I feel like I am caught in a bad fairytale.
Follow-up: on Tolkien
The post including transcripts of the conferences first posted on Audio Sancto with a somewhat critical view of the value as Catholic literature of the mythological world created by traditional Catholic author J. R. R. Tolkien generated quite a bit of heat.
The reaction from many quarters was stronger than might have been expected if we had posted a denial of an article of the Creed!… In a sense, even though I personally disagreed with much of what Father had to say, it seems to me that this bizarre overreaction validates much of his concern over a sacralization of texts which, as loved as they may be by many, are just a modern piece of entertaining fiction, and, let us be quite honest about it, regardless of the academic brilliance of the author, are not part of the canon of great literature of Christian Civilization.
In any event, precisely because this does not involve an article of the faith, but a prudential judgment on which Catholics may reasonably disagree, we would be more than happy to post a rebuttal of the conferences from a traditional Catholic perspective, in case it is also authored by a traditional priest and is, of course, respectful towards his fellow man of the cloth.
Rorate Caeli (exactly who from RC, I don’t know) made a request yesterday in the comments section of my rebuttal that I provide a link to the above follow-up. I asked him to provide a link on RC to my post in return, but he declined, saying
We are not ASKING for a link. We are saying that your link is incomplete since we had TWO posts on the subject, the one you link to and a follow-up, put up days before this post of yours was up. We are not asking in the sense that you need you to link to us, just to make this complete: since you are not willing to link to it, allow me to post it here.
Actually, I had told RC, prior to the above comment that I would get to providing him with a link in the morning. (I am in Rome.)
Where do I begin with this? Honestly, I have been at a loss since last night.
Let me start by saying that when I wrote my rebuttal to Father X I really wanted to take the high road. I was tempted to bring up the whole anonymity issue, which I had dealt with before concerning Audio Sancto, but I let it go in the interests of fairness and the more important concern about Tolkien. But now a response concerning this issue and others related to it is entirely appropriate and fair.
Between Father X, Audio Sancto and Rorate Caeli, all who have a part to play in condemnation of Tolkien’s work, no real name is provided. Apparently no one wants to take responsibility for such a severe assessment. (I know the alleged reason why there is not a single real person who stands up for these things. I just don’t buy it.) In any case, it is the ghostly Adfero whose user name is attached to the post, and he tells us the following about it:
Note: this is not the position of Rorate Caeli, but arguments by a traditional priest presenting a view of the matter that is different from that usually presented as the only acceptable one.
I surmise the double emphasis on “the” in “not the position of Rorate Caeli” means that that it is not position of the corporate reality of RC, which is to say that RC has no policy in regard to acceptance or rejection of Tolkien. This does not really tell us much, except that no one (meaning no human person) in that sector of cyberspace wants to be accountable for what is posted on the matter.
In the follow-up New Catholic at RC wants us all to “be quite honest” about things and admit that Tolkien’s work is “not part of the canon of great literature of Christian Civilization.” In all “honesty,” I am not sure what that even means, and I am also not sure whether New Catholic’s opinion in this matter is part of any Catholic canon. And while we are being honest, why don’t we be very clear about Father X’s “somewhat critical view” (as NC calls it) of Tolkien’s work, and call it more “honestly” what it really is, a wholesale condemnation of Tolkien’s work as heretical.
New Catholic wants us to believe that he largely disagrees with Father X but thinks that the good priest is onto something, because people have reacted so negatively to the condemnation. What New Catholic needs to understand is that this is what intelligent people do when fundamentalism is sold as orthodoxy and the defense of the one true faith, especially when it involves injury to the reputation of a faithful Catholic held pretty universally in high esteem. And it is even worse when there is not a single person who will take responsibility for the condemnation, and then, when they get called on it, behind their screen names they are moaning and wiping their brow.
New Catholic is absolutely right, as I mention in the post, there is no one Catholic position on Tolkien, and people are free to disagree on the matter. But that is not what Father X believes, nor is that what he is trying to convey in his conferences, which are highly biased and, in my opinion, poorly argued.
But Rorate Caeli has nothing to do with this? Then why provide so much real estate to an article they largely disagree with, when they very often fail to even link to posts at odds with them, as they do to my rebuttal, which was eminently respectful? And why characterize Father X’s piece as “somewhat critical” when in fact they know that is much more than that.
Something is wrong with this picture.
New Catholic writes:
we would be more than happy to post a rebuttal of the conferences from a traditional Catholic perspective, in case it is also authored by a traditional priest and is, of course, respectful towards his fellow man of the cloth.
I guess I am not doctrinally pure enough, insofar as I accept Vatican II and don’t believe that it is reasonable or Catholic to drive a wedge in peoples’ minds between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, because I am quite sure that RC would never think that I was not sufficiently respectful toward Father X.
But not even a link? Really? What are they so afraid of over at RC? Why not just admit that it was a silly mistake to post these conferences and move on?
The answer to that might be that in certain circles (quite honestly, in mine) RC has a reputation for being reactionary and supportive of the kind of initiatives that continue to make traditional Catholics look like a fringe group. That is what Mark Shea thinks, and he says so, with his real name attached to his opinions. And for that he is now the epitome of evil and “He Who Must Not Be Named.” And right in the middle of this storm in the Twitter-cup @Rorate Caeli, they write this:
Of course, the prophet here is Pope Benedict. And yes he is a prophet, but so is Pope Francis.
Talk about myth. RC has created a Middle Earth where Pope Benedict is Gandalf, Pope Francis is Sauron (or Francis, The Horror) and the Ring is the Novus Ordo. Yes, everything is ROTTEN, ROTTEN, ROTTEN. Ninety-five percent of Catholics are nothing but a band of dirty orcs. The only ones who can save us now are the Hobbits who hide in the shadows from the Freemasons and Modernists and warn us of the evils of the New Mass, the Gnosticism of Tolkien, and the death ray eyes of Mark Shea.
These guys are just too much.