Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Faith defiled: a very Roman Catholic jeremiad


What's a jeremiad? The noun comes from the the words and actions of the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. According to that secular source, the Merriam Webster dictionary:

Jeremiah was a naysayer. That Jewish prophet, who lived from about 650 to 570 BC, spent his days lambasting the Hebrews for their false worship and social injustice and denouncing the king for his selfishness, materialism, and inequities. ...

Jeremiah brought righteous wrath to the injustices and false pieties of his time.

Michael Sean Winter is an opinion writer for the National Catholic Reporter, the liberal independent news source for all things Catholic, both graces and scandals. Winters' commentary sometimes feels to me disembodied, intellectually distanced from lived human realities. But not these days. The Kavanaugh appointment and its revelations about the character of the "good Catholic boy" from "the best schools" has driven Winter to unalloyed prophetic ferocity.

The Kavanaugh hearings and all the commentary and conversation surrounding them are a disgrace the way that the Battle of Antietam was a disgrace. The Civil War was also a moral reckoning — with the sin of slavery. It was ugly. There were mass casualties. There were innocent civilians killed and maimed. There was brutality all around. But, in the end, slavery was extinguished. Not racism mind you — and on the morrow of the Kavanaugh vote, misogyny will still persist — but slavery was ended.

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away," said Abraham Lincoln in his storied Second Inaugural Address. "Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

Let that be our attitude today. If every drop of humiliation and fear and degradation that has been visited upon women through the centuries must now be visited upon men embarrassed to be discussing in public their brutish teenage behavior, men unable to advance in their careers because they got drunk and abused a woman, men, even famous and beloved men like Bill Cosby, sent to jail because they could not and did not control their sexual urges, let it be said again that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Moral reckonings are not pretty. They are necessary. This is no disgrace. The centuries of degrading women sexually was the disgrace.

That's pretty out there -- from a Catholic male intellectual. The combination of observing a corrupt secular power structure and a Church whose patriarchal hierarchy has produced one scandalous sexual abuse after another has Winters screaming in anguish.

Women also weep and rage after justice, confronting the naked hatred of too many aligned against us.

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