Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sainted Al

Despite the obvious presence of God in the world and the overwhelming influence of organized religion, we still manage to live in a secular world. Religion and religious belief are often a private matter in the modern world; many treat their faith in the same way they would treat a politically correct belief or a bunion - as something to be endured but not publicly displayed. Those who would proselytize for their faith are viewed with a certain amount of suspicion in many places. But not always.

It's hardly a novel concept to say this, but it bears repeating - even in a world that is essentially secular, people have their saints. And there are always priesthoods. Among the various priesthoods that are currently operating are those who are based in Rome, of course, but also in other places, such as suburban Los Angeles, Oslo and Stockholm. Priesthoods are responsible for teaching and defending the faith of their adherents. Catholics have long had the Jesuits, who operate universities throughout the world and who have given us formidable scholarship and, less impressively, the Inquisition.

Generally, however, the Jesuits are a spent force, especially in the battle against secularism. Go to their citadels - Marquette, Boston College, the University of San Francisco and countless others, and you will find places that defend the faith only diffidently and often with regret. If you want to find robust priesthoods, you need to look elsewhere. Like Los Angeles, Oslo and Stockholm.

There, the priesthoods are busy promulgating doctrine and faith-based nostrums. And there, the priests are busily identifying moral exemplars, those who would serve as a moral example for others. Saints. And while the priesthoods of suburban Los Angeles and Oslo are often different in their interpretations, they agree on fundamental truths. And they have both anointed a saint this year. Saint Albert of Tennessee.

For those of us who have been following the career of St. Albert, this seems a bit surprising. Gore has been a child of privilege, a lifelong politician who has spent most of his time indulging in doctrines of the Left. He has, of course, become the leading spokesman for the notion of global warming/climate change/ecocatastrophe. There is in his doctrine more than a bit of earth worship, a touch of Gaia. The moribund Jesuits used to have a name for people like St. Albert - pagan. But now his doctrine is showered with hosannas from the priesthoods and the rest of us are called to look upon St. Albert and his great works and learn from his example.

It's never a good idea to be a heretic. The Jesuits dealt rather severely with heretics in their day. But those of us who wonder about the great works of St. Albert surely are heretical, too, at least by the lights of the priesthoods of Los Angeles, Oslo and Stockholm. I am not especially worried about being burned at the stake, especially since the smoke from my prospective pyre would surely exacerbate climate change and thus I'll probably be spared the fate of other heretics. But as an adherent of an older faith, I do think that I have a responsibility to commit heresy. Especially today. As the world honors St. Albert of Tennessee, heresy is a privilege.


Anonymous said...

When I saw the headline St Al,and the word Jesuit, I was hoping that the essay was a piece on Marquette and Al McGuire. Imagine my dissappointment when I found out that it was indeed about Al Bore.

People in Minnesota should beware of another false prophet named Al who has begun preaching: Saint Al Franken.

Mark said...

You know what, anonymous - that's another good idea. I'll write about Al McGuire and extend this series out.

Anonymous said...

Al McGuire ... they don't come any better. Much, much more than just a basketball coach.

By the way, there are still some Catholic universities in the United State that remain 100 percent behind the magisterium of the RCC, you just have to look a little harder to find them.

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