Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NCR and Commonweal Critique Theological Studies, and I Critique NCR and Commonweal

I'll be frank: I find the National Catholic Reporter (and here) and Commonweal critique of the journal Theological Studies for running a Vatican-mandated article that received no peer review less than convincing.  Certainly the practice of printing official-speak drivel disguised as theology in bona fide theological journals harms the church.  It harms the church every bit as much as any official speak disguised as real intellectual discourse harms any group to which it's directed.

But when NCR not only maintains in its employ Vatican spinmeister John Allen, but routinely gives him pride of place among its official commentators, and when Commonweal is capable of printing one drecky bit of nonsense after another about how the gay rights movement threatens the religious freedom of Catholic officials, I hear these journals' critique of Theological Studies with somewhat jaded ears.

To imagine that NCR is not playing to the Catholic right and its powerful funders in giving such prominence to Mr. Allen would be naive, just as it would be naive to assume that Commonweal toes its right-leaning centrist line entirely out of fidelity to dispassionate, measured, one-hand, other-hand discourse, and not because it has much invested in chumming up to the powers that be in American Catholicism--and in the case of the gay marriage debate in New York, to Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

When NCR begins to elevate voices from the margins of American Catholicism to the authoritative position it gives John Allen, and when Commonweal begins to balance its coverage of gay and lesbians issues with the voices of some real-life in-the-flesh gay and lesbian Catholics (on the one hand, on the other hand), I'll listen to their critique of Theological Studies with somewhat more sympathy.  

Ever'body talkin' 'bout heaven ain't goin' there.  And not everyone knocking a fellow Catholic journal for shamefully conceding ground to the powerful (including powerful church authority figures) is free of the sin of which he/she accuses fellow theological arbiters.

No comments: