you people are such good dancers

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 01, 2006

Naomi Riley fails to be impressed by Fr. Andrew Greeley's condescension toward Third World Christians:

WASHINGTON--Last week, Andrew M. Greeley, the well-known liberal priest and sociologist of all things Catholic, gave a celebrity interview to his fans. Though his main interlocutor was Robert Orsi, the chairman of the religion department at Harvard, Father Greeley also took some questions from the audience, most of whose members were gathered here for the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion. One person asked about the potential for the lay group Voice of the Faithful to transform the church, another about whether nuns should return to wearing habits. Then a middle-aged woman in the back of the room asked Father Greeley about the changing face of the Catholic Church. The greatest growth in the world-wide Catholic population, she noted, has been coming for some years from new believers in South America and Africa, and the trend shows no signs of abating. What effect would this have on the church?

"We will depend on them for vitality," Father Greeley predicted. "But they will continue to depend on us for the ideas."

I wish Riley had been able to ask Greeley a follow-up question: "Name for us, please, half-a-dozen IDEAS -- ideas for which Christian academicians of the First World can take credit -- introduced, say, over the last half century."

It would be interesting to hear Greeley's answer. What counts as an "idea" to this kind of guy -- Olber's Paradox? The Labor Theory of Value? Beverage-holders in automotive arm-rests?

My hunch is that Greeley has no idea of ideas per se. In this jargon, the phrase "people with ideas" is interchangeable with "people who don't check their brains at the church door," which is itself liberal shorthand for dissent. Take any unpopular doctrine, knock it into decent propositional form, put a tilda before it -- poof! -- it turns into an "idea," and the man who professes it becomes a Thinking Catholic. Picture a Franciscan from Ghana or Peru who studies at Berkeley for six years and returns to his homeland more orthodox than he arrived: isn't it obvious that his education was a failure?

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  • Posted by: Colonel Joe - Aug. 13, 2010 6:42 PM ET USA

    Awesome analysis--both Diogenes and Fr. Matthew. Needs wider dissemination. JFM

  • Posted by: - Aug. 13, 2010 10:49 AM ET USA

    If you reject that marriage was created by God, and instead it is a man-made institution, then by the will of the people (or some activist judge) the legal limits of marriage can be changed. After some time passes and most of the population accepts legal homosexual unions, we get to go through this again with legalized polygamy and who knows what else.

  • Posted by: Lilacs2me - Aug. 12, 2010 9:50 PM ET USA

    No problem, since Kagan & other justices & judges consider it a "living" Constitution. You know, kind of like silly putty--you can mangle, smash and create anything you want out of the original words of the document. Anything, of course, except what the writers of the Constituion actually intended. I am very afraid for my country right now.

  • Posted by: MatthewG - Aug. 12, 2010 9:35 PM ET USA

    Not a bad idea, but I think you are holding back and not going all the way to the logical conclusion: it's rationality itself that is unconstitutional.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Aug. 12, 2010 8:42 PM ET USA

    It is sadly ironic that, had the American Psychological Association never removed same-sex attraction from their list of mental disorders, this question would never have come before the courts and Walker could never have admitted his own homosexuality and been appointed to the bench. The APA made a political decision, with no supporting medical evidence, and we are forced to live with the obscene fallout. Walker may say gay 'marriage' is constitutional, but that doesn't make it moral or normal.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Aug. 12, 2010 5:46 PM ET USA

    Neither Judge Walker nor at least four of the Justices of the Supreme Court have any problem with today's court making such a determination. The Constitution, as a former White House Consel said, is what the Supreme Court says it is. Cf: http://www.gopusa.com/news/2005/july/0707_gonzales_court1.shtml