More on Maciel

John Zmirak, Blood from a Stone. Via Rod Dreher, who quotes this passage:

Since the market he served was orthodox Catholics, Father Maciel made sure he delivered them the goods that they were seeking. He didn’t transform the Legion into a network of pedophiles but kept his vices secret. He plundered the heritage of orthodox spirituality to furnish spiritual uplift he couldn’t practice and didn’t understand to better Catholics who could and did. What is more, from all I have witnessed, he used in his lay movements a modern technique mostly employed in political groups. I learned of it from a book by Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership, in which the author (a former Communist converted to the Church) sorts out the methods of Leninists, searching for those that are morally neutral and highly effective, which could serve the Church. (I read this book at a right-wing activist camp, so I know that others are using it, too.) The key to making people commit themselves to a movement, the Communists learned and Hyde revealed, was to keep them busy. To make them work harder and longer than they’d ever thought possible — even at tasks that don’t really need to be done. A person’s devotion to a cause, Hyde coolly explained, is proportionate not to what he gets from it but what he puts into it. So don’t make things too easy. Make people feel useful, and keep them digging up holes so others can fill them up. (It’s telling, perhaps, that Hyde rejoined the Commies and died outside the Church.) If you look up “non-joiner” on Wikipedia, you’ll see my picture, so I never got involved with Regnum Christi. But from what I have heard from friends who did, the organization is big on such busywork. (Its meetings and methods sounded mind-numbingly tedious to me, and I came up with the snarky nickname Boredom Christi.) But now I think I understand what was working and why: Out of trust in the saintliness of their founder, these holy men and women spent much of their free time praying — and hunting snipe.