Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Mutual Flame

So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix’s sight;
Either was the other’s mine.


Let’s be clear about what the new Supreme Court nominee’s condemnation of the white male means. She did not condemn white males for being too liberal, for ceding white civilization to the colored barbarians; she condemned everything associated with the white male of history, namely Western civilization and the God of that civilization. But she was careful to follow the proscribed liberal formula and leave the white female out of her condemnation.

Liberals have taken the Christian doctrine of original sin and made it applicable to only one sex and one race. All females and all non-whites are without sin. This is why the colored man takes race so seriously and the liberal white male denies the existence of race. As a member of the sinless race, the colored wants race to be the determining factor in everything. Then he will be granted sainted status in everything. The liberal white male, on the other hand, has a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that there is no such thing as race. In his world of pure mind, race doesn’t exist. And in contrast to the colored male, the white male must always deny the existence of masculinity. The result of that denial is the end of chivalry. Instead of Beau Geste, the white Christian model of masculinity, we now see only colored masculinity which celebrates pure animal lust and barbarism. The white females need only refrain from marrying white men from the old European stock in order to avoid the taint of original sin. And the vast majority of white females have voluntarily refrained from marrying white Christian males. But I think a time is fast approaching when white Christian women will be forbidden to marry white Christian males.

The consistent liberal will rejoice that the Christian male is extinct (see The Underground Men), because he knows that Christianity is a patriarchal religion. If there is no patriarchy there can be no Christianity. But there are some halfway-house Christians who want to retain the benefits of living in a Christian society while supporting the principles of a primitive matriarchal society. The late John Paul II was a classic example of this type of religious schizophrenic. On the one hand, he condemned abortion, and on the other hand he supported feminism.
The late Pope praised the feminist movement, saying it had championed “the dignity of women.” In his weekly audience of November 29, 1995, he called feminism “in great part legitimate,” and said it had added to a more “balanced vision of the question of womanhood in the contemporary world.” He further went on to say that feminism had reacted against everything that has “impeded the value and full development of the feminine personality” (from Inside the Vatican, January 1996).
We must make up our minds. Is the story of Adam and Eve true? If it is, then the responsibility for the original sin rests on the shoulders of the male and the female. In fact, the responsibility rests even more squarely on the female’s shoulders. So if we exempt the female from original sin, we are not behaving like Christian gentlemen; we are behaving like the male devotees of the religions of Cybele and Isis.

The answer to any social ill is integral Christianity. You can’t take just one aspect of Christianity, such as respect for women as the life-bearers and life-nurturers, and make it the whole of Christianity. David C. Reardon illustrates this half-way house Christian approach to women in his book, Making Abortion Rare.

Mr. Reardon says the pro-life movement failed because pro-lifers failed to make the movement a pro-woman movement. If we shift our focus from the harm abortion does to babies to the harm it does to women, Mr. Reardon says, we will win the support of middle America and gradually win the abortion war.

Mr. Reardon suggests pro-lifers start initiating malpractice suits against abortion doctors for not following the guidelines of Roe vs. Wade. Doctors never inform women that abortion harms the woman having the abortion, nor do they inform the woman having the abortion of the emotional trauma her abortion will trigger. The doctors’ failure to comply with the Roe v. Wade guidelines will leave them open to legal action and hurt them where it counts – in the pocketbooks.

The launching of malpractice suits against abortion doctors for cruelty to women and spending more money to tell women about what abortion does to them is not evil. But Reardon’s strategy of appealing to the woman’s self-interest and not to her soul has many holes in it.

First, he claims that the pro-life movement has been too judgmental about unmarried pregnancies. My wife and I spent a few years “sidewalk counseling” outside abortion clinics, and we did not detect the “judgmental” attitude among our fellow counselors that Mr. Reardon writes about.

Secondly, Mr. Reardon assumes that the pro-life movement was anti-woman in the past. Again, I don’t see that. People I worked with did stress, rightly I think, that the baby was the primary victim; but pro-lifers have always stressed and been concerned about the physical and spiritual well-being of the woman having the abortion.

Thirdly, on the subject of free will and forgiveness, Mr. Reardon frequently makes statements like this one: “All too often pro-lifers have tended to characterize aborting women as selfish and immoral. A far more accurate generalization would be to portray aborting women as confused and driven by despair. This insight is a vital one to our pro-woman/pro-life strategy.” He misses the point. An aborting woman is selfish and immoral, and there can be no forgiveness for her sin if the sin is never her fault, but only the result of confusion and despair.

Mr. Reardon further claims that we should let women who have had abortions know that God forgives them. No, that is bad theology. We should let them know that if they repent, God will forgive them. It seems to me to be a crucial distinction. Do we really want to treat women as inferior creatures who are incapable of sin because somebody else has forced them into their decision? Do we not then deny them the opportunity to, “Like Mary kneel, like Mary weep, ‘Love much’ and be forgiven”?

Mr. Reardon thinks his woman-based strategy will win over the 70% of Americans who are “personally opposed but...”; by making it a woman’s rights issue, the 70% will turn against the abortion industry. Here I must ask: if we make it a woman’s rights issue, are we not conceding that the baby in the womb has importance only if the woman says the baby has importance? If we say abortion is bad only because it harms the aborting woman, which it certainly does, and we enshrine that concept in law, haven’t we permanently damned the unborn to a nebulous status? The unborn will exist only if women say they do.

Reardon’s suggestion that we can make abortion illegal without restoring patriarchal Christianity is of course absurd. But there is also a dangerous reaction against the matriarchal pretensions of our current feminists that must be avoided, and which is exemplified by Patrick Mitchell in his book, The Scandal of Gender: Early Christian Teaching on the Man and the Woman. Mitchell’s earlier book on the feminization of the military was quite good (the author wrote under the name Brian Mitchell); Mitchell was the only author I’ve come across who based his argument against women in the military on the Christian principle that women should not be in the military rather than on the merely pagan principle that they could not.

The case that Mitchell makes against Christian feminists is a pretty standard one, but it is a case seldom made these days. I felt, while reading it, a bit like I did when I read Mary Lefkowtiz’s Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth As History. It seemed ludicrous that anyone should have to write a book proving that Socrates, Beethoven, Cleopatra, etc., were not black, but nevertheless, the insanity of the modern world made it necessary. By corollary, it seems ludicrous that someone would have to write a book about Christianity being the patriarchal religion, but of course even John Paul II thought one could have a Christian feminism, so this book is a refreshing antidote to the current prevailing nonsense about gender.

Mitchell calls himself a “reader” rather than an “author.” Presumably he does so because he merely cites Scripture and the Church Fathers on the subject of gender. To wit:
Within Christian teaching, loving one’s wife cannot mean ceding to her the husband’s headship or freeing her from her duty to obey and revere. This is the lie of the serpent by which both the man and the woman were and are undone. For while the women’s deepest need is for communion in submission, ultimately to God, Satan deceives her into revolting against God with an offer of power in equality.
No doubt our Christian Fathers would condemn the feminist reorganization of modern society, with its strenuous denial of sexual differences and coercive integration of women into all activities at all levels, on all three counts: (1) for turning the natural order upside down by making men subject to women and deposing husbands and fathers from their rightful headship in the home; (2) for opening the door to immorality by mixing men and women together as if sexual temptation were either easily avoided or not worth resisting; and (3) for obscuring the divinely ordained differences between the sexes so important to the social, sexual, and spiritual health of individual men and women.

There is yet a fourth charge the early Christians would bring against us for our disregard of the different duties of men and women. It is less obvious in early Christian teaching because of the assumption that mothers would always care for their children out of both social necessity and natural affection. It is now the case, however, that mothers are encouraged not to care for their children and instead to abandon them, at a very early age and for most of their waking hours, to the far inferior care of paid strangers. A powerful taboo in our society suppresses all criticism of mothers who do so, and fathers who let them. The Saints would not have been so sparing.
And also:
The prophecy of Adam that the woman was “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” was deeply meaningful to the Fathers. The woman was not a separate species, created from the earth as all other creatures were, as indeed Adam himself was. Alone among all creatures, the woman was created “from the man.” Her nature is derivative of the man’s. She participates “through the man” in both his earthy origin and his divine likeness.
There is a major weakness in the book, however; an irredeemable one, in my judgment. Heretics from the left de-emphasize or, more often, attempt to abolish structures and forms. They point to the ‘spirit’ of things and use words like ‘love’ and ‘charity’ out of context. Heretics from the right, on the other hand, tend to worship form and discipline and do not stress love and charity, fearing that such things lead to a lack of form and discipline, which will then lead to soft-headed liberalism. Mitchell falls prey to the latter, formalist heresy.

This blasphemous interpretation of the Apostle Paul is an example:
The Apostle Paul commands husbands to love their wives, but wives he commands not to love their husbands, but to obey and revere them. In doing so, he bids that wives render to their husbands that which is most needful and consistent with the natural headship of the man, for it is more important to the one in charge that he be obeyed and revered than he be loved. This truth we find also in the world around us, for in all human organizations it is indeed more necessary that the head be feared than loved. The beauty of the Christian order is that the head also loves the body, as Christ loves the Church.
One thinks after reading this of Shakespeare’s comment in The Merchant of Venice: “The devil can cite Scripture for his own purpose.” Scripture should be interpreted in its entirety. (St. Paul also had a memorable quote about charity superseding all other virtues.)

Should a marriage be primarily a military arrangement? I will concede that even the best of women need some fear of their husbands, but should that be their primary reason for obeying? No! Wives who are obedient only from fear and not from love are not real wives and will abandon their husbands once a stronger, more forceful warlord comes along. The true wife obeys because she loves; Katarina’s injunction to wives at the end of The Taming of the Shrew is an example:

Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord? —
I am asham'd that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toll and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease.

I see in Mitchell a man who has gone wrong by only a hair, but it is a significant hair. If we were to adopt Mitchell’s interpretation of the Fathers and Scripture, we would have a religion “that have not charity. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, not the end result. I see in the tradition of chivalry that came to fruition in Europe an elevation of the Church’s teaching on gender. Without abrogating any of the Church Fathers’ teaching, the chivalric tradition shifted the balance in male-female relationships from fear to love, as Christianity shifted the focus from fear to love in man’s relationship with God. When one truly appreciates the nature of the beloved, one only fears disappointing the beloved. One is not fearful of the painful consequences of disobedience for one’s self.

The downside of the chivalric tradition is that the true knight’s reverence for women, which is noble and uplifting when women are obedient as Mary was obedient, becomes blasphemous when women imitate Cybele rather than Mary. This habit of reverence for the female, rightly developed and cultivated in the traditions of chivalry, was continued in the European culture after the female went over to Cybele. Hence, the tradition which was the highest and purest embodiment of true masculinity and true femininity became the embodiment of all that is cowardly in the male and unfeminine in the female.

But the failure of that magnificent synergy between the sexes that was at the core of Western civilization should not force us to make the mistake of Reardon and the liberals, and exempt the woman from original sin. Nor should we settle for Mitchell’s militaristic and juridical arrangement between the sexes. Instead, let us say with Unamuno that we will have all or nothing. We will have knights, chivalry, dragons, fair and virtuous ladies, and the God whose love passeth all understanding, in the civilization to which we bend our knee, or else we will not bend the knee.

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