A Bit More on Qatholicism and Qhristianity

I mentioned yesterday that the Catholic Church is not a denomination but that the term is something more like a redundancy, biblically speaking. Paul says

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:4–6).

In other words, he is proclaiming a mystical reality. The gospel is a revelation given to all. So when Paul meets people with a faulty understanding of Jesus, his instinct is always to invite them further in, not drive them away. So, we see scenes like this in Acts:

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all. (Ac 19:1–7).

He does the same in Athens with the pagans he meets on the Areopagus, taking their own indigenous piety to the Unknown God and declaring “What you worship as unknown I now proclaim to you” and identifying Jesus with the Unknown God they have been seeking.

Paul does this, in fact, constantly. So though he perpetually takes the side of Gentile converts to the faith to defend them from the Reactionaries of his day–namely, pious Jewish Christians who are sure that possession of Jewish blood or practice of Jewish rites makes them superior to their Gentile brethren (much as Extraordinary Form Catholics tend to look down on their second class Ordinary Form brethren today)–Paul’s instinct is always to try to affirm genuine devotion to Jesus even when it takes the form of specifically Jewish forms of piety too. He is not the enemy of Jewish piety that a later and more embittered form of Gentile-dominated Christianity will imagine him to be. Here he is, for instance, urging Gentile and Jewish Christians to see each other with mutual respect as they both worship Jesus according to their own cultural norms:

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.
One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. one of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Ro 14:1–12).

Precisely what drives Paul is the desire for the Church to be Catholic–universal–and not imprisoned by racial and ethnic categories. The idea of a Christianity that supports some form of ethnic supremacy is anathema to him. What has anybody to be superior about? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. For Paul, arguments about ethnic supremacy are arguments among cancer patients about who is the least terminal.

So the paradox is that his wrath tends to be spent on those who try to do this, which in his day, meant the Circumcision Party: those who insisted that if you did not observe Jewish rites and customs, you could not be a real disciple of Jesus and therefore could not be saved. His angriest and most exasperated letter–Galatians–is precisely about that:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Ga 1:6–8).


O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit† by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?—if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? (Ga 3:1–5).


My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you! I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. (Ga 4:19–20).


You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who called you. A little leaven leavens all the dough. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! (Ga 5:7–12).

It’s been a while since I’ve heard a Catholic homily in which the preacher urges his enemies to castrate themselves. But I can’t help loving Paul’s unabashed expression of frustration. It’s one of the reasons I trust him. He doesn’t have a dishonest bone in his body. He tells you exactly what he is thinking and feeling.

And the paradox of what he is thinking and feeling here is that he stands 100% for as inclusive a Church as he can help foster. The reason he is frustrated with the Circumcision party and the suckers who are falling for their schtick is that their schtick, like that of all elitists, is to keep as many people as possible away from the blessing God intends for all.

Humans have a genius for coming up with systems to bar others from grace. We constantly turn windows into locked doors. God hands us something for free and we immediately put a price tag on it before handing on to somebody else. So, for instance, Paul understood that the purpose of the law (including the ceremonial laws) was to alert us to the fact of our need for grace. Having done that, the law has done everything it was designed to do. It is like an x ray machine. It is part of the healing process inasmuch as it tells us what is wrong with us. But, as with the X-ray machine, once it has done that, it has done all it can. More x rays do not heal the broken bone. More condemnation from the law for our sin does not heal or forgive our sin. For that, we need the Divine Physician.

So while Paul is fine with Jewish Christians practicing their ancestral rites and ceremonies (as, indeed, he and the other apostles did) he will not stand for one second for Jewish Christians reading Gentiles out of the Church for not being circumcised, or for eating non-kosher foods, or for failing to observe other cultural shibboleths Jewish Christians of the first century saw as making them part of the elite in the Church.

Which brings us to the Qatholic phenomenon again. Because Qatholic, as distinct from Catholic, faith is all about exclusion and elitism. That’s why it hates this pope. That’s why it wants so desperately to turn the Church from a sacrament of salvation for all into an exclusive club for some.

As I have said repeatedly, Francis is incredibly easy to understand. The Qatholics who denounce him as “confusing” aren’t confused by him. They just don’t want to hear what he says. The entirety of Francis’ mission can be summarized in these words: “He has preached good news to the poor.”

That’s it. That’s all you need to know. He is about evangelism and, in particular, evangelism to the Least of These.

Qatholicism hates evangelism. Because Qatholicism is about guarding a fortress, not going out of the fortress to the highways and byways to serve the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Evangelism allows riff raff into the Fortress: riff raff with no interest in the aesthetics and antiquarian tastes of the Qatholic. Tacky people who could not tell Marty Haugen from Palestrina if their lives depended on it. People who would just as soon know what the prayer said in English or Spanish or Amazon Basin Portuguese as hear it perfectly enunciated in untelligible Latin. People whose aesthetics and piety create figures like Our Lady of the Amazon, not Michaelangelo’s Pieta, but whose reverence for Mary is no less than, and often greater than, the white supremacists who declared Our Lady of the Amazon an idol and spat in the brown faces of the people Francis welcomed into the Church.

Qatholicism does not like the use of reason for related reasons. The Catholic tradition teaches that reason is universal and that anybody from anywhere can access it. In this, it echoes the Jewish tradition of the Woman Wisdom who invites every Tom, Dick, and Harry:

“To you, O men, I call, 
  and my cry is to the sons of men. 
O simple ones, learn prudence; 
  O foolish men, pay attention. 
Hear, for I will speak noble things, 
  and from my lips will come what is right; 
for my mouth will utter truth; 
  wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 
All the words of my mouth are righteous; 
  there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. 
They are all straight to him who understands 
  and right to those who find knowledge. (Pr 8:4–9)

Qatholicism rejects the idea that truth is knowable to all because it exists to exclude. Instead, it believes in gnosis: hidden knowledge that is only revealed to an elite of magically endowed people who hand that on by their special personal charisma to the Chosen in the religion of MAGA. The god of Qatholicism, which is a particular sect of Qhristianity that caters to the special obsessions of MAGA Catholics, is of course Donald Trump. His ipsi dixits determine in large measure what the Truth of the Moment is for Qhristians and Qatholics (though other ipsi dixits from other sources that are perceived as helping him can also be temporary dogmas that shift with the needs of Trump). Anything else is Fake News and those who speak it are not to be trusted because they make Trump look bad when he is the source of all Truth.

Of which more tomorrow.


25 Responses

  1. I continue to be bemused (confused) by Mr Shea’s obsession with President Trump (though I’m increasingly convinced it’s satire). Trump is, arguably, the USA’s first Catholic president.

    I’m not saying President Trump’s a saint–who among us is? But he’s got a bigger halo than I do. In fact, he’s got the biggest, most perfect halo anyone has ever had.

    1. Tony Phillips, as a life long practicing Catholic, I could never accept Trumps new age ideologies as Catholic. You are falling for the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The gospels warn of these false characters. Praying for yor.

    2. Does Tony Phillips have a history of sincerely posting this kind of stuff? I would have guessed he himself was using satire. That last sentence seems to give it away that he can’t be serious.

    3. Maybe this guy can explain it to you, comrade. HIs name is Stuart Stevens, and he’s a Republican consultant.

      I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it.


      Read the whole thing!

      By the way, where’s Pete the Greek to pour scorn on me and others for saying precisely what this guy admits beat for beat? Man up, Pete, admit you were wrong about everything and don’t give me the “I didn’t vote for Trump” bs! And if you won’t, Mr. Stevens will do it for you:

      There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

      1. I agree Neko. The Lincoln Project, a group of never-trump influencers responsible for past Republican propaganda, have been creating very effective and powerful anti-trump videos. I’ve written to them, thanking them but also reminding them that they are in large measure responsible for trump’s rise and the public’s inability to discern the truth. The fruits of decades of lies and manipulation.

        I wish we could separate believers into Catholic and Qatholic categories. But the enemy is Us. This structure needs to crumble just like the GOP needs to die.

        The Church as the Body of Christ will live on in the spirits and actions of people of good will who follow Jesus. Our current Pope is struggling to the end to teach, form and offer good witness. My hope is the we will become a wandering pilgrim people again.

      2. @ Linda Daily Yes! The guys at The Lincoln Project are master propagandists, and it’s been great to have them on our side…for now. Good for you for writing them! Every last one of them is complicit.

        I don’t know if you saw John Lewis’s parting statement to the nation?

        Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

        When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.


        Clearly you two are on the same page.

      3. @ Mr. stevens, who didn’t actually post anything….

        We libs, rads, leftists, marxists, f*gs, atheists, secularIsts, communists, socialist, Kenyan, humanists have been telling you this for 40 or 50 years, depending on when you’d like to start counting. But you didn’t care, and you called us whiny snowflakes. You said we were being politically correct, when we were merely pointing out facts.

        But now that is affectIng you and yours and your portfolio, your family, your life, your health, your travel plans, your family get togethers, your career, your kids education…

        …in a way that you can no longer ignore, as you did ever since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, or since Anita Bryant raised her well coiffed reptilian snout above a florida swamp…

        It’s all “Nobody told us! How were we to know! We just thought Jabba the Trump was an imperfect man! It seemed like a good idea at the time!”

      4. @bensnewlogin

        Stuart Stevens was a never-Trumper from the get-go and one of the most prominent Republican critics of Trump during the 2016 election season.

        As they say in the Catholic Church, “More joy in heaven..”

      5. @ neko

        I stand somewhat corrected. It’s good that he was a never Trumper from 2016, but where was he for the previous 36 years, while the republican party migrated from democratic to conservative, To very conservative, to in bEd with the religious right, to reactionary, to divorced from reality?

        I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s has been obvious which way the Republican party was going, and why, for a very long time. I haven’t voted for a Republican in over 30 years. It’s not because I am so enamored of the Democrats, but I am completely anti-– enamored of what the Republican party has become in my adult life.

      6. @ bensnewlogin

        Yeah, obviously I share your rage at movement conservatism. But I’m happy when some of these guys Come to Jesus (if you’ll forgive the expression). It’s a good thing for them, it’s a good thing for the body politic, and we need all the help we can get.

      7. In other New York Times Op-Ed news, uber-conservative Catholic Steven G. Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society (which gifted the nation with such luminaries as sexual assailant Brett Kavanaugh) wrote yesterday:

        But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.


        You know the jig is up when that guy calls Trump “fascistic.”

      8. @neko

        I have a different take on what this Calabrese sausage has to say. It may not of been obvious for years ago that Trump is a fascist, though he’s certainly gave us a good indication of that with his comments about Mexico not sending us their best, or building the wall and making a sovereign foreign government pay for it, or the “very fine people” who Play white supremacists on TV.. But everything else that Trump is— stupid, Uninformed, illogical, flatterable, a narcissistic bully, a creep, a Sociopath, A man so incompetent that he could bankrupt a casino – all of this has been obvious long before the election. And they didn’t care. Just like it has been obvious for the last 30 years that the party of fiscal responsibility never met the deficit they didn’t like, as long as it benefited them. Or the party of personal freedom and small government wanted a government that was just big enough to fit into your marriage, your jockstrap, your vagina, your church, or your pipe. Just like it was obvious that the religious right supported him because he promised them power over the people they despise, money for their coffers, dominion over everyone, and revenge on anyone who might even think they are maybe not God’s BFFF.

        AND they still don’t care that he is what he is, because he gave them the judges that they want. So now, when He can damage the brand, when the ignorance and stupidity that inhabit trumps mind are a threat to them – Their lives, their health, Their wealth, and above all, the political party they have built for 40 years— now, they’re willing to toss him. And the cherry on this putrid Sundae is that they get to pretend that they are actually virtuous, almost as consternipated as susan collins.

        It’s not the Trump is a fascistic, It is that he said the very quiet part out loud.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of current Qatholicism, markpshea and that we must defeat it with simple scripture. It’s all there in the Word. It’s mind blowing that people would hang on Trumps words over the Gospel and the Church.

Leave a Reply

Follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook

Get updates by email