Sunday, March 16, 2008

Surrendering to the Enemy

The term ‘culture war’ has been circulating for the past 20 years. I really think it is not applicable to our present society. The term ‘war’ implies that there are at least two forces in opposition to each other, and in the U.S.A. of today, there is no counterculture resistance to the democratic, racial, Babylonian culture. When I see packed auditoriums of plus-40-year-old white people cheering hysterically for Barack Obama, I know there is no culture war in the U.S.A. We have achieved cultural harmony.

The socialists and anthropologists have their own definitions of culture. I would define ‘culture’ as the enfleshment of faith. A people gives flesh in their art, their public ceremonies, and in their general way of life to their religious faith. So when a people make drastic changes in their culture, it is a sure sign that they have changed their religious allegiance as well.

It is particularly disheartening to see that the story-telling tradition of Christian Europe has been jettisoned. One can’t point to one work and say, “If a person doesn’t know that story he is no longer European,” but one does get a sense out there in racial Babylon that Satan’s minions have done a pretty thorough brain- and soul-washing. In the last six months, for instance, I have made casual reference to Mother Hubbard, Annie Laurie, Tom Sawyer, the Hound of the Baskervilles, Moses, and the Ancient Mariner. Blank looks were the response to all six references. Again, it is not a question of “I don’t know who the Ancient Mariner is, so I can’t get into heaven.” The seamless garment of European culture has been torn asunder. And if one is not in contact with that culture, one cannot get into heaven; because it is His culture, and no man cometh unto the Father except through Him.

We need to see our faith embodied in a Christian culture. Why did our Lord take flesh and dwell among us if not to show us the Truth enfleshed. And why has Satan chosen the black man as the symbol of Satan’s reign on earth? Because he knows we need to see our beliefs enfleshed, and the worship of the black man is Satanism enfleshed. There is no culture war, but there should be. The choice is clear. It is God or the devil. The old white culture is our Lord’s and the new black culture is Satan’s.

There are moments in the story-telling tradition of the European people when the materialist veil is removed from our eyes, and we see, in the human heart, the image of Christ: God in humanity. We say, when we see such images in a story like Pericles or Pickwick Papers, “Ah, I have seen that reality myself and felt it as well. I’ll follow that vision through death and beyond.”
Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a perfect illustration of the European’s desire to enflesh their faith. The image of the ancient Mariner has haunted the European imagination ever since Coleridge penned it in 1797, because the poem depicts man’s original sin and his redemption in Christ. Let me highlight two magnificent ‘white moments’ from the poem.

In the first, we see the Mariner condemned to carry the albatross around his neck. He has been unable to pray because of the terrible guilt he feels. He knows complete and total loneliness:
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on ; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust.
Then, out if his desolation, he sees the lowest order of God’s creation: some water snakes. But even those lowly creatures assuage his loneliness and he blesses them:
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
Then, comes the miracle:
The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
Later, much later – “Having penance done, and penance more to do”– the Mariner achieves dry land. The first thing he does is ask to confess. No one who has truly felt the weight of his own sinfulness and yearned for genuine forgiveness can be unmoved by this part of the Mariner’s narrative:
‘O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!’
The Hermit crossed his brow.
‘Say quick,’ quoth he, ‘I bid thee say--
What manner of man art thou ?’

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.
+ + +

In Shane, the finest novel of the American West, there are numerous white moments to choose from. But my favorite is not the final showdown, which is admittedly quite splendid. My favorite is the summation by Bob, now a man, in which he tells us of the effect Shane had on him. We can tell by the way Bob speaks about Shane that the effect has been enormous. It would not be an overstatement to say that Shane, by his heroic self-sacrifice, has pointed Bob toward the ultimate hero of Western civilization.

And what was Shane’s self-sacrifice? Well, in part it was his willingness to risk his life in the gunfight with the hired killer, Wilson. But there was more than that to Shane’s self-sacrifice. Shane underwent a crucifixion when he went out to face Wilson. The life of a farmer, a husband, and a father was closed to him the moment he returned, for the sake of the Starret family, to the ways of a gunfighter. But he chose the way of self-sacrifice, and by doing so, he left a permanent legacy in young Bob’s heart which Bob discloses to us at the end of his narrative:
And always my mind would go back at the last to that moment when I saw him from
the bushes by the roadside just on the edge of town. I would see him there in the road, tall and terrible in the moonlight, going down to kill or be killed, and stopping to help a stumbling boy and to look out over the land, the lovely land, where that boy had a chance to live out his boyhood and grow straight inside as a man should.

And when I would hear the men in town talking among themselves and trying to pin him down to a definite past, I would smile quietly to myself. For a time they inclined to the notion, spurred by the talk of a passing stranger, that he was a certain Shannon who was famous as a gunman and gambler way down in Arkansas and Texas and dropped from sight without anyone knowing why or where. When that notion dwindled, others followed, pieced together in turn from scraps of information gleaned from stray travelers. But when they talked like that, I simply smiled because I knew he could have been none of these.

He was the man who rode into our little valley out of the heart of the great glowing West and when his work was done rode back whence he had come and he was Shane.
+ + +

In order to fully appreciate a white moment from the work of Herman Melville we need to know a bit of his spiritual history as revealed in his works.

In Moby Dick Melville rebels, through Ahab, against God. Ahab’s hatred for the white whale is justified in so far as Moby Dick is a surrogate for an impersonal, remote God in the clouds. But Ahab isn’t for anything. Where is Christ? Melville is still looking for Him at the end of Moby Dick. And he despairs of ever finding him as he writes Pierre, Bartleby, and The Confidence Man.

The years go by, and Melville, great heart that he is, keeps looking for Christ. In “Clarel,” a narrative poem about a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Melville finds Christ:

Yea, ape and angel, strife and old debate --
The harps of heaven and the dreary gongs of hell;
Science the feud can only aggravate --
No umpire she betwixt the chimes and knell:
The running battle of the star and clod
Shall run for ever -- if there be no God.
Degrees we know, unknown in days before;
The light is greater, hence the shadow more;
And tantalized and apprehensive Man
Appealing—Wherefore ripen us to pain?
Seems there the spokesman of dumb Nature’s train.

But through such strange illusions have they passed
Who in life's pilgrimage have baffled striven --
Even death may prove unreal at the last,
And stoics be astounded into heaven.

Then keep thy heart, though yet but ill-resigned --
Clarel, thy heart, the issues there but mind;
That like the crocus budding through the snow --
That like a swimmer rising from the deep --
That like a burning secret which doth go
Even from the bosom that would hoard and keep;
Emerge thou mayst from the last whelming sea,
And prove that death but routs life into victory.
+ + +

I do not make a big distinction between literature and film. I regard both as legitimate vehicles for the story-telling tradition of the West. The story is the thing. Having said that, let me proceed to two white moments from film, the first from Walt Disney’s Fantasia and the second from the 1938 David O. Selznick production of Tom Sawyer.

The white moment in Fantasia comes after the devil’s dance around Witch Mountain. The devil seems haughty and powerful during the dance, but then, suddenly, a look of fear appears on his face. And well he should be fearful, because the candlelight procession has begun. The devout, with candles bright, processing to the hymn, “Ave Maria,” are banishing the devil from the world, in the name of Him. What an incredible image!

In the second film, Tom Sawyer, we also see the director using light to great advantage. Tom Sawyer has just, in a wonderfully suspenseful and dramatic scene, killed Injun Joe. But it still remains doubtful whether Tom and Becky will ever find their way out of the cave in which they are lost. And then, Tom sees light. He climbs up toward the light and miraculously finds a way out of the cave for him and Becky. As Tom climbs toward the light, one cannot help but draw the obvious conclusion about the scene’s significance. Newman described it best:
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
This scene with the light takes on even more significance because of the previous scene with Injun Joe, who is so filled with pure hatred that he appears like the devil incarnate. If one has faced the devil and complete darkness, then one is more readily able to appreciate the “Kindly Light’ than if one has only faced semidarkness and moderate liberals. Why do you think so many Christian converts came out of the horror of the Spanish Civil War?

+ + +

In European white moments, the human and divine meet and we see an image of Christ. Two such moments occur respectively in Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure.

In Merchant of Venice, Portia is the beautiful and rich Venetian heiress, but she is also, when she assumes the disguise of the learned Balthazar, a stand-in for Christ. Portia, disguised as Balthazar, reveals to us the Divine Nature. We all stand condemned, like Antonio, by “a stony adversary.” Yet, at the last moment, Antonio is delivered from his stony adversary, as we hope to be. God is not a lawyer; He is not a Pharisee. His mercy and His justice are compatible. “For charity itself fulfills the law, And who can sever love from charity?” Portia pleads for mercy in that famous speech, which should never be memorized without first reading the play which gives the speech its significance:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
The plea is not hearkened to, for Shylock wants only justice. But then we see, revealed as by lightning before our eyes, that justice and mercy, like God’s humanity and divinity, are linked. Shylock can no more separate justice from mercy than he can take Antonio’s heart without shedding a drop of blood. What a moment! What a revelation!
Portia. A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine.
The court awards it and the law doth give it.

Shylock. Most rightful judge!

And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it and the court awards it.

Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare.

Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood:
The words expressly are 'a pound of flesh.'
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.

O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!

Is that the law?

Thyself shalt see the act;
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur'd
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desir'st.
In Measure for Measure, quite arguably Shakespeare’s most explicitly Christian play, we again see a character, Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, who is also a stand-in for Christ. He goes throughout his kingdom in disguise, learning the secrets of individual hearts, and at the end of the play (or more appropriately at the Last Judgment) he steps forward to judge, reward, and extend mercy.

One individual, Isabella, has been accused falsely of all sorts of heinous crimes, yet without false pride in her virtue but with true humility, she has held fast to her faith that “truth is truth to the end of reckoning,” and must be fought for in the name of Him who said, “I am the truth and the way.”

One saint who says, like Isabella, that truth is truth to the end of reckoning and then backs it up, is worth more in the Kingdom of Heaven than all the false piety and scandalous formalism ever conceived by the pride of men.

Isabella (“when hope seems nearly gone”) witnesses the transformation of Vincentio from humble friar to Duke and receives her pardon and reward:

Duke. Come hither, Isabel.
Your friar is now your prince. As I was then
Advertising and holy to your business,
No changing heart with habit,
I am still
Attorney’d at your service.

Ah, how truly Shakespeare has captured in Vincentio’s double role, the heart of Christ. He is prosecutor and judge, but He is also our most aggressive advocate. He knows all the inmost, sinful desires of our mercenary little hearts, sinful desires that we present to the world as virtues. But He also knows the hidden virtues of our heart, virtues which are not recognized or known by the world or oftentimes even ourselves. And if the current of our life runs, like Isabella’s, toward Him, He forgives the detours and welcomes us to the marriage feast.

Those white moments from the story-telling traditions of Europe are just tiny snippets from a tradition, which, when viewed in its entirety, constitutes a resounding hosanna to Him.

Satan has dismantled the older white European civilization and replaced it with a black civilization that stands diametrically opposed to anything remotely connected to His civilization. And he has been awfully clever about it. So clever, in fact, that the European people now find themselves the losers in a war they didn’t even know had taken place, which was won without a shot fired. The war doesn’t have to remain so one-sided, however. Satan is not invincible. He does, after all, have an exact opposite who said all things are possible if they are done in His name. The fight for Christian Europe is, and always will be, the only fight worth fighting.

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