Kristor’s recent announcement that he’s moving to Rome leaves Yours Truly as the only Protestant regular contributor to this website. More generally, there appears to this writer to be a pronounced bias among Christian traditionalists toward Catholicism or (capital-O) Orthodoxy. Presumably this is because Rome and Constantinople emphasize the authority and tradition that are perhaps the defining elements of traditionalism, whereas contemporary Protestantism, as opposed to the faith of the Reformers, not only lacks this emphasis but often tends (unfortunately) toward antinomianism.
But let it be known that this author is not moving to Rome and, more generally, that traditionalism and Protestants need one another. Continue reading
Our readers (Oberon and Samson) have begun to wonder whether I am moving from my native and beloved Anglican Church to that of Rome. I am.
Some time ago, I complained about an especially bad experience with sacred music at Mass. It involved a tambourine with little LED lights that lit up when struck. I tried to be in good humor about it but, really, I was appalled; afterward I wanted to weep and do penance.
A few of the commenters at the time had remarked that I should seek out a traditional Latin Mass, which of course I already had — my diocese is still recovering from the disastrous 15-year-long reign of an extremely liberal bishop and it is frankly impressive that we have the three TLMs we currently do given that none of the celebrating priests had even the option of taking Latin as an elective during their seminary formation, but all three are 90 minutes or more away from me and gasoline doesn’t rain from the sky (Deo gratias) so it’s not a regular option. At a TLM, they said, I might be able to find music less objectionable, homilies more bearable, etc. A Mass more to my liking.
It’s good prudential advice as far as it goes but it makes clear what the major problem now is in the Church — that its whole theological and devotional and liturgical heritage, which found its most perfect expression in the Mass that was for so long the one visible mark of communion among millions of Catholics the world over and which was so intimately bound up with their daily life and their entire self-understanding — that the practical faith of our fathers as it emerged from the catacombs and was forged in the crucible of the intervening centuries — has now been reduced to a matter of liking, of mere taste. And in the minds of most, to prefer having your priest ascend to the altar amidst a haze of incense while the plaintive, longing notes of Sicut Cervus echo through the nave over Fr. Flake prancing about in rainbow vestments to the brutal and invasive blast of a 16-year-old mariachi “music minister”‘s sackbut is just an irrational and arbitrary value judgment with nothing more to recommend it than might recommend your equally-interesting preference for crunchy over smooth peanut butter. A far crueler blow to the memory of those generations martyred for that faith than was dealt them on the day of their martyrdom, to say that the Mass they loved and died for was merely a diverting novelty. At best, you might get a concession that the former type of Mass is ideal but we have to meet people where they are, have to be “pastoral,” have to be realistic, and the unspoken reality is that many pigs would rather eat slop.
Such is another hard fact of life in the postconciliar Church: not only would most historical Catholics (including a few thousand saints) not be at home in it but they would be told, with all the cruel “pastoralism” that coddles the unrepentant and berates the devoted, that the visible home they loved was never more than the epiphenomena of neurons firing pointlessly in the void. This is why there is no easy way back, not in our lifetimes, because the damage is done, the attitudes and the narratives that accompany them are formed, and even if tomorrow a hypothetical Pope Pius the Fifth the Second came along and suppressed all the flimflam with fire and sword, half of the Church would grouse that they liked things better before and many of them would (with their bishops) schism on the spot and souls would perish by the millions, dying alone and far from the Sacraments. There’s no getting the worms back into the can.
Mary DeTurris relates in a two-part post (here and here) her growing disillusionment with the Catholic Church’s liturgy and her increasingly inability to put up with its foibles. There’s a lot to sympathize with and a little to criticize in Ms. DeTurris’ posts. She is bored by bad homilies (a complaint shared by a few Orthosphere writers), for instance, but it’s not the average parish priest’s fault that the Pauline lectionary stinks and has the effect of reducing the proclamation of the Word from a theophanic encounter with the Word incarnate to a dry undergraduate exegesis lecture. (Compare crummy diocesan parish homilies to the truly exceptional ones given by Traditionalist priests, who are not tied to the mast of a purely and exclusively didactic lectionary).* And she is alienated by the near-absent community life of her parish, but evidently doesn’t feel the need to take any steps to ameliorate it, as if community life is something that can only be handed down ex cathedra by the hierarchy, as if the laity are not itself members of the body of Christ. (EDIT: And one absolutely must not take seriously her suggestion to withhold support from the Church, i.e., to neglect our duties in a grave matter).
Still, she’s on to something, especially when she writes: Continue reading
The American Traditionalist Society is under construction, and part of its mission is to clarify the stance of American traditionalists toward contemporary America. Officially, contemporary America is anti-traditional, yet an American traditionalist ought presumably to look with approval on his homeland. The present essay works on resolving the contradiction.
What is the America that traditionalists love?
Traditional America, America as she was before roughly the 1950’s, a land that was Christian, mostly white, and conservative in its moral and social ideals, is gone. Vestiges remain, inspiring some and frightening others, but today’s officially-defined America is non-traditional.
And the new America is unjust, unhealthy, and probably headed for destruction. Our leaders have imposed a dysfunctional liberal order based on the rejection of both God and the wisdom of the ages, and they have imported tens of millions of incompatible and often hostile foreigners. To top it off, they have demanded that we regard this spiritual and ethno-cultural destruction as good. Why then should we American traditionalists love America? And what, more generally, should be our attitude toward America?
The basic answer is that we should love America not because she is great, but because she is ours. The former America to which we belong still exists, albeit in attenuated form, and therefore America is still our nation, the land our fathers built by their blood, sweat and toil. And since we are of her, we should love her despite her sins. Continue reading
The American Traditionalist Society is being developed. Part of its mission is to evangelize modern people with the good news of the wisdom of the ages, so that they can tune in (to their sense that something is wrong), turn on (to the life-giving traditionalism) and drop out (of the liberal, modernist establishment.)
To this end, I offer the following essay, designed to catch the eye of potential recruits. Subsequent essays will develop the theme further.
Why You Need Traditionalism
“Traditional” sounds old-fashioned. It sounds like the discredited—or at least unfashionable—ways of the past. That was then; this is now. Why do I need traditionalism?
“Traditional” also sounds like bondage. It sounds like people forced to do their duty, like it or not. Forced to honor kings, priests, and other non-democratically-chosen authorities. In the modern world we’re free. Why do I need traditionalism?
Because if you follow contemporary ways then you do not—and cannot—have what you need most in order to honor God and live well. Only through traditionalism can you get what you need. Continue reading
I call the attention of Orthospherians to my article “I get a Kick out of Fugue II: Fugue in the Twentieth Century” at Kidist Paulos Asrat’s Reclaiming Beauty website; “Fugue II” is a follow-up to my article from early in summer, “I get a Kick out of Fugue,” also at Reclaiming Beauty. Meanwhile, Angel Millar has given my essay on “Richard Wagner, Revolution, and the Re-Founding of Humanity” a generous presentation at his website, The People of Shambhala. The two essays on fugue argue, with plentiful musical illustration, my anthropological theory of fugal practice as reflecting the patterns of social breakdown and reformation. The essay on Richard Wagner and Musikdrama likewise has an anthropological slant: I take seriously Wagner’s writings, wherein, once one gets past the florid rhetoric, one finds a genuine and plausible theory of the origin alike of consciousness and culture. I recommend both Reclaiming Beauty and People of Shambhala as interesting and valuable websites.
The following is part of an essay on Eric Voegelin that I published about a decade ago at another website. The topic in the section that I repost here is Gnostic extremism. In light of the DOMA decision and other items recently in the news, the discussion seems relevant. –
When the differentiated, fully transcendent God—either Plato’s God beyond the gods in Phaedrus or “The Father” to whom Jesus refers in the evangelists—breaks into reality the articulation of the breakthrough inclines no less than any other idea to false objectification, to a discourse of propositions to be endorsed or refuted and of things in the social fabric that one might alter, rearrange, or eliminate. As Voegelin carefully notes, however, not only is “existence… not a fact,” but “if anything, existence is the nonfact of a disturbing movement in the In-Between of ignorance and knowledge, of time and timelessness… and ultimately of life and death.”
Skeggy Thorson points out that the monstrous Aztecs had patriarchy, monarchy, an aristocracy, an ancient, venerable and sophisticated state religion, a highly evolved patrimony of arts and crafts, and I suppose many other characteristics of a traditional society. The same could be said of the formidable and revolting Canaanites, Carthaginians, and Phoenicians.
More than that is needed for a just society, or a good society, and especially for a noble society.
What then, are the de minimis characteristics of a traditional society *that is also good* – and that, therefore, has a shot at nobility?
I have been spending some time lately reading in the androsphere, and based on what I have learned from scratching the surface of that huge and passionate discourse, I feel rather hopeful about the prospects of the men who participate therein. Most of them, to be sure, seem stuck for the time being in a slough of despond. They are cynical, skeptical, nihilistic. I will not go so far as to say that they are nihilist, as most of them still affirm the existence and value of manly virtues – some go so far as to affirm the value of womanly virtues. Mostly, though, they are angry, or bitter. But that’s no way to live, over the long run. So they won’t, I figure.