Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Roll Up Yer Trousers

We started this little journey by reading this little post from Attytood concerning Senator Santorum's links to Opus Dei. And it sort of degenerated into a Wikipedia-fuelled crawl through the 19th century American polity.

The ins and outs of Opus Dei need not concern us here, so much as the organisation's appeal. There is also the possibility that any more poorly-written thrillers along the lines of the lines of the Da Vinci Code, and we might experience a full-on witch-hunt.

Opus Dei does seem to have an appeal to the sort of unsure young person that college Chrisitanity, or yes, cults, fail to pick up. In college one might assume that your inner life was empty and purposeless, but waiting to fulfill its potential. But as a twenty-something one might have been stripped of some of these illusions. Some never do question their place in the universe, the equivalent of Zaphod Beebelbrox surviving the Total Perspective Vortex, completely at ease with how important they are, and are usually fairly sound atheists.

On the other hand, an Ex-Christian, here attempts, rather confusingly, to accuse believers of the same arrogance. And the story also crops up here in a bible study guide. So, from all this we can deduce that atheists are really arrogant and self-assured, or that having God on your shoulder is like having Zaphod Beebelbrox' second head. Or that no vicar ever picked up an Ian M. Banks book, that's for sure.

But we digress, since we really wanted to look at whether the perceived dangerous influence of Opus Dei might lead to a massive hysterical backlash, or at least a short-lived movement along the lines of the Anti-Masonic Party of the 19th Century. Which was how we ended up becoming a potential Jeopardy contestant on obscure third parties we have known and loved.

We had thought, based on half-remembered snippets of a History Channel documentary, that the AMP was a roaring success, so much so that Freemasons could never show their faces again in public life, but the movement appears to have petered under the onslaught of the mighty Whigs. But we can probably all agree that the two of them weren't a patch on the Know-Nothings' American Party when it came to fear-mongering electoral ruckus.

Since Wickedy-Wiki already has a brief suggestion that fear of Masonic influence has its parallels in fear of Opus Dei, we prefer to stress the differences. As far as we can tell, the main problems with Masons and Opus Dei are what they do behind closed doors. In the Masons' case, that's dressing up a bit silly and fixing parket tickets. With Opus Dei it's self-mortification and plotting to increase Catholic influence over society. In fact we'd be quite taken by the Deist, freethinking and philosophical bent of the Masons, that is if they didn't carry themselves in such an undignified fashion.

GO the Other One in Pennsylvania in 2006!, in any case.


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