I thought I would reread the article that I posted a while back since Mary keeps complaining that I have posted an article that is objectively false. On rereading, I think Pryor makes a good case for understanding a “cultic”mindset. This is not the same as labeling something a “cult” along the lines of Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple, but more broadly as similar to the kind of groupthink that led to the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Anti-Semitism has again become fashionable, as Tuvia Tenenbaum’s book “I slept in Hitler’s Room” reveals about modern Germany. Pryor refers to Tenenbaum in her article, and I see that on both the right and the left Jew-hatred (often disguised as Israel hatred) is on the rise.
There are people attached to the SSPX who wholeheartedly embrace hatred of the Jewish people. Of far more serious concern and number are the priests and faithful who disagree with the antisemitism. These members are ashamed and angered by this ideology. They appeal in vain to their pastors, asking that offensive literature be removed from book stores and lamenting the difficulty of drawing family and friends to the “Faith” because of sermons and conferences that touch on this geopolitical aspect of the SSPX’s core thinking.
In spite of this, these members continue to worship in SSPX churches and place their children in the group’s schools. The key to understanding this behavior lies in the nature of the human mind once it becomes “cultic.” Cults do not simply fill the mind with error, but fundamentally transform the manner in which the brain processes information. Within the SSPX, one speaks of the Jews as the causal agent of the destruction of the Christian political social order and source of modernization of the Church. Bishop Fellay did this publicly during his talk in Canada. Members deny that this blaming of the Jews is antisemitism. They call it “the Counter-Revolution” or an aspect of “the Social Reign of Christ.”
At some point in their association with the Society, Catholics are confronted with the fact that the SSPX fosters the same perception of the Jews that historically resulted in their near-extermination in Europe. As processors of oxygen, as carbon-based entities, these souls recognize that the Holocaust was a bad thing and that any ideas or people who soften the horror of the Holocaust or the ideas that led to it can’t be good. This means that they have to take responsibility for continuing to associate with the Society which supported men such as Bishop Williamson. Repudiating the group has a very high price. First there is the internal condemnation by a conscience conditioned to see the SSPX as the last true Catholic locus in the world, the only way one can save his or her soul. There is also a social price in the shunning or alienation by family and friends. The greatest obstacle is having to recognize that years of one’s life may have been “wasted” in a group that embraces a racism incompatible with authentic Christianity.
Instead of paying this price, the mind simply changes reality; the Holocaust is attenuated. Members object that their particular chapel or pastor is only focused on the Faith and never speaks of “the Jewish question.” Others argue that they only go to the SSPX for the Latin Mass, for the beautiful ceremonies, and to avoid what they dislike about the “mainstream Church.”
But this compartmentalizing comes at an even higher price. Like a sort of “Horcrux,” it splits the very mind so members must live in two realities: the group’s tolerance of antisemitism and the story members tell themselves about how “good” they are.
Nobody joins a cult. Most people who become entangled in such groups do so for good reasons; change the world, serve God more authentically, etc. There comes a moment when the mind recognizes that this primary goal serves as the justification of the unjustifiable. By this time, the perceived benefits outweigh the “remote” evil. Members enjoy the “luxury” of social, spiritual, economic, and emotional fulfillment without taking responsibility for the consequences of objectifying Jewish people.