Watching Ross Douthat on MSNBC this morning and listening to words procreated from his honorary “George Will” conservative chair at MSNBC on the Chris Hayes Show, I had to wonder how does one inherit such media power?
It is no secret that Douthat is the Vatican’s man at the New York Times from which to launch the Church’s national campaigns against troubling competing theisms such as “Pantheism” that Ross did with a NYT article attack on the fairytale movie Avatar back when.
But one, little peasant such as myself, should not question media shaping opinion as if it comes from or sounds like it is was shaped at the old Catholic Office of the Inquisition. Though I must admit that Douthat rendering opinion in a roundtable discussion on TV, the only thing missing was a perfumed laced handkerchief for Ross to hold to nose and sniff as he was forced to talk to less than his true true peers in that media setting.
Mention of Douthat’s latest hack theology book, approved no doubt by both the Vatican and the RNC, was mentioned on this roundtable appearance today.
Before I quote from an excellent review of his book by Randall Balmer, I take exception with the deceiving title of Douthat’s book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics because “Heretic” is a bastardized Catholic word from the Greek, a variation of Heresy.
I have to wonder if the royal (?) “we” in the WE became Heretics is not really a stealth pronouncement (dictum ex cathedra)?
And to wonder if Douthat is a Pure enough Catholic ready to rout out the many others, less than perfect Douthat Catholics, from His Church?
Heresy (from Greek αἵρεσις, which originally meant "choice", also referred to that process whereby a young person would examine various philosophies to determine how to live one's life) was redefined by the Catholic Church as a belief that conflicted with established Catholic dogma…--Wikipedia
How Choice and or Option could get twisted into something so negative as Heresy, only a pure uber Catholic would know or understand…
The plunge into heresy, Douthat believes, can be traced to theological developments like the revisionist Jesus Seminar and the unlikely trinity of Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman and Dan Brown. Douthat accuses them of discrediting Christian orthodoxy in the interests of remaking Jesus in their own image, often for political ends. Debunking the debunkers, Douthat concludes that “they speak the language of the conspiratorial pamphlet, the paranoid chain e-mail — or the paperback thriller.” The currency of these ideas has given rise to what the author calls the “God Within” movement. “A choose-your-own-Jesus mentality,” Douthat writes, “encourages spiritual seekers to screen out discomfiting parts of the New Testament and focus only on whichever Christ they find most congenial.”
The “God Within” malady has infected evangelicals as well, as seen in the so-called prosperity gospel. Douthat harvests a lot of low-hanging fruit in this section, and who can blame him? The pablum peddled by Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and countless others surely represents an adumbration of Christian orthodoxy, but Douthat also criticizes Michael Novak’s defense of capitalism for being a betrayal of traditional Catholic teachings. All of this leaves us sinking into a morass of gluttony and narcissism, which has been inflected into the political arena as American exceptionalism.
Although Douthat’s grasp of American religious history is sometimes tenuous — he misdates the Second Great Awakening, mistakes Puritans for Pilgrims and erroneously traces the disaffection of American Catholics to the Second Vatican Council rather than the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” — there is much to commend his argument.
Yes, the indexes of religious adherence are down, and the quality of religious discourse in America has diminished since the 1950s, in part because of the preference for therapy over theology. Theological illiteracy is appalling; many theologians, like academics generally, prefer to speak to one another rather than engage the public….
Like any good jeremiad, “Bad Religion” concludes with what evangelicals would recognize as an altar call. Douthat invites readers to entertain “the possibility that Christianity might be an inheritance rather than a burden,” and he elevates such eclectic phenomena as home schooling, third-world Christianity and the Latin Mass as sources for renewal.
Religion in the rearview mirror never looked better.