Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prisoners of the Dialectic

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. -- Psalm 14:1

I made the mistake the other day of turning on the car radio. I must have turned on some “religious” station because there was a Catholic priest on the show talking about salvation outside the Catholic Church. His unsweet song was that in the bad old days, before the Second Vatican Council, the Church hated Jews and Protestants and claimed they were all going to hell. Now, the great man intoned, the Church saw there were many roads to God and we were all beautiful in our own way.

The priest was somewhat in error by saying that before the Council the no-salvation-outside-the-Church belief was the teaching of the Church. After all, it was Pius XII who excommunicated Father Feeney. But the radio priest was essentially correct, for if not absolute in theory, the Church was absolute in practice – meaning that the great unwashed thought, and were encouraged by the clergy to think, that there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church. So I don’t want to quarrel with the radio priest over his analysis, which was essentially correct.

The dialectic that the Feeneyite cannot overcome is this: “The Church was set up by Christ for our salvation; therefore, ipso facto, no one outside the Church can be saved.” But the dialectic is a false mode of thinking invented by Satan to deceive intellectual pygmies like us, pygmies at least in comparison to Satan.

The poetic mode, whether we ever write poetry or not, is the mode in which humans are called to respond to existence. Vatican II did not bring about the proper doctrine on “No salvation outside the Church.” Those Christians who operated in the non-dialectic sphere of existence always knew it. Take a novel like Ivanhoe for instance, written long before Vatican II. In the novel, Scott draws a perfectly believable portrait of a saintly Jewish woman, while at the same time making it clear that she is in error. Ivanhoe, being a true knight and therefore possessing a poetic sense of life, is able to fight valiantly for Rebecca without compromising his own Christian faith. In fact he fights valiantly for her because of his Christian Faith. This is impossible to understand if one views life as a dialectic, but quite understandable if one sees life in a poetic light. And I must stress that the poetic, or the mystical, if you prefer, response to existence has nothing to do with one’s ability to write poetry, it has to do with the state of one’s soul. A person could have a great gift to write poetry but have a very cold, dialectically oriented soul. Dante is a case in point. Few, possibly only Shakespeare, had greater power of expression than Dante, but Dante lacked a poetic appreciation of life. In his hands, God becomes a pagan God who requires sacrifice and not mercy. I loved it when Unamuno, in his classic work on Don Quixote, had Quixote ride into hell and take down Dante’s sign, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

Edgar, with great sadness, comments that the dark and vicious place where his father begot the bastard Edmund cost him his eyes. By the same token the dark and vicious place where the clergy embraced the dialectic cost Father Feeney and countless millions their faith. So much was said in so few words by the anti-dialectical poet, William Blake – “We will forever believe a lie when we see with, not through, the eye.”

The radio priest and Father Feeney represent the North and South poles of religious atheism. The religious atheist doesn’t renounce Christ directly; instead, he refashions Christianity to fit his idea of what a god should be. In the case of the radio priest, he thinks God should be a benign being with no definite personality or attributes, who gives one generic blessing to all mankind. And at the other pole of religious atheism, Father Feeney worships the idea of an organized Church with exclusive rights to the Kingdom of Heaven, but he has no feeling for the Son of God who came to redeem mankind. Scott describes the Feeney mentality in his novel A Legend of Montrose:
Another cause inflamed the minds of the nation at large, no less than the tempting prospect of the wealth of England animated the soldiery. So much had been written and said on either side concerning the form of church government, that it had become a matter of infinitely more consequence in the eyes of the multitude than the doctrines of that gospel which both churches had embraced. The Prelatists and Presbyterians of the more violent kind became as illiberal as the Papists, and would scarcely allow the possibility of salvation beyond the pale of their respective churches. It was in vain remarked to these zealots, that had the Author of our holy religion considered any peculiar form of church government as essential to salvation, it would have been revealed with the same precision as under the Old Testament dispensation. – Walter Scott
The religious atheist is much more common than the professed atheist, but our modern age, which has produced a record number of religious atheists, is also producing a significant number of outright atheists. And that is not a coincidence. Religious atheism begets secularized atheism. As C. S. Lewis points out in The Last Battle, the end result of years of false teaching about Aslan was that a great number of people had ceased to believe in the real Aslan.

And we must make one more distinction. The militant atheism so prevalent in the neo-pagan ranks is not the type of atheism which Stavrogin displays in Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed. There is a certain nobility in Stavrogin’s atheism; he has come to believe there is no God, and he takes the tragedy of a Godless universe seriously enough to commit suicide.

In contrast, the neo-pagans' professed atheism is mere pouting, the pouting of petulant children mad at their parents for not handing them the world on a silver platter, a world as they would have it. Christianity has turned to the worship of Baal in the form of the black man, so the neo-pagans think this gives them the right to imitate the Jews and form an organized opposition to Jesus of Nazareth. One hears, once again, from their camp the cries of “crucify Him!”

As it was in the past so is it now. It is up to the white Christian European to stand against the Christ-haters and for incarnational Europe. The religious atheists, the neo-pagan atheists, and the barbarians seem to be such different entities, but they are one in their hatred of the Europeans and their God. It stands on us to defend His Europe against such enemies, not to appease them or to compromise with them.

Atheism is a European phenomenon and only a European phenomenon, because the colored peoples never worshipped a personal God. To them, God is a force or a philosophy; how do you personally reject such a God? But Christ? He can be rejected because He is our personal savior. The religious atheist could not have fashioned his atheistic, new, improved Christ if there had been no Christ. The serious atheist would not feel the God-forsakenness of the world if he had not come from a people who believed that Christ had redeemed the world. And finally, the petulant-child atheist would not have a personal God to blame for the ills of the modern world if the European people had not nurtured and championed the belief that there was a personal God who cared about individual human beings. The European is not naked before his enemies because God has forsaken him; he is naked before his enemies because he has forsaken his God. Having tried and failed to win battles under the atheistic banners of democracy and egalitarianism, it is now time for the European to fight under the only banner worth fighting for. +

Labels: ,