Brian Niemeier addresses the fact that Catholics are not doing so hot in the culture wars:
The problem isn’t that Catholics haven’t been using our profound intellectual tradition. The problem is that our thought leaders keep deploying tactics that lead with dialectic informed by that tradition when the public at large a) is not equipped to understand that tradition, b) has no desire to understand that tradition, and c) have been conditioned into both of those predispositions by the media and academia, including many Catholic schools.
As for why God has allowed Christian influence to wane, it’s because we have free will, He lets us have the consequences of our bad decisions, and Christians have been making a fuck ton of bad decisions over the past several decades. (See divorce and contraception rates, degradation of the liturgy, and Democrat party voting rates among Christians.)
Marshall ends with this lament:
Where are the Christians? We need to spend the next decade prayerfully cultivating sharp and relevant Christian minds to engage the culture and social media.
To reiterate, Milo and Gavin are two Christians who’ve been extraordinarily successful on social media. John C. Wright is a prolific and gifted Catholic author and blogger. Vox Day is making inroads in publishing and tech. Even I’m making my own modest contribution. But Guys like Taylor Marshall won’t support or acknowledge any of us because we’re not engaging in Thomistic disputations on Facebook.
While one might argue about exactly how Christian or how effective any of the people Niemeier mentions are, the fact is they have done more than the average writer who shows up on New Advent on a regular basis. Thomistic disputations at this point in time only work for preaching to the choir.
This really goes to show, in a way, why the idea of withdrawing from society is bad. On one hand, we have to back up enough to be able to preserve ourselves and children and so on from being corrupted. On the other, it’s clear that current Catholic pundits are already so removed from regular society that they don’t understand how to speak to normal people.
There may be a bit of the IQ gap problem here too. Catholics have a great and wonderfully long intellectual tradition. But people are stupid. 2000 years of theology and philosophy mean nothing to a moron. I once failed a quiz on the Summa after reading the required section five times. But somebody who can read it, who can understand it, maybe can’t understand how to dumb it down enough for the intellectually challenged to grasp. When your brain functions solely on a dialectical level can you even comprehend a brain that functions only on the rhetorical? It’s certainly going to be harder to do if you live in a Catholic bubble or an academic ivory tower and aren’t surrounded by people like that every day.
Trying to get these people to comprehend that they don’t comprehend is as difficult and frustrating as trying to get an average person to understand that maybe his problems might be coming from sleeping around and, no, a vasectomy won’t help. The man standing on moral bedrock can’t tell the man drowning in quicksand to just stand on bedrock. There isn’t any bedrock over there but the man standing on it doesn’t see the quicksand.
The difference between dialect and rhetoric is imperative for people to understand. Understand it and know when it use it. Sometimes that’s going to mean being mean. We have to let go of the intellectual pride and the self congratulatory, defeatist moral high ground and try to win for a change.