At the Center for Law and Religion Forum, Robert Delahunty has an insightful and thought-provoking post, “The Real Catholic Debate,” on Rod Dreher’s report of a recent seminar at First Things magazine. The seminar focused on the future of social and religious conservatism in what seems to be an increasingly hostile America. What stood out for Delahunty was the discussion of the future of American Catholicism.
According to Delahunty, the real debate within American Catholicism is the one between what he calls “accommodationists” and “radicals.” Accommodationists think that the Church is ultimately compatible with American liberalism; they look to the golden age of the 1940s and 1950s, and argue that true American liberalism has gone off track and must be restored. Radicals, by contrast, think American liberalism and Catholicism have been incompatible from the start, and that the friendly cooperation of the Forties and Fifties was an aberration.
Here’s an excerpt:
Unquestionably, this is a serious and important debateone that calls the ultimate assumptions of the American regime into question. Many of us are shocked and depressed by the current state of Americaits hardness of heart to the most vulnerable; its contempt for the poor; its violence abroad and at home; its corrupt sexual morality; its increasing intolerance and persecutory zeal (with ourselves as targets); and so on. But for these debating Catholics, the question is whether the American situation is curable, by some kind of reform program; or incurable, inherently tending to self-destruction.
The parties to the Catholic debate are thinking foundationallya sure sign that we are in crisis. They are asking: Do we continue to engage the legal and political system? Or do we break off and try to create sheltered communities of our own, like the hidden church under the Roman Empire? What can we learn from the adaptive strategies of other religious minorities (a particularly interesting observation in Dreher’s posting came from an Orthodox Jew)? Is America a disappointing friend, or is it an enemy? If it’s an enemy, how do we deal with it?
Very worthwhile. Read the whole thing.