June 05, 2008

The Death of Commonality

We’ve heard a lot of talk recently, and entire organizations have formed around it, on “preserving the common good” “acting in the interest of the common good”

If we are truly living the Catholic faith that we profess, than we should have many common parameters on what “good” is and is not.

Sadly, there are many who profess to be Catholic who think “good” is subject in all cases to personal interpretation via that often distorted and frequently entirely misunderstood phrase: “primacy of conscience”

If we have people who say they are Catholic, leave out the debate on authenticity here, who can’t even arrive at a commonality of what is good or what is not, how in the world can anyone expect society to agree on what common good is?

There is no commonality anymore. Perhaps, that’s harsh. Really, there is so little of it, that society is “micro” not “macro”.

There are no megatrends anymore. We are all just in our little clusters and each cluster has a trend. Faithful Catholics are adhering more closely to the Magisterium and increasingly rediscovering old devotions, while Lukewarm Catholics continue to only go to Mass once/month, and Dissident Catholics are falling further into apostasy.

On occasion we may overlap with others in certain areas. We may all be at Mass at Easter but out of a crowd of 10, 5 will think it’s boring, 3 will want to leave, and 2 don’t want it to end. We say we are Catholics but you probably can’t get 5 of us to explain why we should not be using contraception. 1 will explain it correctly, 4 will get the explanation all wrong, 1 will know the real answer but willfully choose to disregard it in favor of their own.

As Americans, we are a people of contradictions. Business should be conducted in English but increasingly more of us are refusing to learn it. We say we should eat healthier but for some of us that means eating only 2 cheeseburgers at a time instead of 3. We say bankruptcy is bad, but more and more of us are using it as a personal financial tool. We complain about gas prices and then go buy a Hummer to navigate the war-torn streets of urban San Francisco .

We all live in America, but are we all Americans? We can’t even agree on what being an American is. What does it say when you can’t even get all 12 school kids in a public classroom to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? 4 of them will not know it, 3 of them won’t understand the language it’s in, 2 of them will be protesting that they are asked to say it. Maybe the real America is the complete lack of commonality? Some would say that was always true to a certain extent. But, the assumption was we would all come together when we really needed to. Today, I don’t think the pot is melting solids into a liquid, it’s coagulating into separate globs of fat that may never join into one.


Blogger Ray from MN said...

I'm very depressed now.

June 05, 2008 9:04 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

"Today, I don’t think the pot is melting solids into a liquid, it’s coagulating into separate globs of fat that may never join into one."

That is because the fire of divine love has nearly gone out in the hearts of men - the love of most has grown cold - love is not loved.

June 05, 2008 9:57 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Terry: Excellent point. Ray: Don't despair-see Terry's comment about Divine Love.

June 06, 2008 6:03 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Wow! Excellent

June 06, 2008 9:24 AM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Terry is right on, but a serious comment from him? Has anyone checked on him lately to make sure he doesn't have a fever?

Seems like this issue is really bubbling right now. This is the fourth time in a week, for me, that this theme has come up...Fr. Mitch Pacwa touched on it at the homeschool conference (multi-culturalism, relativism, pluralism and individualism), I got an e-mail with a letter to the editor talking about this and I'm reading a book that speaks to this.

Good points, Cathy. The devil is really attacking the family and is splintering us in so many directions that children don't have the same values as their parents and many don't know what their parents' values are, except for obvious materialistic things.

June 06, 2008 2:44 PM  
Blogger Our Word said...


You're absolutely right about this. I've made the point many times that in our culture in general, there are very few of what we'd call "shared experiences." Television, music, books - they're all gathered in narrow niches, with very little crossover. Furthermore, technology enables us to watch or listen to them any time we want, so those things that a large number of us do experience (news or sporting events, for example) we don't generally experience at the same time.

Your take on this is brilliant, and very insightful.


June 06, 2008 5:20 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Swissy: Terry is capable of great insight. Of course, he's also been inhaling paint fumes a lot recently! :-)

Mitchell: I was hoping you would weigh in. I'm glad you did. :-)

June 06, 2008 5:55 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I think it's a bit worse than you state, Cathy, when you state "We are all just in our little clusters and each cluster has a trend."

Our area's chief dissident and rebel, who blogs at The Wild Reed, just the other day posted a sad statement from someone from a different community: "Countless, tearful hours were spent in secret trying to pray away the gay"

I think there are millions who live in our modern world in isolation. I did for a long time and was somewhat proud of it. I thought I was protecting myself. I wasn't.

I posted the following on that post:

"Countless, tearful hours spent trying to pray away anything is an exercise in futility, I would bet.

Man is a social animal. Other than a few hermits and writers, most of the advances in sanity and society came from working with family, community, church, company and other groups.

Gen 2:18 Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'"

June 06, 2008 8:29 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 06, 2008 9:02 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 06, 2008 9:06 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Thanks, Terry.


Is that the Portuguese woman who used to have the kids show?

Also moonlighted with some raunch.

Or was Xena the warrior?

It's really tough to keep track of 21st century technology and heroes.

June 06, 2008 9:21 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...


I just got home from a Fatima Vigil and I feel like I should go back and pray for you guys!

Ter: Too late! I don't have comment moderation turned on so you'll have to delete your comment yourself!

June 06, 2008 10:57 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 07, 2008 10:09 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks for mentioning The Wild Reed blog. I am converting and joining the Catholic Church in the next year or so and am always happy to find progressive Catholics. Gives me hope for the future of the Church.

June 07, 2008 10:24 PM  

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