20 Chapter 1
WHAT YOU'LL BE GETTING INTO
The Wanderer resolves the underlying and self-proposed
conundrum in terms of "obedience," which, though entirely
unsatisfactory, is preferable to NCR's resolution of it in terms of
"autonomy." The Wanderer's resolution amounts to the decision to
remain faithful, even when that renders one's intellectual system
incoherent, but New Class Catholicism's resolution of the very same
conundrum is a decision to apologize for the faith of one's
Thus (to anticipate a little bit) Fr. Keefe's 'resolution' of this very
ancient conundrum (a conundrum whose liturgical and then
philosophical articulation is pagan, and far predates even Catholicism
itself) is to propose that the conundrum itself is the problem. The
conundrum itself is pagan, and any Catholic theology -- however
venerable -- which takes up the paradigm of the time-less explanation
for the cosmos can only be pagan, never really Catholic, let alone
Catholics, and thus Catholic theology, must stand somewhere else
than within this pagan paradigm even to begin to understand. If any
man wishes to refuse the time-less consistently and coherently, the sole
place to stand is by his reception of the sacraments, most of all the
Eucharist. Thus, from now on, says Fr. Keefe, all Catholics must begin
all their thinking with this: that we can understand the Eucharist solely
by means of the Eucharist.
This probably sounds like absolute nonsense. Nevertheless, Fr.
Keefe means what he says. His argument is nonsense, but only if the
Eucharist itself is nonsense. His argument does amount to a radical
intellectual condemnation, not only of New Class Catholicism, but also
of all traditional Catholic thought, for in both systems of thought the
statement also appears to be nothing but pious nonsense, at best.
From their own standpoints, then, there are very good reasons for
virtually the entire current Catholic academy, whether New Class or
traditional, either to ignore or to condemn Fr. Keefe's work, which
must appear -- to them -- to be either obviously foolish: a childish
refusal of 'grown-up' New Class thought, or blatantly scandalous: a
bewildering rejection of traditional Catholic thought so fundamental it
amounts to calumny, or even heresy.
However, if Fr. Keefe is right, it may not be too much to say that
we have lost the sense of how wise Catholicism is, because, under the
influence and with the encouragement not only of the 'modern' world
but even of the most "traditional" Catholic thought, we have lost all
sense of how completely, how appallingly, ridiculous Catholicism is.
Fr. Keefe's intellectual challenge to us is thus most radical, and
most vigorous. Either the New Class grown-ups are right, and you
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us, over here
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.