We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Speculative Good Friday

First, the détournement of an another's analysis of another situation:

Liberal strategies and characteristics that led to their victory:

  • Willingness to lie (they had their “fingers crossed” when swearing ...)
  • Intense public calls for freedom of inquiry, tolerance, pluralism, unity while weak or assimilating power
  • Deliberate focus on institutional capture, which included the property, money, and brand prestige
  • Long game perspective ...
  • Far superior skills at bureaucratic maneuvering ...
  • Presence of amenable authorities ...

Conservative strategies and characteristics that led to their failure:

  • They also had “crossed fingers” and did not themselves fully support ... This limited their ability to call out others for heresy
  • They were on the “wrong side of history” ...
  • Initial inability to respond compellingly to key challenges to orthodoxy: Darwinism and Higher Criticism
  • Strategy was purely defensive – nothing on offense (“surrender on the installment plan”)
  • Focused on ideas, theology and church mission, not institutions and bureaucracy, and had a very weak understanding of bureaucratic warfare
  • Were incredibly polite, charitable, and moderate in their rhetoric – they rarely dared to directly confront heretics

Other lessons and implications:

  • The modernists were fighting to win the war; the conservatives didn’t even understand they were in one
  • High standards people tend to lose out vs. low standards people. Key: conflict between orthodoxy and church growth mindset, stay pure but small or grow large but compromise on beliefs
  • The more bureaucratic and complex an organization, the more vulnerable to liberal takeover (Confessional documents and hierarchical structures were perceived as strengths but were – and are – really weaknesses)
  • Confessional documents are irrelevant when faced with liars (cf: today’s US Constitutional law)

Or, in the present circumstance, the Anglo-Unitarians used the Anglo-Presbyterians against the Anglo-Catholics. Rather than fight, these last two groups desperately needed each other (a realization that came far too late in the culture wars, viz. "The Evangelical and Catholic Mission" (1976)): yet, in the end, both of the latter two groups were simply left out in the cold.

Second, a hopeful thought:

‘God himself is dead,’ it says in a Lutheran hymn, expressing an awareness that the human, the finite, the weak, the negative, are themselves a moment of the divine, that they are within God himself, that finitude, negativity, otherness are not outside of God and do not, as otherness, hinder unity with God. Otherness, the negative, is known to be a moment of the divine nature itself. This involves the highest idea of spirit.

Third, an announcement:

This blog is now closed. Its title suggested the 'crossing of divergent streams' and was born in the hopes of the Ordinariate. That process has now reached a kind of conclusion. My own personal aspirations were for something akin to the Uniate churches: this would entail not the creation of new, hybrid forms but the old words simply interpreted as not contradictory of the Catholic faith. The Eastern churches do not say the filioque but it is affirmed that all believe in the same thing, regardless. I submit that something akin to this has not been the outcome.

Blogging will continue, however, in a new location and in the service of a new purpose ... what might be called "Anglicanism's Benedict Option." Salut!

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