Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out: Variations on a Theme.

My current brace of columns  includes one at Crisis Magazine about the trend away from concrete loyalties and objective principles toward radical subjectivity and a combination of money and bureaucracy as the basis for what’s still called public life. The other one, at Catholic World Report, makes the obvious point that the result is unlivable and we should all go out and refound Christendom.

The Abomination of Desolation of the Marital Altar

The Eucharist is a participation in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. But then likewise a true wedding is a participation in the Sacrifice at Golgotha.[1] The bed of marriage is properly an altar, where bride and groom offer their lives in a total sacrifice, joining and thereby engendering a new and larger organism.

When Paul says, “I beseech ye, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1], he refers to the whole and perfectly general motion of the Christian toward his Savior and Lord, howsoever expressed: whether in priesthood, or martyry, or marriage – or at Mass.

The rites of the altar – the bed, the table, the throne – are the basis of society: “Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.” And, vice versa: where there is no altar, there is no civilization; no cult, no culture; no culture, no polis.

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CPAC and the Future of the GOP

Evidently, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual gathering of America’s conservative activists, just finished its annual convention outside Washington, DC.  James Kirkpatrick wrote two interesting articles for Vdare.com here and here.  Given Vdare’s bailiwick, the two articles are mostly about immigration and, thus, about the ongoing treason by “movement conservatism” against its rank-and-file supporters.

The articles discuss two related changes over time at CPAC.  First, the conference is increasingly overtly in service of its corporate sponsors.  Second, the conference is evidently being gradually taken over by left-libertarian ideologues of what sounds like the Brink Lindsey type.

Clearly, these are not unrelated occurrences.  Libertarianism is about the only coherent ideology which justifies what corporate America wants: free trade, high immigration, low taxes, and little regulation.  Thus, to the extent that movement conservatism adopts the policy goals of its corporate masters and also wants to present itself as “principled,” it is going to be libertarian.  Furthermore, given the impossibility of presenting oneself as racist, it has to be left rather than right libertarian. But this has serious knock-on costs for the GOP and for movement conservatism.  Left libertarians are a quite unpopular and unattractive bunch of people:

The young libertarians who are taking over CPAC have open disdain [for] most older members of the “movement,” loudly sneering and hissing during speeches by Rick Santorum and rolling their eyes at the antics of Sarah Palin and the like. Continue reading

New Article: From Romanticism to Traditionalism

My essay From Romanticism to Traditionalism appears at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website.  The argument is that numerous premises of contemporary Traditionalism find their prototypes in early-Nineteenth Century Romantic Movement.  The essay cites the work of the English lake Poets, especially William Wordsworth and Samuel T. Coleridge, as well as the work of Chateaubriand and Goethe, and of the American “Hudson River School” of painting.  I try to demonstrate the parallelism between Wordsworth’s outlook, or Goethe’s, and the outlook of the founders of Twentieth Century Traditionalism, such as René Guénon and Nicolas Berdyaev.  I offer a sample…

The Romantic subject resembles – or, rather, it anticipates – the Traditionalist subject, as Guénon, Nicolas Berdyaev (1874 – 1948), and others have defined it.  Guénon himself in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (1945) characterizes modern man as having “lost the use of the faculties which in normal times allowed him to pass beyond the bounds of the sensible world.”  This loss leaves modern man alienated from “the cosmic manifestation of which he a part”; in Guénon’s analysis modern man assumes “the passive role of a mere spectator” and consumer, which is exactly how Wordsworth saw it.  Of course, Guénon does not write of loss as an accident, but as the logical consequence of choices and schemes traceable to the Enlightenment.  As Wordsworth put it, “We have given our hearts away – a sordid boon.”

According to Berdyaev, writing in The Destiny of Man (1931), “Man is not a fragmentary part of the world but contains the whole riddle of the universe and the solution of it.”  Berdyaev asserts that, contrary to modernity, “man is neither the epistemological subject [of Kant], nor the ‘soul’ of psychology, nor a spirit, nor an ideal value of ethics, logics, or aesthetics”; but, abolishing and overstepping all those reductions, “all spheres of being intersect in man.”  Berdyaev argues that, “Man is a being created by God, fallen away from God and receiving grace from God.”  The prevailing modern view, that of naturalism, “regards man as a product of evolution in the animal world,” but “man’s dynamism springs from freedom and not from necessity”; it follows therefore that “evolution” cannot explain the mystery and centrality of man’s freedom.  When Berdyaev brings “grace” into his discussion, he echoes the original Romantics, whose version of grace was the epiphanic vision, the event answering to a crisis that brings about the conversion of the fallen subject and sets him on the road to true personhood.

Angel Millar has done an exceptional job in presenting the essay.  I take the opportunity here to thank him publicly.

Are Our Masters Competent?

For the second time in a decade, the US foreign policy apparatus has conducted a successful coup against Viktor Yanukovych, the democratically elected president of Ukraine.  According to Victoria Nuland, the State Department bureaucrat who appears to be in charge of this effort, we have spent $5 billion on this.  Our goals, according to her, are to get Ukraine into Western Europe and away from Russia and to get her into debt with the IMF as quickly as possible.  She calls this “democracy.”

An interesting thing about this second episode is the gross incompetence of its execution. As events have unfolded, it is apparent to anyone paying attention that Yanukovych and Putin hold the moral high ground—the moral high ground by the ostensible morality of the liberals, I mean.  Yanukovych and Putin have steadily and throughout managed to side with democracy, the rule of law, and negotiated settlements, whereas the US has sided with a violent coup carried out by neo-Nazis, the abrogation of democratic elections, and the abrogation of the negotiated settlement of the rebellion.  The brighter precincts of neocondom are aware of this problem and are beavering away manufacturing excuses. Continue reading

The Biological Solution

Rorate Caeli reports here that Bishop Michael Olson (age: 47, ordained 1994) of Fort Worth, TX has banned the Traditional Latin Mass at Fisher More College.  This decision appears plainly to violate the law of the Church.

It illuminates a larger point.  One of the characteristic slogans of conservative Catholics is “the biological solution.”  In theory, because younger priests are significantly more orthodox than are older priests, soon the hierarchy of the Church will become more orthodox.  The orthodox priests will rise through the hierarchy, you see, becoming bishops and cardinals and someday popes.

This is a dumb idea.  There are about 5000 bishops in the world and about 400K priests.  Thus, there are about 80 priests for each bishop.  In 80 randomly selected young priests, there are going to be several very liberal ones.  Young priests are better, not uniformly good.  Thus, if the hierarchy wants heterodox or disobedient bishops, it will have little difficulty in finding them.  There tend to be around 100 voting cardinals.  That’s one cardinal for each 4000 priests.  Making sure the guys with the red hats are mostly or all liberals is very easy.

Personnel is policy, and selection is a very powerful force.  Just because Chinese are, on average, quite short does not mean that Chinese professional basketball players are, on average, quite short.

The pastoral exception, the Magisterium of the moment, and the end of Catholic marriage

Recently, I mentioned fighting other Catholics over gay “marriage” and similar issues. What is especially maddening about them is their tendency to affirm the doctrinal question in a technically minimal way, but then to articulate a pastoral exception so broad that it devours the doctrinal rule. Yes, of course gay “marriage” is a grave moral evil and a mockery of divinely-ordained matrimony; but we mustn’t say so out loud! We might offend someone, and it’s hardly very Christian to do that, now is it? And meanwhile you shouldn’t order your life or act in any way as if you believe gay “marriage” is evil, because Christ calls us to love one another in a way higher than mere doctrinal correctness, and –

Well, you can see the problem. Are there any limits to the “pastoral exception”? None that are typically spoken of, certainly none that are evident to me. The result of this line of thinking is a world where gay “marriage” in the abstract is accepted to be a moral evil, even if no particular gay “marriage” can be said to be.

We are seeing this already in anticipation of the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which certain elements in the Church (evidently with at least some sympathy on the part of the Holy Father) desire to make into an occasion to (very quietly) affirm the Church’s ancient teachings on the indissolubility of marriage while (very publicly and aggressively) relaxing the disciplines that support the lived reality of those teachings; in other words, to canonize the current arrangement of practical lawlessness in the administration of the Sacraments and to formalize the Church’s heretofore merely material complicity in adultery. It’s hard to say what direction the Synod will go in, of course, but the trend here is not encouraging. It is very possible that, by this time next year, the Church will have automated the American annulment factory and exported it to the entire world, and that divorce-for-any-reason-or-none-at-all will become, if not doctrinally acceptable, tolerated with a knowing wink and nudge.

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Proposal: American History Month

Introduction

Various months have been officially designated Ethnic Group History Month, times set aside for the group’s members to express reverence for their ancestors and their people, and those outside the group are expected use the occasion to acknowledge virtue in another people.

As conservatives, we recognize that all people ought to cultivate reverence for their ancestors and their group. Therefore there ought to be an American History Month.

The value of such a celebration becomes clear upon reflection. Although there is a great deal of interest in and discussion of American history in the public square, the systematic instruction of the young in American history is seriously lacking: Continue reading

There’s No Such Thing as Women

Retortion is a beautiful thing.

A correspondent of our fellow orthospherean blogger and valued commenter Joseph of Arimathea has noticed that if latter-day feminism is correct in its assertion that sex is nothing but a social construct, like language – this being why feminists like to call it by the linguistic term, “gender,” rather than the proper biological term, “sex” – then *the female sex does not actually exist.* All appearances to the contrary, there is no such thing, really, as a female.

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Hammer-and-nails Christians

Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things.

– Philippians 3:17-19

Surely you’ve heard the news of a few legislative attempts to prevent entrepreneurs from being legally harrased into material complicity with evil by servicing gay “weddings” — gay “weddings” which, mind you, are not even legally recognized in many of those states (yet).

That’s not especially alarming, or new, anyway; the free and equal new man cannot tolerate any restrictions on his liberty, even those imposed by the mere existence of the reactionary untermenschen who periodically crawl out of the sewer to contradict him. What alarms me is the extent to which Christians have thrown in with this particular anti-Crusade. In the last three days I have personally dealt with the libels of no less than three Christians, at least one of them an ostensibly “good” Catholic, daring to claim that a Christian baker refusing on principle to bake a cake for a gay “wedding” is morally deficient and contrary to Christian love; and my girlfriend (at least as fierce as me, but nowhere near as accustomed to leftist vitriol) has had to deal with several more, to her great distress. (Get it? You can’t “judge” — i.e., not be 100% on board with — sodomites for what they publicly and repeatedly say and do, but you can surely read and know the hearts of far-away small-business bakery owners on the basis of third-hand reports of their conversations.)

Let us be clear; if your position is that the “love” which we mean when we say “God is love” or “God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son” obliges you to sell needles to heroin addicts or to let children eat sugary cereal for every meal, then you are setting yourself against the plain letter of Scripture, the unanimous witness of Christian history, and the dictates of basic human reason. If your position requires you to view faithful Christians as crucifying Pharisees and aggressive, unrepentant sodomites as the hapless sinners who dined with Christ, then you have got absolutely everything backwards. If your position is that the Constitutional-rendering-of-the-moment has higher Magisterial status than the unbroken opinion of all saintly Christians for all of time everywhere, then maybe you should replace that little metal cross hanging around your neck with a stylized hammer and nails.