Friday, February 20, 2009

Winning Friends and Influencing People

“Alone, yes! – But why stand against the world?”

Over the years I’ve mostly received negative feedback on the articles that I write, which is one of the reasons I am always surprised when I get a complimentary letter. But complimentary or negative, I always used to respond to every letter I received when I was a young man. I now only acknowledge the complimentary letters, and I ignore the critical ones. I do this for three reasons.

1) When I was young, I had a much greater respect for the rational, argumentative, dialectical type of apologetics. Now, I’ve come to believe that such debates are futile.

2) There is simply not enough time to write and then spend four to five extra hours a week responding to criticisms of what I have written.

3) In the Internet age, there are more ‘skim readers’ than ever before (quite possibly there are no human beings under 40 who have actually read a book or even an article from beginning to end). Someone will read two sentences of an article and, based on that reading, will fire off a skim-reader hate letter. I think we all would prefer to be liked, or even adored, rather than hated, but I am quite willing to be hated for my beliefs. What is intolerable is to be hated for something that I don’t believe but that a skim reader thinks I believe based on his two-sentence reading of something I wrote.

So let me launch into a summation of the major criticisms I’ve received over the years, which won’t clarify anything, because the skim readers who I am addressing won’t read more than two sentences of what I write. In fact, they haven’t read this far. Then why bother writing? Because I am headstrong, romantical and most unwise.

I like to think of myself as a man of the right. It sounds solid, substantial, and principled. But judging by the criticisms I get from the right wing, I think I’ll find another moniker.

Complaint #1: “You are weak on the Jewish issue.”
One irate women even told me once that I was a Jew, which was news to me, because I always thought I was of Welsh-German descent without any Jewish ancestry. But weak on the Jewish issue? What do my right wing critics mean? As near as I can gather, it is a combination of my oft-stated assertion that the Jews were not and are not the greatest threat to Christian Europe; my reluctance to give unequivocal support to the ‘no ovens’ theory; my refusal to view the Arabs as the ‘good guys’ in the Jewish and Muslim dispute; and my insistence on regarding Jewishness as a spiritual state rather than biological destiny.

Wow, those are some indictments. And I probably haven’t covered them all. Let’s start with the ‘Jews are not the greatest enemy’ assertion: I think that organized Jewry in its modern secularized form and in its more Orthodox religious form has always been a major threat to Christian Europe. One need only mention the Jewish strangleholds on the banks in Europe and America to prove that the Jews have an inordinate, an instinctual hatred of Christian Europe. But I think an avowed, even a maniacally hostile enemy in front of you is preferable to the wolf in sheep’s clothing in back of you. The greatest enemy of Christian Europe is now the Christian churches. The Jews would not have sufficient power to destroy individual Christians and Christian institutions if Christians had not become more hostile to Christianity than the Jews are. I’ve noticed that liberal southerners now hate the old white South more than northerners do; so it is with liberal Christians. In compensation for their old Christian days, they hate Christians even more than the Jews. And I do make a distinction between secularized Jews and Orthodox Jews. The vast majority of Orthodox Jews hate Christian Europe, but there seem to be more Orthodox Jews, such as the late Will Herberg, willing to support Christian Europe than there are “Christians” willing to support Christian Europe.

The ‘no ovens’ theory refers to the Holocaust problem. I don’t see why the right wing is so obsessed with proving that there were no ovens used to kill Jews. That terrible barbarities were done to Jews and to Christians, who were not guilty of anything other than being Jews and Christians, is (or so it seems to me) undeniable. That the Jews have lied about the number of Jews killed; that the Jews have been unconcerned about all the Christians killed; that the Jews have made, and are still making political hay over their “victim” status also seems to be undeniable. But whether Jews were beaten to death or gassed in ovens, or whether the Jews were starved to death or gassed in ovens, does not change the fact that barbarities were committed against them at the command of an anti-Christian, neo-pagan named Adolf Hitler.

The United States at the behest of Israel committed, and is still committing, terrible atrocities in Iraq. The Jews have committed and are still committing terrible atrocities in Palestine against the Moslems. But isn’t this a case of a big bully picking on a little bully? Are the Arabs a benign, peaceful people? Is Islam a faith of charity and mercy? Where, in the right wing, is the traditional, Christian European antipathy for Islam? Why is support for the Arabs any less repulsive than support for Israel? Does anyone doubt for a second that if the Moslems could gain the upper hand in Palestine they would commit the same atrocities on the Jews that the Jews are currently inflicting on them? What is sadly lacking in the Palestine dilemma is a Christian presence. If there was such a thing as Christian Europe and it was still strong, this is what Christian Europe would say to the Muslims and the Jews: “Neither of you have a right to Palestine. It belongs to Christ. But as a concession to erring human nature, we will permit both of you to live and worship in Palestine, providing you follow our rules.” You can fill in the rules yourself.

And if there was a Christian Europe but Europeans were not strong enough to control the Moslems and Jews? Then the European states, which would include the United States, would simply say, “A plague on both your houses.” But a Christian monarch would no more support the Moslems against the Jews than he would support the Jews against the Muslims. The modern television evangelists who think that the interests of Israel and Christendom are one and the same are insane, but so are the right-wingers who think Islam and the Christian West can become two peas in a pod.

I’ve noticed that almost all the pagan right-wingers and a sizable amount of the Christian right-wingers take the view that once you are born a Jew, you stay a Jew no matter if you claim to have converted to Christianity or not. A traditionalist priest, as distinct from a traditional Christian, once condemned a Christian author I was fond of, because he claimed the man had a Jewish ancestor some eight generations back.

Shakespeare, often condemned for anti-Semitism because of his play, The Merchant of Venice, actually gives us the traditional Christian view of the Jew, which differs markedly from the views of the right-wing Christians and the New Age, right-wing pagans. Shakespeare shows us what a man becomes who belongs to a religious sect that has hardened itself against the God of mercy. He hates The Light and those who worship The Light: “I hate him for he is a Christian.” But Shakespeare also emphasizes that there is redemption for the Jew if he will become a Christian. Jewishness does not have to be a permanent condition. In the play, Launcelot, who impregnates a negress, presents the literalist interpretation of Jewishness, while Jessica gives the traditional Christian view:

Launcelot Gobbo. Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children: therefore, I promise ye, I fear you. I was always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter: therefore be o’ good cheer, for truly I think you are damn’d. There is but one hope in it that can do you any good; and that is but a kind of bastard hope neither.

Jessica. And what hope is that, I pray thee?

Launcelot Gobbo. Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you not, that you are not the Jew's daughter.

Jessica. That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed. So the sins of my mother should be visited upon me.

Launcelot Gobbo. Truly then I fear you are damn’d both by father and mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall into Charybdis, your mother. Well, you are gone both ways.

Jessica. I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian.
What is the key element of Judaism? Their hatred for Christ and the people who built a civilization based on their love for Christ. The New Age pagan, the Christian rationalist, as well as the post-Christian rationalists of the Catholic and Protestant bodies, all hate Christ and the Europeans who still honor His civilization. So who is the unredeemed Jew? Shylock and the modern Christ-hating Christians, but not Jessica. (1)

Complaint #2: “You hate Catholicism.”
Let us first be clear about the difference between a Christian’s hate and the barbarian’s hate. If I say I hate Bernard Shaw, which I do, it does not mean that if he were alive today I would want to kill him or torture him, as a Negro barbarian would want to do to his enemy. Now if Bernard Shaw led an army that was determined to force the Shavian faith on me by violence, then I would respond with violence. But in the absence of a declared war on his part, my response to Shaw’s evil religion would be a spiritual one since my hatred of him was, and is, a metaphysical hatred, which is much stronger than a barbarian’s hatred, but not as bloody.

With that qualification, let me say that yes, I do hate Catholicism in its modern Novus Ordo form and in its traditionalist form. Is there any other kind of Catholicism? I think there is if one looks to the Christian Church prior to the medieval ages and to the Anglican Church prior to the 20th century. But let us leave that alone for the present. (2) Why the hatred for the two modern manifestations of Catholicism? The Novus Ordo church is the end result of nontraditional traditionalism, so let me start with the traditionalists. What the ‘trads’ are preserving and espousing is the doctrine that spawned Vatican II, that made the Protestant Reformation necessary, and that has given birth to modern liberalism (see ‘The Lost Thread’ and ‘The Scholastic Heresy’). They have institutionalized the sin of the old Adam and made it the Christian faith. In their view the Church as an institution does not preserve the deposit of the Faith handed down by the apostles. It does something entirely different. By ignoring its own tenets it placed an inordinate amount of responsibility on one man. Karl Adam was absolutely correct when he said that the Church should not be dependent on that one chosen theologian to explain the Faith. (3) And I would add that what the Church did, when they traded Christ for St. Thomas Aquinas, was the same as what Adam and Eve did. Satan told Adam and Eve that true wisdom did not come from an intimate relationship with God, it came from pure reason’s contemplation of the natural world. And that satanic doctrine, through the good offices of St. Thomas, became the primary doctrine of the Catholic Church. The Novus Ordo church was simply the result of following the Thomist formula to its logical conclusion that would have horrified St. Thomas: the mind of Man is God. How can you not hate such a doctrine?

Complaint #3: “You are hostile to Protestantism.”
Yes, in my zealous Catholic days, I was hostile to Protestantism, but I must emphasize that I was never a Feeneyite, nor will I ever become a Protestant version of a Feeneyite. (4) What I am in absolute sympathy with is the Protestantism of Lady Alice Avenel as depicted in Walter Scott’s novel, The Monastery. She doesn’t know about John Calvin or Martin Luther; all she wants is to get closer to Christ. And she reads the forbidden book, the Gospel of Christ. For this she is reprimanded and denied the Gospel of Christ.

Alice of Avenel represents what is good in the Protestant Reformation. And unfortunately a reformation was needed, because the Church authorities of that time did not have the sense to simply form another order as they had done with St. Francis of Assisi.

But what of John Calvin? I have never known a good Christian who was a strict Calvinist. The good ones modify his doctrines and place Christ’s gospel above John Calvin, while the mad-dog lunatics who look and act like John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame follow the logic of total depravity to its ultimate hellish conclusions.

Without a doubt Calvin’s total depravity doctrine was a reaction to the semipelagianism of St. Aquinas. Both theologies are monuments of “egregious folly.” Thankfully the Christian folk of Europe have rejected both follies.

The complex problems, such as the place of Mary in the Church, and the meaning of such terms as ‘transubstantiation,’ will never be solved by the theologians. They will be solved by the Christian folk who genuinely seek Him in their hearts.

Complaint #4: “Fairy tales and poets and all that literary nonsense has nothing to do with religious faith.”
First, fairy and folk tales of the Europeans are a very good source of religious faith. They represent the only true form of democracy, the democracy of tradition.

And secondly, a great poet such as Walter Scott gives us not only his own vision of the Faith, he also depicts for us the religious vision of his people.

In contrast the theologian does not give us a vision, he provides us with his thoughts about God. And it is just one particular man’s thoughts about God. He speaks for no one but himself and demands that every man, woman, and child should adhere to his philosophy of God.

The non-integral, rationalistic, theological Christianity of the schools has rendered Christians defenseless against the organized onslaught of the Jews and the Christ-hating Christians. And Christians are helpless because the philosophical undergirding of both the Protestant and Catholic churches denies that there is any indwelling grace within man. He has only dumb nature as his guide, which is the liberals’ guide as well. When the theological Christian quarrels with the liberal post-Christian, they are quarrelling over trifles; they really agree on the essentials. The men of faith are never theologians or theological Christians. They are Europeans who see Christ’s banner and no other, and they have already overcome the world because they, like Ratty, have never left their home. “Through Him, with Him, and in Him...” +
(1) In the recent conflict between the grand inquisitor bishop of the SSPX and the liberal, Jewish inquisitors I see that it is indeed true that the devil never rests. (I wish he would take a break now and then.) “Choose,” the devil says. I choose neither. But for the same reason Whittaker Chambers thought the convicted communist Alger Hiss should not be denied a passport because he was a convicted communist, I do not think the SSPX bishop should be denied the right to “deny the Holocaust.” As some blogger recently stated, “The Jews are not that smart.” If they were they would realize that by calling attention to a marginalized bishop within a marginalized sect of the Catholic Church, you only give a sectarian, religious zealot celebrity status far beyond anything he ever had before.

It is not for denial of the Holocaust that the bishop should be anathematized. He and his whole organization should be anathematized for denying the humanity of God. The Jews, having abandoned their faith, now have only one faith, the Holocaust. And they protect their new faith. Where are the Christian voices that protect their faith? Why was the SSPX never condemned for the right reasons, for their refusal to acknowledge that God has a human face and a human heart?

The Christian gospel announces primarily not an ascent of humanity to the heights of the divine in a transfiguration, an apotheosis, a deification of human nature, but a descent of the Godhead, of the divine Word, to the state of bondage of the purely human. This is the kernel of the primitive Christian message. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”; he “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of man, and in habit found as a man” (Phil, ii. 7). Hence it is just as important to establish that Christ is full and complete man, that for all the hypostatic union with the Godhead, he possessed not only a human body but also a purely human soul, a purely human will, a purely human consciousness, a purely human emotional life, that in the full and true sense he became as one of us, as it is to establish the other proposition, namely, that this man is God. Indeed, the doctrine of the divinity of Christ first acquires from the other doctrine—Christ is full and perfect man—its specifically Christian imprint and its specifically Christian form; its essential difference from all pagan apotheoses and saviour gods.

--from The Son of God by Karl Adam

I’ve grown up reading all the ecumenical books that say a Christian should make alliances with every organization that affirms God. That’s too broad of a tent for me. Such a tent includes Muslims, SSPXers, Druids, African voodoo devotees, and so on. But if we limit the tent to those who believe in the divinity of God and His humanity, we won’t have an overwhelming coalition of numbers but men and women with faith in the one true God.

One final note on this SSPX-Rome-Jew conflict. To the Pope: Williamson never hid his views on the Holocaust. If you didn’t want him and his organization back in the Church, you should not have lifted the excommunication. But having once welcomed the unrepentant sinner back to the fold, you should not then have immediately thrown him to the wolves.

To the SSPX: What kind of organization sells out their own for a paltry pat on the head from the liberal powers that be? A lap-dog, soulless organization.

To Williamson: Abandon the God of the SSPX and appeal to the God-Man of Christianity, the only one to whom we can turn for mercy when a Christ-forsaking, Christ-hating world no longer even knows the meaning of the word.

(2) It’s more than interesting that the British people, after the terrible debacle of Henry XIII and his wives, when forced to decide about the best means to inspire devotion to Him, chose to link to the early Church fathers rather than the scholastics, and to stress the Gospels over the Church fathers.

I think this was a wise choice, because the Scholastics were the wise men who told us we needn’t enter the dark woods; we needed only their wise heads. In contrast, the early Church fathers only advised us about the journey; they didn’t tell us that it was unnecessary. They would not have been in the least offended therefore that the Gospels were given priority over their advice.

When I was a young man, I thought that the source of modernity was Protestantism. When I became an older man, I realized that scholasticism was the source of modernity. When Protestants also abandon the Gospels, they become scholastics and therefore modernists, which is why I have always claimed that the conflict is not between Catholic vs. Protestant but between peasant vs. wizard.

(3) "Too little attention has been paid to what Etienne Gilson, in his great book La Philosophie de S. Bonaventure, has told us about the literally passionate hostility shown by that brilliant Franciscan towards the Aristotelian epistemology taken over by SS. Albert and Thomas Aquinas. At that time in the fight against the Platonist-Augustinian illumination theory, which referred every ultimate and absolute certainty to an inflowing of divine light, and thus linked in the most intimate union created and divine knowledge, human perception was thrown on its own resources, and consequently knowledge and faith, the natural and supernatural, were neatly separated, and it was then that the primary conditions were created in which a world, which was more and more rapidly breaking loose from the primacy of faith, could emancipate all human thought from the creative thought of God. Men artificially mapped out a particular field of reality and called it Nature. They thus awakened and encouraged the evil illusion that the other reality, that of the supernatural, of God, had been brought into apposition with it from without, and that it was a more or less secondary reality. Nature was secularized by being released – from the epistemological standpoint—from its actual union with the supernatural, and the fiction was favoured that Nature was a thing per se capable of complete explanation independently of any outside factor. Thus we have all become secularized in our thought and we have schemata in our hands, or rather in our minds, which do not lead to the divine, to Christ, but away from him...

"Western eyes are grown old, and can no longer see the whole reality; or rather they have been ruined by long and bad usage. By having been concentrated on the world of mere phenomena their capacity to see the superterrestrial and the Divine has been weakened. Hence the evil does not so much lie in our bad will, certainly not in the difficulty of the Object, in the mysterious, paradoxical nature of the Christian message, but in the fundamental make-up of the modern European. He has forgotten how to see."

--from The Son of God by Karl Adam

George Macdonald put it more simply and more poetically:
I will go further: To arouse the hope that there may be a God with a heart like our own is more for the humanity in us than to produce the absolute conviction that there is a being who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters. Jesus is the express image of God's substance, and in him we know the heart of God. To nourish faith in himself was the best thing he
could do for the man.
And Shakespeare puts it better still:

Thy bosom is endearèd with all hearts
Which I, by lacking, have supposèd dead;
And there reigns love, and all love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought burièd.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stol'n from mine eye
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things removed that hidden in thee lie.
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give;
That due of many now is thine alone.
Their images I loved I view in thee,
And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.

(4) Father Feeney was a Catholic priest who claimed there was no salvation outside the Church. He was excommunicated by Pius XII, and his excommunication was lifted by Paul VI. I’m sure Protestants have Father Feeney types in their respective churches as well, men and women who take one small aspect of the faith and make it the cornerstone of a new, cruel religion. In Father Feeney’s case, he took “Pharisaism to a new level of genius.”