“It is sufficient,” said the Disinherited Knight. “Half the sum my present necessities compel me to accept; of the remaining half, distribute one moiety among yourselves, sir squires, and divide the other half betwixt the heralds and the pursuivants, and minstrels, and attendants.”
The squires, with cap in hand, and low reverences, expressed their deep sense of a courtesy and generosity not often practiced, at least upon a scale so extensive. The Disinherited Knight then addressed his discourse to Baldwin, the squire of Brian de Bois-Gilbert. “From your master,” said he, “I will accept neither arms nor ransom. Say to him in my name, that with lances, as well on foot as on horseback. To this mortal quarrel he has himself defied me, and I shall not forget the challenge. Meantime, let him be assured that I hold him not as one of his companions, with whom I can with pleasure exchange courtesies; but rather as one with whom I stand upon terms of mortal defiance.”
–Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings– And why the sea is boiling hot– And whether pigs have wings.” A friend whose advice I respect recently advised me to open up my column to comments. By doing so, my friend argued, I could have a greater influence and I could deal with all my detractors. “Do you know what they are saying about you?” With all due respect I don’t intend to follow my friend’s advice. On the question of influencing more people: if you haven’t been able to “influence” a person with a heartfelt, carefully written article, why should you be able to influence them with a shorter, less carefully written letter? Comments written by way of email tend to be sloppy and snippy, and being full of original sin I’m sure my replies would tend to be sloppy and snippy. So right away I would be involved in a sloppy and snippy quarrel. Hardly in keeping with the code of my exemplars, such as Walter Scott.
And what about those detractors? For the brief space of time that I received comments the detractors outnumbered the supporters by ten to one. Who has the time or energy to deal with that many detractors? Despite being time and energy-consuming, I still might debate my detractors if I genuinely believed that I could convince one living soul among them that I was right and they were wrong by the use of rational, dialectical argument. But I’ve lived long enough to see the futility of such arguments. Human beings form their opinions based on passions. They use their reason to defend their passions. No rational argument can change a man’s passions. He has to come to a belief that his passions are misplaced by an internal process that defies rational exposition. For instance, I converted to Christianity in my mid-twenties thanks to the good offices of the European poets. Their vision of Christianity was my vision. After converting to Christianity I was determined to find a church that shared my vision of Christ. My passion to worship led me to the Roman Catholic Church. At the time of my entry into the Roman Catholic Church there was no argument on the face of the earth that could have convinced me that the Roman Catholic Church was not the one and only Christian church just as Edmund Gwen in Miracle on 34th Street was the one and only Santa Claus. After a short purgatory in the Novus Ordo Church and a longer stay with the traditionalists, I came to the conclusion that my vision of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church’s vision were incompatible. I had to choose between two passions, my vision of Christ or my desire to belong to a church. I chose to stay with the vision. At that point I was open to all the rational arguments against the Roman Catholic Church’s claim to be the one true church, because an internal non-rational process had made me receptive to reason. You can only reach people who are going through an internal process much like your own. When they see their inmost passion embodied in words they respond, and a rare thing happens: two kindred souls meet.
“Do you know what they are saying about you?” Of course I know. I’ve lived in Liberaldom my entire life. I don’t have to listen to every single liberal rant in order to know the enemy. Their rants are not that original. And what could I do to stop the rants if I did listen to them all?
No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
If even a king cannot stop back-wounding calumny, how can we lesser mortals stop it?
The antique Europeans did not put forward any theories of race. They had a prejudice that whites should stay with their own and coloreds should stay with their own. Conquistadores, pirates, and mountain men often violated the white man’s code, but it was a definite code that existed in the heart of the Christian European Everyman of the Catholic and Protestant persuasions up till the latter half of the 20th century. (1) Then it seemed that almost overnight all the old prejudices were thrown away and a new Christianity was posited. In the name of the universal brotherhood of man race-mixing was not only permitted, it was encouraged as the Christian thing to do. What caused this colossal change?
The liberal will tell us that a new enlightened philosophy caused the change. The cobwebs of superstition and prejudice were washed away and light and progress came into the old, dilapidated European house. But when we see the bitter fruits of the new enlightened Christianity we must reject the liberals’ assessment.
One spring I took a walk around a nearby lake on two successive days. On the first day the lake was covered with ice. On the second day the ice was entirely gone. It appeared that the ice had melted overnight. But of course this was not the case. The melting process had taken place over a longer period of time. The final deicing only appeared as a sudden overnight phenomenon.
Such is the case with the new Christian universalism. It took centuries for Christianity to become a propositional philosophy in which the nature and the personal attributes of God could only be known by studying things outside of man, such as nature and abstract philosophy. Nothing inside man was of any consequence; He, the rational, godded men told us, was to be found in the vaporous mists of their cogitations. All the humanity was extracted from the Christian faith, leaving a hollow shell of a church, dedicated to abstractions such as ‘humanity’ and ‘brotherhood’, and opposed to actual flesh and blood human beings, who held to very basic notions of fidelity to kith and kin. If we replace the God of the hearth fire, the God whom we know through the human things, with a propositional God who can be known only through the intersession of experts on the subject of God, we will become slaves to the new fusionist faith of the Christ-less Christian churches.
The hostility toward the antique, European Christianity that does not equate Christianity with propositional, philosophical liberalism comes from four sources: the liberals, the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, and the neo-pagans. The Roman Catholic is wedded to the doctrine of papal infallibility even though no two Catholics agree on the definition of it; some Catholics invoke it for almost every Papal encyclical, and other Catholics in the traditionalist ranks, for the obvious reason that they want the leeway to disregard what the Vatican II popes say, claim there was only ever one or two infallible Papal statements. Not all traditionalist priests are as cynical as Father ____, who when asked what Papal encyclicals were infallible, said, “Whatever one I agree with is infallible.” Actually such cynicism is preferable to the papolatry of the conservatives. I was once given the boot from my parish when I asked my priest, who taught that John Paul II’s strictures against capital punishment were infallible, “How can Peter contradict Peter? The popes prior to Vatican II supported capital punishment.”
“Those popes didn’t speak infallibly, but John Paul II is speaking infallibly,” was the rather confusing answer.
It was inevitable that papal infallibility would become part of the modern church, because the new doctrine makes the layman completely dependent on the religious expert to tell him what the Christian faith is. If the experts tell him that to love God means to hate one’s own and love the colored races, the poor Catholic layman feels he must do as the experts say. The reason the Catholic grazer can watch his daughter walk down the aisle and marry a black man is because outside of his church he has no faith to cling to. It is to no avail to tell the Roman Catholic layman that there is another Catholic church besides the modern Roman Catholic Church and there is another faith: the heartfelt faith of the people of old Europe. Their secret was discovered by George Fitzhugh, the Southern cavalier and man of letters:
The prevalent philosophy of the day takes cognizance of but half of human nature – and that the worst half. Our happiness is so involved in the happiness and well-being of everything around us that a mere selfish philosophy, like political economy, is a very unsafe and delusive guide.
We employ the term Benevolence to express our outward affections, sympathies, tastes, and feelings, but it is inadequate to express our meaning; it is not the opposite of selfishness, and unselfishness would be too negative for our purpose. Philosophy has been so busy with the worst feature of human nature that it has not even found a name for this, its better feature. We must fall back on Christianity, which embraces man’s whole nature, and though not a code of philosophy, is something better; for its proposes to lead us through the trials and intricacies of life, not by the mere cool calculations of the head, but by the unerring instincts of a pure and regenerate heart. The problem of the Moral World is too vast and complex for the human mind to comprehend; yet the pure heart will, safely and quietly, feel its way through the mazes that confound the head.
Why belabor the point by going through the mini-Romes of the Protestant churches? They have their own denominational popes and their inflexible belief in the propositional faith of the experts, who condemn the blood faith of the antique Europeans in the name of the universal faith of Babylonian Christianity. You will never convince such Christians, Roman Catholic or Protestant, that they are wrong, and the antique, racist Europeans are a more certain touchstone of reality than their “infallible” experts. Such “Christians” produce sadness more than anger. No matter how beautiful, in my eyes, the culture of old Europe seems to be, in comparison to the filth of modern Babylon, the condemnations still come. “We must support the Pope and love our black brothers.” “You seem to be suggesting that Europeans did something special when it was nothing but the grace of God; you are a free-willer.” Modern anti-Christian Christian theology is designed to support the outward forms of the faith to the detriment of the substance of the faith, which is a belief in Christ crucified, Christ risen. What is wrong with modern man? Dostoyevsky told us, “He has lost Jesus Christ.” He still lives though in the European past, which is past, present, and future.
The liberal is a product of the propositional faiths of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. If human reason has the final say about the nature of God, what stands in the way of human reason becoming God? Liberals have created a Humpty Dumpty world: “When I use a word, it means anything I want it to mean,” in which they invent abstractions, such as the Noble Savage, and then worship the abstraction. Burke, the supreme anti-liberal of Europe, cut right to the heart of the liberals’ madness when he wrote, “I hate abstractions.” Like their mentors, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Satan, the liberals will mock on. Our task is to hold to the vision that is not dependent on the research of the rationalists.
“It is useless to tell us that we know nothing of these things, that we can know nothing until their critical examination is over; we can only say, ‘Examine away; but we do know something of this matter, whatever you may assent to the contrary, and mean to live on that knowledge.’” We cannot find God in nature or in the abstractions of the rationalists; He is incarnate. We live in Him and through Him; at least that is what the ancient Europeans bore witness to. They wept and believed.
The final chapter in this tragic history is the neo-pagan revolt. Neo-pagans are in rebellion against Christ because, they claim, He has killed the white race with His talk of love and universal brotherhood. To believe such an enormous lie the neo-pagan must join with the liberals and the Christian rationalists in proclaiming the new Christianity of the abstract Christ to be the true Christianity. The Europeans who walked in the garden of Gethsemane with Christ knew differently. And so would the neo-pagans if they truly loved their people.
The collective voice of the antique Europeans says, “We know that Man, and you do not know Him; that is the sum and substance of your tragedy.” Is there one voice that can speak for all those voices? Yes, there is. Writing towards the end of the Christian era of Europe, John Watson (pen name Ian Maclaren) wrote two novels which stand together as one work, titled Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush and The Days of Auld Lang Syne. He speaks for the European people in those works. Such a people, with such a vision of God, must be our guide through this vale of tears. (2)
“Ye’re right, Saunders, and a bonnie stack it makes;” and then Charlie Grant went in with Drumsheugh to the warmth and the kindly light, while the darkness fell upon the empty harvest field, from which the last sheaf had been safely garnered. +
(1) Inclusiveness is all the rage in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Yet there is no room for Europeans who believe, as Langland the Catholic, Bunyan the Puritan, and every European Christian prior to the 20th century believed – that a man should cling to his own people and love them over all.
(2) The psalmist reminds us that we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The saints and poets of incarnational Europe show us that He walks with us through that Valley to the Mountains beyond it. If the Scottish dialect in Watson’s books is too much for you then let Sheridan LeFanu have the last European word:
It is not easy to recall in calm and happy hours the sensations of an acute sorrow that is past. Nothing, by the merciful ordinance of God, is more difficult to remember than pain. One or two great agonies of that time I do remember, and they remain to testify of the rest, and convince me, though I can see it no more, how terrible all that period was.
Next day was the funeral, that appalling necessity; smuggled away in whispers, by black familiars, unresisting, the beloved one leaves home, without a farewell, to darken those doors no more; henceforward to lie outside, far away, and forsaken, through the drowsy heats of summer, through days of snow and nights of tempest, without light or warmth, without a voice near. Oh, Death, king of terrors! The body quakes and the spirit faints before thee. It is vain, with hands clasped over our eyes, to scream our reclamation; the horrible image will not be excluded. We have just the word spoken eighteen hundred years ago, and our trembling faith. And through the broken vault the gleam of the Star of Bethlehem.