The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Ukraine, Biden, Lent, abortion, and “The Batman”: A CWR Conversation

This past Friday, Mark Brumley (President of Ignatius Press) and Carl E. Olson (Editor of Catholic World Report) took some time to discuss some current events and news:

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  1. Mark Brumley delineated dynamics of leadership, the inspiration of the heroic figure, messianic in character, Carl Olson relates that to the question of the common good. The latter directly appealing to what inspires us to follow.
    Napoleon, among the great inspirational military leaders, quipped esprit de corps is superior to material capability by ratio of 3 to 1. There’s nothing like victory to convince men their cause is worthy.
    Again this refers back to a common good or universal cause. When does the heroic figure whether Batman or Zorro comicstrip, characterizations of the hero attractive to most of us through boyhood touch on that within us that draws us to follow and become ourselves heroic? Anthropologically, men similar to all animals are designed to follow an exemplary leader. Possibly, and logically because all can’t be leaders by nature, and leaders as history shows [see Henri Bergson The Two Sources of Religion and Morality] are ever required for direction. For good or for evil.
    Vladimir Putin is the topic of that inquiry by the media most which brand him vile, murderous, megalomanic. Others inspirational, a man who created a national regional barrier against the moral follies of the West. Most leaders of this type, the Napoleons, the Alexanders, Caesars, Churchills, fade away in line with MacArthur’s famous epitaph. Bergson favors the religious leaders, men who change the course of history for the better as heroic and necessary. And lasting. Christ of course the eternal exemplar for all men.

    • Waxing academic, the late 19th-century/early 20th-century German sociologist, Max Weber, valued charismatic leaders. As contrasted with gravitational drag into eventual bureaucracy. Charisma being “the extraordinary quality of the specific person,” and bureaucracy being that web of laws and procedures that entangles and seeks to “routinize” even charisma. (Ultimately the Administrative State or the New World Order.)

      The unique thing about Christ (Fr. Morello: the “eternal exemplar for all men”) is that while being fully human (!) and charismatic, at the same time (or of eternity!), He is also fully divine—the Second Person of the Triune One. Not doomed to eventually fade away like, say, even the charismatic Napoleon or Caesar, or Muhammad or Buddha.

      The charismatic thing about the Church, then, is not any particular pope (although that can help), but the indwelling Holy Spirit. Yet, the calling is to be both institutional and charismatic (Second Vatican Council; Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, 1985). The routinizing—if only temporarily—of the “successors of the apostles” as synodal “primarily facilitators” (Vademecum) is an accommodation too far. Especially when burdened with the public capitulations, already, of synodal relator-general Cardinal Hollerich, to the banal and worse features of very non-heroic Secularism: e.g., his invertebrate openness to (invalid) female ordinations, and the homosexual lifestyle.

      In place of such supine non-leadership, how might the Holy Spirit still prevail in the synod on synodality? Despite the basic criticism that Weber applied in his day to German (!) Chancellor Bismarck—that he surrounded himself with docile and obedient bureaucrats. A contrived quote from Attila applies to all such bureaucracies: “a king with chieftains who always agree with him reaps the counsel of mediocrity”.

      Routinization, and worse…what then of spiritual heroism and the non-mediocre, “universal call to holiness?”

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