This past week’s Off the Menu from Tumblarhouse was one of the most pertinent, informative, and important segments I’ve heard so far. In it, Charles Coulombe and Vincent Frankini deal with an ongoing perennial issue in the Traditional Catholic world, which is: Why is the Traditionalist Movement a magnet for weirdos, and why is charity always the first casualty?
Coulombe’s points are excellent, and well worth transcribing here on this blog. I’ll only add that not only do Traditional Catholics suffer from “drunken parents syndrome,” but as a reminder from a previous article–Two Fathers: A Rolling Stone and An Abuser–our circumstances are also akin to suffering from both the abandonment of a rolling stone father as well as a new harsh stepfather who continually abuses us.
The link to the Off the Menu video is below, as well as a transcription below that. Bolded and underlined emphasis is mine.
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A reader named Sylvain Durand asks the following:
Greetings once again from La Belle Province! I’m currently reading the fourth book in William L. Biersach’s Father Baptist series of novels, and I am surprised how he so accurately describes the typical Traditionalist parish. I was kind of hoping that what we have up north is not the norm, but there seems to be a pattern going on. How come the traditionalist movement is such a magnet for weirdos, and why is charity always the first casualty?
Charles Coulombe: You’ve got to remember a few things. One is, if you went to a Novus Ordo parish, it’s just as weird, but with a different dynamic. Instead of charity being the first thing to go, truth goes. You can’t have everything. Reason goes.
You see, what both the Trad and his opposite number (especially the older variety) have in common is that they’re the product of a trauma. In the Novus Ordo parish, the older people turned their backs on everything they were taught to believe in. And somehow, they’re good with that. That creates a very particular kind of mindset. That’s why anything that reminds them of tradition–they get very upset about it. Because they feel guilty, and anything you feel guilty about, you wanna smack it down.
Contrary-wise, with the Trads, they’ve been through hell. They were damaged by the hierarchy for their adherence to what the hierarchy had always taught them they were supposed to do. It’s sort of “the drunken parents syndrome.” You know, when your mom or dad smack you around because they’re drunk, and you’re doing what a good son always does. Whatever that might be.
So we’re talking about a whole lot of damaged goods on either side. And damaged goods always produce a lot of peculiarity of one sort or another. People who are damaged in one way tend to be weird in this way. People who are damaged in this way tend to be weird in that way.
And, of course, there’s also the fact that any interest that’s out of the norm–and, remember the norm is Justin Trudeau saying that anyone who’s pro-life has no place in Canadian life; the norm is the state of California declaring three genders by an act of the legislature–see that’s the norm. But anything that’s outside of the norm will inevitably attract the odd. And if the norm itself is a screaming madhouse… Basically, Sylvain, it’s not a question of normal vs insane, but which ward of The Great Asylum do you wish to be placed in? Fortunately, there’s no staff.
Vincent Frankini: I’ve thought a lot about this, about Trads, and why Trads are the way they are, and charity being the first casualty. I use a metaphor (pardon me for using a reference for this show), but I think of The Walking Dead. And I’m probably the only one that has analyzed it in this way. But I like to think of it in this manner. In The Walking Dead or any zombie show […] everyone’s physically dying. But similarly, in our age, everyone is spiritually dead. And in both situations, you have to protect yourself. The people who are still alive…they’ve learned how to survive. And how do they survive? You see a threat, and you effectively handle the threat. That’s true in the zombie thing, and in here.
So with the Trads, we still have our Faith because we so quickly and effectively recognize what is bad. “This is bad, I’m going to neutralize this threat. That is bad, I’m going to neutralize that.” Same thing with a zombie movie like The Walking Dead. They have trouble seeing the good in people and taking a chance on people. “Whenever I take a chance on people, somebody dies. So I’m just gonna kill this right now.” That’s why you need a balance.
Charles Coulombe: The problem is that you’ve got a bunch of lay people, both Trads and Mods, who are trying to answer questions and deal with problems they should have never had to have done. And the fault for that lies on the hierarchy. If you get excited by sedevacantists saying this or that, or people judging for themselves whether the Mass is valid or not–stop. Who put them in that position? Who introduced doubt where there was no need to? They’re the crazy ones at the end of the day. They’re the ones who took something that had problems, but was functioning, and smashed it.
I’d like to say that the post-Vatican II era is the only account I know of that’s a cancer operation where the tumor is left in tact and the healthy tissue is removed. As we see by the great scandals and so forth of our past several decades, those tumors grew well in the absence of healthy flesh.
Vincent Frankini: Just one other thing, because I’ve been thinking of this for so long. I went to the Novus Ordo for 25 years, and only in the past few years have I gone to the Latin Mass. But I can feel the two impulses in me warring. And I felt this very strongly when I went to Mass one day, and this person was hugely immodestly dressed. And my instant reaction was a Trad reaction. “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know where you are?” But then, this other part came in and said “Well, you know what? They’re at the right place, and she’s at the perfect place to receive grace to change.” The beautiful thing about Trad culture, at least in my opinion, is that it’s a reinforcing culture.
Charles Coulombe: Well, that’s true. It can be short-sighted and nasty. But I’m a great believer of the priest talking in the abstract about the need for modest dress and reminding us: “If you were next to the president, how would you dress? If you’re really going to pretend that’s God on the altar…” But these are specifics. And I’d be very much against [a priest pointing you out and shouting] YOU!” Because that’s how you make sure someone is traumatized and driven out. But it’s an art, not a science. And the thing you’ve got to remember is that there’s plenty of crazy to go around on all sides.
Vincent Frankini: Everyone’s got their own brand of fallen human nature.
Charles Coulombe: Yeah, sadly. As my father used to say, if you don’t like it, next time come from an un-fallen planet, and you won’t have this problem.