Saturday, June 07, 2008

“Of the Same Blood”

“A Man should, whatever happens, keep his own caste, race and breed”

– Rudyard Kipling
Have you ever had an experience in your life that affected you profoundly but that you couldn’t write about because you felt you just couldn’t do justice to the experience? That has been my feeling about a certain visit I made to Britain some thirty years ago when I was a young man. I still don’t feel I can adequately describe it, but I’m now old enough to realize that I’ll never be able to do the theme justice, so let me at least stammer at what cannot be adequately articulated.

It was the mid-1970’s. I had been in Italy, Greece, and France and found those countries to be beautiful. The Parthenon was fascinating, the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel were moving, and the Louvre in Paris was magnificent. But nothing in Southern Europe affected me as much as the mere act of stepping on British soil did. I felt like Mole in The Wind in the Willows (Chapter 5, Dulce Domum): I was home. I was in the country of Shakespeare, Kipling, Scott, Grahame, Dickens, and others, men of my own tongue, of my own flesh and blood, who were wedded in spirit and blood to the same heritage that I was wedded to. The day I was married and the individual births of my six children have been the only moments in my life that can compare with the day I set foot on British soil.

I wasn’t born and raised in a cave, so I didn’t expect every Brit I met to quote Shakespeare or to say, ‘Pip, pip, cheerio,’ but I did hope to meet some real Brits. I don’t know if the ghosts of Britain alone could have kept my enthusiasm at a fever pitch if I hadn’t met some living representatives of the great ghosts of Britain. I was fortunate. The young men and women of my own age were burnt-out cases without personal identities, citizens of a new international community of soulless automatons. But I was able to meet some older Britons who did indeed live up to the finest traditions of the nation of Shakespeare, Kipling, and Scott. One couple in particular made a lasting impression.

I was wandering through the Lake District of England, quite lost but not particularly nervous about it because I had water, cheese, and bread and it was summertime. If worse came to worse, I could sleep out in the woods. Toward evening though, I came upon an elderly woman tending a garden in front of a modest cottage. A cottage in the woods! I asked for directions to the nearest youth hostel. She asked her husband to come out of the house; “He gives much better directions than I do.” The husband was just as cordial as his wife. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he informed me that the nearest youth hostel was much too far away to reach before dark and that I should spend the night at their house.

I first I declined, for the usual reasons: “I just couldn’t impose on you like that. And besides, I’m a stranger.”

The husband’s reply still makes me feel like Ratty on the river. “You’re no stranger, you Yanks are the same blood as us.” Ah, the “same blood.” Thomas Fleming would not approve. This ‘infantile’ old man was talking about ties of blood! But that old Brit was correct. We were of the same blood. I slept in his study that night, surrounded by our common heritage: Treasure Island, King Lear, Hamlet, The Christmas Carol – you know the list. That encounter with a true-born Englishman has stayed with me all my life. It affected me much like the reading of The Wind and the Willows had. I felt that I knew why God chose to reveal Himself to man through the blood.

The philosopher, the scientist, and the barbarian all separate the life of the spirit from the life of the blood. The philosopher and the scientist see the true life of the spirit in the mind, while the barbarian sees no spiritual dimension in his life, only the blood. But a Christian knows that spirit and blood are not meant to be separated. Christ is our spiritual father and our blood brother. When a man ceases to care about ‘little things’ like home, blood, and race, he ceases to be Christian, because it is through those little things that God reveals Himself to man.

Suppose a black man had approached my British friend and asked for directions. And let’s say the black man was a naturalized British citizen and a professed Christian. I can say with certainty the black man would have been offered food, he would have been given directions to the youth hostel, but he would not have been asked to stay under the same roof as the English couple. Why? Because the old Brit’s Christianity was bred in the bone. He knew that a Christian renders aid as the Good Samaritan did, caring for the stranger but not admitting the stranger to his dwelling.

So much hinges on this question of the stranger. A few years back I read a “conservative” Catholic journal that zealously proclaimed that the sign of the true Christian was the amount of respect which he accorded the stranger. I don’t believe that respect for the stranger is the penultimate of Christianity. But let’s assume it is. Does respect for the stranger include respect for his heathen religion? Were the Spanish wrong to tear down the altars of the Aztecs? Were the British missionaries wrong to try and convert the African headhunters? And were the British wrong to forbid the Suttee and other colorful customs of the Hindus?

Let’s take this argument to the next step. What happens when the African , the Indian, or the Aztec converts to Christianity? Aren’t we then obligated to treat them as equals? The Northern European Protestants did not think so. They did not think that the mere affirmation of Christianity made a non-European any less of a stranger. Their Christian faith did not countenance race-mixing. The Spanish and Portuguese Catholics did mix bloodlines with the stranger, but they did so more from a weakness of the flesh than from a belief in the principle of racial egalitarianism. And when they mixed with the stranger, the mulatto was not put on the same level as the white. Until the later half of the 20th century, with more exceptions in the Catholic countries, the general consensus of the European people was that an espousal of Christianity did not mean an African or an Indian could become a European. And certainly not a Muslim or Hindu. What has changed? How did we get from Thomas Nelson Page’s declaration that preserving the integrity of the white race was our primary duty to Thomas Fleming’s assertion that those who raved about the survival of the white race were infantile?

We came to this pass because the intellectual elite of Europe abandoned the wisdom of their race and persuaded enough of the peasants (obviously when I use the term, peasant, I am not referring only to those who till the soil) to follow in their train. The liberal liberal and the conservative liberal all prostrate themselves before ancient Greece, but they fail to learn from the Greeks. They look on the rationalist tradition of the Greeks as a sure foundation from which to launch their utopian schemes and plans. They completely disregard the moral of the Greek experience because they disregard the wisest of the Greeks, Sophocles. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles depicts a man intelligent enough to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, but whose intelligence is insufficient to ward off fate. It is only the old blind Oedipus who sees, at Colonus, what the rationalists could not and cannot see. Like the blinded Gloster in King Lear, he sees the world feelingly. He sees a God beyond the gods, a God connected to the human heart. It has always been Satan’s mission to obscure the divine intimations in the human heart and beckon man to look at God and the world with his mind. That was the original temptation that the first man and woman succumbed to.

Observe, too, what is very important: man had it in his power to destroy the harmony of his being in two ways, either by wanting to love too much, or to know too much. He transgressed in the second way; for we are, in fact, far more deeply tinctured with the pride of science than with the pride of love; the latter would have deserved pity rather than punishment, and if Adam had been guilty of desiring to feel rather than to know too much, man himself might, perhaps, have been able to expiate his transgression, and the Son of God would not have been obliged to undertake so painful a sacrifice. But the case was different. Adam sought to embrace the universe, not with the sentiments of his heart, but with the power of thought, and, advancing to the tree of knowledge, he admitted into his mind a ray of light that overpowered it. The equilibrium was instantaneously destroyed, and confusion took possession of man. Instead of that illumination which he had promised himself, a thick darkness overcast his sight, and his guilt, like a veil, spread out between him and the universe. His whole soul was agitated and in commotion; the passions rose up against the judgment, the judgment strove to annihilate the passions, and in this terrible storm the rock of death witnessed with joy the first of shipwrecks.

- from The Genius of Christianity by François R. de Chateaubriand
This has ever been the conflict. Christ restores the harmony of man’s being by turning him back to the sentiments of his heart, and Satan seeks to tempt man away from his heart back to his ‘illuminated mind.’ Christ vs. the Pharisees, St. Paul vs. the Greeks, the Europeans vs. the Scholastics, the poet vs. the scientist, the Kinist vs. the universalist. The rationalistic façade is always different but always rational. The devil is the great mocker, the supreme sophist. He sneers at everything human:

These last great authors have given to the Evil Principle something which elevates and dignifies his wickedness; a sustained and unconquerable resistance against Omnipotence itself—a lofty scorn of suffering compared with submission, and all those points of attraction in the Author of Evil, which have induced Burns and others to consider him as the Hero of the “Paradise Lost.” The great German poet has, on the contrary, rendered his seducing spirit a being who, otherwise totally unimpassioned, seems only to have existed for the purpose of increasing, by his persuasions and temptations, the mass of moral evil, and who calls forth by his seductions those slumbering passions which otherwise might have allowed the human being who was the object of the Evil Spirit’s operations to pass the tenor of his life in tranquility. For this purpose Mephistopheles is, like Louis XI, endowed with an acute and depreciating spirit of caustic wit, which is employed incessantly in undervaluing and vilifying all actions, the consequences of which do not lead certainly and directly to self-gratification.

--Introduction to Quentin Durward by Walter Scott
I once read a book, written for children (like a number of those books written for children, I think it moved me more than it did my children) that told the story of a country boy in Elizabethan England who somehow ended up working at the royal court. When he refused, despite the scorn and ridicule of the city-bred boys and girls, to give up his country songs, one of the nobles of the court applauds him and says, “Quite right, my lad; you should never be ashamed of your home and the things you love.”

Thomas Fleming is almost right; it is not infantile, but it is childlike for a white man to care about the survival of the white race. But didn’t someone once enjoin us to become like little children? All the things we love – home, kith, and kin – are interwoven into the fabric of the white man’s culture. Only a man who has severed his mind from his heart and turned to the worship of his own mind could suggest that we give those things up for lost.

But therein lies the conflict. The children of darkness have given up their religion of the heart for the religion of the mind. This goes against the wisdom of the race. The white man has always preferred the leaden casket over the one of gold and the one of silver; the cottage in the woods to the sumptuous palace; and the blood of the Lamb to the magic talisman. Let the sons and daughters of this ‘new age of enlightenment’ keep all their magic talismans: rationalism, science, and multiculturalism. The European will stay with the European cottage in the woods that contains the things he loves. And his childlike attachment to the things he loves will keep him bound to the Sacred Heart Who speaks to men through the little things that the clever men and women have discarded. The old fairy tales are correct: the faithful heart always triumphs over the satanic mind.

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