Moral Encouragement and Housecleaning

by Dean Hansen

Tolstoy

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life”.  — Leo Tolstoy

Over the past year, Gil Bailie has expelled eight or ten bloggers from The Cornerstone Forum because they had the effrontery to try engaging him and each other in … conversation! All were serious and respectful, all had read his book as well as the works of his mentor, René Girard, and most were Catholics.

In the latest iteration of his housecleaning announcement, Mr. Bailie again complains that his illustrious project is being subverted by those who (a) ask vexing questions, (b) express opinions contrary to his own, (c) correct errors of fact, (d) expose logical fallacies, (e) think for themselves, and (f) fail to show strict and unswerving allegiance to the Catholic magisterium. He accuses these responders of “carping,” which he defines in part as continuously finding fault about trivial matters.

I have rarely seen anyone raise trivial concerns at The Cornerstone Forum.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bailie seems convinced he is beseiged by provocateurs determined to take potshots at the Catholic Church. When his critics complain about his dismissal of them, he ridicules them for believing themselves to be “martyrs in the cause of free expression.”

With that in mind, his idea of giving what he calls “moral encouragement” and credal succor to whoever remains apparently consists of:

  • Being tirelessly obsessed with and burdened by the approaching fall of Western Civilization (still pending), which will succumb to the forces of secular liberalism, particularly women’s liberation and gay rights.
  • Reminding his readers every day that the world has sunk into apostasy, depravity, decline, fecklessness, calumny, demographic death spirals, nihilism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, Marxism, and of course, “anthropological recklessness” whatever the hell that is.
  • SinkholeRepudiating and distancing himself from everything that could be possibly be construed as human, because being human means having the freedom to make choices that are not sanctioned by the Church. This apparently is what the groaning attempt at sainthood means to him. After all, every chuck hole is a pit, every stumble is a fall, every violation is an abomination.
  • Reminding people that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists and their progressive, liberal, post-modern, agenda-driven secular brethren. In an effort to avoid confronting reality at all costs, he must treat any scientific theory that threatens his world view as a conspiracy.
  • Deploring the banality of evil. The culture of evil. The evil that men do. The evil that men are. The evil that men pretend not to do while doing the evil which other men, equally evil, approve of simply because they’re not as acquainted with it as he is.

Sexual Disorientation

  • Calling homosexuals intrinsically evil, and thus creating enmity between different groups of people based on their sexual orientation. (Is this the aforementioned “anthropological recklessness?”)
  • Assaulting women’s rights and condemning women who resort to abortion. Rejecting alternative forms of birth control that would render abortion largely unnecessary.

anti-abortion-politician-photo-u1

  • Conflating freedom with Marxist ideology and insinuating that liberty only works when it’s constrained by restrictive dogma that is utterly intolerant of individual initiative or personal conscience.
  • Converting the words “secularism” and “liberalism” into expletives, and suggesting that those who embrace these concepts in part or in whole are “tolerance vigilantes” suffering from “moral relativism” in a “multicultural” world under a “libertine regime,” who not only espouse a particular world view that is automatically destructive of and dismissive of anything that falls outside of it, but are somehow forcing him to be tempted against his will to the dark side through a slow and steady subversion of his “principles.”
  • Declaring that hate is a shameful passion to be shunned, but that intolerance, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, sexual panic, denialism and paranoia are somehow acceptable substitutes.
  • Throwing Girardian terminology around while ignoring its principles.
  • Showing scant patience for anyone who questions the rigid and unbending doctrine he’s embraced to protect himself from a world he seemingly despises, and for which the savior he claims to love died.

The cost of vengeanceIn two concurrent posts he managed to scold the White House administration, Western Europeans in general, the Germans specifically, liberalism in general, liberal Jews specifically, Chicago politics, community organizer Saul Alinsky, those unnamed souls who are responsible for the death of marriage, British writers, “the Gentry” (whatever that still is), sexuality—both hetero and homo (a constant)—paganism, ecologists, British conservatives, birth rates (too low), immigration rates (too high), euthanasia, and cremation.  A minimum of 18 targets in two posts. Add a gloating little finale about Van Jones and suddenly it’s high noon in epiphany-ville!

Remember. This is a list of moral encouragements.  Designed to lift the spirits of his followers, I would guess.

In summation, Gil Bailie of late has sadly become to Christian theology what credit default swaps, predatory lending and junk mortgages are to the economy. He does for moral encouragement what Anthony Comstock* did for the public mails.

In the words of Peter Gomes, “Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant. Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert. It is dangerous, especially in America, because it is anti-democratic and is suspicious of ‘the other,’ in whatever form that ‘other’ might appear. To maintain itself, fundamentalism must always define ‘the other’ as deviant.” 

In keeping with his various stated views, Mr. Bailie seems to tacitly embrace the idea that “God” is a person who can only be approached when you cease being a person yourself. He proclaims against his own witness that he knows precious little about human nature, but more than is humanly possible about God’s nature.  Gil claims to be a teacher, but is impatient with “students” and resents being taught by others.  He seems mostly devoid of humor, frightened of change, afraid of the future, and either resentful or overly trusting of the past.

He has made a meager reputation for himself by being obsessed with the sins of others, especially those that Jesus never mentioned: homosexuality, sodomy, oral sex, transvestitism, sex reassignment, amniocentesis, sperm banks, masturbation, stem cell research, cloning, genetic manipulation, teenage pregnancy, and abortion. Any attempt to have a conversation about these subjects is muted into oblivion.

He once said that the worst crimes are committed by men who feel unforgiven. How then can anyone who feels ostracized or marginalized by the Church as he defines it ever hope to feel forgiven? The best way to treat homosexuality is to stop treating it not as something outside of human experience, but as part of the miraculous energy of God’s creation. The Biblical idea that homosexuals are sinners because their sexuality is somehow depraved, or outside the range of human experience, is absurd.  To scapegoat or repudiate a whole class of people because they seek to express their need for love in stable same-sex relationships or to be married like other people who love each other is simply wrong.

The Bible on which the church claims to base its authority is not inerrant, and never was. It’s not an instruction manual or the equivalent of an automotive handbook on how to live your life or toot your horn. And if you try to live your life by it exclusively, you will crash.

spanish_InquisitionMr. Bailie has stated in a moment of faux transparency, “…I often ask myself, and I am sometimes asked by my friends, why I allow myself to be distracted by the passing lunacies of the present age.” The self-flattery is almost as clumsy as the unintended hathos.

The time has come to reconsider those “passing lunacies.” Mr. Bailie has said that without Christ he can do nothing. Perhaps it’s time to recast those negatives as affirmations: with Christ, he can do something that isn’t harmful, self-serving, or trite. Or, in the words of Lao Tzu, “It’s better to do nothing than to be busy doing nothing.”

Advertisements

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: