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An American Catholic Theocracy: One Man's Blueprint

Dr. Taylor Marshall, a Ph.D.. from the University of Dallas and a convert to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church where he was a priest, has a political dream. It's not Martin Luther King's dream, either.I do know a couple of conservative Catholics who would be sympathetic to his dream--but who would say it goes too far. Catholicism, they would say, is not a religion of "either/or" but of "both/and": there is no reason, they would say, the White House can't have a basketball court and a Catholic chapel.Seriously, this has to be the position of only a tiny minority of Catholics. But why was the link bumped to broader attention of more people by the National Catholic Register? As far as I can tell, not to warn of its flaws.

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Believe me, this concept is held by more than just a few Catholics. I've heard and seen this idea supported by a decent number of people. They were willing to go out ring doorbells and send out e-messages, to sollicit support of it.It seems that the lessons of past history---of countries that had no separation of church and state---have gone over the heads of these Catholics.

Prof. Kaveny - you would have to review the past 20 years at Univ. of Dallas - the fights between the theology department and the religious studies institute; changes in leadership; etc.Unfortunately, Univ. of Dallas has a tendency to hire and espouse these types of fundamentalist and ideological stances = yes, either/or is the bottom line. It is a corrupted view of catholic tradition, theology, and faith. Examples of the tensions in the past - Peter Chan left Dallas; Janet Smith was one of their shining stars. Too often, the Univ. of Dallas approach is characterized by "apologetics"; not honest theological investigations.

My 3-year old niece wants to be a bat when she grows up; I think that her fantasy is made of stuff more sober than that of this putz.It really gets my Qubec up when people put Our Rights in scare quotes.

I thought it was parody at first, and I'm still not sure.This, however, is the REAL deal:http://www.theonion.com/articles/vatican-dispatches-elite-team-of-bishop... That some would take Dr. Taylor seriously is seriously odd -- does he have any platform now that he is out of the CIC in DC? Still on EWTN? A more common political fantasy, though I think just about as far-fateched, are the calls for a "Catholic" party like the Christian Democrats or Germany's old Catholic Center party.

Is this guy for real? More importantly, does the Church hierarchy support and of this nasty gibberish? This is about the scariest vision of America I have ever read. Mao's Little Red Book is more comforting as a vision of the future. Not to indulge such nonsense, but a few quick questions:1. Does the Catholic Church really believe there should be absolutely no separation between church and state? I wasn't aware of this.2. How exactly does Dr. Taylor and his imagined Catholic Taliban hope to find out if my wife and I decide to commit sodomy in our bedroom some night? Will we be required to copulate in front of a Telescreen?3. Does the Church really believe that fathers should provide a kid's academic education? Most dads I know have these little impediments called jobs. Not to mention, most dads I know are completely unqualified to provide education beyond maybe 6th grade in most subjects (assuming they had 50 extra hours a week to provide that education). Plus, hello!, what about mothers? Are they presumed to be too busy getting pregnant with their "large families" to teach any algebra? If I heard this guy on a tattered soapbox in Times Square I would pity him, maybe toss him a buck to help pay for his meds. That he is a professional CATHOLIC theologian teaching at a college is profoundly disturbing. Does he have real Church support?

Taylor:Of course, abused wives would be protected and assisted under law. Riiight.America would be known as a place where the dignity of women, especially motherhood, is celebrated. Would the dignity of men, especially fatherhood, be celebrated as well?-----Cathleen: But why was the link bumped to broader attention of more people by the National Catholic Register?For the same reason it was "bumped to broader attention of more people" right here on dotCommonweal?

Gerelyn: what do you think?

Too many bullets - this guy has thought about this WAY too hard.

I'm tempted to tip Gawker about this, because I think it could go viral for about 36 hours, at which point something new will hopefully appear.Also, the reason this is being discussed here is because hate reading is one of life's sweetest, sweetest pleasures.

I suppose I am afraid, given the current discussion, which is going where I never thought it would go, that we are going to see more of Dr. Taylor's position advocated as part of the "hermeneutic of continuity." I have a deep disagreement with Joe K. I'm more pessimistic than he is! He thinks this effort to read V2 consistent with the past won't necessarily affect Dignitatis Humanae. I can't see why it won't.

I understand about giving loonies a platform, but sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we have seen how such views can suddenly gain currency. Then everyone asks where they came from. Well...

Cathleen, I found Taylor's views repulsive in every way. Sad and scary.(The Freedom from Religion group ran a full-page ad in the NYT this morning urging Catholics to leave the Church, to stop enabling the oppression of women, etc. I think they should reprint Taylor's repulsive article in their next ad. It would make some/many Catholics realize just how far things have gone.)

I agree with David Gibson when he writes: "That some would take Dr. Taylor seriously is seriously odd." Is there another "Joe K" on this blog?

Odd don't make it not so.As I said, (Fr.) Joe K., you are a real optimist compared to me!

Given the historical position of the Catholic Church as insisting on theocratic government, is this an indication that the Protestant theocrats are hoping to find a theocratic home in the RCC? How welcoming would our bishops be?

Where is Richard Hofstadter when we need him: "...there is a style of mind that is far from new, and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style, simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind." Definitely not just right-wing!

I hate passive-aggressiveness, Joe. And my approach is just to call it out. So in response to your not-so-veiled insult, I'd say this: American religious history is marked by the periodic appearance of utopian and apocalyptic groups--there's no reason that American Catholics can't or won't be affected by this momentum. And history shows us that what initially appears to be a fringe group can gather real power. Not for all time--but for enough time. I'd suggest watching Ken Burn's series on Prohibition for an example of how what was initially perceived to be a fringe religiously motivated movement can rise to exert a political hold on society.So yes, I think Dr. Marshall is worth a blog post--since he has a Ph.D. from a reputable Catholic institution, and a perch on EWTN.

Sounds pretty good to me - :-)

I such a Catholic America, with holy days designated as official holidays, we would all have more (and hopefully paid) days off - nice!Daily mass before Congress starts would also be neat; it would leave less time for the politicians to make laws!:-)

There are already virtually-all-Catholic countries (at least virtually-all-nominally-Catholic). I don't think they look like Dr. Marshall's vision.Assuming that the US can get its religious-liberty compass pointing in the right direction, I don't know what more the Catholic Church can ask for than the environment that the US provides us. We're free to worship, to associate with one another, to evangelize, to participate in public life. We're free to build God's kingdom - which I don't think would look like Dr. Marshall's vision, but I could be wrong.

I think that contrary to fact pipe dreams like this serve little or no purpose...except to reinforce(like Ken) those who love"thought experiments" that satisfy their "wouldn't it be nice if everyone thought like me/'The bump up is a sop to the hard rigbt Catholic trads to happily consider.Already on line this morning, though, I've read two versions of how to take the Vatican's document on theologians, both along the divide of scripture/whole Church vs. magisterialists.Also on line, I read of the dismissal of Fr. Shea from BC for askingf or a real explanation of the rule vs. women's ordination, protests by students claiming BC is about being magisterially correct, etc.What I see is more and more of the divide and more and more scepticism about a Church divided that should be more interested in proclaiming the good news.I fear the "smaller purer Church" more and more run by extremes will come forth out of a growing divide.(I see Fr. Barron is off in Australia,for example, proclaiming the wonders and putting down the secular media -pleasing those who turned in Morris and probably alienating his defenders.)Having a 'Catholoc America" where most say they were Catholic would probably drive us to being more like Europe and not the pipe dream of the right here.Unfortinately, all they see is their own righteousness against change and progress and for the rest (like the many non folowers of HV Jim P. would cast aside) they don't really care.

I laughed out loud when I read Dr. Marshall's fantasy.

Regarding the Fr. Shea deal; he insisted on writing the AB OMalley that he sees no reason women cannot be ordained. He must have missed something, as both JP2 and now Benedict have thoroughly explained that matter. They question is not why the school dismissed him. The question should be; why would a Catholic college keep a theologian on staff in the (Catholic) School of Theology and Ministry who does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church? How could he possibly teach Catholic theology, when in fact he himself does not agree with it?

Okay, let's not go there, guys. This isn't a thread on Catholic theology departments.

Okay, Ken - and given Dr. Marshall's fantasy - why would a Catholic college (Univ. of Dallas) keep a theologian on staff in the school of theology who spouts this type of junk?

One thing that perturbs me (among many) in this vision is the implication that somehow the Church is being held back from performing the Corporeal Works of Mercy if a government performs them as well. Why should Catholics be offended if the state aims to help the poor, clothe the naked, and so forth? This seems like blatant pandering to small-government folk, without a grounding in moral reason. To my mind we should welcome secular as well as sacred attempts to show mercy.

INot a thread on theology departments, but since there seems to be some confusion, it probably should be noted that this guy is in the faculty of the College of St Thomas More, not UoD. CSTM has something like 80 students.

This (below, from Wikipedia) describes one Catholic country with which I am familiar, where they get some holy days off as national holidays. I once watched on Chilean TV, a military funeral for several officers and their wives who dies in a plane accident. Notably, the funeral mass servers were young military men from the three branches (air, navy and army). They were in formal dress military uniforms, white gloves and all. The priest was formally dressed as well, in black and white, and the president and senators were all in attendance. The priest was "in charge" for the moment (for the mass) with the military formally as his helpers; an interesting scene that I still recall well. I imagine other Catholic countries are similar in this respect.---------------------------------Main article: Religion in ChileIn the most recent census, 70 percent of the population over age 14 identified as Roman Catholic and 15.1 percent as evangelical. In the census, the term "evangelical" referred to all non-Catholic Christian churches with the exception of the Orthodox Church (Greek, Persian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Armenian), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors.Church and state are officially separate in Chile. However, the Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status and occasionally receives preferential treatment. Government officials routinely attend Catholic events as well as major Protestant and Jewish ceremonies.The Government-observed religious holidays include Christmas, Good Friday, the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Feast of the Assumption, All Saints' Day, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as national holidays.[143] The government has recently declared October 31, Reformation Day, a public national holiday, in honor of the Protestant churches of the country.[144][145]

I'm having trouble seeing what all the fuss is about. The gentleman is merely stating how he thinks things would look IF we Catholics lived holy lives and lovingly evangelized as we should. I can see why people might disagree, but why the thinly veiled contempt? He's not saying, so far as I see, this is how things should be now, irrespective of the consent of the governed. Is this much different than Augustine's City of God?

Yes, it is not only the progressives who wrongly conflate and join together politics and the faith, the state and the Church. There are those on "the right" who do so also.They (you) all are two sides of the same coin.

Mark, was my contempt thinly veiled? I'm disappointed in myself.

Abe--Ha ha, I know how you feel--apparently there was a not so thinly veiled insult that went right over my head. I must be slipping in my old age.

Bill deHaas,My Georgetown colleague Peter Phan rather than Chan, had left the University of Dallas.

"American religious history is marked by the periodic appearance of utopian and apocalyptic groupstheres no reason that American Catholics cant or wont be affected by this momentum. And history shows us that what initially appears to be a fringe group can gather real power. Not for all timebut for enough time." Thanks for this, Cathy, but not for thinking I was in need of this little history-lesson.I'm glad to know that you don't like passive-aggressiveness and like to call it out. I feel the same about what Hofstadter described: "the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." I know, I know, you're not paranoid. The "hermeneutic of continuity" really is after you.

Assuming that the US can get its religious-liberty compass pointing in the right direction, I dont know what more the Catholic Church can ask for than the environment that the US provides us. Were free to worship, to associate with one another, to evangelize, to participate in public life. Were free to build Gods kingdom which I dont think would look like Dr. Marshalls vision, but I could be wrong.

Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. We're free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one - and that's very much up in the air - it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people.

His vision sounds much like the Republic of Ireland circa 1950, and while it had its charms, there were some significant downsides too, ones the country is currently agonizing over.

Thanks, Alan.....fat fingers and not reviewing before submitting. Hope you both are doing well and that the CDF is leaving Rev. Phan to do his theology work.

Objection #2: 2) How is this different than Sharia Law of the MOHAMMADANS? Lordy, Miss Scarlet: from under WHAT rock did he crawl? Mohammadans ?????If this was the openly-stated position of the RCC when JFK was running for POTUS, no one would have voted for him at all. With very good reason.I'll bet this guy is the darling of such as Vasa, Bruskewitz, Marzini, Lori, Burke, ad nauseum.Claire said: "I laughed out loud when I read Dr. Marshalls fantasy."Well, I wept out loud when I read Dr. Marshall's nightmare.

David said: "Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. Were free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one and thats very much up in the air it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people."I just have to ask. Are you serious?

Well, Joe at least your insult isn't veiled any more, it is quite plain for all to see. Thank you.

Unagidon, I thought the 'catastropically vapid" thread might refer to david S,ith's (continuous) posts.BTW, another bravo, Cathy.

Why so down on this guy's vision Jimmy Mac? It does not sound so bad - at least it is not the horror you and some pretend it to be.

I agree with Claire. Marshall's views are laughable.

Thank you, Father K. Now, if you could only go to the "daily show" thread (http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=17733 ) and add a comment there saying that, in that thread as well, you agree with me when I said that Cathy did an amazing job at the Daily Show, then it would make me more comfortable.

Here is another blueprint, although maybe not as extreme: http://www.zenit.org/article-31584?l=english

Sorry, Claire--I missed the show, but I am quite prepared to believe that Cathy did an amazing job.

unagidon 03/09/2012 - 4:51 pm CONTRIBUTORDavid said: Could be, Jim. But America is a country without a culture. Were free in the ways you say we are only by accident of history, not because we share any cultural, moral, or even ethical values. If the bishops prevail on this one and thats very much up in the air it will be because of political fighting, not because of Constitutional principles or the good will of good people.I just have to ask. Are you serious?

Yes. The US constitution was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the justices. That's why there's such a political fight over every Supreme Court nomination, and why there's often so much uncertainty about how the justices are going to vote. Interpreting the US constitution is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Justices today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our judicial wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times.

I missed the show too but watched it later on http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=17733 where it can still be seen at any time. There are two videos, each a little short of 7 minutes long. The first time I tried my internet connection was flaky and the image kept freezing, but I tried again later with success.

"Yes. The US constitution was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the justices. Thats why theres such a political fight over every Supreme Court nomination, and why theres often so much uncertainty about how the justices are going to vote. Interpreting the US constitution is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Justices today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our judicial wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times."Yes. The New Testament was written for a small homogeneous people. That vagueness makes interpreting it highly dependent on the personal inclinations of the bishops. Thats why theres such a political fight over every Church pronouncement, and why theres often so much uncertainty about how the bishops are going to react. Interpreting The New Testament is like interpreting a horoscope. It was a good document for its day, but the society for which it was written is long gone. Bishops today seem to look more to the mood of the times than to the meaning that may or may not lurk in the copious spaces between the words. In effect, they seem to be doing what British courts do when they rule based on common law. That may not be a bad thing, pragmatically, but it means that our wisdom is based on scarcely more than the mood of the times.

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