παῦροι γάρ τοι παῖδες ὁμοῖοι πατρὶ πέλονται, οἱ πλέονες κακίους, παῦροι δέ τε πατρὸς ἀρείους
("few sons are wont to be like [their] father; /more [are] worse; few [are] superior to [their] father). Homer
If you read last week's post, or hang out in traditional-Catholic chat rooms, you're aware that Tradistan has reached its tipping point. Whatever the Big Kahuna's real condition is, he's on his way out ... pronto. The Kid's élite backers at the cult compound aren't going to let their boy-"bishop" play "auxiliary" to Big Don any more than necessary — just long enough to get his "episcopal" act together. That won't take too much time: sede "bishops" can acquire on the fly the little bit of ceremonial they need, provided they've got a decent MC.
Forget all that hogwash in the MHT newsletter about resuming a normal life or God's still having more use for the Donster or no intention of slowing down. Soap-opera platitudes, that's all that is. Even as you're skimming this post, Trad Nation's writing off the freshly sidelined Tradzilla. (Richard Scarry's "Lowly Worm" is the more apropos sobriquet. It's sure to stick.)
The sharp-elbowed skirmish to assert de facto bossman-status over Sedelandia has already broken out. It's instructive that Junior isn't a front runner* notwithstanding Don's blather that "[m]any priests already look to him for leadership." (Sounds like a line dictated by the cult's paterfamilias.) Family money may command deference or envy, but it cannot garner respect and loyalty. "Clergy" and "seminarians" in the swamp are probably nervously scouting for a safe way out.
The Donster could live to be a centenarian, but this brush with mortality combined with next year's "consecration" of his replacement has landed him to the ash can of Sedelandia. As a consequence of the rector's marginalization, a paradigm shift has begun.
Although PL has never had much regard for the Kahuna as a scholar, a churchman, or an original thinker, we'll admit many in terminally naïve TradWorld once held him in high regard. Whether or not traddies endorsed his off-the-wall rules or unsavory hellfire-and-brimstone Sunday harangues, some (quite mistakenly) gave him at least grudging respect as an authority on theology, Church history, and Catholic culture.
That's because, once upon a time, the "Lowly Worm" used to be the closest thing to a celebrity guru that Tradistan could trot out as a proxy for legitimacy. Oh, sure, his rival Wee Dan tried to hoodwink people into believing he, not Sin-burn, was The One, but His Deficiency couldn't carry it off. "One Hand" doesn't have the pulpit/altar presence, the blunt force of aggressive personality, the vague appearance of savoir-faire, the rudimentary formation, the physical stature, or the undoubted holy orders that Discipline Don possesses.
Let's admit it: as long as you weren't too picky about standards, ignored the nasal drone, and had never made the acquaintance of pre-Vatican II clergy, the rector made you think he was the genuine article. No one else in Tradistan can do that, not the Jellyfish, not the Pivmeister, not the Wee One, not the Boy-"Bishop"-Elect, and most definitely not the overstuffed Ham Sandwich.
And that's the crisis Tradistan faces. In absolute terms, the Donster may be a shallow mediocrity, but, compared with his would-be replacements, he's a prodigy of learning. Now that he's shuffling off the sede scene, there will be no undisputed Mr. Big to whom sect zombies can look for misguidance delivered with a sneer.
At the center of the crisis isn't Kim Jong-Don's health. It's the fact that he never adopted a true spiritual son, one who could lead blind Tradistan as its sole luminary. Perhaps he lacked the necessary generosity of soul, or perhaps he had no choice other than a Hobson's choice. Maybe he couldn't bear the notion that, in the Republic of the Mind, an enlightened master grooms an apprentice not only to be his successor but also to surpass him in every respect. In all likelihood, he never understood (or read) the affirmation of the Good Gray Poet: I am the teacher of athletes,/ He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,/ He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
To become such a mentor, a revered framer of estimable men capable of realizing an independent life of their own, you must first make a brutally honest assessment of your own deficiencies. Then you've got to map out a plan to guarantee your protégé will exceed your limitations. But before that, however, you have to recruit the right talent, don't you?
The way we see it, some 30-40 years ago, Donnie should have found an intellectually gifted young man and secured the formation required to become the undisputed Number One of Tradistan. The designee naturally wouldn't have attended the sorry excuses for schools that sedes operate, especially Big Don's. He would've been sent to the most reputable grammar and secondary schools in the nation, institutions with high standards, credentialed teachers, and selective admissions.** Upon receiving his high-school diploma, the well-prepared young man would've matriculated to an accredited and well-regarded college or university for a privileged liberal-arts education (with a major in Latin and Greek).
During his university years, this spiritual son's formation would have been enriched by private tutoring in ecclesiastical subjects, taught by men who had received degrees from Catholic institutions of higher learning before V2. Only after he graduated would he have set foot in a sede "seminary" (LOL). To supplement the substandard training on offer from such an unaccredited "clerical trade school," he would attend specialized seminars at an area college (say, in advanced English composition to prevent his imitating Don's turgid prose style).
At length, after "ordination," our young "bishop"-elect would have gone on to earn a prestigious postgraduate degree or two in humane languages and learning or — dare we hope?— Biblical studies. Thereafter, he'd profit from regular sojourns in Europe or South America, studying privately with disciplinary masters. Think delightful Roman summers at the feet of the redoubtable Reggie "il benzinaio" Foster; bright spring days in Salamanca at the university library; or mild porteño winters under the tutelage of an aged professor emeritus of theology, aching to pass on his matchless expertise before he—and it—disappeared.
But there aren't many bright, gifted American boys in the Tradistani archipelago of imposture, are there?
Among the few sede families with a gene pool capable of producing youth of promise, mammas don't let their babies grow up to be clergy. The "Lowly Worm" must've taken what he had to take, and gladly, too, for then there'd be no chance of being outclassed by an understudy. With the Donster's exit from center stage, the tedious sede melodrama will close; all the untalented players will drift away to perform their impious pantomime before brainless suckers or self-interested wheeler-dealers.
The time has come to dispatch Lefebvre's ghost from Sedelandia. The "Great Man" meme is as dead as disco. It was never true in the first place, seeing that American sedes have been led by nematodes all along. No aspirant to the bandit See of Tradistan will prevail inasmuch as the known candidates are intellectual amoebae. The sooner sedes recognize they never had a swami of Lefebvre's caliber, the sooner we'll see a very untraditional organizational model in place.
Instead of looking to publicity-crazed pus-blisters for leadership they're incapable of providing, Catholics will go their separate ways, all the while looking inward. Aided by a new class of traditional "bishop," whose aim is to make available the sacraments, not build mini-empires or gain notoriety or pretend to represent the Church, upright folk will at last have what they've always prayed for: sanctification without insufferable sanctimony.
As more and more unaffiliated "priests" are sent out to serve the laity, the usual "bishop"-led cults, with their manic emphasis on money and control, will find themselves without flocks to shepherd. Simple economics will force them to contract, retreating to safe havens populated by primitive, jiggling cult freaks.
But whoa! We're getting ahead of ourselves here. We'll have more to say about this brave, new post-Big-Don world of Sedeology next week. For the present, make room for Daddy as the door hits him on his way out.
* Nor is anyone from the Slupski-Thục line. Europeans—the Germans in particular — view it as entirely vitiated, as do many thoughtful Americans who've witnessed some of the ceremonies.
** Save your energy and don't send us a comment about the necessity of protecting a young mind from secular and N.O. influences. We know plenty of adolescent trads attending such schools, and their faith is completely intact. (But then, they have professional moms and dads who graduated from college.) These young people fare better than forlorn homeschoolers or the luckless offspring interned in sede fake "schools": Those are the poor devils most at risk of losing their faith and any future as a productive citizen and breadwinner.