Righteousness & Peace

Walking from my office to the train the other day, I reflected on how wicked and dissolute I have been lately, relatively speaking. Not like a rake or a cheat, I hasten to add, but rather a choirboy; things like moments of sloth, violating my diet rules, staying up too late reading, want of charity toward others, dilatory prayers, stuff like that. Not that those are small things, at all; indeed, they loom very large for me. The reading thing is a real problem; I can’t seem to shake it.

Anyway, I was walking toward the train feeling rather willfully sinful; stiff-necked, and besotted with my worldly involvements. I was positively enjoying them. Mostly I was reeling from the moral challenges at work lately, which are calling for – and often not finding – a great deal of charity on my part. My dander was up: I was irritated, sore and a tad self-righteously angry. And sorry for myself; let’s not overlook that bit.

I reached into my pocket for no particular reason and encountered my little rosary. And so, reminded, I began to pray for people: Lawrence Auster, my friends and relatives who are in trouble, the tenor I once sang with who died in ‘84. The list goes on for about 50 lives these days. It’s really rather horrifying; it seems as though almost everyone I know is in some sort of serious difficulty or danger, however well the rest of their lives might be going. I suppose that goes without saying, and should not surprise me so much, and sadden me. But this habit of intercession as I walk has quickened my wit to the pervasive tragedy of life – to the agony sooner or later entailed by mere existence, much of which naturally ends up, so far as we can see, as a totally useless waste, nothing more than noise or heat attendant to the general and predominantly orderly flow of history; a cost of doing business here on Earth. It’s a sorrowful apprehension; but, also, beautiful.

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Theosis

What is it like to live the life everlasting that is promised to Christians? The question has arisen in the last few days both over at View from the Right, where Lawrence Auster is contemplating his own incipient death with awesome magnanimity and serenity, and at Charlton’s Miscellany. Both Charlton and Auster make important points. I had reactions to both posts, so I figure it makes most sense to consolidate them here.

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What Happened to You During the Vigil?

Many of the participants in the global vigil of massed intercessory prayer for my son back in 1998 reported afterwards that the vigil had been an important experience in their spiritual lives. We heard many stories of deepened faith, and indeed even a conversion or two, or new awakenings of faith long dead. The hour wasn’t at all noteworthy for me, qua prayer, because I was totally absorbed that day in the scutwork of caring for my son at the hospital, and in my anxiety over his condition. So I was impressed by some of the reports that we later heard.

Which leads to the question, What happened to you during the prayer vigil for Lawrence Auster? Not that anything should have; most sessions of prayer are rather dry, I find; and if we approach prayer hoping for some sort of emotional payoff, we have got the whole thing backwards. But it is an interesting question, and it would be interesting to hear what did happen for you, or didn’t. 

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A Prayer for Lawrence Auster

Lawrence Auster is one of the seminal figures of latter-day Traditionalism. Many, many people have come to it, and to Christianity, as a result of his labors at View from the Right, one of the most important Traditionalist blogs. All true conservatives owe him a great debt of gratitude, including even those who feel at enmity with him; for whether or not they know it, and whether or not they have even read Lawrence’s writings, they have been influenced and informed by him, at least through those who have.

Lawrence is quite ill. For many months he has been suffering from cancer, and from related maladies brought on either by the disease itself, or by the chemo-therapy he has endured. While he has fought off the cancer for a long time, and soldiered bravely onward at VFR, his condition lately has worsened. Barring some sea change, his future here below seems at best bleak indeed.

It is time, and more than time, for all of us who owe him so much, and who hold him in such high regard, to do what we can to help him. So we of the Orthosphere have decided to organize a global vigil of massed intercessory prayer for him, using the web to propagate the effort as far and wide, and indeed as deep, as possible. Massed intercessory prayer has been the occasion of some truly remarkable events – not all of them physiological, by any means (and, for that matter, not all in the intended beneficiary of the prayer). Some background information may be found here.

If you wish to participate in the prayer, bless you; if you decide to use your own blogs, or email distribution lists, to spread the word, thanks. If you do, please ask respondents to post a notice of their intent to participate, as well as any comments or questions, at the Orthosphere. This will facilitate a coherent central conversation, give us all a sense of the size of the event as it builds momentum, answer frequently asked questions efficiently, and perhaps help us all learn more about prayer. The conversation can continue after the vigil; there is likely to be much to relate.

The vigil will happen in your time zone from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, Sunday, January 13. As evening falls, light a candle in an often used room, where those of your household will often see and take note of it. A burning flame is inherently interesting, and likely to be noticed. After you light the candle, and whenever you notice it again during the hour of the vigil, say a short prayer for Lawrence; something like this:

O LORD our Governor, whose help is in all the world, and by whom all things are made: bless now and keep thy servant Lawrence Auster, relieving him of all his troubles and travails, salving and healing all his wounds and illnesses, and restoring him to fullness of life in thee; and, at the last, call him home to everlasting joy in thy Heavenly Kingdom. All this I pray, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Or, just:

O LORD, I pray thee bless, keep and heal thy servant, Lawrence. Amen.

Or, pray wordlessly. The form of the prayer is important only because it helps form the intention thereof.

It helps, in praying, to engage one’s whole body in the effort; for the engagement of the body tends to entrain the otherwise distractible mind. Bodily involvement is facilitated by bowing the head, and, especially at the invocation of the Name, by crossing oneself.

There is of course no reason why you should confine your prayers for Lawrence to the hour of the vigil, and indeed I hope that you do not. Feel free to pray for him this very moment, and continuously! But do save some special oomph, as it were, for the massed intercession of the vigil.

Thank you; and may God bless and keep all you who read this.

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What’s a Tradent?

In a contentious series of threads over at Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and in the midst of a very long comment on the imago dei, I used the word “tradent.” Now, normally Lawrence is quite stern with me, both about the length of my comments and about my use of obscure words. But this time, he graciously let both of my characteristic rhetorical foibles pass without comment, except to insert a bracketed question mark – a typographical cocked eyebrow – after my use of the unusual expression.

I think “tradent” might be useful to us. What does it mean? According to the OED, a tradent is, “the person who delivers or hands over any property to another.”

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Morality is the Source of Biology (Physics, too)

One of the first books I ever bought for fun with my own money was The Biological Origin of Human Values, by George Edgin Pugh. I still have it. I remember buying it because it was a big, expensive book for a penniless college student; I visited it in the bookstore four times before I finally decided it was worth the money.

Pugh’s was one of the first in a long line of books that by now constitute a publishing genre unto themselves, of books that show how morality, religion, consciousness, love, and so forth reflect the logic of our situation as animals living among animals. This logic is interesting to a number of disciplines: economics, evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, game theory, genetic algorithms, cybernetics, control systems theory, information theory, neurophysiology, cognitive science – and of course, philosophy of mind. I was really into all that stuff. Together with biology, chemistry and physics, it seemed to me that these disciplines bid fair to explain pretty much everything about human beings. It was a Grand Synthesis, in which every level of analysis supervened tidily upon the levels below, so that they translated neatly into each other, with physics at the bottom. Nothing of human life seemed to be left out, at least in principle. It was a beautiful and compelling vision.

There were just two problems.

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Naming our Adversary

Taking demons seriously is not optional for Christians. Jesus – that is to say, God – believes there are demons. He believes that they are after us. He can’t be wrong – I mean, He’s God, right? So there are demons. That’s all. What more do you need to know? Do you believe the Creed, or not? If you do, then you believe what Jesus believed. So, you believe demons are real. They are as real as the flu you got over just last Wednesday, as real as the car door you slammed on your finger back in ’98. And they are after us. That’s it. Get over it.

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The Good, the Real, & the Fake Economy

An exchange with Lawrence Auster about the possibility that the European Monetary Union might dissolve, and with it much of the impetus of the more general socialist project embodied in and effectuated by the EU, got me thinking about what would happen if the European or American government apparatus were simply to disappear. What would happen, in other words, if the whole thing were just to collapse? Sure, there would be a huge dislocation, millions of government workers thrown out of a job, etc. But, would it not also, after a while, usher in an era of much increased prosperity for the affected populations, in rather the same way that the collapse of Soviet style communism worked to the ultimate benefit of the East Germans, Czechs, and Russians?

This led me to some more general considerations.

There are three sectors of any economy: the portion of it that is good, the portion that is real, and the portion that is fake: the good economy, the real economy, and the fake economy, characterized by work and products that are good, real, or fake.

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The Righteous Liberal

Lawrence Auster raised a good question about my post on angry atheists:

I don’t understand where you get the idea that elite liberals feel personally extremely guilty for their own sins, and that this is the source of their inordinate anger and hatred against theists. There are many elite liberals who in their personal lives are responsible, decent, caring people living orderly and productive lives. Many of them are faithfully married and devoted to their families. Your portrayal of them as particularly bad sinners, and your theory that their hatred of theists comes from the fact that they, the liberal atheists, are particularly bad sinners and covering up an intense feeling of guilt, seem off the mark to me.

This got me thinking, so I tried to work it out a bit more carefully.

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