Friday, July 17, 2009

Retreat Doesn't Mean Giving Up

Crusoe - N. C. Wyeth

Just remember: France survived the French Revolution
. Today, Steven Englund says, the Catholic faith there is growing. It even went on to produce Hilaire Belloc and that fellow from Stanford, what's his name...

Let's take a wait, pray, and see - ora et labora - stance. Never despair! Our Lord has overcome the world!

Shea - What's the Diff

For the record: Mark Shea's The Semi-Permeable Membrane of Protestantism.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Must Read - BXVI & Hollow Barbarians

Thaddeus J. Kozinski at Mercatornet writes,
I bet it never crossed the minds of many living during the Dark Ages that they were particularly dark, or of those living during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire that it was speedily declining, let alone falling. Since the Owl of Minerva flies at dusk, and hindsight is 20/20, it appears to be an inexorable law of both history and human nature that men recognize the "signs of the times" only after those times have passed.

One of the most astute "sign readers" of today is the reigning Pope. Here is one of Benedict XVI’s most startling yet accurate readings: "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires." If I might put it into less philosophical terms, what the Holy Father is telling us is that Western culture is descending into barbarism.

[ ... ]

If our reading of the signs of the times is correct, then what we are moving towards—and perhaps have already arrived at—is the fall of Western classical and Christian civilization, the emergence of a sophisticated spiritual barbarism that makes the barbarism of the past look like high-culture, and a new Dark Ages. Is it too late to save it? It is certainly far past preventive measures, for our culture is already in the late stages of its terminal illness. But with the grace of God, it is not too late for a miraculous healing and full recovery—even a resurrection—if only we could find the right cultural medicine and plenty of trained doctors to administer it. Time is running out, for the darkness is fast approaching, nay, is already here. Alasdair MacIntyre, one of the preeminent philosophical doctors of our time, offers his diagnosis and prescription:

What they set themselves to achieve instead was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness... What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.

The "they" MacIntyre refers to here are St Benedict and his followers, men who had read carefully the signs of their 6th Century times, the first Dark Ages, and acted accordingly. As the darkness of barbarism approached, they fled to the desert, carrying with them as much of the precious Christian and classical civilization as they could hold in their souls. These were the seeds that, due to the pure water of their prayers, the luminous light of their labors, and the rich soil of their studies, would flower six centuries later as the civilization we call Christendom. Alasdair MacIntyre ends his stupendous analysis of modern culture, After Virtue, by calling for a new St Benedict to lead the barbarians out of the spiritual desert that is our godless, technocratic, secular culture to plant the seeds for a new Christendom.

In truth, we do have a new Benedict in our midst, and his name is Joseph Ratzinger: Pope Benedict XVI. An expert reader of the "signs of the times," it is no wonder that the world, in spite of its protestations of disbelief, still looks to the Pope for spiritual guidance.More >>>

Tolerance Surplus

From Family Security Matters:

If you ask American, Israeli and European liberals and leftists what the key problem with Islam is, they will answer that there is a lack of tolerance. Not, of course, a lack of tolerance on the part of the throat-slitters, car burners, gang rapists, car bombers and hate preachers of Islam. On the contrary, they will assert that there is a great tolerance deficit on the part of Western nations toward Islam.

In a rational political calculus, we take for granted that the people blowing up synagogues, stabbing their sisters to death for wearing jeans, and kidnapping and beheading people they don't like, are the ones suffering from a tolerance shortage. But to a progressive, brutal violence by a minority is always a symptom that they are being oppressed, rather than that they are the ones doing the oppressing.

Since progressives tend to define minority status as proof of oppression, violence is simply another way that the minority responds to being oppressed. So, if a pair of well off middle class Muslim professionals drive a car bomb over to a Scottish airport, clearly they were reacting to a whole boatload or planeload of oppression. Perhaps they were outraged over a terrorist being downed by a drone, or saw the name of Allah in an ice cream cone, or maybe it was all the unveiled women. Those are just details in the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is that every First World nation is oppressive and racist. Muslim violence is comeuppance or blowback, and the only solution is to be more and more tolerant of Muslims.

Having classified Western nations as always being in the wrong, and Muslims as being always in the right, where reasonable people see a failure to fight terrorism, progressives see a failure to fight intolerance.

Given a mandate, conservative governments will try to get to grips with violent Islamists. Liberal governments will try to get to grips with anyone who criticizes Islam. And naturally, it becomes a good deal more difficult to point out that Muslim violence is a serious problem when you've passed laws prohibiting anyone from making any mention of Muslims and violence in the same sentence.

This has the convenience of making it illegal to point out the stupidity of progressive policymaking, which is something that their fellow People's Democratic regimes routinely do – at least until everyone begins starving to death ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hocus Pocus

Matthew Archbold points out an essential illusion of today's faltering western culture:

The NY Times is doing a victory lap over the blogosphere today:

For the most part, the traditional news outlets lead and the blogs follow, typically by 2.5 hours, according to a new computer analysis of news articles and commentary on the Web during the last three months of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The finding was one of several in a study that Internet experts say is the first time the Web has been used to track — and try to measure — the news cycle, the process by which information becomes news, competes for attention and fades.
This is laughable because the media is ahead of the blogs only in what they choose to cover.

For example, look at the recent quotes that came to light concerning Obama's Science Czar John Holdren who endorsed mass sterilizations and forced abortions in a book he wrote in 1977. Those comments were discovered not by one reporter on a staff of hundreds on a large metropolitan newspaper. Those comments were discovered by a guy who runs a blog called Zombietime. And Holdren's comments launched 4,000 blog posts over the next three days. But not one mainstream media organization has looked into these comments.

So on this story, the blogosphere is uhmm...three days ahead of the MSM. And counting ... More >>>
What Archbold outlines (and Michelle Malkin, too - see the link) is the collusion that is part and parcel of today's out-of-control swinging pendulum of what Saint Paul calls "party spirit." Should you ever get a chance to listen to Gil Bailie's reflections on Dante's Inferno, I highly recommend his in-depth discussion of this particular circle of hell. (Sadly, Mr. Bailie's present Emmaus Road Initiative does not allow his greatest skill for such in-depth ruminations.)

René Girard has studied this phenomenon extensively - the "problem of the doubles" - and future generations will stand amazed at the way two-party politics in the United States of America foiled what was left of old Christendom.

In these meantimes, "Prez I Wun" in his hubris is the magician of magicians, the master of the sacred prestidigitation of collusion. I have never seen his better (sic.).

Nevertheless, the Holy Father has once again left us a trail of bread crumbs (Panis Angelicus), but it takes saints - and the aspiring saintly ones (wink, wink) - to strive, to struggle, to follow this trail far from the maddening crowd (would Thomas Hardy know this? I'll leave that to you to decide), and maybe fail miserably in the effort.

But you know what? I'll take that failure over the collusion smoke and mirrors of the MSM, Wall Street, and the Republic and Democratic parties. Any day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Heresies, Faith, and Chivalry

" ...thirsty traveller(s) trudging doggedly and dogmatically through a spiritual desert, ... carr(ying) the burdens of bereavement with resignation "

What Pope Pius X condemned in his encyclical, Pascendi, namely the heresy of Modernism, is today shown to have a tedious and tenacious ability to harass and damage the human race, damning souls with error and lies.

World War I ended with two of the twentieth century's greatest apologists grieving. Hilaire Belloc lost his nineteen-year old son, Louis, in the air war over France, and G. K. Chesterton lost his brother, Cecil, to trench fever. And yet how prolific, how invaluable would be their continuing contributions to the remnants of Christendom and to the faithful in the Church for many, many years to come amidst the darkening, post World War I wasteland.

Today, the faithful seem to be experiencing a kind of grief as well. The heresy of Modernism has never been so rigidly deployed and enforced in the West. Many who call themselves Catholics not only voted for a president who embodies and exemplifies Modernism with a great if naive sincerity, but seem to regard the Magisterium of Mother Church as something optional, conditional, lower than their personal, subjective "choice".

The power of Modernism to attenuate Catholic truth - downstream from which all - ALL - Christianities gain any access to certainty - is only, astonishingly, matched by Modernism's working hand-in-glove with the Scimitar against remnants of the Christian faith and morality in the West. Political encroachment by both seem an ever rising tide whose lapping waves threaten to swamp what is left of truth, goodness, and beauty of Christendom.

As the twenty-first century enters its fledging years and nearly the mile-marker of its first decade, we have much to learn and glean from both Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton as well as a great many other champions of the Catholic faith in the early twentieth century. It is not a time for despair and hand-wringing. In the very least, we must be prepared to rescue refugees and shipwreck survivors. For, in the wise words of Joseph Pearce, "... the faltering, flickering candle of the sincere sinner (is) in as much need of the oxygen of grace as (is) the flaming faith of saints." (I know, being much nearer the former than the latter.)

We must stay in a state of grace, receive sacramental power from Our Lord who has "overcome the world," and practice the virtues in Marian chivalry.

It is our moment to be faithful in a world darkened by sin, death, scandal, and idolatry. God bless each of us. What a great time to be alive!