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The Culture War Is Asymmetrical

I Need A Word

I don't mean "Can I have a word?" in the sense of "Can we talk privately?" I mean literally a word. I've been working on a piece of writing that includes this: "the Church as it is, dullness, factionalism, and all." I want another word to go with those two, a word that captures the indifference toward the faith of so many Catholics, including some in the clergy and the hierarchy. I mean the attitude which is described by one of Rod Dreher's readers in this post

...we discovered that we were all four Catholics, which led in turn to conversations about which parishes we attend, etc (normal light talk among Catholics of any stripe). It turned out that none of the three women still attended mass, sometimes they attended services at local non-denoms but even that was rare. Their reasons were the following: mass is boring; I don’t “get” anything out of it while I feel really great after my non-denom services; people should be able to use birth control; I didn’t like that priest; confession is awkward; etc.

All three of these women (all in their 40’s and 50’s) had attended Catholic schools from K-12, and none of them had even the slightest idea of why the Church teaches what it does, or even a hint of self-awareness that none of their complaints remotely touched what God Himself wants, only me, me, me. Nothing touched upon how they thought God wanted to be worshiped, or how God wants us to live. At one point during one woman’s diatribe about how she gets nothing out of Mass I meekly remarked “well maybe that’s not the point of it all,” to which she blurted “Why else would I go?!”

I had originally written "dullness, indifference, factionalism, and all." But "indifference" alone is too broad: indifference to what? I tried "blandness" and "lukewarmness," but they don't really get the idea, either, even apart from the fact that "lukewarmness" is a very clumsy term. 

If you have a single word that does the job here, I'll thank you.

By the way, if you wondered about "Susan From the Parish Council," she is the fictitious proprietor of a Facebook page who writes about her trials and triumphs as an old and entirely unreconstructed Vatican II progressive. She's sometimes pretty funny.


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Block headedness


You are better looking for a word ending in ty than ness

Either is fine. But what I'm thinking of is not a species of stupidity. I really don't think there is a single word for it. Indifference is not too far off, neither is lukewarmness, but they don't carry the sense of willful disregard that I'm thinking of.


Indifference was a more or less technical term of abuse in 19th century papal polemics against liberalism. To them, indifference means what we would call relativism or what the average Joe might call adiaphora


Didn't they call it indifferentism? I've seen that somewhere or other. I guess it would have been a translation anyway.

Nonchalance is an element of what I'm talking about, but as with all the other words it isn't sufficient by itself.


Nonchalant and impious indifference comes close.

What I wanted to put into one word is something like this: "Continuing to consider oneself part of the Church, even to participate in its day-to-day activities, even in a clerical capacity, but giving clear evidence that one doesn't take seriously its claims and one's obligations to it, and by extension to God."

"Feckless" comes fairly close.

I was just about to suggest feckless.

I also thought of pig-headed, fat-headed and vacuous.

Also simply egotistical.

Vacuous definitely has a place. But I'm clearly going to have to give that whole idea a sentence of its own, or else just let it go.



Excellent suggestion.

Somnabulism wouldn't seem to include willfulness though. I kind of like "feckless somnambulism." It's two words, but hey...

"Feckless indifference" is also good.

I think a sentence including "feckless indifference to..." would get it.

I often look at the posts on a blog kept by an Orthodox priest (who was once an Anglican priest) and today I found this there that made me think of what you wrote about folks who don't "take seriously [the Church's] claims and one's obligations to it, and by extension to God":

It’s odd. I know priests who fought tooth and nail to move their altars and assume a West-facing position in the Mass (these were Anglicans), who, at the same time, did not believe the Creed, much less the traditional moral teaching of the faith. How is it, one must ask, that they were so damned certain about which way to face when they prayed, when they weren’t even certain that anybody was listening?
Anyway, is that something other than indifference? To me, the word means not caring one way or the other about something.

I'd certainly say that's very different from indifference. I don't know exactly what it is. I've never encountered that type before. I know some people who are super-sticklers for liturgical rubrics but they are also sticklers for dogma and are very serious about the whole Catholic package. The Anglicans I've ever known who were fairly slack about doctrine were fairly slack about everything. I mean, they might approach liturgy with a good eye for aesthetics, but that wasn't for the sake of keeping traditional practices about the position of the altar etc.

Feckless indifference is good

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