Beans v. the East – @MassimoFaggioli cheapshots Orientals

Ubiquitous and relentless self-promoter Massimo “Beans” Faggioli has eructed yet another oh-so clever tweet:


I haven’t paid much attention to Beans lately. His twitter feed is on the “second page”, as it were, of Tweetdeck, and I have to scroll to the right to see it. I haven’t missed much, since most of his tweets are an incessant stream of “Me! Me!”.

But this tweet was brought to my attention by an Eastern Catholic who is Indian. He found the tweet offensive, and rightly so.

While I admit that I am not sure what’s going on in that quip – frankly, he might just be playing with words in order to make connections where they don’t belong – it does seem to cast a shadow over things Eastern.

Who can untangle this?

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  1. frjimt says:

    … some things, like of this sort, are best left to trained and verified exorcists to ‘untangle’

  2. Fr. Charles A. F. says:

    I think “Orientalism” here is a reference to the writings of Edward Said (a Palestinian, about as far left as humanly possible), who critiqued most of Western scholarship on the Middle East as culturally insensitive in a book titled, unsurprisingly, “Orientalism”. Said is one of the first to use the infuriating catchphrase “cultural appropriation”.

    Faggioli’s use of it, predictably, is neither here nor there: Latin priests who celebrate ad Orientem appropriate… what? Their own liturgical tradition?

  3. True wit and humor are grounded in truth and reality, so it’s no wonder liberals can’t do them.

  4. Ben Kenobi says:

    Really? *sigh*. I don’t know what to be sadder for. His clumsy attempt at division, the paucity of his understanding of liturgy or his lack of Christian witness. Even as a protestant, we studied the design of Churches and it was well understood WHY they were oriented ad orientam – to the east.

  5. Unwilling says:

    Agree with Fr Charles that the allusion intended is to Said’s Orientalism.
    Fundamental to Said’s doctrine (which underlies much of “colonialism”) is the notion or assertion that “The Orient” (as a political/cultural thing) is an imperialist, racist, cultural supremacist, fiction intended to create division and otherness where none exists.
    Beans’ appropriation of the discourse is mildly clever and means to suggest that ad orientem worship appeals to advocates’ ignorant belief that the mystery of facing East is anything beyond a deconstructable delusion.

  6. SebastianHvD says:

    I think he means that building your altar “ad orientem” only makes sense in the western world, whereas the churches east of Jerusalem should actually build them to the west – but do not in deference to Rome.

  7. crjs1 says:

    Orientalism, according to Edward Said, is how Western scholarship and popular culture views and presents non-western society as inferior to the west, so legitimising western intervention in the non-western world, particularly the Middle East. The claim is that these cultural representations are deep rooted and historically reproduced and are related to imbalance of power between the West and non-West.

    Massimo appears to be saying that Ad-orientalist Catholic’s (I.e. traditional Catholics I assume??) look down and see other Catholics as inferior to traditional and Western Catholics. In the same say as Orientalism views non-western culture and society as inferior.

    I think anyway…Basically a cheap shot at Orthadox Catholics

  8. Joe in Canada says:

    I’m not a theologian. I belong to the Latin church and have worked in one of the Eastern Catholic churches, and have an advanced degree in Byzantine studies, and this makes no sense to me. If in fact it is supposed to mean something, I suppose it is intended as a slur against Latin Catholics, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. Esp since most eastern (geographically speaking) Catholics belong to the Latin church.

  9. cwillia1 says:

    I think faggoli’s point is a little clearer if you replace ad-orientalism with ad-orientem-ism. His post is a cheap play on words but I don’t see any insult to Eastern Christians. The target is traditional Latin-Rite Catholics. Twitter is the home of the cheap shot substituting for discourse.

  10. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    I’ve often said that to denigrate ad orientem worship in the Western Church is not only to suggest that the Latins had been “doing it wrong” all those centuries up to the mid-1960s, but also to imply that the Eastern churches have been, and are still, “doing it wrong” — a preposterous position that not even the most “liberal” advocate of the post-V2 liturgical revolution wants to espouse. It could be that Massimo has given that some thought and now thinks the time has come to target the East? Or it could be that I’m giving him too much credit here.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I have no idea what he really is talking about, but let the cricket in the reeds hazard a guess…
    He’s making a play on words between ad ORIENTem and Ad ORIENTalism. I do agree, these words do start with the same letters, and they do spell “Orient”, so, he’s got something there. But there would have to be a relationship between those two words, it would have to make a point, and I just don’t see any. I would have to conclude this sentence fails in the attempt.

    The other sentence is even less clear to me, he appears to be taking the usual tact of liberals by saying that we Westerners are assuming that the West has had any role at all in Christianity.
    Liberals hate the West, hate their ancestors, hate their history, hate what they come from, and want you to hate it too. They believe Islam will be morally superior.

  12. abasham says:

    Others have pointed out the definition of “orientalism” that I think ol’ Beans is going for here, but I’ll add that a significant part of this “orientalism,” at least in terms of art and literature at the time, was a sort of romanticized and almost fetishized depiction of “the Orient,” which Edward Said argued was patronizing and based on an inherently prejudiced view of eastern cultures.

    So, that said, I’m so I’ll not sure what, exactly, Beans is going for. Perhaps he is saying that supporters of ad orientam worship are romanticizing and fetishizing a foreign thing which they don’t understand and is really only a rosy fiction anyways?

    Or is he trying to say that supporters of ad orientam worship are prejudiced imperialists who believe the Western World is inherently superior? I’m not sure where he’s going with that, as I suspect a number of traditional-leaning Catholics have a healthy disrespect for this “Western culture” which brought us the guillotines, swastikas, and hammers & sickles of the so-called “enlightenment.”

  13. arga says:

    Orientalism is Edward Said’s contribution to knowledge. But Faggioli’s use of it in this context is pathetically sophomoric.

  14. Grabski says:

    Ironically Pope Francis headed the Eastern Catholic Ordinairiate in Argentina…

  15. iamlucky13 says:

    The most coherent explanation I can come up with is Mr. Faggioli is a flat-earther.

  16. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    I think it has to do with the scientific fact that, in the non-Western World (the global south, East Asia and Oceania), the sun rises in the West, rather than the East. It’s obvious.

  17. Gab says:

    I’m seriously wondering if our Mr Bean is in need of an exorcism.

  18. In case you missed it, there is, in the first American edition the Catholic Herald, a great caricature of Faggioli and a description of his “tribe” (among others):

  19. Imrahil says:

    It seems I don’t even understand the sense of the quote, including why it is offensive.

    What is Orientalism?

    What is Catholic Ad Orientalism?

    And of course, if you take the words as they stand (and I am really, not rhetorically, at a loss to attribute anything beyond that to them), there is a certain rôle for Western civilization in global Christianity, how could there not?

  20. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Given that one of the messianic OT titles of Jesus is “the Orient,” I think this tweet constitutes objective blasphemy. (Check out Zech. 3:8 and 9:12.) For various reasons, the Septuagint translates “bud” or “budding branch” in this way; the place of sprouting of plants and the place of emergence of the Sun are similar words in Greek, and St. Jerome did something similar in translating into Latin.

    Beyond that, the Bible of course says that the Messiah will be seen in the East when he comes in judgment, and there are a lot of connections between the East and Christian doctrine of the Second Coming. And that is why from the earliest times, Catholics East and West all prayed toward the east. Modern Latin/Roman Rite Catholics are the weird ones.

    Fortunately, I also think Faggioli is as ignorant of the Bible as he is of Catholic tradition and doctrine, so he is just spewing this garbage without any idea of what he is saying.

  21. Suburbanbanshee says:

    And actually, the comparison of “budding” to “radiance emerging from a place” comes from Syriac stuff, which basically means from Aramaic. So it is “orientalism” coming straight from the Holy Land…. Oops. Almost as if the Church knows what she is doing!

  22. Unwilling says:

    The Catholic Herald article on Catholic “tribes” is meant as a mirror for each to see in it reflections of ourselves in humorous dress. Jane Austen: “for what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” Robert Burns “see ourselves as others see us”. But I judge the lines of division drawn are fun and facile, but do not mark the underlying tectonics of reality. “It” is not all a sort of amusing misunderstanding. Douthat was much better.

  23. Legisperitus says:

    Unwilling et al.:
    I think your analysis is probably correct, and it makes Beans’ cheap shot such inside-inside baseball that it’s no wonder only 21 people liked it.

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    Orientalism is the title of a 1978 book by Edward Said. He is from a wealthy family of Cairo’s Zamaalek district, but was born in Jerusalem probably because the hospitals there were better. He passed himself off as Palestinian to show that he was Down with the Struggle.

    Briefly, his book (which has had a toxic effect on Middle East academic studies) says: “Only Muslims and Arabs can study and write about Islam and the Middle East, you Imperialist Racist Running Dogs cannot.” Well now, Muhammed and the Islamic Empire have been trying, one way or another since the 7th century, to destroy Judaism, Christianity, and the West. So, keeping an eye on what Islamists are up to these days, which means researching the Koran and Arab societies, is a reasonable way to spend one’s time.

    Beans, poor guy, tries so hard to be clever but winds up flaunting his confusions.

    abasham: The swastika is not “Western culture,” it extends back to ancient Mesopotamia, Asia, and Europe. The swastika of National Socialism rejects Western culture and the Catholic Church. The Nazi swastika symbolizes a return to a pagan tribe, though, armed with modern weapons and propaganda techniques.

  25. Mmm, doesn’t “ad orientem” mean “toward the rising sun”? The Latin noun “oriens, orientis” means “sunrise.” It derives from the verb “orior, ori, ortus sum” (“to rise”). And wherever you are on Earth, the sun rises in the east, even in Hong Kong. Nothing “Orientalist” about that.

    I think Fagioli is confusing facing “ad orientem” with the Muslim prayer position, in which believers position themselves in the direction of Mecca–which can be north, south, east, or west, depending on where you are. Maybe he thinks that “ad orientem” means facing Jerusalem–who knows? But he does seem kind of ignorant of the fact that traditionally all churches, whether in Syria, Armenia, Russia, France, or Rome were positioned with their sanctuaries to the east–and most Eastern churches preserve that “orientation” to this day.

  26. @ Fr. Timothy Ferguson:

    Are you insane–or just being tongue-in-cheek? Sunrise has to do with the rotation of the earth, not where you are on a map relative to Western Europe and North America.

  27. aroc981 says:

    Every time I read this guys name I can’t stop laughing…. It can’t be a coincidence can it? lol :’D

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