Wednesday, August 24, 2011

National Catholic Reporter and the Limits of the Centrist Catholic Conversation

Interesting, isn't it, that Tom Roberts at NCR zeroes on in my use of the word "skewed" in this thread right along with  one of NCR's most persistent far-right commentators?  No matter what the article, you can count on TNCath and his/her cohort kscrawler to log in and argue for the most conservative position possible.

And so, of course, John Allen is one of their heroes.

Roberts' peevish response illustrates a point I keep making over and over on this blog: centrist-liberal Catholics have far more room in their dialogues for Catholics of the far right than for their brothers and sisters who move in a progressive direction.

The implication of Roberts' response is that Allen's reporting is not skewed in a right-wing direction.  As my initial posting in the thread notes, I know quite a few persuasive Catholic thinkers who would beg to differ.  As I've also repeatedly noted in critiques of Allen, under the guise of describing objectively and dispassionately, he prescribes.

And the prescription is always a right-wing prescription that serves the interests of the Vatican and the church's power elites.  Despite this, and now, despite a skewing of CARA data that Roberts himself notes (I suspect, because there's heat from women religious and their supporters about Allen's skewing of these data), Roberts still lionizes and defends Allen.

And that's a predictable, and unhelpful, response of centrists.  Always.  It's due to their infatuation with power, and how they use terms like "diversity" to mask the fact that they construct "diverse" conversations to privilege the already privileged.

Always.  Predictably.

Those who stand at the center ultimately stand nowhere.  Which is to say, they stand with whoever happens to have power at the moment.

I think the nerve I really touched has to do with John Allen's connection to Archbishop Chaput--which deserves careful, honest examination by Catholic journals, including NCR itself.  Particularly when NCR gives John Allen a bully pulpit to write a widely-circulated fawning adulation piece about Chaput that amounts to a fluff p-r piece for the archbishop, rather than an interview with any substance or critical distance--the kind of interview, in other words, one would expect in a respectable media outlet.

And, for a continuation of this conversation, see this companion posting.

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