Monday, May 5, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "You Have to Be Environmentally Conditioned for Narcissism . . . to So Casually Express Superiority Over Others"

I never cease to be amazed at the quality of some of the comments (and writing) right here at Bilgrimage. As far as I'm concerned, some of the best writing on the internet is to be found in comboxes here. Here's an example from the weekend — Brian Gallagher responding to my observations about what makes the JPII-BXVI generation of Catholics (many of them, at least) tick:

When I went through a regrettable phase of Roman Catholic supremacism, I had within me that cruel smugness you saw on Facebook. Thankfully, I was never comfortable expressing those doctrines, even to friends and so there is no internet "paper trail" of my earlier life. 
I was a fairly clever, university educated, suburban middle class, white Catholic - of the type you might say. 
As practiced by these types, apologetics is an unindexed collection of one hundred pithy arguments traded like baseball cards: among a small group of the naive and ignorant who can, like narcissistic children, exercise an easy cruelty towards others.
I know because I've heard them all and even invented a few of my own in those days.
But it would have been almost impossible to verbally dispell me from that phase. I had to go through my own arguments honestly, personal failures, and the hard work of continuous maturation (I mean the life-long psychosocial kind) to finally free myself of that unsatisfying and antisocial think-rut.
Mary McGill grew up in a tribal, defensive Catholic environment, I presume. What makes those Facebook people adopt Catholic supremacism long after white ethnic Catholic tribalism has passed? I think you have to be environmentally conditioned for narcissism, that is, you have to understand yourself to be naturally better than others, perhaps in this country to be white or have "whitened", so to speak, in order to so casually express superiority over others. And you buy into theories of moral decadence out of the same hysteria and paranoia that all master classes historically express and foster among themselves.
Your Facebook "friends" are not racist but they are supremacist, group (religious) supremacists. And who clings to supremacist ideology? People who believe that they own an entire human society. The master occupies a precarious, historically limited social position and he is well aware of it. 
Only the slave liberates.

And, among many wonderful responses to Brian's comment, don't miss maggie crehan's sprightly observations about the tug of tribalism at St. Gobnait's holy well and Chris Morley's equally sprightly rejoinder about trees festooned with ribbons and coins in the well to help the Hail Marys along. 

Just amazing—and amazingly well-written—analysis of the mind (or, better, minds) of a generation of younger Catholics still struggling today with the legacy of Catholic tribalism in many parts of the Catholic world — a legacy I'd argue that JPII and BXVI worked very hard to resurrect insofar as it was waning in Western Catholicism . . . . With very dire consequences for the entire church . . . .

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