Thursday, January 21, 2021

Paragraphs to Ponder

As Rod Dreher wails, I was struck by this passage in Eugen Weber's, The Hollow Years. In many ways, France in the 1930's was much like the U.S. is today.

Then came defeat--not quite, as Maurras put it, a divine surprise, but as in 1871, explained as providential. "France's calamities," opined the rector of Questembert, "provided a providential occasion to re-forge Christendom" where it had gone to pot. Conveniently for the soldiers who now ran the show; priests everywhere clamored that the 'War had been lost by godless schoolteachers, or else by the stupidity of universal suffrage, or else by failures in Church discipline. A major cause of the country's punishment, Canon Chaplain of Lambezellec informed the diocesan school inspector, was the profanation of Sunday. Chastisement was well deserved. Re-sanctify the Lord's Day and all would change for the better. French sins justified divine punishment, wrote Monsignor Salige, archbishop of Toulouse, who would become a cardinal at the Liberation for his Resistance activities. Given how the victory of 1918 had been wasted, what would the French have done had they been granted victory in 1940? Better penitence. The annual pilgrimage of Rocamadour at the end of June would in 1940 be "penitential": dedicated to accepting the country's harsh ordeal "in a spirit of reparation."

The progressive Cardinal Lienart became an ardent supporter of Philippe Petain, perhaps because of the subsidies that Vichy now provided to Catholic schools. So did Alfred Cardinal Baudrillart, who shortly before had found in Hitler "our only sheet anchor against Bolsheviks and Communists." Most of the episcopate took similar positions, declaring their "veneration" for Petain and calling on the faithful to support his endeavors. They were hardly exceptional. Most of the French supported Petain, at first with hope and then with resignation. Why should their Church be different? 

 The intra-Catholic war meanwhile continued. Aube and Esprit were prohibited; Mounier, who wanted "to arm French souls against Nazi contamination," was imprisoned. Traditional Catholics continued to denounce progressive heretics like him, his friends, and those of Aube, Christian Democracy, resistant to reaction, bred resistants to the order that reaction introduced: Edmond Michelet in Correze, Charles d'Aragon in the Tarn, Maurice Bye and Etienne Borne in the Haute Garonne, and those still better known, like Maurice Schumann and Georges Bidault. Some of the most visible collaborators--Henriot, Brasillach, Darnand--were also visible Catholics. Numerous members of Darnand's militia died crying, “Long Live Christ the King," at their execution. But Catholics who fought Vichy and the Germans were even more visible; 216 priests were killed or executed, 118 members of the Catholic student association, too. The role they and their fellows played to the Resistance defused what hostility to the Church there was. As one Catholic wrote to the bishop of Marseilles. without their courage to disobey their pastors and follow their, consciences "neither you nor most of your fellow bishops would sit in your seats today.

It's a real bother, said God. When the French won't be around any more, there are things that I do, there won't be anyone to understand them." But Charles Peguy, who wrote these words, never thought, though well he might have done, that the French, who understood so well the things God did, fathomed them in a variety of ways. Catholics did not agree among themselves, sometimes within themselves. Would Peguy, the Christian patriot, have been in London with de Gaulle or in Vichy with Petain? Both claimed him for their own, as they claimed God. And God could have been on the Right with either.


I have absolutely no doubt that Peguy would have sided with De Gaulle. He, like De Gaulle, shared "a certain idea about France."


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

 Wishing all my readers the a Merry Christmas.

Here's some Christian civilisation for you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Possible Developments in the Pell Case

How it began:

From The Guardian,

How it's going.

From The Daily Mail:



The Australian newspaper has more details (behind paywall) but apparently the money was transferred across in forty thousand transactions.

That's 2.3 Billion dollars. Serious money.

Sky News has a good segment on the subject.

From what I've read on the subject, it appears that the Vatican bank was a personal fiefdom of several corrupt cardinals and they were laundering money. 

And I don't think Francis or the other Popes were aware of this.

That's a huge problem.



Friday, December 18, 2020

Our Barbarian: Dreher vs Pell

Donald Trump gets a fair amount of loathing here in Australia by our "respectable" media but so does Cardinal Pell, who was recently released from jail after the Australian High Court overturned his conviction 7-0. i.e he was innocent.  Pell is ostensibly loathed by the Left here in Australia for his supposed role in the pedophilia scandal but he earned their hate long before with his outspoken Christian conservatism.  He was chosen by the Pope to clean up the Vatican finances and while he was always a man of controversy, the real heat was put on him while trying to clean up that mess.

While in prison he kept a journal of his thoughts and it was interesting seeing his musings on Trump;

Cardinal Pell also offered his evaluation of U.S. President Donald Trump’s single term in office, saying “he was a little bit of a barbarian, but he was our barbarian.”

Calling Trump a “controversial fellow,” Cardinal Pell also praised certain moves Trump made, such as his Supreme Court appointments and his decision to participate in the annual March for Life.

“I’m grateful for that and I’m not one running around trying to damn his memory,” he said, adding, <b>“In a democracy, we Christians have got a right, and indeed an obligation, to struggle to maintain Christian values in life, because the moment they start to disappear, notions like truth and reason and free speech” also go away.</b>

“On the whole I think Trump has made a positive contribution to the Christian cause, but in other areas, I’m not so sure he’s been sufficiently respectful of the political process,” Cardinal Pell said, adding, “and it’s important that people believe they’re getting a fair go, and if that’s not the case, <b>it needs to be established very, very clearly</b> because it’s no small thing to weaken trust in great public institutions” *


There's a couple of points I want to make here. Pell has definite conservative bona fides. His handling of the sexual abuse crisis, at the time, was groundbreaking but not without its faults, Theologically he is solid, so it's interesting to see his take on Trump compared to Dreher's.

Trump as a politician is measured by his policies and governance, not his personal failings. Secondly, he sees that the Trump presidency has been beneficial to Christians in a way that a Clinton presidency would not have been. Thirdly, he sees that Christians must be politically active and not simply accept whatever comes their way. While he sees that Trump has faults I think it would be fair to think that unlike Dreher, Pell does not think that Trump is a fascist.

The question to ask here is: is the Christian West so emasculated that we need to rely on "barbarians" to save us?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Christian Buddhism: Scrutonism

This is an excellent review of Dreher's, Live Not by Lies and I broadly agree with the sentiments of the author:

Scrutonism, of which as you can see Dreher has a bad case, is a call to be a beautiful loser. But you can’t inspire anyone with a program that offers being a loser. People cowering under fire want a plan; they want a leader to point not only to what Christ would do, but how that will help them, and more importantly their children, come out the other side, cleansed and victorious. What Dreher offers instead is a call to martyrdom. This is theologically sound, but not politically.
With regard to "theological soundness", I'm not so sure. While it may be that in certain circumstances martyrdom may be the only option for the Christian, in others it may be the totally wrong choice.

One of the things that I'm interested is in the relationship between Caritas and Evil (Malum). Particularly, does Caritas have the right to push back and not merely suffer it? It's an interesting question as I feel that the Buddhist drift in Christianity over the last few hundred years has all but deligitimised it. It would be extremely difficult to visualise the current Pope, or even JPII for that  matter, if capable of time travel, blessing the soldiers prior to the battles of Vienna or Lepanto. Yet their contemporaries of the time would have had no problem in doing so. Although this is no proof, there does seem to be strong correlation between the decline of the Christian religion and Buddhist drift.

Just saying.

Note: I'd just add some reservations about alliances with "sinners" of various types. Materialists of any kind--even conservative ones--are generally bad news to Right politics.



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

U.S. Politics

"I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once, and in giving my reasons for it, I simply voiced the admittedly overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against Grant's continuance in command. I could form no judgment during the conversation as to what effect my arguments had upon him beyond the fact that he was greatly distressed at this new complication. When I said everything that could be said from my standpoint, we lapsed into silence. Lincoln remained silent for what seemed a very long time. He then gathered himself up in his chair and said in a tone of earnestness that I shall never forget, "I can't spare this man, he fights."

Posting has been light for a variety of reasons but mainly because I've been trying to keep abreast of the situation unfolding with regard to the current U.S. election. 
 

Firstly however, I would like to also give a shout out to Aaron Renn who, through his Masculinist podcast, was kind enough to link to some of the posts on this blog, and to commentator MK who bought this to my attention. I'm quite familiar with the "regulars" who comment here but its kind of nice to know that there are others who read the posts without leaving a presence. Sometimes I do wonder if the post are gaining any traction so it was both a pleasant and daunting surprise to know that Aaron had thought some of things I said were worthwhile.  I would also recommend my readers to subscribe to his podcast and newsletter.

Now to business at hand. As mentioned above, I've been closely following he U.S. election and am quite concerned with the developments. I'm old enough to remember the events preceding the war in Yugoslavia and there's an eerie similarity with what was going on then and what is happening now. The country is both deeply polarised and armed, and that does not make for a happy combination.

Contrary to  the opinion of some christian commentators it is my opinion that there is plausible statistical evidence that Trump was defrauded of an electoral victory. It's also my opinion that real Christian persecution is going to begin with a Biden ascendancy and I think that it's safe to say that I think that many Trump supporters are of the same mind. I'm also of the opinion that should the Democrats lose any Supreme Court contest they will not respect it's decision and will try to force their claim.  Should Trump try to preempt this by arresting those responsible, it will be perceived by his opponents and as an attempt at a coup. I really hope I'm wrong but I can't see a "peaceful" solution to this.  This does not mean that that the country will turn into a Yugoslavia or Syria but I can imagine a prolonged period of quite nasty civil unrest.

A lot of it will also depend on who the military supports in this struggle and from what I've seen I'm not convinced that they will all fall into line behind their Commander-in-Chief, especially if his legitimacy is contested. The other problem here is that the other side seems to have anticipated a fight and has laid the groundwork for it. Those Antifa riots which slipped out of the news prior to the election look to be both well organised and funded, and I can imagine a resurgence of activity as Inauguration Day approaches.  The actions of the U.S. Left over the preceding year have a remarkable similarity to the "colour" revolutions organised around the world. In other words, they're not spontaneous but planned.

The other dimension to this whole thing has been the Durham investigation which is very likely to lead to the prosecution of large numbers of individuals in the higher echelons of the U.S. Government. There are many people who will be in deep trouble with a Trump victory so they will do everything in their power to thwart it. On the other hand a Trump loss will likely result in reprisals and consequences to his supporters. There are major incentives not to settle this peacefully. The guy who runs Jim's blog is of the same opinion.

The pragmatic men of the Democratic party seem to be moderate but the ideological core has shifted radically to the left,  and a Biden victory will ensure a systematic and ever worsening Christian persecution. No one who has taken the slightest notice of messages telegraphed by the radical left can come to any other conclusion.  Given the existential threat to Christianity in the U.S., I cannot understand how men like Dreher can fail to fall behind Trump. These parlour-room Christians seem more concerned about social graces and etiquette which are accorded a greater weighting than any other quality a man can have. Combined with their Christian Buddhism, they would rather suffer under an urbane tyrant than fight with a righteous braggart. They seem to want some immaculate leader without spot and acceptable to polite company but they, for all their Christianity, forget the lessons of the Master:

When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it.

Chesterton.

Sometimes you've got to use what you've got.

I fully understand that Trump is a man of many faults, many of them quite objectionable, but he seems to have the quality that is most needed in this hour: Courage.  I've got to admit I find his style brash and objectionable, but I've grown to admire the his grit and determination in spite of the most vicious media pile-on I've ever seen, despite traitors in his own ranks and despite that machinations of a state apparatus that have sought to frustrate his every move. Other Republicans would have thrown in the towel a long while ago and, faced with the fait accompli of the election, would have simply rolled over. Men like Dreher, too holy to fight would have surrendered to the Left--and all that means--assured that in their abandonment of their country's defence and partrimony they were gaining points in heaven for their principled holiness. The attitude, given the circumstances, is contemptible and is an example of why modern Christianity is unable to fight evil.

Trump--flawed as he is--fights on.

I don't in any way want to suggest that Trump is some kind of divine figure, there's plenty of evidence that his Christianity is very superficial, but any man seeing what danger is looming can in no way approve of Dreher's approach given the situation.  A Christianity that walks away from the fight, given the circumstances, is not a Christianity at all.

The Daily Show, a while ago, mocked Trump giving a talk on Ulysses S. Grant, another man who was objectionable at the time. Despite his inarticulation, Trump seems to have grasped the lessons of Grant both intuitively and deeply, and like Grant, may end up being the saviour of the Republic. 

I hope I'm wrong but I think that there are going to be some trying times for the U.S. I want to wish my readers there all the best. If I were there I'd be putting myself behind Trump.

God Bless.

BTW

 For some strange reason this seems appropriate.



Saturday, October 03, 2020

A Christian Heresy


One of the things that I've been trying to understand is how the Left was able to achieve a total dominance in Western Civilisation over the space of the last 100 years. Taking a big picture view, the stand out fact of 20th century has been the de-Christianisation of the European peoples replaced by a materialistic conception of themselves. The bloody struggles that have marked this period can best be considered a consequence of the struggle between Left and Right versions of materialism.  The curious factor of this state of events--unlike in previous ages-- has been the lack of participation of the Christian factor in this fight. Whereas in previous European ages, men to fought to assert or defend their their religious views  what's been interesting is Christianity's passivity during the materialistic ascendancy.

And I think it's important to explore the relationship of this passivity with the phenomenon of  dechristianisation. There is clearly a correlation but is there a link?

As I have said before, Faith is a product of Grace and without it, it cannot exist.   Therefore at its most fundamental level, the lack of Grace--either withdrawn or rejected--is the ultimate cause of the de-Christianisation. Traditional approaches have tended to emphasise the disobedience of the "people" as a causative factor in this state of affairs, the problem however is that the people aren't disobedient as much as indifferent. It's not that they're rebelling against God it's just that He "isn't there" in their lives to rebel against. The Christian God is as relevant to the practical day to day affairs of men as is Thor or Zeus. In many cases, rabid atheists, who care about God enough to hate him are closer to Christians than the mass of european peoples who simply and innocently don't care.

I personally think that the problem lays with the theocratic class, the group of men and women charged with the care of the Christian laity. In my opinion, under their leadership, they have forged a new version of Christianity with the last century which has sapped it strength and led to a withdrawal of Grace. I would like to stress that this is not a Vatican II thing, rather it's more fundamental and in the background, something that affects both "sides" of Church politics. To put it very crudely the problem is the issue is the Buddhist transformation of Christianity. In theological language it has to do with modern interpretations of the phenomenon of kenosis.

The essential issue is how to understand the phenomenon and it would appear that even in very "orthodox" factions an interpretation has been given which takes Christianity to the very steps of nirvana.

Let me illustrate what the problem is. 

Traditional Christianity always asserted that Christ had both Divine and Human natures. The concept behind kenosis is that God, in the being of Christ, "emptied' himself to become man. The traditional heresy, condemned by the Church was that in doing so Christ got rid of his "God-ness" in order to become man. The modern heresy is the opposite, namely that Jesus the man, got rid of all his man-ness in order to accept God more fully; all his desires, ambitions and even sense of self. In doing so, by ridding himself of his personality and activity, he became a passive receptive vehicle through which God could act. Jesus essentially became a shell of a man in order to let God work through him. He accepted whatever he was sent, and his suffering was meritorious insofar as it was done that it as the price he had to pay in order to do God's will.

The problem is that when Christians go to emulate Christ's life, as we are always told to do, we are expected to nullify ourselves again in order to to be perfect like Christ. Suffering needs to be accepted and is seen as a vehicle of Grace. The less we are of ourselves the more we are like God. Accept what comes your way, suffer cheerfully and let God work through you. What could be wrong with that?

Indeed it's almost ecumenical since Buddhist scholars have seen this approach as very similar to the concept of sunyata, in the Buddhist religion. Smarter people than me have recognised this problem as well though it appears they're on the outside.

In the twentieth century, in fact, there were many “theologies” that claimed authentication by resorting to what they called the “key” concept of kenosis, which was made to serve in a thousand different ways: “radical theology,” “theology of secularization,” “theology of hope,” “liberation theology,” “ecumenical theology,” “theology of dialogue,” “theology of trinitarian kenosis,” “theology of crisis and chaos,” “neocultural theologies,” “kenotic Christology,” “theology of kenotic anonymity,” “theology of biblical kenosis,”etc., etc. In all of these one notes the proper at-tempt to promote the kenotic principle in Philippians 2:7, so as to place truly at the center of Christian thought the mystery of the abasement and self-giving of the Son of God ................ We should also note, however, that this “kenotic key” has allowed many writers gradually to evacuate the Christian faith of everything that properly identifies and characterizes it (whether at the level of the concept of God, the level of ecclesial mediation, or the level of theological language), leaving only an empty, indeterminate space in which everything can be reconciled with everything: all faiths, all beliefs, all confessions, all languages are invited to censor themselves, to limit them-selves, to “weaken” themselves in the conviction that they thus imitate Christ’s self-emptying with a view to universal salvation. At the same time, this kenotic process supposedly liberates the Church from all religious, political, cultural, and scientific conflicts (for example, in relations between faith and science), simply be-cause the Church would finally recognize that it can have no “strong” language, no truth that can be formulated definitively, and thus no “strong” claim or presence in the world.
Sound familiar? The suffering weak Christ becomes  the suffering weak church and ultimately Christian culture that cannot assert itself. Modern interpretation of Kenosis, that have gained considerable traction even among the orthodox have emasculated the Church. (There are similar tendencies at play in non-Catholic Christianity.)

So how did we get to this place? The short answer is that it's complicated, but if I had to summarise the major forces at play it would be:

a) A glorification of asceticism which had the effect of encouraging a culture of passivity and suffering. 

b) The institutionalised Christian contempt toward the flesh i.e. decarnalisation.

c) The atrophy of the militant factions of Christianity which came about from the general disgust among reflective men to the Christian slaughter in the European wars of religion.

d) The secularisation of European governments as a result of the Enlightenment which meant that practical business of  using the "sword" was taken away from Christianity. This resulted in a greater emphasis on "caring" Christianity instead of fighting/defensive Christianity.

e) Further more, state sponsored Christianity gave it a "safe space" in which to operate, ensuring that questions of survival did not have to answers real world tests meaningfully.

f) The slaughter in the 20th Century which gave pacifism and ecumenism a new impetus.

g) Increasingly theological freedom from the mid 19th Century onwards resulting in a co-option of Modernism by liberal theologians

h) The sterility of conservative theological thought which was unable to respond to the challenges of liberalism and modernity. This latter is a very important point. It's not the liberalisation of the Church which is the problem, rather it was the inability of the conservative theologians to push back against the liberals within the intellectual "space" allowed by the liberalisation.

There are other forces at play, but the point I'm trying to get across here is that while there has been no explicit doctrinal change there have profound shifts in emphasis within the culture of the Church resulting in its Buddhisation.  Podles what right in describing the phenomenon:

A change of emphasis here, a neglect of inconvenient Scripture there, and soon a religion takes a shape that, though difficult to distinguish from the Christianity of the Gospels, somehow has a quite different effect. .........., but how far can one go in stressing the immanence of God and his will to save before Christianity is left behind? When does bridal receptivity become passivity, and when does passivity become Quietism? There have been differences of opinion over where to draw the line. The authorities win in the textbooks, but the mystics have often won the battle for popular influence.
There is a flipside to this as well. No society can survive without the ability of self assertion when faced with a threat. What has happened with the decline of Christianity is that assertive void was filled by secular, generally "right" materialist West which for a long time was happy to let Christianity subsist within its structure. Christian pacifism essentially was protected from destruction by a military which was frequently the subject of its criticism.  However as both left and right materialism have now begun to converge, the "safe space" offered to Christianity is decreasing and unless it starts asserting itself in a manner appropriate to the times it risks becoming a faded memory, in the West at least.