About Michael Voris, and Being Liked
Michael Voris will soon be in London again; and again, he will polarise and cause controversy with his, well, rather outspoken communication style.
This is not after many people’s taste, particularly in England. There are certainly many who consider him too outspoken, too explicit, too harsh in his criticism – directed at clergy as well as non-Catholics – and, basically, not nice. Therefore, they don’t like him.
The key to understanding Voris – and, I think, many of the more outspoken bloggers out there – is that not being English, they don’t give a damn about being liked. In times of scandalous corruption within and without the Church, you can’t say things in a halfway effective way and be liked. You’ll have to choose whether to be liked – and largely ineffective – or making an impact and being disliked by very many and called many names – “uncharitable” being my favourite, closely followed by “homophobic” -.
Voris gets it. He seems blessedly immune from this (very British, but rather Anglo-Saxon, too) idea that one must be “nice” in order to be taken seriously or, more importantly for some, being invited to afternoon tea, which is then called being “relevant”. His message is simple, straight, brutal. It gets actually – and fortunately – more brutal as the months go by, with the language getting more explicit (note how the word “gay” has been in the last months largely replaced by the vastly more correct “homos”).
In my eyes, Voris has laid bare the root of the diseases that has almost killed the Church in the last fifty or so years: niceness, and desire to be accepted. If you want to be nice you’ll have to accommodate to the whims and desires of the world, and you’ll end up bowing to its ideology whilst you pretend to want to reform it. I have pointed out to this very recently, speaking about the bishop who feels obliged to say that opposition to so-called same-sex marriage is “his opinion”.
His opinion, my aunt. truly, what has the world come to.
It might well be that in former times, when the Church had a stronger grip on society, one could – perhaps! – afford the luxury of being a bit softer, and still being listened to. But we can’t compare. In a society where most people consider abortion a given – and, make no mistake, most bishops too, may God have mercy on their souls, as well as on mine whilst he’s there – you’ll not make many inroads by gently whispering your – if you may say so, in your opinion, and present company excepted – polite disagreement with it. You must call abortion for what it is: genocide, and you must call those who stay silent accessory to a genocide.
The same argument goes for the rest of Christian life: I had written very recently that it is high time to start stigmatising divorced people again. I expected a load of insults of the British sort: “you can’t say this, because I am divorced”; “harsh”, “uncharitable” or the like.
Nothing happened. I blame the summer.
Yes, this attitude means having to spread adrenaline around instead of saccharine, but the saccharine is what almost killed the Church and so the adrenaline seems rather welcome.
How Voris reaches the heart of the problem is demonstrated by the vast number of personal attacks you can read against him on the Internet: from the alleged toupet to “the way he rotates his pen”, his detractors show a great attention for irrelevant details.
All this doesn’t mean to say that I always approve of what he says. I remember some questionable “vortex” videos about homosexuality, forms of government, or Father Corapi that in my eyes would have profited from a bit more of reflection and rephrasing. But no one can be always right, or approved by everyone.
Still, I think it is fair to say that Voris’ first sin in the eyes of most of his detractors consists in his basic policies of not giving a damn for being liked, and not giving a damn for being nice.
Oh for bishops and priests like him! Oh for bishops and priests speaking with half his directness!
It there had been more Vorises around in the past decades, particularly but not only among the clergy, we wouldn’t need this debate about Voris now.
He is around, because they weren’t.