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The haze of summer has not quite obscured my recent essay at Religion Dispatches about the insurrectionist visions of up-and-coming Christian Right leader Eric Metaxas and Fr. C. John McCloskey -- Opus Dei evangelist to the rich and powerful.  

Bloggers digby and DownWithTyranny have discussed it and I am sure there will be others.  Meanwhile, Metaxas may be coming to a venue near you. And if he does, he may say something like this:  

Eric Metaxas is consumed with the idea that requiring employers to include contraception in the insurance packages that they offer employees may require conservative Christians to rise up against a Naziesque regime.

“This HHS mandate” situation he said “is so oddly similar to where [anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich] Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned,

    “if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over. This it. We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”

He joins conservative Catholic leader, and Opus Dei priest Fr. John McCloskey in encouraging people to imagine a revolutionary future; maybe a revolutionary present.
[McCloskey's] dystopian manifesto of a decade ago rocked American public life.

The prominent priest’s appearances in major American media at the time included Meet the Press, with Tim Russert. On the show, McCloskey discussed his avatar, Fr. Charles, a future priest, looking back on the history of the Church in the U.S. from the year 2030. The Church had faced persecution, participated in a civil war that broke up the United States—and although the Church now comprised fewer members, the remnant hewed closely to doctrine and had achieved Catholic supremacy in some places. Church membership had also been refreshed by hundreds of thousands of “orthodox” evangelicals who had been co-belligerents in the war.

McCloskey is no militant-but-obscure cleric—he has been a regular in the national media and is credited with the conversion of the rich and powerful, including Newt Gingrich, then-Senator (now governor) Sam Brownback (R-KS), journalists Robert Novak and Lawrence Kudrow, former abortion provider Bernard Nathanson, publisher Alfred Regnery, financier Lewis Lehrman, and Judge Robert Bork. McCloskey also famously accompanied then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) to Rome for the canonization of Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer in 2002.

McCloskey recently published an update of his essay. “I—or perhaps my thesis” he wrote, “received quite a bit of vitriolic criticism from the elite mainstream media and even from the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press. A goodly number of faithful Catholic writers also found it dark and threatening, however, although I had intended it to be positive and optimistic.”

“My avatar priest,” he continued, “looked back from the vantage point of 2030 to reflect on recent ‘history’: the story of American Catholics who became confessors and martyrs to the faith as the federal government of the ‘Culture of Death’ persecuted them.”

In his original essay, McCloskey’s avatar, Fr. Charles, explained how “the great battles over the last 30 years over the fundamental issues of the sanctity of marriage, the rights of parents, and the sacredness of human life have been of enormous help in renewing the Church and to some extent, society.”

McCloskey’s literary device allows him to avoid openly seditious language, while suggesting that conservative Catholics and allied evangelicals should prepare for civil war.

These men are not yahoo preachers, and their style is decidedly more William F. Buckley than say, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage -- but their views are more profoundly subversive than any of these.

Originally posted to Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 11:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Pro Choice.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I can't believe most Catholics, even Catholic (12+ / 0-)

    conservatives, are ready for a 2nd civil war.

    But if they are, I as a Jewish transwoman have 3 reasons to fight them.

    "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here:

    by Kimball Cross on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 11:39:59 AM PDT

  •  My, he certainly is (9+ / 0-)

    a bland little public speaker and he seems so calm and reasonable doesn't he?

    Like a member of the Addams Family perhaps?

    I never thought employers had much of a line-item veto on what their insurance plans cover anyway. I suppose I'm clueless. As he went on and on about how "everyone must..." I kept thinking, no. No, I don't. I don't see that an employer should have the right to limit insurance coverage based on the religious convictions of the employer. What if I was an employee of the Jehovah's Witnesses-- am I going to die because their insurance policy might not cover a needed blood transfusion?

    Guess I've got to discriminate when choosing who gets to employ me so I don't die because they might not think the idea of insurance is part of God's plan?

    Why, if God won't save you Marko, d'ya really think your devil's insurance can?

    Argh, ugh, and oog.

    Besides, birth control saves the insurance companies money. You don't hear them complaining about having to provide coverage for birth control.

  •  Oh, and I (10+ / 0-)

    did my usual thing when I pop over to visit a Frederick Clarkson diary.

    Tipped, rec'd and republished to Street Prophets

  •  Nazis Pandered Relentlessly To Catholics & Xtians (11+ / 0-)

    Right through 1933 when Christian votes helped pass the Enablling Act that gave Hitler power, followed a couple months later by the notorious Nazi-Vatican Concordat.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 12:14:28 PM PDT

  •  Something was bothering me as I watched (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat, Larsstephens

    that video. Something about the way he was dressed (link to JPEG image)...

    Made me laugh. An uncomfortable little laugh but still...

  •  glad you brought this topic back, FC (5+ / 0-)

    and pleased to see the great reviews of your work on Digby and DWT....

    This is indeed most troubling.

    Just a few random thoughts/questions.

    This video is taken at Metaxas' talk at the Catholic Information Center, a right wing Opus Dei Center in DC and is promoted on their website.   (Opus Dei (who are the real fascists in this picture,) now controls the Vatican/hierarchy and is behind this political move opposing contraception in the HHS Mandate, with the ruse of calling it 'religious freedom.' )

    1.  So, I wonder just how did Metaxas become a spokesperson of the rcxch, because it appears that he clearly is or he has joined forces with them?  The Manhattan Declaration is chock full of RC prelates as well as others.  I guess my question is, who is the umbrella organization directing all of this.  It seems to be Opus Dei/rcxch?

    2.  Has he been hired by the Vatican in order to do their pr work, just as they hired Fox alumni, Greg Burke to be their Vatican Media Advisor?

    In an effort to shore up its communications strategy amid a widening leaks scandal in a troubled papacy, the Vatican has hired the Fox News correspondent in Rome as a senior communications adviser.
    or is he an evangelical player who has thrown his lot with the right wing vatican hierarchy?

    3)  He certainly seems to be on a book tour to sell books and make money.  That I can understand.  On the otherhand, glancing through his pages and reading about how he 'attacked' Pres. Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, does he really think he is a 'prophet' on the style of Wilber Wilberforce, about whom he wrote?  And now, does he imagine that he is doing what the great Bonhoeffer did? (I once had the privilege of being in the conference room where Bonhoeffer first spoke about his ideas.  Awesome.)

    So my question here is, is he identifying with these prophetic religious figures and imagining that he is a prophet in his own right?  Or is he a cynical political player advancing his own career and that of his paymasters.  Or both?

    I guess in summary, I wonder who is pulling the puppet strings and if he is a puppet.

    Beyond letting others know about him, what can be done about this massive propaganda campaign, FC?

    I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

    by SeaTurtle on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 12:37:01 PM PDT

    •  a lot of Qs! (6+ / 0-)

      I certainly don't have all the answers.

      I don't know who is pulling strings here except to note that the Vatican has certainly been more politically aggressive in recent years; and the election of Tim Dolan as president of the USCCB is an indicator that the majority of the American bishops are, to say the least, on a culture war footing.  It should also be noted that the National Prayer Breakfast where Metaxas was the keynote speaker is run by The Family -- the people who brought us such debacles as the C Street House and the kill the gays bill in Uganda.

      Metaxas replaced the late Chuck Colson on the three member board of The Manhattan Declaration, the premier Catholic/evangelical political alliance, so clearly he has become important.

      As for whether I think Metaxas sees himself as a prophet, my sense is that although he would deny it, based on watching this and other of his videos, the answer is yes.

      Finally, the perennial question about what to do.  Since so few people even know what we are talking about here, we begin with getting people up to speed.  That's why, haven taken the time to publish about all this in the dead of summer, I am going the extra mile (or at least taking the extra lap) in promoting my piece.  

      Metaxas is an author of a number of books, and an increasingly prominent person to boot. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to question and challenge him about his views.  

      I think it is reasonable to call on the media to be more rigorous in considering the basis for his views, and call on the academic community to more vigorously challenge him with regard to his scholarship and what one reviewer called his political "hijacking" of Bonhoeffer.

      Finally, I know a lot of people are not much in the habit and practice of learning about and following the various pieces of the Right.  But I think it is a necessary part of what it means to be politically aware in America.  There is basic knowledge and vocabulary that goes with it, that makes it possible to have serious discussions about these things. Those of us who don't seek to learn about these things are, I am sorry to say, going to be seriously error prone in their journalism, their scholarship and their politics.

      •  great answer, as usual v. thoughtful (3+ / 0-)

        thanks.  Yup, we must do our part to bring this to the attention of the media.

        I get so frustrated with all of this and keep trying to puzzle it out.  I know that there are no simple answers but my gut tells me that there are puppetmasters (who may indeed be a conglomerate of political bedfellows, and that just as it was important to identify the Koch's behind the scenes, I think it is important to find and 'out' these players.

        Due to the fact that the Vatican has millions of dollars to lose in their abuse cases which they are fighting hard not to pay , not to mention criminality exposed if their financial shell game is exposed, my bet is on them.  But not exclusively.  (And I always refer to the current Opus Dei iteration of the Vatican.)  What is it they say?  Follow the money?

        And of course, religious leaders being used to prop up the plutocracy is as old as history, so the lines of puppetmasters gets blurred here (because they could be so many.)

        Metaxas certainly seems to be one of the players to out.  But, I would like to know about his handlers.  Another day.

        Thanks for educating us/me.

        I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

        by SeaTurtle on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 01:20:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All I can say is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, Larsstephens

    NUT JOBS!!!!!

  •  I ran into a Catholic who fell for their line (6+ / 0-)

    I casually mentioned belonging to the ACLU and was told that the ACLU was in favor of religious freedom for everyone but Catholics.  I tried to tell him that this was not true, he started to argue, and I finally said that this was not true, but that I was not going to continue the conversation because it was early in the morning and we were in someone else's house.

    Not fun.

  •  They'd better rise up fast (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, Larsstephens

    That part of the ACA goes into effect next week:

    But now, with the rule set to take effect Wednesday — part of the “Obamacare” law the GOP hates so much — the fiery repeal rhetoric has fizzled. In fact, few on Capitol Hill are saying anything about it at all.
    And that House vote to block the rule? Never happened — and isn’t in the works either. A group of die-hards on the issue asked for it again in a closed-door meeting Wednesday with House leadership but said no promises were made.
    Even Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), one of the most vocal critics of the rule and co-sponsor of a bill to eliminate it, has gone quiet now that the rule is about to kick in.

    Read more:

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 02:08:35 PM PDT

  •  Catholics like McCloskey (6+ / 0-)

    want a leaner, meaner, radically conservative Church. He has no interest in bringing lapsed & "cafeteria" Catholics back into the fold; he wants them gone & good riddance. His appeal to converts is that they will become part of an elite, insider group of Catholics. Of course, this appeals to anyone with affection for the totally authoritarian pre-Vatican II church where the clerical class reigned unchecked,  every parish priest a petty prince - some beloved, some feared -  who knew every "sin" of every parishioner & had the magical, intercessory  power to forgive (as average Catholics perceived it).

    It is very disturbing to me that many Catholics have become comfortable with American fundamentalism, which flies in the face of  (& is an insult to)  Catholic reasoning & theology, not to mention the incomparable art & poetry the Church has given us.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 02:15:38 PM PDT

    •  that was very well put, DJR (5+ / 0-)
      It is very disturbing to me that many Catholics have become comfortable with American fundamentalism, which flies in the face of  (& is an insult to)  Catholic reasoning & theology, not to mention the incomparable art & poetry the Church has given us.
      Just as the TeaPartiers are the radical theocon right wing group of what is called the Republican Party, the current hierarchy has been infiltrated and is now controlled by an organization that makes the TeaPartiers look like flaming liberals: the Opus Dei.

      To echo a related thought that FC expressed above, in order to understand anything that is going on with the rcxch today, it is fundamental (pardon the pun,) to understand all about Opus Dei and how they have hijacked the rich rc tradition.  Which, although it certainly had its sins, also had a lot of good.

      Here is a good diary re. Opus Dei and the rcxch:
      Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church, by Ollie Garkey

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 02:56:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  These radical right Catholics (7+ / 0-)

        also want us to believe the Church child abuse scandals are the result of liberal Vatican II policies. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What changed was our attitudes toward child abuse & the willingness of  courageous victims to break silence, come forward & expose it.   We have no way of knowing the full extent of child abuse in the "old" church, except that the houses of horror revealed in the Irish & European abuse scandals show us that this is no recent pattern of exploitation & tragedy; it was part of the secret  (& sometimes not so secret) Church culture dating back many decades  before Pope John XXIII, systematically hidden by  hierarchy, victims silenced by fear & shame.  The American Bishops thought they could go on hiding it forever.

        "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

        by DJ Rix on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 03:25:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nothing new.... (6+ / 0-)

          Many of the pre-Vatican II victims aren't around anymore.  My dad went to an all-boys Catholic high school and all the young men there knew which priests to keep clear of.  This would have been in the 30s-early 40s.

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 05:11:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            luckylizard, SeaTurtle

            what caused my Dad to abruptly walk away from the Church as a teenager, while he was still attending an elite Jesuit high school. He did graduate.  I never quite believed his story, although it was a funny one involving his own Dad skipping Mass to have breakfast at a diner. Perhaps it was the accumulated indignities of 12 years of parochial education,  his contempt for Catholic folk superstitions accepted as virtually doctrinal by laity, & his distrust of an autocratic institution. Like my three older siblings, I was baptized Catholic to allay my grandmother's fear of Limbo, but raised Methodist.

            I had many friends attending a local  all boy Marist high school in the Sixties, &  they knew the priests & brothers with wandering eyes & hands, or especially sadistic tendencies, a small minority to be sure, but unchecked by the Order. Now that high school is coed with very few Marists on the faculty.

            "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

            by DJ Rix on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 09:15:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My dad left the Church, as well, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DJ Rix

              but that was a whole different thing.  

              For some reason, I have remained.  I did take a few years off, but even then, I continued to play for funerals.  I was lucky to find a new parish home.  That came by way of a job offer.   I took the job with the stipulation that I didn't want to be evangelized.  If I came back, it was on my terms.  After some years, I'd become such a part of the family that it just seemed natural to have my name put on the rolls.  

              The parish is the right fit for me.  There have been hard times and disappointments, but I wouldn't trade the friends I've made for anything.  We carefully tend our "cloak of invisibility" in a poor area of town.  The diocese mostly leaves us alone.  The one big thing we have going for us is that the bishop loves to come there because the music is good.  I'll take some credit for that, but mostly it's because the parish LOVES to sing.  I may be the only Catholic musician who gets yelled at if they don't get to sing enough.  :-)

              -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

              by luckylizard on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 10:01:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I always listen to the stories (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                of why Catholics stay & why Catholics leave. Sometimes the ones who leave are heartbroken.  Sometimes the ones who stay are surprising.  But like you they seem to find  a parish where they fit,  &  refuse to surrender their Church to fools. The fools come & go. Methodists are, or at least were, known  for spirited singing & huge repertoires of everything from camp meeting songs to  stately hymns.  When in doubt, sing. When I stepped into my first college religion course, it was like, theology? What the heck is theology?

                "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

                by DJ Rix on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 02:22:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Theology is the term they use (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DJ Rix

                  to justify its being a college course.  :-)  

                  I've been playing the organ in church for over 50 years.  Did my first funeral (for a four-year-old) when I was in 8th grade.  Also, my first wedding.  It's along-established habit with me, but I'm also grateful for the employment.  I did sing in a Methodist choir in college and directed a Lutheran choir for two years afterward.  Almost any congregation was better at singing than Catholics.  We just hadn't been encouraged to do so prior to Vatican II.  I'm very lucky to have the congregation I have.  They're great friends and they make me look good.  :-)

                  -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                  by luckylizard on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:00:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  For a less flattering "look back" from a future (6+ / 0-)

    dominated by Christian dominionists, see "The Handmaiden's Tale," by Margaret Atwood.

    Because stupid people are so sure they're smart, they often act smart, and sometimes even smart people are too stupid to recognize that the stupid people acting smart really ARE stupid.

    by ZedMont on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 03:44:52 PM PDT

  •  I just viewed a photo of Metaxes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    shaking hands with Obama while Joe Biden took the picture at the Prayer Breakfast.

    Looks like the power follows that breakfast event.  Perhaps a strategy would be to convince Obama that going to it is a mistake.  I tried by sending him a copy of The Family during his campaign. I sent it with a signature required. Josh DuBois got it and no doubt filed it in the round file.

    If Obama is re-elected may I suggest a massive petition campaign to stop his empowering of those involved in this breakfast, like Metaxes.

    As far as Mextaxes' involvement with the Bishops, that may hurt him, as it appears the Bishops are doing a fine job of pissing off most of the public, and Obama too.

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