The online Catholic world, as is the world around us, is full of name calling these days. Not of all of it helpful, friendly, or even Catholic for that matter. Typically, we tend to label people in convenient political terms. Many online purveyors of Catholic commentary tend to lump people into two broad unhelpful camps–conservative and liberal.
Lately, however, I notice that the labeling is morphing into something else. Even among the press, I find that the conservative and liberal tags falling by the wayside in favor of traditionalist and progressive. But for many, even to call them a traditionalist is not sufficient since traditional is not ominous sounding enough for people, so now we have radical traditionalist or rad-trad is the common pejorative.
After being called one himself, Father John Zulsdorf commented that there really isn’t a name for people like him and he opened the combox for suggestions. And boy he got a lot. But the most common answer I came across was something along these lines. “I am not conservative or liberal, rad-trad or progressive, I am Catholic pure and simple.”
While I am sympathetic to this line of thinking, I don’t think it is that simple. Further, I don’t think that all labels are to be eschewed as unhelpful. I think the problem with many labels is that they are not specific or well defined enough to be useful. Since people will use labels no matter what, I think that our labels should be specific and well defined.
In all this discussion, I kept coming back to the question, “If I am not Rad-Trad or Progressive, then what am I? And am I alone?”