Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Defection of Rod Dreher



This news has been all over the internet and the standard response from Catholics seems to be that we should not condemn him for what he has done and we are to decry the "harsh" comments being made to him.

This reminded me of something. When my daughter was taking CPR as part of Lifeguard training they were told that when you perform chest compressions on an elderly man or woman you will hear cracking sounds. That sound is the ribs breaking. I asked her if that meant you should stop CPR. She said, no because they still need to breath and the ribs will heal. I think that is a good analogy of how sometimes the remedy or response to something can be painful but it is still necessary, as necessary as air to breath.

Rod Dreher is a Catholic journalist who distinguished himself when he published the book, "Crunchy Cons". A book where he discusses a new breed of Conservative Republicans who are Catholic, organic food eating, homeschooling, and economic liberals in some ways. When I read the book I was struck by an arrogance in tone and thought this is a book that Mr. Dreher will regret writing, though he will not regret the revenues it has produced. In one passage in the book he describes sitting in a bar, enjoying a bottle of white wine and doing some reading. He concludes that there are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. This I would expect of Hemingway but a Catholic husband and father? It seemed to me that many of his appeals were from the basis of self indulgence, the taste of good food, the warm fuzzy feelings you get from homeschooling, the moral superiority you feel from being "authentic".

Additionally though preaching the glories of homeschooling, in fact a whole chapter is dedicated to it, the Dreher family is no longer homeschooling their son. Homeschooling did not “work for him”.

And now the Catholic Faith is no longer “working for” Mr. Dreher. His stated reasons for “converting” are the abuse scandals in the Church. To me that is a sad and pathetic excuse and I doubt it is the real reason. Where is your strength of conviction when you allow your disappointment in mere man to allow you to abandon the Truth and salvation? What makes this situation more dire is the fact that his family is led by him and his decisions.

Now most of his “support” from Catholics can be directly attributed to the heresy of Indifferentism. Indifferentism is defined a denial that it is the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the One True Religion. This is one of the dangers of in a misdirected view of some “intellectuals” who advocate reading any protestant author- C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, T. S. Eliot on theological topics. I’m not saying you should never read those authors but it should be done on the advice of a good solid priest. It is easy for relativism to enter into your thinking.

But what’s wrong with the Orthodox Church?

1. They are schismatic and do not accept the authority of the Holy Father.
2. They accept abortion, divorce and contraception.
3. Their filoque tempest in a teapot.
4. Denial of papal infallibility

Some more recent explanations on Mr. Dreher’s blog at Beliefnet.com lead me to a greater concern that there was a spiritual and supernatural element to this conversion that he has not recognized as demonic. St. John of the Cross said that those who wish to see signs and wonders will have them, in abundance and from the devil.

If I had a dream about myself practicing or dabbling in another religion I would not wake up and convert. I would take a good, hard look at where my faith was weak and take this as a warning sign. I pray that Mr. Dreher will listen to those who are appealing to him not to abandon ship and not just any ship but THE SHIP. Man overboard. Throw him a lifeline.

Since I have written these words I've just noticed something else. It was on October 10th that Rod Dreher posted his 5600 word "Theses" and nailed them on the door of his blog. At the end of his statement he writes: "I have no intention of talking about this conversion further, either on the comboxes or this blog." Since that writing there have been not one but three more posts on this very topic entitled 1. Clarifying 2. Gratitude, and today's offering 3. The Spider and the chotki.

I think in summary that Mr. Dreher is a writer who makes sweeping statements and then does not conform to them.

14 comments:

Thomas Shawn said...

Rod was transfixed by the sexual abuse. At a ceratin point I wondered how healthy it was for a recent convert to be engaged so heavily in this battle.

For me, I was just able to accept the corruption of the Bishops, I think being a cradle Catholic allowed me to do that ... they could never take the Mass away from me and I just figured they would undergo quite a severe judgement in the end.

A little reading of Catholic history from France and England helped put things into perspective.

Jeff Culbreath said...

I don't believe apostasy is the right word for this. Schism, certainly. Heresy, apparently. But Mr. Dreher has not apostasized.

M. Alexander said...

I found this definition for Apostasy:

Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

I'm unclear as to why this in inaccurate.

gawfer said...

M. Alexander said...
“I found this definition for Apostasy:

Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

I'm unclear as to why this in inaccurate.”

I think Mary it is inaccurate because you assume that his relationship with Christ (religious faith) is defined thru or by particular Church.

Personally, I believe God is much bigger than any organized religion, and cannot be defined by a church, but defines the church as His body.

Does that mean I believe organized religions are bad? No, but I define a good church as one that believes the bible is the inspired Word of God, that Jesus is God the Son, who was born of a virgin, and was crucified on the cross providing by his death the necessary sacrifice for the sins of man, was raised from the dead, and will return to call those who have trusted Him home. If a church doesn't teach that, then in my opinion, it is bad.

I agree with you that Mr. Dreher provides weak and shallow excuses for departing from the Roman Catholic faith, but I find it difficult... no impossible to judge his heart. Of course Christ Himself admonished us not to judge (condem) another person's heart, yet we all make daily judgments of the outward behavior of others, and decide whether it’s right or wrong.

I haven't read Dorothy Sayers or T. S. Eliot. But I have read C.S. Lewis who is known to be one of the great apologists of our time and who argues that there is but way to the Father, through Christ Jesus. He doesn't argue for any particular religion, but for our individual relationships with the Father through Christ Jesus (John 14:6), and might define the bible as the instruction manual for humans from God, so I’m not sure what the danger is that you see in his letters or books.

Just some thoughts from afar.

Jeff said...

Mary, the term apostasy is inaccurate in Catholic parlance, where it has a very specific definition: rejection of the Christian faith in its entirety. See, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or even the Baltimore Catechism and other pre-conciliar works.

rjp said...

"But if he give up the faith, then he seems to turn away from God altogether: and consequently, apostasy simply and absolutely is that whereby a man withdraws from the faith, and is called "apostasy of perfidy." In this way apostasy, simply so called, pertains to unbelief."(ST II-II, 12, 1)

HSarsfield said...

gawfer said:
"I define a good church as one that believes the bible is the inspired Word of God, that Jesus is God the Son, who was born of a virgin, and was crucified on the cross providing by his death the necessary sacrifice for the sins of man, was raised from the dead, and will return to call those who have trusted Him home. If a church doesn't teach that, then in my opinion, it is bad.

Out of curiosity, under what authority are you claiming these things? In other words, what gives YOU the right to say that a church is bad based on YOUR criteria? And if *I* have other criteria, am *I* allowed to judge the validness of a church on those, or do *I* also have to adhere to YOUR criteria? Lastly, if God is indeed "bigger than any organized religion", then one must conclude that rules just don't matter anyway, and your opinions are worthless (if not a bit hypocritical....first you claim indifference, then you go on to set forth rules). Why believe anything at all?

gawfer also said:
"C.S. Lewis... I’m not sure what the danger is that you see in his letters or books."

Mr. Lewis' works come from a heretical viewpoint. He was known for his dislike of the Catholic Faith, and if one is not well steeped in the Faith, then one may be led astray (at least to those of us who believe that there is only ONE true Church). There are plenty of other books to read by BETTER as well as Catholic theologians if one wants to learn the Faith. There is no reason to delve into heretical views to find some "deeper" meaning and feel more enlightened.

gawfer said...

To Mary and hsarfield:

I was going to answer you here on Mary's blog; however, it became too long to postas a comment. So out of respect for Mary's blog, I posted it on my ghost blog for you and all to read.

http://gawfertest.blogspot.com/2006/10/response-to-hsarsfields-questions.html

Please feel free to comment as you like. I would like to understand your positions and values.

Thanks

Thomas Shawn said...

"I think Mary it is inaccurate because you assume that his relationship with Christ (religious faith) is defined thru or by particular Church."

This proves Mary is correct because there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, the only true Church, the only Apostolic church and the only Church headed by a legitimate successor of St. Peter.

Thomas Shawn said...

"Personally, I believe God is much bigger than any organized religion, and cannot be defined by a church, but defines the church as His body."

Then, therefore, you have ordained yourself Pope of your religions of self-definitions.

Read Mathew 16, it's not complicated.

gawfer said...

Thomas Shawn said...
"This proves Mary is correct because there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, the only true Church, the only Apostolic church and the only Church headed by a legitimate successor of St. Peter."

Really!? I thought Jesus said "I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father accept through Me." John 14:6

Sounds to me like you are making the Roman Catholic Chruch more important or 'higher' than Jesus. I got a problem with that, and here's why:
The Pope did not sacrifice his life for my sins, nor did Peter, Jesus did. The Pope was not raised from the dead, nor was Peter, but Jesus was.

My hope therefore, is in the Lord, not in a particular Religion, Saint or church. Heck, Jehovah's Wittnesses believe that they are the "one true church", as well as many other cults that remove the diety of Christ from their doctrine. That doesn't make them any more right.

Because it recognizes Christ as the cornerstone of our faith, I see the Roman Catholic Church as part of, but not THE Catholic (Universal) Church. But when you claim it is the Only true Church, you are creating divisivness within the Body of Christ, and in the end, that is destructive.

Thomas Shawn said...
"Then, therefore, you have ordained yourself Pope of your religions of self-definitions."

I'm not sure what your point is here, because you also use 'self-definitions'. We all base our behavior on what we believe is right and true.


Thomas Shawn said...
Read Mathew 16, it's not complicated."

Matthew 16 contains a lot of information. Can you be more specific? And before you site Peter as "THE ROCK" that Christ is going to build His Church on, I'd suggest you study the Greek text first. You'll find some interesting facts that usually get glazed over.

Thanks Thomas Shawn

Father Joe said...

This is an interesting post and the comments are intriguing as well. It is true that "apostasy"
is often reserved to those who have rejected Jesus and Christianity. However, this in no way minimizes the terrible situation of one who abandons the Catholic faith. The spiritual state of those who were never Catholic in an Orthodox church or even a Protestant one is not objectively the same as one who defects from Catholic unity and joins another "Christian" community. They are held to a higher standard. Their promises at baptism, confirmation and/or reception are meant to be kept.

Further, the Catholic Church identifies herself with the "breaking in" of Christ's kingdom into human history. She is the new Israel and People of God. Christ's gift of salvation is not merely a personal affair but a corporate one that is mediated through the Church, particularly through the sacraments. The Orthodox churches are not entirely breeched from this unity, but suffer from serious defects: rejection of papal authority, liberality regarding contraception and divorce and remarriage, and a creeping Protestantism, particularly in biblical interpretation. It should also be noted that the Catholic Church sees herself as the Mystical Body of Christ; as such there is no contradiction between her necessity for salvation and the role of Christ as our Mediator and Lord. The Catholic Church is the sacrament of salvation. Any who are ultimately saved, even if they are "somehow" not juridically under her authority, will still be obliged to her for ecclesial intervention on their behalf. I am reminded of the reproaches of Good Friday when we pray for those outside Catholic unity.

It is always a great scandal when one who makes a big show of their Catholicism abandons the faith instituted by Christ. Orthodoxy is renown for its beauty but it is also largely silent regarding many moral and social ills and impotent to offer subsequent intervention in our society. This is partially due to a conditioning forced upon Orthodox churches when they were surrounded by a larger Islamic society, or as in the case of Russia, the displacement of the Czar for Communism. They could do what they wanted within the physical churches themselves, but not outside the doors.

The pedophile scandals that have plagued Catholicism are terrible; but if one really believes that the Pope is Peter and that the Eucharist is Jesus, who is our Lord and God, then nothing and no one should be able to separate us from the true Church.

I suspect the scandals are a smokescreen. What we really have is a man whose Catholic faith did no go deep enough. More than ever before it takes humility to be a Catholic, acknowledging that God could establish his Church even among the worst of sinners. But, such is God's way. Jesus had his Judas, and the Church still faces the blight of betrayal...from clergy, but also from the laity, including political commentators.

Further, it must be noted that while the Catholic Church has had to deal with rascals among the priests; Orthodox and Protestant churches are not immune to such misfortunes. Married Eastern clergy have family problems, even issues of abuse, and over half of all Lutheran ministers are divorced, many of whom are remarried. The media might not pick on the ministers of other churches like they do the Catholic Church, and in a sense this is backhanded praise. Our priests are held to a higher standard, no doubt because we have not watered down Church teachings and values. When we fall, we have a lot further to fall than others.

But the Church moves forward all the same-- holy because Christ is holy-- despite weak and sinful members.

PEACE

gawfer said...

to assume the Roman Catholic Church is being singled out is inacurate. The MSM is no respector of persons or religions, and clearly 'roam about as a roaring lion seeking' any Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggert or Catholic Priest to pulverize.

Sexual imorality has no place in the Church. Whether it is adultery, fornication, homosexuality or pedophilia, it is a destructive force that tears the body apart.

The difference between the Protostant and Roman Catholic Churches is that as soon as a Preacher/Pastor Like Baker or Swaggert is exposed, their respective denominations take action to dismiss them from leadership. Not because they haven't been forgiven, but because their ability to lead has been compromised, and confidence and integrity is gone. The Roman Catholic Church however, has shown a propensity to cover-up the sins of their clergy, which causes one to question motivations.

The gentleman to whom this article is written evidently is one who is questioning motivations.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox Church does not accept abortion. That would be slanderous to say not to mention a bold faced LIE! Also, I have talked with Rod about his conversion to Orthodoxy and his main reasons for leaving were over the Catholic understanding of the Papacy. I think the sex abuse problems were more or less the straw that broke the camel's back along with the Papacy. So..... Next time you write an article, please do your research, because last time I checked, detraction and slander were sins and even "mortal" sins at times according to Catholic teaching.