They are not all "dupes." Something deeper is happening here, but as I said, we can't be bothered because we ourselves have become hardened.

    "Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do." Are not just idle words. They go to the heart of it. Do we strike at the sheep or at the wolf who has the sheep in their jaws?

    This isn't about being "woke" or the superficial garbage that passes for discourse. I'm talking about something much deeper. The Power of the Holy Spirit Himself.

    To use a movie reference: Good Will Hunting. When Robin Williams told Matt Damon, "It's not your fault." He cut past all of the nonsense, chipped away the soup can. Matt Damon hit him, and tried to push him away. It's a powerful scene. I'm talking about That level of connecting with those who we are so quick to call "the Enemy."

    The whole point I am making, is that there is hardness of heart, but it is all of us (and I include myself in that, because for years I too bought into the Culture War narrative).

    We are being manipulated. The culture is controlled by sinister forces and can be duly separated from people. The Light is not responsible, but we can be (and often are).

    1. Two thoughts:

      1) A basic understanding of even recent history (let alone human {fallen} nature) reveals that "what they are doing in the streets" is a fairly common (if cyclical) phenomena - at bottom a spiritual longing and restlessness. The Roman state ran the gladiatorial games precisely to satisfy the various vague (yet strong) emotional and spiritual dissatisfaction of the general populace. "What were they doing in the streets" in the sixties, or the thirties, or during the Great Awakenings? I am wondering out loud if you are not attaching a significance to "being in the streets" that is in error, or thinking that the good priests or a Christian understanding/critique of this phenomena is a shallow "cultural war" knee-jerk like reaction. I see no such shallowness in the good priests attempt to speak the truth to a certain (and false) racialist orthodoxy. You admit we are being manipulated by principalities and powers, so why do you keep bringing up this simplistic reduction of "cultural war" in relation to what this priest said?

      1) Therapeutic listening and "connecting" is not the end all and be all of Christian truth. Speaking of movies, your reminding me a bit of Sybok, Spocks half brother in Star Trek V, who is has the ability to listen (through a mind meld) and "heal the innermost pain of any individual". He seeks God, except he finds the Devil instead and through an act of arrogance and self sacrifice he minds meld with this evil spirit destroying himself (but allowing Spock and the others to escape).

      All this to say is that I don't think "cultural war/hardness o hearts" is all that useful here.

    2. 1.) It is common throughout history, in that you are right. Every age has attempted to "solve" this impulse through various means. What I said in my initial post is that the priest in the original article was not wrong in what he said, but how he said it. The discourse itself has been poisoned . The "Culture War" narrative has tainted the well, with the result that his audience was incapable of reading it in any other way. That is the point I am making. A new way of connection has to be found.

      2.) It is not the be all and end all. I never said it was. You said that. What I am saying is that authentic listening is in short supply all around, and that is what we need to be doing.

      I would refer you to the life of St. Porphyrios. We can't help a person heal if we don't listen to where they are coming from.

      Sin is an illness. How to heal that illness? Love is a start. Not enabling libertine love, not patronizing social worker "love," but authentic Christian Love. I'm not seeing a whole lot of that right now.

      The "Christian" witness has been compromised in America. It is seen as nothing more than a political opinion, hitched to a particular point of view. That is why the good priest was pilloried. They saw it as more of the same.

      "The Culture War" narrative is reductionist, and yet it permeates the American Christian discourse. As I said, the delusion has blinded people and they can't see, nor can they hear. They don't want to listen. Why is that?

      Sybok wasn't listening at all. He told people what they wanted to hear, to "make it go away." What I am talking about is more in line with Kirk's rebuttal/refusal to Sybok: We have to understand our pain and truly deal with it in order to understand ourselves. It can't just be "waved away."

      It's either the Law or the Abyss. I'm talking about a Third Way.

    3. Ha, you remember more detail from that movie than I did - Kirk's admonition. It really was a bad movie ;)

    4. David:

      None of what you are saying really applies at the State-sovereign plane. Secular democracies don't have symphonia.

      The current American ontological and existential conflict can't end in agreeing to disagree. Those questions were settled when the country was founded. After that you're just supposed to argue over bureaucratic pay, the roads, war on Japan, etc. If they do come up again, like they did in the US Civil War, then you start a new country. Hence, we have begun the process of several countries trying to be born where the old Protestant, Anglo-European one formerly existed.

      Your advice, while certainly worthy on the individual plane, bespeaks Christian retreat from the American public square. That is, as the public square becomes wholly atheistic and hostile, Christians retreat to a safe space of individual praxis and piety, ceding the fight for the collective nation. Indeed, Orthodox Christianity is so far removed from modern American discourse it might as well be Sufism.

      There is great appeal in this to the modern Christian who imagines himself like St. Paul speaking truth to Agrippa. But it's an ahistorical view: the Christians didn't withdraw from the Empire, they became the Empire. From the standpoint of modernity, Empire is regarded as a corrupting influence so modern Christians preach the purity of the Age of Martyrdom, meeting in the catacombs and running from Diocletian. Again, this is an ahistorical perspective and also ignores the Church's entire ecclesiology.

      So we are at an uncomfortable junction: either modernity is wrong or we are wrong and we just need to become quiet congregationalist sects.

      Don't ask the bishops how this all works out; they don't know.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Anti-Gnostic,

      There is no "public square" anymore. That is the issue. People choose the facts they want, people choose the reality they want to believe. That is the great delusion of our age, the prelest I was referring to.

      What I am talking about is a complete re-orientation of Christian thinking on what it means to "engage." The answer is in the Tradition itself. "In the World but not of it" has turned into a mantra, and I think people have forgotten what that actually means.

      What does this mean for us in the 21st Century? We have to rethink how we interact with the culture. There are no "safe spaces." It is our very conception of reality that is under assault, and withdrawal is not an option, in fact, withdrawal is the foundation of the Lie. "Choice" as God, where we are Masters of Reality.

      No. What I advocate is a stubborn refusal of this mass delusion, and remaining where we are (where ever that is). If that means persecution, then we make the sign of the cross and carry on.

      What that means in America is that we focus on our own personal holiness and support our Church structures. We remain at our jobs, we remain in our towns, we continue to talk with our families. We just simply refuse the Lie. "Christian Activism" as it is practiced in America is another aspect of this delusion. I reject "Activism," period. People are persons, not an abstract blob. St. Theophan the Recluse said it best: It is impossible to love humanity. People are individuals, and we have to stubbornly and belligerently not lose sight of that. Political affiliations, etc etc are costumes.

    7. I'll simplify it for you: Christianity needs a Christendom. There is no compromise to be had with the secular, atheistic State.

      You're overlooking something else: the BLM movement doesn't want human dignity; they just want your stuff.

    8. I never said we should compromise. I don't confuse people and ideas, or people and Caesar, and I would gently encourage you not to either. That is what the Enemy wants. As for "Christendom," our track record with "Christendoms" has been spotty, at best. We are here because of our sins. If America was holy, "the Liberals" wouldn't be able to do anything. Those who are pining for "Holy Russia" would do well to remember that the "Holy Rus" of their imagination was rotting from the inside out. Our Lord sent so many saints and elders to Russia in the last days of the Empire for their repentance. "Put not your trust in Princes," even if you see them at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

      As for BLM----I don't care about the people on the talk shows who claim to "represent" the movement or call themselves "leaders." I'm interested in the individuals who initially took to the streets, the ones who are truly out there because of what they believe. Just like "the 99%" and "the Tea Party," what started out as a grassroots movement is very quickly co-opted. BLM is no different. The protests will stop if Trump loses in November, just as the anti-War protests stopped when Obama was inaugurated. It's all part of the Lie. I'm interested in the individuals holding those signs, not the talking heads who make the rounds on TV.

      The ideologues in the shadows always "want stuff." The people in the street? They want different things, and my stuff is likely not on their list.

      Let me simplify it for you: Why don't we ask them?

    9. We already know what they want: stuff, so they loot, and autonomy, so they set up police-free zones where they can get on with the important business of drugs, guns and sex. And no statues of dead old white men around to spoil the fun. As you observe, ideology is for the talking heads.

      I don't think you grasp that we have already provided these people with all the necessities of life. That's why they have plenty of spare calories to riot and set up CHAZ/CHOP. Now you see why Universal Basic Income can't work and we can't have nice things: the takers never stop taking.

      I also reject your premise of Christendom as a "spotty" record. On the contrary, it rivals the Greek Classical era for refinement and human advancement. It will take numerous generations to restore, which is why Christians should concentrate on growing the Faith in their own pews. Then the evangelists have something to tell people to "come and see."

      I do agree that America is an apostate nation and is being punished as such. I could say much more but I have regard for our host.

      I also reject your notion of inter-generational guilt. Are you really going to tax yourself and your children and grandchildren for things that happened before you were born? But if we're going to go down that road here's an idea: restrict the prescriptive measures of Title VII solely to the benefit of Americans who are descended from African slaves or Natives. Also, an immigration moratorium to increase their bargaining power for jobs, housing and education. But these run counter to a lot of elite objectives so they won't happen.

    10. "They" include different people with different beliefs and goals.

      Who are "these people?" I see so many Christians wringing their hands about how "Godless" America is. The people in the streets have also come to the conclusion that the foundation is rotten, the only difference is, is that they have taken matters into their own hands.

      Christian civilization has done many things, but that was by the Grace of Our Lord. When we remember God, His blessing comes. When we forget Him, it doesn't. Somewhere along the way, we decided that "we built that" and disaster was inevitable.

      I agree that we should concentrate on strengthening our Faith. Personal holiness will be the only thing that will save us and our communities.

      It isn't about "guilt." It is about acknowledging the reality that the position that America enjoys today was gained at the expense of other people, in a brutal way. It's like inheriting money that was gained through theft and murder. Yeah, the person inheriting it isn't responsible for the actions that produced that wealth, but they are responsible for how they spend it or use it. The Legacy of Slavery has touched every single person in America on every level, including spiritual. That is why incidents like this keep happening. We still have not addressed the deeper spiritual wounds.

      You keep focusing on the money. It's not about the money (for some maybe it is, but there are grifters in every century). It's about looking hard in the mirror. This self-reflection has been avoided, because it would mean the death of American Exceptionalism, the destruction of the powdered wig fantasy of America's founding.

      Nostalgia for that America is still strong, and people are willing to fight for it. Perhaps there is wrong all around. Perhaps the protesters are right, and the more candid among us Christians are right----maybe the foundation is rotten.

      The question is: What to do about it? I'm willing to have the hard conversations, even if that means the destruction of the America I grew up believing in. Delusion is delusion, even if it comes in the form of a bald eagle.

    11. You really need to stop groveling.

      There will be hard conversations. Priests will be blessing militias by the time this thing runs its course.

    12. It isn't "groveling" to want to heal wounds.

      There will be no "militias." The minutemen fantasy that animates the "Right Wing" is just as silly as spray painting Communist slogans on Government signs. Christ is found in neither place.

      It's all theater. There's too much money to be made in fostering ideological delusions. There isn't much of a difference between Rush Limbaugh and Bernie Sanders or *insert pundit of your choice*. Donald Trump represents this reality perfectly.

      "It's all about ratings, baby."

      TLDR: You've been had.

  8. To add to that: America has a Race Problem. It has been a wound and trauma on the national psyche since the beginning. The fear of the slave revolt has transformed into fear of "the ghetto." On the flip side, the black community is in a state of permanent alienation from the white community (there are exceptions of course, but America desegregated on paper only).

    When a trauma or issue has not been dealt with properly in an individual, it manifests itself in behavioral/emotional disorders or problems. We are seeing that on a national scale. We didn't have the hard conversations when we should have (the 60s) because we thought that economic prosperity could "make it go away."

    It doesn't work like that, as we know. What are the spiritual effects of slavery and Jim Crow? Did we even stop to ask that question? Or were white liberals in a huff to tell black people to "get over it" and "take advantage" of economic opportunity that was (theoretically) open to them?

    We are having the hard conversations we should have had years ago, but sadly they are compounded by additional anger and rage that is expressing itself in all sorts of terrible ways.

    1. I was born and raised in small town Oklahoma. I vividly recall the causal racism (and less talked about, sexism) of my youth. "What are these chains in your truck for grandpa?" I said one day. "For the n#g@^rs" is the deadpan and sincere reply. Yet, by the my late teens (this would be late 1980's) these attitudes are no longer generally acceptable, they are however sometimes, by some, muttered under the breath. By the early 1990's however they are not acceptable at all (though the sexism is lagging behind the racism a bit). By the twentieth century you might as well have a Nazi flag tattooed on your forehead if you even whisper the smallest expression of one of these attitudes -cyou would be a true societal outcast without a job, friends, and possibly even your own family. I lived in the South for most of my life - Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. Only in the last dozen years have I lived outside of it here in New Mexico (i.e. the "Hispanic" West).

      I say all this to agree with you, the generational sin of slavery is very real and I am all too aware of it. However, am I going to "listen" to the false Marxist narrative/anthropology of "critical race theory" and Black Lives Matter? Am I going to "listen" to those who are certain that the officer who killed George Floyd was an ideological, reflexive racist when he what he really is in all probability is a burned out PTSD sufferer, as much a victim of our broken "justice system" as the rest of us?

      On the one hand you seem to understand the generational depth of these particular sins and sin in general, but you on the other hand you want traditional Christianity, who are now a small and uninfluential minority (honestly, what are we, 15%? That's to high. 10%? Still too high likely) to do what exactly?

      Or, are you saying you want non/post/anti Christian majority America what? suddenly embrace the truth of sin and the narrative of Christianity, which up until now (this very day -this very minute) they explicitly reject in all their words and the very life they live?!?

      Before talk and "dialogue" and "conversation" there are the hard facts of what people actually are in all their formation, habits, and lived life. Communication - communion - only happens between people who have been prepared for it, formed for it, and have *suffered* for it. As you point out, even most of what's left of "Christian America" is not ready for it, to say nothing of most of the rest.

      As for those on the street? I suspect most of them are too young to actually have experienced what I experienced, or have a clue as to the real depth of these sins and what a nation, people, and culture has to do to actually heal. Most of them are pawns of spirits (and the media) they don't even acknowledge exist - I am not going to "listen" to them and neither should you, because there is no healing to be found in it.

      In any case, I appreciate what you are saying and your central point. I just don't think you go far enough into the reality of the what it means.

  9. We can't dismiss those on the street. I am looking past the placards. What are their names? Where do they come from? What do they really want? I disagree that there is no healing to be found there. I think it is there that real healing has to begin. One person at a time. It is blindness. There is no abyss, as there is no place that God is not. Plugging your eyes and ears doesn't negate what is true, even if this willful blindness is couched in fanciful language or premium donuts at symposiums. Personal Authenticity is what is missing. How was St. Porphyrios able to do what he did, or any of the great saints of our modern era? They didn't dismiss the youth's concerns or beliefs, but reoriented them. We have to be willing to come to where they are, and prayerfully engage them to show them (not tell them) that there is the Light of all lights (Transfiguration, which is the ultimate goal of the Christian life).

    If they don't want that? Well, the Lord told us what to do in that instance too. The answer to every problem or situation of life is truly found in the New Testament (and by extension the Liturgical Cycle/Services). But we can still reach out to them or leave the door open in our hearts.

    What do I want "us" to do? Nothing at all . The question is: What will I do? Christian "engagement" has to be radically decentralized, and personal holiness emphasized. We have to break the false dichotomy of the "Culture Wars" or "Revolution." I'm convinced the Gospel is found in the spaces in-between. To reject the delusion, and walk that narrow middle path.

    1. To clarify: I advocate radical individualism. Not in the self, but in our relations to other people. Only the Gospel is eternal. Everything else is a hat we wear or a mask. Our goal should be to lovingly encourage others to take off the mask and discover their true selves, which is in the face of Christ. It is not on us to tear it off and "reveal" something.

      That is what I mean by "Nothing at all."

    2. Where is the support for radical individualism in the Tradition?

    3. I should have used a different terminology. What I mean, is that we stubbornly and belligerently refuse to see people as anything more than individuals who are Children of God. See past the masks that people put on. Peel away the soup can that has been painted over the Icon of Christ.

      It is "radical," in that we generalize people and only see their Facebook profile or their "affiliations." We confuse the Soup Can for reality.

      This is the great heresy and poison of our age: That mankind is a master of their "own reality." The prelest I was referring to before.