Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My "Compromise" on the Term Rad-Trad

Over at Dave Armstrong's facebook page, he wants to issue a real alternative to the phrase "radtrad."  Now I think a lot of the terms he uses are a bit silly and sound goofy, but maybe someone else has a better idea for him.

As for me, I know he rejects the idea, but I think here's the best way to handle this going forward.  Call it the Auctorem Fidei approach.  To modern ears, this is just some obscure Latin.

That is a shame.  For centuries, Auctorem Fidei was one of the central papal documents of Catholic Orthodoxy, especially in the battles against the errors of what we now call Jansenism.  The document condemned the acts and tendencies of the Jansenist Council of Pistoria.  It took 85 propositions the Council put forth, and condemned them with varying degrees of severity.  Even had some bonus points for creative condemnations.

So do that for what you call the "radtrad" position.  Take their positions, and list to varying degrees how injurious they are.  After that, drop the derogatory name "radtrad" 

This has a few benefits:

1.)  It is very precise.  "Radtrad" means a lot of different things to different people, and even when working with a precise definition, it suffers the same fate as "Neo-Catholic":  it inevitably boils down to "crap I don't like."  If I say the idea that a lawful ecumenical council of the Church contains heresy is "false, heretical, scandalous and offensive to pious ears", if you don't believe that, you know you aren't guilty of it!  (I'm obviously having fun here.  The words can be retooled to a more modern audience if you prefer.)

2.)  It allows different weighting.  Some ideas like the one above are really really bad.  Others are not heretical, but they are kinda dumb since they suffer from anachronism in history. 

Take the issue of "ambiguity."  A lot of people complain about how the Second Vatican Council is "ambiguous", and that is a reason to reject it, or at least ignore it.  The standard defense is to scream it isn't ambiguous.  I say of course it's ambiguous.  So?  When Walter Cardinal Casper and Bishop Athanasius Schneider can arrive at a consensus that Vatican II has ambiguity in it, I think it is safe to say Vatican II has ambiguity in it.

This matters less than you think.  Conciliar decrees are frequently consensus and compromise positions that are protected by the Spirit from error, but not always guided into saying it perfectly.  (Theologians are still arguing over what Trent meant when they talked about the sources of revelation, though depending on who you ask the manner was finally settled with Vatican II.) These things sometimes take centuries to word perfectly, and even then maybe not.  So saying the council has ambiguity isn't heretical, but it is for all intents and purposes irrelevant.

3.)  You stay focused on the issues.  Good people can hold really bad ideas.  So go after the ideas.  Yes, you lose the power to label people.  The sooner you give that up, the better you will be.

If you wanna do this for all Catholics, hey that would work as well.  We wouldn't want to think that only those of us who like worshipping in Latin need to have some cobwebs cleaned out.  But notice what the document did:  nowhere does it add an insulting name to people, yet it still manages to forcefully condemn ideas.  This is what the Church has historically done in her documents.  Why shouldn't we hold ourselves to the same standard?


  1. "Prophet once again" files:

    Seven hours ago I wrote privately to a friend:

    "Now, if I decide not to change my terms, no doubt, I'll get accused of not being sincere in the first place; like this was just some sort of game or ploy on my part."

    Now here comes radtrad Glendon Cheshire (about six hours after my prediction) responding to me over at Catholic Lane:

    "I don't think anyone was taking the initiative seriously. It seemed staged, or rhetorical -- for effect. Maybe you should have prefaced with 'I'm serious about this. I'm not joking. I'd like a name or names to call people, to be accurate.'"

    I made it crystal-clear that I was dead-serious. Just read the [my] post (anyone who doubts it). Anyone could see that, except for one who insists (ultra-typical of the radtrad mentality) on refusing to extend the minimal benefit of the doubt that every Christian is obliged to routinely extend.


    That remark (along with the apathy of response in general) has just about killed the initially great hope and enthusiasm I had for seriously entertaining a change of terminology. Way to go, Glendon! A sterling example of Christian charity there, that Kevin is calling for . . .

    I haven't said I was plain wrong in using "radtrad" (if so, then I would cease using it, regardless of how people reacted or what they thought, as my ethical duty; no need to even make a public proposal; it woulda been done yesterday). Fr. Dwight Longenecker's reasoning today in defending the use of "radtrad" remains my own.

    I was trying to take the extra step -- walk the extra mile -- in attempting to mollify those who are offended by "radtrad" (I think, based mostly on huge misunderstandings).

    I tried. And this is what I got: charges of insincerity. Now, a mainstream "trad" could say that Glendon is a radtrad and so his response is irrelevant to my proposal, which is directed towards mainstream trads. That's true, as far as it goes. But then we should see his pathetic attitude roundly and loudly rebuked at Catholic Lane by "trads" who would like to work towards more common ground with folks like me who have many sympathies towards the movement and who make sincere efforts to build bridges with and to it.

    We'll see if that happens. First I get no reply at all to my proposal over there, then when I do, it's a guy accusing me of game-playing and bald-faced lying.

  2. I can't speak for any of them, and honestly, I really don't care what your reasoning is, but you seem to want my take on this (since you posted here afterall!) so here goes:

    I have no problem thinking what you were doing was sincere, but I also have no problem thinking it just wasn't serious. For crying out loud David, you threw your hands up in less than 24 hours! To everyone, this looks like one gigantic Kabuki theater, where you feign to care, post something throughout the evening, and then when someone doesn't immediately drop what they are doing and pay attention to you, you go back to doing what you were doing all along.

    I really don't care to hear defenses. That's how it looks to people. You want them to take you seriously? How about this:

    "Hey guys, I want an alternative, I really do. As a result of that desire, I'm not going ot write anything on this subject for two months. I'm asking you to email me your thoughts on the term, not so that I can respond, but so that I can LISTEN. I won't respond ot any of them, but I promise I will read them and prayerfully reflect on them. I'm also going to write and get in otuch with other big Catholics names, those who do and don't use the term, ask for their insight, and see if we can work something out."

    You claim nobody wanted to engage you. How the heck do you know that after maybe 16 hours of your proposal. This is why you have such a radioactive reputation amongst traditionalists. They don't see you as actually trying to do anything, just posturing. Prove em wrong.

    Again, this isn't a debate. I may not necessarily think the worst of you Dave, but a lot of people do. Your job right now isn't to prove otherwise looking for a fight. It is to LISTEN. For what its worth, I was telling people (mutual friends included) that if you do this, if you make a real effort at it, it shows what a big man you are. But for the moment, you made an important first step. Yet this kind of stuff takes longer than 20 hours.

    Take my advice. What's the worst that could happen? Two months later, you decide you can't figure out an alternative and keep doing what you are doing, and people get mad? meh, they were already mad. At least this time you could say you made a serious effort, and you might gain a bit of goodwill with others.

    Like I said, this isn't a debate, nor am I interested in having one on it. Take it or leave it.

  3. Also, when a thread nears 80 comments over three days, more often than not its reached the point of dying down. So just because everyone doesn't rush to your defense, doesn't mean much of anything other than sometimes its best to just let threads fade away.

    Personally if I were combox empreror, all threads would automatically lock after 50 comments. Forces people to economize, less grandstanding, and really get to the meat and potatos of the issue.

  4. "I really don't care what your reasoning is"

    Yeah, I noticed; precisely why we don't seem to be able to have a dialogue in any reasonable sense of that word. You gotta care at least a teensy-weensy bit about what the other guy is saying. LOL

  5. Anyone can come talk to me if they wish, rather than talk about me behind my back and make out what a supposed "enemy" I am.

    You speak (in your post from August 1) of not alienating allies. I think you know enough to know that I am an ally to trads in many ways. If you don't know, you should.

    Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes an article, saying almost exactly what I've been saying about radtrad, and you treat him with great respect and even praise him for most of your article. I'm as much "on your side" as he is, if not more so. He flatly disagreed with you, whereas I am trying to compromise with you.

    Yet if I try to take it a step further, with a real proposal for a real compromise that would create goodwill, I get this hogwash. Granted, he's a priest, but c'mon! It's almost a totally different response.

    I don't have anything to prove. I don't CARE what people think of me: especially those who don't have the guts to come out of the shadows and talk to me like a man, or who immediately assume my insincerity, or who won't make the slightest effort to try to understand what I'm saying before lashing out in knee-jerk fashion.

    Apologetics is not a popularity contest, and I'm not a cardboard caricature that I am made out to be. I'm not some fool or idiot. Love me or hate me, I have devoted my life to serving the Church, and often at great cost in several senses. There is no basis whatsoever to think that I am merely posturing and playing games in all this.

  6. Those who think that (including you, insofar as you do) can go jump in the lake. If folks want to talk like adults, and even "negotiate" -- I'm always here.

    You tell me I should listen. What I say is that both sides should listen to each other: have a dialogue. That's what equals do: not in a superior-subordinate stance. I try to do that and to make a proposal and it quickly becomes a farce and a three-ring circus. If I hadn't been listening to y'all for years now I wouldn't be making the changes of approach that I have made.

    But all you can see is "radtrad": as if that is the worst thing in the history of the world. So I say, "okay; I'll try to bend a little if this is such a concern to you and trads."

    We all see how that effort was received. But of course that's all MY fault because I didn't do everything exactly the way that you and trads demand (shut up, cease altogether using the term, etc.), in order for me to be loved and fawned over in your circles (as if that is ever a goal I have, anyway).

    If I do it your way only, then everything's great and I'm a great guy! If I try to compromise, because that's what serious adults do when they can't reach total agreement, I'm (how did you put it?): "To everyone, this looks like one gigantic Kabuki theater, where you feign to care, . . ."

    Have it your way. You talk about me "gaining" all these wonderful things if I do it your way. Well, that works both ways. I'm not demanding my way; I'm suggesting compromise and a not-perfect but SOME sort of better scenario than we have now. No one else has done that. As the most vocal and verbose defender of "radtrad" at the moment, that would have been significant.

  7. You and all your minions out there who talk about me and run me down over beers and thunderous laughter don't "gain anything" (this is your lingo) by alienating ME, either, since I am essentially a "critical ally" but certainly by no means an enemy of the legitimate "traditionalist" movement.

    I suggest you take your own advice and counsel all your buddies that alienating me is not the greatest tactical move, either, whereas making the slightest attempt to work with me could produce some very positive outcomes indeed.

    Lastly, I haven't ruled out a change of terminology for all time. But I have for now, after basically being called a liar. Human beings are not simply abstract thinking machines. I don't like being called a liar and treated like a piece of crap anymore than anyone else does, and so that was a severe turn-off when I was trying so hard (AGAIN) to reach out to trads in a good faith effort.

    So for now I stay the same, because that is disgusting and ridiculous in equal measure. But if folks can figure out my sincerity (rocket science there!!!) and come out from the shadows and talk business, anything remains possible. I'm the eternal optimist and idealist, despite all.

    The only difference is that, next time, your side makes the initiative. I promise right here that I won't immediately doubt either your sincerity or seriousness if you do so. That seems to be a big novelty for your side. I, on the other hand, understand it as Christian Ethics 0101; Christian kindergarten.

  8. Wait, people are bashing over beers and don't invite me? Shame on you minions, I get first drink! Seriously Dave, I have no clue what your talking about, and I think you need to step away, say a rosary, maybe have a beer yourself, and relax.

    FWIW, I have asked that people take it easy, but that's their call. In the end, we are all responsible for our own actions, no matter how much give and take there is from someone else. I am no leader, I have no followers, only brothers and sisters in cause. Anyone is more than welcome to join that or reject it as they see fit.

    We would love to have you in the interest of charity stop using those terms. Not because anyone deserves it, or this or that compromise has been made, but because it's the right thing to do. That's your choice, and what my "minions" did or didn't do isn't relevant. Seriously, minions? I have minions?

  9. You did mention "hundreds" in your latest comment at Catholic Lane. I was just being facetious. Call them comrades-in-arms or whatever. I don't care. But you're always alluding (just like ol' Shawn always did) to all these uncounted numbers of folks "out there" who don't like what I do, and they all agree with each other, against me (the big boogeyman). It's a fool's tactic, and never sways me one way or another. It's a version of the "ad populum" fallacy.

    I'm happy to step away. Glad to oblige. I'll even do it forever if that's your pleasure.

    If you would love to have me do all this stuff you desire, come talk to me like a man, a brother, and an equal. Don't call me a liar; don't say I'm not serious or posing or grandstanding. Got that? You're an intelligent guy. It's not rocket science, as I said.

    As I've stated, I don't think use of "radtrad" is an absolute matter of right and wrong. We disagree on that. If I did, I wouldn't be using it. I'm willing to compromise (as grown adults do) with your concerns in charity, to separate "trad" from whatever term I settle on, if I do so (as you asked), if you guys will come out and talk intelligently and not call me a liar, a fool, and (in effect) some kind of moron, right out of the box, as soon as I make the effort to reach out and take your concerns seriously (in a way that is not being reciprocated at all).

    You've given enough hints to show that (if only down deep) you know it was a disgrace, what happened.

    So go talk in private (if you won't in public) with your network (whatever the number is) and urge them to be men and come and talk like Christian men with me. You'll be amazed at what could possibly happen.

  10. Nobody is calling anyone here a liar, at least between me and you. If anyone calls you a liar, you can go take it up with them.

    As I said, I have no problem viewing what you did as sincere, as it was. Yet the way you just so quickly backed out of it, that wasn't a serious attempt. I think you should try again, but that's up to you. If you do try again, I'd take that moratorium to rehash things out like I suggested. I'd even be willing to help, as we are working on a "replacement" for it. I may not think it is necessary, but I'm willing to meet where I gotta here.

    All those people liking and sharing my article, they worship in both forms of the Roman Rite(and a few Eastern ones for that matter, I haven't forgotten my brethren!), and come from diverse spiritual and intellectual backgrounds within the Church. They agree with my approach, they disagree with keeping the label. That's about as far as it goes.

    I've already said on here I think people should give you ideas. Don't know what else you want.

  11. If I say it's dead-serious, and someone flatly denies it, that's calling me a liar and insincere. Serious / not serious. They can't both be right. The pompous ass Glendon at Catholic Lane came right out and said I was insincere and not serious. You and Stu want to take this position of "sincere yet not serious, and still absurd."

    I don't see a helluva lot of difference. You're still not taking me at my word.

    I already said, if you guys are serious about negotiating, the ball's in your court.


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