Cambria Will Not Yield

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Gingerbread House

I would dispute those liberals who claim fascism is from the Right; it really has nothing in common, as Nicolai Tolstoy points out in his book, Stalin’s Secret War, with the Christian right. It is, however, to the right of socialist liberalism. Fascism incorporates some old pagan elements (Mussolini changed his allegiance from communism to fascism, for instance, because he claimed communism lacked virility) that the socialists eschew; therefore, to the modern mind, fascism is to the right and communism is to the left.

Most of ‘apocalyptic’ literature, warning us of the dangers of totalitarianism, such as Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, warn us of a fascist government (Orwell’s Animal Farm of course warns us of socialist totalitarianism). But whether the authors warn us of a communist or fascist dictatorship, they all perceive totalitarian societies as based on non-subtle (overt?), masculine force. They all have failed to envision a totalitarian society that was subtle, seductive, and feminine. The most successful totalitarian government in history has been the United States. Using feminine coercion rather than masculine, the U.S. has accomplished much more than Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or any other 2-bit dictator ever hoped to accomplish.

In Fahrenheit 451, my favorite of the apocalyptic novels, Bradbury correctly notes that a totalitarian government must, if it is to maintain itself, kill history. There must be no historical consciousness; there must only be the reigning government, which has always been, and always will be, world without end. In Bradbury’s novel, the government kills history by burning all books from the past.

But a colony of rebels keeps the past alive by having each member of their rebel band memorize a book. In the novel, naked force is effective to a certain extent, but it is not all-powerful because there is a resistance movement that could eventually destroy the existing regime.

The U.S. has conquered by using the ‘Gingerbread House’ technique used by the witch in the story “Hansel and Gretel.” Books about the past are not banned, they are simply packaged in scorn and printed with ridicule, while modernism comes in a gingerbread house. And in the modern American gingerbread house, no one has enough sense to realize that the feminine force responsible for the gingerbread house is demonic. In the corner of the house, little Joey Brill is munching on democracy cookies; Joe Average American is eating blood-and-circus candied apples, while Mr. Good Solid Citizen eats constitutional brownies and capitalist donuts. And who is that on the roof? Why, it’s the ever-evolving and revolving Sally Cupcake eating the gingerbread house chimney made of progressive dough and feminist icing. Munching on the cinnamon door is race-mixing Lou, and over by the stove is… Well, you get the picture.

The great satanic wisdom of American totalitarianism is this: if you ban the old books and the old traditions, the people might still love them enough to fight for their restoration. But if you give them a gingerbread house to munch on and coat the older books and traditions in monkey vomit, the people will joyfully let the old books remain unread and the old traditions die.

We are in a much more sorry plight than the doomsday prophets predicted. Traditions cannot be simply dug up to settle a contemporary score with an opponent. They can only come to life if they are loved. Pinocchio will always be more relevant than Darwin.



I have before me an article from David Duke’s web page, titled, “New Orleans Descends into Africa-like Savagery.” He points out that the “New Orleans looting, robbery, rape, murder and mayhem is not about food and water. There are many distribution points. Absolutely no one is starving. No one is dying of thirst, save perhaps for a few hopelessly trapped in their attics from the risen waters. No, this mayhem is about morals in a man, not the amount of food in his stomach.”

Dr. Duke goes on to draw the obvious conclusions from the New Orleans tragedy: Whites are different from blacks. Without white guidance and control, blacks will always descend into savagery. It is not just permissible, it is essential and morally incumbent upon white people that they support their own race. The fact that they are not doing so is the primary tragedy of the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

Doystoevsky used the image of the swine possessed by devils to describe the Russian intelligentsia. All of white Europe and European America is possessed by the same devils. There seems to be virtually no hope that the devils will be exorcised. No matter how blatant the savagery of the blacks and their anti-white hatred becomes, self-hating whites still persist in sanctifying black barbarism and demonizing white self-sacrifice and virtue.

I talked of battle lines previously. Well, there is a clear battle line that can be drawn between the black and white. Whereas not all who stand with the white race are Christian all who stand against it are most certainly not Christian. That the Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith is true in a much more profound sense than Belloc realized.

Those on the pagan right are much more Christian in ethos than the post-Christian whites lurking inside the various churches, but they need to look past the current anti-European churches to the Christians of other eras. It was only a few of the utopian lunatic sects that promoted race mixing and the worship of the noble savage. So why let the Christ-hating, European-hating, modern Christians steer you away from the God-Man?

Our Lord told us that some devils can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. I think the devils inside the white-hating whites are such devils. And by saying that, I do not mean that we should not fight the white-hating whites and the black barbarians; I mean that we must recognize that the antidote to Gnostic Christianity – which is at the heart of race-mixing and black worship because the white Gnostic makes out of his own fantasies a false image of the black – is not paganism but real prayer-and-fasting Christianity.

No black barbarian, no post-Christian white can stand up against a Christian who, having purified the weak vessel that he is through prayer and fasting, fights for His reign of charity. Sir Walter Scott’s hero in The Surgeon’s Daughter marches straight into the valley of the shadow of death because he has that within him that cannot be purchased in the open market or found in any religion, save one.

Twas the hour when rites unholy
Call’d each Paynim voice to prayer,
And the star that faded slowly,
Left to dews the freshen’d air.
Day his sultry fires had wasted,
Calm and cool the moonbeams shone;
To the Vizer’s lofty palace
One bold Christian came alone.

Without Christ, there is no mercy. And we only know Christ through the European. It was the European who absorbed the incarnation into his blood. What will the world be like without mercy, without the European? It will be like the New Orleans Superdome.

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Who Killed Edward Europe?

Cast of Characters

Edward Europe – deceased
Philip Marlowe – narrator/ detective
Flora Plato – later calls herself “Susan Christian” – hat-check girl and dance hall floozie
Aristotle Smarty Pants – Number two man in the Big S’s operation. A very clever fellow.
Big Tom Aquinas – A mug working for Smarty Pants
Willie Teilhard – Nicknamed “Slick Willie” – a two-bit confidence man and mug – also working for Smarty Pants
The Big S – the number one man in the operation – his street address is Hell, but he gets around.
William Papal – a hit man who works for Mr. S

My name is Philip Marlowe and I’m a private eye. But I’m not working on the Europe case for money. Ed Europe was my best friend. I want to find out who killed him. And when I do find the ones that killed him, they won’t be turned over to the law. I’ll deal with them myself. It’s part of the code; at least, my code.

Edward Europe was one hell of a man. He hit the ground running in the late 300’s. Seeing through his eye rather than with it, he immediately grasped the implications of the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament story of the God-Man. He was truly remarkable. He had a sixth sense about things, but he was not an egghead. His mind was only a tool that he used, like his broadsword, to serve his heart. I loved the guy. He was the type of man you always hoped you could be. Even if you knew you weren’t like him, it was good to know that there was a guy like him.

But there were some dark clouds in Ed Europe’s sky. The darkest cloud was a dame – it seems like it’s always a dame. This one had baby blue, innocent eyes and a face and figure that wouldn’t quit. But she was far from innocent. I tried to warn Ed about her, but it was no use; he wouldn’t hear anything against her. She was subtle and very slick. She had started out as a hat-check girl at a night club. Her name was Flora Plato, but when she met Ed, she claimed her name was Susan Christian.

She never said anything that was against Ed’s European faith; she just kept telling him how much he could improve his understanding of his faith if he only got smarter. She introduced him to a friend of hers – his name was Mr. Aristotle Smarty Pants. Ed started attending classes with the two of them. And through them, he started meeting all sorts of questionable characters – mugs like Big Tom Aquinas and Slick Willie Teilhard. I knew he was heading for a fall. But what could I do? He loved that dame, but she done him wrong.

Watching Ed sink lower and lower into the abyss was more than I could bear. When I found I couldn’t get him to break with Susan and her friends, I moved cross-country to get a fresh start in life. But things were never the same. I took heart from Ed’s integralness. He was the real deal. When he was going strong, you had hope that just maybe everything in this wacky world would turn out to make some sense.

I hadn’t seen Ed Europe for three years when I got a telegram from him. “Need help. Please come” was all it said. I took the first plane I could get but it was too late. I saw Ed all right, but he was in the morgue with a .45 slug in his head. The coroner said it was suicide, but I know different…

12 years later –
It took some time but I got them all. Well, all but the guy they call the Big S. He’s still out there somewhere. He ordered the hit on my pal, Ed Europe. For years I thought it was old Aristotle Smarty Pants who was running the show, but even he worked for the Big S man.

As you probably guessed, Ed’s death was not suicide. The actual slug was fired by a mug named William Papal. He’s dead now too. I took care of that. But don’t worry, he got an even break. I put the revolver on the table between us. It was slightly closer to him than me. I was a shade quicker though.

Susie was in on the murder plot, but she didn’t live much longer than Ed. Smarty Pants had Tom Aquinas kill her. She was in the way. Teilhard got too pushy and tried to take over the whole operation, so Smarty Pants had him eliminated too. But when Big Tom refused to kill Teilhard (it turned out they were half-brothers), Smarty Pants had him rubbed out.

I finally caught up with Smarty Pants last month. At first I didn’t believe him when he insisted that he wasn’t Mr. Big. It certainly had always seemed liked he was running the show. But he showed me some evidence that convinced me that Mr. S is and was behind the whole anti-Europe movement. Yes, I said, ‘is’ as well as ‘was.’ Ed may be dead, but his reputation and his legacy are still alive. The Big S wants that legacy and reputation to stand for racism, militarism, sexism and stupidity. But I want Ed Europe’s legacy to reflect what Ed was: the only integral Christian man I ever knew.

Yes, he was weak, because he was human, more human than the rest of us. And he never sold out to the Big S. That’s why the Big S had to destroy him and why the Big S wants to smear his memory. But I won’t forget Ed Europe. As long as I have breath in my body, I will tell the truth about Ed despite the Big S and all of his new recruits.

I’ve cut out the bourbon and cigarettes and replaced them with pushups, running, and constant target practice with my .45. Oh, I almost forget to mention – I did kill Smarty Pants as well.

I’ve never been a big reader, but there are a few books and poems that stick in my mind. There are two lines by Thomas Moore which express my feelings about Ed Europe:

“One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

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Soulless Nirvana

In his book, Solitude and Society, Nicholas Berdyaev makes a distinction between community and communion. Community consists of those organizations, civic and religious, which are formed to facilitate interaction between people who have something in common. Communion, in Berdayev’s scheme of things, is something deeper than community. When one speaks from the depths of one’s heart to another heart and touches a responsive chord, then, and only then, has a communion taken place.

Communities can facilitate communion or they can destroy it. Berdayev thought the most tragic situation imaginable would be a society that is organized into superficial communities in which the members, in order to avoid the agony of communion, occupy themselves totally with the trivial and commonplace and become quite content with banality and vapidity. Sound familiar? Yes, we have created the nightmarish society that Berdayev wrote about. While Berdayev, having labored in the Lord’s vineyards, now rests in the arms of the Lord, we must try to extricate ourselves from the anti-communal society we live in.

A community betrays the original ideal on which it was founded when it allows its members to affirm the idea behind the community while anesthetizing themselves from the heart of that idea. Let me use the city where I used to reside as an example: As you come into the downtown area, there is a welcome sign which proclaims that the city embraces “our traditions and our families.” Those are nice ideals. One can build something on them. But do the stated ideals of the community match the heart of the matter? Does the city really embrace tradition and families? Well, as regards tradition, the city was a predominantly white Catholic city, yet a particular Catholic nun has regularly imported black, non-Christian hoodlums into it in order to follow the dictates of her church. This is hardly in support of the city's tradition. As for families? The tax burden in the city is enormous. When coupled with the spiraling crime rate caused by the city-approved black and Mexican invasion, it is not possible to claim that the city supports families. What the stated ideal was meant to do then was to desensitize people to the fact that they lived in a community which had eliminated the possibility of any real communion of souls.

If a friendship is to be a true friendship, there must be a shared passion. And I don’t mean a passion for sailing or seafood or some other trivial pursuit; I mean a passion of the heart that contains all that a person feels about God and his fellow man. In the absence of that shared passion a friendship is only an association. Likewise a community in which the members don’t have any real communion is only an outer shell with no core.

Why would a community deliberately subvert its stated ideals and try to eradicate every communal aspect of the community? It does so for the sake of survival. If it is discovered that there is no common, shared, heartfelt passion among the members of the community, the community will fall apart. So it is much better for the survival of the community that every member of the community makes a commitment to banality and vapidity.

The Catholic Church and the mainstream Protestant churches have made the same commitment to superficiality as have our civic institutions and government, eliminating communion in order to insure the survival of community. But by doing so they have cut us off not only from our fellow men but also from God. It is only from out of the depths that we can speak to God. The psalmist did not say, “From my vapid, banal, superficial, self-satisfied being, I speak to you, O Lord.”

In theory, a man cannot live in a totally flat, soulless, vapid community, but in practice, Americans seem to have accomplished soulless nirvana. Anesthetized by blood sports, porno, and medical experts, we proudly proclaim our enthusiasm for communities without communion.

One often wants to escape the nightmare by walking through the wardrobe, but the wardrobe doesn’t ever seem to open completely. One only gets a glimpse of another world and then the wardrobe closes. But this world of ours is not the real world. The real world has depth and people crying out from those depths to the Lord God.

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I have been told, at different times in my life, that I was not a Catholic by official representatives of all three major branches of the Catholic Church, the Novus Ordo branch, the traditionalist branch, and the Eastern Rite branch. It angered me each time it happened, but it angers me no more. I’ll gladly give them the title of Catholic and call myself an unchurched Christian.

What the churchmen and their lackeys fail to realize is that faith takes precedence over incorporation into the Church. I needed to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God before I had an interest in joining their church. I had a vision, not a blinding, pure vision like St. Paul’s, but a misty one that gave me hope for an even clearer vision in the future. And the process of belief is not radically different for a cradle Catholic. At some point the “vision thing” must come into play. Mere mechanical reception of the sacraments will not sustain a person who has not moved, through his own free will, toward the light.

I entered the Catholic Church because I thought my vision of the faith was in line with the professed doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. When I discovered, over the course of twenty-seven years, that my faith and Catholic doctrine were incompatible, it was not hard to decide what to jettison. Faith in Him is much more precious to me than the right to be called a Roman Catholic.

If I wanted, I could twist the documents as the traditionalists do to show how in theory I am really a Roman Catholic and those other guys are not. But the Church’s faith is more than its stated faith as expressed in various church documents. It is revealed in how the Church interprets and how the Church practices what is stated in the documents. And in that regard if I stated my main objection to the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages, it would be this: I object to the Church’s consistent and methodical de-emphasis of the importance of belief in Christ in favor of incorporation into the Roman Catholic system. The system, in Roman Catholicism, is more important than the person of God, and as an inevitable consequence, more important than the person in the pew. The impersonal faith of the Roman Catholic Church is diametrically opposed to the personal faith of St. Paul whom the Catholic Church claims to revere as a saint. Dostoyevsky, who had much in common with St. Paul, points out the extreme dichotomy between Christianity and Roman Catholicism in the Grand Inquisitor section of The Brothers Karamazov.

The Church de-emphasizes Christ and extols pagan philosophy in defiance of the hungry everyman who desires mercy and not sacrifice. It’s true that worldly success is more readily obtained within an organization such as the Catholic Church, but what is worldly success? Was not the whole world, before the coming of Christ, sickened unto death with a hope that was in this world only?

Protestantism as a reaction to Christless Catholicism was a necessary one. To be freed from the tyranny of pagan philosophy was a great blessing. But the desire for worldly success subverted much of the reaction. Calvinism, hatched by an organizational mind and adhered to by those with faith in this world only, gave Protestantism an anti-Christian taint that has still not been removed. It is certain, however, that there is a Christian undercurrent to Protestantism that has blessed the world. The sincere Protestants, pejoratively called ‘Christers,’ have kept alive an appreciation for the personal Savior that St. Paul saw and heard on the road to Damascus. It’s easy to sneer at the born-again types who talk about a personal relationship with Christ because they are so often the victims of mere enthusiasm rather than the recipients of divine grace. But their theology is correct: Christianity is about a personal relationship with Christ; it is simply harder to achieve than the born-again types understand.

The Master’s words about Faith and the child go to the heart of the issue. Before we are polluted with some organization’s explanation of the story, we hear the Christ story and we fall in love with the hero of that story. I know it was like that with me. And when I heard the Presbyterian Church’s explanation of the Christ story, I never quite believed what they were saying about my hero. When I returned to the Christian faith, having lost it when assaulted by the scientific world, it was to the Faith of my childhood that I returned, not to the Presbyterian Church. Catholicism only entered the picture because I thought, erroneously, that the faith of my childhood and Catholicism were compatible.

When C. S. Lewis wrote Pilgrim’s Regress, an allegorical tale of his return to Christianity, Tolkien told him that he hadn’t really converted at all, that he had simply returned to puritanical Irish Protestantism. But Tolkien, being a paganized Catholic, did not understand Christianity. Lewis had not returned to Irish Protestantism, he had returned to that first, pure, clean vision of Jesus Christ that was vouchsafed to him as a child. And he held to that vision the rest of his life, despite onslaughts from Tolkien, academia, and the brave new scientized world that surrounded him.

It certainly has been a master stroke of the devil to use the machinery of the Catholic Church to lead men and women away from Christ. But that’s what comes from aligning one’s church with the two smarter, but crueler older brothers and jettisoning the third dumb brother. It seems we never will believe that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” But some Christians once believed it, and lived and died with contempt for the wisdom of the world. Like the forty just men in the old Jewish tale, they were and are the leaven of the church, and they don’t reside exclusively in one denomination.

There will always be some heroes of the Faith who will wade through the swamp of Catholic paganism and climb the mountain that leads to Christ. And they will do this because they hear a personal God of love calling them and not because a clerical salesman has invited them to join a religious country club for V.I.P.s.

The Sons of Martha have grown cruel. They have forgotten the gentle rebuke of the Savior and have made practical, worldly wisdom the whole sum of the Faith. Now, when the Church and the world it worships is more maniacally aligned than ever before against all things spiritual, is the time to assert one’s belief in the Fairy Prince to whom the Sons of Mary as well as the practical Sons of Martha owe their existence.

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The Third Dumb Brother

There are many variations of the defining fairy tale of European civilization, but the tale in essence is this: There are three brothers, and their household is so poor that their father sends them off to seek their fortune. First the oldest brother sets out. He comes across an old man (or sometimes an old lady) who appears to be starving. The old man asks for a bit of food and or drink. The first brother tells the old man to drop dead and goes off and meets with misfortune. The second brother then ventures forth. He meets the same old man, who asks him for food or drink, and the second brother also tells the old man to drop dead. In his ensuing travels, the second brother also meets with misfortune.

Then the third brother ventures forth. His father is a bit reluctant to let him leave home because he has always seemed to be a bit of a simpleton. But the third brother entreats his father to let him go seek his fortune, and his father relents.

The third brother comes across the same old man that his two older brothers had told to drop dead – and indeed, the old man seems about to drop dead. But the third brother shares his meager fare with him, and the old man makes a miraculous recovery because the old man is miraculous. He gives the third brother some kind of magic talisman (a cloak of invisibility, a flying horse, or a sword of invincibility) because the third brother has shown that he has a kind heart. And the third brother is not really a simpleton, he is only dumb in the worldly eyes of his cynical brothers who have the Parisian wisdom (which, as Balzac informs us, consists of the belief that a man with a kind heart is as stupid as a rhinoceros). But the third dumb brother, as we know from our fairy tales, confounds his wiser brothers and goes on to win fair maiden and the Kingdom.

The kernel of truth from the fairy tale is the keystone of European civilization, for is not Christ the original third dumb brother? He wasn’t obligated to reach out to us, his creatures, because he was compelled by some outside force. He reached out to us when we cried out from the depths because it is in his nature to love, just as it was no outside force that compelled the third dumb brother to share his food with the old man, but an inner desire that needed to love and reach out to another. And we must be like the third dumb brother if we are to respond to Christ’s love. St. Paul’s preaching was foolishness to the Greeks because they were too worldly wise and spiritually obtuse to become third dumb brothers.

It seems that the entire weight of the world is against third dumb brothers whenever they arise. The two cynical, worldly wise brothers always get the world’s approbation. And it often appears that the two ‘wise’ brothers get the Church’s support as well, but that is only when the Church’s machinery is working against its own soul.

There is an incredible ennui that comes upon one when confronted with the overwhelming superiority of the two cynical brothers. Prospero felt it before he prepared to meet with Caliban.

Prospero. You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay'd: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Yes, we need to remind ourselves that it is their world, the world of the two soulless brothers and of Caliban, that will disappear. The dream world that Christ blessed with His love and sanctified with His blood is the real world; it is our world.

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The Speedy Decline

“It may be that nature and history are not separable in the last resort, but at the level at which we do most of our ordinary thinking it is important to separate them, important not to synthesize them too easily and too soon, important above all not thoughtlessly to assume that nature, instead of being the substructure, is the whole edifice or the crown. The thing which we have come to regard as history would disappear if students of the past ceased to regard the world of men as a thing apart – ceased to envisage a world of human relations set up against nature and the animal kingdom. In such circumstances the high valuation that has long been set upon human personality would speedily decline.” -- Herbert Butterfield

Of course what Butterfield feared was coming in 1949 has come. Nature has become the whole edifice, and the old valuation of human personality has not just declined, it has disappeared. And let’s be clear what the discipline of viewing nature as the whole edifice is called; it is called ‘science.’

The Roman Catholic Church has been running scared for centuries as well as the Protestant churches. The Monkey Trial was a great indicator of this. The Roman Catholics stood on the sidelines in that battle, not wanting to appear unenlightened, while the mainstream liberal Protestants battled it out with the Fundamentalists. Of course the whole world has decided that the Fundamentalists were in the wrong. But were they? If one is wrong in one’s basic assumption, most everything that follows from that assumption will be incorrect. For instance, if I start with the assumption that sand is the best foundation for a house, every attempt to add on to the foundation will prove the folly of my initial assumption. In contrast, if I start with the assumption that concrete is the best stuff for a foundation, and later decide that cheap balsa wood is best for the window frames, then I will have flimsy windows, but I will still have a sturdy foundation.

The Fundamentalists’ assumption was correct: Man is separate from nature, at least separate from the nature defined by modern science, and that really is the issue. The Roman Catholic Church was content to stay in the theoretical realm: theoretically nature and man are one. Yes, if one defines nature in the Shakespearean way, holding a mirror up to nature, the nature of the human personality, which should be the object of all true studies of nature. But that is not what modern science does. It holds man up to a microscope and studies him as a biological specimen, as a product of nature, not as a personality with a living soul. The Fundamentalists saw this, or to be more accurate, felt it in their bones. The liberal Protestants, on the opposite side of the Fundamentalists, also saw much more clearly than the Roman Catholics what was at stake. And without the support of any organized church, the Fundamentalists lost the battle. The court victory meant nothing. The Fundamentalists lost.

The modern clergy are so enamoured of the scientific view of man that they really should replace their current clerical garb with white lab coats. What kind of future is there for us when nature alone is the edifice? One thinks of Captain Ahab standing up to Moby Dick, the symbol of dumb, impersonal nature, and asserting that a “personality stands here.” Can we do less than Ahab who had to do battle without the Lord?

It seems to be a trick of Satan to use the generic human to destroy the human. Humanity the abstraction is a slave of brute nature. But the human personality is a freeman, a child of God. To assert that, in the face of a nature worshipping clergy and a bio-technocratic modern world, is the primary duty and glory of a 21st century Christian.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Interview with the Young Drummer Boy

Interviewer: I'm grateful to you for coming here on such short notice.

Young Drummer: I'm happy to come, and it wasn't that short.

Int: I need to talk to a pre-medieval man, a man without that modernist taint.

YD: Fairyland does pre-date the medieval era. I come from the era that your age calls the 'Dark Ages.'

Int: Please don't hold that against me. I think the 'Dark Ages' was an age of light and our age the dark one.

YD: I won't disagree with that.

Int: In this dark age, I've been groping toward the light, and I've been surprised by where it is to be found and where it is not to be found.

YD: Explain please.

Int: Well, in our age, parents do not teach their children, strangers do. I was brought up to believe in something called science, progress, and the American way. What I learned in Sunday School, also taught by strangers, couldn't stand up to what I was taught the rest of the week. By eighteen I was an indoctrinated member of the 'enlightened' masses. But life, real life, intervened. The Shakeaspearean-Dostoyevskian inferno pointed to a different reality. That was my first surprise. There was no light to be found in the self-proclaimed light bearers, only darkness. One man born in Bethlehem had the light that all the electricians of science and progress went about proclaiming they had, but in reality, could not produce.

The second surprise came, as I've talked about with you before, when I discovered the organization I thought was responsible for preserving the light was not only in darkness but was in fact a dark pit filled with poisonours vipers.

YD: I aprpeciate the passsion behind those words, but are you sure you don't overstate the case against the Catholic Church?

Int: No, I don't. Let's look at the Novus Ordo church first. They have faith all right; they have faith in everything, which translates to faith in nothing. You can't believe in Budda, Christ, Muhammed, Kwanzaa, and Sesame Street all at the same time. The Novus Ordo Catholics are worthless. And the traditionalists are worse. They believe that whatever is cruelest in thought, in word, in action is divine. Their God is Tash, the devil god depicted in C. S. Lewis's book, The Last Battle. Every time I see a traditionalist priest, I feel as if I'm in the presence of Satan.

YD: I can't disagree with that assessment, and I find it astonishing that the Church officials in the Novus Ordo and the traditionalist camps have managed to keep any adherents at all. I suppose it is another indication of the sickness of your age.

Int: But was the Church ever really anything but sick? Are the Protestants right? I find it hard when I see the organized Church of Faithlessness in front of me (in the Novus Ordo) and the organized Church of Satan next to it (in the traditionalist church) to believe there ever was a true church of Christ. One can believe in Christ but not know where He is to be found on this earth.

YD: "They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him."

Int: Yes, that's it exactly.

YD: Well, it is difficult (and I realize how inadequate the term 'difficult' is) to see any light at all when facing the modern Catholic Church. but if one shifts one's persopective, as I notice you have started to do, one can see a different picture besides a mere tangle of poisonous vipers. If one stops looking at modernism as a 20th century development or even a 16th century development, one can get some sort of perspective on what your modern writers call the 'crisis of Faith.'

When the Church was at its strongest, which is always when an organization is most vulnerable, the shift was made, ever so slightly at first, toward reliance on the analytical eye of the experts rather than on the wise blood of the faithful. Stop thinking of Leo XIII, the collective Pius popes, and the Sheed/Belloc type of writer as antique Christians and regard them instead as carriers of the modernist disease, and you will be on your way to the true Church. The Devil did not try a frontal assault on the medieval citadel; he came in the back door, disguised as a well-meaning friend called "Theology." "Let us leave no stone unturned in our defense of the Faith," he lied, "and let us show that pure thought and pure religion are one and the same."

Int: I think I follow you. Let me give a mundane example. A fellow English major once told me, while we were both still at university, that he no longer read any of the literature in the courses. It wasn't necessary to read the literature, he claimed, because all one had to do was to read the literary criticism in order to find out what it was about. And from the standpoint of grades, he was quite right. One was better off reading the literary criticism of the works than the works themselves. But if you read the works without reference to the critics, you often found yourself tranpsorted to a different place, a place where academics never went and never knew about. It was kind of the spiritual equivalent of Br'er Rabbit's Laughing Place. But one had to read the works with the proper spirit to get to that place.

I think you can see where I'm going with this. If reason is our only pure and untainted faculty, then the Faith must be taught and passed on only through the reasoning process. And each successive genreation of the faithful becomes more and more isolated from the Faith. They know the theory of God, but they don't know God. They don't have that taste for God which Lubac wrote about, because they have never been allowed to know Him with their hearts.

YD: I don't think you need me anymore.

Int: Yes, I do, because the path is lonely and dark, and I'm afraid.

YD: We are all afraid.

Int: Except Him.

YD: Yes, except Him.

Int: Stay with me then?

YD: I will.

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Jury Duty

This was the third time in my life I was called for jury duty. I had got a reprieve in my thirties when I was on a police force (they don’t take police officers for juries). No such reprieve this time.

I was herded, along with about one hundred other lucky winners of the jury sweepstakes, into a large room with a large T.V. set. “Regis and Somebody” was on the set. I had with me in my suitcase (even though I was not going to Constantinople) a bottle of water and The Poetical Works of Walter Scott. I had got through the first canto of “Harold the Dauntless” before I had a chance to interact with one of my fellow inmates in the jury prison room. The woman sitting next to me was bored out of her mind, because she decided that any conversation, even one with me, was better than “Regis.”

“Are you reading that book for a class?” she asked me.

“No, I’m just reading it for my own enjoyment.”

“I’m curious: what kind of man reads the Poetical Works of Walter Scott?”

Here I must pause and say that only twice before in my life, out of hundreds of chances, have I thought of the proper line at the proper time. Once a woman from our parish pro-life group had asked me if I knew Lydia. I replied, “You mean the tattooed lady?”

On the second occasion I had made a car stop while working on the police force and given a man a ticket for an expired inspection sticker. An elderly woman sitting next to him, his mother I presume, starting cursing. “You aren’t going to give him a ticket, are you, you blankety-blank Dago!”

“Madame,” I replied, “Look at the signature on that ticket. You can see that I’m not a blankety-blank Dago, I’m a blankety-blank Nazi.”

Which brings me back to the jury room. My reply to the lady when she asked me what sort of man reads The Poetical Works of Walter Scott will be familiar to all devotees of The Quiet Man. I replied, “A better man, I think, than you know, Mary Kate Danaher.” Apparently the woman was not familiar with The Quiet Man however, for she ceased all further attempts at conversation after that.

Eventually I was called, along with forty other poor slobs, into the actual courtroom. We were informed by a tired and bored judge that if chosen, we would be presiding over a civil case which involved one plaintiff and three different defendants, each with their own lawyer. The judge gave us the typical blather about how ours was an imperfect system but the best system in the world. After which he gave us a mini-lecture on courtroom decorum. Then—and I’m not making this up—the court stenographer walked in wearing spiked heels and a black leather mini skirt. She was quite attractive, in a decadent French cabaret type way, but she really belonged in the small red light district a few blocks down from the courthouse. The judge seemed to like her though, because he chatted with her during breaks in the jury selection process. I’m not sure (I don’t read lips) but I think he was telling the young women about his wife’s inability to understand him.

The judge, having informed us that we would not be allowed out to go to the bathroom until the jury selection process was complete (he was afraid we wouldn’t come back) felt quite free himself to pop in and out of the courtroom. No doubt desiring to emphasize that he was a free man–“I can go in and I can go out”–and that we were not free men—we could come in but we could not go out.

I don’t believe in the jury system, but it is our system, and I was prepared to lose one or two days if selected. But when the judge casually mentioned that the trial would last two to three weeks, I inwardly vowed to make a concerted attempt to be stricken from the jury. Citing hardship by saying I did much of the homeschooling with my children would, I know, not wash in a district where the politicians and school officials would love to eradicate homeschooling parents from the face of the earth. Instead, when the lawyer for the plaintiff asked if any of the potential jurors was extremely prejudiced against people who sue for damages, I made my case as forcefully as possible. “It ties up police officers’ time doing paperwork for insurance companies. It increases insurance rates, etc.” I was called up to the judge’s bench and was stricken from the list of jurors. But I was told that I was to stay in the courtroom until the jury was selected and not to tell anyone that I had been stricken from the list lest they use the same excuse as I had to get off the jury.

I had seen, many times before, the ridiculous process of selecting a jury, but in this case, with four different parties and four lawyers, the process was one step beyond ridiculous. Each lawyer had a lackey, and when one lawyer found an acceptable juror, he sent his lackey over to the other lawyers to see if that juror was acceptable to the other lawyers. The other lawyers would then send their lackeys back with their answers, and on and on went the lawyers, and back and forth went the lackeys, and the green grass grows all around, all around, and the green grass grows all around.

There were some notable personages in that courtroom that day who should be mentioned.

The lawyer for the plaintiff. There are many fat men in the world. One cannot claim greatness simply because one is fat. But I think one can claim greatness if one has a somewhat normal physique and a belly that extends over one’s belt in proportions suggesting a pregnant elephant. Such a man was the lawyer for the plaintiff.

When I was a lad, my brother and I and some of the other neighborhood kids used to get on our bikes and pedal to a construction site where we watched, in awe, a construction worker with a belly like the plaintiff’s lawyer. Who is king? The construction worker, I believe, but possibly time has made me magnify his greatness beyond its due. The plaintiff’s lawyer certainly runs a close second to the legendary construction worker. When I asked the potential juror to my left if he thought the belly was the result of beer or burgers, he replied, “Both.”

The plaintiff’s lawyer also was notable for the most gaseous of the four lawyers’ addresses to the potential jurors. He stated that he came before us in “fear and trembling” (how Kierkegaardian!) because there had been so many frivolous lawsuits urged by shyster lawyers that he feared we might think he was the type of lawyer (Oh, no!) who pleaded frivolous lawsuits and asked for outrageous damages. He went on so long that one of the other lawyers had to ask the bailiff to go get the judge, who had disappeared to the back room, so he could object.

The Sha-Na-Na Iowa Farmer.
I am no fashion plate. In winter, spring, fall, and summer, I wear what is cheap and comfortable. Nevertheless, I must call the reader’s attention to a mid-fifty-ish man who was dressed in a pair of overalls and who sported a 1950’s greaser type haircut. I expected him to break out in a medley of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “Tell Laura I Love Her.” But this man was not outstanding simply because of his wardrobe. When the plaintiff’s lawyer asked if anybody knew a Dr. Parker who would be testifying for the plaintiff, the Sha-Na-Na Farmer replied, “I knew a Parker down in North Carolina once. He wasn’t a doctor though; he was a salesman. Boy, he was a funny guy. He used to…” On two other occasions he started regaling the court with stream-of-consciousness reminisces that had not earthly connection to the case for which he was a potential juror. When the jury selection was complete, this man was chosen!

There is an old adage that if you are guilty, choose a jury, and if you are innocent, pick a judge. This man was proof of that adage. I have no doubt that each of the four lawyers thought he could make the Sha-Na-Na Farmer do his will.

The Curser. The potential juror on my right was a man in his early sixties who made it clear that he didn’t want to be on the jury. But unfortunately he only made it clear to me. He kept cursing everybody and everything in a voice that was only audible to me. I shared his feelings, but I was growing heartily sick of listening to him. And I would have told him so if not for fear that he was the type of person to go home, load up the shotgun, and come back blazing away. This old codger was also picked. I can picture him in the jury room with the Sha-Na-Na Farmer.

Sha-Na-Na Farmer: “That reminds me of a story about a pet pig I used to own…”

The Curser: (Leaping across the table and putting his hands around the Sha-Na-Na Farmer’s neck) “I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you!”

The Woman Who Made a Friend. Sitting in back of me were two middle-aged ladies. At every break in the proceedings, they chatted away. At one of the breaks, one lady said, “I’m so glad I got picked for jury duty because I feel like I’ve made a new and dear friend.” It was then that I wished I had packed, in my suitcase, a barf bag.

The Man Who Thought He Was Back in the Army. If you are not picked for the jury, you do not get to go home. You are sent back to the room with the T.V. set (the soaps were now on) and are forced to sit there in case you are needed for another trial. Fortunately a plea was copped in the only remaining case that day, and we did get to go home. But we were forced to sweat it out, waiting to hear about our reprieves for an hour and a half.

During that time, a man, who had never been called out of the jury pool, stated, “I feel like I’m back in the Army. They order you to wait somewhere without telling you what you’re waiting for or when you’re likely to know what you’re waiting for.” I think a prison analogy would have been even more apt, but I appreciated the man’s sentiments.

Now the party line, which the judge articulated that day, is that all the law’s delay and the lawyers’ high jinks are a necessary part of the best system of justice in the world. But this is not the case. As Judge William J. Cornelius points out in his book, Swift And Sure, we have one of the worst systems of justice in the world. The other countries of Europe are following our path, but no other country has gone farther down the slope of Humpty Dumpty logic and courtroom nominalism as the U.S. has.

And the reason for this is that our country started with less of a European tradition to eradicate. Incarnational Europe was based on reality; hence justice, though imperfect, was intended to go hand in hand with truth. In America, Enlightenment unreality, which had its source in the Thomistic deification of reason, has had more of a free hand than in Europe, although Europe is certainly under the same Enlightenment curse as the U.S. And even in the U.S., the Christian culture, the culture of the third dumb brothers, did not go out without a fight. But when that culture was destroyed, the juggernaut of Luciferian Enlightenment could proceed unfettered. Stark Young wrote of the new, unhallowed world that the defeat of the third dumb brothers had ushered in:

As this new guest went on talking about tariffs, industrial progress, and the development of enterprises, Hugh was surprised to find that the state under which such men as Mr. Mack saw society was actually a state of war. Competition without social principles. This would lead to a legalistic attitude, law as the letter, the strategic game; and this meant the debasement of the social sense. It meant secretiveness. Not lies, but a system of moving secretly, which ends in being only deceit and suspicion. Hiding the hen-nests, the prudence of white trash.

The chaos in our courts is not unconnected to the chaos in the Church. There has been a derailing. When religion becomes a legalistic game with no respect for the truth, our court system, which has its roots in the religious tradition whose founder said, “The Truth shall set you free,” will reflect the same filthy disrespect for the truth that the Church does.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Grandfather

The best works of Western civilization are the ones in which the author tells a simple story well. Shakespeare’s tales are simple tales, embellished by his considerable poetic gifts, but nevertheless, they are simple tales, as are those of Dickens, Scott, and the Brothers Grimm. One such simple tale belongs with the classics of Western literature--Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.
There is a scene in Heidi in which the reclusive and embittered Grandfather decides, because his love for Heidi has made him see the error of his ways, to return to God and, like the prodigal son, seek forgiveness. He descends the mountain and attends church for the first time in years:

The people of Dörfli were already in church and the singing had started as Heidi and Uncle Alp went in and sat down at the back. The hymn was hardly over before people were nudging one another and whispering that Uncle Alp was in church. Women kept turning round to look and so lost the place in their hymn-books, and the leader of the choir simply could not keep the voices together. But when the pastor began to preach, everyone gave him their attention, for he spoke of praise and thanksgiving, and with such warmth that his listeners were truly moved.

At the end of the service the old man took Heidi by the hand again, and they went towards the pastor’s house. The congregation watched them with interest. Several people followed to see whether they would actually go inside and, when they did so, hung around in little groups, asking what it could possibly mean and speculating whether Uncle Alp would come out again angry or friendly. There were those who said, ‘He can’t be as bad as people make out. Did you see how gently he held the child by the hand?’ or ‘I’ve always said they were wrong! He wouldn’t be going to see the pastor at all if he was such a bad lot.’

The great sadness one feels when reading that scene today comes because one realizes that there is now no church and no community to which the repentant sinner can go to repent. A new Christianity has emerged which is in direct opposition to the old Christianity of Heidi’s grandfather. The Grandfather (I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get my children to address me in the Swiss-German way as ‘The Father’) feels that his sin is against a personal God and against the specific people of a small Swiss town bordering the mountain. It is to that personal God and to those specific people that the Grandfather goes to ask forgiveness for his very specific sins. He does not come down from the mountain to ask forgiveness for racist thoughts or for any of the modern social sins.

Today the Grandfather would be unforgiven. He would be left alone on his mountain without being able to feel that a loving God had forgiven him for his sins against God and against humanity.

I really think it is impossible to overstate just how radically different the spiritual climate is today from that of 1880 when Johanna Spyri wrote Heidi. It is as if a completely new species of man has been created. The one line died out and new creatures (‘O Brave New World!’) have been created.

Is it possible for a man of the brave new world, such as me, to link himself to the old line of Heidi’s Grandfather? Or is the new line so completely different that any linking process is doomed to failure before it is even attempted? I know the new liners would like one to believe that there is no hope of connecting with the old line. Most of them do not even acknowledge that there was an old line. But I think it is as George Macdonald says: “Of hopes not credible until they are.” If one loves the old line, one attempts to join that line, and once the attempt is made the seemingly impassable mountain pass is no longer impassable.

Although not impassable, there are unsuspected difficulties in negotiating the pass that leads to the old line and the antique Christianity. The main obstacle is the Roman Catholic Church. It is not difficult to see the errors inherent in Protestant doctrine or to see the consequences of Protestantism’s lack of unity, but the Catholic Church is a more deceptive entity. Its doctrine, at first and even second glance, seems more integral than the Protestant doctrine. Its church structure also seems more unified for a longer period of history than the Protestant one. But one believes a lie if one accepts the view that inside the Catholic Church is the antique and true Christianity while outside the Church is error.

The traditional Catholic explanation for the demise of Christianity runs like this: The late scholastics, the nominalists, broke with Thomism and created the “it’s only real if I think it’s real” system of theology. This led to the Renaissance deification of man, the Protestant reductio ad absurdum denunciation of reason as a whore, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the revolution of Vatican II. And there is a certain amount of truth to the traditional Catholic explanation for the demise of Christianity, but it is not the whole truth. The traditional explanation blames the demise of Christianity on fringe elements and outside elements; its weakness is it fails to give mainstream medieval Catholicism its share of the blame and it fails to see the good elements in the outside forces.

What was wrong with medieval Catholicism prior to the Thomistic revolution was its love of platonic universals. Man was not a personality in such a system; he was a pure idea called Man. But it would not be accurate to say Thomistic theology changed the Catholic landscape from the universal to the particular. Thomistic philosophy, as Unamuno has so passionately and correctly pointed out, starts with a universal principle and then atomizes and particularizes the whole natural world, which includes “poor bare and unaccommodated man.” In Platonic Catholicism, individual man is often obscured by universal Man, but in Thomistic philosophy man is torn asunder. He ceases to exist as a whole integral human being. He is solely dependent on unfettered and unhallowed reason to tell him if God exists or if he himself exists at all. This philosophy cannot be Catholic because it is not true. Good theology should not only be correct as regards God, but it should also be correct about man. Look honestly at Catholic academia and our academic Pope and tell me you think reason is free from original sin. Pelagius and St. Thomas were wrong and St. Augustine was right. We cannot simply dismiss, as Chesterton does, Augustine’s assertions of the depraved state of the whole man simply because we find it pessimistic. There is no such thing as pessimism or optimism where truth is concerned; there is only reality. And the reality of life attests to the truth that our reason, our emotions, our intuitions are tainted with original sin. But that taint does not imply total depravity, which brings us to the Protestant revolt.

It is easy to see the error in the doctrine of total depravity. But when one sees the assertion of total depravity in the light of the Thomistic freeing of reason from the effects of original sin, one can see that Protestantism was a reaction to save the doctrine of original sin. The truth of the matter rested not with the Catholics or the Protestants, but with the wise-blooded third dumb brothers who never stopped believing that man was tainted heart, mind, and soul, but not totally tainted. Such third dumb brothers were to be found in both the Catholic and Protestant ranks, but when Christendom completely collapsed in the twentieth century, the Catholic Church successfully purged itself of all third dumb brothers. Only a remnant remained in the ranks of the fundamentalists.

I can see the why and how of the Catholic purging. It is because of the triumph of the Greek way, the way of the academy, over the way of the cross. But I am not that clear as to the why and how of the fundamentalists’ survival. By the logic of their creed, they should be estranged from the heart of God. But there is some essential element of Christianity that these fundamentalists have that the Catholics do not. They take seriously the Christ of the Gospels. Yes, I know there would be no Gospels without the Catholic Church and that the fundamentalists’ claim of Scripture alone is flawed. But who has retained more of the antique faith? Those who believe that Jesus of Nazareth was truly God and truly man, and held out the promise of eternal life for those who took up their cross and followed Him, or those who believe that a quasi-divine man named Jesus founded a philosophers’ club that imparts divine wisdom to those who learn the secret and complicated mental gymnastics taught by the quasi-divine agent of God?

All things considered, I won’t come to the Catholic church until that that church shows the same faith in the Man of Sorrows as the fundamentalists do.

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