“To Make the World Safe for Shopping” John C. Rao on a Covert Revolution

John C. Rao - Shopping

Sooner or later, traditionally-minded Catholic students of Church history face a burning, even agonising, question.

Put simply, that question might be rendered: how did the virile, courageous, sharply defined and world-defiant “Spirit of Vatican One” (1870) give way – in less than a hundred years! – to the mushily soft, vague, world-compliant “Spirit of Vatican Two” (1962-1965)?

In other words, in the mid-Nineteenth Century, starting around the Papacy of Bl. Pius XII (1846-1877), the Catholic Church launched a mighty, bold, sweeping non to the liberal French revolutionary spirit of 1789 and even, to a certain extent, the similarly liberal American revolutionary spirit of 1776.

But that initially puissant non was progressively watered down, till we arrived at the 1960s liberal revolution in the Church.

How, how, how did this occur, the faithful Catholic may ask, clutching his head in pain.

The answer is obviously complex, as it happened on numerous fronts at once, from the horrors of two world wars to the rise of the Capitalist American super-power, which reshaped Europe after both wars to her own Pluralist vision.

As John C. Rao makes clear in this remarkable book, this Pluralism goes hand-in hand with commercialism.

Hence, American-led modernity’s endeavour, as Rao pungently puts it:

to destroy man, nature and culture – in order, ultimately, to make the world safe for shopping.

This is, of course, not all there is to it. Again, we are dealing with highly complex realities. And so Rao supplements his deconstruction of American Pluralism with a further critique of (more European) Personalism – showing how the two, working in tandem, yielded corrosive effects.

Now, these are but brief notes of some impressions from my first perusal of the book. But it demands a second reading! And more, I imagine. For I am powerfully hit by a vast wealth of insight here and need time to digest it better.

Suffice it to say for now: Rao takes us through a little-understood intellectual revolution with erudite brilliance in a dense but compact tour-de-force.

And thus, I highly recommend it to philosophically minded Catholics who, in pain, ask what happened to our Church, especially in terms of a specific intellectual trajectory (not to mention intellectual sabotage!) that preceded the more general popular manifestations of impiety, which have submerged the Church since Vatican II.

And finally, I warn that certain Americans reading Rao might wince at just how sharply he identifies American Pluralism as a key culprit of the intellectual revolution in the Church, just as he regards its cousin, American Capitalism, as a key culprit of the political-economic revolution that delivered the last hammer blows to Christendom.

But, as an American by birth myself, I think Traditionalist Americans need to confront the things Rao says head-on.


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