In its April issue, Harper's Magazine has delivered a review of John Allen's Opus Dei with a take so scathing it makes the (10 million strong, and growing) chorus of Whispers-haters seem like overzealous advocates for my living canonization.
If that analogy doesn't give you an idea of the sky-high acid factor in this review, nothing will.
An anti-Work bias is palpable throughout the Harper's piece, which portrays Allen as an apologist for the personal prelature.
Opus Dei is particularly keen on what it deviously calls “discretion,” which means that its members, in Masonic style, have been highly secretive over the years about their affiliation. Allen perversely interprets this secrecy as a refusal to brag. The movement still refuses to publish a directory of its members, and its recruits often refuse to tell their families of their allegiance to it. Its centers and headquarters go under names that conceal their true proprietorship. Allen sees very little wrong with all this, and produces one specious reason after another to justify it.The book is then deemed "partisanship masquerading as objectivity," the magazine summarily judges Opus Dei Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima as a "repugnant autocrat" and the author is accused of "limp extenuations."
After comparing Allen's "good deal" of material culled from Opus Dei members and affiliates to "asking Tom Cruise to spill the beans on Scientology," Harper's opines that the book "is a masterpiece of disingenuousness, which is not to suggest that it is consciously deceitful.
"It seems, rather, an exercise in self-deception by a Catholic Vaticanologist who is loath to think badly of such a powerful arm of his church, and who consequently goes in for a scandalous amount of mental shuffling."
The best salvo, though, isn't directed at so much at Allen as some of the extra-Opus fold: "What, then, of sex, which tends to preoccupy right-wing Catholics almost as much as it does professional pornographers?"
Well, at least something in the savagery holds water....