Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eucatastrophe - Tolkien

Eucatastrophe is a neologism coined by Tolkien from Greek ευ- "good" and καταστροφή "destruction".
"I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest Fairy Story – and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love."
Letter 89

In his On Fairy-Stories Tolkien describes eucatastrophe further:

"But the 'consolation' of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite — I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially 'escapist', nor 'fugitive'. In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of
dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.
On Fairy-Stories

St. Raymond of Peñafort

On the feast day of St. Raymond of Peñafort, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira writes about an important criterion for discerning the times:
... there is a test that we can apply to know when a city or an epoch is in a state of grace, and it works very well.

When persons in the state of mortal sin are together, there are three possible degrees of evil that can result. In the first degree, there are simply those who are in mortal sin, and nothing further. In the second degree, there are those who are glad to be in mortal sin; they have antipathy toward those who are in the state of grace. In the third and worse degree, there are those who promote mortal sin; they are openly hostile to those in the state of grace; they hate those who are good. Among those who represent these three degrees a curious psychological phenomenon takes place: they instinctively form a front against the good.

The consequence is that in a city where many people are in state of mortal sin, good persons are not well-received. On the contrary, in a city where many people are in the state of grace, the good are very well-received.

In epochs when saints are the object of general enthusiasm, one can say that most of the population is living in the grace of God. On the contrary, in epochs when saints are persecuted, it can be said that most of the population is not in the grace of God. The way an epoch treats a saint is the way it treats God. Most of the inhabitants of that epoch reveal their position before God in this way. The saint is an image of God; whoever loves the image, loves God, and whoever hates the image, hates God.
Read all …

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Do You Trust in this Picture

What troubles me about this is that it troubles Spengler - David P. Goldman - and Daniel Pipes.

Having been harangued by our commander-in-chief during my time in the waiting room of my retina specialist while he harangued voters in the rust-belt this afternoon, I reaffirm my lack of trust in his judgment, his priorities, and his cynical (or is it hubris-filled - or is it progressivist naïve?) approach to leading the United States of America.

The man will continue to drive this cart into the ditch knocking off all four wheels and then call it a successful trip to market.

He promises never to stop fighting for us. Uh-huh. The trouble is, he gets to define what "fighting" means, and I don't like his definition.

Bawer - Wilders Trial

For the record: Bruce Bawer's article at The City Journal: A Dark Day for the Enlightenment - The Geert Wilders trial is an affront to Western liberty.

37 Years of Sacred Abomination

Fellow convert Francis Beckwith offers this on the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And Father Barron on, appropriately enough, apocalypticism.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On a Mission from Gaad

WITH FAITH, we may save our own souls; we need the spirit of faith, much more of it than we have, if we are to save the world.
- Monsignor Ronald Knox

Hanson - Growing Populist Backlash

Victor Davis Hanson:
It’s one thing to accuse Bush of shredding the Constitution, quite another to adopt his anti-terrorism protocols like tribunals, renditions, Predators, intercepts, and wiretaps. Somehow Obama offended his base by such duplicity, and then his opposition by his tokenism of trashing Bush, promising the architect of 9/11 a show trial a few blocks from the former World Trade Center, and using touchy-feely euphemisms to suggest we are not in a war against terrorism emanating from the radical Islamic world.

Ahmadinejad, Assad, Chávez, the Castro Brothers, Putin, and others for the first six months liked us as much as they had little respect for our sycophancy; now they openly show contempt. We accept that obsequiousness cannot earn respect, but it apparently cannot earn affection either.

The best thing that could happen to Barack Obama is more Democratic losses in hodgepodge elections that might yank away our young transfixed Narcissus from his mesmerizing reflecting pool..More>>

Dissembling Ft. Hood

Spencer points out that the official report of the Fort Hood shooting is so bad even the MSM notices the elephant in the living room.

The telling anthropological point is that ignoring the realities of the religiously motivated violence will create an escalation of the same. They want to be noticed for precisely their religious motive. To dissemble on this point will be read by the terrorists as an enormous and even greater provocation by the West's leaders in "dissing" their deity.

The better approach is to speak honestly about the central anthropological realities of the sacred, as defined by René Girard's mimetic theory, and do our best in terms of legitimate defense. It is the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chivalrous Priorities

IN CATHOLIC TIMES MEN believed that the spirit of Christianity ought to be the spirit of government, that the defence of virtue and holiness ought to be its object, and that the law of God ought to be its rule. "If we wish to consider the end of all civil government," says Bartolommeo Arnigio, "which is no other than to live well according to the divine pleasure in order that we may put ourselves on the road which leads to God, there is no surer rule or more certain way than the religion of Jesus Christ."
- Maxims of Christian Chivalry *

Dormant - But How Long

There is a lot else going on in our world - political and otherwise - but I thought you might want to keep this in mind.

That's 93 - count them, 93 - earthquakes in the caldera of the dormant supervolcano of Yellowstone.

One Meaning of Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ Senator-elect Scott Brown's top strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, says that “National security was a more potent issue than health care based on the polling we saw.”

So, while the Last Self-Help Administration continues using the one tool it has in its toolbox and hiding its head in the sand regarding Scimitar terrorism, savvy politicians are heeding the signs of the times.

Looks like
the people are responding to the message of the likes of Senator-elect Brown.

Notice Me

For the record: Brad Miner at The Catholic Thing limns the model-rival relationship that the Scimitar has for its model with considerable restraint in Islam and Us.

I think they're getting our attention.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is a Scott Brown Republican

Or, as Hadley Arkes puts it, There should be no illusion that Scott Brown, right now, understands or accepts the moral premises of the pro-life movement.

Put no trust in princes ( Ps 146). Dante puts politician Julius Caesar in limbo, but those who betray public trust with fraud much further down - circle eight, Bolgia 5, immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals.

Forgive the lack of trust, but I have none regarding the two-party system. And, by the way, I am not a right-winger. This is a Marxian, secularist designation. I am a Catholic, and a pope's man. But, just in case you might think I condone the Last Self-Help Administration's American reformation, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Lord Acton

Israel in Haiti

Why am I not surprised by this?

Israel can set up a complete field hospital, accept patients from under-prepared health facilities, and do it efficiently after traveling from half the world away?

Can we vote whether we want Israeli health care or not? Oh, I forgot. America is busy worrying about who wins in Massachusetts ...

Monday, January 18, 2010


After the distinct possibility of this happening, gladly for Old London here is some good news:
In a rare setback for the would-be Islamizers of Europe, the plans for London’s “Mega-Mosque” have been abandoned. If the organizers’ goals had been realized, their huge mosque — the largest in Europe — would have dominated the skyline near the 2012 Olympics site.

Congratulations are in order for Alan Craig and his supporters, who led a massive and sustained opposition to the mosque. One may assume that the flood of negative publicity about the project was enough to give its financial backers cold feet..More>>

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Without Vision, the People Perish

Father Aidan Nichols is right. Europe and the West need a revitalized imaginative vision. The sole vision that is strong and vital is the transcendent vision of the Church. It is the present secular void into which western demographics and nihilism are falling. "Without vision the people perish" (Prov 29,18).

Islam, ironically, is a culture in doubling rivalry
from its inception with the faith and ethos of Judaism, embodied in the state of Israel, and Christianity, embodied in the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Both of the latter are emphatically still being rejected by secularist westerners.

Yet the Scimitar, being a post-Incarnational expression of what Girard calls the Sacred, anthropologically speaking, incessantly feeds on its rivalry with the Judeo-Christian, meager though Islam is theologically, intellectually, and psychologically.

If Christendom had its vision, there would be no contest with the Scimitar. But this is not the case. Many voices speak for renewal of vision. Father Aidan Nichols in his guide book, Christendom Awake!, apostolates within the Church, the Holy Father, of course, in his wooings of a shepherd to lost sheep, even J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings all implore this regaining of the Church's transcendent vision of Christian culture.

I repeat: there would be no contest between Christendom and the Scimitar if Christendom regained its vision of being a continuance of biblical salvation history; a furtherance of the in-breaking Kingdom of God empowered in the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Word made flesh (Jn 1,14), Jesus Christ. Islam could never overmaster with its thin religion and ethos.

I do not propose an attempt at nostalgic return to a romanticized past. Rather, I propose a rejection and ejection of all the enervating, hypocritical elements of western society that rob men and women, youth, and children of their - our - awareness of our God-given dignity, honor and birthrights.

Rejection? Ejection? Where? Who? In your life. In my life. Take personal responsibility. Make the sacrifices, expected and unexpected. BE an expression of the in-breaking Kingdom of God at your age, at your station in life.

It starts with you. It starts with me. Our honor in Marian chivalry comes with every single decision we make, every time we love and forgive, in every virtuous act of faith, hope, and charity.

Christendom must be acted into being, one fiefdom, one knight, at a time.

God bless and support us in this noble Quest to restore the vision of the Holy Spirit's grand experiment, the Church, in the hearts and lives of the West.