SUPPOSE THAT A GREAT COMMOTION arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good __ " At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediœval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily.
Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, tomorrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
Roger Scruton is the Robert Redford-esque staunch defender of truth, goodness, and beauty of our day. We should cherish the fact that in the shambles of western civilization we still have such a knight on our side.
Having said that, he considered once joining the Catholic Church and stopped off instead at the Anglican Church. This reminds me of a story my late spiritual director, Father (and medical doctor and former Abbot) Mark Delery told me of a woman who came to speak with him. She told Father Mark that she had decided to join the Episcopal Church instead of going all the way into Mother Church.
As she reached the door she turned around, startled and stared at him. "What did you say?" she entoned. Father Mark said, "What?" She looked a bit hurt and puzzled. "I thought I heard you say, 'Coward!'" Father Mark smiled at me and said, "I thought it. I didn't know I said it out loud."
Joining the Catholic Church today, especially for one as high-profile and respected as Roger Scruton, carries certain penalties: loss of club membership, parking space, and place at the bar in the Club for Determiners of Terms of Public Discourse and Value. I feel sad and a bit like Father Mark about Scruton.
It seems an inevitable question: Since the Scimitar was born in doubling rivalry to the biblical faiths of Judaism and Catholicism, is "dialogue" even a possibility?
The model/rival dynamic is part and parcel of Girard's "primitive sacred" and, indeed, with a fallen humanity. While street rabble continue to receive front page coverage by the NYT, the taxonomy of the mob provided by Girard's mimetic theory lies largely undisturbed, ignored, or misunderstood. (It should be noted well that the Holy Father did not see Fr Cantalamessa's use of Girard as either scandalous or wrong-headed at all.)
The Scimitar poses as an alt-monotheism. In reality, it is a form of paganism, a "primitive sacred," which demands victims for sacrifice. Only when the Holy Paraklete begins to inform, convert, and redeem its members will there be a true opportunity for "dialogue".
I've had a recurring fantasy since I was a teen: what would we do if the power went out? I took up the violin instead of the electric guitar; relished occasional power-outages during winter storms, reading by a fire on the grate; scratched my head at the newest technologies that promised to make a "smarter planet" (eh-hem - IBM - yeah, right).
Well, it seems that a growing number of academics and social scientists are catching on to my fantasy. See what you think.
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."