A good article by John Rao: “Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves: The Religious and Cultural Suicide of a Conquered People”. Or at least one that’s helpful to me. Before I was a Catholic I wrote a couple of things on liberalism and pluralism that are in line with Dr. Rao’s views, but he develops the issues with reference to the situation in the contemporary Church.
The article does an excellent job of describing the hole we’ve fallen into through the acceptance of pluralism as the standard for all actions that are not strictly private. It’s especially good in showing how pluralism becomes an unquestionable absolute beyond all discussion. To doubt it is to lack faith in God and his Church, not to mention the Pope, the human person, and what not else. Pluralism, it turns out, isn’t plural. Instead, it’s monolithic and — as Rao says — fideist.
It’s also patently anti-Christian. The Incarnation made God a public reality in this world rather than a matter of private interpretation. That’s why Christ spoke with manifest authority, and that’s why he was crucified. It’s also why the apostles went out to convert the world and the martyrs died rather than sacrifice to Caesar. How can any of that make sense if “free to be you and me” is the ultimate truth of things?
Rao seems to overstate the importance of America in the triumph of pluralism. The pluralist position has a compelling logic that didn’t need America to win out: once “God is dead” — once transcendent standards are rejected — then “good” can only mean “desired.” Since desires conflict, one must nonetheless have a way to choose among them, and since there are no goods beyond desire the criterion cannot appeal to the notion that some desires are better than others. That leaves two choices: (1) simply giving preference to the desires of certain people, or (2) establishing some procedure for aggregating, reconciling and arbitrating among desires that in principle gives the preference to none and so is strictly formal. The latter approach seems more rational — since all desires are equally desires, and the good is simply the desired, it seems that all desires should have equal power to define “good.” That’s pluralism, though.
I also like Rao’s proposed solution, return to the “Whole Christ” — reappropriation of the life of the Church through the ages. That, I think, is what traditionalism should be. To view it as a matter of “going back to the 50s” is to trivialize it.