Friday, 24 May 2019

Talking about "a mythologised experience of immigrant suffering" is blasphemy

I follow the liberal Catholic theologian Massimo Faggioli on Twitter because he makes me angry and I enjoy getting angry. His name means big beans and he is a bit like a Catholic version of Michael Wharton's Dr. Spacely-Trellis, the go-ahead Bishop of Bevindon.

Writing about "a mythologized experience of immigrant suffering" in 2019 strikes me as blasphemous, especially coming from a Catholic. No wonder there is so much hate for pope Francis in those circles.

This time I found, by googling
that he is commenting on a fairly interesting article in the American Catholic magazine 'First Things'. I learnt from it that describing America as a nation of immigrants is a fashion that only started with President Kennedy.

Here is the innocuous enough context of the words Professor Faggioli thought blasphemous.
A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt insisted that my ancestors become “unhyphenated Americans.” If we judge this demand cruel, it hardly seems kinder to demand that their hopelessly assimilated descendant hyphenate himself. Certainly “German-Americans” have historically suffered prejudice. On August 5, 1855, a mob lynched twenty Germans in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1919, Nebraska, my home state, enacted a law designed to end all instruction in the German language. But I identify with, not against, American culture. I refuse to distance myself from its triumphs and its failings by dwelling on a mythologized experience of immigrant suffering.
As you know, myth means does not necessarily mean in academic parlance something that is false but often means (in the OED definition) "an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing." The OED's primary definition is "a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon". I think the idea that America is an immigrant nation might be reasonably described as a myth, regardless of whether America is or not, and a recent myth at that.

But I am interested in defining blasphemy not mythology.

Professor Faggioli thinks writing about "a mythologized experience of immigrant suffering" in 2019 is blasphemous. 

You can tell he is full of righteous indignation and anger makes people reveal themselves. We are talking about a new religion in which immigrant suffering is a sacred thing. 

Note that he thinks it is blasphemous in 2019. Can things be blasphemous in 2019 that were not blasphemous in 1919 or 1019 or 119? I am sure he thinks so. He probably sees doctrine developing thanks to what modern Jesuits call 'discernment'.

I wonder whether doubting the reality of climate change is also blasphemous or if not will become so in the future.

Dean Edward Norman (called 'Mrs Thatcher's favourite clergymen' though he was critical of her) said in the 1978 Reith Lectures that welfare considerations had taken the place of the sacred. Immigrants and their welfare are part of this, along with anti-discrimination ideology. The white working class has somewhat disappointed the left since 1978, but immigrants have not.

I saw just now on the net a video clip of that robust champion of orthodox doctrine Cardinal Burke saying that 'resistance to large scale Muslim immigration’ is reasonable and prudent. He sees Muslim immigration into Europe as dangerous. I wonder if Professor Faggioli considers the Cardinal's words blasphemous too. 

Could be.

I read somewhere on the internet that Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, waxed pessimistic at dinner parties about immigration into Europe, but then when he was Pope repeated the pro-immigration line of his sainted predecessor. Of course, this is hearsay of the flimsiest sort, not evidence of anything, but I feel it has a ring of truth to it.


  1. At least Cardinal Burke has some sense.. it seems somewhat lacking in the rest of his brethren... looking at what is happening all over the Western world as a result if this Mass immigration.. he definitely has a point

  2. I too follow the large bean on Twitter. He claims to be a scholar of Church history but seems to opine on anything related to the Church, most often as attacks on Traditionalists who he calls Trads. He teaches at Villanova University, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, a still somewhat Catholic uni, though more famed for its prowess in basketball than scholarship or orthodox instruction. First Things is worth following/reading - its Mere Catholic as Lewis was Mere Christian.