fragments of an attempted writing.

marginalized subcultures...

Recent conversations on Venny's site reminded me of this passage.

In the context of educational institutions, Russell Hittinger has observed that what is billed as the uniquely Catholic component of the institution usually turns out to be 'a weird little subculture, like the bar in Star Wars, that has little or no sociological reality beyond the gates of the campus'.  To Hittinger's observations may be added the fact that the kinds of persons who are attracted to marginalized subcultures are frequently persons with psychological disorders.  As a consequence, an interest in religion becomes associated with dysfunctionality and irrationality - the exact opposite of what the Conciliar fathers intended in their call for an engagement with the human sciences.  
[Bold emphasis mine.]

- from a discussion about Catholic education in Tracey Rowland's Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II.

24 comments:

  1. I agree, mainstream or bust!

    I knew I should have just sucked it up and tried out for the high school football and quit fagging around with soccer and the arts and books. Refusing to avoid such marginalized subcultures was proof of as yet undiagnosed psychological disorders, dysfunctionality and irrationality.

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  2. Ps,

    Uh, every suburban to-be frat boy plays soccer. The soccer mom is the epitome of conformity in our culture. Further, perhaps you haven't noticed, but fagging around a bit (metrosexuality) is as American as apple pie these days.

    You'll have to try again.

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  3. I know that when I was a RC returnee, one who was repelled by Tridentine stuff, and a wannabe medievalist, who preferred Romanesque to Gothic, I tried attending the local Latin Mass, only to be put off by the wackadoos I met there. Who,if you got a couple of drinks in them, started mumbling about the Jews.
    And when I went to a Christendom College social function, I was totally repulsed by the young woman who gushed that it was so GREAT being Catholic because it was so good to know that you had the Truth....
    And some of my friends were pals with Dr Hittenger.

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  4. How about a proud member of CPUSA? There have to be fewer members than those who attend Latin mass. Oh, man, and if you were to do both, then, holy shit, you'd be certifiably . . . not agoraphobic, but something about a fear of crowds, or quite literally, mobs.

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  5. Ah, Christendom, often referred to as Prisondom (because of its draconian rules and regs).

    Older son applied to several small conservative Catholic colleges. All were very good about awarding scholarships, but said scholarships did not begin to cover the cost of private-school tuition/room/board. I think now that this has turned out to be a Good Thing. I think some of these little Catholic colleges (by no means all) can be a tad cult-like and hothouse-y.

    Anyway....

    Diane

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  6. Atychi,

    At least once a year we get an early 20something who joins AFTER already having gotten his hammer and sickle tattoo. That sort is always gone in 6 months. I wonder if they have that tattoo removed and put the new anarchist tattoo over it, or if they just get the anarchist tattoo somewhere else and it all becomes a sort of museum of past, brief, political liaisons.

    so yeah, both groups you mention are a magnet for wackos. In my experience, the greater the import one assigns to the marginalized subculture, the more likely one is to be grinding up the remains of old ladies and putting them in the freezer.

    Speaking of which, years ago, this Evangelical pastor who was into ecumenism and belonged to this earnest group of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox learned of my interest in Orthodoxy (I was an inquirer then) and he asked if I had ever considered eastern rite Catholicism. I said no and expressed some interest in learning more and so he introduced me to this guy at a party who was a very active eastern rite catholic layman in the area. We talked about getting coffee sometime, etc., to talk religion more. Anyway, about a week later eastern rite dude was arrested. Turned out he had killed his mother and another female relative and buried them in the backyard, but was continuing to collect their Social Security checks. There were also two other bodies buried in the back yard - not sure if they ever figured out who those poor souls were.

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  7. Turned out he had killed his mother and another female relative and buried them in the backyard, but was continuing to collect their Social Security checks.

    You know the most, er, interesting people!

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  8. The bald Mexicans09 June, 2011 07:56

    The only CP'er I have seen in real life was some old dinosaur back in the 1990's who used to put People's Weekly World newspapers side by side with the student newspapers every Saturday in Berkeley. Really, that dude was old. We always used to say that he had fought in the Paris Commune an' shit. All the rest we suspected of being CP'ers were either professors, student bureaucrats, and other respectable looking people who always took their activism through the proper channels. Compared to the Trots, the Maoists, the anarchists, etc. they were down right respectable by comparison, and by Berkeley standards, pretty darn mainstream.

    "I'm a communist."

    "Really, that's nice. I'm a vegan."

    Or something like that.

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  9. Not that I don't agree with you, Owen, but... wasn't Christianity itself at one time of its bimillennial existence a quaint little marginalized Jewish isle in The Middle Of Nowhere? :-)


    -- Lucian.

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  10. Lucian,

    Perhaps the people Owen is talking about are the same as those in ancient Rome who were always looking for the newest mystery cult of the week. Of course, Christianity could plausibly be put in that category as well. In any case, I doubt that the psychologically unbalanced post-adolescent male even existed in the same form in ancient Rome as we see today, so the comparison doesn't quite hold up.

    Owen,

    I think that I've known some interesting people, but boy, you take the cake.

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  11. Diane and Anthony,

    I met Mr. Buried His Mom in Backyard once at a party. I'm a little uncomfortable saying I "knew" him. I never had a drink with the guy (the party we were at was at the home of an Evangelical, and was dry - I'm sure I only stayed 15 minutes or so) or anything.

    In any event the experience did turn me off as far as ecumenicalish gatherings goes.

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  12. Lucian,

    One hears from a remarkably wide array of voices these suggestions, when considering the state of Christianity today, that, more or less "we've been in this situation before" - comparing late modern society to Roman society, and the marginalization of conservative/traditional/"apostolic"/etc. Christianity to the tiny obscurity of the early church. Even keen minds like MacIntyre go this route (his call for a new Benedict is ballpark, anyway). But for a whole host of reasons, I'm not buying.

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  13. Quite a few years ago, being a guy grew up in a "ministry" home (its many eccentricities aside), and went to bible college for a spell and thus made friends with "ministry" types and later making friends with seminarians who are Prot, Catholic, and Orthodox, I got to thinking about "the call" to ministry and I realized that if I was honest with myself I would have to say that I didn't believe the story of "how God called me to ministry" told by any and all of the people I knew who had such stories. They all went into ministry because they wanted to (even the ones who deny this and say they were pressured by this or that into a ministry they say that they didn't really want - talk about grade A bullshit) and there were aspects of their personality that fit ministry: a need for near constant attention, a need to have others venerate them in public, a need to be in a position where one's addition to spewing forth one's mediocre didacticisms is considered normal, a need to believe that one's work is God's special work and thus my otherwise bland life has some import after all, and so on and so forth.

    In recent years I came to think something similar about Catholic/Orthodox conversion stories - the ones with lines like "and then God led me..." or "and then God showed me..." or "and then God called me to...." or "and then I really came to believe that God called me to worship Him at..." and so on. In every instance I have read such a story, or heard it on AFR, or seen it on EWTN, or been told it in person, I have discerned that the overwhelming indication is that this person went in the direction they did because of rather obvious psycho-social reasons.

    I'm not saying that psycho-social reasons are the only reasons involved --- I've got this theory -- whenever someone puts on public display their conversion story, God immediately withdraws his presence and all that remains of the story are the religio-ideological points which get the kool-aid drinkers all excited, and the psycho-social idiosyncrasies which everybody else makes quick note of. Maybe it's God's kenotic way of saying "suckers!" And I'm down with that.

    Let's face it - if we're honest with ourselves, those really special and really true spiritual environs that we've been indoctrinated, er, trained to call spiritual hospitals might actually be spiritual lunatic asylums. Maybe the point isn't for anyone to get better. Maybe God has these places exist for the purpose of protecting people on the outside from the folks who end up in them.

    And yes, I realize as I write this that such an interpretation creates one hell of a gloss on a good portion of my own adult life. There has been a lot of "what the fuck was I thinking by admitting myself into that place" of late.

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  14. ...spiritual hospitals might actually be spiritual lunatic asylums. Maybe the point isn't for anyone to get better. Maybe God has these places exist for the purpose of protecting people on the outside from the folks who end up in them.

    When I first came across the phrase "spiritual hospital" several years ago - in a Kyricos Markides book, I think - I was quite taken with it and loved the idea of the church as being part of medicine.

    But then I got over that - I've gotten over a lot of certainties the more middle-aged I become - and the last few years I've been searching for an alternate phrase to "spiritual hospital" because the analogy kept breaking down no matter how I sliced it. I tried to come up with a phrase that's more accurate and honest. The only thing I was ever able to come up with was "spiritual country club." So "spiritual lunatic asylums" works for me.

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  15. I've heard some broadcasts of conversion stories where the person telling his or her story seemed a little uncomfortable about the whole thing. It's like the interviewer or someone else told them it would be a good idea to share their story, and they weren't prepared at the time to say why it might not be a good idea.

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  16. a need for near constant attention, a need to have others venerate them in public, a need to be in a position where one's addition to spewing forth one's mediocre didacticisms is considered normal, a need to believe that one's work is God's special work and thus my otherwise bland life has some import after all


    You mean like this guy here?

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  17. Owen,

    focus:

    you said some stuff about marginalized religions attracting oddballs (true), and you also agree that Christianity was marginalized in ancient times (also true). You also agree that Eastern Christians living in the West are marginalized there in the West (obviously).

    I didn't say that "traditional Christianity is marginalized": Catholicism is hardly "marginal" in Spain or Italy and Latin America, and Eastern Orthodoxy can hardly be called "marginal" in Eastern Europe and Russia. -- You/We only said that Orthodoxy is marginal in the West [and Catholicism in the East].

    Focus.

    Then answer.

    -- Lucian.

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  18. Okay, I laughed out loud when I clicked on that link. I don't know if that's a fair characterization of Romanides, but it certainly sounds like more than a couple of his online epigones.

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  19. The bald Mexican09 June, 2011 18:23

    Lucian's comments here remind me why I make it a point to delete his comments on my blog with great relish. I don't know who he is in real life, but in maturity he's about eight years old. Don't people have hobbies in Romania?

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  20. Lucian,

    The author of the text above asserts that explicitly Catholic expression is marginalized on contemporary Catholic colleges. She also makes reference to marginalized subcultures.

    There are a number of Catholic subcultures which are marginalized in the West (some are mentioned in this thread). Orthodoxy aside from occasional polite and civic events remains marginalized in plenty of Eastern Europe locales.

    I certainly did not ONLY say that "Orthodoxy is marginal in the West [and Catholicism in the East]."

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  21. Baldy,

    I don't believe he really is in Romania. I'd guess he is a 17 year old living in Arlington, TX whose family goes to an OCA parish and whose dad is in the import business.

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  22. "d guess he is a 17 year old living in Arlington, TX whose family goes to an OCA parish and whose dad is in the import business."

    And he's currently sleeping with a girl from Canada. You wouldn't know her.

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  23. Hi, Owen!

    Here's something to get your blood boiling... and here's something to further enforce your suspicions with fringe/marginal religions...

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  24. I wonder about people always getting called to do things that don't involve plumbing or things like that. I feel like God is calling me to be a landlord. Then, when you all are even more revolting than you are right now, you can martyr me!

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