On January 26 we emailed The American Conservative to invite Mr. Dreher to write for us. On April 12 (yesterday) we tried again. Neither time did he respond to us directly. Today he wrote the following indirect response to explain why he would not write for us.
We wish to thank Mr. Dreher for the boatload of new readers that he has brought to Orthodoxy in Dialogue in just a few hours.
Two of the most dodgy words in contemporary religious discourse are “fundamentalism” and “dialogue”. They don’t mean what they seem to mean; in fact, they are often used as a way to gain power.
To explain what I mean, consider that Marquette University, a Jesuit university, is holding a “Pride Prom” this weekend. When some outside the university angrily questioned what a Catholic university is doing sponsoring an LGBT dance, a university spokesman responded:
Notice the rhetoric here. Stolarski is justifying a Catholic university holding a dance for LGBT people by claiming that the university is actually being faithful to Catholic teaching by so doing. It’s like something from the Ministry of Truth. But that’s Catholic higher education for you in a lot of places today. You’ll recall the recent incident at which an orthodox Catholic undergraduate at the Dominican-run Providence College was made into a pariah for publicly agreeing with what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage and sexuality.
How does a religious institution — a college, a church, and so forth — get to this point? It often starts with “dialogue”. Who could be against dialogue? Just talking about things, right?
The problem is that there’s dialogue, and then there’s dialogue. By this time, within churches, orthodox/conservative people should have learned that calls for “dialogue” are almost always a strategic move by heterodox/liberal people to establish a beachhead from which to dislodge and defeat orthodoxy.
It works like this:
Progressives propose a dialogue about the role of LGBTs in the church. That’s fine. It’s an important topic. But what is really being proposed is not a talk about “how can LGBTs live faithful to church teaching in this culture, and how can the rest of the church help them do so while integrating them more closely into the life of the church?” That would be an important talk to have, challenging to everybody, and faithful to church teaching.
But again, that’s not what’s being proposed. The end game, from the progressive side, is to achieve the goal of having the progressive position normalized within the church or church organization — and ultimately to have it replace the orthodox belief. The game is over the first time the parties sit down together if the dialogue is framed in such a way that the orthodox belief is up for debate. To enter into dialogue with others in the church on those terms is to surrender in principle what cannot be surrendered.
The battle is mostly won at that point by progressives. It’s just a matter of time before their view becomes the new orthodoxy. Once they have power, they make their view the new orthodoxy, on the grounds that justice requires it. As Richard John Neuhaus once observed, wherever orthodoxy is optional, it will sooner or later be proscribed.
If someone undertook to do a history of how orthodox Catholic teaching about homosexuality became heterodoxy at the ostensibly Catholic Marquette and Providence College, they would surely find that it began years, even decades earlier, with calls for “dialogue.” Eventually you end up hosting Pride Proms and demonizing those Catholics who disagree.
In the Orthodox Church, there are a couple of Orthodox grad students agitating for the acceptance and normalization of homosexuality within the Orthodox Church. Their website’s name is — surprise! — Orthodoxy in Dialogue. To be clear, dialogue is no bad thing in and of itself. But in this case, the “dialogue” sought is not one that helps LGBT Orthodox live faithfully by church teaching, and helping non-LGBT Orthodox help them to do so with charity. The only acceptable end result of this “dialogue” will be to marginalize the orthodox Orthodox within Orthodox institutions, and to stigmatize them. By pursuing “dialogue” framed this way, they co-opt the orthodox into their own displacement and diminishment.
Continue reading on The American Conservative.
Read editor Giacomo Sanfilippo’s response to The Benedict Option here.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!