The Soft Tyranny of Sentimentalism
If 20th-century atheism rode in on the backs of totalitarian regimes, the 21st-century has delivered unto the world an anti-God, anti-Church movement that fits seamlessly into shallow, postmodern popular culture. Having no need for uprisings and the hardware of destruction, the new fog of faith has crept in on the little cat feet of Sentimentalism and it now sits on its haunches, surveying its splendidly wrought sanctimony.
Sentimentalism is the force of feel-goodism, the means by which we may cast off the conventions of faith and casually dismiss those institutions that refuse to submit to the trending times and morals. The Sentimentalist trusts his feelings over hallowed authority or the urgings of his reason, frequently answering hard religious questions with some noble-sounding phrase like "The God I believe in wouldn't . . . " (fill in the blank). What fits in that blank is typically some tenet of traditional faith that isn't currently fashionable, some moral demand that pop culture considers impossible—and hence, not worth even trying. Thus the Sentimentalist, while believing he follows the inviolate voice of his conscience, is really sniffing after trends, forming his heart according to the sensus fidelium of middlebrow magazines and public radio.
A Sentimentalist cannot reconcile religious convictions—whether rooted in scripture, tradition, or cultural practice—that do not correspond with his own considered feelings, which for him are both weighty and principled. Convinced that the people he loves cannot possibly be denied anything they want by a just God, or that the same just God would not permit deformities, illness, war, childhood abuse, or any of the human sufferings common to us all, he will not participate in a Church so fault-riddled and out-of-step with a generous and enlightened generation as . . . his own.
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Sentimentalism nearly reigned supreme in the priestly formation programs of the 70's and 80's, thus producing a generation of pastors who casually dismiss Church teaching in favor of "following one's heart." This Disneyesque approach to caring for God's children has inevitably bequeathed to us a generation or two of Catholics so sensitive, so imperiled by reason, authority, and tradition that the merest suggestion that Behavior X might be a sin or self-destructive is met with poo-poo's and derisive giggles.
How often have you heard/read the phrases "out of step with the culture" or "throwback to pre-Vatican Two" or "turning back the clock on reform"? All of these should be a loud, glaring warning that the speaker/writer is shoveling postmodern dung and calling it Something New. The whole "Spirit of Vatican Two" project has been a long, disastrous experiment in global sentimentalism and, thankfully, the biological clock tracking this failed agenda is winding down.
Unfortunately, it will take two generations to completely purge the ectoplasm of the "Spirit" and re-catechize Catholics in the truth of the faith.
Read the whole thing. . .it is WELL worth your time.
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