Many people have noted that “woke” ideology, which views inequality as an intolerable evil caused by pervasive racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like, has a religious quality: it defines good and evil, explains life and the world, and tells us what we should aspire to and how we should act.
It is also aggressive and intolerant, qualities that make it worrisome for Catholics. For the most part, the worry has more to do with its manner and ultimate logic than the basic concerns to which it has appealed. To the extent the latter have to do with actual injustice and the hope of improving people’s lives they, like many left-wing concerns, can easily be shared by Catholics.
As things are, wokeness has now attained a position of dominance, so that it seems that all significant social institutions, from the Department of Homeland Securityto the American Mathematical Societymust pay tribute to it.
An aspect of that (and part of its explanation) is the difficulty of contesting it in public discussion. Consider educational testing as an example. Currently, the mean SAT score is 1104 for white students and 924 for black students.What do such figures show?
According to prominent scholar Ibram X. Kendi, who is a university professor, Guggenheim fellow, National Book Award Winner, and New York Times best-selling author, they simply show the pervasiveness of racism. His explanation of the point presents the logic of the woke position with great clarity:
Either there’s something wrong with the test takers or there’s something wrong with the tests… There’s something wrong with the test … And to say there’s something wrong with Black and Latinx children is to espouse racist ideas.
Respectable mainstream people don’t dispute the point, and the result is a growing movement away from testing. The same kind of argument applies to grades, discipline, graduation rates, and other areas of school life where there are longstanding racial differences in result, so we also see attempts to transform these other areas. The burden is on educational institutions to make sure everyone ends up in the same place.
Similar arguments apply to all major social institutions and relationships. For example, the 2019 FBI figures give a black person as the offender in 56% of the murders for which information is available, even though black people are only 13.4% of the population. The figures for London, where most black people in Britain live, are remarkably similar.
But what does that show? Those who share Professor Kendi’s way of thinking would presumably say that the problem is with the police and their statistics rather than the facts on the ground. That line of thought has helped lead people to the view that the justice system is thoroughly racist, so that prison has to be rethought, policing transformed, cash bail abolished, common misdemeanors decriminalized, and so on.
Woke ideology extends to other traditional dimensions of human identity, such as sex. As with the Civil Rights Movement, race is initially the issue, but the same principles get adopted for other human distinctions. So it is now accepted that there are no significant differences between men and women, and all differences in result–in numbers of engineers or whatever—are a direct consequence of sexism. To say otherwise is misogyny.
On examination the theory and its application have some complications. It’s not clear, for example, how Asian-American SAT scores (average 1217 versus 1104 for whites) or the FBI’s attribution of 88% of murders to men rather than women fit into the narrative of white patriarchal oppression through educational testing and law enforcement. And so far the main result of Black Lives Matter, apart from burned and looted buildings, seems to be more dead black people (along with some others). People may feel compelled to defer to current social movements, in part because they want to keep their jobs,but reality feels no such compulsion.
However, the general view seems to be that such issues are distractions from the burning need to correct horrific social injustice. It is evident the remedy will involve rejection of history and abolition or transformation of inherited social institutions. History and existing societies display complexities that stubbornly resist change, such as unequal results for different people at the individual and group level, so everything that has happened and everything that exists is tainted.
It remains to be seen how all this will work, and whether the effort will be more successful than the twentieth century attempt to abolish economic inequality. But if no one stands up against a view, and a great many people push it forcefully, it’s going to prevail and people will try to put it into effect.
So, for now, Catholics must consider the effect of woke ideology and related developments on the environment in which they practice their faith.
One thing they should notice in that connection is its intolerant moralism. It sees itself as burningly righteous and opposition or even skepticism as beneath contempt. Consider, for example, the emotional charge words such as “racist” and “homophobic” carry, and their ever-broader range of application.
That intolerance goes with a need to control outcomes—what actually ends up happening—throughout society. How else can people be made equal? But that means enormous expansion of government and effective abolition of personal agency, since if people are allowed to make choices that matter they will choose unequally and the results will be unequal.
The controls are aimed, among other things, at beliefs and attitudes. Woke ideology requires suppression of forbidden thoughts and those who harbor them. These are defined in ever more far-reaching ways, so much so that it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that people generally can’t be trusted with important decisions. In spite of the talk of equality and liberation, woke ideology ultimately means rule by a small number of people who have the superior knowledge, intelligence, and virtue needed to define what views are correct. As always, making abstract principles absolute means tyranny.
In that way and others woke ideology reflects technocratic society, both in goals and methods. It sets itself a single abstract and indeed mathematical goal, equality, and treats social institutions and human relations as technical means for maximizing that goal. Human beings and their lives are thus viewed as raw material and products of a social machine, and if the results are not what’s wanted then redesign and tighter controls are needed.
All these things mean no place for the Church as an independent authority and actor. The social machine becomes all in all, so the Church, as in communist countries, must assimilate or be crushed. She is an historical institution, and all historical institutions are tainted, so she like the rest must be radically transformed on ideological grounds.
And very likely many well-placed Catholics would be perfectly happy to have her assimilate. After all, how does it injure her organizational structure or the careers and rewards of those who make their living by her to line her up with the dominant powers and make their message her own? In an age of mediocrity, who can articulate and stand up for an alternative to the gods of the age?
All of which confirms yet again that now is no time for mediocrity or concern for worldly powers. We want to be Catholic, and that puts us at odds with attempts to reconstruct human life to realize a secular absolute. We have our own very different absolute and far more respect for human nature and particularities. But we also want to be comfortable and respected. A technocratic society won’t let us have both, so we must choose.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!
Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.
In 19th century England, there was a tidy little cottage industry in anti-Catholic tracts. In 1856 the Rev R. P. Blakeney DD, LLD, an Anglican vicar, published “Popery in its social aspect: being a complete exposure of the immorality and intolerance of Romanism”. This was a supplement to his Manual of Romish Controversy. Bigotry was […]
One hundred and seventy years later, the words of English critics of the Catholic Church have changed, but not the tune.. In 2022 the Church is still being indicted for opposing the doctrines of the established church, for sexual corruption, and for requiring its priests to be celibate.. Like the Rev Blakeney, The Economist rails against the corruption of the Papists: “Catholic sex abuse involves not only bad apples, but a rotting orchard”.. To the shame of all Catholics, there have been a number of priests around the world who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.. “The relentless press attention gives the impression that sexual abuse of children is still commonplace in the Catholic Church, even though the vast majority of cases of clerical abuse occurred before the mid-1980s.. After the Church reforms articulated in the Dallas Charter and Essential Norms, the number of new cases in the United States averaged about a dozen per year; during the past five years, it went down to about one new case per year.. “The Church has gone from averaging about 660 new cases of abuse per year during the 1970s to about 1 new case per year since about 2014.. At least with respect to the Catholic Church, the Rev Blakeney and The Economist employ the same logic.. Unlike the Rev Blakeney, to support its call for the abolition of clerical celibacy, The Economist is able to draw on advice from opponents within the Church.
In this day and age, false teachers lurk everywhere. Some are easy to spot, but the more nefarious false teachers hide in evangelical churches.
This view of God’s love is antithetical to the biblical view of God’s love, which is agape .. Based on an old Jewish Legend from the Talmud, Batterson teaches his readers to draw a circle on the ground, step inside the circle, and pray, and that by doing so, you will be able to access untold blessings from God.. Then he would stand inside that circle and say, “O God, please send a revival to this town, and let it begin inside this circle .”. The modalist heresy teaches that the Trinity is not one God existing in three distinct persons simultaneously, as the orthodox creeds teach.. Besides this blatant heresy, Jakes is also a prosperity gospel teacher who essentially teaches that God is like a genie in a bottle and exists to provide us with whatever we desire, so long as we have enough faith.. In her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young portrays herself as a recipient of divine revelation , who, like the Apostles, was tasked with writing down God’s specific words.. If a person believes somebody’s up there that created this… I don’t know who He is but I want to know Him… if that person were to have a heart attack at that moment, God could not condemn him and be just because God says he who seeks shall find, so since God makes that promise, if God doesn’t give him the Gospel or give him a direct revelation then He has to judge him out of another dispensation.. She also practices and promotes the contemplative prayer heresy, which teaches that you can receive direct, divine revelation from God if you “tune your frequency in” to his voice.. In this vision, God supposedly told her that Roman Catholicism is one of God’s true Christian denominations and that he desires unity among the various denominations, including Catholicism.
While progressives unfairly attack Bishop Robert Barron, elements of his theology are implicated in the postconciliar trends he laments.
Bishop Robert Barron, formerly of Los Angeles and now of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, modeled his Word on Fire media apostolate after Ven.. Bishop Barron has a substantial following on social media and garnered upwards of 100 million views on YouTube.. The liberals don't like that the bishop condemns "wokeness," which they think is a reasonable approximation of Catholic social teaching.. I think Bishop Barron, at least compared with other popular American prelates, has been a force for good in American Catholicism.. Nothing wrong with ethics or social justice, but it was a kind of reductionism and the doctrinal element was underplayed... A caving in to the very relativistic culture held sway.. Liberal Catholics predictably suggested Bishop Barron was discounting the importance of ethics and social justice.. They cited several New Testament passages to the effect that Bishop Barron was undermining the Gospel.. The Church, in the minds of some priests, theologians, and laymen, "was often reduced" to ethics and social justice in the wake of the Council.. AdvertisementIn fact, what some American prelates since the Council have done is "sociologize" the Gospel—taken its radical calls to charity and simplicity, which make demands on individuals as well as the social order, and reframed it as a series of abstractions: "structures" and "systems" and Medicaid reimbursement rates and marginal tax rates.. Bishop Barron is using "reasonable" not in the probabilistic sense, but in the sense that our hope for universal salvation is reasonably grounded.. While we do not know who is in Hell, and would do well to hope that we and our fellow men escape damnation, we have little grounds to hope that Hell is empty.. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?. Those who fail to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and the prisoner will be damned .. Bishop Barron often suggests his opponents feel assured of their own salvation and take delight in the thought of others' damnation.. The bishop also says that the massa damnata view of many Church Fathers—the idea that the great mass of humanity will be lost—is no longer "effective" in evangelizing in the modern world.
For all of our complaints about the shenanigans, monkeyshines, and dingalingery (SMD) that goes on in our synod - especially liturgically - there is reason to be upbeat and hopeful.
I may well yet have an actual orthodox heterosexual male pastor conduct himself with reverence and liturgical propriety and deliver to me Word and Sacrament if I find myself in a nursing home or on my deathbed.. God willing, the Boomers will be long gone by that time.. The reason that I am hopeful is my contact with Gen-Z.. That said, the Boomers and the Millennials who are with us tend toward the excellent end of the bell curve!. I teach and conduct worship for high school seniors and their families at Wittenberg Academy - which is a subset of Lutheran, mostly LCMS, youth.. I teach and give chaplaincy care to Civil Air Patrol cadets (ages 12-20), most of whom in my circles, but not all, are some kind of Christian.. Admittedly, these are institutions that would attract the more conservative side of Gen-Z.. They tend toward social media savvy (many having their own podcasts), and they are fearless of blowback from their Millennial and Boomer elders.. They tend toward real conservatism - and I don’t mean GOP, Inc, but actual traditionalism, corresponding to young Roman Catholics who embrace the Latin Mass.. Indeed, younger Lutherans also love the liturgy, and they press for more reverence, more ceremony, and more confessionalism expressed in our ritual and conduct.. Here’s the bad news: when I find young people with whom I have contact - especially those with no religion who are intrigued by Lutheran Christianity because of conversations with me, or with disaffected Protestants seeking something of theological and sacramental depth and liturgical gravitas - they often see what goes on in our churches, say, “No thank you,” and they go on to Rome or Orthodoxy instead.. Thanks a lot, Pastor Boomer!. I find this cohort willing to read and think and learn and write.. We worship with reverence because it is the right thing to do, just as our pastors are commissioned preach the Word: “in season and out of season.” But the irony is this: the Church Growth Movement is doing the diametric and diabolic opposite of what they should be doing to attract the youth.. So please support our work at Gottesdienst and other groups in the LCMS and in other communions within the Lutheran world who work toward a restored piety, liturgy, confessional integrity, theologically rigorous and beautiful hymnody, and practice that is congruous with our faith: worship that teaches us that Christ is truly present with us in the Divine Service.
Fintan O’Toole: No one was forced to read The Satanic Verses or watch show by notoriously offensive comedian ›
What does freedom of expression mean in a world where being made to feel uncomfortable by a book or a performance can be presented as an innately bad thing?
Last Saturday, just after the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York state, a theatre in Edinburgh cancelled the second of two shows at the Fringe Festival by the comedian Jerry Sadowitz.. Having a show cancelled is not remotely like having someone allegedly try to murder you on stage.. What does freedom of expression mean in a world where being made to feel uncomfortable by a book or a performance can be presented as an innately bad thing?. It points to a deep confusion in the democratic world about how free expression is supposed to work. It suggests that even when people freely choose to subject themselves to offensive material, they must be protected from their own consequent feelings of discomfort.. It points to a deep confusion in the democratic world about how free expression is supposed to work.. And, on the other, think that someone like Sadowitz has no right to make anyone feel “uncomfortable and unsafe”.. It also makes some people very angry — a lot of Catholics were deeply offended by Raftery’s work.. This is not to suggest that free expression is limitless — a proposition that, in practice, almost no one truly accepts.. But a novel is not a public protest, and a theatre is not a street.. As citizens, we don’t just get to choose our rulers, we get to choose how, whether and when to experience the danger of emotional and intellectual discomfort.
Explaining the oddities of Peterson’s seething rage and his plentiful tears
Why does Peterson seethe with rage in his videos and interviews almost whenever he’s challenged by a critic?. An elitist would expect that kind of low-brow performance from an all-too Canadian caliber of intellectual, and that’s perhaps why Peterson evidently tries so hard to dominate his discussions, to overcompensate for that disappointing pedigree by bullying his audience and his critics.. He has some personal troubles that have been made public , including his and his wife’s dire health issues, but everyone has personal problems, and Peterson’s happen to be offset by the rarities of fame and of stratospheric commercial success.. Of course, Peterson’s fans would likely answer as follows: “Peterson is essentially a saint, a prophet, a messiah who feels deeply because he sees the world so clearly.. That explanation begs the question of the merit of Peterson’s ideology, as would the response that Peterson has a right to resent his critics since they treat him unfairly, taking his words out of context, strawmanning his arguments, and so forth.. Jordan Peterson’s legions of fans who cling to his words certainly would exacerbate this malady, since although Peterson would only be slumming in speaking about religion, philosophy, history, and politics, his fans would mistake him for a prophet or at least for an authoritative expert on the subjects that are, rather, beyond his areas of expertise.. Peterson would have inherited this conservative personality not mainly from science departments but from his upbringing in Alberta.. Whether he subscribes to a conservative policy platform is neither here nor there since the effect of conservative policies is that those who languish under them are treated like animals, in which case there would no longer be any such sophisticated thing as a “policy.” What’s clear, though, is that Peterson displays a conservative personality in his interactions with his critics.
Having abandoned his acting career to become a political activist, Laurence Fox, 43, has got engaged to a prep school teacher who's 28 (pictured hand in hand together).
Laurence Fox has announced his engagement to Arabella Fleetwood Neagle.. Family: (pictured left to right) Arabella May Fleetwood Neagle, sister Lucinda Neagle, brother Oliver Neagle, dad Paul Neagle and mum Kathryn Neagle. Fox – whose acting dynasty includes his father James and cousin Emilia – was dropped by his agent in 2020 after a string of social media comments that critics deemed racist.. Last year he said he could remove his children from school over his opposition to the Covid vaccination programme.. The divisive actor turned activist, 43, announced he will marry Arabella May Fleetwood Neagle in an advert in a national newspaper before sharing the news with his 305,000 Twitter followers.. Laurence Fox announces engagement to Arabella Neagle, pictured together during his campaign to be Mayor of London last year