Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MLK would have loathed most of Obama's ideas

Beyond their common human nature and racial identity as African Americans (partial in Obama's case), the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Barack Hussein Obama share little in common ideologically.

Obama is a Democrat of the contemporary revisionist stripe, and champions same-sex "marriage," abortion "rights" (and even infanticide, which was more than even Hillary Clinton could stomach -- and that's saying something), and the values of moral subjectivism and relativism, which pervade his revisionist views of family values, Democratic Party principles, and even Christianity.

Martin Luther King was a Republican, condemned abortion, championed the principles of traditional Christianity and natural law, never questioned the existence of objective moral absolutes, and would have found the contemporary liberal euphemisms of "health care" and "reproductive rights" (for contraception and abortion) and "gay-friendly" disposition of most contemporary Democrats utterly loathsome.

Just how out-of-sync with contemporary Democrats Martin Luther King would have been, can be seen from his writings and speeches. His Letter from a Birmingham Jail is an excellent concise defence, among other things, of traditional Catholic natural law theory. It is striking that he appeals directly to the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine in defence of the idea that there is a higher court of appeal than human law, which may be unjust. He openly appeals to the idea of natural law and, beyond it, the eternal law of God, by which the human laws of men are ultimately judged as to whether or not they are just or unjust.

It would be amusing to remember here, if it were not so lamentable, Mr. Joe Biden's flip-flop over this issue while serving in the US Senate. When Robert Bork was nominated for the Supreme Court, Senator Biden opposed his appointment in the Senate hearings because Bork did not subscribe to a belief in natural law. Then, during the Senate hearings following Clarence Thomas's nomination for the Court, Mr. Biden opposed Thomas's appointment because he did subscribe to a belief in natural law. One thing I will say for Mr. Biden: he knows which way the wind is blowing. He would make a good weathervane.

The other work by Martin Luther King worth noting here is his famed "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, in our nation's capital. It is in every way a milestone speech. It is eloquent. It is full of Biblical allusions and cadences. It sounds like the most eloquent of Baptist homilies, in keeping with the character of the well-educated Baptist minister that he was. The following is representative of those brilliantly allusive Biblical cadences:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
Among the most memorable lines of the speech, however, are these:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character.
Note the appeal here to "character" rather than to "color." There is nothing in King of entitlement based on race or color or ethnicity. His appeal, rather, is to something objective, "character," presupposing the existence of objective measures by which moral virtue may be judged. In short, he is appealing to the principle of "justice," which he expects everyone -- his enemies as well as his friends -- to be well aware of as a matter of natural law.

This appeal to justice is patently clear in another part of King's speech, which was egregiously mis-appropriated recently by the Rev. Al Sharpton. King said, in his speech:
In a sense we have come to our Nation's Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.
King's appeal is to "justice," that is, equal justice before the law; but the Rev. Al Sharpton, in his speech, after citing King's words (starting at 5:25), immediately re-interprets King's words (starting at 5:56) in terms of economic entitlement, accusing the government of withholding owed money from African Americans, along with all those enlisted in the Democratic agenda of economic redistribution in the name of entitlement and victimization.

This turns King's ideas on their head. King wants blacks to have equality before the law based on their common humanity and for them to be judged not by the color of their skin but by their character. Sharpton, like many Democrats today, is closer to wanting blacks to be treated as entitled to government tax dollars based on the color of their skin in the name of "affirmative action" -- which is certainly promoted by Obama, but would not have been by King.

Contemporary revisionist Democrats and cultural liberals and relativists like Obama cannot lay just claim to King's legacy. Their attempt to do so is as perverse as the attempt of contemporary feminists and members of the National Organization for Women and National Abortion Rights Action League to suggest that they can lay claim to the legacy of Susan B. Anthony (whose face adorns our now rare dollar coins), while in fact Susan Anthony was a staunch opponent of abortion and supported the right to life of the unborn.

How can contemporary cultural and political leftists be so morally self-righteous and yet so stupid?

  • "'I Have a Dream' - 50 years on" (Cranmer, August 25, 2013) -- a good supplemental analysis.
  • Time Magazine cover for its August 26/September2, 2013 issue, the "I have a dream anniversary issue," sports a headline declaring King "Founding Father," and an article entitled "Martin Luther King Jr, Architect of the 21st Century."
[Hat tip to JM]


JFM said...

King is the American Mohammed, revered as if he was a giant. Except we can paint his picture and name streets in every city after him. He was indeed shaped by Biblical *imagery*, and was on the side of justice. But could not the same could be said of Obama? The Black experience takes its cures from a variety of sources, and is hardly exclusively Christian in its moorings. It all reminds me of Bob Marley's journey. Or Desmond Tutu. Or, and I am walking on tricky ground here, JPII. Remarkable men, but very inconsistent thinkers, all, who often managed to sound a but like Unitarians instead of sectarian Christians.

Obama might represent the natural outgrowth of King's noble progressivism. If Equality and opportunity are enshrined as the ultimate truths, where does it lead? I imagine MLK might actually be pushing economic parity if he were alive. In my observation, power at the table is the goal of all disenfranchised minorities in modern society, and more is hardly ever enough. African-American theology has always had shades of liberation theology running through it, and has never been especially precise. As such it is ripe for usurption by community organizers.

I believe MLK was a man for his times who accomplished great good. I actually think the same of Luther. Which means neither is necessarily a candidate for invocation on behalf of every case we want to validate.

Sheldon said...

I agree with the thrust of this post, and I think PP makes an important point. The Enlightened-in-their-own-eyes Democrats and other fellow travellers, like the Jewish-agnostic-dominated media, are into endlessly spinning "the facts" to suit their agenda. MLK in many ways represents the attitudes and values of a by-gone and more traditional and Christian era than these post-modern "pagans" (I am actually loathe to dignify the word "pagans" thusly).

Having said that, JFM offers an important caveat with his comment beginning with his observation about MLK as the "American Mohammed," etc. He's a "celebrity" celebrated to a degree probably far beyond his merits. He was a somewhat notorious philanderer. He increasingly moved not only toward pacifist anti-Vietnam obsessions toward the end of his career, but also toward embracing big-government spending programs that would have benefited (on paper, if not fact) his fellow blacks. Although his father campaigned for Nixon, and MLK himself was a republican, when the Democratic President JFK came through with promises of larger financial donations, MLK was "bought out" by the Democrat party and abandoned the Republicans.

I don't think any of this gainsays the point PP is making in this post, however. And his point is one that needs making. MLK is a "celebrity" whose values of belief in objective absolutes, natural law, and Thomistic orientation in natural law theory, and pro-life and pro-family principles, has been completely swept under the rug by leftist masters of media spin. Leftists are media liars.

Anonymous said...


Would you tell me what good Luther accomplished?


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Those of you inclined to buy into the kneejerk hagiographizing of MLKJr (just about everyone, I should say) should ponder this question long and hard: if he were alive today, how distinguishable would his message be from those who have fought for possession of his “mantle” like jackals competing for the last morsel of a dead animal’s flesh?


• In MLKJr’s lifetime, Jesse Jackson was a fake preacher who claimed to be pro-life, which was of course the dominant position for most varieties of preachers, black or white, fake or genuine. In the 1970’s, when he saw the way the country was going, he had a paradigm shift which miraculously brought him into line with the radical liberals who were propping him up and supporting his fake mission, and became pro-choice.

• In MLK’s liftetime, the democrat party, especially but not exclusively in the deep south, was known as the party of Jim Crow and segregation. Some of the great bogeymen of civil rights mythology were governors of Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Nevertheless, as the country advanced through the seventies, the democrat party became the recipient of absolutely insane majorities of black voters, delivered to them by MLK’s jackal-successors, who by that time had moved out of da hood and into dat deluxe apartment in the sky, leaving their credulous “congregations” far behind.

Had he survived, would MLKJr be pro-life today, or would he be pro-death like his jackal-successors? Would he be principled and above the political fray, or would he be another democrat plantation foreman, like his jackal-successors? Would he still be peddling the “content of one’s character” message that political conservatives cling to so desperately to when they ache to say something, anything, nice about a black leader, or would he be spouting on cue the “you didn’t do that, you didn’t achieve that” crap of the Afro-possibly-American tribal chieftain who also assumes the MLKJr mantle when it suits him?

Would MLKJr have been one silly millimeter less craven and corrupt than any of his jackal-successors?

Pertinacious Papist said...

I'm not sure there is a "good Luther," not even Lex Luthor; and the German Luther is certainly whitewashed by those who follow him.

I know all the usual dirt that is trotted out by critics of MLK,Jr. -- his philandering, his plagiarism, his capitulation to Democratic big money and big government promises from the Kennedy administration.

What King would have done had he not been assassinated on April 4, 1968, is anyone's guess. True, he could have followed the less-than-stellar trajectory of a Rev'run JACKsun; though nobody knows.

My point in my post is the simple one expressed by the post's title. Do I think there were good things about MLK? Yes, I do -- such as the things I mentioned: his affirmation of objective absolutes, natural law, and his appeal Christian principles and to the conscience of a nation with some residue and memory of what those principles are. He did not attack Christianity as the enemy of the oppressed, as post-Christian contemporary civil rights activists do, but appealed to Christian principles as providing the basis for racial justice.

Thankfully he didn't live to become a clone of Rev'run JACKsun, whose memorable campaign slogan, "From the out house to the White House, our time has come!" suggests a newer slogan more appropriate for our own day: "From the White House to the Nut House, your time has gone!" And you know I'm not referring to MLK or blacks here, as such, but to our current POTUS.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

When I was in Memphis I took a tour of the Lorraine Hotel and I shed tears at the manner in which he was assassinated -prolly by the govt - as James Earl Ray was a patsy and locals heard and saw a man fire his rifle in the bushes in front of the dump-hotel where J.E.R. was staying.

Locals saw the man flee after he tossed his rifle to an associate but the Federal B.I. didn't interview them.

O, and the feds cut down the bushes the next day: Crime scene, what crime scene? Nothing to see, move along.

In any event, no matter what sort of a dirt bag he was, his assassination was accomplished by dirt bags infinitely worse than he.

He defied the incessant death threats and kept appearing in public despite them; that took real courage.

On the other hand, he did pass off as his own the Letter From a Birmingham Jail, written by ex-catholic, Michael Harrington, and I STILL find that nettlesome.

JM said...

D, here goes, since you asked!

What good did Luther do? None, according to Catholic traditionalists. And while the argument is convincing when reading one-sided Catholic histories (the Angelus Press treatments of Luther, for example, are embarrassing in their total lack of context), I have to revert to my own experience in a subjective rebuttal. Institutions are prone to fossilization, and the Catholic Church has proven itself a vivid example. Our promise is that it shall not perish, not that it will not fumble. Just as God used pagan nations to judge Israel, I believe He used the Reformation to judge the Church and open a door where cold Catholic hearts refused to respond the Him. [Likewise, it is Evangelicals He seems to have used to continue the witness for Biblical reliability]. For me there is no other way to explain the spiritual pulse and undeniable blessings that sprang from Luther's efforts, along with the abuses. What blessings? I'd hold up the Methodist Hymnal and most of the Book of COmmon Prayer, and all of C.S. Lewis corpus, as artifacts that show dynamic believers seeing ecclesiastical truths "through a glass darkly." I guess on the subject of Protestants I actually *am* a Vatican II guy. Peter Kreeft's "Fundamentals of the Faith" has this line that I know will make most howl, but again, it rings true with my own spiritual experience:

"How do I resolve the Reformation? Is it faith alone that justifies, or is it faith and good works? Very simple. No tricks. On this issue I believe Luther was simply right; and this issue is absolutely crucial. As a Catholic I feel guilt for the tragedy of Christian disunity because the church in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was failing to preach the gospel. Whatever theological mistakes Luther made, whatever indispensable truths about the Church he denied, here is an indispensable truth he affirmed — indispensable to union between all sinners and God and to union between God’s separated Catholic and Protestant children."

The heirs of Luther are varied, and as I watch Protestantism as a formal entity collapse, I can't argue the Catholic critique on where it leads. And yet I am also watching Catholicism in formal form dissolve as a vital reality as well. I realize that truth precedes experience, but they also function in tandem, and I am simply explaining what I sense. I also know this puts me somehwere near the precincts of Kreeft's "iihad" argument, and more recently, Stephen Webb's "Mormons are Christians" spiel, neither of which I can get fully behind. But Catholicism's history reveals a Church that both marches forward and also has periods of spiritual darkness so thick that I have little problem believing God does take other byroads when His people refuse to cooperate. Luther was a bull in a china shop, and to be sure had his ugly side, but he was a child of his time, just as were a whole series of unseemly Popes. The blood and vitriol spilled seems incredible to us now. Centuries removed it is very easy to judge, but the fact we are dealing with flesh and blood men, warts and all, makes the villanization of luther rather weak for me. He did not split the Church: he walked through the tear in the curtain Church members left unmended.

JM said...


Recently I finished "The Last Works of Garrigou-Lagrange." He is a hero of mine, but I was nonetheless surprised to find his treatment of marriage as a concession to the carnality of man. It reminded me that every period has its blinders, and Development of Doctrine, though highly abused as an endorsing vehicle, is also a channel of blessing. For my three cents, efforts like those of the wisest Vatican II players, and recent things like Evangelicals and Catholics Together, would qualify. We veer one way, then the other, trying to toe the line. I am certain in the present climate Traditionalists are more on point, but without maintaining a bit of wiggle room on the subject of the mystery of other existence of other churches and religions, I think we box ourselves in unnecessarily. But I swear I am not a closet periti!

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Well, yes PP, "nobody knows." I guess I am playing the odds. On a personal level, as you say, MLKJr was something of a bounder. Everyone cackles over the loyal spouses of Elliot Spitzer, Tony "the Weiner" Weiner, etc. How can they be loyal to such self-centered cads, impassive in the face of their squalid treacheries?

Perhaps they learned it from Coretta Scott King, who spent the last forty years of her life looking as if she had been embalmed? Death on the installment plan indeed. As I watched her drift through life in a kind of ambulatory death mask, I sometimes wondered if she felt, beneath the granitic impassivity, an all-consumng rage that some drooling white trash psychocracker had robbed her of the opportunity to lay out her beloved's philandering a*s her own damn self.

In any case, the "great good" one attributes to MLKJr depends largely on one's opinion of the "great good" of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, the bill which has done more to debase and debilitate American society than any other. Without the civil rights bill, there would have been no Gospel of the Victim, no Great Society, and a great deal less of the cradle-to-grave nanny state, populated by sluggards and ignoramuses looking for free cheese wheels and Obamaphones.

This seems a rather high price to have paid for a few sympathetic references to Aquinas.

I have never been one for culturally-induced guilt trips. If others choose to be used in that way, best of luck to them: they are likely to have a very hard life.

Sorry PP old friend, I guess we will have to disagree on this one. To me, the saintly MLKJr was just another bloc leader who exploited the rhetoric of Christianity to achieve a redistribution of power. His astounding success in doing so proves one thing for sure: there's one born every minute.

Pertinacious Papist said...

JM, you quote Kreeft, who writes:

"How do I resolve the Reformation? Is it faith alone that justifies, or is it faith and good works? Very simple. No tricks."

And Kreeft opts, of course, for saying the Luther was "simply" right about justification by faith.

But here I'm afraid Kreeft himself may be pulling a trick on the reader, and perhaps not even realizing it himself -- because, as you will remember, those of us from Protestant backgrounds are really quite confused about this issue. It's not really so "simple" at all.

The irony is that Kreeft himself does a remarkably good job of showing just this in the very book you quote. The question entirely turns on what one means by "faith," of course. "Justification by faith." But by what "faith"?

Kreeft shows that in 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul clearly distinguishes "faith" from "hope" and "charity"; then shows that James ch. 2 shows that "faith alone" ("faith without works") is dead. Even the demons believe (have faith), says James, and tremble. So we know that while "faith" is a condition for salvation, "faith alone" cannot save.

But next Kreeft shows how St. Paul in Romans uses the term "faith," not in this sense as distinguished from "hope" and "charity" (as in 1 Corinthians 13 and James 2), but in a "richer" inclusive sense, when he says that we are "justified by faith apart from the works of the law" (Rm. 3:28).

Even beyond Kreeft, there are some excellent studies showing that by "apart from works of the law" St. Paul does not mean apart from "good works" (such as St. James enjoins on us for our faith not to be "dead"), but a life of faithful discipleship apart from "works of the Torah," meaning external observance of the ceremonial laws of Moses.

There are a couple of easy reads on this I've found -- one by Jimmy Akin, called the Salvation Controversy, the other by Robert Sungenis called How Can I Get to Heaven? There's also a good study by Anglican theologian, James D.G. Dunn, entitled The Justice of God.

So my short answer to the good that Martin Luther has done on this question is that he's simplified the issue by confusing it. If you ask good Lutherans about salvation, they will say their works contribute nothing. There is nothing in their doctrine about free will and cooperation with God's grace. There is the admission that good works are important, but only as the "fruit" of justification.

Trent is lucidly clear on this in its Sixth Session on Justification (darn, I wish I had my books here), where it says, paraphrasing: "Nothing preceding the grace of justification, not even faith, saves us." Something like that.

I might be more inclined to agree about some of the other points you make. Here again, however, I've changed my opinion radically on Luther, whom I used to regard as a white knight in shining armour. The man had problems in more ways than one, and none could assess that more readily that Staupitz, his confessor, who first advised him to read Romans. He had an obsession with sex. He could be pious, as he is in this Magnificat and his Shorter Catechism, but acerbic and violent, as in his anti-semitic diatribes, his imprecations of the peasants and injunctions to the princes to smite and slay. But enough of that. You can read Hartmann Grisar for yourself.

Pertinacious Papist said...

IANS and R-DD,

IANS, I did not know that MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail was ghostwritten by Michael Harrington. Seems I have some things about MLK to learn yet.

Ralph, you make a good argument and I will have to ponder it. I confess my acquaintance with MLK is deeply influenced by some earlier pacifist readings I've done, relating MLK to Gandhi, Thoreau, Tolstoi, etc. While I've long abandoned those interests and views, a residue of my reading King in those early days has probably stuck with me.

He's still no Obama. If he was "playing" the Christian world, he was at least appealing to the right instincts and principles in his speeches, unlike the Obamanation of Desolation who openly worships Moloch and Sodom.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear JM Luther was a fat violent vow-breaking drunk; and those were his good points.

Every. Single. Thing. A. Protestant. Produced, having left the church, is rightly to be attributed to the Catholic Church which taught him the Faith.

Blaming the Catholic Church for the sins of protestants is a novelty of the new theologians who are merely the obedient progeny of modernists.

As to your asserting that God works outside of His Church, that means you think He is divided against Himself - it'd rather be like McDonald's giving their profits to PETA.

I know that, thanks to Ratzinger et al, that Luther is being rehabbed but for crying out loud...

OK here is a good spot to reference a sede and his Trent-suffused takedown of the joint declaration of justification by the Real Church and the heretical hive.

Because both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI approved of this abomination, it is now considered impolitic for a Cardinal or Bishop or Priest to criticise it, it seems it is up to this man to do the necessary work and stand-up for Truth.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Doc. There is not any Catholic Tradition of the Civil Rights modus operandi which is now proposed for Catholics as THE model to be imitated by Catholics in the areas of abortion to the putative religious liberty movement.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Pope Pius XII:

I am worried by the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology, and Her soul. I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past.

Anonymous said...

Dear JM I would like to have your definition of “Catholic traditionalists”. I number among not only those people who say that Luther did no good but also among those who believe that he did the bidding of Satan. After I read Dr. Blosser’s and IANS’ reply to you I thought that I might not reply because they did such a good job but I have a little leisure time so I changed my mind.

Regarding your subjective rebuttal: I believe in objective truth and not in subjective opinion.

Regarding your opinion that the Catholic Church has fossilized: Is there a dogma that is taught by the Catholic Church that is out of date and no longer applies?

As far as God using the Church’s enemies to punish the wicked in the Church we are in agreement but would you name the pagan who was allowed to punish the Jews whose pagan ways were endorsed by the Lord? Neither does he endorse Luther or any other heretic or schismatic.

Is it your contention that the Catholic Church does not witness for Biblical reliability. Would you kindly explain what you mean by this? The Methodist Hymnal is set up against God’s own Church, it may sooth over the conscience of those using it so as not to lead them home. The same thing can be said about the books of CS Lewis for that matter. I’m actually not a fan of his. He came so close and yet he was so far away. I recommend Joseph Pearce’s book about Lewis found here

I too am a fan of Kreeft but on this subject he is simply wrong. I believe that IANS did a good job ‘splaining this especially the URL that he provided.


Dr. Blosser I believe that this is the citation to which you refer.

Council of Trent Sixth Section Chapter 8

But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely,[44] these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

I cannot find any reference to Michael Harrington, the astonished discoverer of poverty in the US, as the ghost writer of MLKJr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Not that I doubt your word, and certainly not that I would put it past him to pass off someone else's work as The Prophet's own, in the name of "the Struggle", of course, but could you please share your source?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Ralph. Here it is as a naked claim, unclothed by any sources, but I have learned to trust Dr Jones over many years

George tries to drag religious liberty into the discussion, but it’s clear that Catholic doctrine is going to suffer from the inevitable political horse-trading that this involves. Instead of asserting the historical truth that the Church has never repudiated her right to coerce the baptized, including recalcitrant politicians, George comes out in favor of civil disobedience, based on the historically false claim that, “Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.” The Church counseled patience and suffering and in extreme cases of manifest injustice the overthrow of wicked regimes, but it never condoned “civil disobedience.” The source of this claim lies neither in Scripture nor Tradition, but, unsurprisingly in George’s reading of the Civil Rights movement, in particular the tract written by Christian Socialist and Catholic apostate Michael Harrington under the name of Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

I ran across that quote while I was looking for something about the authorship of "Letter." I thought it might be one of your sources, given your high regard for Jones. Does Jones pursue this point anywhere else? It seems like an odd thing to throw out there incidentally in the middle of an attack on Robert P George.

I have no particular dog in this fight; my opinion of MLKJr stands regardless of who wrote the letter (although I have to admit that the more I think about it, the more melodramatic and preposterous I find the claim that the Prophet wrote it on a newspaper that had been smuggled in to him by "an ally," and continued it on sheets of paper passed to him by a black worker at the jail -- Prisoner of Zenda stuff, that). And Michael Harrington seems a particularly good bet as ghost writer.

Still, if Jones believes such things, he ought to dig in and provide more details. It would be further evidence of the fraudulent nature of civil rights legalisms -- if he could find someone to print it in this gilded age of freedom, tolerance, and high regard for truth.

JM said...

I will have to do some more reading on Luther, obviously, though I never intended to canonize him, not by a long shot. A messy character. So I consider myself, there, schooled. He was guilty of oversimplifications as well as hatespeak (though why anyone with a knowledge of papal history wants to long dwell on the latter is beyond me). But... still not altogether wrong. I wonder if Dorothy Day's penchant for quoting him will be a obstacle in her cause for sainthood? As much as I have problems with Vatican II, I think the "Separated Brethren" theme was one it got right. And though Louis Bouyer may fairly have a tarnished reputation from his forays into nouvelle theology, "The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism" strikes me as a home run. I'd stand by its affirmations. Has modern Catholicism ended up conveying either we get to Heaven by being good, or that we simply all get to Heaven? Yes. Has the modern Church sold out on Biblical reliability? Yes. [And If you have to even ask that question, you are unaware of the stream of statements that have followed after Paul VI proved himself the last Pope apparently feeling compelled to formally uphold inerrancy.] Is the Methodist Hymnal antagonistic to Catholic faith. Gosh, no, not in its broader strokes, at least not in my experience (that word again!). But while "How Great Thou Art" may be in Catholic as well as Protestant hymnals, part of the problem is no matter what is in a Catholic Hymnal, Catholics won't sing and cantors reliably preen. There is no joy where there is no life. Yes, the Eucharistic offers life in every parish where it resides, but too often that life is obfusicated or smothered in subversive preaching and secular understandings. Any lighthouse in a storm, and in the contemporary hurricane, many Protestants are shining lights that Rome has let become extinguished. Its editor's name properly gives conservatives a pause, but Thomas P. Rausch's "Catholics & Evangelicals: Do They Share a Common Future?" (IVP) has a lot of merit.

Pertinacious Papist said...


I hear you, and as we've communicated in other venues, I'm inclined to agree with a lot of this.

While hymns are not traditionally part of Catholic liturgy, there's certainly a place for them.

In many non-Catholic Christian traditions, the hymns are all that carry the Sunday worship service, besides the sermon; and as a result, they often excell in producing excellent hymns and excellent homilies.

These sorts of gifts, even if produced as the results of deficiencies in other parts of their non-Catholic spirituality, surely have good qualities which can be enjoyed by Catholics, and may even have something edifying about them. (I have posted on great Protestant hymn writers before, like Lina Sandell.)

Reading Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing: Catholic Culture and the Triumph of Bad Taste was an eye-opener. Even if hymns aren't part of liturgy, they surely have a place in Catholic life. The Church even has her own tradition of great hymnody (I think of the "Te Deum"), but what Catholic knows these anymore?

So, yes, a traditional orthodox Catholic will find much more common ground, if he's willing to look for it, with a devout Protestant who believes in Christ's divinity, the infallible authority of Scripture, the substance of the historical ecumenical synods, etc., than he will with contemporary modernist "Catholics" who populate the professional Catholic world.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

"many Protestants are shining lights that Rome has let become extinguished"


Am I missing the point of this metaphor? When did it become Rome's responsibility to provide maternal sponsorship for the utterances of heretics? I would think that the extinguishing of those lights would be proof of a job well done.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

"So, yes, a traditional orthodox Catholic will find much more common ground, if he's willing to look for it, with a devout Protestant who believes in Christ's divinity, the infallible authority of Scripture, the substance of the historical ecumenical synods, etc., than he will with contemporary modernist "Catholics" who populate the professional Catholic world."


The trap here is the presentation of this dubious proposition in an either/or context. I would think that the proper course for "a traditional orthodox Catholic" would be to reject heretics, both de jure and de facto.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Ralph. I am sure Dr Jones has sourced that before in previous issues but I can't find it online and I lost, loaned-and-never-got-back, misplaced, threw-away-mistakenly etc etc a whole bunch of material that I used to have in Maine before I moved to Fl.

Of course, that pleased The Bride but those materials were weapons for one who loves to fight and I used to have an ample arsenal.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

I wonder if Dorothy Day's penchant for quoting him will be a obstacle in her cause for sainthood

Dear JM Dorothy Day's Daughter, Tamar, lived in Perkinsville, Vermont (home of the prettiest strawberry blonde ever) and among her many children was a son named, Eric, and we two used to be able to generate more than our fair share of returnable bottles in an afternoon and evening riding the backroads of those hills and mountains looking for deer to kill and trying to find a Boston Radio Station that would tell us definitively whether or not Paul was the Walrus and so if she is raised to the altars, I will be able to claim that I hung-out with and partied with a Saint's Grandson...

So, I'll have that going for me, which his nice.

Now, I know a lot of people will say that young men ought not be riding around drinking beer with loaded weapons in a car because that could be dangerous but I do not remember ever getting in an accident worthy of a police report or shooting anything we wouldn't gut, clean, cut-up, and throw on a grille (and we weren't cannibals) and there were only 98 souls living on Perkinsville at the time (Tamar's family accounted for more than 10% of the population) ; and, besides,as Abe Lincoln famously said; Vermont has, by far, the bravest, smartest, and handsomest men in America

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew those Protestant folks With perhaps one exception those whom I know, if I were to judge, are very much nominalists. They believe what they believe and search the bible to find verses that seem to verify their beliefs.

As for their shinning lights, unless they are leading to the True Church they are leading followers astray. I’m no Pollyanna, I do see the problems in today’s Church but I’m not one to look on Protestants of any stripe as superior. I believe that the “separated brethren” theme is a monumental mistake. Many people (members of my family included) believe that we believe that they are just fine where they are and need not convert. Messages such as that lead them to believe this.

When you write: “Has modern Catholicism ended up conveying either we get to Heaven by being good, or that we simply all get to Heaven? Yes. Has the modern Church sold out on Biblical reliability?

I think that you are confusing the modernist leaders for the Church Herself. There is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The leaders may be leading people astray but the truth of the Catholic Church remains.


Pertinacious Papist said...


You write:

"The trap here is the presentation of this dubious proposition in an either/or context. I would think that the proper course for "a traditional orthodox Catholic" would be to reject heretics, both de jure and de facto."

Could you explain this in a bit more detail -- first the "either/or trap", and second the "de jure and defacto."

I just want to know what this means practically. I don't think you mean that we ought to shun Protestants while engaging in 'ecumenical dialogue' with Catholic heretics like Hans Küng.

Thanks, PP

Pertinacious Papist said...


You write:

"I would think that the extinguishing of those lights would be proof of a job well done."

Isn't JM's point that many self-identified 'Catholics' have lapsed into some sort of sacramentalized paganism, or unsacramentalized paganism, as the case may be, while in some cases Protestant heretics can be found who have a deep devotion to Jesus and to Scripture as far as it goes.

As Thomas Howard, one of my favorite converts from an Evangelical background, used to say, "Evangelical Protestantism" can make a decent "nursemaid" for future Catholics. One reason I like Howard, is that he doesn't feel the pathological need to affirm his Catholicism by means of always finding fault with the tradition he left. Clearly he left it because it was inadequate (as Howard suggests by his title, Is Evangelical Enough?). But he is also appreciative of having learned how to pray, to develop habits of Scripture study, and to love Jesus while still an Evangelical.

Pertinacious Papist said...

For the record: a reader says that the background on Michael Harrington ghost-writing MLK's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," from what he was recently told by Dr. E. Michael Jones in an email, was probably from Fidelity Magazine, perhaps from an article by Jones entitled "The Beloved Community Gets Down: How the Civil Rights Movement Chose to Perpetuate the Ghetto," Fidelity (September 1991, pp. 20-38).

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

"I don't think you mean that we ought to shun Protestants while engaging in 'ecumenical dialogue' with Catholic heretics like Hans Küng."

Of course not, PP. I believe we should shun both.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...


You write:

"The trap here is the presentation of this dubious proposition in an either/or context. I would think that the proper course for "a traditional orthodox Catholic" would be to reject heretics, both de jure and de facto."

Could you explain this in a bit more detail -- first the "either/or trap", and second the "de jure and defacto."

I just want to know what this means practically. I don't think you mean that we ought to shun Protestants while engaging in 'ecumenical dialogue' with Catholic heretics like Hans Küng."


I take exception to the choice offered between "a devout Protestant who believes in Christ's divinity . . .", and "contemporary modernist 'Catholics' who populate the professional Catholic world." I do not see why it is necessary or desirable to favor one over the other, since both noxious: de jure heretics (protestants) who retain ill-conceived "Christian" notions of a sort; de facto heretics (CAtholic modernists) who express heretical ideas freely (or at the very least ideas which easily lend themselves to heretical interpretation), but who have not "officially" been declared heretics by recalcitrant Catholic ecclesiasts. I do not believe in this case that there is a better choice: the only choice is to roundly criticize them both from a properly orthodox Catholic point of view.

I think you probably have a pretty good idea of what I think of the Catholic Kungs. But that opinion does not in the slightest warm the cockles of my heart for protestant error, no matter how devout or sincere or "conservative" or "evangelistic" the expression of it. This whole thing is a false dichotomy.

Building bridges toward either group is an exercise in what I would call pernicious futility. After all, traffic on bridges tends to be two-way, leading away from the Church as well as toward it, and we both know which way the traffic has been running lately. This is perhaps the point Howard tends to overlook?

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Thanks IANS, I don't mean to press you on this point unfairly, especially since it appears to be Jones's point, which he has not gone to great lengths to develop (the Fidelity magazine article would be a very interesting read). In the long run it is a minor matter, just one more piece of anecdotal evidence of the corruption at the heart of the idea of "civil rights." Thanks again

Pertinacious Papist said...

Thank you, Ralph. I take your point. Perhaps being a Catholic convert from a heretical Protestant background, I have what may be taken for a blind spot.

In 1987, an endnote about canon law in a book I assigned my students in philosophy of law, launched me on a quest to figure out what Catholics believed.

The road I traversed was a long and rocky one, and even after my reception into the Church, my views have continually been modified by what I have learned from Catholic tradition and writings.

If I now met myself back before my formal conversion, I could hardly fathom the shallow puddle that I thought consisted of the "Christian Church" (we had no ecclesiology to speak of).

Even if I now met myself just after my formal conversion, I would be amazed at how "Protestantized" my understanding of Catholicism then was.

My journey in many ways seems to have been in the opposite direction of those "great minds" of the Vatican II-era like Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx, Charlie Curran and the like. They were raised in Mother Church, despised her inherited traditions, and thought up heretical revisions. I knew that Jesus was the Lamb of God, and knew a smattering of theology and church history, but also knew that I wanted to learn much, much more, especially after reading that endnote that sparked my interest.

Now I get the point of your witty retort that we ought to "shun both" Prot heretics and Catholic heretics. But it seems to me that whereas the ears of these Catholic heretics would have been utterly closed to anything a good Catholic like you might have told them, the ears of Protestant heretics like I was may not have been, and I could have profited from having a knowledgeable Catholic friend to help me on my way.

Granted, your communication with someone open to the truths of the Faith isn't quite the same thing with the often dead-ended yet endless "dialogues" some Catholics undertake with Prot heretics in the name of "ecumenism." But it does seem to me there is a place for not simply "shunning" Prots, but inviting them into a deeper search into the truths of the Faith. I doubt you'd disagree, but I'd like to know just the same.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

It may just come down to the likelihood that you are a more open, trusting, optimistic soul than I am. I do not see that much good has come out of Catholic-protestant dialoguing, inter-marrying, interfaith services, etc -- on the contrary, great harm. Before the best dang council ever, the very idea of such dialoguing would have been discouraged as an occasion of sin. Interfaith marriages were frowned upon. Catholics were banned from setting foot inside a protestant gathering place.

Of course, this is unimaginable in these nouveau regime days. How closed-minded! How phobic! How not nice!

And yet, in retrospect, the New Springtime of interfaith grokking has been disastrous for the Church. Fifty years of aping the heretics, praising their eccentric behaviors and "reconsidering" their putrid doctrines, has left us ignorant of our own doctrines and behaviors, even scornful of them. The groveling, toadying behavior of Catholic churchmen toward protestant faith-jobbers is disgusting, hugely embarrassing to any Catholic who has genuine feeling for his own faith. How many Catholic men and women have scrapped the faith after years of hectoring by their protestant spouses and family members? What has interfaith marriage done for troubled relationships except to make divorce easier and more palatable to both spouses? But anyone who mentions simple facts like these is likely to be accused, even by other family members, of "intolerance" and "bigotry" -- more proof of the iniquitous basis of the "civil rights" gospel of victimology -- and of its hostility toward religious faith of any integrity -- especially that of Catholics.

The Great Council and the "nouveau" assumptions which drive its leaders has made fools and infidels of us all. Our 'shepherds" long to drive their flocks over the cliff, and they are doing it. I despise their incredible malfeasance and stupidity. I despise the badly formed converts who make deals for their conversion whereby they step almost immediately into influential academic and mass-communication positions and spread their protestantized version of the faith among Catholic lay people who lack the brains and spines to think for themselves.

What it comes down to is that protestantism in all its varieties is basically an easier, more accomodating faith than Catholicism. Protestantism is for folks who like Christ but also like artificial contraception, serial monogamy, fetal elimination as a "choice", free form adoration, free form definition of sin, grace, faith and justification, capitalism without guilt or responsibility, elevation of Mammon over God in all matters of social organization, and etc, etc, etc. Why renounce the seven capital sins as a Catholic when you can retain them as well as a certain “Jesus” cachet as a protestant? Why wear Nikes as a necessity for genuine atheletic training, when you can just grab a pair at Foot Locker and sit on your kiester eating French fries?

Steve Dalton said...

MLK was a socialist to the very core of his being. Lionel Lokos "House Divided" published shortly after King's death, shows the man for what he really was as a political and religious leader. He was an infidel with no faith in the real Jesus, and he was a socialist who had communists around him at all times. I find it strange that Catholics, otherwise conservative and orthodox, would admire such a dicey character.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Ralph, I hear ya. Point taken.

JFM said...

"Why wear Nikes as a necessity for genuine atheletic training, when you can just grab a pair at Foot Locker and sit on your kiester eating French fries?"

A motn late… LOL, and touche!