Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Hitting Bottom: Some More Reactions

A couple more reactions on Joseph Bottom.

First, on the National Review site, J.D. Flynn gives arguably the most charitably kind piece I've yet read on this which still conveys a sense of taking the Church's opposition to "gay marriage" seriously:
If Bottum had pointed out only that the fight seems largely over, most Catholic leaders might have quietly agreed.

But Bottum didn’t stop there. Instead he said that “same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in love in a civilization that no longer seems to know what love is for.”

I don’t know whether Joseph Bottum believes that a falsehood such as same-sex marriage can advance truth, or charity, or goodness. I doubt it. His mind is too sharp for that, and too well formed. I do know that most Americans would agree with him — that same-sex marriage is here to stay. And that while we still argue, other battles — most particularly the irreducible moral battle over abortion — rage on.

Joseph Bottum knows that without a foundation of truth, laws against abortion are a faint hope. He knows that we order our common life to natural law in order to protect the unborn, and the disabled, and the elderly. That same-sex marriage will lead only to greater injustice.
He concludes that Mr Bottom is haunted by the apparent cries of those "hurt" by this fight, and so turns his back on it. He "tramples the fumie," that is, he turns his back on the good (if to him abstract) fight, which is to say that he turns his back on Truth (again, if abstractly). This is a mistake, though Mr Flynn conveys a sense of sympathy to those who are tempted in this way, and prays that we will not all be so tempted, or at least that we will not succumb to that temptation.

Meanwhile, Dr Edward Feser responds to Joseph Bottom's article.
If what Bottum means here is that the jurisprudential arguments that have won the day in recent decisions are obviously compelling ones, then as Matthew Franck says, this is simply a “howler.”  But perhaps what Bottum means -- given the qualifier “available today” -- is that the despotic legislating-from-the-bench that has become the trump card of even “conservative” justices like Roberts and Kennedy essentially makes a victory for opponents of “same-sex marriage” impossible.  Maybe so, and maybe not.  But such an argument would in any case prove too much.  It would “justify” caving in not only on “same-sex marriage,” but also on abortion, health care policy, and pretty much everything else.  It amounts to a recommendation that judicial despotism not be resisted if the despots are sufficiently ruthless.  What is conservative, Catholic, or even remotely sane about that? ...
He adds that the clergy sex scandals have undermined the Church’s moral authority on matters of sex anyway.  Perhaps Bottum would also have advised the early Christians to just lighten up and offer a little incense to Caesar -- the young people, after all, couldn’t see what the big deal was, and anyway all that martyrdom stuff was just making Christians look like fanatics.  Perhaps he would have told Athanasius to knock it off already with the Trinitarianism, since it was just alienating the smart set.  Besides, most of the bishops had caved in to Arianism, so that the Church lacked any moral authority on the subject.  And maybe Bottum would have advised the Christian warriors at Spain, Vienna, and Lepanto to get real and learn to accept a Muslim Europe.  After all, these various desperate Catholic efforts were, as history shows, a waste of time -- the Roman persecutors, Arians, and invading Muslims all won out in the end, right? 
But to be fair, those analogies aren’t quite right.  A better analogy would be Bottum suggesting that a little emperor worship might actually serve the cause of monotheism; or that giving Arianism free reign might advance recognition of the divinity of Christ; or that submitting to dhimmitude might be a good way of restoring Christendom....
As a famous non-American once said, no man can serve two masters.  And by Bottum’s own admission, people like his pal Jim aren’t likely to be satisfied with back-slapping bonhomie, or with the Church being a good loser.  They don’t want Catholics merely to quit the field.  They want them to obey -- to pay for contraceptives, to photograph same-sex “weddings,” to keep their opinions about sexual morality to themselves if they know what’s good for them.  If you’ll forgive more pop culture references -- perhaps the only “stuff we all still share” any more in this One Nation Under Compulsory Genial Tolerance -- Bottum starts by channeling Sally Field, but will end up on the floor alongside Kevin Bacon.
Also, this seems fitting for the occasion:

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