What consolation? An inner dialogue

This is really it.  We’ve lost, and the Left has won.  My grandchildren will be brought up to despise everything I venerate.  All trace of the sacred will be lost.  Age after age of atheist hedonism, a spiritual night without end.  I see it all so vividly, and I feel oppressed by the weight of it.  How do I carry on?

Don’t you think you’re being a bit premature?

What about differential fertility?  “The future goes to those who show up for it” and all that.

They control the schools, the media, and the culture.  It doesn’t matter how many children we have, because they’ll just take them from us.  That’s the worst part–our own children turned against us.

What about the Muslims?  I’m sure they won’t give up without a fight.

I’m sure they will.  They’re already reliable communist voters throughout Europe and Obama supporters here.

That’s just because the Left offers them the most goodies.

Exactly.  They could stand up to atheism or they could pursue their material self-interest and indulge their urge to stick it to the white man.  That will always be the choice, and the Left will lead them by it to destruction.

Still, you can’t extrapolate from current trends.  Something might happen that would cause humanity to change course.

It hasn’t changed course in the two and a half centuries since liberalism appeared.  There are good reasons to think it can’t.

But what about Leftism itself?  Many conservatives, even among our friends here, think Leftism is inherently unstable.  In that case, it must eventually give way to something else.

It’s all wishful thinking.  Leftism is the most solid and stable social force that’s ever existed.  Prosperity enhances it.  Hardship enhances it.  Upper class snobbery and lower class resentment both feed it.  It succeeds deftly in making powerful groups–government bureaucracies, client minorities, etc–dependent upon it.  All the most energetic and intelligent sectors of society are committed to it.  It is almost infallibly successful in passing itself off from generation to generation.  Economic, demographic, and ecological disasters may come, and Leftism may even be their cause, but it doesn’t matter, because Leftism is optimally situated to profit from them.

All right, suppose–for the sake of argument–that all this is true.  Why does it bother you so much?

Why?  Because my enemies own the future!

And you, being a conservative, own the past.  Doesn’t that make you even?

The past doesn’t exist.  It’s gone.

It exists as much as the future.  In fact, I would say that owning the past is better, because knowledge of it, and thus “ownership”, is a surer thing.  I suppose one might say that really neither past nor future exist at all, except as remembered or anticipated by the present, but that view has some troubles.  It would imply a preferred reference frame, and the laws of physics as we know them show no evidence for such a thing.  Plus, there would be no way to make sense of God’s eternity.  Worst of all, it would mean that that statements about the past can’t really be true or false (except as statements about what is remembered), because there is no existing past to make them true or false.  Then crimes forgotten by everyone really never happened, which is immoral as well as absurd to imagine.  Let us say, therefore, that both the past and the future exist, but, like distant points in space, they are simply not present to us.  Let us say, as our Faith and reason require us to, that eternity also exists, as the mode of being (or even–to stretch it a bit–the perspective) in which all times are simultaneously present.  Don’t you see how progressive you’re being, thinking that the future is automatically some sort of preferred time, a time that’s somehow more important than any other time?

Isn’t the future more important, at least in terms of meaning?  The end of a story says a lot about its meaning.  Victory retroactively redeems the sacrifices made for it, and defeat retroactively makes them futile.  God Himself sees things this way.  A man who lives a saintly life and then apostasizes before death is damned, while a shameless sinner who repents at the moment of death is saved.  At that moment, God makes a judgement on the man’s life.  The first man’s life is a story of a tragic fall; the second man’s life is a story of redemption.  It was that last moment that determined what kind of story the whole thing would be.  I say that history is like that as well.  If the Left owns the future, it in some sense owns the past as well, because it owns the meaning of the past.

You are confusing very different things.  At death, God does not judge a man’s life as a whole; He judges the current state of that man’s soul.  You must remember that the unity of meaning imposed in a drama is a peculiarity of that art form.  In a well-structured tragedy, all elements of the plot are locked together and produce a sense of necessity.  It is this overall dramatic logic that determines the end, both how the plot resolves itself and what that resolution means, not vice versa.  A man’s real life, however, is full of “subplots” whose meanings don’t have to match each other or some overall narrative arc.  Let us take the case of the man who lives a good life until the end, when he turns away from God.  Is it true that his earlier good deeds are stripped of their meaning and value?  

Certainly they lose all the value they would have had for him.  He might as well have spent his life drinking and fornicating, for all the difference it ended up making to his salvation.

True, but is that the only measure?  Does “good” always have to mean “good for…”?  Can we not also say of an act of charity or courage that it is good that it happened–not good for anyone or anything necessarily, but good in itself?  Such acts, I would say, have their own value and beauty.  Even when all their effects are wiped out and they are totally forgotten, it will always be good that they happened.

Let me propose a thought experiment.  Suppose in one hundred years, Leftism has completely won.  It is so successful in getting people to join its rebellion against God that every human being alive is born reprobate.  Then some natural catastrophe strikes and the human race is obliterated.  Then the Left’s “ownership of the future” would consist in ownership of one century.  Would you really be so jealous of that?

No, but the fact that humanity has not yet suffered such an extinction event shows that the chance of one happening on any particular century is pretty small.  It is likely that humanity has much more time than that left.

Yes, but the point is that that time is finite.  Every man’s life ends in the grave, and species are no different.  Setting aside Christ’s physical return to Earth–which would end any anti-religious victory pretty decisively–humanity must eventually go extinct, even if it takes millions or billions of years.  Eventually, the last sentient being will die, and time and erosion will erase even the physical traces of the dead civilization.  It will be as if humanity, and all its loves and aspirations, had never existed.  So don’t talk to me about “ownership of the future”.  Move the flag far enough forward on a timeline, and no one can claim it except inanimate matter.  Save your jealousy for the dark energy–if it exists–and allow some compassion for the Leftists, who–regardless of who wins this war–are just as mortal as you.

Is all this talk about the extinction of humanity really supposed to cheer me up?

Well, we don’t deal in cheap consolation here.  You are right to be discomforted by transience, by the things you value in this world passing away, but you haven’t thought it through all the way.  You’re still looking for redemption in time, a special magical time you call “the future”, but what you should be realizing from all of this is that you’ll never find it there.  You must look to eternity.  From the perspective of eternity, virtue and good deeds are never futile.  From the perspective outside of time, outside of anyone’s interest, it is good that they have happened.  Sacrifices made even in this doomed war against Leftism, provided they spring from true charity, have an eternal value.

All right, I suppose the issue of who gets the last batch of souls isn’t really the most important thing.  But there is another cause for despair, namely that the Enemy gets many more of them.  Suppose–as is quite likely–that humanity continues on for millennia, so that the total number brought up to join in the Left’s Satanic rebellion ends up numbering in the hundreds of billions.  Surely this is a catastrophe even from the perspective of eternity.

Have you ever wondered why the Fathers of the Church didn’t despair?  After all, most of them believed that the total number of souls saved is a very small fraction of the total.  They thought this even about the last age of men, after the Incarnation when the Church was visible and the ordinary means of grace readily available.  How much more perilous they imagined it to have been before Christ, when the world (outside of Israel) was steeped in pagan darkness.  Like you, they thought that most of the generations of men will end up having passed without benefit of the gospel.  It’s just that they thought that most of the generations of mankind were in the past before the Incarnation, while you think that most generations are in the future after the Church Militant is destroyed.  From the perspective outside time, there’s not much difference, and yet they never saw this as a reason for discouragement.

Shouldn’t they have?  If they were right, and Christ had really been born a mere generation or so before the end of the world, wouldn’t it have meant that He was born too late because only a small number of the totality of mankind were left for Him to help?

You must remember that, from the perspective of eternity, human civilization and even the mass of humanity are very small things, a tiny corner in the mansion of being.  The vast–indeed infinite–expanse of being is God Himself.  You imagine that if humanity rejects God, He will be like a pathetic deposed dictator shut out from the big vibrant world that will carry on its business as well without Him.  Foolish man!  It is humanity that is exiling itself from the source and plenitude of Being.  If everything outside of God should join Satan in rebellion and hellfire and be utterly degraded, God would still outweigh everything else, and existence would still be good overall.  If every human being but Christ Himself should reject grace and be damned, humanity itself would still be saved because Christ Himself outweighs all the rest of us.  As the New Adam, He contains all of humanity, and his obedience would be the definitive response of Man to God, even if Christ were the only one to make it.  But in fact, we have reason to think that there have been many saints, and each of these saints has a supernaturally good will, so that each of them would trump the mass of humanity, who have only naturally bad wills.

You are right.  From the perspective of eternity, I should say that God will always be there in His Heaven, and that’s the main thing.  But I have a hard time keeping this perspective.

That’s mostly because you don’t try.  You pray far too infrequently; you have allowed your spiritual life to atrophy.  When you spend all your time thinking in time rather than eternity, it’s no wonder that the former comes to seem more real to you.  In fact, I would say that you should be very grateful to be living in such wicked times.

Grateful?!

Yes.  The manifest transience of this world is a blessing; if the world weren’t falling apart, few men would ever think to look beyond it.  If you could find anything but God in which to take comfort, you would never come to Him.  Faith does not come naturally to a man like you.  You would much rather put your trust in demographics or plausibility structures or other things that seem to you more solid.  God put you in this time for a reason, because this time–degraded though it is–is the time that gives you personally the greatest opportunity for holiness.  You asked what your consolation should be, and the answer is that it must be God and nothing else.  All other supports are falling away.  You must cling to Him.

About these ads

30 thoughts on “What consolation? An inner dialogue

  1. They control the schools, the media, and the culture. It doesn’t matter how many children we have, because they’ll just take them from us. That’s the worst part–our own children turned against us.

    Religiosity and temperament are largely heritable. Some people are just naturally resistant to liberal ideas. Chances are your children will be just like you.

    And even if they get more effective at propaganda, unless they succeed in totally exterminating traditionally minded folks, this will only mean that the resistance will be stronger in those that remain, and they will pass that on to their children.

    (And your children will be better off than you in many ways. There will be places like this to point them to.)

    • True. The internet has allowed people like us to find kindred spirits and support, something traditionalists used to lack because of the left-controlled media.

    • Right.

      This is really it. We’ve lost, and the Left has won. My grandchildren will be brought up to despise everything I venerate.

      Stop saying stuff like this. It’s not true. It makes you sound like a pathetic mewling baby, and almost makes me despise you (almost) as much as I despise the Left.

  2. I find the rejection or ignoring of ideas put forward by non-Christian traditionalists and other religions to be a disappointing aspect of our movement. We are missing the bigger picture which is causing us to despair beyond the point we should be despairing. Leftism did not create itself and Leftism will not destroy itself. There is a reason for its seemingly indestructible nature. Does the air become colder during autumn and winter because it made itself colder? Do the leaves die because they created their own death? We know there are several factors which cause the temperature to drop and the leaves to die.

    If all you knew was autumn and winter, would you say the air will never warm again, the trees will never bud again, and the sun will eventually set forever? It would seem that way. But if you lived through autumn and winter before into spring it would be obvious that the air will warm, trees will bud, and the sun will not set permanently. That is what is happening today. Leftism is the physical manifestation of our age. It neither created our age nor will it destroy our age, but it was created by the age and will be destroyed by the age. Our responsibility is to hold strong, keep praying, keep believing, and ride out the storm. Whether the sun begins to retake the sky this decade, this lifetime, or this century is irrelevant, it will retake it. We must be sure to have preserved as much as possible from the previous ages to pass onto those who will rebuild.

    As Julius Evola said, we must “ride the tiger of modernity” until it tires and we can kill it. I am as sure of this as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

  3. Thanks, bonald. That was exhilarating.

    “It is so successful in getting people to join its rebellion against God that every human being alive is born reprobate.”

    It has been ever thus. When the night is darkest, look to the East.

  4. My grandchildren will be brought up to despise everything I venerate.

    This is the main reason why I have no interest in getting married. Better to never have children then to see them corrupted by liberalism.

    • Don’t say that. The modern age’s ultimate triumph would be for your line to end with you. Be encouraged and don’t submit. Intellectually, spiritually, or demographically.

      I plan on having a lot of children. At least one of them will turn out like the fine folks here.

  5. Eloquently put, but this all seems rather ultra-Calvinist to me: mankind is totally depraved and your posterity’s bad end is predestined. The overall spirit here is hugely pessimistic, except perhaps for a small handful of the elect. This is as self-defeating as the attitudes of the fictional Sir Willoughby Patterne.

    Play the man! Whatever happened to be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for there be more with us than against us? Your ancestors, spiritual and biological, faced longer odds and prevailed. We, too, must act while it is day. Are there not twelve hours in the day?

    “Setting aside Christ’s physical return to Earth…” I would not argue from such a position. It is part of the work of man to prepare for that day. That is what my grandchildren are being taught and what my ancestors knew. Set aside that premise, and it is easy to go astray.

  6. You should learn of the prophecies look at the fig tree (Israel) Ezekiel 38,39 are soon to be fulfilled and the Antichrist will rise you forget that the Scriptures say very clearly and very thoroughly that people shall become continually worse until His Return.

  7. I recently posted “Behold a Host Arrayed in White.” Time for another old Lutheran hymn, I think. This one is by N. Grundtvig.

    Built on the Rock the church doth stand,
    Even when steeples are falling;
    Crumbled have spires in every land,
    Bells still are chiming and calling;
    Calling the young and old to rest,
    But above all the soul distressed,
    Longing for rest everlasting.

    Surely in temples made with hands,
    God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
    High above earth His temple stands,
    All earthly temples excelling;
    Yet He whom heavens cannot contain
    Chose to abide on earth with men,
    Built in our bodies His temple.

    We are God’s house of living stones,
    Builded for His habitation;
    He through baptismal grace us owns,
    Heirs of His wondrous salvation;
    Were we but two His Name to tell,
    Yet He would deign with us to dwell,
    With all His grace and His favor.

    Now we may gather with our King;
    Even in the lowliest dwelling:
    Praises to Him we there may bring,
    His wondrous mercy foretelling;
    Jesus His grace to us accords,
    Spirit and life are all His words,
    His truth doth hallow the temple.

    Still we our earthly temples rear,
    That we may herald His praises;
    They are the homes where He draws near
    And little children embraces,
    Beautiful things in them are said,
    God there with us His covenant made,
    Making us heirs of His Kingdom.

    Here stands the font before our eyes
    Telling how God did receive us;
    The altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice
    And what His table doth give us;
    Here sounds the Word that doth proclaim
    Christ yesterday, today, the same,
    Yea, and for aye our Redeemer.

    Grant then, O God, wherever men roam,
    That, when the church bells are ringing,
    Many in saving faith may come
    Where Christ His message is bringing:
    “I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
    Ye, not the world, My face shall see.
    My peace I leave with you.” Amen.

  8. Bonald,

    First, you have said before that you think Vatican II is the proximate cause of the West’s current state of utter collapse. I don’t know if I agree with you, but if I did, it would be a cause of hope, not despair.

    Benedict XVI is the last Pope of Vatican II. He was a relatively young (in his 30s) mover and shaker at VII. Now, he is an old man. The bolus of Communists put into the hierarchy starting in the 30s is working its way out of the Church now via deaths. Remarkably direct criticism of that Council is now permitted

    Second, the left’s ideas are stupid, self-refuting, and embarrassingly corny. When they are in charge and trying to present their ideas, it looks like this. For the centuries they have been rising, they have hidden this by constantly adopting the pose (and sometimes the reality) of rebels against the established order, of powerless, alienated outsiders. The argumentative burden of critics and skeptics is lower than is the burden of those making a positive case. The pose of eternal revolution is just a pose. When it is used an an excuse for not making a case or delivering results, it breeds cynical contempt, as it did in the Eastern Bloc. Hollywood is still doing things like remaking Footloose and The Stepford Wives and making Pleasantville—this last one feels near to subversive in its failure to make its point. If nothing else, boredom and embarrassment are going to drive intellectuals away from them.

    Ed Feser mentions this en passant in _The Last Superstition_ in a swipe at Dawkins. Dawkins’s program is to continue and intensify the revolution by destroying religion. Asked by an interviewer what would happen were religion to be utterly purged, Dawkins repllies “It would be paradise on earth . . . a world ruled by enlightened rationality” (TLS, chap 4). This is what is on offer in the way of court intellectuals for our elite.

    The tawdry and pathetic nature of the left’s ideas applies both to its larger cultural manifestation and to its manifestation within the Church. When the left does this, it not only profanes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it also reveals what they are.

    There will be a backlash against both of these things, and it will be fierce. I don’t think it is coming soon, but it is coming. Maybe your grandchildren will live to see it. Our job is to keep alive an alternative, so there is something on offer when the time comes.

  9. Religious conservatives have not been permanently defeated, even in the West.

    White Western civilization on the other hand may indeed be on the road to permanent destruction.

  10. After the Visitation, there will be a chance for a true revival of traditional life, culture and belief, especially if enough people who cherish those values are then around to survive. if not, then “Hunger Games” may be the very unpalatable alternative. Thus I am quite ambivalent about whether to hope for the visitation or not.

  11. Religiosity and temperament are largely heritable. Some people are just naturally resistant to liberal ideas.

    However, does this guarantee the continued existence of a significant number of people with some specific and absolute non-liberal positions? Or does it merely imply that there will be people positioned on the right side of the current Overton window? (Which will, on most issues, likely continue to move leftwards.)

    The history of recent centuries suggests the latter. How many people nowadays hold positions on any issue that would have been right of center in 1950? (Or even 1980, for that matter.)

    • There does seem to be a floor below which you cannot go.

      Also, a lot of people have have views that one cannot express in the media, but which are conservative by 1950s standards.

    • Or earlier.

      Examples, there will always be people who think that abortion is murder, that homosexuality is wrong, that religion has its place in public life, that immigration should be severely curtailed. These sentiments seem unlikely to go away.

      The left can’t keep going on forever, though it will try. I keep reminding people that the left has suffered some defeats: they have been forced to recognize the need for markets, they have been forced to restore law and order, they have failed to replace the nuclear family, they have failed to convince young men to prefer whores to good girls as marriage material. They won many victories, but they are not invincible.

  12. That was exhausting. Too much mental gymnastics from academics, trying to reason your way into something optimistic.

    As God’s loyal and obedient subject, I fight because he commands me to fight the good fight. He doesn’t command me to succeed, but to fight, and when I fight, I feel his pleasure. That is enough.

    • Here’s my version:

      This is really it. We’ve lost, and the Left has won.

      But you still have your shotgun, and several boxes of ammo.

      For the win!

      • As long as we hate them (or what they stand for if you prefer) they haven’t won. They require everyone’s complete, joyful participation.

        Just digging in your heels is victory.

        And so is possessing your rod of iron, Continental Op.

        Happy election day eve, everyone.

    • Perhaps the Jews will have the last laugh, and my kind will live on, like the Assyrians, only as villains in the Jews’ collective memory. If I had to choose, I would much rather the Hasidic Jews inherited the earth, rather than secular Leftists. The question is how well the former will be able to hold up when the latter really turn on them.

  13. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Post-Election Edition « Patriactionary

  14. Pingback: The near future – how does it look like? | semel traditae sanctis

  15. Pingback: Catholics and the Pope, a year later | The Orthosphere

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s