Trendier than thou

For a magazine like the Economist, representing in theory & often in practice the classical liberal worldview (“classical” refers to the economists, starting from Adam … Smith), religion exists in a free market like everything else. This is not an animadversion. We have read leaders in the magazine over more than three decades that make this point explicitly; & which benignly argue that the world needs more religion. Therefore, let the product be supplied, & may the best salesman win. The Anglican communion from which we escaped could once be commended for developing their product range, with Low, Broad, & High Church branding to target the market niches. The Romans appeared to be following their strategy in the 1960s, & were duly complimented at the time. Pentecostalism has received some downright sympathetic coverage in recent decades, & the “newspaper” (the Economist has never admitted to being a magazine) was probably more polite to successful Evangelicals & Fundamentalists than any of the American liberal media.

Gentle reader may at first be surprised to see this unusual mainstream item, in which Catholic traditionalists & traditionalism are treated almost reverently. But this accords with the Economist‘s own principles: for as they note, the old Latin Mass is enjoying a surge; while the “new improved” Novus Ordo continues to lose market share. Father John Zuhlsdorf is even quoted comparing the latter to “a school assembly.” London’s Brompton Oratory is described as a “hotspot” & young Traddies are the new avant-garde.

Well, golly; they have numbers & everything. A few tiny points their fact-checkers missed, but in the main their report coincides with our own understanding, & that’s all we ask. They even use the F-word (“fogey”) to deal directly with the liberal conceit that the Tridentine Mass rides on nostalgia. They mention Juventutem, & do the math to calculate there are few people left on the planet who could even remember the old ways. True, one of them sits on the Throne of Saint Peter, but he’s the very man in a position to utter, “Le Vatican II, c’est moi.”

This item, on “Vatican II at 50,” by Robert Royal in the Claremont Review, is the most balanced & reasonable short account we have read of the fallout through the last half century. We are getting to a distance when this can be done; when the generation that lived through the spiritual carnage — both carnagers & carnagees — is no longer with us. We would anyway expect the return to “normal” to accelerate over the next half-century, for the fuel that powered the revolution is spent. But then, in the view over twenty centuries, “normal” for the Catholic Church can be quite exciting. She will need to recover her unity of spirit & intention in face of the persecutions that are coming, almost inevitably. They, in turn, will burn away anything that remains of our glib post-modernism.