The Resiliency of the American Experiment: The Catholic Chattering Class
The arrival of the circus was announced in March. Well, to be more precise and less dramatic, the University of Notre Dame, the pre-eminent Catholic university in the United States if not also in the world, announced the recipients for its coveted Laetare Medal — Catholics Vice President Joseph Biden and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. This announcement was bound to cause a ruckus as had the visit of President Barack Obama in May, 2009 to the University for the Commencement. The pro-lifers and traditional Catholics were out in force during those sunny days protesting, getting arrested, and generally stirring things up because the President was for abortion, which the United States Supreme Court has made clear is a way for women to move up in society. The Spring 2016 announcement promised to bring about a similar reaction, or circus.
The Laetare Medal, according to the University of Notre Dame, is “the most prestigious award given to American Catholics.” The award, created in 1883, “was conceived as an American counterpart of the Golden Rose, a papal honor that antedates the 11th century. The medal has been awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic `whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.’” Some of the previous recipients were Catholics who strongly supported and advanced the cause of the American ideology not the least of who were “Civil War Gen. William Rosecrans…President John F. Kennedy….labor activist Monsignor George G. Higgins….” Rosecrans was a Union general who helped crush any division or dissent in American society as to the proper basis of societal organization when that question arose in a peculiar context in the mid 1800s. JFK was the Catholic who famously said in September 1960 to the Baptist ministers in Houston that his Catholicism would not inform public policy. Higgins, as brought to light by recent scholarship, was an asset of the FBI who informed on his fellow Catholics to J Edgar Hoover.
A curious set of recipients for an award, and a dubious set of accomplishments justifying the same, especially when on the medal is inscribed “Magna est veritas et prevalebit” (“Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail”). Notre Dame’s President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, said that “We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership…..It is a good time to remind ourselves what lives dedicated to genuine public service in politics look like. We find it in the lives of Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner. While both have been loyal and committed partisans, they were leaders who put the good of the nation ahead of partisan victory, seeking through respectful dialogue honorable compromise and progress.”
At least one of the current recipients and his accomplishments would cause consternation with the usual set of Catholics. But first, the Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the ordinary, or bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, Indiana, the diocese in which is located Notre Dame, had something to say.
In the March 16, 2016 edition of the Diocesan newspaper, Today’s Catholic, he wrote “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any `pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal…I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. The Church has continually urged public officials, especially Catholics, of the grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that supports or facilitates abortion or that undermines the authentic meaning of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for `outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation…..If we honor Catholic politicians or public officials, we should make sure there is a basic consistency between their political decisions and sound Catholic moral and social teaching. We should not honor those who claim to personally accept Church teaching, but act contrary to that teaching in their political choices.”
This was a remarkable statement by a Catholic leader, though its significance was attenuated somewhat by mentioning, and condemning, legalized abortion and same-sex marriage. This placed his comments safely in the channels of approved dissent thereby keeping alive the very thing that allowed abortion and same sex marriage to exist and flourish.
However, the remarkable nature of the statement, aside from the fact it came from a Catholic Bishop and leader of the Catholic Church, was that it repudiated the position of New York Governor Mario Cuomo who in 1984 articulated the idea that he was personally opposed to abortion, but because he was an elected official supported the “right to choose.” This was itself a restatement of JFK’s central point of his speech to the Baptist ministers during the 1960 Presidential campaign.
As I explained in my book, John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition, it was a Catholic priest, Gustave Weigel, SJ, who articulated the proposition that Catholic politicians, and hence Catholic members of society, can have a split personality when it comes to matters of policy. Weigel, speaking at the heart of Catholicism in America – the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington DC – on September 27, 1960 said that a politician must lead “a `double life’ because he worships `as he pleases in his private life, but in his public role “he is a man of the law which is framed for practical purposes and canonizes no philosophy or theology.”’” Weigel’s talk was unchallenged by the Catholic bishops of his time, and so it was impliedly endorsed by the Catholic leadership who adopted, and still largely operate on, a dualistic approach when it comes to people. The wealthy and powerful are largely given passes while the bishops pander to those who sit in the pews by mouthing either some correct doctrine or endorse the hot button social issues of the day like opposition to abortion and opposition to gay marriage.
Rhoades’ disagreement with Notre Dame over the award of the Laetare Medal to Biden was a repudiation of Weigel’s talk and of the modus operandi of the Catholic leadership since at least 1960. His comments threatened the whole intellectual superstructure that justified Catholics’ obedience to and support of the American ideology. But that threat was carefully managed by Rhoades himself.
Rhoades’ criticism of Notre Dame’s actions occurred in the context of Americanism. He stuck to the sexual issues which the American Catholic leadership embraced instead of challenging the American ideology which is the source of or gives rise to the conditions and the situations that lead to legalization of abortion and of gay marriage. In other words, Rhoades, like all the other Americanist bishops of today and who went before him, and dealt with only the symptoms and not the root cause of the illness in American society. That root cause was the very ideology, the American ideology that gave rise to this society, distinguishing the people who live within the boundaries of the political entity known as the United States of America, and at the same time is so harmful to the very people who hold it – the Americans. The ideology that distinguishes Americans from others on the planet seems to hold forth the promise of nationhood, yet at the same time this ideology calls them to individualism above nationhood and hence is born a conflict that infuses American existence and surfaces every once and a while in its political arena with the rise of people like Ross Perot in 1992 and Donald Trump in 2016. Another way to put it is that there is at war in America the idea of a universal individualism that came about with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense thereby laying out the terms of the American ideology forming this society, with the idea, if not also the natural reality, of a parochial nationalism born from the reality of people living in a certain geographic area under a common civil authority.
Rhoades and his colleagues might do well to heed the words of Leo XIII who in one of his first encyclicals in 1878 wrote “A religious error is the main root of all social and political evils.” If they did, they would get to the root of the problems that they seem to continuously battle unsuccessfully, and they might actually be able to win a culture war or two. They would then be challenging the American ideology, or the organizing principles of this society which finds itself so conflicted from its inception (see my discussion of nation versus country as posted May 16, 2016), and insist on the organization, or perhaps better stated, reorganization of this society along the lines of the Divine Positive Law of Jesus Christ, or the Catholic Faith. This would also mean that public policy would have to be based on that faith which is dependent on a vision of man’s relation to a Triune God and the need to know, love and serve Him in this life so as to be with Him in the next, as goes Catholic teaching. The Church would be established as the state church and this would not only give real moral power to the Church and to the Catholic Faith, but it would check the powerful private interests and the government itself. All of this and more the Catholics could accomplish, or so their history suggests, and this poses a real threat to the American Proposition.
But to attack the American ideology is a dangerous proposition itself, and one that is not popular among American Catholics. I have firsthand knowledge of that. With my involvement in the so-called pro-life movement over a number of years along with involvement in and support of things like traditional values or family values groups, and my participation in any of a number of parish and Church activities and groups, I came to see just how much the American ideology was accepted and defended and advanced by American Catholics. This point was driven home in a most forceful way by, at the time, my own publisher, the guy who should have been getting the word out about my book, its discussion of the American ideology, and how Catholics came to so strongly support the American ideology, which is Liberalism, something Church doctrine condemns.
“You are paranoid, David! You need psychiatric help!” the furious man yelled in the crowded restaurant at breakfast time. I was the David and the furious man yelling was E Michael Jones who is neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist, has a PhD in literature and styles himself a journalist. He is on numerous television shows and has done radio interviews and strives to make himself somewhat of a public figure if not also a leader of sorts. He is also the principal of Ultramontane Associates, In. which operates under the name of Fidelity Press, which printed my book and was supposed to market it, too.
I had just finished explaining a sophisticated form of social control in the society known as America when Jones gave his impassioned outburst. That social control consists of Catholics calling fellow Catholics to fidelity to the American ideology most particularly by elevating the United States Constitution which protects and advances the American ideology. The most notable part of the US Constitution is the First Amendment which not only disestablishes any religion or church, and grants American style religious liberty to everyone, but also protects and encourages people – especially chatterers like Jones and other Catholic journalists and bloggers etc — to write and say whatever they want thereby achieving their own unique version of the American Dream, which of course means indulging and satisfying their desires which could amount to disordered passions as some may say. Jones’ violent response to my statements proved my point. And a strange thing that outburst was considering that Jones himself has lectured and written extensively on social control. This is just one of Jones’ many contradictions, which occurs as a result of his enormous pride that is itself encouraged by the American ideology that allows him to chatter, and in the process of his prideful chattering controls him and others. Indeed, freedom of speech and of the press serves as a safety valve for dissent, allows the dissenters to be identified and co-opted or controlled, and also provides for the raising of good concerns that can be addressed further solidifying the power of the entrenched interests. All the while, those exercising their freedom of speech or of the press benefit too by getting to do what they want, acquiring a following, garnering prestige, making a living while seeming to effect real change.
It occurred to me that with the American ideology that forms the basis of the society known as America, a radically different view of society was put forth in 1776. That view is that society is something to be used and controlled for the benefit of the powerful private interests. Hence, new meaning is given to the term, “ordered liberty.” This contrasts with the view of the ancients and also of Catholic doctrine that society was there for the protection and development and benefit of all its members, or the people, or the ethnic group. But America with its foundational ideology did away with ethnicity and elevated the individual which means, practically speaking, inflaming the pride of each man, woman and child. This in turn serves to recruit or co-opt people to serve and defend the American ideology as it is a way for them to realize their dreams or ambitions or goals or desires. But back to Jones and the Catholic chatterers of which he is one and of which group he serves as an example of sorts.
Jones penned a book called Libido Dominandi in which he claimed that “sexual liberation” is a form of political and social control. Political control and social control are topics which Jones has written about quite a bit over the years. As noted in one article from the January, 2002 edition of Jones’ magazine, Culture Wars, formerly known as Fidelity, entitled “Education as Magic: Harry Potter and the Culture of Narcissism,” he laid out, what I came to realize later, the very dynamic which also held him in its grip. In that article from about ten or so years ago, he wrote:
“The result is a culture of narcissism, one which promotes the illusion of unlimited power while at the same time using those illusions to promote ever more sophisticated forms of social and political control….The culture of fulfillment through consumption, in other words, is a powerful ally in the narcissist’s war on reality, forging increasingly more sophisticated and intrusive forms of control by pandering to the narcissist’s grandiose vision of his own unlimited power.”
So, when Jones started yelling, aside from the fact that it was reminiscent of the tactics of the Soviets in silencing dissenters and questioners by claiming they were mentally ill, I found it all very odd since, as I mentioned before, I was discussing a topic in which he should have had some interest – social and political control. The reason for his outburst, which was so unlike the image of the all-knowing, college professor that Jones works so hard to cultivate, becomes clear upon closer examination.
The American ideology benefits Jones by allowing him to satisfy his desires, which is to indulge his vanity. Like other chatterers, he writes literature (that is, stories and storytelling) and stands or sits in front of cameras or before a room of people. His magazine, Culture Wars, is filled with his articles and photos of him. The same for his social media such as Facebook® where he puts up post after post of some praise for something or other he has written or said, and where, again, he posts photo after photo of himself. If you go to Youtube (this applies to his writing as well) there are probably hundreds of videos of Jones opining with absolute certainty on any of a number of vastly divergent topics. This is all consistent with a “grandiose vision” of “unlimited power.”
Jones’ writing is directed to a certain audience (Catholics) and fills a niche by appealing to a certain view of a moral order in which things sexual, such as abortion, “gay marriage,” the family, contraception, and the like are elevated to pre-eminent consideration. This makes him part of a sophisticated mechanism of social and political control that keeps alive, growing, resilient the American Experiment. This great experiment is based on an ideology which encourages individuals to “be all they can be” to borrow from an advertising slogan used by the United States Army years ago, and in so doing maintaining gratitude and support for the system, Liberalism or the American ideology, that allows these individuals to do so.. Jones will rail against one official or another, one political movement or another, one individual or another, and bash the Jews with regularity, but he will not, like Bishop Rhoades and the Americanists, go to the root of the problem – the American ideology which is Liberalism. This way he keeps his audience, not help them.
That morning at breakfast as the most sophisticated mechanism of social control ever devised came into play against me, in the form of a publisher who should be helping me get my message out, I recognized yet again the incredible resiliency of the socio-economic-political-cultural construct known as America. True, Catholics like Biden and Boehner served the American construct by their public service, and many other Catholics do the same with their governmental and military service, but complaining Catholics are crucial to the continuing existence and maintenance of the American experiment in many other ways. This system, with its core ideology, offers all things to all people and co-opts those who should be critical of it and who give the illusion of wanting to change it. One of those is Jones who, because of the American ideology, gets to realize his dream of being a self-made leader and expert on everything telling us all what to think. In doing so, he feeds his pride, his unlimited desire for self-glory. At the same time he gives the impression that he is a Catholic working to change things by pointing out evils.
The leadership of the Catholic Church, having accepted that America is the ideal and teaches the Church, neither examines nor reviews nor critiques his writings and opinions in any meaningful way. That reality allows Jones, and others, to say and write whatever they want under the self-made cloak of Catholic, and lets chaos or disorder reign in the Church. It is this unhindered ability to point out as evils those things Jones so desires, and the Catholic Church leadership’s apparent acquiescence, if not also encouragement of his private quest, or crusade, that is itself a powerful endorsement and support of the American system thereby bringing the society known as the Catholic Church to ever more closely resemble America. By doing so, the Church leadership encourages disorder in and between its members just as does American society, and these disorders include vanity, bickering, hypocrisy, and endless meaningless discussions. As time passed, I came to realize that Liberalism, and the Catholic leadership’s acceptance of it, affects Jones himself. With impunity he is allowed to project on others and maintain a double standard while feeding his pride.
Pride and Contradiction
“Don’t ever criticize America,” Jones told me at another breakfast meeting years earlier when I started submitting articles to him for publication in his magazine. It was an odd thing to say – to put something off limits when you are supposed to be pursuing truth. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at the time, but I had a good idea, and that idea has been confirmed over the years to mean that one is not to either critique or criticize the American ideology which is Liberalism and the fundamental principles of social organization of the society known as America. I deal with this topic in my book John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition. It was the American ideology that the Catholic Church leadership has now come to accept as good in principle and propagate around the world. This ideology reorders societies to give real political and economic power to private interests (i.e., the wealthy) while floating everyone else’s boats, but only incrementally and secondarily. The Catholic Church’s support of this ideology has made the difference, meaning the Catholic leadership has kept the American experiment alive and strong around the globe. Indeed, the Catholic Church is currently little more than an arm of American power and dominance as it serves as a conduit for Liberalism to all of the societies with which it comes into contact.
Overlaying and gradually gutting an English-Scottish cultural remnant, the American ideology created a political economy and a system of societal organization that is protected and advanced by the US Constitution. The First Amendment sets forth and protects perhaps the most essential characteristics of the organizing principles of this society. Those are first the disestablishment of any national church or religion which means that religious tenets are not to form the basis of public policy, both radical ideas with the latter being perhaps the most radical of them all breaking with thousands of years of recorded history. And, second, the emplacement of cultural power in the hands of private interests in the form of freedom of the press which logically becomes freedom of expression. Again, this is another radical idea that is unsupported by even the very same Greek philosophers that the American Founders were so fond of referencing.
The significance of these two principles is that powerful private interests – the wealthy — come to dominate society, the government, and religion if not directly then through the civil or civic institutions and government. These interests invariably are the financial capitalists who were, and are, given a distinct advantage over the rest of society with the US Constitution especially since America was, and is still, so heavily dependent on commerce. These same interests benefit, but so do the smaller people who “carry the water” for this system, but not as much as the powerful interests. Freedom of the press, or freedom of speech, gets these smaller people like Jones and other chatterers in turn to propagate Liberalism by their work which is never to call Liberalism into question but to always keep us distracted with the hot topic of the day. This keeps a lot of people watching them, like sycophants, and giving them the attention that Jones and others like him so badly crave. This in turn feeds the pride that lies at the root of Jones’ character and that of many others like him, and that in turn harms these very same people.
If I haven’t said it already, Jones is just one of many. There are a plethora of Catholic commentators and bloggers who are like him. It is just that I know him the best, and so he serves as the best example or is representative of how the Catholic chatterers aid the very system their leadership once condemned.
Pride makes Jones the stuff of contradictions, something that an acquaintance hinted to me about a dozen years ago. Pride causes one to hold others to a standard to which one does not hold oneself. A Catholic, Jones claims to present the Catholic viewpoint to all the problems of the world, insists he is in the tireless pursuit of truth, and has acquired a small following of disgruntled Catholics.
Another good example of this pride and these contradictions is offered by the breakfast meeting at which Jones called me paranoid. Jones claims to eschew violence, yet there are various accounts of him provoking others to violence, and I know from my own experience that he has tried to provoke me to violence, but unsuccessfully. It was fury – a form of violence — that ultimately drove Jones to verbally attack me at breakfast a few months ago. Fury brought about by injured pride. Moments before his outburst, I told Jones to talk in a quieter tone – it was 8:45 a.m. on Friday and I was still working on my first cup of coffee. He gets excited and likes to yell about things and it gets tiring and irritating. In any event, after asking him to be quieter, he became visibly, though silently enraged, as he ate his breakfast. He was waiting for me to say something he could criticize.
I didn’t have long to wait. When asking him what he was going to do about publicizing my book he said he would not do anything. When I asked him about whether I should write for his magazine and what was in it for me, he said I never asked that question before. Then he let me have it when I spoke of an incident that highlighted a form of social control that silences commentary and critique of the American ideology. Screaming at me, he was acting to protect the American ideology by personally attacking me, and his wounded pride (I had told him to quiet down), which had fueled his anger towards me, unleashed his fury and fear.
This pride is encouraged and given vent by Liberalism with its free press and emphasis on the individual. This in turn breeds narcissism, again something of which Jones has written, and even a “malignant narcissism” which is identifiable by a number of different traits as described by bestselling author Shahida Arabi in “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths Use to Silence You.” Interestingly enough, Jones practices many of the tactics Arabi described. For instance, there is something called gaslighting in which reality is distorted to fit the narcissist’s vision of it. Along with that is the narcissist yelling, “are you crazy?” thereby making the other person’s views the stuff of delusions. Jones practiced that on myself and a lot of other people more than once. Condescending sarcasm and patronizing tone is another one that Jones used on both myself and others, and, of course, always the attempt to control and to do it by shaming. This way Jones, and other narcissists like him, keep people reading his stuff and keep people loyal to his own private Enlightenment project, which I discuss further down in this article. These are also ways to keep people from criticizing him and writing for him – for free! And he never has to say he is sorry – he never has to apologize nor does he.
Jones once told me that he had a “calling” to write. That was another way of saying that was his way to fame, though not necessarily fortune. He doesn’t really care so much about money. His appetite, or passion as he might put it, is to have his face on the screen, or stand in front of the room, or talk on the radio and thereby act the professor by telling us Jones’ view of the world and telling all of us that we must accept his view. His passion is ambition and vainglory, or glory for himself. He just happens to use religion, specifically Catholicism and the Church, as vehicles for advancing that ambition. And he should know about passions, because, as I indicated earlier, he wrote a book about passions.
Liberalism encourages individualism to the point of danger, and as Dr. Martha Stout, a Harvard psychologist wrote in her brilliant and popular book, The Sociopath Next Door, Liberal societies like America have a very high incidence of sociopathology. Liberalism allows Jones ambition and fuels it encouraging thereby his pride and his narcissistic behavior. The Catholic Church, which he is able to use so adeptly to his purposes, could do something about it, and about him in particular but its leadership won’t or doesn’t, largely because as I explained in my book, it has come to accept America and Liberalism as the model of social organization and now little more than a giant conduit of Liberalism around the globe.
The Church leadership tried to stop the Americans by attempting to thwart their one tool – psychological warfare — which is so easily used by a so-called free press, and by every person who relies on their writings for money or fame, as is the case with Jones. Had the Catholics succeeded, a lot of confusion could have been avoided, the Church itself kept strong and united, and guys like Jones would not be suffering from such inflamed pride. But the Americanists in the Catholic Church subverted that effort by vocally and officially denouncing it more than fifty years ago. Nowadays, Catholics just ignore these efforts by the leadership who announced in 1963 the norm of activity for journalists and writers like Jones, who, like the Americanists, ignores, and on occasion has ridiculed, one of the Church’s greatest weapon against Liberalism – Inter Mirifica.
Inter Mirifica was the first document to come out of the Vatican II Council, and as I explained in my book, it was an attempt by the Church to strike back against the main American weapon – psychological warfare. The Americans had perfected psychological warfare which uses words and images to control thoughts, perceptions, values, and more.
Writers and commentators like the Catholic chatterers write for a living – so they have to manipulate words and images in a way that appeals to a certain segment of the population, and that is what psychological warfare is all about. This translates to manipulating the reader usually by pandering to the reader’s darker side. Usually, the appeal is to those who are disgruntled or angry or confused or hurt, as those are the most loyal followers, especially if they seek an explanation and a target for their anger. But sex sells too and Jones for one just loves to write about sex, though Catholic writers and commentators in general are fixated on sex and sexual matters (again, “gay marriage,” contraception, abortion, “family values” etc.) thereby missing the big picture and the reality which is that it is the desire for wealth that primarily drives human activity. And, if one claims to be Christian, then one has to conclude, by reading the words of the Gospel, that one must choose between serving wealth or serving God.
Social class is tied to wealth accumulation in America, but it includes so much more. The Catholic chatterers won’t touch any of this, because they are all secretly seeking to raise their own social class. After all, that is just what America was founded on: the opportunity to improve oneself in a society where ability and talent, not birth, opens doors, and where anyone can succeed if they have the right stuff. They want the American Dream, too, which to them means, most importantly, being somebody! And that is ultimately about class which is material gain and which is worldliness.
So the Catholic commentators devise some overarching fairy tale, or private nightmare, or pseudo-factual titillating soap opera to guide and give form to their bloviations. The late John Reilly, who served as Jones’ book review editor for years, explained the phenomenon quite well in an open letter that he put on the internet and remains there to this day due to a young man who was impressed by Reilly’s view of things. In pertinent part, that letter explains this creation of a private fairy tale or private nightmare by Jones which draws a few people into his circle, is really the result of the Enlightenment, or, to put it another way, is encouraged and brought to life by Liberalism – the very principles that create the evils which Jones and the others consistently seem to decry for a few dollars and a chance to be the center of attention for a while at least.
Reilly was disassociating himself from Jones whose writings Reilly came to dislike. Here’s the relevant part of his 1998 letter in which Reilly described the creation of private realities and private worldviews that Liberalism and the American ideology brings about for many people, especially writers like Jones and the rest of the Catholic chatterers:
“Finally, regarding the Enlightenment, I think you persistently misunderstand what order of thing it is. The Enlightenment is like the Hellenistic period, and equally contains both good and bad. Richard Rorty is a man of the Enlightenment. John Paul II is a man of the Enlightenment. E. Michael Jones is a man of the Enlightenment. So was Augustin de Barruel. Left and Right, Progressive and Traditional, Liberal and Conservative, all these are oppositions that began with the Enlightenment and are meaningful only within it. The revolutionary tradition is a creature of the Enlightenment. So is the grand tradition of conspiracy theories, to which I have no desire to contribute.”
The reference to “conspiracy theories” was a reference to Jones’ writing which Reilly increasingly styled as psycho-sexual, which was, and still is, an accurate description of Jones’ work. That comports with the idea that Jones has to titillate his audience so as to sell ink and get himself television and radio talk gigs, while making a living to provide for his wife and kids. If there is anything that intrigues people, and plays to the strengths of a storyteller or a person with a doctorate in literature, it is sex, conspiracy, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Catholic chatterers, are telling stories and propagate their own skewed view of reality with their writings. Reilly’s position on Jones’ work could, I suppose, be boiled down to this: bad sex leads to all the ills in life, and the Jews are responsible for bad sex.
John Beaumont, an English lawyer, knows Jones, though I would not call him Jones’ friend. Fans and sycophants Jones craves because they give him and his project legitimacy while providing the only real social connection outside of his wife. Few friends, if any, he has, because there is a give and take in friendship with the implication that friends are somehow equal, something unacceptable to Jones who craves superiority. If one dares disagree, Jones throws a fit yelling at the person while personally attacking the person, just as he did with me at breakfast earlier this year, again all of which are tactics of highly manipulative narcissists.
Beaumont assembled a book published by Jones’ company and entitled The Mississippi Flows Into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Converts to the Catholic Church. The book also deals with a category of people called “reverts” who are people that come back to the Catholic Faith. Jones is a revert, and his inclusion in the book suggests that he is “a notable American.” The article on Jones describes how he came to see the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church as his way to literary stardom. Beaumont writes, quoting Jones:
“I don’t remember any specific argument from the book [Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain]….The Seven Storey Mountain I thought was first-rate writing and if a man with this much literary talent could believe in God, well belief in God was good enough for me too….”
All of this tracks with what Jones told me once – he has a calling to write. That means a desire, an ambition, a passion to do something, and it is something he feeds by constantly writing for the sake of writing (and feeding his desire for glory), not for telling the truth which is the call, the requirement, of Inter Mirifica, a document Jones has himself ridiculed.
Professor John Rao teaches history at a Catholic college in New York. He has made a number of excellent observations over the years with one of them being that the Catholics have fractured and now we are faced with a situation in which there are any of a number of different rhetorical and ideological warlords who gather their followers. Rao’s comments echo St Paul’s from 1 Corinthians 1:11-13:
“For it has been reported to me about you my brothers, by Chloe’s people that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying `I belong to Paul,’ or `I belong to Apollos,’ or `I belong to Cephas,’ or `I belong to Christ’.”
Paul, Apollos, Cephas could be substituted nowadays perhaps by Voris, Vennari, Shea, Jones, and others. Jones is one of the rhetorical warlords, and he wields his power by a serious demeanor, with a tone of “knowing it all” which appeals powerfully to at least some people. And he has years of experience of knowing what people (or at least some of them) like to hear or read and so he panders to that with his writing, which is the storytelling he was trained to do by virtue of his PhD in Literature and that he so avidly pursues. The problem with storytelling is that it shades the truth here and emphasizes something over there and the result is a story which is not necessarily reality.
However, warlords, as you may know, cannot exist without holy men and warriors. They just don’t rise to the status of warlords if they don’t have blessings and beasts. We’ve spoken of Inter Mirifica and in my book I set out how that was supposed to be implemented. The laity were to coordinate their efforts with the clerics who served as a check on what they wrote, and all are supposed to follow the Catholic Faith. Jones gives the impression he is all on board with that idea because he calls his non-profit company Ultramontane Associates, Inc. Ultramontane is the name given to those Catholics in the 1800s who held closely to papal authority and teaching against, of all people, those advancing Liberalism (yet another contradiction). One would think that Jones would submit to priestly guidance and suggestions and even submit his materials to review by priests but in my years of knowing him that has never happened. In large measure that is due to another dynamic I document in my book – the remaking of the Catholic Church to be like America, which means the Catholic leadership (i.e., the priests) no longer lead, because to do so would smack of authoritarianism, something viewed as bad and unapproved by America and the Americans. So, the Church becomes a version of America with everybody doing their own thing, and the priests facilitating all of this imitation of America.
There are two priests who regularly write for his magazine and with whom he is in touch on a regular basis. One, who I shall call Priest A, is a member of an order founded by a Notre Dame graduate around the 1960s. This priest made a career of putting Dignitatis Humanae under a microscope with the result that it becomes unintelligible while twisting the entire meaning and significance of the document. The priest’s only comments to Jones are to question a picture or headline or disagree on some arcane point, but he is essentially there to give an endorsement to Jones and his project.
Another Church leader who could do something and rein in Jones’ pride is an Opus Dei priest and graduate of the University of Notre Dame who I shall call priest B. Possessing a weak, or perhaps one could say phlegmatic, personality, though well-read (which is often the case with even the best of the Church leadership), he is younger than Jones and agrees with everything Jones says. I have never heard him challenge or correct Jones on anything. Instead, priest B seems to affirm Jones’ every thought and report on all that is going on. He also contributes to Jones’ magazine, and in doing so endorses Jones while facilitating Jones efforts and Jones’ disordered personality. If Jones puts something on his Facebook® page, almost invariably priest B will “Like” it.
If anything, priests A and B and the other Catholic leaders (bishops and other prelates)should look to Inter Mirifica as the basis of their authority to require Jones and other Catholics to submit to their judgment before writing or publishing anything. The review of the writings would do a lot of good for the writer because it would temper his or her pride and therefore protect his or her soul, an especially important consideration given that the Church is supposedly in the business of saving souls. But that is not the case anymore as the Church leadership is intent on keeping the Church like America by supporting their favorites against other favorites, and the result is a cacophony of voices, a number of warlords.
The beasts for Jones and other Catholic writers are those enamored with their writings. They go out and do whatever they can to get these writers speaking engagements and more, and they spread the word about how great this writer or that commentator is. They’ll even go to the mat to defend their idol when bad stuff surfaces, or proper authority acts. The reality is that the Catholic writers and commentators use their followers and they do so without any regrets or apologies.
The American ideology lets Jones and others do all this and thereby create the very state of nature that Locke’s society was supposed to replace. The Catholic Church, as my book describes, came to accept America as good in principle and so conformed itself to be like America. The current Pope is a great example of this dynamic as he never criticizes America and constantly is seeking to make the Church more like America. As a result, a “state of nature” is created in the Catholic Church as one exists in America, and in that state of nature, the law of the jungle is paramount which means that the powerful rule.
There’s another important consideration here. To have relevancy to Catholics, or perhaps if one is a bit cynical, to access the Catholic market in an effective manner, one should conform to the leadership’s Americanist views, which means writing about things sexual like abortion, contraception, gay marriage, etc. That way the critical issue – Liberalism – is never addressed. That’s one of the real and lasting effects of Americanism.
The Americanist Die
My book recounts, in short form, how the Catholic leadership, that is the priests, came to accept America as the ideal form of social organization. Once accomplished, all the priests and laity can prattle about are sex or grade / high schools. Beaumont’s book captures this and Jones’ acceptance of these parameters of debate. Beaumont writes:
“…the Catholic Church consistently picked up the banner of sexual morality which the mainstream Protestant denominations had let fall…..”
Once the Church decided to view America as good in principle or incapable of being changed for practical reasons, then Catholics were relegated to fighting only three issues, all of which they lost because by refusing the fight the most important issue – the proper principles of social organization – then public policy could be based on a manipulated critical mass of people and that manipulation inevitably meant appealing to baser instincts especially since every individual could determine their own sense of right and wrong under the American system of religious liberty. So, the Catholic leadership embarked on a “culture war” that they largely helped to shape over the years on terms that the Catholics could not possibly win.
Beaumont recounts the “culture war” in which Jones’ and others engaged, paralleling the efforts of the Catholic prelates:
“…the battle over the schools….The second area of contestation he mentions is obscenity….The final area of cultural revolution delineated by Pfeffer had to do with whose idea of the family would dominate in the culture.”
Jones and the rest of the chatterers have a way to become somebody. If they write about sex and sexual issues, which is what the priests were concerned about, they could get the Catholic market in a big way – after all, sex is titillating, and the Catholics were consumed by the subject, having surrendered on the more important and fundamental issue being the principles of societal organization. All that was needed was some doctrinal justification for his writing, and so he turned to St Augustine for dicta which set out a simplistic and incomplete view of the world and how it works. That view is that illicit, or bad, sex distorts souls which in turn distorts the work of these souls. This then puts into issue everyone’s personal life, to include Jones’.
People read Jones’ stuff and that of others because it appeals to them – not because they know it to be true, but because it appeals to them, that is, they like it. That “like” comes from the constant bashing done by Jones and others of anything and almost everything. Jones would complain about the status quo, but he offered nothing to replace it though the impression he created was that he wanted to change things. He did offer a League of St Benedict which was a way to use vacant Church property for young families – another recurring, and engaging theme, for Jones, which garners some following for him especially among traditional or conservative Catholics who make the biological family a false god. But beyond that, he has offered nothing except more writing.
When I floated an idea to him to host a conference about what a Catholic society should look like, he laughed saying he and I would be the only two speaking. Then he said he would think about it which means, “no.” He was uncomfortable with the idea when I floated it to him in June of last year and he was again uncomfortable with the idea when I reiterated it in October, some four months later. By then, it was clear that Jones had other plans, and had had these other plans for a very long time. This shows that Jones doesn’t want to change anything because if society were properly ordered, he might end up losing his following.
Jones does not want to end Liberalism, and he made that even more apparent with his comments on the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia when he mentioned that the foundational principles of America do not matter as America had broken from them. Of course, that is not true and my book puts the lie to that claim especially as those principles are shipped around the world by the USA and the Catholic Church all to reorder societies to allow for the preeminence of private interests, namely private capital, and as those principles continue to hold sway in America to this day. But it is important to misdirect people and to channel dissent so that it becomes harmless, which is what a free press does and what Jones, and the other Catholic chatterers, also do by virtue of their being part of that free press.
Most significantly, though, Jones never even mentioned the Pope’s address at Independence Hall which was Francis’ acquiescence to Liberalism and submission to America and the USA. As if in a reversal from the days of the Holy Roman Empire when the Catholic Church was at its most powerful and required the secular rulers to go to Rome for crowning by the popes, today, during the American Captivity of the Catholic Church, the popes come to America – either Washington or Philadelphia – to profess their allegiance to Liberalism in the form of approving of the foundational principles of America. In doing so, the Church continues on as an arm of American soft power.
The stuff Jones and the other chatterers write is appealing and likeable to the disgruntled and unwary because disgruntled people, especially disgruntled Catholics of a certain ilk, are naïve and vulnerable and Jones and others take advantage of them. The chatterers are not above exploiting the hurt and feelings of inferiority that some people harbor, and they do so effectively.
The pride of these commentators is their greatest vice. Liberalism allows Jones and others to engage and grow this pride because it promises unrestricted writing, or fulfillment of what he called his vocation. If you look at You Tube, you will see hundreds of postings/videos/audios of him talking about everything from soup to nuts with absolute certainty. If you look at his pages on Facebook®, you will see photo after photo of E Michael Jones. That is the same as his magazine, Culture Wars, from which I unsubscribed months ago.
People with great pride are not team players, and pride serves to splinter solidarity, again, something that Liberalism encourages.
A Lack of Integrity
When pride of self is foremost, everything else serves that pride and so everything written or commented upon by such a person is shaded in one way or another to garner support, or perhaps sycophants. That is especially so if someone writes for a living and to support one’s family, which is the case with Catholic commentators by and large.
The Catholic chatterers are primarily about feeding the desires and dreams of the individual chatterers to thereby advance their social status, or so they think. After all, social class or status infuses all aspects of American life and to better oneself – the essence of the American Dream – is what the American ideology serves and is thereby able to garner so much support from so many people, and hence, its resilience. Joe Biden bettered himself. John Boehner did the same. As did Mario Cuomo. They are all marching in the same direction, to the same goal, serving the same purpose – the defense of the American ideology – to achieve their own private American Dreams. Truth, or at least a part of it, is a useful tool on the way to stardom, but nothing more.
A real threat to America is the existential threat, but that threat is effectively squelched thanks to the principles that allow freedom of speech or expression, the Catholic Church’s leadership’s approval of these principles, their modeling of the Church after America, and their encouragement of and involvement in a manufactured, safe struggle known as “the culture war”. Americans are justifiably afraid of those who opt out recognizing that there is an authority greater than themselves. Americans would also be justifiably afraid if the leadership of the Catholic Church ever got serious about having a church, a society that is supposed to be ordered in accordance with their doctrine which is supposed to be of divine origin to serve divine purposes. But that won’t happen anytime soon with the current lot of Catholic chatterers who tell everyone that the sky is falling, that they are the leaders and know everything, and that everyone should follow them – after buying their magazines, and newspapers and books, of course.
As this is being written, Jones is attacking Voris who earlier this year “came out” as being gay, or perhaps more correctly living a “gay lifestyle” though he is now claiming to be celibate. Jones, using tactics that he once deplored (referencing anonymous sources) claims that Voris’ project, “Church Militant,” is dishonest. Jones position is that Voris is still damaged (and suffers from self-loathing as a result of being gay) as he suffers from narcissism. Discussing the personal life of Voris and how it relates to his actions, Jones has opened himself up to the same scrutiny of his life and his vices, past if not also present, of which he has some as do all people, to see how these have affected him and his work while fueling his own narcissism.
More importantly, Jones’ condemnation and judgment of Voris is common amongst the Catholic chatterers who have failed to show compassion. Once someone is wounded, they tend to react and oftentimes they proceed to do so in the public sphere – something that could explain Voris’ actions and Jones’ too as well as the actions of many, if not all, of the Catholic chatterers whose dark secrets propel them to a form of exhibitionism or desire for vengeance with their writing, speaking, crowd pleasing, and more. Such does not help these people to heal but only worsens the situation for themselves and for others. This is where proper authority is needed – to protect these people from themselves, and to protect others – to include the Church itself and the Faith — from the ramblings and vitriol of these people. Voris’ story – probably common among Catholic figures – is an indictment of the Catholic leadership, namely, the priests and the hierarchy going all the way to the Pope who have accepted that America teaches the Church and that Liberalism is good. In doing so they at least suggest that Liberalism may not be so good for the individual, or for the Church given Voris’ attacks on the Church. And in so doing, they invalidate their own individual projects especially given that a wound (“homosexuality” or alcoholism or some other disorder in their lives) usually led them to launch their careers as journalists and commentators.
According to Jones, Voris’ “homosexuality” and narcissism fueled Voris’ harm of the Church. However, Voris would not have a platform nor be allowed to inflict this harm unless he had the same platform that Jones has. The real issue is the ability of chatterers like Jones and Voris to say whatever they want, the Church’s approval of such a system that allows endless commentaries, and the Church’s failure to control these chatterers not only for the Church’s benefit and protection, but also for the good of the Catholic journalists and commentators themselves. The real issue is Liberalism (of which the American ideology is a part) and its acceptance as good by Catholics which allows certain people to publicly criticize the Church and its leadership thereby setting themselves up as leaders opposed to the priests and to garner their own followers, and make a comfortable living.
Any discussion of societal organizing principles are off limits to the Catholic chatterers. Practically, this means that they never attack American style religious liberty and that they never attack, especially, freedom of speech and that holiest of grails, freedom of the press. For their part, the Church leadership especially the priests, refuse and fail to do their job as set out in their own document, Inter Mirifica, and call the chatterers to account or seriously review their work. These priests are themselves divided along the lines of liberal-conservative in step with the teachings of America. All of this happens in a milieu that elevates the belief that “truth alone will win out,” along with, “you have to decide for yourself” and that is perpetuated by the Catholic journalists themselves to their benefit. After all, Liberalism insures the protection, if not also the creation, of an entire industry – journalism, writing, and the like.
Once the Catholic chatterers call into question Liberalism and its ideology, they would openly de-legitimize their own projects because then they concede that one cannot legitimately make oneself an authority or a leader. At such a point, were it ever to occur, the chatterers would accept the importance of proper authority which – if they are truly Catholics – is the Catholic priesthood. In theological concepts, they would then end their own rebellions against Christ. In the meantime, as the chatterers attack each other and point out the other’s “disorders” they also de-legitimize their own projects by virtue of the attack on the other especially, if they themselves suffer from disorders that propelled them to write and comment. However, they never call into question the basic system that allows this incessant fighting.
All of this is another reason that America with its ideology, and Liberalism in general, is so resilient. This resiliency is dependent on people remaining plugged into the system, claiming things can change but in reality all they end up doing is serving themselves. If people withdraw, or, say there is a higher authority than the individual and defer to that higher authority, and if that higher authority is willing and able to enforce its claim, albeit in a moral if not also social sense, then the American Experiment, and Liberalism itself, is in trouble because then a credible existential threat exists. This could start with individuals rejecting the idea of and promises of an American Dream, and substituting in its stead a community based on legitimate and moral principles. But the Catholic chatterers and priests, as I hope this article has begun to demonstrate, are there to make sure that will not happen. For as they criticize aspects of the society or the political system (e.g., abortion, gay marriage) in which they live, they are actually reinforcing the very Liberalism that gives rise to that society, the political system that protects it, and the evils against which they rail all to their own benefit and vainglory. The solutions they propose only perpetuate the very principles, the very error, that gives rise to the very evils they seem to denounce. The don’t – they can’t – get to the root of the problem because to do so would be to silence themselves, and that would mean the end of their own private dreams which is what Liberalism is essentially about – being and offering all things to all people. Liberalism and the American ideology is about the American Dream – realizing whatever your private dream may be which means utilizing your unique talents to achieve success, concepts endorsed by the American Founders most notably in Federalist X. The priests and the Catholic chatterers are not about to challenge that.
The priests, who are the leaders of the society known as the Catholic Church, could criticize the underlying principles of this society, and should have enough information to point out how those principles are proving harmful to members of the society. To do so would be to point out the very ideology that allows the chatterers to usurp the authority of the priests and allows the chatterers to appoint themselves as leaders. This would present a real existential threat to America. But there is no indication that will happen, even though the Catholics have a very well-defined body of work to justify such and to propose an alternative of social organization. The Catholic leadership does not have the will to undertake this risky proposition, because they have in fact accepted the American Proposition, and modeled their actions and the Church, in accordance with it. America is resilient because it co-opts those who could be most dangerous to it, and that co-option is aided by allowing some to chatter. America allows Catholics – and many others – to be holy and rich or famous at the same time, to serve God and wealth or self concurrently, and America offers all things to all people. And so the Catholic hierarchy, with the help of Catholic writers, perpetuate the American Proposition and keeps the Church a powerful American asset.
 This is one in an ongoing series of articles that I will write to document and comment upon the resiliency of the American experiment. These articles are intended as an objective analysis of this most peculiar and unique system, America, though the information relied upon may be both empirical and anecdotal.
 “The Laetare Medal,” University of Notre Dame, http://laetare.nd.edu/about/ accessed June 16, 2016.
 Dennis Brown, “Biden and Boehner to jointly receive Laetare Medal,” March 5, 2016, “Notre Dame News,” http://news.nd.edu/news/65074-2016-laetare-medal/ accessed June 16, 2016.
 Bishop Kevin Rhoades, “Concerning the decision of Notre Dame to honor Vice-President Biden and former Speaker Boehner with the Laetare Medal,” Today’s Catholic, March 20, 2016.
 David A Wemhoff, John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition,” (South Bend, Indiana: Fidelity Press, 2015), 592. (Emphasis supplied)
 Shahida Arabi, “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You,” http://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/, retrieved July 21, 2016.
 From “With Both Hands” http://www.benespen.com/journal/2015/9/27/the-long-view-an-open-letter-to-e-michael-jones retrieved July 15, 2016.
 John Beaumont, The Mississippi Runs Into the Tiber (South Bend, Indiana: Fidelity 2014), 462.
 Beaumont, The Mississippi Runs Into the Tiber, 454.
 Id., p. 456.
 E Michael Jones, Facebook, July 29, 2016: “E Michael Jones Michael Voris was running a fundamentally dishonest operation which was doing damage to the Church. I wrote the piece because no one could explain what was really going on. Everything I said can be verified, but I am going to honor the wishes of those sources who wish to remain anonymous.”