Crunchy Conversion! Dreher Abandons Corrupt Catholics for the "authentic holiness and goodness" of Orthodoxy; "Papal Infallibility a Failure!" Concludes Simplicity-Seeking Supplicant

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Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons, explains why he's abandoned the Catholic Church he joined back in the 1990s. All the child molesting, well, it didn't help.

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  1. It really sticks in my craw to read this from Dreher, after how viciously he’s used the club of orthodoxy to attack Catholic liberals who found fault with some of their church’s teachings.

    It sounds like Dreher was all gung-ho about obedience to orthodox teachings in the Catholic Church, right up until he found a different church that didn’t challenge his political beliefs. That little passage about his new church firing him up for his day job waging the kulturkampf is about the most disgusting and hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen.

    And then, lo and behold, he discovers that he doesn’t believe the orthodox Catholic teaching about papal supremacy, just when it becomes the primary obstacle towards joining the church he prefers to go to.

    Mr. Dreher doesn’t countenace this flexibility in anyone else, just himself.

  2. Okay, so I’ve read this whole thing now, and I have my conclusion:

    It’s extremely difficult for me to take seriously someone who rushes across a piazza to kiss a cardinal’s ring.

  3. The exchange of one superstitious variant for another isn’t cause for much celebration. But doubt is the first step towards chucking the entire racket and Dreher’s reliance on his own reason in discarding the notion of infallibility will continue to sharpen his sense of nonsense as he gets older, possibly ushering the Enlightenment into his own home.

  4. I realized that I simply couldn’t believe the doctrine. And if that falls, it all falls. – Dreher

    I though the same thing just before I quit Catholicism. `Course the doctrine I couldn’t stomach anymore was the whole “There is a god” thing.

    Kevin

  5. Dear Lord/Crom/Baal/Buddha — what a turgid, whiny little solipsist.

  6. To be more blunt, I have moved to a church that in my judgment within which I and my family and my descendants will be better able to withstand modernity.

    Bad idea.

    Basically, though — and this is as blunt as I can be — I’m in a church where I can trust the spiritual headship of the clergy, and where most people want to know more about the faith, and how we can conform our lives to it, rather than wanting to run away from it or hide it so nobody has to be offended.

    Now if in the second sentence he could have substituted “modernity” for “the faith,” it would have been worth reading as more than just a confessional. So to speak.

  7. I suppose our sensibilities just aren’t as refined as Dreher’s, eh Kev? (Good times, by the way – I remember the moment I said, ‘whoa, this shit just doesn’t make sense, I’m outta here.’ Definitely an unrefined sensibility, I fear.)

  8. Dreher is, quite simply, a coward who doesn’t have the courage of his own convictions. He’d prefer that someone lead him around by the nose. That’s always easier, isn’t it?

    Religion is for fools.

  9. Let’s not be so hard on the believers. As the old saying goes, some of my best friends…

    Some very clever people have been convinced of the truth of the theist claim, and there are certainly some very sophisticated theologies that can give an intelligent person a mental workout. Atheism is no guarantee of non-belief in claptrap. Marxism has had a long and very deadly run, with a horde of intellectualoids subscribing to its systemization of the world. Foolish and wise people are probably pretty fairly distributed among the various flavors of faithful and non-believers.

    Kevin

  10. It’s extremely difficult for me to take seriously someone who rushes across a piazza to kiss a cardinal’s ring.

    Congrats, Shannon. I think you clinched the Takeaway Quote for thread. I’ll still be giggling tomorrow.

  11. Nothing shakes faith in church hierarchy like a sex scandal/apparent cover-up, regardless of denomination. Indeed, I suspect the rank and file in most denominations is highly susceptible to presume the innocence of its own clergy despite the testimony of apparent victims–Jesus was right, people are sheep. However, not every denomination makes the infallibility of church leadership a point of doctrine. …and when someone makes a clear case like that, I think it wrong to second guess such a conversion.

  12. More than ever, I’m a fan of Sam Harris.

  13. I know it’s a joke, but that headline gave me motion sickness.

  14. Isaac Newton was smarter than probably anyone alive right now, yet he spent much of his time writing obscure Biblical commentary. When the people mocking religious faith are generally smarter than that, then I’ll be prepared to take “religion is for fools” a little more seriously.

  15. Charles, a lot of very smart people like comparatively stupid things. Smart people spend endless amounts of time and money building things from Legos and amassing Spider-Man and watching Star Trek/Wars. There weren’t the same hobbies in Newton’s day, so he was into what was nerdy back then. Newton’s interest says nothing at all about the validity of religious faith.

    Edison also electrocuted dogs and elephants to prove that alternating current was dangerous and screw his enemies. By his example, would you say that all scientists are amoral bastards?

  16. I don’t know much about Orthodox theology, but they definitely have the best-looking churches.

  17. My own mind is my own church.

  18. I don’t know much about Orthodox theology, but they definitely have the best-looking churches.

    I do like the onion domes. As far as the theology goe, is that the group that goes around mutilating squirrels?

  19. As I recall, the bulk of Newton’s writings occur following what many view as a “nervous breakdown.”

  20. Isn’t the whole, “Newton was smart, therefore correct,” thing an appeal to authority, anyway?

  21. Nerd,

    Did you just use ‘comparatively stupid things’ to describe building legos? You might be rethinking that when you see this sweet Mars rover I’m almost done with.

    Orthodox theology does indeed have the best churches! When it comes to music, you just can’t beat the Presbyterians, though.

  22. Vladika’s house was jammed with parishioners celebrating a feast day with … a feast. There was Archbishop Dmitri in the middle of it all, looking like a grandfatherly Gandalf. I had never in all my years as a Catholic been around people who felt that way about their bishop. The whole thing was dizzying — the fellowship, the prayerfulness, the feeling of family. I hadn’t realized how starved I was for a church community. Julie, who grew up Evangelical, said this was what she had known all through her youth — and what she’d left to become Catholic. I remember thinking that night, given what we’d been experiencing in the liturgy, and now at this parish feast, This is what I thought Catholicism would be like when I came in.

    Blecch!!! Some deep conviction, there. Roughly about the same as deciding which grocery store to shop at.

    I’ve known other fundies who jump around from church to church seeking the ‘perfect’ experience like that. For them, I think, religion is a form of drug-seeking behavior, rather than a deeply-held conviction. The liturgical difference between Catholic and Orthodox churches are very real, and yet Dreher seems able to sweep all that conveniently under the rug as long as the services and the preachers have the right ‘feel.’

    Wait ’til he finds out what happened to the Russian Old Believers. Makes the screwing of a few children seem rather tame, by comparison.

  23. splittist!

    What a tempest in a teacup.

    He want’s to keep the bells and whistles (or should I say incense and candles) because they’re comforting; and he found a nice community, the dinner thing.
    I can’t help, but think that this is a begining of a step away from little ‘o’ orthodoxy.

  24. Isn’t the whole, “Newton was smart, therefore correct,” thing an appeal to authority, anyway?

    Son of a!,

    Uh, no. UT’s statement was that “religion is for fools,” not “all religions are wrong.” Pointing to Newton would be an argument from authority to the statement that “all religions are wrong,” but it is a counterexample to the statement “religion is for fools.”

    Moreover, argument from authority may not logically prove a case, but it can certainly be evidence for it. The overwhelming majority of biologists believe that the theory of evolution via natural selection is basically right. That doesn’t logically prove anything, but it’s certainly suggestive. In short, argument from authority can be a nice shortcut if you don’t have time to do all the research yourself.

  25. Good point, Smappy. Some people go even further by stating that ad verecundiam necessarily invalidates an argument. True, the “authority” in question may or may not be correct, but when I want a recipe for a good French sauce, I’ll take the advice of a chef over that of a plumber.

  26. ChrisO: I’ve known other fundies who jump around from church to church seeking the ‘perfect’ experience like that. For them, I think, religion is a form of drug-seeking behavior, rather than a deeply-held conviction.

    I’ve observed the same thing. As a doctor once mentioned to me, new beginnings can be an antidepressant.

  27. Doesn’t anyone wonder what kind of agreement Dreher would have that would keep him from announcing a conversion until a certain time? S’weird.

  28. I don’t know if implies a lack of conviction as much as strong convictions coupled with perfectionism. The minute your priest seems less than perfect, and your fellow parishoners seem less than saints, it’s time to hit the road… I get the impression that Dreher sincerely loves Jesus, but doesn’t seem to have much tolerance for the frailties of his fellow man. Not terribly suprising.

    A former co-worker of mine who is Russian Orthodox once described orthodoxy as “remedial Christianity”… they don’t have all the crazy observances, fasts, etc. because they’re trying to go above and beyond other Christians, but because they need all those reminders- reading your bible and lovin’ Jeebus ain’t enough. Given the recognition of frailty and the excessive observances, it might just be the place for Dreher.

    Or he’ll convert to Pentacostalism in two years. Neither would suprise me.

  29. I don’t know if implies a lack of conviction as much as strong convictions coupled with perfectionism. The minute your priest seems less than perfect, and your fellow parishoners seem less than saints, it’s time to hit the road… I get the impression that Dreher sincerely loves Jesus, but doesn’t seem to have much tolerance for the frailties of his fellow man. Not terribly suprising.

    A former co-worker of mine who is Russian Orthodox once described orthodoxy as “remedial Christianity”… they don’t have all the crazy observances, fasts, etc. because they’re trying to go above and beyond other Christians, but because they need all those reminders- reading your bible and lovin’ Jeebus ain’t enough. Given the recognition of frailty and the excessive observances, it might just be the place for Dreher.

    Or he’ll convert to Pentacostalism in two years. Neither would suprise me.

  30. That might be true, except that Dreher’s window-shopping approach implies a belief that all variants of Christianity are doctrinally equivalent, but just utilize different little ceremonies. Which just ain’t true, especially between the Orthodox and Catholic branches. I’m an atheist, so don’t ask me to explain all of that esoteric nonsense, but there were wars fought over that crap, so it seems rather shallow of Mr. Dreher to go skipping between churches based on the way he feels at a given moment.

    By the way, that’s an interesting observation about the Orthodox. Many thousands of Russian Old Believers were killed or exiled because they refused to change their rituals after the Russian Patriarch decided to ‘modernize’ the Russian church by conforming to Greek practices. The Russians believed that their rituals were much more than a mere expression of their belief, but commandments from God, and they saw the Patriarch as effectively telling them that their ancestors had gone to Hell because they did the rituals the wrong way.

    There are still Old Believer communities in existence today. Betcha they’d provide Dreher with an interesting experience. Of course, he’d have to start using the Julian calendar, but that would be quite a trip, eh?

  31. “I’m an atheist, so don’t ask me to explain all of that esoteric nonsense, but there were wars fought over that crap”

    But were those wars fought because the differences were significant? Or were the differences an excuse for aggressive asshats?

    I’m not sure why we should grant the aggressive medieval asshats primacy on the matter of doctrinal compatibility.

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