Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Church of the Holy Ego

Boston leads the way once again, playing host to a women's "ordination" ceremony in Back Bay. What's interesting about the affair is how clearly it reveals the faultline separating Catholicism from the dominant modern sensibility. In a nutshell - Is there any authority higher than our own egos?

The "Catholic bishop" who "ordained"  (OK - enough of the quotes, you get the point) the women says that "today they have been called and they are following Gods' guidance and direction for their lives." How does the bishop know that God is really calling them to be ordained? Well, because they say so. Gabriella Veladi Ward says "she wanted to be a priest ever since she was 5 years old." There you have it. There can be no higher proof in the Church of the Holy Ego. The length and depth of desire is its own sanctification; the suggestion that our own desires may not be identical with God's desires is the only blasphemy.

The Church of the Holy Ego, of course, makes a hash of any notion of sin. If what I want is sanctified by the mere fact that I want it, then it is impossible for my will to be mistaken with respect to its object; in other words, there is no such thing as sin. But if there is no such thing as sin, what is the point of Redeemers, Churches.... or priests?

The bostom.com article manages to note that the Catholic Church "always said women cannot be priests because Jesus did not have female apostles." That is nicely hedged. The Church says it cannot ordain women, but it doesn't follow that the Church actually can't ordain women. Well, if the Church doesn't know if she can ordain women, who does? Perhaps Jesus Christ? But the Church does not ordain women for the reason that Christ Himself did not ordain women. At least the comment shows the difference between the non-egocentric reasoning of the Church and the egocentric reasoning of the newly "ordained" priests (there's those quotes again.)

Of course, the Church's opponents will say that the Church's reasons are but a cover for the true reasons women are denied ordination: So that power-hungry men can retain their dominant positions in the Church. Here we see the true issue at stake in the question of women's ordination: Is the Church ultimately grounded in the love of God or the power relations of mankind? And that issue is ultimately about reality itself: Is the fundamental metaphysical truth of the universe that of love or of power?

Were the Church to concede on the issue of women's ordination, it would be conceding that power is the primary reality in its constitution, not love. The feminist case against the all-male priesthood is that an all-male Church hierarchy is necessarily exploitative, however virtuous any of the particular men might be. Whatever "love" men show or however selfless they might act (or appear to act), nothing can overcome the essentially exploitative nature of an all-male hierarchy. All things might be possible for God (Matt. 19:26), but a Church constituted in love rather than power is just too much for Him.

The more liberal religious communities, which have gone along with egalitarian causes like women's ordination, have died a long, slow death over the last fifty years. The demise of Mainline Protestantism is well documented. The reason is that egalitarianism implies that human relations are fundamentally about power; to make everyone equal, they must be equal in power, and that means everyone must be interchangeable throughout society. But a world that is fundamentally about power is not a world that is a creative product of the Christian God, Who is Love. In other words, egalitarianism implies atheism. A religion that concedes to egalitarianism in effect concedes to atheism, and removes its own reason for existence.

In the Church of the Holy Ego, everyone is equal, but their equality is drained of meaning.

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