Cambria Will Not Yield

Sunday, March 29, 2009

So Ancient and So New

“The water which has been refused to the cry of the weary and dying, is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy, though it had been defiled with corpses.” – The King of the Golden River

There are things we understand organically, things that are inside of us, and other things we can only comprehend from the outside, by observation. Let me use the example of homosexuality. When I was a young man, thankfully homosexual men were still in the closet. In fact, I don’t think in my teen years I could have given an accurate definition of a homosexual. By the time I entered my college years, however, homosexuals were being encouraged to come out of their closets, and I was then forced to acknowledge that, strange as it might seem to me, there were men who desired to be with men in the way I desired to be with women. But as a heterosexual I was not a minority of one, so I don’t recall being particularly upset that some men were not heterosexual.

It was a different case with my religious orientation. I lost and regained my childhood faith while in the belly of the beast called academia. My “teachers” undermined Christianity, but in the Library there were antique books that existed side by side with those of the despoilers. Men like Walter Scott, William Shakespeare, and Le Fanu told a different story than the philosophical speculators. My nihilism then gave way to the very elemental faith -- let’s call it the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ faith -- of my European ancestors. (1)

Man is a very social animal. Having come to believe in that faith which is “so ancient and so new,” I sought fellowship, not only in church but in society. And in both church and society I had to confront the fact that what I believed about God and the European culture, which showed me the face of Christ, was not the organic belief of any of my fellow Europeans.

The new Europeans had broken with the past that was the source of my new found faith. The Europeans of the older times looked on the Christian faith as an epic poem with Christ as the Hero. Through His incarnation, crucifixion, death, and resurrection, He revealed to men the humanity of God and the divine element of humanity. Man was the centerpiece of God’s creation, a personality of infinite value. But in the new Christianity, which cut across all denominational lines, Christ was the great Illuminator; He came not to set hearts on fire, but to enlighten men’s minds. The new Christianity was a mathematical system, and the elect were the men who could figure that system out.

I’ve never been able to understand, from inside, why mathematical, cosmic Christianity is more appealing to modern Europeans than the poetic, fairy tale Christianity of the Europeans of the past. But I have to acknowledge that it is because that is the faith they preach and practice.

Let’s place the faith of our European ancestors up against the faith of the modern Europeans. Our ancestors believed that heaven visited earth in the form of Jesus Christ, and through a divine act of charity He bound our hearts to His heart. All that we know of God and our fellow man comes from our hearts which He set on fire. This is why the folktales of the European people always stress the miraculous powers of a human heart that is connected to the divine heart: “Charity never faileth.”

In contrast to the way of charity, the way of the Third Dumb Brother of the European fairy tale, is a religion that exalts the superior intellect. God does not impart to human hearts, He enlightens human minds, or at least some human minds. “You too can become one of the illuminated” is the call to which modern Christians respond. And in such a religion there is no need to stay connected to a particular people’s past. In fact there is no such thing as a people, either as a group or as individuals; there is only illuminated minds connected to other illuminated minds. The white man is not committing suicide because he has lost his mind; he is committing suicide because he has lost his heart. It is in the coffin he built for the fairy tale faith of his European ancestors.

I found the folklorists of Europe left a trail of bread crumbs that led back to the cottage of the Son of God. Their apologetics of the hearth and the heart was the same as the one He used when He walked the earth. His apologetics consisted of a story about a hero (our Lord was the hero of His story) woven around dogmas illustrated by stories.

Why does the use of stories and parables mark a work as inferior apologetics and lacking in serious moral purpose? In illuminated circles such a work is labeled “natural” and thus inferior to the supernatural works of the Doctors of Theology, but by such a standard the Gospels would be considered inferior apologetics, and Christ a second-rate theologian.

The false assumption of the illuminated apologist is that reason alone stands unpolluted by original sin. This is false. Our reason is not meant to be separated from the rest of our being; it is only when we seek Christ with our heart, soul, and mind, that we can attain a vision (through a glass darkly) of the true God.

Genuine apologetics must be like the old apologetics of our Lord, showing us a vision of the true God through the use of parable, story, and the image of the Hero. When the central dogma of Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ risen is still strongly present in the consciousness of the reader, the story of the Christ-like hero (such as Zorro or the Scarlet Pimpernel) is sufficient without the dogma. But when the central dogma of Western civilization has receded from the consciousness of men, the dogma must be more explicit. C. S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, gives us the new-old apologetics for the 21st century. He makes explicit what writers such as Kenneth Grahame, Walter Scott, and Joseph Le Fanu were saying implicitly.

There will be many who will quarrel over the artistic merits of a work of literature that makes such an explicit case for the Christian Faith. But such individuals do not understand that all art is religious. There is no such thing as a work of art without a religious vision. The vision is the work of art. What makes a work of art didactic in the pejorative sense is the nature of the religious vision conveyed. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden, is not offensive because she writes about God; her novel is offensive because her god is a pantheistic, Buddha-type of God.

Many Catholics are particularly hostile to fairy tale apologetics. The reason Tolkien thought Narnia childish and vulgar was because he was raised in the “old” Catholic school (which was of course really a very modern school), which taught that art and religion were in separate categories, the one in the natural order, and the other in the supernatural order. But that is a false division. God does not just exist on the Mt. Sinai of the theologians, nor should apologetics be left to the professionals.

C. S. Lewis’s regress was a regress to fairy tale Christianity. After discovering the limitations of the more traditional apologetics, which he did quite well, he wrote the great work of Christian apologetics in Narnia. He broke through the Thomistic separation of the natural and the supernatural and told us a really true fairy tale of how we can learn to love God in this world and live happily ever after with Him in the next. He kept it simple for the peasants like myself, without compromising the dogma.

There is nothing written in stone that says apologetics must be dull, mathematical, unmetaphorical, unimaginative, and unintelligible. The use of parables and stories in one’s apologetics should not disqualify a work from the ranks of “serious” apologetics. In fact, it is my contention that a really effective apologia for the Faith should incorporate the heroic fairy tale traditions of Europe and the Gospels. And because our current anti-civilization does not consciously recognize the central dogma of our old civilization, the new apologetics will make it clear for whom the cross on the knight’s breastplate stands. It stands for the Christ, who was and is the source of the blood faith of the non-illuminated European people. +

(1) There are two types of faith that I can honestly say entered my blood. The first was the fairy tale Christianity of my childhood and my adulthood, and the second was nihilism, which is more an absence of faith, of my late teens and early twenties. All other modes of thought and feeling I understand as an outside observer.

Rationalist Christianity does not move me in the slightest. Nor do the various nature religions. And neo-paganism? If man is merely a biological specimen as the neo-pagans maintain, then why should I care whether white or black vegetable matter predominates over the other? A person’s skin color matters only if his racial identity is part of his soul, which is a thing divine and which belongs to God. “Nearer My Genes to Me” is not a very inspiring hymn.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

At the Last Trump

All torment, trouble, wonder, and amazement,
Inhabits here. Some heavenly power guide us
Out of this fearful country!

“We are enow yet living in the field, To smother up the English in our throngs, if any order might be thought upon.” Thus spoke the Duke of Orleans at the battle of Agincourt, but of course no order was thought upon, and the French suffered one of the biggest ‘upset’ losses in military history.

The cry of the conservative, nationalists for the past thirty years has been the same as that of the Duke of Orleans: “There are still enough white people left to turn back the colored tide if whites will only band together as a racial unit and vote white.” And if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. White people are not going to band together and act as a racial unit, because they are a unique race of people; they, and they alone, built a Christian civilization, and they, and they alone, have built a post-Christian civilization. No white solidarity movement can be successful that does not take the white man’s religion into account. You can’t simply condemn it, as the neo-pagans do, nor can you leave it aside and put your faith in the democratic process, as the ‘Founding Father’ type conservatives do. Christ is our Promethean fire; without Him there is no hearth for the European.

The difference between a pagan’s love for his own race and a Christian’s love for his own race is a difference in intensity. Just as shame turns to guilt and kindness to charity in a Christian culture, so does pride of race turn to love of race in a Christian culture. What is missing in the pagans’ pride of race is a fully developed appreciation for the human personality. Only the Christian can be fully aware of the divinity within man, because only the Christian is linked to the divine personality.

Even though there are great differences in degree between the white pagan gods and the black barbarian gods, they all, in the end, are of the same kind: they are nature gods. Pagan man is ultimately alone in the jungle. He has the sun in the morning and moon at night, but he has no personal God who cares whether he lives or dies. Love for one’s race under such a canopy is a futile, desperate, despairing love. “I can’t survive death, but my race will survive and keep my name alive.” Who cares about such a survival? Only the incredibly superficial. The men of depth, such as Sophocles, say, “It is better never to have been born than to suffer such a fate.”

The white man could not rest content with paganism. He stepped away from the heathen gods and went looking for the God above the gods. The blind Oedipus called his brethren to see beyond Mt. Olympus, beyond Aristotle, beyond Plato, to the God who set the apostles’ hearts on fire on the road to Emmaus. The traditional faith of the European, and still the faith of the traditional European, was that He and He alone is waiting for us at the crossroad of life and death. As Le Fanu so eloquently says, we have only His promise and no other. The nature gods, seemingly so full of life and vitality when we are full of life and vitality, are lifeless and mute when our life’s blood has ebbed and we are in our death agony. Then it is only His life and His vitality that sustains us and His voice that we hear, which brings us to the great divide. The Thomistic revolt, as the great Russian Vladimir Solovyov pointed out, is a return to nature; the revolt constitutes a denial of the link between God and man. God is no longer in man; He is in nature. And man is once again alone with only nature as his comforter. Of course man still has the idea of God, but he no longer possesses God. God still imparts to human hearts, but if men’s hearts are closed because their minds are bound by nature, He cannot enter in.

The modern anti-white, anti-Christian Christian is simply carrying the logic of scholasticism to its ultimate conclusion. One doesn’t have to reject God in order to be a modern Christian atheist. One merely has to reserve the right to make God anything which the individual, autonomous man wants Him to be. And man also becomes whatever the modern scholastic wants him to be. I was forced to confront this type of post-Christian Christianity when I was involved in the pro-life movement. If one took a Christian peasant’s view of the matter, the abortion issue was quite simple: abortion was murder. “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” But to a Thomist who has no touchstone of reality, no blood relationship with God, but has only his unaided, rational contemplation of the natural world, it is not simple. Let’s listen to a “conservative” Thomist, Will Lester S. J., using Aquinas to justify legalized abortion:

The traditional, philosophical argument for man’s life beginning at the moment of fertilization centers around the theory that the “form” of the material being, which gives the body life and guides it through development, must be one and the same throughout the beings’ existence. But since the “form” of the developed man is demonstrably the intellectual soul, that soul must be present from the moment of fertilization and that moment must mark the beginning of man’s life as a human with all his rights. However, I am inclined to deny the need for a material being having one and the same soul throughout its existence. Rather I think Aquinas was correct in saying, “At first the embryo has a soul which is merely sensitive (capable of sense perception) and when this is taken away, it is supplanted by a more perfect soul which is both sensitive and intellectual.” (Summa, I, q. 76, a.3, ad 3...)

It is certain of course, that an intellectual soul is immaterial and subsistent and therefore cannot be generated; it can only be created. A sensitive soul, though, can be generated. Now, it seems to me that a sensitive soul, generated by humans, should suffice for human bodily development; then, after the brain developed sufficiently, the sensitive soul would be supplanted by an intellectual one bringing human life.
For one thing, it seems unreasonable that an intellectual soul which needs a material brain for its peculiar activity would be present before the brain would be usable even for the most rudimentary tasks. But without an activity peculiar to itself, the soul would have no sufficient reason for existence and therefore could not exist. The fact, too, that identical twins are formed by the splitting of what was once a one-cell, fertilized ovum argues against the one-cell zygote having intellectual soul. After all, an intellectual soul can neither co-inform the same body with another intellectual soul nor be split into two.

Also, the supplanting of a less perfect soul for the more perfect is consonant with the theory, which seems to be definitely true, that brain death constitutes the death of man. Except the process is in reverse. When the body can no longer be useful to the intellectual soul, that soul leaves; yet the body still accommodates a less perfect soul capable, at least, of nourishment.

Supplanting also appears to be accepted on principle by traditional theologians who rather unanimously allow for a limited evolution. They work on the supposition that if evolution were a fact and man evolved from an animal, the souls of a male and female near-human animal were finally supplanted by two intellectual souls and the resulting two persons became the parents of us all.

Furthermore, scientists Arthur Hertig and John Rock tell us, and their statements seem to be scientifically accurate, that 58% of all fertilized human eggs are lost within the first two weeks. They simply do not make it down the fallopian tubes or are not properly implanted on the wall of the uterus. (Later some 11% more are lost. Only 31% actually come to birth.) Now it seems unbecoming God’s providence that all those one-cell and few-celled beings which are lost should be immortal humans.

If my conclusions are correct, then direct, intentional abortion at the earliest stages of development would not be the moral evil of murder but of illicit birth control.

--from Morality Anyone? by William Lester, S. J., Arlington House, 1975

Contained in Lester’s convoluted justification of abortion is the reason why the white race is committing suicide. The mind of man, when detached from the Promethean heat of Christ’s loving heart, can and does make itself an artificial fantasy world. Reality is what the mind of man says it is. If autonomous man declares a baby is not a baby, then it is not a baby. And conversely, if autonomous man says there is no such thing as race, then there is no such thing as race. Babies and white people can be summoned or eliminated at a whim. When a baby is chosen, then it exists. When it is not chosen, it is a fetus. White people are a race when liberals want a race to blame the ills of mankind on; white people are not a race when liberals want to integrate schools and intermarry. Then, of course, there is no such thing as race. It’s all quite neat, if you’re a modern, post-Christian rationalist. Your fantasy world is the world.

Where does all this leave the European, incarnational Christian who knows that babies are babies no matter how un-intellectual they are; and that race does matter just as Christ’s incarnation matters? It leaves him on the outside fringes of the civilization built by his ancestors, who believed as he did about race and about God. And nothing will make the incarnational Christian an insider again. White Christian Europe is no more. It is no longer the eleventh hour; the clock has struck midnight. Antique Europeans are now a minority in a new Babylon.

To say I bleed and weep for the death of Christian Europe would be a gross understatement. I have no words to describe my feelings on the subject. But no amount of bleeding or weeping on my part will bring Europe back. Or will it? Is there really a distinction between the poetic realm and the practical realm? In the poetic realm, His realm, nothing that is eternal dies. So Europe still lives just as Professor Kirk’s old home in the country still lives:

“Why!” exclaimed Peter. “It’s England. And that’s the house itself—Professor Kirk’s old home in the country where all our adventures began!”

“I thought that house had been destroyed,” said Edmund.

“So it was,” said the Faun. “But you are now looking at the England within England, the real England just as this is the real Narnia. And in that inner England no good thing is destroyed.”
By declaring that eternal Europe still lives I am not in anyway trying to diminish the tragedy of the emergence of a new Babylon where Europe once was. But I am pointing out that there is no conflict between the practical measures a white European should pursue in order to cleanse his nation of liberals and barbarians and the poetic connection he should maintain to eternal Europe. The European must see the conflict in its entirety, as a war against principalities and powers. While doing everything he can in the temporal realm, he must realize that no matter how outwardly unsuccessful his efforts may seem it is of eternal significance that he remain faithful in his heart and soul to eternal Europe. Never abandon the white plume, because it is through the white plume of Europe that we stay connected to Christ. (1)

The neo-pagan, the conservative nationalist, and the liberal have all returned to the worship of Baal. The two former groups want to dispute turf rights with the barbarians of color while the later group wants to blend with them. But all three groups have left Christian Europe behind. The good Christian Duke and his loyal followers have been banished to the Forest of Arden, where they are beginning to learn that "Sweet are the uses of adversity..." It is better to stand with a few kindred spirits, or even to stand alone, than to worship the merciless gods of nature.

Love cannot be forced, and the sad fact is that the modern European detests the God whom his ancestors loved. One can try to excuse them by saying the churches misrepresented Christ and it is only the misrepresentation which the modern European hates. But the true face of Christ is present in the culture of the older white Europeans, and modern Europeans hate that culture. So we are faced with a tragedy. The Europeans were the true Jews, the faithful remnant who saw Christ and believed. Now they have become the pharisaical Jews who have hardened their hearts against Him. What chance does an incarnational Christian have against such implacable foes? Well, what chance did He have against the same foes? And are we not His people? Surely if we are as faithful to His Europe as Ratty is to the European river we will not be forsaken. (2) There is no ultimate conflict between practical truth and poetic truth; the two seemingly contradictory modes of existence are blended together in the beautiful poetry of the Christian faith, which begins in a lowly manger and ends in His heavenly Kingdom. +
CYRANO. I can see him there -- he grins --
He is looking at my nose -- that skeleton--
What's that you say? Hopeless? -- Why, very well!
--But a man does not fight merely to win!
No -- no -- better to know one fights in vain!
...You there -- Who are you?
A hundred against one --I know them now, my ancient enemies--
[He lunges at the empty air.]
Falsehood! ... There! There! Prejudice -–
Compromise --Cowardice -- [Thrusting]
What's that? No! Surrender?
No! Never -- never!
... Ah, you too, Vanity!
I knew you would overthrow me in the end --
No! I fight on! I fight on! I fight on!
[He swings the blade in great circles, then pauses, gasping.
When he speaks again, it is in another tone.]
Yes, all my laurels you have riven away
And all my roses; yet in spite of you,
There is one crown I bear away with me,
And to-night, when I enter before God,
My salute shall sweep all the stars away
From the blue threshold! One thing without stain,
Unspotted from the world, in spite of doom
Mine own!—-
[He springs forward, his sword aloft.]

[The sword escapes from his hand; he totters, and
falls into the arms of LE BRET and RAGUENEAU.]

ROXANE. [Bends over him and kisses him on the forehead.] --That is...

CYRANO. [Opens his eyes and smiles up at her.]
My white plume...

“I beg your pardon,” said the Mole, pulling himself together with an effort. “You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me. So—this—is—a—River!”
“The River,” corrected the Rat.
“And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!”
“By it and with it and on it and in it,” said the Rat. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.”

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Fiery Furnace

It is requir’d
You do awake your faith. Then all stand still;

The very best way to discern whether one belongs in a particular Christian organization is to determine whether the organization’s image of Christ is compatible with your own. “What think ye of Christ?” is indeed the question of these wars. When the dialectal approach to religion rules as it currently does in the organized churches, it becomes very hard not to choose the lesser of two evils because two false evil images of Christ are the only images presented. I found that I was not in sympathy with the liberal Catholics or with the traditionalist Catholics. The liberals claim Christ is like Mr. Softie (of ice cream fame), and the traditionalists claim he is like Mr. Murdstone of David Copperfield. But is He with either of these groups?

The liberals would have Him be soft on sexual license, soft on non-believers, and soft on them. But they do make one exception: when people do not accept their vision of a ‘Mr. Softie’ Christ, the liberals demand that ‘Mr. Softie’ hurl the non-believers into outer darkness.

The problem with the ‘Mr. Softie’ Christ is that He ends up not being strong enough to raise Himself or His followers from the dead. He becomes a kind of Great Gatsby: the nicest man in the world, but a hopeless, powerless figure. This type of Christ suits the liberals’ purposes until they are faced with a situation, such as their own death, or the desired condemnation of a conservative creed, at which time they are left out in the cold by their image of Christ.

What the liberals fail to see is that there are occasions when Christ must be tough in order to protect the soft. Those who are soft in their faith must be protected from aggressive Jews, Muslims, neo-pagans, secularists, etc. Hence the ecumenism of a John Paul II-type is a base betrayal of the flock. The physically soft, such as babies in the womb, must also be protected. To fail to be tough in order to protect their softness would run counter to the true image of Christ. He would be tough in their defense. But the liberal Christian will not accept toughness (except when dealing with those with conservative creeds) from their ‘Mr. Softie’ Christ.

The traditionalists commit a grave error on the other side of the spectrum. Their God is certainly tough. He doesn’t take any stuff and nonsense from anyone. And they, in imitation of their God, are tough guys too. They are not ‘nice guys’ – in fact their lack of ‘niceness’ is their badge of honor. But just as niceness without doctrinal firmness makes the liberal Christ a ‘softie’, so does firmness without charity make the traditionalist Christ an anti-Christ, because what the traditionalists fail to comprehend is that Christ was tough for a soft reason.

The liberals are partly right: Christ is merciful, He is forgiving. He did come to save and not to condemn. And yes, the traditionalist is right about Christ’s toughness: He did come to define, condemn, and judge. The traditionalist doesn’t err because he claims those tough attributes belong to Christ, he errs when he designates the softer qualities as liberal and therefore not part of Christianity.

Is it so difficult to comprehend that the Man-God is tough and strong because he is meek and mild? Yes, it is too difficult, I have noticed, so long as one clings to the dialectic: If A=B, and B=C, then C=A. To the dialectician, bent over his computer, toughness and softness do not compute. Either God is tough with all the attributes of toughness, or He is soft with all the attributes of softness.

But in real life, as distinct from the dialectic, it is quite easy to comprehend a tough God who is soft. We can comprehend such a God by examining our own striving for the heroic ideal. Melville, in his magnificent novel, Pierre, has his hero, who is about to be married, exert himself in various manly exercises, imagining as he does so, that he might be called upon in the future to protect his meek and mild bride-to-be.

Once more, the sweet unconditional thought of Lucy slid wholly into his soul, dislodging thence all such phantom occupants. Once more he rode, he walked, he swam, he vaulted; and with new zest threw himself into the glowing practice of all those manly exercises, he so dearly loved. It almost seemed in him, that ere promising forever to protect, as well as eternally to love, his Lucy, he must first completely invigorate and embrawn himself into the possession of such a noble muscular manliness, that he might champion Lucy against the whole physical world.
One can see that Pierre is trying to become tough for gentle reasons.

Chesterton tells us in one of his works that on his wedding day he went out and purchased a revolver. What an excellent instinct! Like Pierre, Chesterton had the desire to be tough in order to protect softness.

What the liberal Catholic and the traditionalist both try to do is banish all decent Christian feelings from our hearts and souls so that they may plant their new religions in our minds. The liberal Catholic tries to convince us that our nobler instincts to fight for and protect the soft are base, un-ecumenical, and pagan, while the traditionalist tries to tell us that all those Pickwickian instincts of love and charity have nothing to do with Christianity. We must work, we are told, to squash such instincts and cultivate the toughness of a ‘tough guy’ God. (Although I must note that the traditionalists, like the liberals, permit one exemption from their creed. The traditionalists prefer a tough God until they need mercy and forgiveness, and then, they too want ‘Mr. Softie’.)

Now the devil would like us to choose between traditionalist (always distinct from traditional) and liberal Christianity because both versions of Christianity present a distorted view of Christ that serves the devil’s purposes. He preys on spiritually sick individuals who have no blood faith and hence no touchstone of reality. He is like an evil conman hanging around the lonely hearts' clubs hoping to bilk lonely women out of their savings. And it is quite lonely without a church, without community. But if one’s church and community is without Christ, won’t our loneliness in such a church and such a community be all the more acute?

Loneliness is now the permanent condition of an incarnational Christian in the modern world. There is no remedy for it. But the Christian’s loneliness can be lessened if he stays connected to the traditional, nonsectarian faith of the European people. The reason the traditionalist and liberal churches cannot support a Christian is because they have abandoned tradition. The traditionalists think tradition consists of Church documents and the works of older theologians. And they cite those documents and those theologians against the liberals’ new documents and new theologians. But tradition means so much more than one theologian’s ideas or one set of documents. Tradition is the faith of a people in its entirety.

The people’s art, their loves, their social structures all express how they feel about God. If a modern Christian finds the older European tradition to be in line with his faith, he should cling to that tradition and reject the Christ-less faith of liberal Christianity and modern traditionalist Christianity. He will still feel lonely, but he will no longer feel God-forsaken. And in traditional European Christianity, there is no Mr. Softie or Mr. Tough Guy. There is only Jesus, true God and true man. His power and his mercy are indivisible and infinite.

I think that the distorted portraits of Christ painted by the modern liberals and the modern traditionalists are the end result of a change in the soul of the European. The focus in a healthy, functioning, Christian soul is on the God-Man, but in a sick, unhealthy soul the focus is on oneself, particularly on those aspects of one’s life that shows one to be of the elect. The modern Christian is constantly checking the list to make sure he is fit, tanned, and chosen, because a man who has been dialectically severed from the inner life of God has only outward signs to convince him that he lives in the light. The only difference between the various denominations is with what they choose to verify their elect status.

Thus liberal Catholics are very concerned with having correct opinions on the subject of Negroes and women’s rights, but they are very little concerned with adultery and abortion. The conservative Catholics are very concerned about obedience to the Pope, but they are not in the last concerned about the rights of Christ the King or the defense of kith and kin. And the traditionalists are very concerned about the rite of the Mass, but they are not in the least concerned about their inhumane, Christ-insulting creed. It is the feeling of election which has become paramount, and not a respect and love for the living God.

But if modern Christians would look to the older European culture, they would find a remedy for their sick souls. In the traditions of maidenly virtue and hierarchically structured institutions, the liberals would find an answer to their problems of gender and race. In the chivalric traditions of Europe, the conservatives would see how one can be martial yet gentle. And in the daily lives of the European folk, the traditionalists would find a burning light of charity to ward off the dark Nestorian night.

The European people, in structuring a society around the idea of the God-Man, put their faith to the test in the furnace of reality. When their faith came out unscathed, it gave us a touchstone of reality that we avoid at our peril.

True Europeans are in line with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
What is the unique feature in that account? Is it the fact that the three men were willing to face fire for their God? No, that is a rare thing but not unique. The heathen have courageous men among their ranks who will face fire for their gods. The unique feature in the account is, of course, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not burn. Their faith withstood the test of fire. This so impressed Nebuchadnezzar (apparently he was more easily impressed than modern churchmen) that he proclaimed:

Therefore I make a decree. That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.
Well said, Mr. Nebuchadnezzar. He has punctuated a point that is overlooked by modern Christians: One’s faith must be based on reality. Feel-good slogans geared to convince us of our elect status won’t cut it. Nebuchadnezzar used to run around with banners about the sun god’s warmth and beneficence, but after witnessing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s astonishing survival, he became a raging, un-ecumenical convert to the true faith.

Existence is a fiery furnace. We can put our faith to the test during our lives here on earth, like our European forefathers, or we can ‘Skip to the Lou’ and hide from reality with feel-good slogans. But at the hour of our deaths we will still have to face the fire we avoided our entire lives. King Lear, after living a life based on the wisdom of Hallmark greeting cards, had to face the fire:

You do me wrong to take me out o’ the grave—Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound, Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears do scald like molten lead.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thy Life’s a Miracle

Men must endure,
Their going hence
even as their coming hither;

In the great debate between the Franciscan Bonaventure and the Dominican Aquinas, I stand with the Franciscan. St. Francis’s way to God, through vision, through a heart-to-heart relationship with Christ our brother, trumps Aquinas’s system (inferring the existence of God through the contemplation of the natural world) every time. And I have noted that the British writers who came from a nation that successfully resisted the over-legalistic and overly rationalistic Roman system were the most Franciscan of all the great writers. (1) The works of Shakespeare, La Fanu, and Scott, for example, are the embodiment of the visionary, heart-to-heart response to God and to God’s world that St. Francis espoused. The tragedy of the modern European is that he has abandoned the affective, sympathetic way, or what I call the fairy tale mode of apprehension, for the intellectual, Gnostic approach to existence. Even at this late date if we shift our focus and pay attention to our forefathers, those British Franciscans, we can overcome the Gnosticism of the modern age. (2)

Every Christian century has had its Hamlets, men who were willing to risk everything in combating the Gnostic dragon of modernity. But by the twentieth century the Gnostic dragon had grown to such proportion that the combat against him seemed almost hopeless. Boris Pasternak’s character, Dr. Zhivago, is much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but Zhivago lacks Hamlet’s vitality. Zhivago faces a world that is in an advanced stage of Gnostic trichinosis. The people around Zhivago no longer even remember what a non-Gnostic world or a non-Gnostic person was like. And we can’t look on Soviet Russia as something separate from the rest of the democratic West. The underlying philosophy of East and West is the same: Gnosticism.
Zhivago is an unlikely hero, being an adulterer and a derelict, but Pasternak is not making a case for adultery or sloth. Zhivago is a moral hero because, despite his sins, he is still trying to hold onto a vision of humanity that holds the particular human person above the abstract principle of humanity. This makes him an unfit companion for the walking, talking, cardboard humans that inhabit his world. He tells them:

"Microscopic forms of cardiac hemorrhages have become very frequent in recent years. They are not always fatal. Some people get over them. It’s a typical modern disease. I think its causes are of a moral order. The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant, systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity. I found it painful to listen to you, Innokentii, when you told us how you were re-educated and became mature in jail. It was like listening to a circus horse describing
how it broke itself in."

"I must stand up for Dudorov," said Gordon. "You’ve got unused to simple human words, they don’t reach you any more."

"It may very well be, Misha. But in any case, you must let me go now. I can hardly breathe. I swear, I’m not exaggerating."

The modern world has institutionalized the worldview of Hamlet’s archenemy, Claudius, who thought that the mystery of man could be solved by intellectual dissection. If Claudius were alive today, he would send Hamlet to two psychiatrists called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
If I were to claim that Freud is psychiatry and psychiatry is Freud, most modern psychiatrists would disagree. They would cite their rejection of the Oedipus complex, penis envy, and Freud’s extreme emphasis on the early childhood years. But Freud’s essential premise, that man is a glorified ape that can be examined, probed, and analyzed like a laboratory specimen in order to be “cured,” is the same as that of all the psychiatrists and psychoanalysts that now say they reject Freud.

And because of Freud’s atheistic rationalism, I do not think it is possible to fuse incarnational Christianity and psychology. I know Isaac Stern, the psychiatrist and Roman Catholic convert, advocated such a fusion in his work, The Third Revolution: A Study of Psychiatry and Religion, but I do not think the Church’s attempt to fuse the two has produced anything beneficial to Christendom. In fact, I think the contrary has been the case. The Church has, under the influence of the psychoanalytic movement, overestimated the healing powers of reason and the conscious mind, which is why the late John Paul II consistently claimed that murderers and child molesters could be rehabilitated.

In addition, the Church’s concept that the individual is responsible for his own sin has been, under the influence of psychology, seriously undermined. Instead of blaming an individual for his sin, we now blame social pressures, and/or family influences. I don’t deny that individuals have gone to psychiatrists and been helped with some personal problem, but those individuals were helped because the psychiatrist or psychologist overcame the limitations of his discipline to reach out and help a fellow human being. But I completely reject the notion that an individual could be helped in any way, except to slide more easily down to hell, by a trained psychiatrist or psychoanalyst using the insights of his profession.

I think we must, when talking about psychiatry, go beyond the essentially evil condemnation we would hurl at the computer or the automobile, and label the science of psychology as intrinsically evil.

Nor do I think Jung is a psychologist who is “friendly” to Christianity. He was a Freudian, who studied under Freud and then broke with him. And the cause of the break was interesting. It was on the subject of religious dreams and imagery. Freud maintained that all religious belief, especially belief in the Jewish or Christian Faith, was a sickness. He developed this point brilliantly in his book Moses and Monotheism. As a story, the book makes for an incredible read, but it so obviously intentionally malicious and lacking in rationality that one stands aghast and asks, “How can a man who claims to believe in scientific objectivity have written such an emotionally charged, fictitious critique of Judaism and Christianity? This man obviously needs psychoanalysis himself.”

You know the thesis that Freud put forward to explain away Judaism and Christianity: A tribe of young men, existing in the primeval mists of time, got together, killed their father and then slept with their mother.

The Jews, Freud contends, repeated primeval man’s sin by killing their father, Moses, in the desert. Christianity was successful, again according to Freud, because it allowed for the relief of the guilt complex from which mankind suffered for the primeval killing of the father. The son died at the request of the father, thus making up for the initial murder of the father.
Of course, Freud’s whole theory falls apart when one simply asks the question, “Why the initial guilt? Why, if man is only a glorified ape, should he feel guilty about killing his father and sleeping with his mother?” When Freud projects a feeling of guilt onto primeval man, he assumes a spiritual dimension to man’s existence that is derived from the religion which he says is a sick delusion.

While still accepting most of Freud’s theories, Jung rejected the notion that religious belief was necessarily a neurosis. He found in his study of dreams that all people had dreams with religious symbols in them. Was everybody then neurotic? Yes, Freud said. No, Jung said.
On the face of it, it would seem that Jung is the friend of religious faith, and that the believer and the seeker can cozy up to him for warmth and protection. “There, there, you are not neurotic or sick like Grandpa Freud says. It is perfectly all right to believe what you believe. Just trust Papa Jung. Here is a candy bar.” And indeed, many Catholic priests and Protestant ministers have cozied up to Jung.

But I would rather have an enemy like Freud than a friend like Jung. I’ll never forget the excitement with which I read Jung’s book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, and that by his disciple, Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Nor will I ever forget my disappointment – actually ‘depression’ would describe it better – when I finished the books. Jungian psychology is just pantheism. “Your religion is okay, Mr. Hindu, and yours, Mr. Christian, and yours, Mr. Moslem, and everybody else’s. We are all part of the great cosmic force...” Blah, blah, blah. Just another form of atheism, but more dangerous than Freud’s because it presents itself as benign. I remember screaming at Jung, after reading Modern Man in Search of a Soul: “Are you not man like me, subject to death and decay like me? What think you of Christ and His claim, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die’?
And to Campbell: “If Christ is not the Hero, above all other heroes, the one to whom the rest of the heroes point, of what use is the hero’s journey? For what purpose does he sally forth?”
Jung and the Jungians are a pantheistic dead end.There is no personal element in their ‘cosmic force,’ and hence no real religion either; nor is there any real religion in all of the psychiatric desert.

It’s all a closed world if we allow the Claudiuses of psychiatry, of philosophy, of theology, of science to assign us a part in their kingdom of the dead. The purveyors of modern Gnosticism come in diverse colors. But they all come from the same multi-colored, seamless garment. The propositional Christian, the Jew, the neo-pagan, and the black barbarian are all united in their hatred of incarnational Christianity, which was not only the religion of St. Francis and Shakespeare, it was the religion of the ordinary European for thousands of years. I don’t see what new revelation the current bred of Gnostics are in possession of to make me or any other European reject the God who took flesh and dwelt among us. __________________________________________
(1) And, therefore, once the Roman conquerors had glutted their first rage for plunder, their main effort was to induce their Western subjects to assimilate Latin life in all its aspects. Their success with the Gauls was permanent, and became the starting point of modern European history. But in Britain, after a great initial success, they had complete ultimate failure. ‘From the Romans who once ruled Britain,’ wrote Haverfield, the great student of the archaeology of the occupation, ‘we Britons have inherited practically nothing.’

(2) I love the British Franciscans because they seem so focused on Christianity as an incarnational faith rather than as a dialectical philosophy. So many seemingly insoluble problems of dialectical philosophy, such as how God can be both universal and particular, and how He can be both God and Man, are resolved in the person of Christ. Le Fanu expresses this so well in his novel Uncle Silas:

Next day was the funeral, that appalling necessity; smuggled away in whispers, by black familiars, unresisting, the beloved one leaves home, without a farewell, to darken those doors no more; henceforward to lie outside, far away, and forsaken, through the drowsy heats of summer, through days of snow and nights of tempest, without light or warmth, without a voice near. Oh, Death, king of terrors! The body quakes and the spirit faints before thee. It is vain, with hands clasped over our eyes, to scream our reclamation; the horrible image will not be excluded. We have just the word spoken eighteen hundred years ago, and our trembling faith. And through the broken vault the gleam of the Star of Bethlehem.The psalmist reminds us that we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The saints and poets of incarnational Europe show us that He walks with us through that Valley to the Mountains beyond it.

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