Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.
Showing posts with label Decline of the West. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Decline of the West. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion: Europe is Committing Suicide

On 22 September 2017, an international symposium on the Christian Future of Europe took place at the residence of Russia’s Ambassador to Great Britain. The keynote address was delivered by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.


Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants,

I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples’ lives, their faith and their values.

Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe. Among the reasons for this is the greatest migration crisis on the continent since the end of the Second World War, caused by armed conflicts and economic problems in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. According to figures by the European Union agency Frontex, more than 1.8 million migrants entered the EU in 2015 alone.[1] Figures from the UN International Migration Report show that the number of migrants in Europe has increased from 49.3 million people in 2000 to 76.1 million people in 2015.[2] According to research  by the UN International Organization for Migration, throughout the world about 1.3 percent of the adult population, which comprises some 66 million people, in the forthcoming year intend to leave for another country in order to live permanently there. Approximately a third of this group of people – 23 million – are already making plans to move. 16.5 percent of potential migrants who were questioned responded that the countries at the top of their list are Great Britain, Germany and France.[3]

The other reason for the transformation of the religious map of Europe is the secularization of European society. Figures in a British opinion poll indicate that more than half of the country’s inhabitants – for the first time in history – do not affiliate themselves to any particular religion. 2942 people took part in an opinion poll conducted in 2016 by Britain’s National Centre for Social Research: 53 percent of those who responded to the question on religious allegiance said that they do not belong to any religious confession. Among those aged from eighteen to twenty-five, the number of non-religious is higher – 71 percent. When similar research was carried out in 1983, only 31 percent of those questioned stated that they did not belong to any confession.[4]

We can see an opposite trend in the Eastern European countries, in particular in Russia. A July opinion poll conducted in Russia by the Levada-Center showed a sharp decline in the number of atheists and non-believers from 26 percent in December 2015 to 13 percent in July 2017.[5] This, of course, does not mean that all the remaining 83 percent are practicing believers. Many defined themselves as “religious to some degree” or “not too religious”, but nevertheless affiliated themselves with one of the traditional religions. However, the number of people who define themselves as being “very religious” is growing steadily.

The contemporary state of religious life in Russian society is directly linked to the tragic events of one hundred years ago. The historical catastrophe of 1917 embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, terror, exile of the nation’s best representatives beyond the confines of their homeland, and the deliberate annihilation of whole layers of society – the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy and affluent peasants. They were declared to be “enemies of the people,” and their relatives were subjected to discrimination and became the “disenfranchised,” which forced them to the edge of survival. All of this terror took place under the banner of a communist ideology that fought ferociously against religion. Millions of believers were subjected to the cruelest of persecution, harassment, discrimination and repression – from mockery and dismissal in the workplace to imprisonment and execution by firing squad. The Church in those years produced a great multitude of martyrs and confessors for the faith who, as St. Paul said, “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Heb 11.35-36).

Discussion on the future of Christianity in Europe is impossible without understanding the prospects for the survival of religiosity among its inhabitants.  Research carried out by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Cornwell Theological College, USA, indicates that the number of Christians in Europe will be consistently falling: from 560 million people in 2015 to 501 million by 2050.[6] The calculations of the Pew Research Center are more pessimistic and foretell a reduction in Christians in Europe from 553 million people in 2015 to 454 million people by 2050.[7]

These are alarming prognoses, but they reflect the current trends in the transformation of the religious picture of Europe, and they cannot be ignored. Some are suggesting that, unless special force is applied, Europe cannot simply cease to be Christian on the grounds that Europe has for many centuries been Christian. I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917. The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke of this in January 2017: “The fundamental rupture in the traditional way of life – and I am now speaking… of the spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of the people – was possible only for the reason that something very important had disappeared from peoples’ lives, in the first instance those people who belonged to the elite. In spite of an outward prosperity and appearance, the scientific and cultural achievements, less and less place was left in peoples’ lives for a living and sincere belief in God, an understanding of the exceptional importance of values belonging to a spiritual and moral tradition.”[8]

In the immediate post-war years Christianity played a huge role in the process of European integration, which was viewed in the context of the Cold War as one of the means of containing the expansion of atheist propaganda and communist ideology. The Vatican relied in its anti-communist propaganda upon European unity, upon the Christian democratic parties of Western Europe. The latter firmly believed that Western civilization is closely tied to Christian values, and had to be defended from the communist threat. Pope Pius XII supported the creation of a European community as “Christian Europe’s historical mission.”

The first president of the Federal Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss said that Europe was built on three hills: the Acropolis, which gave her the values of freedom, philosophy and democracy; the Capitol, which represented Roman legal concepts and social order; and Golgotha, i.e. Christianity.[9] It must be noted too that the founding fathers of the European Union were deeply religious men – for example, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Konrad Adenauer and the Italian foreign minister Alcide De Gasperi.

And when half a century after the creation of the European Union its constitution was being written, it would have been natural for the Christian Churches to expect that the role of Christianity as one of the European values to have been included in this document, without encroaching upon the secular nature of the authorities in a unified Europe. But, as we know, this did not happen. The European Union, when writing its constitution, declined to mention its Christian heritage even in the preamble of the document.

I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity. For many centuries Europe was the home where various religious traditions lived side by side, but at the same time in which Christianity played a dominant role. This role is reflected, particularly, in the architecture of European cities which are hard to imagine without their magnificent cathedrals and numerous, though more modest in size, churches.

A monopoly of the secular idea has taken hold in Europe. Its manifestation is the expulsion of the religious worldview from the public expanse. Article 4 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1981, affirms that “All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.”[10]

The architects of the secular society have seen to the legal aspect of the issue: formally one can confess any religion, but if one attempts to motivate one’s actions through religious belief and freedom of conscience and encourage others to act in accordance with their faith, then at best one will be subjected to censure, or at worst to criminal prosecution.

For example, if one is a doctor and refuses to perform an abortion,[11] or euthanasia,[12] by referring to one’s religious principles, then one is breaking the law. If you are a Protestant pastor and live in a country in which same sex unions are legal, then you have little chance of refusing this couple the right to a church wedding while remaining unpunished by the state. Thus, for example, the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven recently stated that all pastors of the Church of Sweden ought to be obliged to perform church weddings for same-sex couples, adding that “I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests.”[13]

         Such political figures are the complete opposite to those who were at the foundations of the European Union, and this type of rhetoric, in my view, is suicidal for the continent of Europe. The legalization of abortion, the encouragement of sexual promiscuity, and the systematic attempts to undermine family values have led to a profound demographic crisis in many European countries. This crisis, accompanied by an identity crisis, will lead to a situation whereby in time other peoples will inhabit Europe with a different religion, a different culture and different paradigms of values.

         Often the language of hatred in relation to Christians is used when Christians insist on their right to participate in public affairs. They enjoy the same right as much as it is enjoyed by adherents of any other religion or by atheists. However, in practice it is not like this: dozens of instances of discrimination against Christians on the grounds of their beliefs are registered every year. These instances are highlighted by the media and become a topic for public discussion, but the situation as a whole does not change as a result.

In modern-day Europe militant secularism has been transformed into an autonomous power that does not tolerate dissent. It allows well-organized minority groups to successfully impose their will on the majority under the pretext of observing human rights. Today human rights have in essence been transformed into an instrument for manipulating the majority, and the struggle for human rights into the dictatorship of the minority in relation to the majority.

Unfortunately, we should note that these are not isolated incidents, but an already formed system of values supported by the state and supra-national institutions of the EU.

In a situation where we have aggressive pressure of the groups which propagate ideas unacceptable from the perspective of traditional Christian morality, it is essential to unite the Churches’ efforts in opposing these processes, to act jointly in the media, in the sphere of legal support, as well as in propagating common Christian values at all possible levels. It is important that the Churches share their experience in this sphere, and develop cooperation between church human rights organizations and monitoring centers.

I believe it important that Christians of Europe should stand shoulder to shoulder to defend those values upon which the life of the continent has been built for centuries, and that they should view the afflictions and dismay of Christians throughout the world as their own.


[1]          Frontex Risk Analysis Network Quarterly Report. Q4 2015. http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/FRAN_Q4_2015.pdf
[2]          International Migration Report 2015. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/PopulationDivision.
                http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2015.pdf
[3]          Measuring Global Migration Potential, 2010–2015. Issue No. 9, July 2017. http://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/gmdac_data_briefing_series_issue_9.pdf
[4]          Число неверующих в Великобритании впервые превысило 50%. http://www.bbc.com/russian/news-41154931
[5]          https://www.levada.ru/2017/07/18/religioznost
[6]          http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/StatusofGlobalChristianity2017.pdf
[7]          http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/
[8]          Presentation by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the opening of the XXV Nativity Educational Readings http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4789256.html
[9]          Христианские церкви и европейская интеграция: параметры взаимодействия. http://orthodoxru.eu/ru/index.php?content=article&category=publications&id=2012-09-17-1&lang=ru
[10]        http://www.un.org/ru/documents/decl_conv/declarations/relintol.shtml
[11]        http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/medical-directors-dismissal-reversed.html
[12]        Catholic care home in Belgium fined for refusing euthanasia. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/catholic-care-home-in-belgium-fined-for refusing-euthanasia/
[13]        http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/swedish-prime-minister-priests-should-perform-same-sex-marriages.html


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Empire of Yin - Part 1: The Great Unbalancing

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (central panel) – circa 1504

From The Brussels Journal
By Takuan Seiyo


Western Civilization is now like the Three Gorges valley downriver from the biggest dam in the world, breached. Pouring in is an alluvial torrent of toxic bilge waters of unbridled license, commercialized lust, puerile 24/7 media content of unlimited choices -- all of them bad, institutionalized overconsumption of useless junk with phantom money, mindless self-mutilation and nihilism. Foaming on top of this flow are cowardice and confusion masquerading as righteousness and tolerance, and a supine acquiescence to an invasion of a hundred million – 40 million in the US alone – Third World immigrants legal and illegal who are, in the balance, a gross burden on society.

But society itself is now an Ophraised mobocracy pretending as if it were a rational republic. In the geopolitical arena this translates into the castrated plumpness of Europe and Canada and the messianic, “compassionate” braggadocio of flailing America, versus the vigorous, aggressive, virile, militaristic and self-confident thrusts of China, Russia and Iran.


In the waning days of August 2008, three events occupied a disparate share of attention of the global village’s brain conditioning supra-channel. One might call that particular nook of the gushing vulgarians’ history: Dita, D-beck and da Messiah dumbfounding da dull, dolt and Democrat.

Dita is Madonna Ciccone, the aging tart with tight thighs and penchant for S&M whom many millions believe to be a singer -- a belief they back in much hard currency. Ms. Ciccone has been reported to use the pseudonym Dita Parlo, after the German actress of the 1930s.

In this inundated world, the mechanics of sex, from shafts and pistons through sockets and gaskets take the choicest location in media content and humanity’s consciousness. So do, of course, the lubricants related to the friction coefficient. And so Ms. Ciccone named her new international tour “Sticky and Sweet,” and is wooing stadiumfuls of swooning audiences with an eponymous song plus such classics of her repertoire as “Give it 2 Me," gangsta pimp and bondage paraphernalia.


Ms. Ciccone’s global appeal is such that in a city like Cardiff, Wales, where “Sticky and Sweet” kicked off, some 40,000 fans turned up, some having flown in from as far as Australia. The future of the West is in the hands of people like these. They probably know most of Ms. Ciccone’s repertoire by heart, but don’t know how a pencil is made, let alone what’s a republic or who was Aristotle. And they vote and influence the course of their nations.


No wonder that during the song "Get Stupid," Ms. Ciccone’s show included a video sequence linking images of destruction, global warming, Adolf Hitler, Robert Mugabe and U.S. presidential contender, John McCain, juxtaposed against a sequence comprising pictures of John Lennon, Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mr. McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama. Thus are leaders of the Free World manufactured nowadays. A seat on Oprah’s couch for ten minutes is worth more in one’s resume than command of a brigade at war.

As to David Beckham, the prettiest footballer in the world emerged like Venus from the rooftop conch of a red bus in the Beijing Olympic stadium, kicking a ball into an ecstatic crowd and thus serving London’s notice to the world that it was next in line to stage that festival of the foulest corruption and feelgood consumer triggers in Nike or adidas kit. Mr. Beckham -- D-beck on the advice of his Los Angeles pal, Snoop Doggy Dog -- appeared in a long-sleeved track-suit, which was fortuitous, given that, in China, people with a collection of tattoos as vast as his are prone to be arrested on sight, whereupon they end up as involuntary heart and liver donors after a lifetime of breaking rocks in penal colonies.


But Mr. Beckham was the most sympathetic part of a cringe-inducing Olympic “handover” performance which was opened by a British girl with the Old-Saxon name of Tayyiba Dudhwala, followed by an impeccably “diverse” and aptly named ZooNation hip hop dance troupe from South London, mixed with a group of disabled -- can’t discriminate, can we? – dancers called CandoCo rushing the door of a red bus like back home, followed by a big person called Leona Lewis singing “I'm gonna give you every bit of my love” while Led Zeppelin’s old pro, Jimmy Page, worked the guitar and probably hummed to himself the original lyrics about inches rather than bits of love. Then appeared a burly man wearing an unbuttoned jacket over a badly pressed shirt with a mistied tie, who, being the Mayor of London, offended the Chinese hosts with his casual demeanor.


It was the perfect parody of a multiethnic, Third World-swamped Britain run by multiculti buffoons who no longer know which way is North, what’s up, and who they were before they forgot. It’s not coincidental that just a few days after this travesty, Mr. Sérgio Cabral, Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, pledged “to engage the youth of the world in a celebration and Games of social transformation,” as a sweetener in Rio’s proposal to be appointed host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.

It hardly needs stating that the last thing the world needs is for its youth to be engaged in the “celebration of Games of Social Transformation.” What the world needs is for its youth to commit to memory the multiplication tables and the 10 Commandments tablets, and to sit in one performance of a Bach choral in a white shirt and tie or a dress covering all the tattooed patches of skin, without fidgeting.

The Olympics are the clearest portal to our glorious New World Order, otherwise known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or regression to entropy.

CocaColaMacDonaldNikeHuyndaiCanonAllianzLenovoTataBudMTV will be running the world for the greater good of the perfect union of perfected Humanity with an advisory council consisting of Oprah, Sir Bono, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Avril Lavigne, and Al Gore, all administered by legions of UNiks and EUniks on the take from Beijing.

As though for a dry run, most of this scintillating advisory council assembled recently in Denver to pour the ceremonial oil on the pate of the Messiah. “Blinding array of stars gather for DNC climax,” gushes the media on a day when Son of Black Man accepted the US presidential nomination of the Yin Party in Denver. The blinding celestial bodies iterated are directors George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and Davis Guggenheim; actors Forest Whitaker, Josh Brolin, Annette Bening, Fran Drescher, Ashley Judd, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck -- who read excerpts from a book by who else but Howard Zinn; total-blanks-to-me Kal Penn, Daniel Dae Kim, Cash Warren, Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama, Wonder and Michael McDonald, Kerry Washington, Taye Diggs, Hill Harper, Joy Bryan; singers Sheryl Crow and Kanye West; people known for being famous Fergie and Star Jones; and something called will.i.am “of the Black Eyed Peas.”


There were a few heavyweights there: Muhammad Ali – a great boxer once but now appearing where planted, like a potted ficus; Forest Whitaker, a good actor marching in lockstep with his race phalanx; Steven Spielberg and George Lucas – important director-producers and walking bundles of yin -- the one as a liberal alpha mentsch in America’s most liberal industry and in its most liberal ethnic group, the other as a rotund product of the People’s Republic of San Francisco. But the rest?


This is “blinding” to the creatures of Oprah nation: the half-wit celebrity hound, the morbidly obese tabloid swallower, the council estate mom with nipple rings and serial pregnancies by different men, the sequined gay make-up man with a collection of Elton John memorabilia. A whining twit like Spike Lee or a luscious tweet like Jessica Alba is not blinding. Blinding is the greatness of the brain power of Benoît Mandelbrot, or the martial command skills of David Petraeus. A woman who has traversed the life road of Margaret Thatcher or Janice Rogers Brown is blinding. A director is blinding who can play words and actors like Krzysztof Kieslowski to compose symphonies about the greatest truths.


Thus is greatness divided from stardom, let alone celebrity. But since the great are few and the expansive yin culture needs fodder for its media noise, “blinding” celebrities are minted on an assembly line -- one-eyed kings in the country of the blind. One might even be so bold as to point out that the prototype I Am, known by his original Hebrew name, YHVH, may have been more blinding, memorably so on Mount Sinai, than will.i.am “of the Black Eyed Peas” was in Denver. And so was perhaps the first coming of the Anointed One, as distinct from the second coming in which 85,000 yin-crazed people climaxed at Mile-High Stadium in Denver at Barack Obama’s sight, with the most equals of the equals, mainly Hollywood machers, reprising the multiple orgasm a couple of weeks later at a $28,500-a-plate dinner + Babs later (separate charges apply).


Only in an upside down moonspace “proposition” country, could a pair of race-mongering, black-by-commitment Harvard lawyers – he, Elmer Gantry reincarnated as a latte metrosexual socialist, she a muscled Nadezhda Krupskaya with a $317,000 paycheck -- get to within a close probability of the presidency of a putatively “capitalist” republic, still 65% white.


Only a cancerous Western civilization could make a Messiah of a 45-year-old “community organizer” of no significant accomplishment who has drunk deeply from the wells of communist agitator Saul Alinsky, communist poet Frank Marshall Davis, terrorists William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and white-hating black racists Jeremiah Wright and Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour.


Only in a feminized (i.e. yin) society could a willowy Pied Piper given to narcissistic blather like 'We are the ones we have been waiting for' be greeted by great swooning crowds of whites from Portland in the west to Berlin in the east, and sell two autobiographies about nothing to millions of adoring fans the Western world over. For this is the age of the postmodern narrative, and people with diversity chips implanted in their skulls by government and media propaganda find Mr. Obama’s narrative irresistibly compelling.


Only in a nation full of confused, pathetic, ignorant weaklings could a charming charlatan raise campaign funds that may well amount to half a trillion dollars (1) by telling his millions of donors that their nation is no good, that he will absolve it from its sinful past and “bring it together.” To believe this, one has to deliberately welcome clear signs that the “bringing together” is a euphemism for a racial jizzya tax extracted from a cowed ex-Eurocentric nation by a unified phalanx of black and brown race grievance-mongers in concert with tens of millions of self-flagellating white useful idiots. Five hundred years ago Mr. Obama’s extraordinary talent for selling papal indulgences would have earned him the scarlet and ermine, a marble bust by Michelangelo, and a rebuke from Martin Luther.


Only in a farce conceived in opium haze, with addled eunuchs as opinion makers and pundits, could an avowed lotus-eater like Harold Meyerson be given prime real estate acreage in The Washington Post to opine:

"In a year when the Democrats have an African American presidential nominee, the Republicans now more than ever are the white folks' party, the party that delays the advent of our multicultural future, the party of the American past. Republican conventions have long been bastions of de facto Caucasian exclusivity, but coming right after the diversity of Denver, this year's GOP convention is almost shockingly — un-Americanly — white. Long term, this whiteness is a huge problem."

We have to take a detour here, for somewhere in the basement of the ADL, in a cubicle at the Southern Poverty Law Center, or in a laptop file of a “conservative” littlegreenfootballista, someone has just written down that, in addition to a pronounced lack of respect for several iconic Afro-American figures, for the second time in this piece I have held up a Jew to scorn and ridicule, even if others are mentioned here approvingly. And I haven’t even mentioned yet the brain behind the Obamas’ phenomenal success, not to speak of the big-ticket campaign donors.

One earns another point of demerit, and lifelong career repercussions, for having read on a white ethnocentric website:

“’Long term,’ says Myerson [sic], ‘this whiteness is a huge problem’. For Jews, he means. The only way of dealing with it is more of the same ... more Rothstein, more NBA, more porn, more Brangelina, more Bratz, more Myerson [sic], indeed ... more everything. More white deconstruction, too. White Americans as people, their European selves have to be ‘solved’. Finally.”

We will delve later into the connection between Jews and liberalism – or “yin” – a connection shared in different ways by other population segments, including putatively “conservative” ones, from mainstream Christianity to the Republican Party. For now, it suffices to state that in the comments section after the above quote, a Jewish reader writes:

“I have read the Myerson [sic] article and being a Jew and Zionist, you may be
surprised that I agree with you and think Myerson [sic] is an idiot who doesnt
[sic] know what is good for the Jews.”
Back to useful idiots of all ethnicities:

“Obama’s charisma,” writes Michael Knox Beran, “is closer to what critic Camille Paglia has identified with today’s television talk-show culture.(snip) The man who would succeed in such a culture must appear to sympathize with these obscure hurts; he must take pains (snip) to appear an ‘androgyne, the nurturant male or male mother. Obama, in gaming this culture, has figured out a new way to bottle old wine (snip). Studiously avoiding the tough-hombre style of earlier charismatic figures, he phrases his vision in the tranquilizing accents of Oprah-land. His charisma is grounded in empathy rather than authority, confessional candor rather than muscular strength, metrosexual mildness rather than masculine testosterone. With the triumph of Obama’s post-masculine charisma, the patriarchal collectivism of the New Deal has finally given way to a new vision of liberal community, the empathetic mommy-state.”

All Western “progressive” parties in an arch extending west from Austria to Australia, including Mr. Obama’s, cater to the psychographics for which media events such as pop star tours, Olympics closing extravaganzas, and grand and unspecific pronouncements of hope, change and equalization of all in front of papier maché Greek temples are tailor made. It’s no coincidence that Mr. Obama’s temple set was built by the same company that works for Britney Spears. Nor should it surprise that another “blinding” specimen of shrieking Western moronism should generate the headline, “Rage Against the Machine Ask Fans to Fight ‘Fascist Republican Agenda’ at Fierce Minneapolis Gig”.

The shade-grown lachrymose fungus

It is difficult to deal with the dystopia of the West partly because we don’t have an accurate concept of its genesis. Conservatives believe that leftism, in its current mutation as liberalism, is at fault. Liberalism is, indeed, the lachrymose fungus sapping the West’s vital energy. It does so mainly through its excretion of multiculturalism and execration of the non-equal woof and warp of homo sapiens as per the grand lottery of parental DNA, natal gender, race and culture, and fate, God’s will and karma. But a Daoist would say that not only liberalism but all shade-grown, i.e. yin, creedal fungi are harmful to the West in its present condition.

Consider the main leaders of the presumably “counter-liberal” forces in the world, George W. Bush, John McCain, and David Cameron. Here are fervent believers in the Mexicanization and Balkanization of the United States, the dissolution of the ethnic base of Great Britain, faked equality of the unequals through dumbed-down education and affirmative action, fighting a war on an unnamed enemy while shilling for the “Religion of Peace,” and hollowing out the coin of the realm by riding, Don Quijote-like, to the rescue of any damsel in democratic distress, anywhere. When Conservatism thrives with the Clintons in power but is destroyed with the Bushes at the helm, there is something wrong with our political typology. As it is in England that has turned, in Mark Steyn’s words, into a Somalia with chip shops, while the Conservative Party’s priority is taxing the chip shops.

In Europe, the situation is worse. The Eurabian political elite, aided by Europe’s own millions of useful idiots, seems to have poisoned most of the 183,000,000 brains of Western Europeans as surely as if it were a Hymenoepimecis wasp, stinging a Plesiometa argyra spider to spin the cocoon of its own doom. Europeans now accept as objective truth the media’s referral to Jacques Chirac or Angela Merkel as “conservatives,” and have grown to believe that a peaceful gathering by indigenous people who desire not to be dispossessed by immigrants from alien and hostile cultures is a conclave of “racists” staged by “German fascists” as a “so-called” Anti-Islamisation Congress”. When the goal posts have been moved so far to the lunatic left, terms such as “right,” “conservative,” and “fascist” no longer carry any useful meaning.

And then, conservatives believe that secularism is the cause of the fraying, and that returning to Mother Church is the answer. But the Christian churches are destroying their hosts as surely as if they were deep-cover enemy agents. For its vigorous action in the cause of dissolving the demographic base of its host countries, the Catholic church in the US might as well be on the payroll of the Mexican government, while in countries ranging from Belgium to Australia it might qualify for financial support from Al-Qaeda.

The Episcopalians, Presbyterian, Methodist and other mainstream Protestant churches are a parody of pious “social-justice equity,” worshipful Third-Worldism, militant homosexuality, and progressive Islamification. American Evangelicals are tireless in resettling Third World refugees and “refugees,” the more primitive the better: from Meskhetian Turks planted in Virginia to Somali Bantus in Kansas to Sudanese in Illinois.

We will examine in later installments in more depth what’s on the scales in the balance that has gone awry. For now it suffices to say that according to Oriental cosmology, the forces in the eternal cosmic play are the hot, male, condensing element, or yang, and the cold and wet, female and expansive element, or yin. Arnold Toynbee, who posited that all democracies die from suicide, applied the ideas of yin and yang to discern patterns in history. For Toynbee, history is like a current alternating between the yin pole, which he equated with a quiescent civilization, and the yang pole, which he equated with turmoil, barbarian conquest and drastic change.

In his 1939 magnum opus, Study of History, Toynbee explained the rise and fall of empires according to this yin – yang paradigm, but a deeper scrutiny of applied Oriental cosmology might find that it was oversimplified. For what is most salient about the force of yin is not its quietism but its expansive femaleness, and what characterizes yang is not necessarily its dynamism but its contractive maleness.

Applied mycology, or some thoughts about wet, expansive yin

The West has careened dangerously out of balance, and its political and philosophical concepts have not been able to identify correctly what it is that’s out of balance. The forces of the West’s postmodern decay are vested disproportionately in such disparate groups as city dwellers, lawyers, teachers, actors, artists, public sector employees, people with graduate degrees and academics; Jews, Swedes, Norwegians, diaspora Irish; blacks; Muslims and Mexican and Central American mestizos (but not in their original countries); women; adolescents; homosexuals.

The entropic motors that seem to be preponderant in these groups may be, singly or in combination, a drive for power or money; identity politics stemming from racial, ethnic, or gender pride wounded in the past but pretending as the present ; utopian proclivities combined with naiveté; compassionate feelings overriding empirical analysis; displacement of personal feelings of inferiority – what Nietzsche called ressentiment; or ideological hatred such as what Islam preaches about the kuffar and Black Theology teaches about whitey. But the destruction wrought by such centrifugal forces comes not from them, but from a wilting of the respective majorities that ought to have been able to resist and countervail against these forces.

These majorities’ apathy and nihilism has also allowed their elected governments to magnify the centrifugal destruction as though by a giant lever. Everywhere in the West, governments are working on behalf of the entropic forces and against the best interest of the vast majority of their citizens. The government itself has become the chief propagator and enforcer of social decay, often under the smokescreen of elastic portmanteau concepts like “civil rights,” “tolerance,” “hate speech,” “Islamophobia” etc.

The European Union apparatus is the Trojan horse wheeling Islam into the gates of Europe. Socialistically kleptocratic and grossly incompetent federal, state and local governments in America are actively selling their country piece by piece, to China, to Mexico, to special interest lobbies, to organized racial minority pressure groups, to public employees unions. And in areas where their active involvement is desperately required, such as regulating the securities and derivatives markets, or putting up a dam against the deluge of hedonism and faked sentimentalism pouring into peoples’ brains from the mass entertainment juggernaut, Western government are strictly laissez faire.

Maybe all this is by design. For, as Bertold Brecht has written, would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people – maybe starting with their brains -- and elect another?

Even though Western governments now do what they can to suppress it, reasonable people may have to start talking publicly about the slow-mo destruction by the black minority of every community and country where it is anywhere near majority; or the flow of Mexico’s demographic burden into the USA and Islam’s Middle Ages handicap into Europe. They have to start talking about a permanent closing of immigration doors to people from cultures incompatible with the historical West and therefore harmful ipso facto.

People of good faith ought to diagnose and combat in their personal lives the decline that feminism has wrought on them and on the West. Men are at fault here for having caved in completely, instead of employing a reverse Lysistrata tactic, or anything else that might have worked in this dire predicament. At least a varied group of courageous women has begun beating back this particular fungus. The cultural left’s reaction to Sarah Palin shows how effective that can be.

The vast heterosexual majority may want to consider that it’s time to protest the outsize din raised by the homosexual and the comically self-labeled GLBTA minorities. We will not ask if you will not tell; frankly, we don’t want to hear or see too much either. Don’t rub our faces in your orifices.

Maybe it’s time to say to the churches, if this be your retail markup, I am buying directly from the wholesaler. Because, as Chesterton has noted, some humanitarians care only for pity, but their pity is often untruthful.

However mortified by the Holocaust and appreciative of the inestimable contribution that the Jewish minority has made to the West, people of good faith and sound mind may have to start putting public Jewish figures on the spot, as Jews, for the destructive currents they propagate. Because if the establishment club of “racism” “fascism,” “antisemitism” “homophobia” and “sexism” keeps the West’s hundreds of millions of reasonable indigenous people cowering in their diminishing corners, soon the West will have decayed so much that tens of millions of newly-unreasonable people will be rising, and their numbers will be growing at an astonishing rate.

“It is those wreckers that most concern me,” wrote the English-American writer, John Derbyshire, “the arrogant judges, the academic deconstructors, the teacher-union multiculturalists, the media guilt-mongers, the love-the-world pacifists, the criminal-lovers and family-breakers, the inventors of bogus rights and destroyers of cherished traditions, the haters of normality and scoffers at restraint, the enterprise-destroying litigators and pain-feelers. I do fear that this country might be made unfit to live in, as the country of my birth has been, by a misguided and corrupt humanitarianism, sentimental wallowing in past wrongs both real and imagined, and class and race resentment petted and nurtured by opportunistic tax-eaters.”

To return to balance, the West must find ways to pull back the centrifugal forces that are hurling its frayed pieces ever outward in an expansive big-bang of emotionalism, solipsism, egalitarianism, yobbism, socialism, multiculturalism, relativism, masochism, and moralism strangely coexisting with hedonism and nihilism. This outward spiral has now lasted for a better part of three generations. Of late, we have had generations X, and Y. Soon generation Z will be abroad. And after that, what?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Pope's Quest to Save Western Civilization

From Renew America
By Fred Hutchison

Pope Benedict XVI has identified several causes for the intellectual, moral, cultural, and spiritual decline of the European civilization. I was thrilled to learn about this because I have independently come to some of the same conclusions. Allow me to recapitulate his conclusions as five theses:

1) The West has declined because of the modern separation of faith and truth.

2) The West has declined because of the modern separation of metaphysical truth and practical truth.

3) The West has declined because of the modern separation of freedom and truth.

4) The West has declined because of its postmodern rejection the old rapprochement between Christianity and the classics of ancient Greece and Rome.

5) The attempt to rehabilitate of West by returning to the culture of premodern Catholic Europe would be a mistake. He points to another way forward.

Benedict points to the American Republic

Benedict encourages Europe to learn from the 18th and 19th century Anglo-Saxon world and its balance of freedom, order, truth, and morality in the public and private spheres. The American experiment as described by Alexis de Tocqueville is particularly instructive, according to Benedict! The very German and very Catholic pontiff admires the Anglo-Saxon Protestant cultural, moral, conceptual, and historical origins, and early development of the American Republic!

By coming to these conclusions, Benedict has joined a long line of conservative thinkers such as John Locke, Viscount Bolingingbroke, Baron Montesquieu, Sir Edmund Burke, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Christopher Dawson, Richard Weaver, and Russell Kirk. We are proud to welcome the Bishop of Rome into this pantheon of conservative heroes!

A new kind of civilization

I am curious about whether Benedict XVI has read The American Republic by Orestes Brownson (19th century American Catholic political philosopher). Benedict's writing bears more resemblance to Brownson than it does to de Tocqueville. Like Brownson, Benedict's writing reveals a mind deeply immersed in theology, philosophy, history, and culture.

Brownson wrote that the American Republic embodies a new and better kind of civilization. While no utopia, American was a move away from the tyranny and the remnants of barbarism in Europe. As a champion of civilization and an opponent of tyranny and barbarism, Brownson believed that the American Republic was the providential way forward. Brownson and Benedict are alike in pointing to the early Republic as an exemplar for Europe to follow.

Brownson posited that the constitutional design of James Madison as laid on top of American religious and organic foundations and upon American cultural and political traditions is in harmony with the divine order of things. He derived principles from the Trinity, the Incarnation, and concepts of "catholicism" in contrast to sectarianism.

For example, e pluribus unum, "out of many, one," is a Trinitarian concept, for God is one, but he is also three. We are one nation, a "catholic" concept — not a congery of factions, a "sectarian" concept.

Brownson finds a good organic resemblance between several general principles of the divine order only for the American Republic. His search through history to find another country that measures up was futile. Even parliamentarian England with its admirable balance of freedom and order fell short in several particulars.

Brownson admired the American constitution and wrote: "The American constitution taken as a whole and in all its parts is the least imperfect that has ever existed, and under it individual rights, personal freedom, as well as public authority or society, are better protected than any other...."

The Great Educator

I am a child of the Reformation and regard several of Luther's reforms as indispensable. However, Benedict is a great educator, and I would be a fool not to dine at his table of knowledge. Catholic theologians and philosophers generally have a better intellectual grasp of metaphysics and a more superior knowledge of history and the literary classics than do theologians and philosophers of other Christian traditions — although the gap is rapidly closing in some quarters.

My Catholic readers and some of my more intellectual Evangelical and Protestant readers might be interested in reading 1) European Disunion: Benedict XVI on the Crisis of Faith and Reason, by Samuel Gregg, Touchstone, July/August 2008; 2) Benedict's Regensburg lecture (2006) (available free on the internet); and 3) selected portions of his collection of lectures titled Truth and Tolerance (2004). The five theses of this essay can be traced to these works.

Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxis

In order to lay the groundwork for my arguments I must explain how Christian orthodoxy differs from orthopraxis, gnosticism, fideism, and romanticism. At some future date, I hope to write an essay in which I delineate the links between Christian doctrinal orthodoxy and conservative political philosophy.

Orthodoxy means correct belief. Orthopraxis means correct practice. Christianity is essentially an orthodox faith, and Islam is essentially an orthoprax religion.

A Muslim following Shariah law has countless rules to obey and procedures to follow. Although their leaders teach them many principles, it is the correctness of their practice that really matters to them. In its extreme forms, Sharia Muslims might care more about the correctness of the format that one uses than what one does. They might be more offended by incorrect forms of ritual prayer at the mosque than if one fails to show up for prayer.

Orthopraxy, legalism, and superstition

Orthopraxy is a legalism of codified rules for outward performance involving precise adherence to ordained procedures and the scrupulous avoidance of superficial peccadilloes. It is a religion for the obsessive-compulsive perfectionist.

Some pagan orthopraxies induce a superstitious horror of the dire consequences of violating a single detail of their code. Some of my readers might remember a ditty of mock horror from childhood's obsessive-compulsive games: "Step on a crack and you break your mother's back." This is a superstitious orthopraxy of a pagan sort involving a scary taboo.

Islam does not invoke this kind of pagan superstition, but it does invoke the fear of hellfire. Step on a crack and you do not break your mother's back — but you might go to hell. Some Muslims fear that a slight infraction of Sharia will send them to hell. Extreme legalism has more in common with paganism than we might have supposed.

There is an old joke that a Frenchman does not care what you say as long as you pronounce it correctly. One might make a similar joke about the Sharia Muslims. They don't care what you think as long as you keep it yourself and perform all your appointed duties with stylistic perfection. This is an exaggeration of course, but sometimes extravagance in satire helps to make the point understood.

Like Islam, Confucianism is an orthopraxy. Its teachers offer carefully delineated models of behavior. A particular model, protocol of courtesy, or code of social correctness is designated for every kind of social situation. A Confucianist walks about with a pocket full of recipes and pulls out a recipe as it is needed for particular social occasions. However, they act out the part with admirable style, grace, and charm. If you violate a Confucian taboo, you do not go to hell, but are dismissed as an uncouth barbarian.

What really matters for the orthodox Christian is faith, truth, conviction, love, and communion with God. It is quite true that the actions of a Christian should be in accord with orthodox beliefs and should not violate the universal moral laws. However, a believer's actions should be an expression of his faith and his zeal for truth and his love for God. This is drastically different from rote actions that follow a recipe.

Christian orthodoxy links faith and truth tightly together. This is the first line of defense against a debilitating legalism and a paralyzing orthopraxy.

A living faith vs. pillar people

The pursuit of perfection by the rote performance of a long list of rules or by following programmed activities, scripted behavior, and scrupulous precision in ritualistic motions is abhorrent to one who has enjoyed orthodox faith. Those who know the sweet freedom, perpetual newness, variety, and vividness of a life of faith regard the automatons of orthopraxy as the living dead.

It is no accident that Christian missionaries have never had much success in the orthoprax worlds of Japan and the Middle East. How can a programmed people understand the vivacious lives of the Christian missionaries? How can Christian missionaries understand what it is like to be a proud Confucian or Sharian automaton?

The Arab world is the graveyard of missionaries — which sometimes involves literal graveyards. Those in bondage often hate those who are free, and the hatred can become violent. Terrorist ideology can tap into this hatred.

I must admit that there is a petrified beauty and enchantment in Sharia Islam and Confucianism. Their orthoprax elegance reminds me of the pillar people carved in the West portal of Chartres Cathedral.

The stylized and aristocratic elegance of the pillar people is enchanting. The systematic arrangement of the figures is a marvel of symmetry. I can stare at them with delight until the tour guide gets impatient. But in the end, the figures are frozen in place and are made out of cold stone. A frozen elegance is no substitute for a living faith.

Orthodoxy: The fountainhead of culture

There are tremendous cultural, social, and individual implications in Christian orthodoxy. Actions flowing out of sincere beliefs, zealously embraced truths, and high ideals can transform a culture. Add to this the love of God, and you have fiery hearts that can change the world.

Christian orthodoxy has unleashed a remarkable creativity in literature, philosophy, the arts, architecture, the sciences, craftsmanship, engineering, and commerce. By 1700 A.D., the West stood on a pinnacle far above all the other civilizations of the earth.

As observed by Benedict, the breakdown of the link between faith and truth (his thesis 1) and the breakdown between truth and freedom (his thesis 3) has robbed the West of its unique fountain of creativity, cultural ferment, and resilience.

The exhaustion of Islam

The cultural high water mark of the golden age of Islam in Baghdad (9th century) and Cordoba (10th century) falls far short of Baroque Europe in 1700. The golden age of Islam is reminiscent of the cultural stage of development that Europe had reached by 1375.

An authentic Renaissance man named Salutati (a disciple of Petrarch) became Chancellor of Florence in 1375, and established a "Republic of Letters" that marked the beginning of the early Italian Renaissance. The Muslim world never had a Salutati or a Luther to lead them onward and upward. They never had a Renaissance or a Reformation comparable to that of Europe.

Orthopraxies burn themselves out. The pursuit of a superficial perfection in scripted actions is exhausting. Therefore, Islamic civilization slumped after its golden age, and with some notable exceptions, has wallowed in mediocrity ever since. The fading monuments of the former glory of Baghdad and Cordoba are still splendid and elegant — like the pillar people of Chartres.

The two-stage collapse of the West into orthopraxy

The West separated metaphysical truth from practical truth (Benedict's thesis 2) partly through the influence of Voltaire and the philosophy of Hume and Kant. Subsequently, men restricted their minds to figuring out how to get practical things done. They no longer extended their powers of reason to profound issues of being, knowing, purpose, meaning, and ultimate origins, causes, and ends. They no longer did great things in pursuit of transcendent ideals. However, the West was still capable of great practical achievements in industry, engineering, and technology.

Unfortunately, original practical thinking cannot be sustained indefinitely when the practical mind is cut off from the metaphysical mind and the spiritual mind. Great original ideas in the practical realm often originate in the metaphysical realm or the spiritual mind. Without nourishment from these higher realms, the practical mind gradually runs dry.

When the intelligentsia of the West suffered intellectual burn-out, they rebelled against reason. This rebellion is better known as postmodernism. When postmodern men were no longer able to guide themselves through life by reason and faith, they groped for stepping stones and hand holds to guide them. Many found such stepping stones in parochial or professional orthopraxies, or in the group-think of liberal ideology.

Many mediocre scientists are guided by the consensus views and the protocols of their field — without being able to coherently and articularly explain why what they teach to their students is true. We find such depressing orthopraxies in every academic department and every profession.

Narrow specialization is the ruling principle of our professions. The withering powers of reason are bundled and tightly focused to an extremely narrow scope. Narrow specialists set the rules of their field that the others follow in lockstep.

Such a civilization as this must burn itself out — unless it be renewed by God's grace and by Benedict's cure.

Orthodoxy vs. gnosticism

Gnostics seek salvation through an esoteric knowledge that is mystically imparted to an initiated elite. Gnosticism originated as a Christian heresy in the late first century. The first epistle of John and the Apostles Creed, which came about fifty years later in the form of a catechism, were intended to combat the heresy of Gnosticism.

Orthodoxy requires adherence to certain great truths, but denies that one can be saved by knowledge. Christians have been publicly confessing belief in great truths enumerated in creeds since the Apostles Creed was written. "I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth...."

It is the confession of faith that counts. Credo, the word from which "creed" is derived means "I believe."

Why is such a confession of faith important? Because only through faith does saving and sanctifying grace come. Why then do we confess belief in orthodox truth? Because the truth statements in the creed tell us who Christ is and what he did to save us. None of the orthodox confessions mentions human works or the esoteric knowledge of the believer. The Catholic insistence upon a combination of faith and works came after the great day of the creeds.

Although the Christian is not saved by knowledge, a tight link between truth and faith must be preserved in order to have an authentic, historically orthodox Christianity. This fact is relevant to Benedict's first thesis: The West declined because of the modern separation of faith and truth.

Saint Anselm's revolution of faith and reason

Saint Anselm (1033–1109) said, "I believe so that I may understand." Faith was the foundation upon which he proposed to build the castles of reason. He started his reasoning process with propositions he embraced by faith. Then, through a chain of deductive reasoning, he worked down from these propositions to logical conclusions.

Anselm's disciples founded the scholastic movement, which was a triumph of logic and metaphysics. Understanding scholasticism is indispensable to correctly understanding the unique rationality of premodern Europe.

It is a remarkable coincidence that Saint Anselm lived at exactly the time when European civilization was born. The years 1050–1100 were approximately when Europe was awakening from her long dark slumber and becoming an authentic civilization. Anselm's life span overlapped these years.

In a variety of ways, Anselm's influence became decisive in the rapidly rising new civilization. It can be argued that the formation of European civilization was more Anselmian than it was Augustinian or Benedictine. However, without Saint Augustine or Saint Benedict, there could have been no St. Anselm.

Anselm, the father of European civilization, decreed that we shall build our culture on faith, metaphysical reason, and practical reason, with all of these tightly tied together. These were distinctive traits of Europe during the centuries of growth and development of European civilization. According to Pope Benedict XVI, the breaking apart of these three things led to the decline of Europe. (Benedict's thesis 1 & 2)

I like to think of Benedict as the second Anselm.

Orthodoxy vs. fideism

If faith is necessary for salvation, is not Christianity fideist instead of orthodox? Fideism is an emphasis on faith to the exclusion of truth. As such, fideism involves a misconception of the nature of orthodox Christianity. Fideism is the separation of faith and truth and is a cause of the decline of Europe according to Benedict's first thesis.

The new spiritual birth involves new things breaking in on one from the outside, as Benedict explains, not things welling up from the heart. According to Luther, faith comes down to one from above. Faith does not originate from feelings welling up from the human heart as the fideists and romantics suppose. One cannot choose his way into faith as some Evangelical Arminians claim — or work his way into faith as some Catholics propose — or feel his way into faith as some pietists and Pentecostals suppose. Faith is a gift from God.

Faith is transcendent and supernatural. It is objective because it is something breaking in from the outside. It is not subjective as something welling up from within. Faith is objective for a second reason. It takes hold of an invisible realty outside of the believer. Because faith is objective, it is in perfect accord with reason and rides above the flux of emotion.

According to Benedict, fideism leads to superstition. The coming of orthodox Christianity to Europe was fatal to pagan superstition because Christianity is reasonable and is not a concoction of feelings and imaginings. As the Christian faith has receded in the modern era, pagan superstition has quickly returned as a subset of the New Age Movement.

The uniqueness of Christianity

Most religions involve some combination of orthopraxis and fideism. Orthodox Christianity avoids both things.

Pagan shamanism incorporates both of them. Myths, precepts, and taboos well up from the heart of the pagan shaman in a purely subjective manner. A similar phenomenon can be observed in romanticism, New Age mysticism, and extreme forms of Pentecostalism.

The members of the pagan tribe avoid the taboos proclaimed by the shaman and his forbears because tribalists are votaries of an orthopraxy. The individual tribesmen accept the gods and the myths proclaimed by the shaman with a vague fideism. When in doubt, chanting and dancing around the campfire to produce ecstasies and hallucinations usually does the trick. It restores the emotionally based belief in the gods and the myths. It is pure fideism. Rational ideas of truth do not enter into the equation.

Practitioners of extreme versions of pietism and Pentecostalism sometimes do the same thing — they try to revive their faith by pumping up their feelings. This is fideism in modern dress.

The separation of truth and freedom

Beginning with Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Romantic movement put forward a new concept of freedom. One becomes free when one's inner feelings and impulses break free from the restraints of reason, order, and the social and moral codes of civilization. Romanticism has been defined many ways, but I shall define its essential nature as the separation of truth and freedom (Benedict's thesis 3).

The intoxication of the soaring flight of the romantic movement was highly stimulating to Western culture for about sixty revolutionary years — 1760–1820. It was like steam suddenly being let out of a kettle.

Without the romantic movement, there would be no classical music (i.e., the delightful new music invented by Gluck, Hayden, and Mozart after 1760, and enthusiastically promoted by Rousseau.) Although I generally oppose romanticism, I love classical music. Pope Benedict is a fine classical musician. This forces me to admit that some of the fruits of romanticism were good.

However, Romanticism must eventually become destructive. Europe was almost destroyed by the social and political earthquakes set off by political romanticism that led to many revolutions and wars.

Classical music was beautiful as long as there was a balance between freedom and form. At inspired moments, sublime harmonies, and melodies of freedom and form seem to have come down from heaven and entered the composer's mind.

Unfortunately, once raw freedom was released from the genie's bottle, the rebellion against restraints must increase more and more until the restraints become intolerable. During the19th century, romantic composers strained more and more against the old musical structures until they shattered prior to World War I, and great classical composition died.

Freedom within boundaries

In contrast to romanticism, orthodox faith engenders freedom, but not a rebellion against restraints. The freedom of the orthodox believer must be an expression of truth and must be contained within moral boundaries. This freedom is not an expression of feelings welling up from within, but is an expression of a spirituality sent down from God. That which wells up from the dark human heart hates restraint. That which comes down from above finds a harmony between freedom and form. Forms must subsist within the boundaries of a higher design.

With the postmodern separation of truth and freedom, many people have come to see freedom of choice as an absolute. For example, the feminists believe that their freedom of choice supersedes the right to life of the babe in her womb.

The separation of freedom from reason always ends with the rejection of morality. By themselves, emotions are evanescent and are a poor platform for morality. A moral man must be rational, because stable moral values require the support of moral reasoning.

The rapprochement of Christianity and the classics

Pope Benedict wrote that without the rapprochement between Christianity and the classics of Greece and Rome, Europe would no longer be Europe (thesis 4). As we shall see, a Christianity devoid of the classics would be something different from the European Christianity of history.

The New Testament was written in Greek by Jewish apostles (except for Luke, who was a Greek physician and was not an apostle). The epistles were mostly addressed to Greeks or Greek churches.

Then came the Greek and Roman fathers of the church. Most of them were classicists!

The classically trained fathers of the church

After the middle of the second century, most of the Greek fathers of the church were classicists to a greater or lesser degree — if certain contemporary scholars are correct. (These Eastern fathers were Irenaus, Clement, Origen, Athanasius, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzus.) Most of the Roman fathers of the church seem to have had a classical education, even if some of them later became ambivalent about classicism. (The Western fathers were Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.)

Saint Athanasius, a Greek father, was the bulwark of orthodoxy. He defended orthodox doctrine against Arius, the great heretic. The brilliant rhetorical powers that he employed against Arius owed something to his classical education. The orthodox Athanasian Creed was named in honor of Saint Athanasius.

Saint Jerome, a Roman father, is known to this day for his famous and excellent Vulgate translation of the Bible from Greek into Latin. Jerome was the greatest Christian classicist of the fourth century (just as Origen was the greatest Christian classicist of the third century).

However, it was Jerome who cried out the loudest with warnings against the idolatry of classicism and resorted to ascetic extremes to compensate for his own idolatry of the classics. Never has a classical education done the Christian world such great good while causing the possessor of that education such torment.

Perhaps the gnostic heresy of salvation through knowledge was a major temptation during the age of the fathers of the church precisely because the fathers were classicists and proud of their knowledge.

Many saints and martyrs were unlearned men and woman. They were widely venerated, but were rarely sought as teachers unless they founded religious orders. For a thousand years, educated Christians were under the tutelage of the Greek and Roman fathers and imbibed the classics along with Christ.

Europe and the classics

During the European Dark Ages, the missionary monks propagated Christianity among the pagans and copied the classics. Charlemagne (8th century) sponsored a revival in Christianity and a revival in classical education.

During the High Middle Ages, classical scholars, such as John of Salisbury (1120–1180), were sometimes elevated to the throne of a Bishop as a reward for scholarly achievements. John was famous for saying, "We are as dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants." However, the giants he was thinking of were Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Cicero, and Virgil. Chartres Cathedral was the headquarters of a religious order devoted to Plato. Petrarch and Boccaccio (14th century) laid the classical foundations for new schools for the Christian gentlemen. These schools were the fountainhead of the Renaissance. For five centuries, every gentleman — whether Catholic or Protestant — was educated in the classics. Many Christian academies and colleges teach the classics today.

Is Christian faith compatible with the classics?

Do the classics help or hinder the spiritual growth of a Christian? I am not sure. No question has been the subject of continual debate for a longer period of time.

It appears that many fine Christians in history do not seem to have been hurt by classicism. On the other hand, the postmodern banishment of the classics — in the name of multiculturalism — has not helped the spirituality of Western Christianity. During the present darkness, the classics are in eclipse, and a larger percentage of Christians are both intellectually and spiritually shallow than has been the case for centuries.

A classicist tends not to separate metaphysical truth from practical truth (Benedict's thesis 2) or to separate freedom from truth (Benedict's thesis 3). A Christian is less likely to make these two errors if he has studied the classics, or if the classics are influencing the culture he lives in. It is not good for civilization or Christianity to make these errors.

Classicism is good for education and for civilization. The banishment of the classics and the substitution of multiculturalism in the schools is one of the causes of our present educational crisis.

Dawson on the reconciliation of faith and the classics

The twentieth century Catholic historian Christopher Dawson made the following observations in his essay, The Classical Tradition and Christianity:

"The reconciliation between Christianity and the classical tradition in the fourth and fifth centuries, which finds expression in the patristic culture and the new Christian poetry, had a profound influence on the formation of the European mind. The modern is apt to regard the whole rhetorical tradition as a pompous bore. But...it is to the rhetorician and his educational work that we owe the survival of classical literature and the whole tradition of humanism. Without them, European culture would not only have been poorer, it would have been fundamentally different. There would have been no tradition of secular learning, secular literature, save that of the minstrel and saga-writer. The higher culture would be entirely religious, as it tended to be in the oriental world outside China. The survival of the classical and the rhetorical tradition not only made possible the rise of European literatures; they also formed the European habit of mind, and rendered possible that rational and critical attitude to life and nature that is peculiar to Western civilization. The coexistence of these two spiritual and literary traditions — that of the Church and the Bible on the one hand, and that of Hellenism and the classics on the other — has left a profound mark of our culture, and their mutual influence and interpenetration has enriched the Western mind in a way that no single tradition, however great, could have done by itself.

As we read this passage, we hear the echo of Pope Benedict's words, "Without the classics, Europe would not be Europe."

Artificiality

After this glowing encomium about classicism, Dawson had to pause for breath and offer his reservations about the classical tradition. He warns that artificiality is one of the greatest weaknesses of European civilization. One only has to think of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV to understand what Dawson means by artificiality.

Art historian Kenneth Clark, an admirer of all things Baroque, paused for breath to warn us about the bombastic theatricality of some of the art and architecture of the Baroque era.

Dualism

Dawson also warns about a European tendency towards dualism. What kind of dualism? He doesn't say. Let us consider the question.

During the High Middle Ages, philosophical realism — the belief that universals have an independent existence — was triumphant as a result of the labors of the scholastic philosophers. As Saint Augustine and Saint Anselm noticed, philosophical realism is the point at which the metaphysics of Christianity and the metaphysics of Platonism are in agreement. Precisely because of this critical point of concord, a rapprochement between Christianity and Platonism was possible.

However, once we let Plato get through the door, how do we avoid a disintegration into a gnostic kind of dualism between spirit and body? Saint Anselm, the father of scholasticism, said we do so by emphasizing the incarnation of Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest scholastic, said we do so by striking a reasoned balance between Aristotle, Plato, the Bible, the counsels, the creeds, and the fathers of the church. For several centuries, these solutions seemed to work.

In the mid-fourteenth century, things began to unravel with the neoplatonic excesses of some of the Rhineland mystics, the ascetic dualism of the flagellants, and a growing sacred/secular split between sacred and romantic literature.

A cult of neoplatonism was unleashed during the early Renaissance in Florence that led to a monstrous platonic inflation during the High Renaissance in Rome. The bubble burst when the voice of a giant in the North shouted "stop!" That giant was Martin Luther. He said "Here I stand," and Europe was convulsed in psychic earthquakes.

Luther was able to pop the bubble of platonic inflation, but was not able to purge Europe of platonic dualism. This dualism let to Cartesian dualism in the seventeenth century, to Romantic dualism in the eighteenth century, and to a real/ideal and a sacred/secular dualism in the nineteenth century.

Conclusion

It is hard to see how the West can be restored in all five points set down by Pope Benedict without a powerful revival of doctrinally orthodox Christianity — and also without a revival of classicism in the schools. The combination of Christianity and classicism brought Europe out of the Dark Ages in the eleventh century. Perhaps Christianity and the classics can prevent European civilization from falling back into barbarism and having another dark age.

After Western civilization has been saved and restored, we will have the leisure to debate about the inherent problems of classicism. The urgent task that confronts us now is a) the teaching of Christian orthodoxy to lay the groundwork for a spiritual revival, and b) the teaching of the classics to prepare for the restoration of Western culture.

Divine providence has placed a man on the papal throne who understands how European civilization went wrong and understands the way back to a viable civilization. That should convince us that the continued decline of the West is not inevitable. God might be calling the West to a great renewal.

American conservatives who are seeking the restoration of the old Republic and authentic constitutional government should take heart. What we are seeking is what the pope says Europe should be seeking to find their way back to the right road. American conservatives, whether Protestant or Catholic, are in the vanguard of history.

Note to the Reader: Since writing this essay, I discovered that Pope Benedict has identified yet another way that the West has gone wrong. The postmodern West has separated truth from culture. The result is cultural relativism, which is the triple fallacy that: 1) man has no nature, but is a cultural construct, 2) all cultures are equally valid, and 3) "truth" is culturally determined. A separate essay will be needed to deal with the myth of multiculturalism that is based upon this triple fallacy.

RenewAmerica analyst Fred Hutchison also writes a column for RenewAmerica.