03 May 2015

Some Comments on Sentimentalism and Modernist Doublespeak

1.  Note how modernists deny doctrine by tweaking the mode in which it is affirmed:
  • Of course the soul lives on! — in our memories.
  • Of course Jesus rose from the grave! — in the transformation of the disciples' understanding of his mission.
  • Of course the sacraments are transformative! — since they are communal celebrations of important life moments.
  • Of course there are miracles! — every experience of love and sharing is a miracle.
  • Of course God exists! — as the perpetual desire we all have for transcendence and community.
  • Of course I am orthodox! — according to the evolving expressions and ideas by which the Church promotes the ideals of service and community.

2.  Here we have the creed of the most banal materialist dressed up in the language of Catholicism. In other words: the soul does not live on, Christ never rose, the sacraments are not effective, there are no miracles, and God does not exist. One wonders why they put so much effort into posturing.

3.  Notice also that the nullification of doctrine is often accomplished by sentimentalizing it.  By equating the supernatural with the emotional, we become straightforward philosophical naturalists.

4. The excessive appeal to tenderness, sadness, nostalgia, etc. is very heavily used to manipulate people to embrace things contrary to reason. This sort of rhetorical or propagandistic trick has been around a long time. You elicit a strong emotion, and then on the force of the emotion get someone to embrace an idea or course of action that is otherwise foolish or wicked. Stop the person from thinking, get them feeling the way you want them to, and the feelings will lead them where you will. Plato and Aristotle talk about this, and strategies like this were the basis of the classical practice of rhetoric. But it seems that today the preferred method of rhetorical appeal is to feelings of "niceness" or "tenderness" or whatever, which have a two-pronged mode of action: by making something out as weak or victimized or in need of kindness, you simultaneously incentivize your audience to embrace it and stigmatize any possible objection they might have by making reasonableness look dry and callous, and even cruel.

5.  Cardinal Burke made a comparison a month or two back between unrepentant sodomites (or was it adulterers? I don't remember) and unrepentant homicides. The logic of the comparison was completely sound, and did not indicate any malice toward sodomites or toward homicides (yes, even murderers should be shown love and mercy). But in the progressive catholic press there was outrage over the comparison. The outrage wasn't based on anything reasonable, though: it was based on Burke's lack of sensitivity, his homophobic rhetoric, etc. In short, no one (so far as I saw) touched the logic of what he said, but they did a very effective job of making the man out to be a malicious bigot, when he was merely expressing Catholic doctrine. This is an easy example of the way sentimentalism ("how could you be so *unfeeling*?!") functions to thwart reason.