Saturday, March 25, 2017
🎶BUT IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE🎶
...why do you think poseurs pose?Because they want to be invited to the dominion of the real, an almost magical zone of unselfed sensation, and they know their very desire for it disqualifies them. Lipsyte
Everything about the SW-Ohio-Brooksville cult, from its fictitious "dogma" of mortally sinful una-cum Masses to the intellectual failings of its undereducated "clergy," is contrived. Surrounding whatever the cult masters do, there's the noisome aura of self-conscious theatricality. It's as though they see themselves always on stage aping some one-act farce before the peanut gallery of a Podunk vaudeville house, where the lowbrow audience is too simple-minded to discriminate between appearance and reality.
The inbreeding cult "clergy" apparently regard themselves as the protagonists of their own unheroic mythological drama: their objective is not to be authentic but to be admired. Yet when the curtain rings down and greasepaint comes off, these self-obsessed mediocrities resemble nothing recognizable as genuine clergy of the Latin Church. Instead, they form the Constitutive Other, aliens to real Catholic identity, eternally outside the network of the Church Militant. Frighteningly, they are the non-Catholic Self.
Their Otherness doesn't make them exceptional, as they'd have you believe. Quite the contrary, in terms of educational attainment and intellectual gifts, they're an all-washed-up third-rate act. None is an honest-to-goodness churchman. Each just plays one on the boards during the weekly extravaganzas. But since most people, even many cultists, acknowledge the deceptive self-presentation, there's no cause to rehearse all Tony Baloney's errors in Latin, Tradzilla's linguistic howlers, and "One-Hand Dan's" liturgical absurdities. Nor need we remind our readership of Tradistan's sham "schools," pretend religious, and daffy rules rooted in a never-existing 1950s of a fevered imagination.
While most people can detect the dissimulations of scholarship or general education once exposed, they find it harder to discern the troubling affectations masked by the cult masters' "preaching." The "sermon" format is an ideal means to amplify pretense. Unlike correct Latinity, choice English diction, or liturgical orthopraxis (which demand specialized training in order to assess their authenticity), evaluating the content of the average, dumb-downed Sunday monologue is something most of the faithful trust they can do on their own.
To get a favorable response, all the churchly thespians have to do is dress in the right costume, thunder their message with conviction, and mouth something more or less consistent with what psychological weaklings think is Christian. Exacerbating the culties' gullibility is the Catholic cognitive bias that assumes anybody in a Roman collar practices and believes what he preaches. Spell bound by the Sunday matinee performances, trad yokels are happy to dismiss the ominous signs of imposture and go with their usually-wrong gut.
The wily cult kingpins intuitively grasp that such witlessness is their ticket to the big time, their invitation to squat in the "dominion of the real." There, in disguise, they imagine they can conceal the naked self-interest coiled behind crudely wrought masks of false piety. Just fill the acrid cult-center air with Catholic-sounding platitudes or threats, and nobody's going to look beyond the cartoonish image. The alchemy of posturing transmutes, however implausibly, ragtag personae into "priests" or "bishops," tricked-out Quonset huts into "churches," and tribal fetish objects into sacred artifacts.
Insofar as by means of their "sermons" the cult masters lay claim to ownership of Catholic vocabulary, they're shielded from external efforts to cut short their grotesque masquerade. All they have to say to their naïve followers is, "Our enemies don't understand Catholic principles." Without a second thought, the cultlings willingly suspend disbelief, often in violation of what little sensus catholicus they may have possessed.
Quoting a bookshelf of moral theologians by tractate and subsection won't move cult zombies to see through the "clerical" humbugs: Shock of recognition comes only if you have the right background. To the average cult rite-trash, moral theology is as impenetrable as good Latin, edited English prose, and liturgiology. To their ears, the grounded teachings of the Church's approved authors aren't nearly as Catholic as the brimstone-reeking content of the weekly harangues spat from cult pulpits.
Therefore, in order to unmask these disqualified poseurs, you have to make cultlings examine their "clergy's" behavior through a secular lens, albeit one with close affinities to solid Catholic ethical principles. Otherwise they won't — or, to be more precise, they can't —get the message. In next week's post, we'll offer a very good example, one that should turn on the house lights, put an end to the cheap histrionics, and send the audience out to look for a real Catholic life, even if it is to be found at home alone.