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Vox Nova Patriotism Fail

Gosh, I make it a point not to visit Vox Nova often as it is a very silly place. It is just so darn convenient when your religious beliefs coincide with your political beliefs. When its not so convenient, you need to make them coincide. One of the easiest ways to do such a thing is not to clearly define your terms and expect that nobody will bother to ask.

Matt Talbot at Vox Nova entitles his post "Nationalism is Idolatry." Hmmm. Ok. I think this is a point on which we might agree, provided that some distinctions are drawn and terms defined. Here is how Mr. Talbot defines his terms.

His foreigner friend says "Boy, you have lots of flags in this country." Matt Talbot responds, "We do? I shall drive around and assess for myself." Matt Talbot drives around and says "Omigosh, we do have lots of flags in this country. Flags are evidence of nationalism. We are evil nationalists!"

Matt Talbot then calls upon every right (sorry, left) thinking Catholic to fight against the ghastly sin of flag exposition.

Think I exaggerate?

...Callie, my coworker, was right: there was never a place where an American flag was not visible. We made 20 stops, and most of the time we did not even have to get out of the car to find one. This was not the 4th of July or Memorial Day (and well before 9/11/2001).

Nationalism saturates American life – it is just the ever-present, ambient sound coming from every form of corporate media, 24/7/365, so ever-present that it has become, in an odd way, invisible. I have come to understand that it is idolatry – subtler, arguably, than building a golden calf, but no less idolatrous. And it disturbs me a great deal.

I wish Catholic priests and laity would stand up more often against this sort of thing. We Catholics, at every level of our society and in every vocation, me included, have failed to do our jobs of providing clear witness against this spiritually destructive idol.
Without fail, the lefty echo chamber (aka Michael Iafrate) responds with this insightful comment.
Exactly right. Great post.

The propaganda becomes even more obvious when you live outside of the u.s. for a few years and then come back.

We definitely should not have them in our churches, or flying outside of our churches.
Mr. Iafrate, having been outside of the country, is in the unique position to know such incredible things.

How these folks make the leap that exposition of the flag is sinful nationalism is beyond me. I fly a flag at my home because I wish to signify the respect for my country and the God-given freedoms that she has endeavored to secure for me. I fly a flag to show respect for the men and women how have sacrificed and died to to protect those freedoms. I fly my flag to show my proper and fitting esteem for my country and to show the honor properly owed to her.

In a similar way, while not blind to their faults, I show honor and esteem for my parents as God has commanded.

To suggest that flags flying at car dealerships, libraries, malls, and even churches constitutes a sinful nationalism and idolatry is simply as disingenuous as it is senseless. In other words, perfectly Vox Nova.

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96 comments:

LarryD said...

They seem to search for mountains behind every molehill - kinda like the post some time ago about the ritual of a father giving away his daughter at a Catholic wedding - 'wrong wrong wrong' was their analysis. I've stopped reading that blog ages ago.

John Hetman said...

These lads are global citizens of the great cosmic (or comic) space craft, Gaia, under the command of Captains Gore and Soros with entertainment by that B+ teleprompter reader, B. Hussein Obama. And I fly my flag in honor of this great country that allows such yokels the freedom to make utter asses of themselves.

Brendan said...

I can't figure out if Vox Nova is supposed to be conservative or liberal. I'm confused.

Morning'sMinion said...

"It is just so darn convenient when your religious beliefs coincide with your political beliefs. When its not so convenient, you need to make them coincide."

Sums up this blog, I'm afraid - it uses a term of Pope Benedict's to support a very American political philosophy, one at odds with Catholic social teaching more often than not. I'm talking about that philosophy that is mis-named "conservatism" and encompasses a muscular nationalism twinned with a staunch rights-based individualism.

"I can't figure out if Vox Nova is supposed to be conservative or liberal."

That's the point!!!

Edmund said...

Ironically, they almost stumble upon a valid point. An imigrant friend once pointed out to me that in his former home (no love lost between them), the flag was treated with respect. It was not printed upon cheap t-shirts, nor paper napkins where supposedly-patriotic citizens would wipe their mouths and then throw away. The flag, it seems, is too oft displayed with too little respect.

Dan Lower / KKairos said...

Nationalism = sin? Not a chance.

That said, I sometimes get disturbed when I see American flags in churches. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, I guess I'd rather have those symbols be not-in-church, to avoid the 'God loves America (to the detriment of other nations)' crowd, and to further emphasize our first loyalty to Our Lord. (And yeah, I know there's a slippery slope for this notion, what with the statues of Saints and Our Lady that appear in the Catholic churches, but those symbols all serve as inherent pointers back to Christ, in a way that the flag does not.

Scarlett said...

I too do tend to be a little uncomfortable with American flags in Catholic churches. I'd never seen it until I moved to DC, but now both of the churches I attend with some regularity have both an American and a Vatican flag. In one they stay - hmm, they're near the altar, but I'm having trouble visualizing whether or not they're actually inside the sanctuary. In the other, at least at the "smells and bells" Mass, they process in and out, carried by altar servers, during the rather extensive processional and recessional. It just seems a little. . . off. Our focus doesn't belong quite there, not during Mass.

Michael Iafrate said...

That's a cute distortion of what I said, Patrick. But what I actually said was that 1) nationalistic propaganda is real in the u.s. and that 2) u.s. flags should not be displayed in our churches.

Fly that flag at your house all you want. "Honor da troops" till you are red, white, and blue in the face. But we should keep that sectarian, chest-thumping nonsense away from our eucharistic tables.

And thanks for highlighting the blog. We appreciate it.

Michael Iafrate said...

Scarlett,

Are you serious? You have seen the u.s. flag processed around at the eucharistic liturgy? I have never heard of such a thing.

PattyinCT said...

So I wonder if anyone over there at Ob - Vox - ious would have liked to have seen the Holy Family refuse to do the Census too? Or do they tear that passage of the Bible out where Jesus very inconveniently says "Render unto Caesar..."
Hmmm...
I wonder if those who seek to do away with so called "Nationalism" as they perceive it here struggle internally with their push for a Theocracy?

Marc Aupiais said...

To be honest- the American love of their flag and country bother me, we fly no flag at Catholic churches here, I doubt I own any large flag- except for a local sports team- but then again my country is divided!

And here it is feared unconstituional to promote war, so we don't support our troops on the African Continent etc.

Then again we do love our country deeply here, as you do- just less openly. Ans your flag represents your unity as a nation, and ideals as a people.

A flag is a symbol of pride, not nationalism- as long as he who carries it can criticize his own, it is certainly not evil.

I do agree that they may well mix up terms...

What do you expect from Vox Nova?!

Anonymous said...

Michael Iafrate,
Don't try to change your point now because CMR outed your weak attempt at an opinion piece.
Your point was not about flags at the eucharist table. It was about nationalism being a sin. You're a liberal nutjob who hates America. Plain and simple.

Patrick Archbold said...

Michael Iafrate said...
"That's a cute distortion of what I said, Patrick."


A cute distortion? I simply quoted you, verbatim.

Anonymous said...

American & Vatican Flags in the Church - I have seen 3 ways:
1)In the rear of the Sanctuary to the sides
2)In the rear of the church - either flown from the choir loft rail or in the Narthex
3)No flags at all
As common as #1 is, I much prefer #3 to it, and I think the best is #2

American flags should not be carried in procession except by uniformed personnel: Scouts, VFW, US Marines, etc. or as drape for a coffin. They have no place in a Christian procession.
Instead may I recommend that with the already rich processional traditions of incense, cross, candles, monstrance, canopy or umberlina, devotional banners, and venerated images we don't need no flags!

in illo tempore said...

Conservative: Loves their country but doesn't trust the gov't.

Liberal: Loves the gov't, but hates their country.

Anonymous said...

Michael Iafrate,

1) What's up with using lower case letters for U.S.?

2) "Fly that flag at your house all you want. "Honor da troops" till you are red, white, and blue in the face."

Quite frankly, as the wife of a military service member, I find this statement to be flippant and incredibly offensive.

What is your beef with the U.S.?

Anonymous said...

"Fly that flag at your house all you want. "Honor da troops" till you are red, white, and blue in the face. But we should keep that sectarian, chest-thumping nonsense away from our eucharistic tables."

Take note. Micheal believes that honoring our soldiers is "chest-thumping nonsense". I'm not surprised, but I am still slightly horrified. I can take it in stride, though, knowing that 99.9% of those in uniform are better men than he could ever hope to be.

-Chris M.

Paul Zummo said...

Gotta give it up to Michael Iafrate - wait, excuse me - michael iafrate. It takes a certain kind of chutzpah to accuse another person of distorting his meaning when he's being quoted directly.

Mitch said...

Hmmm... Mr. Archibald, I have to disagree with you very much.

Catholic Churches didn't fly american flags until WWI and only then because the German immigrant parishes feared that they would face reprisals so the put american flags in their churches and it stuck. In america we do seem to have an obsession with the flag. I personlly will not say the Pledge because I feel it crosses a line from allegiance to ones country to allediance to a symbol which sounds an aweful lot like allegiance to an idol.(I'm down with the National Anthem, though) Attacks on a persons "patriotism" or status as a "good american" over honest concern we come near to idolizing the flag is disengeneous. Have you ever considered those who are non-religious on the right side of the spectrum tend to direct their spiritual efforts towards the flag and other symbols of america, just the same as those on the left do so towards sex. And that many people, even those who are religious, get caught up in this trend.

SO yes I will render unto Caesar what is Caesars, but I will not burn a pinch of incense at his altar.

DarwinCatholic said...

I'm guessing the crew there would be pretty horrified by the shrine that the large Spanish-speaking community at my parish built over at the left side altar for last Saturday: A ten foot tall hill of Tepeyac with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe enthroned on top surrounded by roses and candles, and behind the whole thing, a huge pair of US and Mexican flags hanging right next to each other.

Mickey Addison said...

So, if I fly my Texas flag...am I a Big Idolater...or just a parochial one? :-D

romishgraffiti said...

Out of ideas and now just thrashing about like a helicopter with its stabilizing-rotor shot off.

Anonymous said...

Morning's Minion has his cut-and-pasted tu quoque in response to every criticism -- makes life easier for him, I suppose, never having to come to grips with his own insistence on imbuing his political preferences with religious authority. What a sanctimonious theocrat (and iafrate too).

Rick said...

Is nationalism is a sin? It depends on how nationalism is intended.
If by nationalism one means bigotry, then it is a sin.
If by nationalism one means patriotism, then it is a virtue.

If one's religious and political beliefs do not coincide, then one
can make them coincide by many ways:
1. rendering to Caesar what is God's
2. not rendering to Caesar what is God's
3. voting for Mark Anthony
4. getting out of Rome
5. leaving it up to the people to choose and washing one's hands
6. paying Judas to get Jesus

Tito Edwards said...

Brendan,

Give it up.

You know they are left-wing loonies.

There comes a point that intellectual stimulation only feeds the anti-Catholic diatribes that occur over there at Vox Nova.

Where they worship Bono, blessed be upon his holy instrument, and bow down at the altar of Noam "I hate, HAAAATE, America" Chomsky and Karl "Obama's Daddy" Marx.

Tito

romishgraffiti said...

Nationalism saturates American life – it is just the ever-present, ambient sound coming from every form of corporate media, 24/7/365, so ever-present that it has become, in an odd way, invisible.

Invisible eh? Well that's convenient in that allows one to engage in snctimonious finger-wagging while freeing them of the burden of actually making a case that x person, institution, practice is an example of idolatrous nationalism. Give me ambiguity, or give me something else!

Subvet said...

Trying for intelligent discussion with Vox Nova followers proves an old saying, "Trying to teach a pig to sing only annoys you while pleasing the pig."

Morning's Minion said...

"Morning's Minion has his cut-and-pasted tu quoque ... What a sanctimonious theocrat (and iafrate too)."

Hah! Nobody has yet addressed my basic point - American arch-liberals, direct offsprings of the Enlightenment, are under some illusion that they are "conservative". Couldn't be more wrong. As for me, I'm an old-style Christian Democrat with not much time for rights-based individualism, the so-called separation of church and state, lassez-faire liberalism, or muscular nationalism. I'm a corporatist, I'm fully on baord with Bendict's world political authority, and I'll take Catholic social teaching over American Calvinist economics any day, thank you very much.

Who is supposed to be the conservative again?

Brendan said...

Morning's Minion, you just used tu quoque again!

Please do not attempt to claim our Holy Father wants a "world political authority." Did you perhaps forget the Catholic Social Teaching of Subsidiarity?

Morning's Minion said...

Brendan, I'm more than familiar with subsidiarity, thank you very much - it's the very reason why I am suspicious of the nation state and its insistance on a direct loyalty between each and every "citizen" and that same state, subordinating all other mediating institutions and claims on loyalty. These are all very old criticisms of the liberalism that this blog so strongly endorses...

As for the world political authority, see Popularum Progessio and Caritas in Veritate. Here's the latter:

"To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority... Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good... Such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights..."

William said...

Da flags are coming from inside the Church!!1~!

As a Knight of Columbus, there's a lot of stuff I'm tempted to say about this, but I'll pass, since it's a little too internet fight. And I get where everyone’s coming from, even if it is a little too “between acoustic acts in the quad” for my taste.

I will say that if I was at a Catholic Church in another country, I'd be glad to see them process their flag down the aisle as well. This is as innocent as Nationalism gets, folks. Having enough pride in your country to acknowledge that it’s there isn’t exactly planting seeds of evil.

Paul Zummo said...

Shorter Obama's Minion:

Blah Blah Calvinist blah blah Enlightenment liberals blah blah nationalism.

Maybe one day you can write something original that indicates you have an understanding of political philosophy that is somewhat more advanced than that of college freshman, but until then, all I hear is blah blah blah.

Morning's Minion said...

Paul, you can dress it up any way you want, but like your Enlightenment-era heroes, you are an American liberal. Desist from self-delusion.

Paul Zummo said...

like your Enlightenment-era heroes

Considering that you know the topic of my dissertation, and that we've had discussions about my loathing of the French Enlightenment, I find this remark pretty sad.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has yet addressed my basic point

Who the f*** cares about your basic point? You cut and paste that into every discussion regardless of its relevance, as a way of distracting from the stupidity and hackery on your own side.

j. christian said...

Morning's Minion might want to take a minute or two to consider that he can't have his cake and eat it, too. He claims to loathe the subordination of mediating institutions to the state, yet he consistently advocates for greater state powers. Apparently it hasn't occurred to him that the gradual of accretion of authority upwards will only subordinate those institutions even more. (One of those institutions being the Church, of course.)

It's all well and good to call yourself whatever political label you like, "Christian Democrat", but you know damn well that collectivism only increases the likelihood of religious suppression. "World political authority" sounds nice when the Holy Father is talking about it; not so much when it's coming from the foaming, rabid mouths of most United Nations dwellers.

Michael Iafrate said...

Anonymous @ 7:17am:
I did not write the blog post in question. Matt Talbot did.

Patrick:
You quoted me verbatim and then decided to collapse my view into Matt Talbot's, summarizing it saying "How these folks make the leap that exposition of the flag is sinful nationalism is beyond me." Whether or not this summary expresses Matt's view is for him to say. It does not express my view and is therefore a distortion of my view.

Anonymous soldier's wife @ 8:36am:
I am not surprised that you think my views are offensive. You and your husband clearly have a lot invested in the military discipleship community. I am very much invested in another discipleship community (called the church) and I find the inability to be critical of the military and the u.s. in general offensive. The "beef" I have with the u.s. should be obvious to anyone conscious of our history and current imperial ambition.

Chris M:
Micheal (sic) believes that honoring our soldiers is "chest-thumping nonsense".

No I don't. I think we should honor soldiers as human beings and stop turning them into killing automatons by getting them out of the military cult. This quote of yours, on the other hand, is chest-thumping nonsense: "99.9% of those in uniform are better men than he could ever hope to be." It's also boring as shit. Grow up.

Darwin:
Use of national flags in Christ worship contexts is never a good idea. But the Mexican context is different from the u.s. american context. Should be obvious.

Michael Iafrate said...

Darwin - My last comment should read "Use of national flags in Christian worship..."

Morning's Minion said...

J. Christian,

You are arguing from the liberal perspective. Sometimes authority must be granted to the overarching level - to claim otherwise is a misunderstanding of subsidiarity (as American liberals do when they falsely equate subdidiarity with "small government"). Liberals also downplay solidarity, without which subsidiarity become sterile (again, refer to Caritas in Veritate for an explicit statement of his point).

Legitimate authority does not subordinate mediating institutions. They work together to promote the common good. This is the correct starting point, not the notion that the individual is king of his castle. And when did I refer to "collectivism"? Here, I follow Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, when he referred to both collectivism and individualism as the "twin rocks of shipwreck" - and American liberals are firmly in the latter camp.

Morning's Minion said...

"my loathing of the French Enlightenment" - as you well know, the Enlightenment went beyond France. Some of the Scottish thinkers were equally dangerous.

Patrick Archbold said...

Michael,
With all due respect (and I mean that)

Your comment began with (hence my echo chamber remark)

No caveats.
No but for...

Or any such thing. From your comments following about the flag inferred meant that you agree with Mr. Talbot. If I am incorrect in my assumption, please forgive me. If was hasty and in actuality you do not agree with Mr. Talbot, please feel free to distance yourself from his remarks here.

Patrick Archbold said...

For some reason blogger messed with my html.

What I wrote was "Great Post" (hence my echo chamber remark)

Sorry for confusion.

Patrick Archbold said...

Oh, BTW
Something that Vox Nova folks might get a kick out of, i think particularly of MM.

True fact.

CMR, this blog which so infuriates, would not exist but for Policratus, one of your founders I believe. He made it happen.

There is a story there.

Anonymous said...

Holy crapamole! I saw 43 comments beneath the post and thought "MM must've invaded CMR!!". As I clicked the comments section a picture of Ronald Reagan in my basement fell off the wall. My Thomas Sowell books burst into flames where they stood on my bookshelf. And a large black squirrel clawed at my window with one paw, authoritatively holding a copy of "The Challenge of Peace" in the other.

Then he appeared. Right there with comment #4!

NEOCON MAN OF THE WORLD - DO YOU BELIEVE IN ME OR NOT!!?!

But not to fear! I seized my copy of "Going Rogue: An American Life", lifted it high and *bamph* he was gone! Or maybe I'm just dreaming that last part...

Early Riser said...

Zoinks! I see a lot of opinions here, but no real quantifiable or qualifiable data to "prove" a point either way. How many flags is too many? How many is not enough? Where is the line between patriotism, nationalism, pride and xenophobia?

There are so many issues at play here. We cannot assume that displaying a flag means someone is a "nationalist" anymore than we can assume anyone who doesn't is an anarchist. Bottom line: ALWAYS put God first; above country, tribe/ethnic identity, even family and you will never be a nationalist, no matter how many flags you keep around the house.

Michael Iafrate said...

Early Riser - The big question is what does it mean to "put God first"? Everyone says that they put God "first." They say it, and act otherwise. But saying it allows them to claim they are not nationalistic.

Johnny Vino said...

I think the Poles always had too many flags when John Paul II stopped by. He really blew it by not preaching to them on the sin of nationalism. Major fail on his part. If only he would've consulted Micheal Iafrate or Mornings Minion that Solidarity thing coulda been nipped in the bud and "The Challenge of Peace" might still have relevance as an guide for unilateral disarmament while fully engaging diplomatically with the Soviet Union.

Thankfully, Barack Emmanuel Obama is restoring dialogue with the Communists. Granted, it's more accurate to call it a monologue, but the point is we will soon have no nuclear weapons. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And when there's a nuke-free America and the end of patriotic nonsense there will finally, finally be peace on earth. It says so in the bible.

Johnny Vino said...

>>The big question is what does it mean to "put God first"? Everyone says that they put God "first." They say it, and act otherwise. But saying it allows them to claim they are not nationalistic.<<

Michael - Who is this "everyone" of whom you speak? "They" and "them"? I'm assuming by those comments that you've gone through the pearly gates and speak to us from the presence of Our Lord and Savior. If so, please pray for us.

If not, I'd like to point out that your dizzyingly protentious blog spends oodles of words attempting to carve out a cutesy, niche spot of the righteous marginalized center - the thinking faithful who eschew partisanship by putting God first. In reality, it's clear to anyone with firing synapses that you view the world through partisan glasses. But saying you're the creamy nougat in the Catholic 3 Musketeers allows you to claim you're not partisan.

BTW, partisanship is distinctly labeled a sin by Paul, so saddle up and move out of that camp, partner! I criticize because I care.

Brendan said...

It is quite interesting seeing the folks over at Vox Nova coming to infiltrate this blog with ad hominem attacks. Fascinating stuff, really.

Michael Iafrate said...

And Patrick, no, I don't think simply flying a flag automatically makes one nationalistic. But I don't think this is what Matt said in his original post. I hope this clears things up for you regarding my view.

Early Riser said...

Michael - are you Catholic? If so, you would know what it means to put God first, since Jesus outlined that very clearly for us in the gospels. You say "everyone says they put God first". Does this include atheists? No? Then who is everyone? When you speak in "everyone" and "no one" and "always" and "never" without any basis in fact, you begin to look ridiculous and people will stop wanting to hear your opinion.

I personally have never said that I put God first. I try to do this, but fail miserably. And I honestly have never heard any Catholic in my life say out loud that they put God first. It is an ideal that we as Christians aspire to, and some live up to it far better than others. Which is why I say, if you put God first, issues such as nationalism are irrelevant.

j. christian said...

You are arguing from the liberal perspective.

Slap labels however you want. It is the Vox Nova way, after all. But at least I'm not arguing from a position of incoherence as you are.

Do you not see the cognitive dissonance at work in your own heads? How it's spectacularly inconsistent to be appalled -- appalled, I say! -- that people fly American flags and have Fourth of July parades while you and your ilk never cast a suspicious or critical eye at any attempt to consolidate political power in the (need it be repeated, secular) nation-state?

Who are the idolaters here? The ones who express an iota of love of homeland by flying a flag, or the ones who slavishly devote themselves at every turn to praise the wisdom, charity, and benevolence of the technocratic, Leviathan state? You mentioned the Pope; read what he says about this view of politics in Jesus of Nazareth. It's not flattering.

Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation... It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place.

Lest you think he's referring to just one political delusion, there's also this:
It is not just the negative outcome of the Marxist experience that proves this.

For good measure:
[T]he struggle to avoid identifying Jesus' Kingdom with any political structure is one that has to be fought century after century.

Take heed: People of good will see through your moral posturing, your idolatry. You put a political agenda ahead of God, and we can smell the stench of it from miles away. You can talk about "legitimate authority" working for the common good all you want, but you know DAMN WELL what kind of authority it is at heart. If you need a reminder, look up a few posts at the story about the kid who was sent for psychological counseling for drawing a picture of the crucified Christ. *That* is the legitimate authority we're supposed to trust at every turn? Excuse us if we sometimes disagree.

No, you can't go around lamenting that the nation-state is subordinating mediating institutions, and then in the very next breath work heart and soul to empower the state with greater jurisdiction and control over people's lives.

Michael Iafrate said...

Early Riser:

Yes, I am Catholic. I was assuming that since this is a Catholic blog we are speaking to one another as Catholics. So no, when I said "everyone says they put God first," I was not including atheists. If you need to spelled out, what I intended to mean is that all Christians like to think that they "put God first" but the idea remains abstract. What does "putting God first" mean in the concrete? What does "putting God first" require of us? What does allegiance to Christ mean in a world of competing allegiances?

For example, as I am from West Virginia, I have known some seriously nationalistic people, including some who are Catholic. I trust you will take my word on this, and not assume I am merely throwing the term "nationalistic" around carelessly. I'm not speaking of bloggers that I do not know personally. I'm speaking of people I know personally that even some of the most conservative people here among us would probably call nationalistic. Borderline KKK types. We all know people with these views I think. These same people, these Catholic nationalists that I know personally, would of course like to think that they "put God first." Of course they would admit what you said -- that they constantly fail. Any one of us with any humility would admit that. They claim to at least want to "put God first" but at the same time exhibit serious nationalistic tendencies that they fail to see as coming into conflict with their desire to "put God first." In fact, it is precisely because they have weird, idolatrous ideas about linking God and nation (perhaps that america is God's "chosen nation" taking the place of Israel -- which is what a friend of mine told me in all seriousness) that they cannot see that the conflict exists. Remember that a well-loved mantra in the united states is "For God and country" as opposed to "Put God first, above the nation-state."

Of course if we truly "put God first," the charge of nationalism becomes irrelevant. But as you said, we ALL fail. So obviously nationalism is NOT irrelevant. It is a real, serious problem even among Catholics. In fact, the point you seemed to want to make above -- that if we "just put God first" we won't be nationalists no matter how many flags we display -- is undermined by your later claim that none of us, in fact, put God first in our lives.

Early Riser said...

Michael - what you "intended to mean" and what you said are completely different, regardless of the makeup of this blog. Regardless, there is an ample chasm between failing to put God first and being a flaming nationalist KKK flag-waver. It's not an either/or proposition. And once again, I will kindly refer you to the gospels on what it means to put God first "in the concrete".

As far as your "real life examples", suffice it to say there are many Catholics in name only, and far too many others who are in dire need of catechesis *cough*. And let's be clear, I NEVER said that "none of us, in fact, put God first in our lives." Never never never not once did I say that. I was speaking in the first present tense specifically about myself when I said that. If I am speaking about humanity, I would say there are MANY people who OFTEN put God first in their lives. I can think of too many examples to mention.

Michael Iafrate said...

what you "intended to mean" and what you said are completely different

Completely? If you say so. Doesn't really matter. I've explained myself. {shrug}

As far as your "real life examples", suffice it to say there are many Catholics in name only, and far too many others who are in dire need of catechesis *cough*.

Of course. And the nationalism that you admit exists is the kind of thing that Matt and I and the rest of us at VN are attempting to critique. So if you admit that such problems exist, why participate in the ridicule of said critique?

And let's be clear, I NEVER said that "none of us, in fact, put God first in our lives."

It sounds to me like what you say shifts depending on what you are trying to argue or defend yourself from. Which is fine. We all probably do that.

Here's hoping you and everyone else here in this thread discerns how best to truly "put God first," concretely, pledging allegiance to Christ alone.

Anonymous said...

"I am not surprised that you think my views are offensive."
Actually I said I found your statement offensive, I said nothing about your views, as I am not completely familiar with those, but you've clarified that indeed this is your view. Nice.

"You and your husband clearly have a lot invested in the military discipleship community."

Wow, that's pretty presumptive of you. You know nothing of my husband and I.

Are you saying one cannot serve one's country in the military and still serve God first? What of the many soldier saints?

Anonymous Soldier's Wife

Anonymous said...

"It's also boring as shit. Grow up."

Pot meet kettle.

-Chris M.

Morning's Minion said...

J. Christian: "No, you can't go around lamenting that the nation-state is subordinating mediating institutions, and then in the very next breath work heart and soul to empower the state with greater jurisdiction and control over people's lives."

You don't get it, because you cannot see past the liberal paradigm. Look at what Catholic Social Teaching says about the role of the state. Look at Leo XIII, Pius XI. These deeply conservative men (in the true sense of the word) saw that the state had a properly defined role in contributing to social stability and the common good. But you do not look through this prism. You look through the prism of American liberalism, which is primarily concered about a misguided approach to "freedom" and "liberty" - one based first and foremost on individual automony. You think like a Hobbesian.

And it's an entirely inconsistent position. I can only assume that you have no problem with the state seeking "greater jurisdiction and control over people's lives" when it comes to protecting the unborn or the institution of marriage?

P. Button said...

Kudos to Early Riser for the best points made so far. To equate patriotism with nationalism is to be ignorant of the meaning of both words. Patriotism is an appropriate loyalty to one's country, while honoring and obeying God above all. Nationalism is a blind devotion to one's country and its actions, regardless of their morality. And as for Catholic Social Teaching, the Chatechism clearly states that as long as the intention is still helping the disadvantaged, a conservative economic position is entirely compatible with Church teaching. And Morning Minion, while Hobbes was fundementaly in error, the fact is that given the opportunity most people will act in their own self interest. This is the result of the Fall of Man and there is not much use in complaining about it. The goal of Smithian or Libertarian ecomonics, is to harness that inherent greed and self interest to create prosperity that improves everyone's lives. A Christian who pursues economic policies guided by these principiles is no Hobbesian.

Early Riser said...

Michael when you say "It sounds to me like what you say shifts depending on what you are trying to argue or defend yourself from. Which is fine. We all probably do that" then you should probably work on your reading comprehension skills. It would appear you have trouble stating your thoughts rationally, and even interpreting the very plain and straight-forward writings of others based on your own emotional state. Also, my statements were never ridicule. Once again, bad reading comprehension.

DarwinCatholic said...

Use of national flags in Christ worship contexts is never a good idea. But the Mexican context is different from the u.s. american context. Should be obvious.

Okay, so the Spanish speaking group in our parish is off the hook for their display of both countries' flags because they're sufficiently non-white.

Does that mean I'm okay flying the flag too, or is being half-Mexican not enough to change my context?

How about my fully Mexican grandfather, who installed a 20ft flagpole at his house so that he could fly the US flag on holidays?

Obviously, the clear lesson is you can never fly the flag -- you're far too white, you colonialist, imperialist, anarchist, you.

Feel free to rant against "nationalism" if you like, but for those of us who actually came to this country within the last few generations, we'll fly flags when to like to show how glad we are to be here, thank you very much.

Morning's Minion said...

"as long as the intention is still helping the disadvantaged, a conservative economic position is entirely compatible with Church teaching"

Sigh. What you call "conservative" is actually a liberal position. We need to stop this prevailing misleading labels. What Americans call "conervative" on economic matters is laissez-faire liberalism, one of the "twin rocks of shipwreck" condemned by the Church (note - this is not to say that free markets are wrong, it is that they must be tempered by the state).

"while Hobbes was fundementaly in error, the fact is that given the opportunity most people will act in their own self interest. This is the result of the Fall of Man and there is not much use in complaining about it.."

Now this is strange. There is not much point in complaining about sin? Whatever happened to grace and redemption? Whatever happened to the incarnation restoring the lost unity of man with God and people among themselves? Sounds like you are positing a complete separation of grace and nature...

Michael Iafrate said...

"You and your husband clearly have a lot invested in the military discipleship community."

Wow, that's pretty presumptive of you. You know nothing of my husband and I.


I know that your husband is in the military and that you invoked this fact in your expression of disgust at my statement/views. Why would you possibly get upset about me thinking you might have something invested in it? If, after sharing about you and your husband's attachment to the military, you don't want me to refer to it, maybe you shouldn't invoke your husband's line of "work" in your internet arguments.

Are you saying one cannot serve one's country in the military and still serve God first? What of the many soldier saints?

I don't think one should serve in the u.s. military as a Christian because it is a rival discipleship community with pagan/idolatrous ideas about god and country. That is not a personal judgment on your husband or anyone else. I presume he's trying the best he can to preserve his Christian faith in such a death-dealing environment.

The "many" soldier saints you refer to: most of the are saints precisely because they left the military, e.g. St Ignatius of Loyola who is frequently cited as a "soldier" saint by "Catholics in the Military" types.

Okay, so the Spanish speaking group in our parish is off the hook for their display of both countries' flags because they're sufficiently non-white.

No one is "off the hook." I didn't say any such thing. Nationalism is a danger for all communities.

Does that mean I'm okay flying the flag too, or is being half-Mexican not enough to change my context?

Which flag? In what context? Why do you always seek universal moral rules? I speak in this case only as a u.s. american and would not judge other cultures without good reason. As a u.s. american, I oppose flying the u.s. flag in churches. This is a non-controversial view. The u.s. bishops share it.

How about my fully Mexican grandfather, who installed a 20ft flagpole at his house so that he could fly the US flag on holidays?

His house, his business. If he has something invested in u.s. national flag religion, fine go for it.

Obviously, the clear lesson is you can never fly the flag -- you're far too white, you colonialist, imperialist, anarchist, you.

And I don't.

Feel free to rant against "nationalism" if you like, but for those of us who actually came to this country within the last few generations, we'll fly flags when to like to show how glad we are to be here, thank you very much.

Go for it. This country holds freedom of religious expression in very high regard, especially when that religion is american civil religion. Just don't presume that it's acceptable to fly the u.s. flag in a Catholic church which is home to all cultures.

To equate patriotism with nationalism is to be ignorant of the meaning of both words. Patriotism is an appropriate loyalty to one's country, while honoring and obeying God above all. Nationalism is a blind devotion to one's country and its actions, regardless of their morality.

I don't see anyone here "equating" patriotism and nationalism. I distinguish them very clearly. (I would actually, though say patriotism is not loyalty to one's country but love of one's homeland and its people. This is closer to what JPII, for example, had in mind when he spoke of patriotism. And it transcends focus on nation-states which are largely artificial. I am quite patriotic about being Appalachian, for example.) I just diagree with most of you about where the line should be drawn. You all preserve "nationalism" for Nazi Germany and other extreme examples, when it is clearly alive and well in the united states.

Rick said...

Although we are the Catholic Church in America and not the American Catholic Church, the love of country is not precluded by the universal trait of our faith. The excessive love for country at the expense of the members of the international community is imperfect. But that is not the case with flying flags in Church - imho. How is that a put down of other nations?

Michael Iafrate said...

It is an implicit linking of eucharistic worship with a particular nation. Around the altar, the u.s.a does not exist as we are participating in the eschaton in which all sectarian division will disappear. I'd be in favor of setting flags from every nation of the world around the altar, as that would be an entirely different sort of symbol. But to only have the u.s. flag in the sactuary is a bizarre symbol of exclusion that has no place at eucharist.

Rick said...

Michael I. First time I heard that. And is this your interpretation of why the flag is there or does anyone else share this notion?

Anonymous said...

Can a person who uses selective capitalization of proper nouns really be taken seriously? "West Virginia", "Mexican", "u.s."? Peope are actually investing time in arguing with this person?

P. Button said...

In reference to Michael Iafrate's charge that the military is "pagan": I will not attempt to counter your argument as anyone as bigoted as yourself will ignore anything I say. So as a son and grandson of a soldier I say only this, GO TO PURGATORY!

Michael Iafrate said...

P. Button - You obviously have a lot invested in the u.s. military too. Touchy?

Rick - To clarify, I don't think the flag is "there" in order to be a symbol of exclusion. I think the flag is there as a hangover from increasing Catholic attempts to appear like "good americans" like our Protestant brothers and sisters in a time when Catholics were suspected of having a stronger allegiance to the Pope than to the nation-state. Isn't it strange that we came to be accepted as "true americans" whose ecclesial allegiances do not interfere with the american way of life, i.e. warmaking? Now, just like every other Christian church (and increasingly, non-Christian religions as well!), we privatize our faith. If it is brought to bear on "politics" at all, it is merely used to critique pelvic politics or culture war nonsense.

All the while Christian churches have remained silent or have actively supported various flare-ups of u.s. imperialism, refusing to condemn any of its warmaking. Thus, the cross and the flag have become linked in concrete political terms and having flags in the sanctuary has become a sign of this Christofascist linkage. And yet we "enlightened" Western Christians have the nerve to tell militant Muslims that their mix of religion and politics is "primitive" and "barbarous."

Anonymous - Can someone who flips out over the capitalization (or lack thereof) of "america" and "u.$.a." be taken seriously? You're boring me.

Brendan said...

Michael Iafrate - You seem to have many valid points and good ideas, and I would like to hear about them. However, continually using ad hominem attacks is causing your thoughts to get lost.

You make some good points regarding Catholics in early America. I'm sure we disagree on some issues, but you seem to be more knowledgeable than I am in the history of Catholicism in America and your input is welcome.

I don't know why you refuse to capitalize certain proper nouns referring to our country. Certainly, mocking the country by replacing the "S" with a dollar sign is causing us to focus on this rather than your perhaps useful thoughts. Whatever your reasons for insistence on lowercase letters, I would recommend you get over it and use capital letters for proper nouns so we can focus on the message.

Michael Iafrate said...

Brendan - 1) I have not attacked anyone. If anyone here has felt "attacked," it is because of their own sensitivities and inability to deal with critical views. But that is hardly an "ad hominem" attack. 2) I am really surprised that you are taking my purposeful lack of capitalization so seriously that you find it difficult to "focus on the message." But I'm convinced you can ignore this preference of mine, concentrate really hard, and discern what I am trying to say just fine.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - Can someone who flips out over the capitalization (or lack thereof) of "america" and "u.$.a." be taken seriously?

Yet another example of sanctimonious hyperbole.

? You're boring me.

*yawn* Right back atcha.

romishgraffiti said...

Wow. Matt puts his foot in his mouth and people jump in to double down on this loser.

paladin said...

Oh, good grief... I try to leave Vox Nova behind, like a bad dream, and it follows me here, to one of my favourite blogs! One more thing to offer up, I suppose...

For the Vox Novans who scorn the flying of Old Glory, do you seriously not know that patriotism is a virtue, as a subset of the virtue of piety, which itself is a subset of the virtue of justice?

Yes, I'm sure that there is the occasional nut who flies the U.S. flag solely because he's making a concerted effort to exalt country at the expense of Christ's Church. I'm sure there are also occasional nuts who fill their homes with crucifixes solely because they just like to see a guy nailed to a piece of wood. But I was assuming that we're talking about the vast majority of people who *aren't* insane in those particular ways.

(Translation: Michael I., you seem to assume that anyone who flies a U.S. flag is at least partially imbrued by this "exalt country at the expense of Christ and His Church"--but you don't seem to realize that this is hardly the only scenario--or even a common one. Can you truly not imagine how a visual display of patriotism could harmonize with right religion? The Church does...)

Express your opinions however you wish; but don't pretend that your private views (steeped in American political liberalism--yes, I know, distinct from what Europeans mean by "liberalism") have anything particularly to do with the Church, Her teachings, or Her disciplinary positions on the matter.

Rick said...

Re: "refusing to condemn any of its warmaking."
- 2 words. Just War.

Re: "has become a sign of this Christofascist linkage."
- Signs like art acquire meaning subjectively. You gave it that meaning.

Re: " have actively supported various flare-ups of u.s. imperialism, "
- US is not perfect; tell me who is. But having been in the third worlds of Asia & Central America, I'd prefer US imperialism over the other imperial forces. Who wouldn't?

Re: "I think the flag is there as a hangover from increasing Catholic attempts to appear like "good americans"
- We are good Americans and continue to be even when engaging in protest and civil disobedience.

Michael Iafrate said...

paladin - I don't have a problem with legitimate patriotism. Matt and I do have a problem with nationalism which is distinct but very common in the united states.

Rick -

2 words. Just War.

Well, too bad those are two words the church has rarely used in reference to the united states' wars. The church tends to make judgments that the u.s.'s wars are not just, and then remains silent when u.s. Catholics ignore them. Like yourself apparently.

WHo wouldn't

The victims of u.s. imperialism. This "our imperialism isn't as bad as their imperialism" is total nonsense. Imperialism is never right or good or acceptable.

Tito Edwards said...

mICHAEL iAFRATE,

Yes, I am Catholic

LOL!

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Re: "The victims of u.s. imperialism."
- At least, they're still alive.

Re: "This "our imperialism isn't as bad as their imperialism" is total nonsense."
- It is not total nonsense to many. In fact, it can be justified under the "lesser evil" standard of morality.

Re: "Imperialism is never right or good or acceptable."
- You must be referring to the Hobson's political-economic discourse. And what is right or good or acceptable? Leninism?

paladin said...

Michael I. wrote:

paladin - I don't have a problem with legitimate patriotism. Matt and I do have a problem with nationalism which is distinct but very common in the united states.

Well... unless, by "nationalism", you mean "the rare nuts who are the equivalent of gawking at crucifixes for the violence value", I'm not sure how Matt's main point in his original post could be maintained. (The word "nationalism" is used in non-pejorative senses, you know--Matt is using a very narrow definition, which doesn't apply to nearly so wide a swath of Americans that he apparently supposes.) I quote:

Callie, my coworker, was right: there was never a place where an American flag was not visible. We made 20 stops, and most of the time we did not even have to get out of the car to find one. This was not the 4th of July or Memorial Day (and well before 9/11/2001).

I realize that insinuation is far safer (from rebuttal) than are declarative statements, but no sane person could read Matt's post and not conclude that he thought this "density of visible flags" was indicative of something evil/undesirable (which he later made explicit, by calling it "idolatry"). More on that, below. Continuing quote:

Nationalism saturates American life – it is just the ever-present, ambient sound coming from every form of corporate media, 24/7/365, so ever-present that it has become, in an odd way, invisible.

This is nothing but raw opinion; and the jolting "jump" from "lots of visible flags" to "nationalism in the pejorative sense" is enough to cause cognitive whiplash. Does Matt seriously think that there's no other explanation for flag-flying than "idolatry"? (Does he think the same thing about having statues of Saints in churches? Various anti-Catholic groups think so... and the reasoning is disturbingly similar to Matt's. "Look at all the idols! Yeah, maybe some Catholics use them in right proportion, but... wow, look at all the idols!! This is disturbing! You can't tell me that such a plethora of idols doesn't indicate and perpetuate idolatry!")

Summary: when Matt assumes, willy-nilly, that widespread flag-flying is evil, he has no basis (beyond his raw opinion) for saying so.

Michael Iafrate said...

Rick, your first statement in your last comment leads me to believe you are heartless. Catholicism encourages us to, at the very least, have hearts. Keep trying.

I commend Matt for hitting so squarely the big, fat, throbbing nerve that he did. Paladin's raving is alone worth the effort of your post. Bravo!

Rick said...

M.I. A surgeon may appear heartless when he cuts open a patient. But it is he (and God) who removes the tumor and cures the person and not the bleeding hearts that are crying around.

paladin said...

Paladin's raving is alone worth the effort of your post.

"Raving?"

For someone who doesn't like charges of "ad hominem" laid in his lap, you've certainly made it more difficult for you to defend yourself against the charge! I think I'll let the audience decide who's raving, and who's not, friend.

Michael Iafrate said...

RIck - Who are you attempting to "cure"?

Paladin - I wasn't aware we were in front of an audience. That explains your behavior I suppose.

Rick said...

MI. Prevention is better than cure. We can prevent another 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Iafrate does such a good job at being the chief asshole of the blogosphere that a lot of people think he must be a conservative plant.

Michael Iafrate said...

Ah, 9/11! Good move, Rick. I see this is going no where fast. The ideology is suffocating.

So is the cowardice, Anonymous!

Take care, all.

Rick said...

MI. I enjoyed the exchange. Stop by my site sometime and explain how people can reconcile supporting the murder of unborn children or infants even with being moral or being a follower of Jesus. http://www.divine-ripples.blogspot.com/

Michael Iafrate said...

Rick - I have no idea how people can reconcile those things. I am against abortion myself. I see that you are one of those amusing everything-is-really-about-abortion-deep-down types, though. Good luck with your blog but I have no interest in it.

Anonymous said...

The first sentence of this blog post says it all. Cheers to MJ and Katerina and Joe Hargrave and Kyle Cupp for checking out from that bunch of dumbasses.

Michael Iafrate said...

that bunch of dumbasses

Now THERE is an attack for those of you who are confused.

BTW - Kyle is still with us, i.e. still a "dumbass."

samrocha said...

Wow, I just got called a dumbass. And plenty more in this thread. What is the point, exactly?

I just don't get why people can't be more specific with their darts and throw them with more conviction. Why not do a line-by-line of the post as challenge the writer to reply? Why drag things into generalities?

Why not try and find the person and meet for a beer or three and talk things over? Why not be Catholic?

This depresses me--on all sides.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Michael, that's not an insult, just a factual description.

Sam -- you seem one of the least dumbass people over there. But then why do you associate with them in the first place? Several of them really aren't that bright. Michael, MM, and Gerald seem as if they could have been somewhat intelligent, but they're so bent by hatred for their political enemies that they function as dumbasses.

samrocha said...

Thanks Anonymous. Its comforting to know that I am only a little bit of a dumbass. How kind!

Michael Iafrate said...

Sam, silence! I suggest you kneel before the "chief asshole of the blogosphere"!

Chief Asshole of the Blogosphere said...

Merry Christmas to all from the dumbasses!

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