Got a Problem in the Trouser Department?

The English are better than the Americans for ripe slang. By “ripe slang” I mean slang that is at once witty, understated but still devastating.

So, for example, the toilet might be referred to in polite society as “the smallest room” or someone might comment about a person who was especially fond of the drink, “Oh dear. I’m afraid old Jenkins has a bit of an elbow problem.”

When referring to a clergyman who got caught with his pants down they wouldn’t use such a crass expression. They might say, “Seems, the vicar has had a problem in the trouser department.”

Indeed. It would seem the Catholic clergy are having just such a problem.

Not wanting to make light of the situation, but is this only a problem in the trouser department or is it also a problem in the theology department?

It seems to me the problem is rooted in a sort of heresy stew that is cooking in the Catholic Church. This heresy stew has got various ingredients all cooking in the modernistic slow cooker, and now the alarm has gone off and the stew is well and truly cooked.

Forgive me, I am letting my metaphors run away with me.

What I mean is that modernism is the compendium of errors and a bunch of old heresies seem to be all smooched together in the present state of affairs.

First I can smell old Arianism which denied the true divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Arianism was the heresy of the church hierarchs, the theologians, the academics, the clever people, the hoity toity–the well connected, well heeled, well off and well educated. Arianism tiptoed around the divinity of the Lord with half baked definitions, vague terminology and ambiguous statements.

You see, the nitty gritty reality of the Incarnation was just too much for these tasteful intellectuals to accept. “What you mean to say that the Lord Almighty became a building contractor from Pumpkintown who was a hell fire country preacher on the weekends? Come now, surely not!”

So to get around such an uncomfortable truth the Arians did all sorts of theological verbal gymnastics.

This is just what the modernists today do. They don’t out and out deny the orthodox teachings of the church. Indeed, like Fr James Martin SJ–they protest loudly that they are “priests in good standing” and that they never challenge the teaching fo the church. Except they do in a roundabout way.

The typical way the modern day Arians do this is by using all the right religious language, but interpreting it differently than it actually means. “Oh yes!” they say, “I fully affirm celibacy for priests” Meanwhile what they mean is “celibacy just means you can’t get married.” They then go on to continue sleeping with their boyfriends.

You get the idea.

They do the same with the doctrines of the church. Father Fabulous stands up on Easter Day and says, “Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” But what he means  by that is that “in some way the teachings of Jesus continued to be believed and preached by his disciples even after his tragic death.”

In its heyday Arianism nearly took over and destroyed the church. Its a weak, flabby and self indulgent, lying heresy and I hate it.

The other form of heresy you can identify in this heresy stew is Gnosticism. The gnostics were big into spirituality and special knowledge and being experts in the seventh heaven and the techniques of prayer and so forth and so on, but, like the Arians, they didn’t really believe in the Nicene Jesus who is “God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, Begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father by whom all things were made.”

Instead they believed that Jesus sort of like in a way appeared to be human, but he was really a spiritual being all along.

The consequence of this Christological heresy was that they did not think the physical mattered. This consequence had two opposite manifestations. Because they were dualists and the body was inferior to the spirit, some of them went all ascetical and punished their bodies like Hindu sadhus or Buddhist monks who sit on mountaintops in their underwear.

The other logical reaction–if the physical world doesn’t matter–is to do whatever you darn well please in the physical world. So sex and drugs and rock and roll is just fine. For the gnostics sex games with boys is okay and so is having a mistress and doing pornography and whatever you like.

The Cathars were like that and people who knew better in the Middle Ages hated that stuff. Like Indiana Jones says, “Gnostics! I hate those guys!”

Isn’t that part of the problem with the sex scandals? They priests and pastors who are messing around don’t really think it matters. They don’t really think it is such a big deal because they haven’t really embraced this God Man Jesus who, because he took human flesh of his Blessed Mother made all flesh eternally important. Because he took matter, matter matters.

By the way, if you want to avoid Christological heresies spend time developing a strong devotion to Mary. She is the hammer of heretics when it comes to wrong ideas about her son. She is not pleased with such silliness and will take you aside and straighten you out.

Here’s a third heresy you can find in this stew: Universalism.

This is the teaching that everyone will be saved one day. This is one of the stupidest and most inane positions any Christian could ever take. Not only does it flatly contradict the plain words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember that conversation? Disciples – “Will many be saved?” Jesus: “No. The way is narrow and few there be who find it.”

Not only does it flatly contradict the words of the Lord, but its just plain dumb. Do people really, really believe that given enough time some creepy person who raped and killed little girls and then cannibalized them is going to go to heaven one day?” I’m sorry. I’m not that holy yet.

Universalism is also very very dumb because it empties churches. It doesn’t take a rochet scientist to figure out that if you tell people they are all going to heaven anyway that they’ll stop going to church. “Why do all that religious stuff if the gates are open wide and we all get in in the end?”

Furthermore, why behave ourselves if there is not hell to pay and no heaven to win? This is another heresy that therefore encourages and allows immorality. Why not mess around and do what you want if you’re going to heaven anyway?

I hate universalism. I really do.

Finally, there is a heresy that I don’t know the name of. Someone else will and they can correct me but I call it the “Heresy of Nice” and this is not a reference to a city in France.

It is the heresy that says we can never call anything by the name of what it is if that thing is at all nasty. We can never mention sin. Instead we say, “things that are inappropriate. We don’t actually discuss the actions of promiscuous people. We don’t talk about what they do with their bodies. That would not be nice to talk about those below the belt things. Let’s just talk about being nice to everyone and there is no such thing as sin, so Father Fabulous at the start of Mass says, “I’m sure that we have all done some things this week that were perhaps not doing our very best so lets think about those things for a few moments and then thank God that we are all forgiven!”

And lest people think that these heresies are the monopoly of the “liberals” it ain’t so. I think plenty of “conservative” Catholics are infected with them as well, and to make matters worse the conservatives don’t realize they are infected with these heresies because in the USA too many Catholic conservatives have confused their politics with their religion.

We know this is true because so called “conservative” clergy and Catholics have fallen into the same traps of immorality.

Does that make me and my friends holier than everyone else? I hope not.

I’m also a work in progress, but I hope at least that by God’s grace I will be able to see myself as I really am, and clinging to Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer, might somehow make it limping home.

2018-08-13T18:07:44+00:00August 13th, 2018|Categories: Blog|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Laurence McClelland August 13, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    I often wonder whether Thomas Merton was beginning to drift towards some of these heresies, but we will never know. Seven Story Mountain was a very powerful book, I found his later writings somewhat lacking the same inspiration.

    • Dwight Longenecker August 14, 2018 at 7:42 am

      Thomas Merton was indeed drifting towards these heresies, but through the door of Eastern religions, he was also drifting into immorality and breaking his monastic vows of celibacy. At the point of his death a good number of those who knew him felt he might very well abandon his Catholic faith completely.

      • Laurence McClelland August 14, 2018 at 9:47 pm

        When Pope Francis held out Merton as one of the four Great Americans I must say my first thought was “I hope you didn’t write this speech”, St. John Neuman would have been more appropriate.

  2. […] and sexual problems have theological roots. Eminent Catholic author and blogger Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks if the crisis is “only a problem in the trouser department or is it also a problem in the […]

  3. […] and sexual problems have theological roots. Eminent Catholic author and blogger Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks if the crisis is “only a problem in the trouser department or is it also a problem in […]

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