I happened to have been reading Frank van Dun’s novel In the Shadow of the Prodigy (2015) during the week of the United States Supreme Court’s latest trespass into the constitutional domain of law-making, formerly reserved to the legislative branch. The same week saw several new instances of Islamic savagery – in France and Algeria – and the collapse of the Greek economy. It is difficult to say whether these events colored my assessment of van Dun’s prose or the other way around. I have been carrying a knot in my stomach for days; my brow has been creased. One way or another, In the Shadow of the Prodigy is a book for our time, breaking up the white dazzle of overlapping crises that constitutes the contemporary scene into the refracted strands of its elementary colors. Van Dun’s story is a mystery, so I will be calling attention to it in such a way as not to divulge too many of its plot-points.
At my own blog, I’ve been arguing that the Catholic Church (and, I would expect, many others) suffers grievously from a lack among the baptized of basic “tribal” identification with the Church and with Catholics throughout the ages. They fail to identify attacks on the Church and on prior generations of Christians as attacks on themselves and upon their people, and they fail to apply to their attackers the category of enemy. In this, they are encouraged by theologians, apologists, and prelates who dismiss “tribalism”–including the whole moral consideration of loyalty, or any application of the friend-enemy distinction–as an intellectual or moral failing.
I think this issue is ready for wider discussion. Of course, the fate of the Roman Catholic Church is a matter of interest to most readers here, but I don’t think this weakness is unique to my Church. Since the point is particularist loyalty, I can be clearer if I continue to write below about this one ecclesial body, with the applications to Orthodox and Protestant bodies being direct and obvious analogies. My key points are
- It is licit to love the people and culture of Christian civilization, not only Christ Himself and the doctrines of the Church. There is nothing admirable in apologizing for or berating one’s ancestors in an attempt to win credibility with a hostile world.
- This is the main reason we’re loosing most of our young people. America and the mystical body of Christ are at war. If our children are given a strong visceral identification with the former but not the latter, we can expect them to apostatize. Teaching children rigorous arguments for all the doctrines of the faith is impossible (they leave home before they’re ready for it). Teaching them to identify as Catholic and see religious disputes through a friend-enemy lens is much easier.
- Grace builds upon nature. We should not scorn natural attachment to the Christian people out of a misguided preference for a purely supernatural attachment to the Triune God. Natural loyalty is a help, not a hinderance to the growth of charity. One who looks on past generations of Christians with affection is better prepared to love the Faith than one who looks on them with politically correct scorn.
- Following Carl Schmitt, we should recognize the distinctness of the friend-enemy categorization. Groups outside the true Church are to some extent in error and morally deficient, but the ascription of enemy status to a group is not directly a statement of its heterodoxy or of the personal sinfulness of its members. The enemy is the group that is a threat to our corporate existence, the group that is attacking us. Conversely, we can recognize other conservative Christian groups as allies without minimizing our theological differences.
Take a group of people and plop them down together in any given set of material circumstances. Given the resources and stressors present in those circumstances – not, i.e., introduced by the people themselves – each of them will develop a different schedule of preferences about what should happen next, so as to maximize each his own net hedonic utility. Only when the constraints of the circumstances on what is practically possible are extremely tight – only, that is, when there are only very few options that are tolerable for any of them (as when, e.g., the flood waters are approaching) – will the utility functions of the whole group approximate to unanimity.
Only rarely, then, will all the members of a group completely agree about what should best be done. Almost always, they shall find that they must negotiate with each other in order to reach a joint decision about the fitting uses of the resources at hand. The greater the number of options furnished by their material circumstances, the more likely are they to disagree with each other incompatibly.
When this happens, the question between them is which of them will have to suffer some disappointments or other in order for the group as a whole to achieve an acceptable mix of disappointment and satisfaction – of, that is to say, costs and benefits. It is here that market and gift exchanges begin – and with them negotiations, crimes, laws, politics, and so forth – the whole panoply of common life. Because resolution cannot happen except in virtue of some degree of disappointment, it cannot but produce resentment, which of course threatens always to end in violence.
The problem of society as such, then, is to find ways of increasing the likely degree of compatibility among utility functions, so as to salve resentment, reduce intramural violence and improve coordination.
How does homosexuality – so obviously lethal to reproductive success – keep propagating? It’s really quite simple.
When I read Moira Greyland’s horrifying account of her repeated sexual molestation as a child at the hands of her homosexual parents, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen, everything suddenly clicked into place. It’s not so much that there’s a gay gene (although there might be); or a gay virus (ditto); or a preconscious nisus among gays to spread their perversion through predation upon the young, “waking up the natural homosexual feelings that all people have,” so that they themselves can feel that they are somewhat more normal and unobjectionable (seems not unlikely); or that homosexuality is a search for the approval of an absent or distant or mad parent (a reasonable theory, prima facie). All these factors might be at work. But they are not needed to secure the propagation of homosexual behavior down through the generations.
I’ve just created a new page on the Resources tab, where stories of conversion to traditionalism can be compiled.
Leave your stories over there; comment here about the general idea.
A guest post by Richard Cocks:
There is a pathology responsible for many seemingly unrelated problems besetting higher education: liberalism. Once we understand the liberal mindset, we can identify the cause of the problems and what can be done about it.
One problem involves standards. Less and less is expected of students. So many different things contribute to this that it may be regarded as ‘over-determined;’ i.e., any one of these things might be enough to have the same result. The liberal mind, however, doesn’t even have the necessary tools to address the problem. For many liberals the idea of a canon itof great works is anathema. It is seen as elitist. The canon typically gets replaced with books regarded as politically, not literarily, worthy – designed to highlight issues of gender, class and race. Thus, students are not primarily being asked to understand difficult, challenging books that provide a source of cultural literacy, but mostly to parrot back the liberal political views of their teachers.
The orthosphere – or as Bruce Charlton first proposed we call it, the kalbosphere – continues its penetration of the Christian Right. The lead article in the most recent edition of First Things is by Orthospherean Jim Kalb, his second appearance in that journal this year.
Technocracy Now is another of Jim’s incisive analyses of liberalism. An excerpt:
When white males do wrong these days, everyone takes them to be responsible, and so culpable. Other sorts of perpetrators are almost always treated as themselves somehow victims, devoid of effective moral agency or ratiocination, unable to act rationally in service of the good, and thus essentially insane, chaotic, like a storm or a flood. Their crimes are wholly adventitious, “random attacks” that hurt someone “in the wrong place at the wrong time” because of essentially harmless youthful hijinks or a “botched crime” that would otherwise have been carried forward to a successful and unobjectionable conclusion. The crime then does not generate any moral guilt, but only the legal sort. Thus the sense among liberals of the injustice involved in incarcerating felons: they didn’t really do it, their environments did.
This is our clue to the fact that, despite the ruin of the ancient patriarchal system in the modern West, everyone still subconsciously thinks that only white males possess full moral agency. They feel that their own moral agency is derivative of the agency of white males, and as derivate is therefore but partial. Whatever their failures, then, or the defects in their lives, they blame on white males, whom they still apprehend as fundamentally in charge of the way things work. You can blame him only who has himself done wrong; and in the modern West only white males are understood as thus quite fully competent, and therefore culpable. The less that white males actually do, the more are they blamed for what happens. And lots of white males agree with this analysis; they hate and blame their own ilk just as much as everyone else does.
Almost everyone feels, in other words, that patriarchy is still in full effect. And they are hot with resentment at the patriarchs. They insist that the patriarchy must be overthrown, when they themselves have been in charge of things for fifty years or so, and the patriarchs have (almost) all recused the office of patriarch. Why?
In ancient Greece, the scapegoat was selected each year via ostracism. The men of the polis would assemble, and each would write the name of his least favorite fellow on a potsherd – an ostracon. The ostraca would be collected, and the man most generally resented would be the chosen victim, banished forthwith.
Where execution of the scapegoat was wanted, it too sometimes proceeded by way of ostraca. The victim was flayed and then dismembered with their sharp edges – the death of a thousand cuts.
The servants of Moloch are pleased to harvest body parts from viable babies. What absolute moral limit would stop them from doing the same with those of children? Or adults? Like, say, ritually unclean Low Men, sub-human knuckle draggers who reject their cult? I.e., you?
By “you” I mean to indicate, not just orthospherean tradents, but conservatives and imperfectly PC progressive liberals. Once the reaping gets started, there’s no reason to stop it.
How will it work? First, they’ll classify political incorrectness as a mental disorder. Then, they’ll institutionalize those who refuse to correct their politics. Then, they’ll start reaping organs from mental defectives. All that’s needed is a way to understand the victims as sub-human. The ritual immolations can then proceed without incurring additional guilt.
Time to start organizing your own disappearance.