Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Living In A Sub Culture

Chris at Dark Brightness was kind enough to blogroll us, filing us under "Nutraditionalism because there is not place in the blog for 'Catholic Amish'". The "Catholic Amish" description comes, I think, from one of the commenters over at Dalrock's blog, who described those with a Franciscan University of Steubenville background thusly:
I have had some dealings with people from FUS, and I think what others need to understand is that, in effect, the people who come from FUS (and the handful of similar very conservative Catholic institutions scattered around the US) are basically akin to the Amish. A huge percentage of the people there get married either while they are still in college at FUS or immediately thereafter. They’re not geographically concentrated like the Amish are, or technologically limited, but they are similar in that they are a very small separatist-type group that doesn’t generally participate in the culture at large — even in the *Catholic* culture at large that you may see in your local Catholic parish.
I have a vague admiration for the Amish, but it strikes me that the orthodox Catholic sub-culture with which I'm familiar isn't all that much like the Amish, and having stated that there is a difference I find myself wanting to explore in a little more detail what that difference is, because I think it relates to how one can get by in the modern world while not being "of it".

The Amish, it seems to me, effectively form a separate culture. It's not just that they reject certain technological innovations which necessarily involve disconnect from the wider culture, but also that they live in fairly self-contained communities, living and working with other Amish in fairly un-mixed communities, if only because us "English" don't have an interest in living in the sort of way that would result in fitting in with Amish society.

Thinking about the Catholic circle in which I move, there is definitely a shared culture of sorts which the rest of the mainstream culture (even the rest of mainstream Catholic culture) does not necessarily say. There are books and periodicals and TV and radio shows that most of us will have heard of, even if we haven't actually followed them. (So, for example, I know a fair amount about EWTN even though I never watch it -- while I would imagine that many mainstream Catholics, much less non-Catholics, would have no idea that there even is a cable channel called EWTN.) On the other hand, it's probably worth noting that most of these are not consumed exclusively by members of the sub-culture, it's just that we consume a lot more of them and thus have much greater familiarity. A more mainstream Catholic might see magazines and newspapers in the back of church or in the church bookstore that we actually subscribe to or read the websites of. And the books that we know well are in many cases the same ones that a mainstream Catholic might pick up as a confirmation present, or stumble across in bible study or reading group.

There is a surprisingly small social network that seems to tie many people in the sub-culture together. We've often met other orthodox Catholics at some sort of social gathering only to find that we already have several acquaintances in common. For instance, the transitional deacon recently assigned to our parish turned out to have a sister in Texas who reads our blog, and also to know my wife's brothers and borther-in-law. However, this isn't because orthodox Catholics don't socialize with other Catholics (or with non-Catholics) but due to two factors: 1) A lot of us have certain experiences in common (certain faithfully Catholic colleges, certain lay movements, etc.) and 2) Even in a parish with 2000+ families, almost all the activities and ministries are run by a fairly small number of people who actually spend significant amounts of time doing church-y things. If you have nationwide connections among the orthodox Catholic sub-culture due to factor 1), and then also have local and diocesan connections due to factor 2), Catholic circles can start to seem like a fairly small world very quickly. And although we may not be "mainstream" Catholics, it's pretty usual to find a several families who are members of the orthodox Catholic sub-culture who are part of that very involved group of people who run most of the activities in the parish.

Laying all this out helps show why "sub-culture" is the apt term here. Orthodox Catholic circles aren't so much a group apart as a sub-group within mainstream Catholic culture. In general, we form only a very small minority within the parishes we go to. We read Catholics books and periodicals which are available to all Catholics, we just read them far more often. (We also tend to have strong opinions about which books and periodicals are "solid" and which aren't -- whereas Catholics who spend less time around on these might not make clear distinctions.)

Again, different from the Amish, members of the Catholic sub-culture lead fairly ordinary lives when not engaged in church activities. Yes, there are certain things that mark us out. Many of us have more than the average number of kids, operate as single income families and a fair number of our families homeschool. You may notice use eating something vegetarian at business lunches on Fridays through much of the year, or see some of the more dedicated slipping off to early morning or noon weekday masses. Sometimes just the books that sit on our selves can be a tip off. Not long after I started at my current company, I had a meeting in the office of one of the top executives and noticed a breviary and some books by John Paul II and Benedict XVI tucked away on a corner of his bookshelf. I never said anything about it, but a while later I made a couple inquiries via friends with wider business networks that mine and quickly found a couple people who knew him and who informed me that he was friends with a couple of the writers who move in orthodox Catholic circles. (No, this didn't lead to any advantages for me in the company -- I never brought it up with him, though I was pleased to note a fellow member of the sub-culture.)

However, there is a certain separateness to our culture. But we don't we live apart or work apart or go to separate churches. We spend the majority of our time around people who aren't part of the sub-culture. However, living and believing differently from the mainstream culture is hard, and so one naturally seeks out others who live and believe similarly. As is observed in Genesis, "It is not good for man to be alone." It's not impossible to stick to one's beliefs without the support of like-minded company, but it's a lot harder and more lonely. When it comes to not only living out but passing on one's beliefs, a community of like-minded people becomes virtually essential. While I know people who do it, I can't imagine trying to live and pass on my faith to my children with a spouse didn't fully share it. And actually, that concern was one of the main reasons I opted to go to Steubenville, a college very much a part of the sub-culture, rather than one of the secular colleges on my list. It's also why we try very hard to always have a core social group of fellow orthodox Catholic families with kids of similar age for our kids to spend time with -- because although many of their friends on the street are nice kids, as they get older we want to make sure that they have friends who are also struggling to live the same faith that they are. And when the time comes, I'll strongly encourage my children not to date or marry someone who does not share their beliefs. So while we certainly do not live in a closed community only seeing other orthodox Catholics, our closest friends are nearly all other members of the sub-culture, and having that sub-culture for support and community is very, very important to us.

Thinking about all this, it seems to me that a better analogy than the Amish would be some of the conservative Jewish communities (who, in my experience, tend to be very much in the world while still having a clear religious sub-culture that is very important to them and their identity), with the big difference that membership is much more fluid: at least half the orthodox Catholics I know did not grow up Catholic or else were baptized Catholic but spent a period of time away from the Church.


Foxfier said...

I think the military is a better example-- it's a sub-culture where one or two degrees of separation are probable for most ANYONE you meet.

Just expand "military" to include those folks who do all the support type stuff, and it's a pretty close match.

JMB said...

My litmus test is if someone can do a good Penny Lord imitation, but then again, I'm a Jersey girl and we love accents. I think you are right on about the difference between Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Catholics. I live quite close to a large group of the former, and there is no room for outsiders there. Whereas, the latter is growing and expanding.

nicole said...

I recognized myself in this post! ;)

I absolutely agree with what you wrote about forming relationships with families with kids similar in age to yours and with shared values. This is something we have been intentional about from the beginning, thankfully. It is getting harder to do as we all get busy and those families that homeschool and those that have kids at the Catholic school and then us with kids at public school are on different schedules. But we make it work.

Excellent thoughts here. I think I'm on the fringes of the sub-culture, because I'm still rather immature, but I do have six kids and use NFP. :)

federoff11 said...

Oh POOH! You really CAN'T pin us down like that. Yes, I'm a FUS grad. Yes, I'm pregnant with #11. Yes, I homeschool. BUT.... I'm concerned for the environment and built a strawbale house, leading to a lot of interesting connections to people very much UNLIKE me. I teach Cub Scouts. My husband is a sought-after education technology professional, recently back from speaking at South by Southwest (yeah... an interesting group there, too!) Parish life? All my boys old enough to serve are alter servers. My husband and I teach Confirmation preparation class. We bring communion to the homebound. My 16 year old daughter is a lector.

I AM engaged in parish life and we DO know lots of people outside of our circle of like-minded friends. We choose to socialize more with people who share our values... but thats human nature!

Darwin said...


I'm not sure if it's the post or the description of us FUS grads as "Catholic Amish" that you were disagreeing with, but just to be on the safe side I added a couple sentences to the post since what you describes sounds like exactly what I mean and I wanted to make sure that post didn't come off as suggesting the contrary.

Chris said...

Hi Darwin,

Thanks for the Link back.

Firstly, the Anabaptists really are a completely different branch of the faith. They do not accept the idea of universalism: the protestants generally do

(which is one reason the sixteenth century was so bloody).

But your behaviour in forming a subcultuer is Amish-like. Now, I approve of this... if you can sustain it.

For instance, I support L'Abri, which is even smaller, brighter and snarkier than FUS. And they are taught, explictly, by word and precept, how to home make... because the wife of the founder, Edith Schaeffer, was a woman who learnt how to do this from her Missionary Parents.

She valued domestic art, for in the mission field that was all they had...

My bigger question is how do you stop the tight group from becoming a controlling cult, where folkways are seen as superior to canon law, or even the Law of God

BettyDuffy said...

One missing item from this description--one that relates to Chris's comment above-- is that, if there is truly a dividing line between the orthodox Cath subculture and the rest of the Catholic Church--it's that we agree line by line with the teaching authority of our Church. In that sense, I sometimes bristle at being called "Orthodox" or being labeled a subculture, because we are, very simply, "Catholic." It would be more accurate to label the vast majority of the Church as "liberal Catholic" or something else.

Becoming a "Controlling cult" is not a possibility for us--because the teaching authority of the Church is the closest thing we have to control in Catholicism--and people already widely disregard it.

People consider us quaint holdouts maybe--sometimes grouchy traditionalists--but "controlling?" It makes me laugh to think about it.

One more thing...concerning the reading of books, that we don't read them necessarily just because we enjoy reading and knowing about a small canon of approved Catholic books--but because we're interested in educating ourselves in the faith and growing in holiness. It's not an intellectual subculture so much as a large number of individuals investing in their spiritual lives--and it looks very different for each individual.

BettyDuffy said...

I also meant to say "Good Article, Darwin."

I think you did a good job describing some of the things that orthodox Catholics have in common.

Chris said...


I'm not sure if all of you realize this, but I'm not Cath: I'm the protestant equivelant a Presbyterian who takes reformed theology seriously.

I think Alte over at TC said something wise during the Lent open threads... people beat up Catholics and the Reformed because we have most of our doctrines written down and we are explicit about them.

My question is serious. I have seen congregations go completely nutso because they decide that they are specail.

Yes, I know that is why the magesterium is there, but it is frequently ignored by people who are functionally (cafeteria) protestants (or Buddhists -- the spirituality people make my skin crawl) & are catholic in name only.

And yes, the same people exist my my Kirk as well.

Darwin said...


Firstly, the Anabaptists really are a completely different branch of the faith. They do not accept the idea of universalism: the protestants generally do

That's one of those areas I would be interested to know more about but have never really got around to. Virtually all I know about the Amish has nothing to do with their theology and everything to do with the practicalities of living contrary to the norms of the modern world -- which is I guess what happens when one's only source for hearing about them is neo-agrarians (a group I've always found mildly interesting despite my having no intention going "back to the land" any further than having a garden and a few fruit trees.)

My bigger question is how do you stop the tight group from becoming a controlling cult, where folkways are seen as superior to canon law, or even the Law of God

Since we humans tend naturally towards tribalism, I think that's a danger every group has to grapple with -- though in Catholic circles I think it tends to be much more a danger in groups that are centered around some particular personality (say, a very charismatic priest) or some particular apparition. Probably one of the most notorious and biggest recent examples would be Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi situation.

I think the orthodox Catholic sub-culture in general tends a bit less towards this simply in that it's fairly spread out and the main feature is that it consists of very local groups of people (and a loose national/international network of people and media) who are simply trying to live out the Church's teachings seriously. But there is always the temptation to take particular ways of living a Catholic life and investing them with somehow being absolute goods rather than only one way of living out a Christian life.

Darwin said...

Realizing I didn't exactly complete my thought there:

But there is always the temptation to take particular ways of living a Catholic life and investing them with somehow being absolute goods rather than only one way of living out a Christian life. I would say that the key is always to return to the most basic question: What is required of us to know, love and serve God, and to be happy with Him one day in heaven.

Faith. Morals. Sacraments. There are a lot of specific practices which we can immerse ourselves in to try to get there, but we always have to remember which things are essentials and which are really just practices meant to help us stick to the essentials.

(Some degree of this is what often sees me ending up on the "liberal" side of certain internal arguments -- such as in that post on "not everyone has to get married" which ruffled a few feathers.)

Matthew Lickona said...

Here's the part that sticks in my craw:

"they are a very small separatist-type group that doesn’t generally participate in the culture at large."

Now, I'm not FUS, I'm TAC. But I'll bet my alma mater would be included in that list of "similar very conservative Catholic institutions scattered around the US." And I have to ask, Separatist how? Don't participate in the culture at large how?

I mean, yeah, I try to avoid porn and controlled substances, so I guess I'm out of the mainstream there. But movies? Books? Music? TV? Theater? Boozing? Does this commenter have concrete examples of cultural avoidance?

(Well, yes, probably - there are certainly Cratlicks who object to Harry Potter or Twilight on content grounds - but it is by no means a uniform opposition.)

I dunno. Maybe I'm not really in the club. But I don't have a feeling of being outside the culture at large, and I'm sure as heck not separatist. I write for an alt-weekly, fer Grod's sake.

Big Tex said...

I too disagree with the "Amish" comparison. I move in this catholic sub-culture circle as well, but alas am only married to a FUS grad. Which begs the question... how did I get here?!?

Another reason why we aren't all that "Amish": we tend to engage the culture in some respects. We live in the world, but we just aren't "of it". For instance, hobbies are one such area where I personally don't have my little catholic homeschool dads around all the time. I brew, and involve myself in the local homebrewing club... a group hardly sympathetic to my Catholic mores. I go to meetings and learn about all things homebrewing. It's a lively group, with quite a variety of people.

Brandon said...

I think the notion that this subculture is a sort of separated enclave doesn't really fit. Rather, it's a sort of spontaneous effect of the structure of Catholic life -- given distribution of tastes and interests, there will inevitably be people of this sort, and given the structure of Church life and the tendency of human beings to interact on the basis of interests, they will tend to group together and form institutions, which in turn will further guarantee the development of networks of such people. It really isn't an artificially maintained thing; there would have to be massive structural changes in the Catholic Church in a society to eliminate it.

At the populational level, then, I don't see that there's any way you could not have it. People with certain kinds of tastes and interests naturally arise in the population at large; certain institutions and parish churches serve as collecting pools for such people and these institutional supports also produce new cases in at least a limited form of self-propagation. Far from being separate, it works by drawing on the natural dynamics of a much larger background population. It's a self-sustaining cycle; it could be disrupted, but it would take a significatn factor affecting virtually the whole Catholic population.

A small example: I have absolutely no institutional connections with any of it. I attended a Catholic college but (1) I was Baptist at the time and (2) the college was definitely not a subculture-institution. My parish church is not a significant hotbed of it at all, and I'm a member of no societies or institutions associated with it. The only Catholics who are part of it that I can really be said to know at all are the Darwins themselves. Like Topsy I just growed, and as it happens the way I growed meant I share an extraordinary number of intellectual interests and a fair number of aesthetic interests with the culture already. And while I'm unusual in many, many, many ways, this is not one of them; I honestly think it's an inevitable statistical effect. All that's needed beyond that are sustainable places, institutions, and media to collect people with such interests, and such things certainly exist.

JMB said...

I don't know. I have a rotation of four different parishes (and an independent Carmelite chapel at a mall!)where I go to daily mass and I have yet to run into a more motley, unsightly, racially and age diverse population than any other place I frequent - the supermarket, high school sporting events, Sunday Mass at my parish. If it is a cult it is certainly a deranged one.

Chris said...

Matthew and Big Tex.

I need to dig into a bit of theology here -- well stuff I think is heretical, so bear with me.

The Catholic idea of a church is that it is universal. It contains great saints, and great sinners. Not everyone who says Lord... obeys him. We are a motley and fallen crew, as JMB says.

Now this idea is shared between Catholics and Lutherans and Reformed . It is the idea of the parish, that all belong, and the nation-church. Which is why there were heated debates in England as to if the church would be episocpalian or presbyterian. Or the nature of the Lord's supper. To the point of martyrdom. (on all sides -- for every Catholic killed, there was a convenanter).

Now the Anabaptists reject this. They instead choose to be re-baptized (since they reject infant baptism) and they also reject the role of the state, instead setting themselves up as a perfect community of believers only. The more sensible note that they have bought their fallen nature with them... but they try to live righteously, using communal decision making about things like technology.

Now, I'm Presbyterian. Old School. And some of my commentators tell me that I should be in a reformed denomination, without those pesky & embarrassing liberals. But I take "I beleive in the Holy Catholic Church" seriously. I go to my local parish. I support the local governance.

So I have great sympathy to where conservative Caths are coming from. For the reformed to not have the magisterium, but the Confessions of the reformed church are about as detailed :-)

But... I also work in mental health, and have seen the dynamics of the cult and power take over... within the church, and in far more damaging ways outside the church (we had a psychotherapy / new age community in my home town that institutionalized polyamory, including the under-age adolescents).

So we are struggling with the rules that are useful for a community of interest to function and yet... realizing that they are not the true rules and laws. If we lose that greater community, that greater church, we lose perspective.

So yes, you are not Amish. But at the same time, by not embracing the world, you do not act mainstream, so the label is used.

I am not Amish either. But the term people use to shut me up... is fundamentalist. Which is another conversation.

mrsdarwin said...

Chris, I think that the discussion is being muddied by the two different levels of "sub-culture" being bandied about. The sense in which Dalrock et. al. talk about orthodox Catholics as being part of a "sub-culture" seems to be in reference to the overall secular culture. I still don't think that the comparison with the Amish fits: the Amish have some very particular external indications that mark them as part of a clearly defined enclave: no buttons, no mustaches, the little caps for women, the era-specific clothing, no motorized conveyances, etc. That's not necessarily the case with orthodox Catholics -- items of clothing such as head veils are marks of personal devotion, not of adherence to sectarian demands.

There are some other external cultural markers people might use to classify someone, inaccurately, as a particular stripe of Catholic. For instance, I go around with my five children, so someone could could draw the conclusion, "She has a big family; Catholics are known for opposing birth control: she must be one of Those Catholics." This isn't necessarily an accurate marker, though: I could be some other stripe of Christian; I could be a natalist; I could be someone whose birth control fails a lot (and those women are legion). The secular assumption that "large family" is an indicator that someone is a member of a sub-culture of orthodox Catholics is off because Catholicism doesn't call for large families. It calls for people to be generous and prudent in their chosen vocation.

And that's why Catholics who strive to practice their faith as authentically as possible aren't comparable to members of a sect (and nor are most people who fall, in some way, outside the bounds of "mainstream" culture). The teachings of the Catholic Church are pretty accessible. You can find them in the Catechism, which is hardly an unobtainable book, or on the Vatican's website, or from numerous reliable sources. People may differ on how best to live them out faithfully, but as long as particular preferences such as private devotions, forms of dress, personal disciplines, or family practices don't become more important than the broader teaching of the Church, one doesn't cut oneself off from the Church or form a new sect. The Church is catholic; there's broad leeway in how one can faithfully abide by her teachings. It's "Here Comes Everybody", and every parish contains multitudes.

mrsdarwin said...

Brandon, I'd be interested in hearing the story of your conversion some day.

Brandon said...

Not much to tell, actually. I grew up and was baptized as a Southern Baptist, although I attended a Catholic school in first grade, because my parents had several Southern Baptist friends; went to college to get a Theology major, but I wanted to specialize in the history of Catholic theology (I hadn't been very impressed with what I'd found in Protestant sources, so it seemed to naive high school me that there was an obvious need, and therefore would be obvious demand, for Protestant historians of Catholic theology), so I deliberately picked a Catholic college; was rather disappointed at the offering (I remember chatting one night after a department event with two fellow Theology students, one of whom was Russian Orthodox and one of whom was Catholic, both quite conservative, about how we all had much more in common with each other than with any of the professors), so added Philosophy as a major; went to grad school in Philosophy and occasionally thought about looking into the lovely Ukrainian Catholic church just down the street, but never got around to it; came back to the U.S., happened to walk past St. Albert the Great, thought, "Well, that's a good name; I should see when their RCIA program is starting," looked on the website, saw that it started the next day, went, and everything went normally from there. Long process, no dramatic events, no big shifts in thinking, could easily have converted a good decade before I actually did except that (early on) it didn't occur to me and (later) I just somehow never got around to it.

Chris said...

Mrs Darwin.

I agree that Trad Catholics are not a cult.

But the cultic lives in us all. I have seen legalism enter in tight communities and destroy love. (Look I'm a Calvinist. Our wish for perfect theology is our besetting sin, for we forget to Love).

But the other issue is that a group that is seriously taking their faith and clubbing together -- can still be smashed by divorce. Elusive Wapiti has cross posted on divorce at Traditional Christianity -- and this time the canon lawyers our out (as as Catholics) are saying ... How was this allowed to happen?.

And... this Calvinist has more in common with Steubenville that the liberal arm of his own church. Which is why there are so many prots reading here :-)

Anonymous said...

"So we are struggling with the rules that are useful for a community of interest to function and yet... realizing that they are not the true rules and laws. If we lose that greater community, that greater church, we lose perspective."

I guess what's confusing in this conversation, Chris, is that you use terms like "Community of interest" and imply that they have their own rules that are different from the greater church.

What we are saying is that the entire Roman Catholic Church--all 1.2 billion members in every country in the world--has the same rules everywhere. No one is more Catholic than the Catholic Church, and if someone claims to be more catholic than the pope, he commits schism and faces the possibility of excommunication.

Any communities of interest that form within the Church, such as the ones surrounding certain universities or lifestyles, are informal, and are not governed by any rules beyond how its individual members conform their lives to the teaching authority of Christ's Church.

If you are talking about religious communities, orders or movements (for instance, The Dominicans, Benedictines or Opus Dei, etc)--they do have a hierarchy of authority within their organization--but that hierarchy is still subject to the teaching authority of the Church and the Holy See as well.

I guess the bottom line is--we are a church of billions--so there is bound to be huge diversity among our members. When someone tries to nail us down as a sort of "Catholic Amish" because we adhere to our CHurch's teachings--it shows a lack of worldliness on the part of our critic. Does he not realize the Catholic Church extends way beyond middle class white America?

You mention a post at Traditional Christianity, which I read, and found to be rather amusing in its misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the annulment process. Having been asked to testify in my brother's annulment process, I can assure you, it's a very thorough and painful undertaking for everyone involved. I have also interviewed clergy who served on Marriage Tribunals--they do not administer anything "breezily." A case takes months to hear and determine. And 500 dollars for the extensive paperwork, and long hours required to elicit and analyze testimony, is really not very much, considering all the people involved in the process. It would be nice to compensate those people for their work--but I see the pervasive attitude at the TC blog is to dismiss anyone who works for the Catholic Church as corrupt. Of course, it is a donation, EW is nice to mention. The Church does not demand that you pay them for their efforts.

It's also telling that EW has forgotten the reasons the Tribunal found grounds for an annulment. If he really wants to make the case that the Church allows frivolous annulments, he should get out that old paperwork, read the testimonies and then give examples of how "frivolous" the Church was.

The cult tendency is in all of us, you say--but the manosphere exhibits far more cultish tendencies than anything in ortho-cath spheres. "Marginalize anyone who doesn't agree with us." "Shame those who veer from our purpose."

From the first five attributes of a cult:
1. the leader is charismatic and often militaristically demanding
2. the leader is always right 
3. elitism, the leaders treated as royalty or a sense of awe, hierarchical, authoritarian power structure 
4. lower members get no respect, or get abused 
5. leader is not held accountable for his actions or the actions of his authority structure

The list goes on… and nearly all of the attributes are perfect descriptions of the kinds of interactions you see at Dalrock's site, for one. I've also seen rather easily earned adulation piled on other "top manosphere bloggers" as well.

Chris, if I were you, I'd step away from the manosphere before they eat you for dinner.

Anonymous said...

Wait, a wife can abandon the husband, take the children and flee to another state, and Anon here piles onto the husband?!

Ok, see, this is the problem right here. Nitpicking the letter of the law as a man sees it while the woman merrily smashes the spirit and the letter and scampers away unremarked upon and thus implicitly encouraged in her sin.

Foxfier said...

Wait, a wife can abandon the husband, take the children and flee to another state, and Anon here piles onto the husband?!

Not what the other anon said....

Think y'all can drag it back to the topic? As vastly interesting as it is to read different folks' views on an article mentioned in a comment....

Chris said...

I've got a post coming up at TC as well... on what exactly should us men do.

Now, I am aware that there are one set of rules for the RC. Don't get me wrong there.

But subcultures can turn into cults.

And... I am more aligned, FWIW, with Patreactionary and Trad Christianity than In Mala Fide.

Oh and Anon, I am trying to be non confrontational here I've got into flame wars before on everything from Linux distributions to transubstantiation.

The biggest issue ain't cults. It is the world getting in and destroying the faith of people -- by liberal teaching, liberal use of laws...

And that happens everywhere. Despite our carefully worked out policies, teaching, confessions and catechisms. (spelling -- there was an old term for someone who had been catechized that I think I would mangle if I tried to write it). Happens in my reformed Kirk. Have seen it happen to my Cath friends. And it is so destructive, and so evil.

Re Amish: I've gone on around this today at my place... accepting that MrsD is correct. Publicly.

And the list of tells of a cult are correct.

mrsdarwin said...

Every marriage, even the ones that seem externally perfect, has its weak points because spouses are human. I don't believe that any marriage is immune to divorce, but I do think that where the graces of the sacrament of marriage are not present (and that is what the tribunal assesses: whether the marriage was contracted sacramentally) will have huge internal stresses regardless of the opinion of anyone on the internet who only knows half the story.

My own parents, who are members of the Catholic "sub-culture", are divorced and annulled, and as I was in college (and engaged) at the time, I was able to observe the process a bit. I know of a few members of my extended family who were angry at the tribunal and appalled that the annulment would have been granted, but for myself, having seen in a close up and personal fashion the effects of two people trying to live in a married state without the graces of the sacrament, it strengthened my faith in both the Church's process and in marriage as a sacrament.

mrsdarwin said...

Should read:
but I do think that where the graces of the sacrament of marriage are not present (and that is what the tribunal assesses: whether the marriage was contracted sacramentally) *the marriage* will have huge internal stresses regardless of the opinion of anyone on the internet who only knows half the story.