Spiritual and Personally-formative Aspects of
the Triumph of Capitalism
True Catholicism finds the earning of money or the pursuit of “success” as distinct from work itself to come well after other things in a descending scale of values: trailing loftier duties both human and religious in nature, with we who are “worth more than many sparrows” being enjoined furthermore “not to be solicitous” about even such things as “what we will eat, or what we will put on”. Here being one of the many irreconcilable differences between the One True Faith and its many false imitations: the real article hardly being an exhortation toward chasing the shining star of success, like some ancient Greek or Carthaginian planetary deity: that odd preoccupation indeed with its own weird, twisted, "politically-correct" version of every virtue, all of them awash with obsequies of human respect rather than the love and honor of God. Hence premier to a Catholic is a generous, literal obedience to Christ's command to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these other things will be given you besides”: an injunction of singularly plainness from a Savior Who wishes us to be especially wary of any dangers of the good seed of the Word of God being “choked”, to our eternal loss, by the clutching and cloying “cares of this world”. Snares among which preoccupations over shelter, sustenance, clothing, employment are singularly prepossessing, inaugurating a deadly process-of-a-lifetime, a sojourn perhaps shorter than we think, which places us squarely among “the foolish virgins” whose “lamps”, meant to be sedulously maintained, have “gone out”. Not for want of feverish activity or material solicitude, the one and only “virtues” of the modern world, but of interior devotion, vigilance, spirituality. The uncompromising loyalty of our hearts, the purity of our characters, being what is really at stake here: a flame which must be kept burning brightly if it is to earn admission to a heavenly wedding feast. A gold which the Divine Refiner most wishes to obtain from out of the trying fires of this life: that toward which the Sacraments are only a means. Salvation requiring much more than an altar-call or a Catholic-equivalent mechanical reception of Holy Communion, rather demanding a sedulous attention of our minds, a reinforcement of our habits which is fruitful in an abundant harvest of good works. A sovereign prioritization in comparison-to-which all other values pale into a distant non-importance. While when it comes to any employer who refuses to hire or retain a worker thus fervently motivated, whose first loyalties are to a higher superior, such a would-be idol should be shunned as not worth working for in the first place.
None of this however implies any actual divorcing of the material and spiritual from one another. This being one of many marvelous paradoxes which set Catholicism off in such bold relief, in stark contrast to a fallen world of mercilessly-simple dictums and determinisms. Always keeping about it something of the profoundly revolutionary, and yet remaining at the same time eminently realistic, stable and solid, with the higher concern taking the lower with it on its upward flights. Christ having indeed “come to bring a sword" of a spiritual/practical reordering that plumbs the depths of both sublime and everyday life, the weapon of an uncompromising combat which the "practical-minded" are always trying to meekly return to its sheath. An inward “violence” hardly “correct” in nature, one which “bears away” the Heavenly Kingdom, in terms of an inward cleansing, a refinement of a spiritual, character-related gold. That which hardly prevents the thus-motivated Catholic from showing himself to be the most energetic of workers, often in fact putting bitterest critics to shame in this regard. His hands and steps, for one thing, not being hampered by the counter-productivity of worry or craven self-advancement. Typically full of energetic docility and, if given scope, his minds freed for the creative, the constructively innovative, as is indeed attested by the Civilization of which he is the founder. The novel ordering of an “integrally-Protestant” capitalism, contrary to what is so often and stoutly maintained by its most vocal proponents, not so much involving a "work ethic". That toward which the tireless Medieval Catholic artisan, of whose exhaustive efforts we have so many marvelous surviving proofs, would have needed no urging. But rather partaking in above-noted idolatrous and overwrought solicitudes regarding survival, "success" and status "after which the gentiles seek”. And which especially mark out those who "already have their reward".
But despite all the above, although never "rejoicing in wickedness", or joining in ribald humor, or making-light of foul things, the true Catholic on the other hand and where morally possible tries to avoid being "the preacher" on the job, rather more-typically minding his own quiet industriousness, patient mien, kind and considerate speech, modesty of dress and innocence of behavior: these among ordinary, day-to-day witnesses of "good example", of a living faith, part of that good and sweet “burden of each day" that is fruitful, if manfully borne, of everlasting life. Among those who do more than "only say Lord, Lord". The now-rare full-practice-oriented Catholic American layperson realizing that although he will undoubtedly never be able to preach to distant nations, nor perhaps even lay down his life for Christ in a bloody way, he is nonetheless most certainly bound to make at least that simple confession which his own very rational nature demands: hardly by an impishly-complicit manner watching eagerly while crucifying soldiers throw dice over the seamless robe. The humble witness of speech, action, attitude, bearing, attesting openly, materially to things of the soul and mind. Aware as he is that the open and wholehearted practice of his Faith, which as the Apostle notes "gives no offense to anyone", is something he must never be ashamed to exhibit before men. Lest “Christ be ashamed (of him) before His heavenly Father”. Those who do take offense against Christian goodness, kindness or verbal inoffensiveness obviously doing so out of envy, malice or ingrained and irrational prejudice.
Yet the most ordinary Catholic virtues, both interior and exterior, are considered by many, and in fact rightly so, to be a mortal threat to the reordering of modern economic injustice and a related ironclad social conformity. The full-lived “Way” of Our Lord having indeed been progressively if quietly outlawed over the centuries by forces which have most benefited from the cultural/spiritual strip-mining of capitalism: in a progression which has gathered incalculable steam in the past few decades. This banishing of Christian virtues, of values innately-definitive of Western Civilization, being as suggested the final earnest, the point of convergence, of both communistic and capitalistic forms of social coercion. Calling forth in response a true heroism which cringes not even at the threat of job termination, or that petty, sullen and resentful fellow-worker-non-cooperation which today almost always amounts to the same thing.
But today for the first time one must also face a typical lack of sympathy from priests, bishops and fellow Catholics for having thus been occupationally, or in other settings academically or socially, ousted, for a failure not to work but to conform, or for an equally-criminalized failure to show a strong sympathy with the immorality around oneself. A dissident attitude and course of action which however and by way of various infallible peer/management and classmate/instructor devices leads less toward actual termination or expelling than to the personally-conscientious worker or student being relentlessly forced out. The too-obvious removal of such a person being avoided if at all possible by today's employers and administrators of all kinds: people who manage uncannily-well to avoid lawsuits and payments of most unemployment and other benefits. Success-ethic paragons who also manage somehow to wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes, or in their own theatrical harmlessness, all the while petty cruelties and callous injustices prevail.
There are indeed ways to remove a person which resemble making him "fall on his own sword", with one favorite on-the-job mechanism being to simply give him no duties, to literally leave him standing around with nothing to do, while meantime speaking to him as though he were some visiting dignitary. An extremely common resort for such "cases of conscience", one whose deeper meaning is thoroughly grasped by on-looking workers, yet which is at the same time almost impossible to prove legally. A ruse by which one is symbolically informed that one has in fact already been terminated. This veritable Maoist “peoples’ court” condemnation, a rejection in which turf-guarding co-workers generally take no small share, being a psychological torture that no one can stand up to, a heavy penalty for the most part reserved exclusively for those few who still cling to openly-devout virtues and sentiments, be they of any sincere denomination. The sort of mistreatment from which even the most callous of "survivors", and the doughtiest of "providers", must ultimately find decisive relief. A gauntlet of which, for the sake of his very sanity, the worker is little likely to tolerate very many repeat-performances.
But the agony doesn’t end there, for directly on the heels of an Orwellian forcing-out the virtuous worker suffers the further trauma of being stigmatized as a "quitter", or with today’s clinical obsessions being regarded as a “depressive”, or even as a much-feared lone wolf: conditions whose un-enviability is only matched by their perfect fictionality in the person at hand. This modern-day Confessor-of-the-Faith being rather an intrepid champion surrounded by weaklings, a Petrine rock whose own very job-related dependability, and mental and emotional strength, is proven by his dogged refusal to be thus morally overcome, to suffer any labor or pain to keep himself just and clean.
Even at this present time of near-complete moral prostration the loss of employment in this manner may still be fairly common, but it is simply never remarked upon, the victim himself realizing that he will be thought of as either morally-depraved or mentally-ill if he does so. As were indeed regarded old die-hard believers in American lost-causes as modesty-of-dress in the late sixties and early seventies: for which fervent convictions not a few lost custody of their children or were confined in mental wards, some offense or malady claimed to have been discovered in them. While this kind of loss of employment is today on occasion evident in the downcast manner of some of the poor, fewer and fewer of whom find welcome in American Sunday congregations of most denominations or regions. With the singular exception of those sects that seem to cater in a special way to lower classes and income groups, and who in return expect them to convert instantly and unquestioningly to their typical two-dimensional creeds and saber-rattling Americanisms.
Thus for today's layman are all the ordinary and most of the sacred duties of life boiled down, when all is said and done, to a new “one thing necessary": that he be a “provider”, one allowed no integrity in either speech or behavior, nor that marvelous individuality which is its invariable fruit. Being immersed in an all-engulfing ocean-of-triviality which demands constant tokens of earnest, not just feigned, acceptance of mass-disseminated peer and corporate values, and at least occasional aping of vulgar, cruel or sardonic sitcom-modeled behavior and conversation: any lengthy omission of which compromises will cost him dearly indeed, among bosses, fellow workers or fellow-students who can spot a "pious phony" from a mile away. Often enough the kind of person who buckles to such constraints—with inevitable costly consequences in his own family and home—isn't so much obviously bad as hardly a person at all, rather like a straw driven before the wind, vulnerable to an immense number of negative or fanatical influences, of tyrants, demons and false prophets exterior or interior and of all descriptions. Being meekly constituted a spineless burnt offering to that all-American deity, The Group: as the old Byzantine and Ancient Greek latently-violent mob-solidarity resurrects itself in all its startling colors. Involving a popular fate far different from that offered by a Savior Who rather brought to man his first taste of a divine and everlasting freedom, productive in turn of an equally divine, true and sustaining virtue-based inner joy. Things fruitful in institutions mild and free, alien to the gloomy, morally-frustrated atmosphere of modern workplace and mind.
But close-cousin to a bizarre “mine is but to do or die” mentality when applied to something so pedestrian and non-heroic as employment, a right-of-nature that should be perfectly easy-of-attainment, is a modern-day severing of work from its definitive connection to positive, truly-productive goals, work rather now being in great measure oriented toward the unproductive or even destructive in ways detailed thus far, and others besides. So that work has increasingly become a mere feverish exercise-in-futility, or a kind of sociological point-proving formality, and little more: indeed with various stock-market-arbitrage mechanisms frequently fashioning the very workplace into a sort of battle-axe against more-substantial aspects of the common good. The very existence of the business itself perhaps only a stepping-stone to the destruction of some whole domestic sector, cryptic intent known only among those mighty fools who launch power-plays of this unconscionable mega-globalist kind. All this placing the pep-talking-giving pastor in the position of plying a theology that besides being a moral-contradiction-in-terms contains less and less of any sort of relevance as time goes on. Since only those things, says Holy Scripture, can validly be enjoined that involve a “building up” and not a catastrophic “tearing down” of things good and worthy, all things needing to bring some appreciable benefit to the human person or soul. That serve some good and useful, or at lest harmless, moral and/or material purposes, directly, in-and-of themselves, and not merely by way of providing remuneration. Since even prostitutes are paid good and useful life-supporting money for their services: hardly a course counseled by the great Lover of Souls. The hideous perversity of an enterprise with the typical well-marketed exterior but ultimate destructive intent being evident to anyone whose mind hasn't been twisted well-nigh beyond repair.
Plainly, the failure of today's pastors to stand by their persecuted or morally-and-philosophically-upright parishioners puts the sharpest teeth in the modern conformity-exacting beast, for the above-detailed determined refusal to make an auto da fe of one’s moral character and/or personality, an agony typically involves a morally-isolated, excruciatingly-subtle form of that ultimate triumph, cherished by the saints of the ages, a veritable laying down of ones life for Christ. Something hardly identifiable with a polar-opposite, abject and craven laying aside of one’s Christian witness in deference to an idolatrous, behavior-modifying, resource-and-wealth-destructive, chain-letter-economy world. That which constitutes the strange, bizarre modern moral/occupational heroism: a nihilistic, spirit-frustrating anomaly which scarcely comes up to fabled glories of muscular industrial proletarians, outlined in the glare of crude blast-furnaces of Soviet-Marxist art: images-of-men at least doing something materially positive and constructive with arduous efforts put forth.
As suggested it must equally be recognized that the same defensive attitude we exert on behalf of our Faith must also be expended in favor of our human personalities, in an all-points self-identification which motivates work and everything else: even the slavishly-conforming "groupie" having an idea of personality which so to speak "make him tick" or work, although in the U.S. this inner-commodity is usually a media-created "American way of life" to which all are more-or-less bound to conform, a regime duly modified monthly in socially-mandatory rap-songs and sitcoms, a world with some half-dozen or less "correct" and acceptable personality types, these merest pretenses full of morbidly-overbearing airs, now becoming impossibly distorted toward violence, homosexuality and associated behavioral feints, impassivities and other ugly wrongs. The increasingly-common upshot of which are "airing of charms" are those stalkings and other nameless aggressions, sometimes ending in lurid homicides, parts of an abominable moral-epidemic becoming the very morbid soul of American social life. Here too heroically comes to the rescue the inevitable American jocularity, whether clerical or lay, which would make us all calmly at home with multiplying monsters of every kind, in a mass destruction of minds and personalities Christ came to save, to be formed in unique identity, forged and hammered-out in providential persons and experiences of a lifetime, becomes more and more deeply carved as time goes on. A spiritual development being involved which must begin as early as possible in life, a moral edifice—built on rock—whose construction cannot at all safely be delayed until one's last years: hard news though this might be to many of today's “successfully retired” American seniors.
But in fact divine aid is abundantly available to those who break with the modern system's insupportably-evil demands, who resolutely follow a path strewn with crosses, whose noble and patient bearing receives predictably little approval, substantially if mysterious sharing the lot of Early Christian martyrs of Rome, Milan or Treves, productive of broken hearts and bodies but paradoxically joyful minds and souls. Regarded as delusional by ubiquitous nannies and counselors of our day, a no-less-true martyrdom which refuses to be a martyr for evil: one of the few heroisms known to the men of today. Thus as all this suggests this new Calvary is being enveloped by the gathering clouds of a moral and social isolation unique in the annals of Christian endurance: yet an envelopment which by its very obscurity can act as a refuge of a critically-needed peace. In a sort of uniquely-delectable paradox of divine dispensation. That which is definitive to the Christian Faith and way of life. A cloud-shrouded “solace in the midst of woe” against a yet-more-profound outer darkness and insanity.
Thus although a virtuous Catholic must indeed try to “make a go of things”, it is today, in view of all the above, within a scenario which depends increasingly upon the providence of God. While happily and as intimated one minor break with the conformity-exacting beast often opens the way for others much more decisive, as a newer and humbler practicality takes hold, and brings with it an estrangement with the prevalent wasteful consumerism. While "the scales fall from ones eyes" in other ways as well, for one thing allowing one a clearer glimpse of the chasm, moral, mental and motivational, toward which one has been heading so straight and sure. The true interior health having its own attendant therapies both rigorous and mild, bringing one to listen, like the Prophet at the mouth of his cave, for the soft and subtle breezes of discernment, an inward counsel of a humanity with filial roots in God. This rather than frantically searching for the trail-markings of the bawling herd: today’s prime definition of mental health.
The strength to face the modern behavioral gulag is nourished in a special way when we learn once again to rejoice in the gentle accents of Christian conversation: a lost art whose source is "from above", which confirms us in an individuality which mutually interlocks and co-maintains, which at the same time blends into a marvelous, virile consistency with the homely concerns of this earthly life. A reality of the old peasant Christianity here that the more crusty modern academic so bitterly scorns: a domesticated social music marvelously and unmistakably analogous to the heavenly “breeze" mentioned above, at the mouth of Elias's cave, both of which need a circumcised heart to detect their compelling sound, so different from the coarse grunts heard on occasion among “healthy” groupie crowds. A “tongue of angels” which today would often incline one toward that which will not make one popular or admired. The noted moral isolation being as well intensified by today's typical absence of solid priestly guidance. The true and integral Catholic being an imitator of early martyrs whose heartfelt desires to “be a provider” didn't however keep them from "presenting their bodies to be burnt", or “ground in the teeth of wild beasts, to make a pure and holy bread”: today more-typically performing their heroic “triumphs”, as they were called in those early days, in occupational or academic amphitheaters with a mere handful of unsympathetic, if not leering and jeering spectators. Institutionally-reinforced persecutors in their own way no less formidable than those of old. Even as, conversely and as noted above, we find that once we have made the happy plunge toward an uncompromising fidelity to Christ He provides for us quite well, if, again, in mysterious, humbling ways.
The noted inevitable chuckling encore that these lines reveal a mind that “takes things too seriously” finds an interesting answer too when any attempt is made to “sociably” kid in kind with co-workers or co-students of the today-typical sort being described. Their common response being to toss back some perfectly un-sportsman-like barbed irony, or even some especially-treacherous act of underhanded non-cooperation. For the only persons acceptable to the modern “healthy” hedonist—whose inner house is wallpapered with the sayings of Freud—are the coarse and callous like themselves. While all others are typically regarded as fair quarry or mortal foes. So that good mental health is today invariably described by “professionals” as meeting this easily-met mark, and pathology as setting the mark “too high”.
Among the worst of the modern workplace-coliseum tortures is the noted frequent equating of the truly mild and gentle virility of the Catholic comportment with the most unnatural of things, in a radical rejection of a Civilization from which the words gentleman and gentlewoman take their names. A slander campaign whose origins are to be found mostly in anno domino Jewish myths and misrepresentations. While the fact that sincere Catholics are able to be deeply wounded by such incredible falsehoods, when we have it in us, in Christ, to be living embodiments of all that is best and most-truly-natural in manhood and womanhood alike, only shows the degree to which we have departed from the solid, confident faith of our forefathers. A fragility to a degree made understandable by the all-but-inescapable nature of modern-day capitalism's psychological killing-field, and that of an invariably-allied professional and academic counseling. The merest half-acre of which Haceldama is being described in these pages.
In this our own sort of psychoanalysis of certain pathological phenomena there is also the capitalist-user-friendly form of forgiveness: something steadily preached, and heard by myself and many others in recent decades, from modern pulpits. Not a true forgiveness at all, it is actually and to a degree at its essence only another variant of the modern avoidance-of-anger imperative, this in turn part and parcel of a steady replacement of religion by the precepts of ceaselessly-changing, system-serving brands of psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, et al. The whole thrust of this new forgiveness being in practical terms to emasculate the Christian character, in a radical auto-immolation of defense-mechanisms critical and intimately-personal in character: weapons profoundly spiritual, for one thing, toward separating oneself, at least in spirit, from the wicked. "Let him be to you as the heathen". That true vigilance which the modern mental health Baal will never allow. A rejection indeed for the offender’s salvation as well as one's own, by way of a non-violent rebuke or punishment which can often have incalculable, if typically delayed-action, positive results. This Gospel-enjoined shunning certainly being a preclusion of much worse things which can result from the ground-standing pouring-of-salt into guilty wounds, the Epistle-enjoined “pouring of coals on his head” being plainly a momentary thing, not to be extended indefinitely in time. Violent reactions being a not-infrequent consequence of an irrational-extended contact with those hostile to the "Quiet Light", even as love ever burns for such a true enemy, at least on some plane and in some degree, and prayers are offered, by the truly-Catholic soul. Ancient Roman officials having been quite ready to allow the early martyrs and confessors to keep their Christian observances, were they only willing to burn a pinch of incense on the common heathen fire: that which alone could void their confession of all inner or outer meaning. An analogous moral and intellectual capitulation here indeed and to a great degree defining the “Catholic” of today, a symbolic surrender which the modern forgiveness too-often represents. Attempting in some sense to forgive something it is not in our gift to pardon. The universal workplace and schoolyard requirement of today, of continual camaraderie with the perverted, being in evidence here: much more than any desire to see relationships mend. As if to rub shoulders blithely with the worshippers of Mars, Jupiter or Demeter, basking with them in the glow of sacrificial fires, and then go on self-complacently to a (today probably Sacramentally-invalid) Communion line. Or in our much-made-or “meditations” distractedly acknowledging the Son of God or His Holy Mother in their spiritually-timeless hour of agony: more an insult than a prayer, when followed by a return from there to our daily fare, smiling complacently amid fierce and saturnine excesses of all kinds, like Peter losing ourselves in the anonymity of the hand-warming crowd. This kind of treason being in many ways a good description of modern Christian “forgiveness” and toleration, a far cry from the old pained meekness, from our forefathers’ refusals of sinful associations.
But the insincerity of the whole modern-pulpit forgiveness institution is grasped in special clarity when we realize that it is only the innocent who are denied all this instant pardon of every offense, large, small or imaginary: they thus personifying, bringing earthward again, Innocence Itself accused. Being typically rigorously put to the test, held to the most arbitrary and exacting standards and accusatory cross-examinations, dealt out in blunt and egregious or small and subtle ways: indeed analogously to things endured by kindred innocent companions-in-suffering in the barbarous modern-day womb.
This imperative that we have no right to decide upon our neighborhood or workplace social milieu and especially upon the moral quality of our companionship finds a curious analogy in portfolio-investment's notorious herding: any lack of an unhesitating acceptance, in dust-clouds of thunderous precipitation, of any and all who have been pre-qualified by nameless forces, being accounted proof of a lack of humility or of an apotheosized "sociability", with the latter limp, cowardly and irrational chimera having for all practical purposes taken the place of the whole moral law for modern man. So that the sort of robust, candid agency advocated here, and constantly evinced by Our Blessed Lord Himself in the pages of the Holy Gospels, and enjoined and practiced by the faithful during the Catholic ages: all of this is rejected in one contemptuous gesture as an aberration, or as overbearing pride: some of the few "sins" left in a characteristically-American Catholicism which since Vatican II has spread rapidly, if not in uniform measure, across the entire Catholic world.
Must we indeed be "paranoid" to think in such terms, as of ourselves as being thus misled, both by poorly-formed pastors and by an all-engulfing system which is held to be a cunning, avowed enemy of mankind, and a-fortiori of the Christian way of life? Only if the earth is after all not indeed a place of testing, and if there is furthermore no such thing as the devil and his angels, nor the possibility of serious errors or misconceptions arising in any institution with a human, fallible constituency, and in absence of a valid occupant of the Papal Chair. Far-fetched fantasies, these, which the same fiend and his earthly confederates most wish us to believe. And, finally, only if salvation is easy, and damnation by contrast difficult: a novel doctrine which I myself have heard from at least one modern American-Catholic pulpit.
But the holistic Catholic spirit always has a resounding answer to compromising falsehoods and soil-salting sterilities peculiar to each era, even as surrenders of the cowardly continue apace, mostly notably on the easily-forsaken practical plane, in the Thirteenth-Century with Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Francis of Assisi each in his own way fighting Manichean, Illuminist rejections of the world of concrete, personalized responsibilities, those very solid things, together with the human person himself, that are ultimately under attack in the modern system. Anti-matter aberrations being always ironically a yin/yang with both hedonist and rigorist excesses found in the same fanatical soul: like for instance the nihilistic “Catholic” Fraticelli and Flagellantes of Medieval lore, seeking to stay as long as possible under Catholic lay and clerical robes, self-righteous fanatics with counterparts to be found among certain Penitentes of Northern New Mexico. One of whom I knew who boasted of whipping himself to the loss of some ounces of blood each month: after which he felt free to wallow in sin. These purist errors finding an uncanny parallel in a modern human-nature-contemptuous hedonism ever in close league with the debt-driven whip of capitalism.
Carrying the same tattered standard abreast with Francis or Aquinas, in the same millennial struggle against the self-indulgent nihilisms and anti-matter barbarisms of Hell—a serpentine Gnostic foe such as was indeed encountered along the thorn-strewn paths of the early Church by Sts. Peter and Paul—would be the sixteenth century Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The sons of this intrepid Basque being destined to become the most conspicuous foes of an incipient indulgent-yet-human-life-despising capitalism, if not yet known by that name. He having launched at mid century the Jesuit Order, one which would take up as a primary task the thoroughgoing reimplementation of the robust, Incarnational social and economic order of the Savior, starting afresh with the fertile minds and hearts of primitive peoples of newly-discovered lands. But from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries this integrally-Catholic Jesuit effort would be thwarted and countermanded the world over by the great and powerful, with sovereign-level, secret-society and even Catholic-diocesan intrigues, expropriations and expulsions finally culminating in 1773 in a papal decree of dissolution of the Order, if one however thankfully destined to last only some forty years. But out of which restoration would however come a Society of Jesus, perhaps most notably in the United States, which would in some ways be a mere shadow of its former self, in an apparent triumph of evil or mediocrity which is one of the great mysteries of the modern age. Thus for instance the case of those post-American-Revolution missionaries in outposts stretching from St. Louis to the limits of the Western frontier, who except for the apostolic Father DeSmet and a few others expended a mere shadow of titanic self-sacrificial solicitudes of a Konshak or a Kino of a century or two before. The Catholic clergy after the American Revolution too-often readily finding occasion to regard their Indian and “half-breed” charges with humorous condescension, even a cleverly-disguised racism, a dire disfigurement on the soul of any missionary, revealing itself on occasion, if in characteristically scrupulously-measured amounts. And with bishop Lamy of Santa Fe being recorded by a biographer as joining in a doughty shooting at ragged attacking Indians, who after-all did no more harm than to raid a few wagons in the lengthy, no doubt opulent train. (Horgan, Paul, Lamy of Santa Fe: His Life and Times. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975). So apostolic was this Frenchman of post-Revolutionary France, a man so enthusiastically well-received in a post-Revolutionary USA. While of course poor and underhanded treatment was experienced by the Indians at the hands of non-Catholics as well, in a wholesale jaundiced-White hesitancy to accord to the harassed and dispossessed children of the forest anything much beyond “natural” virtues.
An incalculable number of these Pottawatomie, Shawnee and several other nations were in fact migrating descendants of previous generations of fervent French-speaking-and often-enough mixed French-blooded-native Catholics. (Garraghan, Rev. Gilbert J., vol. II, 1938; Hughes, Rev. Thomas, vol. II, 1907), in a linguistic fluency often remarked-upon with astonishment by early Anglo settlers who themselves, if they had such skills, seldom had them in such measure. While there were also other Indians who had learned their faith well under the spiritual tutelage of Spanish padres in a sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century "Florida" which for most purposes took in much of the present-day Southeastern United States (Ellis, John Tracy, 1963, 27-46). These descendants of often-martyred believers being made the sport not only of colonial settler muskets but also of an insidious Catholic Neo-Jansenism: that perennial matter-despising pseudo-Catholicism which, like tares sown among the wheat, relentlessly re-emerges with each new Catholic generation, if today most-commonly camouflaged under the usual disarming, casual, jocular, and inseparable ostentatiously-"fervent", forms. A spirit which even today continues to accommodate itself quite well to analogous things, revealing itself in a special way in egregious but easily-concealed sins of omission against that common charity enjoined upon those that are "of the household of the Faith", in an insidious battle which levels its heaviest artillery of all against genuinely-Catholic personality cultivation. This latter a unique and marvelous something that typically makes the pious bigot, whose number today is legion, extremely uncomfortable. A Heavenly refinement less and less common, perishing quietly before the callous determinisms of an essentially godless age: even as “a remnant” has all along patiently prepared its glorious resurrection. The strange idea for one thing having been put forward, and lingering today, in support of less-readily-admitted sentiments, that those robust personalities who wear with native ease the graces of the forest and open plain must somehow be novices or near-strangers to those of the spirit, or even of purely-human intelligent and reflective life. This however hardly a reproach leveled against esteemed and well-beloved Indians by Jesuit saints and martyrs Brebeuf or Lalemont: whether in school or industrial workshop, or on onerous, generously-shared labors of the hunting trail. Nor by Spanish professors who already in the first generation after the Conquest found a native Aztec among their respected colleagues at the Hemisphere’s first university. Nor for that matter were disparaging sentiments held out against Celtic or Saxon ancestors of centuries past, just up from a Continental barbarity at least as bad as that later found on this side of the world: many typically portrayed as gaining spiritual summits in the very lifetimes of a Boniface or St. Patrick. Later condemnations giving evidence of modern man’s facile, precipitous passing-of-judgment on the vast and mysterious world of interior dispositions: territories upon which even angels rightly fear to tread.
But generally speaking undeterred by slander or mistreatment these Kansas, Kickapoo, Omaha and many other tribes were themselves only eager to avail themselves, as had many of their ancestors, of the same sure means of salvation: the Church's Seven Sacraments and other holy ministration. Some of these tribes, too, together with Shawnees, Pawnees and a host of others, having earlier been preached to by French missioners in native habitats often more to the east, typically being driven ever-westward by land-grabbing Anglo hoards. The Good News of salvation having spread among these earnest peoples like wildfire, or rather like a prolific harvest of seed sown on good ground, among Indians whose much-remarked behavioral breaches were often in fact only unavoidable fruits of grueling poverty and persecution. Misinterpreted, as such things so often are, by the less-worthily-formed. And typically incontestable evidence as well of a deeper and more mature spirituality which showed itself in particular in a candid speech "in which there is no guile", among peoples who commonly breathed forth the very air of the first Christian century. A good spirit, incredibly, which those infected with the breath of capitalism must ever regard with distrust. A spirit, of the Gospel becoming "as little children", which “the successful” hold to be foolish, presumptuous and even stupid. A stumblingblock, just as it had been to many-an ancient Jew and gentile alike.
Vast numbers, in fact U.S.-academia-unrecorded millions, of these generations of Catholic Indians encountered on the westward "Manifest Destiny" march had originally been driven from French Canada or Iroquois northern New York by victorious Colonial and British troops in the defeat of Quebec, in the case of the Iroquois and many other tribes only after having been converted to Catholicism almost en masse, if after a first few years of hostility during which such Jesuits as Goupil and Jogues were martyred. So that the generic "savage" of the American West or Mid-West was actually quite often a refugee from 1750s Anglo-Colonial hostilities, these a prelude to the War of Independence, both of which were provoked and insisted upon almost solely by American Colonists. These in turn being motivated, in spite of "taxation without representation" smokescreens, on the most transparently-anti-Catholic of religious grounds. Since to buckle-hatted settlers "something just had to be done" about the prodigal Catholic missionary success among the Indians: open reproach that it was to their own redundantly-obvious Gospel-preaching failure. The glorious Catholic achievement powered not only by the Sacraments but also by the holistic social teachings of the Catholic ages, doctrines and fonts of grace utterly forbidden in the more-rigorously-Puritan of the colonies, and only given a temporary, intermittent, menaced toleration among Catholic colonists in Maryland. A full Catholicity which a (“tyrannical”) Georgian England had no interest in persecuting in its Quebecan realms, and for which overwhelming reason independence was pursued in the radical-Calvinist Colonies.
Thus too the seldom-mentioned underground mission fields of Jesuits located east of the Mississippi and west of the settled part of the Thirteen Colonies (ibid): these having likewise been the original home of many Indians later encountered in more westerly regions by nineteenth century American settlers. Some of these earlier tribes, both before and after the great Indian leader Pontiac, having in immediately-subsequent years no doubt completely passed from history, succumbed to the rigors of a life of starvation, repeated massacre and near-continuous flight. As was the case with many first encountered on the Central Plains by Verendere and others among early eighteenth century French explorers and missionaries: their haunting, musical tribal names having since disappeared entirely from the memories of men. Their Jesuit shepherds too having carried on a heroic and practically-speaking untenable existence, in constant danger not so much from Indians as from violent death at the hands of Puritan-American colonials and frontiersmen, for whom "papists" and "pagan Indians" were generally considered to be of the same hated breed, to be hunted down without mercy. These missionaries, fearless vinedressers of the Faith in these "Ohio Valley" and eastern mountain areas, being nearly universally ignored by American historians: just as are the truest and deepest motivations of the American Revolution. The same Indians afterward as noted being driven constantly westward, and sometimes southward, subsequent to heavily-Rothschild-brokered Canadian Anglo-Colonial, and later American-Revolutionary, 1victories. Before a "Manifest Destiny" onslaught with which students of American history are so familiar, but whose deeper and less-attractive meaning and implications they typically understand little if any at all.
Included among the "faults" of these sorely-harassed Indians was no doubt an absence of fetishes regarding an overwrought cleanliness and other elaborations of etiquette, things that would steadily grow in importance among white Americans: much-made-over contrasts mounting especially in the scant reservation availability of things like running water and other amenities, as well as an Indian life of an actually worsening insecurity. Factors which provided ample excuse for a careless coiffeur or a forgetfulness of table manners. This obsession with the physically-immaculate being destined to provide another symbolic mode for Puritan roots which, far from diminishing, would in bizarre ways grow increasingly stout in diameter with time. Involving a host of first-century-Jewish proto-capitalist anti-matter preoccupations seldom considered in the Holy Gospels, and then only in bluntly-negative terms. Even as the converse accusation that medieval Catholics never “bathed” is only a disingenuous play-on-words: since the bathing discouraged from the beginning among true Christians has always been the public bathing of the Roman “baths”, or indeed of modern-day beaches and swimming-pools, things always roundly condemned by orthodox teaching of the Church. While obviously a repudiation of washing of any kind would have extincted the Christian fold in a generation or two. So that backed by such shallow meditations a new and oddly-fastidious sorts of Catholic missionaries, of the Revolutionary-War-era John Carroll breed, together with an obliging American-Catholic episcopacy, were to find ready excuses to expend most of their pastoral energies in the service of often immaculately robed and bathed Anglo-American and European immigrants: in whose praises they and one of their later American Jesuit biographers were most voluble (Garraghan, Rev. Gilbert J., S.J., 1938).
These later American Jesuits, and those of other orders as well, would be especially notable in the founding of colleges for European/American students, as at St. Mary’s in Kansas: this latter on lands given (in this case by the Pottawatomie) strictly for the catechesis and education of their own Indian children. A fact easily-enough lost sight of, at least among this new brand of missioner, in the generalized confiscation of Indian territories. Perhaps arousing in them, without much resistance, an accompanying vague concomitant calling-into-question of the Indian's very right to make such grants of land, and thus to claim any reciprocal rights on that basis: all very convenient indeed. These new missioners consistently revealed an obsession with the priestly care and education of immigrant Europeans which tended, with a casual absent-mindedness that is glaringly-obvious in the written record, to ignore the whole reason they had been sent to the mission fields in the first place. Namely to extend those very same energies to the Indians: no matter how unpopular or unromantic such a course might prove to be: the preaching of the Holy Gospel hardly having at any time been marked by the enthusiasms of the typical popularity contest. For which less-prestigious aboriginal instruction these missioners, some of whom would soon build for themselves still-remembered, highly-respected careers as educators of blonde-haired edge-of-the-frontier youths, were rather contributed to so generously by European benefactors. Many such donations being comprised of the Gospel mite of labor-bent peasants and urban commoners alike: all of which emoluments involve grave matters and proportional associated penalties under Catholic Canon Law for non-fulfillment of commitments often rigorously-specific in character.
At the crux of American Indian policy was a common penchant much remarked in these pages, and amply evident even at such an early date, for ignoring the real issues involved: an endemic high-level American tendency commonly accompanied by an also-much-noted close-cousin, all-excusing jocularity, by both of which devices less-obvious but more-deeply cherished policy goals are more easily accomplished, amid pretenses of shoulder-shrugging inevitability. The kind of aura of droll routine here that has with equal abandon surrounded Presidential assassinations and the gradualistic late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century reestablishment of slavery and bigotry alike. While in the real world, in contrast to such a deterministic indeterminacy, there were in fact only two perfectly-distinct ways to deal justly with the Indian.
First there was the path ostensible chosen by the government, of the various tribes being recognized as quasi-sovereign powers within their different hunting grounds or areas of settlement: with Indian sovereign rights vis-à-vis those of the central government to be negotiated, with the sale and ceding of lands and the determination of legal and jurisdictional purviews and so on. The end result thus potentially being an interconnected sea of national level Caucasian territory containing many islands of Indian sub-jurisdictions or semi-sovereignties, with the Anglo virtual "royal authority" having its own larger network of contiguous "demesne" lands, while retaining an ultimate sovereign jurisdiction over the Indian nations as well. Much like that exercised by Medieval king over the territories of his feudal tenant lords. This having in some ways been the general nature of the colonial government of the Spanish in “the Floridas”, as well as the French in much of the pre-Napoleonic North American continent (McReynolds, 1972; Hughes, 1907). Europeans, according to such a blueprint, indeed living almost everywhere, but often in a shared jurisdictional relationship with, and locally and according to circumstances even a subordination to, the Indians.
The other alternative would have been to deny from the beginning that the Indian tribes had any sovereign rights at all, as each somehow came under American sway or jurisdiction. But by way of compensation to treat each of their members as equal American citizens from the very start. Much as generally-speaking heartily-welcomed Northern Europeans were quickly treated, even before attaining formal citizenship. The natives having a citizenship of course earned by right of original tenancy, a right typically taken for granted the world over by Spanish, Portuguese and French administrations under their separate colonial arrangements. A policy, of course, human greed and turpitude being as they are, not always realized in a full and perfectly-egalitarian way. Yet all three mostly-Catholic powers hardly expecting to blank-facedly denaturalize whole nations of natural citizens, hand-in-glove with the wholesale, legally-unencumbered taking of their land. While this more-generous policy would of course need to be marked by added adoptive considerations during an initial period. But the one thing that had to be avoided at all costs, if the Indians were to be treated with any shred of fairness or decency, was to see-saw back and forth between these two opposing, mutually-exclusive options. And thereafter leave the Indian starving and landless, "holding the bags".
However the American capitalist system had no time for anything bordering on the painstaking, humane or well-reasoned, so that these positive possibilities were rendered still-born by its endemic finance-related deadlines and incurably-racist under-the-table policy-deals, while in fact both Chief Justice Marshall and John Quincy Adams (Lai, Richard Tseng Yu, 1988; McReynolds, Edwin C., 1972) had already at the turn of the Eighteenth Century voided in no uncertain terms any fee simple Indian possession of tribal lands, with high convenience voiding Indian capacities to negotiate treaties of any form. Any other sort of possession, for instance of the distributive, social character advocated in these pages, having already passed entirely from the American legal lexicon. So that what was ultimately involved was a congressional, railroad-man and Indian-trader endorsed juridical position of which the Indians themselves were kept pointedly in the dark, in those ungentlemanly "gentlemen's agreements" which would ultimately become the leitmotif of American domestic and foreign policy around the globe, from the Mexican War to San Juan Hill to the Iraq Wars. Justice or civilization being things unfortunately with which both the government and the irrational forces let loose by the new capitalistic concept of liberty would be less and less concerned, so that the best refuge for a less-than-innocent conscience was as always to leave the whole matter shrouded in a dense cloud of feints, pretenses and false if well-dramatized overtures.
Thus prevented was any intelligent cultural blending, according to a natural timetable and the temper and degree of civilization of each tribe, while thwarted, too, was any place for persuasion, love-by-extended-propinquity, change-of-heart, on both sides of the issue: that which by contrast would be the unassuming, largely-unsung nation-building legacy of Catholic-nation colonialism, as seen most notably under the Jesuit’s mild and relenting, ever-intervening hand. Thus might there indeed and ultimately have been instituted an "allotment system" after a certain period of adaptation, of individual Indian-family holdings saleable as fee simple real estate to others: an invasion of Indian lands however capable of being rendered welcome and benign by the fact of a peaceful blending of interests, indeed to a degree of cultural heritage, having already been achieved. A blending that the American white man would actually and according to his own strange terms endeavor to effect: since he ever remains ironically the avid admirer of the Indian he so abused, whose offspring he however arrogantly despises as not measuring up to those his forefathers so “heroically” destroyed so long ago. Like the ever-glowering George Bush, admitting his manifold “mistakes” to his bludgeoned Iraqi and American, actual or figurative, rape/murder victims. Just as might some fiend in some dark inner-city alley—rather than from the Rose Garden or other presidential podium—even as his helpless prey expire, become limp and lifeless, before his crazed eyes. In all this hugging to himself this element of heroic saga, this sine qua non among a secret-society-nurtured, Gnostic/purist, Jewish-secular-messianist-cultivated breed. With sublimely-abstract, hair-spring-counterbalanced constitutional elements taking the place of simple justice, mercy, fellow-feeling, and with the added certainty dancing in his depraved mind that they will “bring in the clowns” in 2008, when anti-life and perversion, whose path he has so broadly paved, take over in the form of the Democratic Party.
The noted assimilationist blending in the case before us indeed took the form of a kind of cultural and even physical rape: with much actual Indian blood indeed proudly being claimed as coursing through Anglo veins, no doubt often after the manner of a wholesale forced genetic mingling with Black slaves. A blending too often highly-analogous to that achieved by early pagan Iroquois who devoured their enemies, in their case through an actual cannibalism. This coercive blending, this cultural, physical and land-related rape, being instrumentally effected by a juggling between contradictory extremes, those by which the Indian was neither for any length of time truly accepted as an equal fellow-citizen, nor actually allowed a separate semi-sovereign identity. A “policy” which designedly left everything perfectly unclear, so that the Indian had no idea where he stood, except for the one obvious fact that he was loosing all of his honor, land and sources of subsistence, and too often his life as well. Lamely-compensatory late-nineteenth-century ticker-tape parades for Indian Chiefs only paving the way for the political auctioneering of the Twentieth Century, by which the very Anglo/Irish-dominated national patrimony would be put up for sale, as the whole American people would themselves finally come to live on a sort of high-walled reservation, the passive objects of unwanted solicitudes and increasingly-less-selective repressions alike. Since it is always the way of capitalism to begin with the most vulnerable and despised, and to work its relentless, debt-driven way from there until basically everyone "gets their turn". As for instance in occasionally-generous recognition of tribal ownership, whittled down by settler-invasions almost before the ink was dry on the treaty, on the one hand, and two centuries of tiring, well-recorded Congressional declarations to the effect that it was “high time that the Indian learned to stand on his own two feet as an American, just like the rest of us”, on the other.
Under all the poses, posturings and solemn-faced agreements lay the one American certainty: the progressive absolute triumph of Puritan/capitalist cultural/religious hegemony “from sea to sea”: a triumphalism applied equally to Indians, Mexicans or late-nineteenth-century “encroaching” Canadians in the Northwest. One destined however to balloon much further into today's out-sized proportions, the old imperative having been handily extended to present-day Iraqis, Saudis, Syrians, Afghans, Koreans, Panamanians and by clear implication a host of other nations as well. In a new, global, increasingly-fanatical understanding of the old, worn-out term. Involving no hint of any serious accommodation of other cultures, religions or global sovereignties: indeed with ever-directive Ashkenazi/Jewish agitators and academics standing doughtily at the head of the most powerful opposition movements as well. Since, like all stalkers and fiends, this alliance will see to it that there is no avenue of escape out of the alleyway scene-of-crime. The central Jewish concept of Puritan election, if indeed itself "destined" to undergo many-a strange permutation, being progressively imposed upon an unwilling and unsuspecting humanity, and this often in the most brutal and sanguinary of ways. (Note of October 2014: Hence only yesterday an interview in the Russian-news rt.com in which one European expert acknowledges a decades-long gamut of U.S. controlling interests across the continent all the way to the Russian border: a regimen he claims to be "mysterious" as to its nature, when all of anno domino history, as attested by a wealth of papal and episcopal policies and decretals, bears witness to the insidious encroachment of an ever-"martyred" synagogue.) This immemorial saga in recent centuries first played out in fine detail in the destruction of the tribes: a genocide one of whose many equivalents—like a once-common Southern or frontier lynching of some handy person of hated color or nationality, simply because a crime had been committed, and "everyone knows" that such people have criminal inclinations—is now being pleaded before the bar of world opinion. This by American Presidents, diplomats, undersecretaries and "security experts" alike.
The one fact that is abundantly evident from a comprehensive overview of the frontier settlement of the United States is that the Indians would in most cases have been quite willing to settle for either of the above-mentioned options, if perhaps after some initial period of struggle and hesitation: being after all human beings subject to the same fears and misgivings as the other sons of Eve, requiring only to be treated with some degree of trust-inspiring humanity and consistency. Tribes which in fact showed themselves adaptable in either direction, in examples too numerous and well-known to even merit mention. The cases of the Cherokees and Pottawatomie coming immediately to mind, the latter easily being the bulk of the first voters of Chicago in the elections of the 1820s and early 30s, if typically under willingly-Anglicized names. Just before their brutal removal, no doubt at least partly provoked by their ballot-box temerity. A close-cousin to which reprisals would find recorded and unrecorded numbers of bodies buried in the Southern canebrake a century and a quarter later, as analogous object-lessons to other thus imprudently inspired. The forced-migration of the French-educated, peace-loving Pottawatomie however only duplicated that of the Seminoles, Cherokees and Creeks at about the same time (Garraghan, vol. II, 1938; McReynolds, 1972): peoples who had apparently become too "uppity" for the rarified tastes of rude, mud-booted frontiersmen. But there has in fact from the beginning—and to this day—never been any real desire to accord the Indians much by way of recognition, either as nations or as human persons, as either of the two cited alternatives would have required.
Thus in great measure is seen the genesis of today's fanatical nationalism, always somewhere under the surface, gradually and for most purposes having been detached from original religious roots: flaunting the underlying anti-matter, capitalistic/dualist element in the Reformer creed, that which has only a fractional and occasional need for religion, at last gaining its own inevitable complete sway. Yet producing in its own right a hyper-patriotic religion-all-its-own which finally allows not even interior departures of any sort, in an adulteration of the purity of Revealed Religion—the removal of "one jot or tittle" of which carries the heaviest and most incalculable of personal and collective penalties—allowing above all for the progressive domination of false and fanatical persons and ideas. True Faith the ever-healing and condescending physician to a divinely-instituted human nature, devolutions against whose divinely-sane perspective the sects are powerless to offer effective resistance, having once removed themselves from union with the Mystical Body of Christ manifestly lacking those marvelous guarantees given to Saint Peter. The fanatical personality-prostration of this Religion of America being really only an idolatry, as if before some blood-stained Quetzaquitl, akin as well to the total submersion of Tokugawa subjects of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries before the questionably-legitimate Shogun (Kuno, Yoshi S., 1940). A pathologically-aggressive mentality, both inside and out, today in the USA in large measure piloted by an official/media-contrived state of siege over the issue of terrorism, with “the enemy” however steadily becoming understood as anyone who won't conform completely, in thought, word and deed, within a secular religion-to-end-all-religions which is considered always correct, even in the midst of being repeatedly and manifestly wrong.
Thus did the Gnostic Oakham's Razor of the Reformer zeal having ultimately opened a way through the forest of vital human institutions toward ideological-radicalism’s complete sway, the resulting system being one which even its strongest present-day critics seem for the most part to look upon as a "given" (Galbraith, John Kenneth, 2001), basically open only to surface, discretionary modification. While further and more-disturbing systemic permutations proceed apace and of their own accord, logical-conclusions often-enough in league with a motivationally-similar organized crime, an alliance highly-productive as well of that corollary much remarked in these pages, the four or five grim or comedy-oriented, "correct and accepted" pseudo-American personality types, these in turn wearing quite well with the modern throw-away product-market. So many moral non sequiturs, finally and understandably, forming a pathologically-lengthening list of subjects for the tormented American Catholic conscience, still alive and well despite the all-absolving jocularity. An unbalanced burden such as Our Good Lord never required anyone to bear, His yoke being to the contrary “sweet" and his burden "light”, His commandments reasonable and relatively-few, the sacrifices He does demand being refreshingly simple and to-the-point.
In this bizarre new Religion of America, for Protestant and “Catholic” alike, even the existence of the individual soul threatens to be denied in favor of the fiction of the noted all-consuming group identity, that which is perhaps the most enduring legacy of Calvinist Separatism. In a socio-religious republicanism however related less in practice to Winthrop's or Cotton's fanciful notions of a "covenant"-oriented, Early-Church-imitating community than to a Renaissance-fostered modeling after mercurial ancient Greek assemblies: Calvin having been thoroughly educated in the new Greek-Classical humanism of the early sixteenth century and having duly modeled his celebrated reform movement squarely on its sociopolitical tenets. The element of ad hoc group judgment, much as in the factional upheavals of the ancient Greek hippodrome, constituting a new “authority” to impugn that which had hitherto met far more rigorous tests of legitimacy, and even of authentic ecclesiastical popular participation. Here being found a sociology ultimately destined to be detached and sterilized of any connection to Divine Faith, a basically tradition-less consensus, even a kind of collective “altar call”, coming to characterize political life by stages, with un-heard-of power suddenly accruing to an apocalyptic sense-of-the-here-and-now, an anomaly utterly foreign to the genuine political tradition of the West, and of most of the East as well.
This singular anomaly—of the marching righteousness of the sacrosanct mob—a political concept violently tested around the globe since the French Revolution—and (Note of October 2014) reduced to a media-fed science in the Middle East and Eastern Europe over the past few "color-Revolution" years—would find its ultimate communicational epitome in Marshall McCluhan’s “the medium is the message”: that which issues practically in an obsession with the analysis of quirks, mannerisms and group manifestations, a typical media/academia-promote fraud which by 1970 dominating with special force the deliberations of politicos and policy and planning professionals alike. Involved being an infantile, “gut-level” collectivism one of whose major vestiges is a policy-analysis which never gets to a second logical step, ever remaining impaled upon some initial emotional “statement”, in an absolute repudiation of a step-by-step “dividing and composing” (Aquinas, Aristotle, Boethius, et al) reason which alone distinguishes us from the beasts. Producing among other rational-non-sequiturs such mental-hatchet-jobs as an “if we don’t go there they will come here” Iraq War, or the “right” of a far-from-representative sort of “woman” to her baby-killing “privacy”, as if cutting her nails or getting a haircut: a contradictions-in-terms according to the very word wo-man, or the person who carries a man in her womb. The noted group deification hardly genuinely consultative but rather replete with opportunities to eschew the genuine mandates of true authority in any form, with the all-important Group, pedestrian or deliberative, readily become like a raging river of irrational and irresistible force, depending upon the emotionality of the issue involved; a flood of which the media would learn to take uncannily-precise soundings, but only where the current ran swiftest and shallowest.
But the organizational attrition inherent to such a radical collectivism ultimately serves the much-sought-after purpose of creating a larger playing field for capitalism’s market-centralizing forces: the Puritan paradigmatic breakdown into individual church-cells being ultimately caustic to more-fundamental things that are truly local in nature. In the high-paradox of a long-standing American sociology which would prove to be of a piece with Saul Alinsky's deconstructional Basic Christian Communities, an organizational philosophy that would quickly gain absolute sway in the post-Vatican-II American Catholic Church. Involving extreme innovations ultimately showing themselves fruitful in that dissolution of immemorial Catholic ecclesiastical life with which "Catholics" now live. And with which they are now quite at home, even reintroducing many-a traditional doctrine or catch-phrase, now rendered morally and spiritually still-born, for majestic effect. The inevitable result being a breakdown of legitimate constituent forms, with genuine localisms having been thoroughly poisoned at their roots with the new, bizarre, “down-in-your-face” collectivism, driving the young in particular away from religion, and toward things more seemingly-mature, ”cool”, and non-involved, acting thus as a potent revulsive to the true and virile intimacies of Catholic Faith. This more-recent ecclesiastical radicalism having first been deliriously advanced by Post-Conciliar Catholic radicals of the 1960s-70s takeover, in rigidly-imposed, touchy-feely, motivationally-soil-salting models which recognized little or nothing besides that which proceeds from the obscure loyalties, passions and prejudices of minutely-localized, narrowly-self-interested, yet for-all-that easily-manipulable groups or parishes. Here again being revealed an underlying U.S. trend toward the simplistic, razor-sharp, sanitized: an anti-matter impatience with the complex needs of a frail and vulnerable race. Realities incapable of neat summary into sweeping or tidy synopses. A Gnostic/Puritan alienation fruitful in goose-stepping militarisms, suburban and inner-city exclusions, and other antiseptic purisms of every kind.
Hence the now-familiar, savagely-exclusive suburban neighborhoods and siege-mentality "gentrified" inner-city enclaves as well, with parks, museums, libraries and other amenities developed over the past century by urban pioneers being in a thousands ways blank-facedly and preemptively confiscated by oddly-clannish Information Age new arrivals, with the occasional homeless invader being actually a handy symbol of the less-fortunate in general, all of which are forced to bear the same peoples’ court group-adjudications and breezy or boorishly-overt hostilities. Here being a widespread phenomenon totally unrelated to any genuine localism, the latter rather feeding generously into the regional and national well-being, organic to the distributive and truly democratic organizational mode. So that there is represented here a profound devolution, the ideological seed of destruction of the national identity itself, as well as of the diffusive unity of Christianity, of Western Civilization, of the globe as a whole. That true human unity, finding its ultimate source and exemplar in Christ, which is the polar-opposite to the fatally-fissured social monoliths of false religion and pseudo-economics alike. This latter pandering solely to the interests of an elite, almost as if there were two different races of mankind: the “chosen” one however becoming tinier and wealthier by the hour, dumping aside former colleagues in rapid succession. The other “race”, the underprivileged victim of such an exclusion, relentlessly headed for near-all-inclusive proportions; masses to be fed into the killing fields of civil upheaval and war.
Here on the American frontier, just as in the case of Iraqis and Palestinians, intrinsically-just acts of war and of self-defense were termed by the contemporary media as aggressions or "terrorism" when accomplished by members of dispossessed nations or races: while in the eighteenth century as suggested the lack of the Colonial scalp-knife turn-of-character in the typical English administrator or Anglican archbishop was one of two deciding factors in a growing secession-oriented Colonial enmity against England, motives which would inevitably culminate in the American Revolution, the other being a closely-related horror at the willingness of George III and his officials to allow Canadians to retain Catholicism as their official, openly-celebrated religion. This while the issue of "taxation without representation", as noted above, providing a mind-blinding smokescreen to some.
Alluded to already have been the many mysterious inner prices to pay for a surrender to self-serving misconceptions, an alchemy productive of hopelessly complex philosophies, psychologies, sociologies and "linguistic” theories of all kinds: factotums that Americans would take up in flights from tormented inner worlds. Thus the many successive convoluted theories of the capitalism-loving Freud, Skinner and their successors, to be found in a radically-experimental modern psychology: a discipline which stalks with provisional abandon through an inner human universe patterned after the very Life of God, with Freudianism nonetheless being a central dogma of a Religion of America to be imposed on the globe at large by the power of American policy and publishing alike. In an approach to the human mind which the celebrated psychoanalyst seldom if ever actually employed in caring for his own rich patients in Vienna (Footnote: Facts gleaned from an NPR interview of a Freud biographer, sometime in the years just before 2004, the time during which the present book was being written. Again, apologies for the lack of specifics, of course especially to the fine and indeed courageous writer himself.) And since psyche means nothing other than soul, modern psychology attempts to take the place of religion, providing among other things a whole amoral interior universe in which the impersonal scale of capitalism or communism could thrive, while like these two geo-finance-based systems being parallel to but separate from real life, having an array of grim sanctions and reprobations, still for the most part accepted here with a fanatical, prescription-drug-driven fervor of conviction. Almost as if to recognize once again the determining hand of Mather or Winthrop in the equally-frowning Freudian and day-time-TV-advertising cosmology.
Catholicism, on the other hand, chiefly makes relatively-mild and heartening demands of goodness, kindness, substantial and open generosity, and even more fundamentally that we should think soundly, so that there might be a mental footing for a holy structure against which the gates of Hell will not prevail. Rudimentary things commonly to be found alongside more-theologically-acknowledged preambles of the act of Divine Faith. Thus for instance the perennial Catholic adoption of Thomistic-Aristotelian thought, with its own psychological component to be found amid voluminous pages of Bonaventure, Bellarmine, de Sales and scores of other authors. A genuine psychology which is straight-forward, lucid and morally-and-personally sustaining, and in which the parochial guidance of the clergy was for centuries firmly and happily ensconced. This magnificent ideational foundation however basically, excepting only a few ostentatious fragments here and there, being destined to be scrapped by the post-modern, collectivist/deconstructionist minds that substantially took over the operational machinery of the very Catholic Church itself during and after Vatican II. The True Faith, the true psychology, nonetheless living on obscurely and often miraculously, mostly among the poor and dispossessed, and a clergy in various third world nations at least to a degree still sound and courageous, there to await a new and earth-transforming resurrection.
Thankfully, European and English Protestantism were ultimately and for the most part to be spared the grim Calvinist laboratory conditions of the Thirteen Colonies, being thus destined to evince fewer of those psychological and behavioral logical conclusions so evident in the “Pilgrim’s strain”: finding escape after the concentrated potency of the Reformation interlude had faded. On the Continent rather quickly, in England by the early eighteenth century (Tumbleson, 1998; Hughes, 1907), in a happy diminution of influence that would accelerate rapidly during the course of succeeding generations. Europeans and Englishmen gradually beginning to live once again, at least in certain basic elements of their day-to-day lives, under the influence of age-old, sane, pacific, essentially-Catholic formatives. So that seventeenth century Anglicans would actually be much relieved, after a tempestuous honeymoon of some decades, to find a place across the Atlantic to send large numbers of the Scotch-dominated Pilgrims, Dissenters or Separatists, as they were variously styled, uncompromising holders of Reformer ideals: this for one because of their tendency to violent displays of righteousness and their ready ability to disrupt cherished, habit-bound ways of doing things. Often plainly-innocent realities which in the Mother-country and in other parts of the world were more or less unanimously if sometimes indulgently take for granted, especially as touching on the qualities and development of the human personality. Something which the Puritans, whether in Calvinist or later Deist varieties, spent two centuries in the cold shadows of the New England woods laboriously sifting and refining, to the removal, at least to their satisfaction, of every bit of dross, and certainly of “popish perversities”.
But as suggested this "brave new man" of Calvinism and Catholic Jansenism alike is in a deeper sense only the inevitable byproduct of capitalism's unfettered release upon an unsuspecting world: requiring as it does a formation progressively-less sensitive to things human, tender, interior. That transformation which is most critical to the system’s deepest departures. Today the multinational-market-friendly judgment of the noted ad hoc group, dwelling on its own supremely-detached plane, in every case substituting a force abstract, sharp-edged and prejudicial precisely where it needs to be mild and relenting. A two-edged sword which however and ultimately wounds its wielders at least as severely as those thus neatly-but-savagely dealt with. A group-dynamic which for all its potential unpredictability is guided with uncanny ease by elites and media-empowered leaders, these calling forth ever-more-radical processes loudly and crassly claimed as being "in the works", such as for instance the modern educator-cultivated obsession with hideous homosexual marriages. That ultimate institutionalized Sodom and Gomorrah to be expected when break-away religion attempts to remake the world, hijacking a humanity Christ came to lift up and to save.
Indeed, once we begin to remake humanity, away from old “lesser” or “popish” origins, this will quickly become our sole engrossment, and the need to prove a manhood once taken for granted as a gift of God becomes a grim obsession indeed. Provoking bizarre new forms of super-machismo, and in reaction inevitably the equally-perverse role-polar opposites of sodomite hoards: in a world in which women have no deeply-appreciated place, and which gives rise to the same bizarre, loveless anomaly in their case as well. This ever-ambivalent view of manhood being a fantasy whereby the male has ever before him a never-quite-achievable rite of passage, which among our tribal ancestors never in itself had anything to do with sex. This blind lack of potency or perspective being however and as noted a prime aim of the immature character formation of capitalism, despising as it does the lenient Christian spirit of both social mercy and a healthy self-regard, boons partaken to varying degrees as well by the well-formed of all persuasions. A genuinely masculine spirit which is most deeply attached to hearth, home, harvest and the many other peaceful blessings of community life, a truer and more-truly-democratic spirit which is however also uniquely capable, like fourteenth-century Swiss or late-twentieth-century Croatian mountaineers, of the most courageous acts of patriotic fervor. The new counterfeit of such age-old qualities rather confronting modern man with a set of challenges as sterile and illusory as they are stark and implacable, in a view of male gender which is also exploited for all its worth in various value-added product markets, thus helping to feed the modern gross misallocation of resources, both human and material. A machismo which however and on the few occasions when it is seemingly achieved only satisfies the most mediocre and callous of souls.
The short-shrift world of the modern macho, which is now gaining unprecedented global dimensions, of course directs much of its sometimes-well-disguised unkindness at women, with their unique combination of complexity, subtlety and vitality finding less and less place in a profit-oriented, intrinsically-loveless worldview, even as women are exploited in third world nations, outsourced to global firms which make large profits on their cooperative, devoted and manually-dexterous contributions. Even as femininity, raised to the very highest of levels by the Blessed Virgin Mary, continues to epitomize all that Calvinism and Catholic Neo-Jansenism, or that liberal Christianity which is really at its core much the same sort of thing, most hold in horror: contempt in the one case being shown by a cold disdain, in the other by a heartless exploitation.
But as suggested it is men who are by far the greater if less obvious victims of such a process, regarding a subject which forms much of the foundation of their self-image, one however and to their own profound injury reduced to the value-level of another mere capitalistic coup. This womanhood a fear of whose very magnificent poised defenselessness, ironically-enough, propels so many into homosexuality: with the brittle implacability of such a male character, together with a host of cowardly, close-cousin fears, ambivalences and misconceptions, spiriting its possessors off all the more efficiently to a today increasingly-common doom. Being walled-off as the macho male so often is from either true knowledge or true love of womankind, the doctors of minds and hearts. A ministration capable of sublime manifestations quite virginal in practical terms. Possessor as woman is of her own unique priesthood in being the interpreter and enabler of the most holistic kinds of human development and self-realization, whether for spouse or children, communities or nations. While men morally and emotionally separated from such an ally, such a scriptural "help-mate", arrive at a most-essential sort of impotency, finding themselves sterile of that constructive and nation-building Thomistic “becoming the thing we know”, and a-fortiori the thing we love. The American male typically being incapable of entering fully into a woman’s identity, her world, and thus remaining forever sterile and incomplete, void of an inner and outer self-realization of the Angelic Doctor, contained so succinctly in the above-quoted phrase, being humanity's proportional and only-adequate epistemology. This operation by which we form an embracing identification with the object of our science and love—and begin to take on its traits, to bring its peculiarities into our very being—and in the process, and by association, begin to discover ourselves, fertilizing thereby our own agency and creativity. This being the rich fountainhead not only of heterosexual bliss but also of art and invention, of polity and world peace.
Rather is it of course our rational humanity, that which alone is capable of being lifted to divine heights of grace, which is the supreme and universal source of our personal dignity, and of which the mutually-relative positions of manhood and womanhood are by comparison only a subset. While as noted women have been raised to sublime heights, certainly made equal to men in dignity, by the Mother of God, with such a profound social transformation having been wrought by the Incarnation that thereafter ruling, pronouncing and determining, the traditional but not-invariable provinces of men, are in the Christian context mildly, charitably and rationally reconceived, no longer really being considered the marks of a deeper ascendancy, as the lives of many-a monk, lay-brother or hermit has often amply testified. And as is indeed reinforced in a political philosophy of many American Indians who even before the introduction of Christianity typically thought of both leadership and womanhood in remarkably similar terms to the foregoing, of a male or female dignity equally endowed. The Holy Spirit of God indeed working "whither it will". Finer things and people rather wisely being recognized as remaining hidden in the shadows, these often-enough cast by the peremptory, proud or self-assertive, and to come forth rampant, only when needed, in a humility in which true leadership, scholarship and the like carve out as well their more-substantial greatness and self-definition. As being at essence a servitude to others, towel and wash-basin in hand.
The discovery and exploration of that now-lost continent of ourselves is not possible in any other way than by a generous epistemological reciprocation with created things, an externally-mediated self-discovery made necessary by our paradoxically outward-looking yet reflective nature: that of which womanhood, keeper of hearths of all kinds, is in many ways the invariable human touchstone or arbiter. Woman in this sense of conception being ever the harbor of vital thoughts and constructive ideas, in a many-sided reciprocity which matter-condemning U.S. indigenous Puritanism must always ultimately and fundamentally reject. This mutual identification being by definition difficult or impossible to arrive at apart from a close association with other creatures, while having as well a chaste intra-gender expression which puts to good use the essentially feminine, receptive nature of every human soul. Of which God Himself is Bridegroom. A sterile contrary psychology and spirituality being the justification for, and adding much momentum to, an accelerating replacement of things classical and perennial with capitalistic/machismo trivializations of all kinds, in a contumaciously-regarded material world of which womanhood, with its tender and responsive affective immediacy, is correctly sensed as representing a kind of epitome. Even as it yet remains uniquely-capable of the highest of spiritual flights (Teresa of Avila, Saint, 1960). God the Son coming to reveal to us Mary, the New Eve, the Immaculate Conception, simple-humanity-par-excellence, our most congenial model and casting-mold, His partner in our Redemption, as much as anything else.
Even study itself was once conceived of in rich and exuberant terms of self-discovery, involving a becoming, a substantial inner self-translation and self-transformation far different from the barren pedagogies of our times, latter-day methodologies by which the academic hopelessly dismembers a subject, with rare resolution excluding an intimate, tactile/affective relationship, as if fearing some sort of Medieval contamination. No doubt afraid that science might mount from such beginnings to become once again the servant of an equally-embracing Faith. The Medieval “retrogressive” sort of approach, however, aside from unavoidable knowledge-gaps of the day and time regarding the physical sciences, comprises a far-more-solid foundation for real discovery than anything found in today’s social-science methods textbooks, having a sophistication, complexity and fluidity of range which knew little of the fallacy of reductionism. This latter, together with a thought-thwarting atomization, being that upon which both modern methodology and neo-liberal economics alike are substantially built. Both disciplines using blunt, insight-inhibiting instruments for the investigation of organizational phenomena perfectly subtle in every respect; more humane contemplations however threatening to slow men down amid rote tasks in the modern grease-mill: technical, political or academic.
Necessary then too is a sane, holistic and indeed self-interested sort of skepticism which resolutely spurns the insipid "humility" of a standard sort of modern scientist, evaluating in the same realistic scale both the minute hair-splitting of statistical researchers and intimidating dimensions of scientific test-tubes, while happily as well leaving off abject prostrations before galaxies of the universe and dictums of academics alike. Revelation having found its origination at a time when scientific knowledge was barely embryonic, so that religion cannot at all be said to have been "caught off guard" as agnostics ever would have it: although a perpetually-unchanging Faith yet continues to develop horizontally along its own yet-more-cosmic parameters, as man delves ever deeper into its multiple revelatory insights and implications, even more astonishing than those of the physical universe. While on the earthly-scientific plane however the same Faith needs to in a certain sense remain a mere overgrown student keeping pace with the new discoveries of research, at times even resembling Aquinas, or yet more Loyola, in being regarded, however unjustly, as a "dumb ox" in an undersized seat by rows of sometimes-heckling juveniles. Somewhat analogously to the way that Christ while on earth, during processes of making Himself "subject to man", had to "learn" certain operational intricacies of human skill or science, although He knew them intellectually in His divine Mind from all eternity, indeed as their very Author. Catholicism not at all being a religion full of unforeseen, destabilizing shocks and surprises, perpetually threatening to capsize the Bark of Peter, as a gratuitously-brave post-Vatican II anti-church would indeed seem to have it: but rather like a timeless vaulted gothic tracery ready to undergird morally, spiritually and philosophically any number of new discoveries.
Today of course we have to contend with alleged "creation of life" claims, as with respect to the supposed laboratory fabrication of a "living" virus from "off the shelf" DNA: folk-scientific expressions which beg for further clarification, all the while we are on-guard for some new "Peking Man" bogus-discovery, this time out of the quack-world of some new biochemical Teilhard de Chardin and associates. (Footnote: The dubious co-originator of the Peking Man forgery and at least one other such “find”; not to mention his standing as an arch-heretic of the first order.) The genuine discoveries of science not at all threatening our faith, there being actually a faith-corroborative aspect to the new and breathtaking, an ever-youthful awe and wonder of which the truths of faith themselves and as noted partake, these breakthroughs being for one thing a striking reaffirmation of the impassible spiritual nature of human intelligence, one of the oldest of Catholic theological principles. The main distinguishing character of our minds being that they put together worlds of all kinds into wholes through the laborious tools and toils of reason, rather than through the already-whole, instant and intuitive apprehension of the angels: this latter phenomenon being attainable by us, and then only in a partial and occasional way, solely through the possession of a special extra-natural or supernatural gift, given to certain individuals by God. Human reason however in the aggregate, in communities of true learning, being capable of mounting from humbler beginnings to a marvelous wholeness of grasp, many minds working in concert with one another being sometimes capable of uniquely-intuitive, supple and holistic composites of knowledge: a corporative Humanity, “one man in Adam”, according to the “Angelic Doctor”, St. Thomas Aquinas.
But still we mustn't get carried away by any of this, since God remains ever the sole Creator and "Giver of life": so that the noted virus, if indeed thus manufactured, is rather something after the fashion of a sustained chemical reaction. As is in fact substantially confirmed by modern science, which finds viruses to be "genetic entities that lie somewhere in the grey area between living and non-living states". Substances which likewise "depend on the host cells that they infect (in order) to reproduce". While outside these same cells they are "metabolically inert" (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/alllife/virus.html). So that in this reputed new alchemy there are instantly absent more than one of the essential elements of the “creation” of real life. While it remains that such very <i>pin-point</i> "gray areas" as that which divides real life from chemical reaction are of the sort upon which modern atheism most loves to dance. Of course too there is a kind of fitness in a lower category of being which mimics a higher, as for instance in the celebrated and highly-comical case of the ape vis-à-vis the man: all creatures in the first place being identifiable with "their idea" which has always existed in God's mind. An idea which cannot—in that ultimate epistemology which has its home in God—be distinct from His own radically-unitary Self. One which mirror-replicates Itself, as it were, in descending stages of created things. The Emanationists of the Orient, with their numerous descending deities, having in a sense and as is the case with most errors only taken a truth to humorless radical extremes. So that there is no need to make difficulties for ourselves here, since by definition anything that man brings about cannot be true life, any more than the devil can perform a true miracle. Sustainable chain reactions being another affair entirely. Rather are we dealing here once again with a manipulation of a definition, even a kind of scientific semiotics, and not at all a genuine creation, or a calling-into-being-out-of-nothing properly-so-called.
Yet of course science and technology can have fabulous vistas ahead of them, if pursued with seldom-encountered goodwill, for instance in genetically-altered seeds which have revolutionized things like rice production (DeGregori, Thomas R., editor, 1989), staving off starvation almost single-handedly, in many parts of the world, for a whole generation. So that in this area too the prediction of the economist Solow, of a potentially-unlimited resource expansion or substitution, is both timely and realistic. But unfortunately this more-sensible venue of the Creator-like for food-related genetics has more-recently become geared far more to corporate profits than to nutrition or even health, as for instance is shown by the oddly-rough inner textures of certain fruits that came to us marvelously-soft from the hand of God, having too been a ready-made cleanser and lubricant for the intestinal system. But now having in certain cases become so genetically toughened as to better weather a long crated trip around the globe than a short one around the digestive tract. Or for that matter the potatoes that explode when you boil them, or remain for endless minutes rock-hard when, hungry after work or school, attempts are made at their frying. Being however eminently suitable for a bruiseless crating, and an ultimate stockholder-preferred destination as greasy extruded French-fries in some Wendy’s or MacDonald’s.
By the same logic of a mass-produced departure from what is natural, wise and sane has the once-dearly-loved auto in many ways become a heavy ball-and-chain around our ankles: with brutal irony proving in practice to little resemble the prime instrument of personal freedom and rapid flight that it is marketed to be. Instead shackling us to long, depressing freeway excursions, whose exponentially-expanding surfaces threaten to bring into being Boris Pasternak’s poetically-predicted cementing over of the whole earth. While the internet and especially the cell-phone convert many, seemingly unconsciously, and with an odd sort of absorption, into easily-fetched underlings on the end of a cleverly-contrived leash. New products and indifferently-useful accessories, usually only market-oriented variations of things discovered fifty or a hundred years ago, increasingly serving as cluttering snares for human agency, rather than intelligent aids toward its free-flying release.
Hence if we try to make of science and technology something more than they are—limited, contingent things which alike at some point reach a peak of usefulness or value and then fall over the hump of the graph into negatively-sloping territory—then we lose that balance and equilibrium which characterize healthy persons and societies. A womb-like sea in which mortal man is indeed and in many ways the Renaissance “measure of all things”: a preeminence only maintainable in the absence of the catastrophic collisions of an easily-precipitated elemental chaos: that to which both world and universe, and yet more the human mind and soul, can so easily return or devolve. A human ascendancy to be found here based on man's own peculiar, fragile kind of greatness, one only to be fully realized, and even to become resilient and strong, in concert with others, in which scenario mutually-interlocking individual personal frailties and limitations have as critical a place as do powers and prodigies. A whole human social/personal/institutional plethora capable indeed of being lifted to infinitely higher things, but only through entry into the divine sphere of grace.
The Blessed Trinity:
of Human Society
Vital to the understanding of history is the perception of a two-stranded thread that runs throughout its ages: the lighter of the two being that true progress which attends man’s cooperation with the plan of God, long or short time-frames invariably fruitful and productive, crossing new thresholds of art, learning and invention: while the darker of these historical fibers is to be found in eras of rebellion by brave souls against God’s law, of the raising of human sacrificial altars whether real or symbolic, epochs ruled by despots, peopled by societies “quick to shed innocent blood”. A darker strand for instance destined to appear with the dissolution of the pristine but fragile and incipient Catholic civilization, a Roman renaissance quietly thriving in the footsteps of St. Peter, a nascent experiment in Catholic political philosophy of which we know very little in specific, concrete terms: one preserved and developed at Rome and surrounding territories under the moral authority of the Popes until around 1000 A.D. (Noble, Thomas, F.X., 1984) A fatherly civic “household of the Faith”, one which found its spiritual and political heir in a later Vatican States of long duration: these latter destined in turn to be brutally, unjustly and cynically attacked and dismembered by the irreligious forces of an already long-standing alliance of world Jewry and Freemasonry (Brennan, Rev. Richard A., 1877): as the winding alternation of light and dark strands of history took its mysterious, inscrutable course. Both the earlier and the later Christian proto-republic of Rome spreading their formative influence abroad in the way peculiar to that great Gospel tree in which “the birds of the air make their nests”, in a human/divine collaboration impossible to calculate or sum-up. Under the guidance of a Holy Ghost ever “recalling to our minds all things Christ has taught us”; He Who, like an impetuous Heavenly Wind, a bearer of “comfort, light and peace” (Tridentine Canon), of “solace in the midst of woe” (Bonaventure), ever indomitably “works whither He wills” (Holy Gospel).
Actually, the dissolution of the marvelous coalescing Catholic-political microcosm at Rome began in late-ancient times, during barbarian invasions which were however hardly the calamity’s cause: Gothic and other tribes having rather within a remarkably short time shown themselves ready and indeed eager to adopt Christian Civilization, ideals and beliefs (Dawson, Christopher, 1953). The Moslem/Jewish/Frisian slave-trading way of life, linking up forces in the entrepots of the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the English Channel and the Bosporus, being in this author’s opinion the major if subtle factor in the dissolution of the first Catholic Pax Romana: a “more excellent way” whose antecedents in prior pagan forms, before the age of Constantine, had already been distinguished in their progressive manumission and an enlightened provincial and "client state" policy which encouraged distinct native economies, cultures and ways of doing things (Wells, Colin, 1984; Blagg and Millet, 1990). Christ having come among other reasons to identify this full, equitable, reciprocal and socially-beneficial lighter strand, even before it had formally received His mark, as being His very own: by eternal divine decree choosing to do His work during that culminating “fullness of time” of the Augustan Pax Romana. Preaching and teaching His Way within a profoundly-at-rest Roman Empire which, by contrast to ever-incendiary contemporary Jewish Zealots, He was at pains not to disown. A vast realm singularly reasonable, advanced and humane for its time, and in many ways both moral and material comparing favorably even with our very own. (Footnote: Assertion to be found in a History Channel documentary sometime in 2006, specifically dealing with Roman medicine. Again, apologies for the lack of more specifics, from a writer against whom ranks were tightly closed by today’s outsourced academia, and who as a consequence had to do his work in the most unlikely and even obscure of circumstances.) A Savior already preparing to “send forth His Spirit” after His Resurrection, to “renew the face of the earth”, enhancing the Roman distributive economy and power-diffusive table-of-organization in His detailed exposition of the doctrine of the Mystical Body. With this later to be developed in the papal decretals of the Catholic ages (for instance, Internet Sources: Papal Encyclicals, Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis).
A late-ancient period which inaugurated the tumultuous rise of the Byzantine Empire to dizzy heights of power would witness Constantinople’s gratuitous and developmentally-disastrous crushing of the Ostrogoths, during the reign of Justinian, and a foreign policy generally bent on conquest and war. The latter, himself a doctrinally-orthodox Catholic emperor, yet being imbued with a despotic lust for domination entirely pagan in temper: a penchant assimilated under the influence of a nearby Antioch which was in turn much admired by an Eastern-Empire-founding Diocletian and a tradition-setting majority of his immediate successors. A legendary city which from the time of Antiochus IV five centuries earlier had been a major harbor of both magical mystery cults and radical notions of absolutist power. So that it is indeed in Byzantium that we see the first Christian-era irruption of a business-as-usual compromise with the world, indeed with the worst evils of any time. The dichotomy being for the first time cynically promoted among “those of the household of the Faith” that earthly matters are rightly under the domination of worldly men: indeed, according to deepest tenets of this immerging institution of Lay Investiture: that the Church herself, the very Bride of Christ, is meant in practical, day-to-day terms to veritably cower under a frowning, all-determining secular mandate of an absolutist, and in our own day a totalitarian, kind. A destructive error in which the ever-busy hand of the Jews is supremely evident, whose contemporary stronghold was indeed at the same Antioch, and who in this way would be striking both at Rome (in introducing in her territories this new conquest-bent folly) and at Catholic Faith (Christianity being already known by that name): each equally hated by the synagogue since the time of Our Blessed Lord. This new and formidable caesaro-papal political falsehood stemming most immediately from the more-or-less direct projection-upon-Christianity of the ancient pagan-Roman Pontifex Maximus or roughly translated, “highest bridge to the divine” ceremonial function of the Roman Emperors: the pope and priesthood after Constantine being destined quickly to be demoted to the level of an ancient soothsayer-priestly “pocking at the entrails of a bird” under the "high-priesthood" of a secular realm. The clergy and hierarchy being relegated to function as mere repositories of ceremony or ritual, in a grasp of the place of religion actually more pagan-Middle-Eastern than Roman: this according to the above-noted love-affair of Diocletian with Antioch and its legacy. A kindred spirit indeed just then irrupting in Persia as well, a normally staid and reasonable kingdom fallen under the full sway of Mani and his Manichaeans: the Dualist, anti-matter curse of late-ancient and early-medieval worlds. According to the new and fractured view, of a stark and Puritanical division of realms, religion inevitably coming out the loser in practical terms: with the spiritual having been exalted into rarified, unreachable, human-life-alien heavenly spheres, the Church in Eastern realms being allowed precious-little impact upon day-to-day—let alone Imperial—life. Here, then, the first appearance of a false, shameful meekness that is “humble at the expense of Christ”: a crowning folly to fulminate fully in our very own times, and one of the main determinant of the reappearance of the noted darker historical thread. This craven prostration of divinely-revealed Religion before men destined to be thunderously condemned in those very words among an embattled league of faithful, largely-Latin-country bishops at Vatican I.
Not surprisingly, these darker fibers coming into their own, the polity being built upon a major falsehood as if upon a cracked foundation stone: this newly-developing Greek theocracy, centered on a recently-erected Byzantium located far to the North of the old Peloponnesian city-states, would prove itself, immediately after Constantine, to be a veritable fountainhead of theological errors of many kinds: its spirit of Imperially-promoted doctrinal independence quickly and understandably becoming a dynastic trademark, among autocrats who would brook no bounds on their power, who would indeed make political autocracy the permanent trademark of the gradually developing, ironically-heterodox “Orthodox” faith. Thereby concomitantly throttling the babe of Eastern-Christian free institutions in its very cradle in the Mediterranean world. This tumultuous trend being destined to culminate in the fatal breakaway declarations and Trinitarian formulary of Photius, and a later final break with Rome in 1054: presenting us with the picture of a secular throne repeatedly usurping even papal authority, in an obscure See however only founded several centuries after the death of the last Apostle. A novel departure, finally, coming at the twilight of a Patristic Era during which the entire world, political or theological friend or foe alike, had unanimously recognized Rome itself—and hardly the barely-founded “New Rome” of Byzantine fancy—as the locus of Peter’s Chair.
Hence does this darker of the two noted threads invariably culminate in the spiritual and material deteriorations of some new and power-hungry "Dark Age", as by a kind of law of history all its own. While at the same time, in that paradox which is the unfailing companion of the Christian ages, preparing in the very darkest obscurity itself of dungeons, catacombs and barbaric persecutions the “light at the end of the tunnel” of a renaissance of Catholic forms. Humankind manifesting in its epochs a "philosophy of history" moral and volitional in nature, rather than inevitable and deterministic as in that of Toynbee or Marx. The latest such eras now indeed coming to its cataclysmic close as I write, a climax hopefully to be of short, if apocalyptic, duration, and no doubt destined to bring to a definitive end capitalism’s long-standing destructive reign. An immediately-pre-End-Time manifestation, seemingly occurring within the confines of that span of years referred to in the aggregate, in Our Lord’s own timetable, as "the time is not yet". Our time being one when the devil, according to one Catholic seer of the eighteenth century, thus knowing that he has but "little time left", uses all the tools at his disposal in one desperate maneuver after another, this to bring down the benign, orderly and salutary plan of God. The fiend inaugurating as always his short-lived and illegitimate reign with the universal collapse of stable socioeconomic forms, in a stage-call to which history is no stranger: a three penny opera whose galleries today gasp apprehensively as purely-tactical "stock rallies" rising up one after bubble-punctured other, in a déjà vu replay of the uncannily-similar if less media- and debt-derivative-disguised downward spiral of the Great Depression (Galbraith, John Kenneth, 2001). A gaudy burlesque indeed, at whose closing curtain, incalculable in its timing, “someone has to pay the piper” nonetheless.
Hence too did the first noted cycle of decay betray itself in a sixth and seventh century disuse-associated silting up of ports and rivers, as seen from Egypt to England (Haslam, Jerry, ed., 1984): an infallible sign of the break-down of constructive imperial authority, the break-up of dikes and dams, the erosion of un-drained, un-maintained fields and the collapse of retaining-walls. A similar disintegration being seen today, as the darker strand reemerges in especially-startling relief, in a progressive economic collapse of much of Latin America, of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, or for that matter of the tottering titans China (Chang, Gordon G., 2001) and the United States. With Jews and diminishing numbers of associated elites carrying away an increasingly “private equity” prize (CNBC Television, April 2007). In all such eras, in the midst of a spreading, impoverishing intellectual obscurity and a hearkening-back to the whip-wielding task-masters of Egypt, the value of human life and popular wealth-and-agency-producing activity lose ground.
Thus today, in darker fibers now triumphant, do we see the cultivation of a mere two percent at most of the earth's arable soil, this while hundreds of millions of babies are aborted for a purported lack of means and the poor take to the streets as ragged individuals, pairs or families. All this in spite of an unprecedented exploitation of resources, one which if properly allocated would be able to amply feed, clothe and house many times over the present world population. In the absence of which re-channeling the entire economy of Latin America, despite the embattled reaction of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and several others across the region, finds itself depending on a U.S.-demand-driven drug trade to keep it only marginally afloat. Even as the global corporate world uses the prostration of indebtedness and political/military intrigue to gain control of drinking-water and crop-seed the world over, with the same corporate/government amalgam, ostensibly the only "leader" we have left, continuing in other ways to wreak unabated havoc on the global good as well.
Analyzed here, then, is not the endless phenomenology of a Marxian dialectic but rather the see-saw manifestations of the struggle of the ages for the salvation of souls, one waged relentlessly between forces constructive and destructive, good and bad. The ultimate issue of human history being none other than the greater glory of God, a theme often played out in the most blinding obscurity, its issue nonetheless to be descried clearly in some coming age; with crystal brilliance in the World to Come. This divine glory being the one worthy goal, played out in every particular of human life, entailing a struggle whose final happy earthly/institutional issue has however already been decided on Calvary. A victory the palm-strewn path to which has likewise been prepared in an integrated body of Catholic socioeconomic and political thought and teaching; a higher goal which man must continually keep in sight lest he fatally stray from the one and only azimuth of earthly affairs, and be lost in that chaos to which material things, when pursued by rational life as ends in themselves, so quickly return. A standard of true order held aloft amid the rigors of a desperate warfare of variable seasonal intensity: with this oft-ridiculed but divinely-honoring holy grail being the very definitive wellspring of Western character and culture alike.
Not surprisingly does a radically-contrary faith-without-works religion lay instinctive claim to the Old Testament Jew as its personification, as a last-trench ally in a hopeless theological battle: a son of David whose seemingly-simpler but in fact far-more-obscure religion, lived so long ago, makes him an easy mark for historical misrepresentations of many kinds. The modern-day Jacobin/capitalist often naming his children after the Prophets and Patriarchs, but little wishing to see the pious zeal of one of them manifest itself in their persons: modeling ancient figures with a strict moral code which especially focused on the very same widows and orphans that formed so much of Our Lord’s special concern, in preoccupations which would later especially epitomize the Catholic moral spirit as well, and violation of which code often brought upon those early Jews the many retributions of which the pages of the Old Testament are so full. A people who likewise had those other “good works” of the era’s ritual observances as an integral part of their faith-motivated journey: both of which, ritual and moral, to be superceded in the New Testament by even-more-demanding Gospel admonitions, raising all to a higher plane in Christ, making us capable of generous imitations of His own self-sacrificing love. That agape in which human life and character reach their highest summit, imbued with a Love of the Holy Ghost enabling us to “run in the way of the commandments”, whereupon otherwise we would at best only lamely and haltingly walk. The Decalogue and related spiritual counsels likewise containing essential and inseparable components of civic devotion without which we are indeed but “tinkling brass”.
But even the American Protestantism of our everyday experience shows itself in practice to be extremely uncomfortable with the moral non sequiturs so at the heart of that Reformation from which it sprang—anomalies indeed and as noted implicit in a dichotomous Orthodoxy as well—embodying as these gargantuan disconnects do a denial of things quite obvious to the bulk of humanity. The occasional Mary Dyers—literal believers in the Reformer's most radical, consequential, good-works-denying departures—never being very popular for very long, often having short, violently-eventful careers (Gaustad, Edwin S., editor, 1993). Breathless promoters to the contrary notwithstanding, Christ's Way, which as He assures us is His very self-sacrificing Self, plainly not being a radical disconnect with mankind-in-general, its pathetic frailties, its universal moral instincts, at least to those “with eyes to see”. Morality and humanity being inseparably welded together in the natural law, “written on tablets of flesh”: in relation to which Christianity can hardly be seen as some kind of aloof, superiority-imbued Judeo/Calvinist rapture-of-the-elect away from a hopelessly inferior breed. Christ being rather “the desired of the ages”, the moral law’s long-awaited redemptive blossoming and fulfillment—“I come not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it”—the ritual Law fulfilled allegorically, the moral literally. Thus alone sealing a restored friendship between God and man.
But given a generous lease on life by the gigantism of capitalistic scale would be the same basically-elitist Reformer dichotomy: “religion” returning the favor by providing the new economic system’s crying need to “justify” the enslavement of “lesser” peoples, the taking of their lands and resources. Those of the cloth in other words absolving “works” that are bad, not good. The new creed promising to have been stillborn without the new economic ideology, and vice-versa, neither auguring, by its grim and gratuitous pronouncements, any hope of prospering on its own sanctimonious steam. The new global system holding out—invitingly to certain souls—the prospect of a near-limitless stage upon which to dualistically separate deed from Faith, profit from commandment: since for one thing it is so much easier to disregard the needs and misfortunes of someone who lives far away, but whom our treacheries, omissions or trade policies nonetheless gravely injure or even destroy. And to absolve carefully-ignored, ostensibly unintended cruelties under the handy Invisible Hand doctrine, adding a further responsibility-removing step to Reformer ablutionary altar-calls. Like a card player unaccountably but with rare thrift taking on the airs of holiness, even as he attributes his success to "the breaks of the game", or a Church bowing to the demands of a greedy emperor, surrendering prerogatives divine, permitting an ill-admitted and facile dealing from the bottom of the deck, with no need to even meet his victim eye to eye. The radically-vitiated Christianity that results when contaminated by such shifting spiritual sands easily relegating Christ to the role of a kind of wandering purist sage, an enthusiast brimming over with pious injunctions however held to be sadly inapplicable to "the hustle and bustle of a busy world". This ever the view of Jewry against the true and Catholic Way.
But perhaps most ironic and confounding of all would be the way that capitalism-congenial, cleaver-like-dichotomous, Gnostic-anti-matter purisms and idealisms would join forces with such a compromised Christianity in sectarian hybrids bent on a fanatical frustration or denial of the human body itself, ample selective indulgences aside. A bizarre phenomenon however which is only a logical outcome of Luther’s separation of deed from faith, the sole dependency on the latter having opened the way for the invention of another kind of "holiness" entirely from that of the genuine Christian creed. While ultimately being showcased here is the denial of the central reality of human salvation, the Hypostatic Union of two natures in Christ: the human and the divine. The infernal aim being the undoing of a Heavenly knitting together for the temporal and eternal profit of man, as a consequence of which humanity is left “wounded, in a ditch”, in both these inseparable regards.
Hence no sooner than we scornfully turn from the mild and humane injunctions of the Savior we are in the next moment met, along life's well-traveled corridors, by a human nature which must ceaselessly introduce the challenging and difficult into human life, in an irrepressible impulse—to which a guilty conscience can be “like pouring fuel on fire”—a drive which as history has indeed amply revealed needs the moderating wisdom of a divinely-appointed Church government to keep it in due bounds. Biblically-misinterpreted "offending eye" or other manias having been the downfall of more than one deluded zealot like Origen, with such an innate human urge to "do the difficult," according to the well-spoken words of Ben Hur's Messala, being an aspect too of the highly-potent, malleable-and-unpredictable impulse of natural religion. Embryonic, "tribal" elements which often seem exotic or bizarre when manifested in some other nation or culture yet which are nonetheless part of the innermost identity of us all. An ultimately irrepressible human component quite capable of being tamed and harnessed by grace, indeed representing humanity’s revelation-uninformed groping toward God, a higher-instinct indeed planted there by God Himself. A primeval boon which nonetheless, once having willfully departed from the wise and orderly plan of God, inevitably proves a “wild card” indeed. A guilty humanity readily going to all sorts of rigorous extremes, whether backward or futuristically "forward" in time, whether in homage to a stark new asceticism, a mystery cult, a stock market, a star-trek, the lure of earthly danger, or some other benchmark of total oblivion or self-oblation. In an absorption ever-ready to go to fanatical extremes, one which typically and with uncanny deftness manages to drown out the cries of one’s dispossessed neighbor as well.
Hence that familiar bundle of paradoxes that is seen so often among those who find the Catholic patience and clemency too heavy a yoke to bear, having once disowned that frail commonality which is the human bond, whether in a marriage partner or a distressed neighbor or employee. Travelers on such a "broad way" who however tend to redefine life, a mere mile or two down its rosy path, in the most harsh and demanding of self-imposed terms. A grim path of course with a quantum-leap over a preternatural cliff at its very end. Some such travelers having been known to go the length of calling for the near-complete auto-destruction of the human body, or an analogous more or less complete eradication of passion, that by which the Gnostic-hated flesh most notably asserts itself. And in which sin, by the perennial purist logic, is thought essentially to consist. Hence too a much-remarked Orthodox monastic or Catholic Fraticelli and Penitente heroic-penitential élan, in rigors which have often been known to give way at last to renewed spectacular fits of rage or carnal passion. Replacing with a kind of ambivalent, implacable zeal the reasoned, truly-passion-mortified conviction of the Christian ages: that which has been known to be as satisfied, ultimately, with the humble civic, domestic and neighborly joys and sacrifices of a devout daily existence as with a bloody martyrdom in some howling pagan arena. And all the more so needing no lurid, dichotomous contrasts of "sainthood" and sin.
One can also see only too well how such a fierce morality would be tailor-made for application in the work-houses and gulags of capitalism, there to heroically tread mild and unthreatening humanity, uncannily trans-mutated into the incurably-"depraved" nature of the Reformers—supremely realizable in "lower races"—under supposedly exalted and deserving feet. The gentle manner of enslaved peoples, invariably bold in war but kindly in peace, being eagerly fixed upon with cheaply-bought bravery as a just cause for injustice and contempt: so that conversely under this inverted morality the more a gratuitous act of cruelty partakes of an unblinking impassivity the more it can be accounted, without too much stretch of a willing imagination, a kind of pinnacle of virtue. In what may ultimately and by degrees become an active endorsement of the very cold-blooded deeds and motivations which Our Blessed Lord most pointedly condemned throughout the Holy Pages. Capitalism’s unique and constant exploitation of people of color being a wrong naturally finding a place amid ritual notions of a savage and unforgiving purity, it being an especially polluting violation of that “law of our minds” which is meant to discipline Christian conduct. Reason, especially as further informed by grace, captivating and engrossing the fervent inner jurist with its subtle and delicate injunctions and provisions, while as might be expected the coarser inward bench of the unrelenting predictably regards a lack of a rigorous "self-control" as being endemic to the “lower races” and nationalities. As for instance by a sensitivity whether to the plight of a neighbor or out of a visibly-manifested shock at the infliction of cruelty: a responsiveness which has a close cousin in that correspondence which in truly-pious souls eagerly greets the grace of God, the Author of all four.
In a world in which goodness, again, is conceived of as a rigid command over all feelings and reactions, and evil, conversely, as a lack of that same ironclad self-possession, the gentle, divinely-and-humanly responsive Catholic personality is perforce and in particular hated and despised: accounting, for instance, for the fact that far more Catholics died at Auschwitz, under the Nazi hip-boot, than did Jews. A particular once attested to me by a priest who had been imprisoned there essentially for the duration, and who had escaped execution himself by a series of miraculous interventions, as well as by serving as a much-needed nurse, a profession which he had indeed once practiced. A reality however, this Catholic Holocaust, hardly able to stand before the verbal winds of today’s Zionist control of the press. While cut from the same cruel sort of cloth is the Hollywood-scripted display of warped deeds against all sorts of inoffensive people—as if by their very mild-mannered and sensitive dispositions inviting and almost deserving their demise—helping in turn and by inescapable example to bring about the near-total lack of mercy and social justice that we see around us today—as well as the rapid burgeoning of twisted, brutal, sometimes-murderous forms of sexuality which are fast becoming the hallmark of our day. The TV screen serving as that bad company which Catholicism teaches that we must shun at all cost, breeding an ambient implacability among men at large, whether as seen in the blandly-accommodated homelessness, the daily chariot race of the freeway, or the sit-com sadisms of office, home, neighborhood or school. These cruelties somehow, by the strange attractions of the noted Gnostic impassivity, being made to appear desirable, or at least enviably "cool".
But as intimated above all this love of the frosty, the rigid and the abstractly-ideal indicates a deeper reality underlying capitalism’s martinet-like disciplines and merciless payment schedules: rather ultimately uncovering Satan’s arrogant rejection of all things fragile, passable and material, this stygian malice the very infernal fountainhead of a Gnostic/Puritanical world, revealing to us a rebellion not only against frail humanity or materiality but also against that ultimate Quiddity or Reality of which all physical things are the merest faint reflections. A constant Christian tradition holding that eons ago the same purely-spiritual being, the Devil, was tested by being informed that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would in a following age take humble human flesh, born of a lowly maid, in a Hypostatic Union which however scarcely brought him to adore God’s unfathomable condescension in such an act, which would have secured his eternity, but rather aroused that arrogant rebellion against so good a God that would be his own undoing. A rebellion with a decided note of envy against a diabolically-despised, frail yet for-all-that highly-privileged human race. This inconceivable act of divine condescension, the Incarnation, being thereafter the source of Satan's hatred for a physical universe which was to him such a stumbling-block and at the center of which is man: but a hatred foremost for that Savior Who would be so humble as to take to Himself our breakable but marvelous and much-loved nature. So that from such an infernal forefather would originate a "brave" political/economic system, and endless forms of false religion, in which the human is painstakingly separated from the divine, the interests of the weak and needy from vaunted schemes of the strong and rich. Mercy and humanity being systematically removed from the fundamental institutions of human life, in a phenomenon finding its apogee in a Twenty-first Century global tyranny which ever threatens to destroy all humanity in new, unprecedented and oddly-vindictive ways, unleashing once again a recurrent elemental chaos, one only held in abeyance by a continual cooperation with the ever-mild divine plan.
Yet most importantly of all, this fallen, implacable world, as the reading of several Gospel passages reveals, is something which Christ has already definitively “overcome”: so that the Savior not only reestablished our friendship with God but at the same time brought us the prospect of the reconstruction of a noble social and material human life. That precisely which is the aim of the Catholic political view, as one aspect of Christ’s "behold, I make all things new." The Cross and Resurrection effecting a substantial repairing of the damage of the Fall, in a certain profound sense an actual improvement on the boons of the Paradise of Eden, with the Disciples thereafter counseling a vigorous economic development in their call for an Epistle “abundant sufficiency”, and this on all human planes. A harvest of which the humble Sacramental signs of bread, wine and oil are in their own inimitable, unitary way symbolic: having each a socially-life-giving signification as well as a nutritive one, all the while there is nourished that in man which “lives not by bread alone”. Since Christ the antechamber of Heaven, humbly-decorated though it be, being this very earth, as saints and holy teachers alike have indeed throughout the anno domino ages assured us.
True Catholic love, founded within this earnest and ebullient, non-fragmented Christocentric view, can be shocking to many, and depending upon the degree of their blindness, prejudice or timidity even be thought of as scandalous. Genuine Catholicism being more than anything a capacitousness which embraces all things, but some in particular in a measure which partakes of the very infinitude of God. Souls thus imbued being generous even toward those persons that are comparatively less-important to them, and prodigal toward others more intimately regarded: in the most authentic Catholic view with every creature having its own well-regarded and proportional place, each being in some way duly honored. While the all-too-typical open or hidden contempt of Americans of all persuasions for this fundamental Catholic generosity—as if for something foolish or even unmanly—a self-giving expressed in the most practical and fully-demonstrated terms, a quality most full developed in Catholic Europe—this species of arrogance comes dangerously close to being an unforgivable blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. The all-embracing, yet entirely chaste, modest and respectful, Catholic love being an interlocking existential masonry of concerns, loves and loyalties which mounts upward to the very heavens, in an original positive ordering, in which penitence and mortification themselves have their true and constructive place, whose substantial demise was an essential consequence of Original sin. A joyful Catholic existence any attempt at whose redefinition in terms more rigid and confining only lets loose upon a deserving Pharisaical humanity the inscrutable chaos of an unredeemed void, a stranger to that good ordering which is noble, clement and mild. Here too being much of the moral difference between peoples and societies of all creeds, according to the measure by which they have been formed under institutions and inspirations that are reasonable and grace-responsive, two sides of the same Godly coin: those less so influenced tending toward the cold and rigorous, brittle and exacting, their opposites toward the loving and sanguine, the supple and strong.
But in contrast to such reasonable, heartening things and as suggested above the cosmos of capitalism easily embraces the most bizarre and improbable of lifestyles, theories and conjectures, to whose harsh practical consequences modern man readily and even eagerly surrenders himself, as in the Marxist’s almost touchingly-naive faith in his suicidal, conflict-ridden dialectic: a tautology not only contradictory but in a way actually based upon the principle of violent logical contradiction. This while the same almost-heroically-blind, credulous self-commitment must also be acknowledged in the modern-day stockholder, absorption in whose Big Board with an inexorable, knife-plunging periodicity reminiscent of lurid rites in medieval Mexico city has been the ruin of so many. Similarly, today’s masses promptly render an equally-enthusiastic auto-da-fe of their intellectual and moral life to the latest fad introduced by the latest sitcom: not at all holding back in this business of self-commitment, rather only searching for some new and yet-more obscure and irrelevant cause or belief into which to fling themselves. In this endless soap-opera "search for tomorrow" finding scant satisfying discoveries but many ill-recognized escapes, discarding burdens incumbent upon a soundly-exercised mind and will, relinquishing a justice and love that recognizes itself as its "brother's keeper", for which flight from happy things the deluded modern is willing to invent any number of idolatries. A headlong flight from accountability for thoughts, words and deeds, an answerability which by nature cannot be dictated out of existence by some corporate manager, or group of conformity-exacting peers, who generally prove far more harsh, arbitrary and unpredictable in their expectations than does that good God into Whose hands St. David so preferred to fall.
Within this Catholic, universal and unitary view much of the higher purpose of material things is found in their role as being but one vast collective painting or retable for the contemplative worship of God: by their beauty provoking an adoration by intelligent life which is in turn the harvest which God most wishes to gather from such a field. An appreciation augmented by an urban development, an ecology, a gardening, a craftsmanship “dedicated to thankfulness”, not at all tied to miserly "present value" calculations, and even a devotional art which celebrates Christ’s wedding of the human and the divine in His own very Person, the christening of earthly things being portrayed in wood or stone, oils or acrylics. Substances no longer fashioned as visages of demons, as carved altars for bloody pagan rites: but rather as upwardly-tending vehicles of holy sentiments dedicated to God, much indeed like the Seraphim in the ancient Temple, hovering over the Tabernacle. This while the wicked by contrast rather “bury” all these creational treasures “in the ground” of their conceit, profit and earthly glory, as much as possible making them available to their neighbor only “for a fee” or even "at interest". Heady exertions during which the Biblically-identified “rich” might be heard to mutter that they are “not their brother’s keeper”, let alone the custodians of the heaving prayer of a universe. Crowning this all-embracing Catholic cosmology, then, is the Catholic life of prayer and contemplation: essentially Trinitarian, drawn from the font of the Seven Sacraments, a stranger to false ideology and harsh or shallow enthusiasm alike. A spirituality which is very much a case of the individual soul being pulled into the overpowering might of that Kamikaze, that Heavenly Wind, the Trinitarian breathing back and forth of the Holy Ghost that goes on for all eternity between the Father and the Son (John of the Cross, Saint, ed. 1953). Since "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost", sanctifying grace having disposed the soul to "possess the Divine Person" (Aquinas, St. Thomas, ed. 1947). The most humble and the most sublime of true spirituality being in essence derived from the same divine exchange, in a mutual engagement which is likewise uniquely reflected in the myriad relations of creatures, crowned by humane reciprocities of personal love and of social, political and economic forms.
Gregorian Chant is an ageless and incomparable divinely-inspired representation, in sound, symbol and gesture, of these same divine Spirations: the old Divine Office, as it is termed, being mostly in the form of a dialogue between two alternating choirs, which answer each other after the manner of the heavenly converse of Father and Son. A colloquy which marvelously incorporates millennia of human musical and literary tool marks of many kinds, a chant which, especially as restored to its richest authenticity by the genuine and painstaking Catholic liturgical reform that took place during the first half of the twentieth century, tonally swells and subsides according to a respiration all its own. This genuine "renewal" having been a process calmly embarked upon by the Church at centuries-long intervals, without any of the over-wrought enthusiasms or media-hype such as have attended the efforts of more recent decades. This timeless and inestimable gift however doomed to be summarily superceded by the Guardinis, Bugninis and other revolutionaries that so dominated the agenda proceeding from Vatican II: church-music being by their able hands reduced to a juvenile simplicity which would easily go from there to the drum-beat of a once-celebrated "Kumbai-Ya" liturgy: hated more than anywhere else in an Africa in which tribal divisions are easily stirred up when one tribe's language is chosen as the norm. Chant a divine colloquy hardly being meant to be the left-over preserve of elitists and racially-prejudicial elements that have too often come to dominate Catholic-traditionalist enclaves; a position to which it is nonetheless most often relegated today.
This spiritually-overpowering traditional psalmody is unique univocal partner to a simple organ-accompaniment, providing a humble-but-heavenly slurry upon which divinely-modeled prayers upwardly glide, an unobtrusive musical device, this organ/vocal harmony, unreasonably scorned by those many modern exponents of the "purity" of a strictly a-capella rendering—or as they would say, with only the "naked purity of the human voice"—a relinquishment traditionally entertained only by those Carthusians who have no such music-theoretical purism but rather only a rigorous spiritual penance in mind. Purists like that having grown up like the biblical tares, already from the end of the Second World War, subversives who came to commandeer this monastic musical paradise of two thousand years. A tonal patrimony amplified in its soul-nourishing task by a sixteenth-century Palestrina and other multi-part choral ecclesiastical composers, both working in tandem toward an individual reclamation which in turn is so productive of a true social solidarity, rather than opening up potentially-morbid caverns of incalculable group-induced emotion, as in the “Amazing grace” “wretch-like-me” effusions of our own day and time. These latter many times capable of being turned to any number of secondary, group-stampeded purposes, as in the typical parish-level American Catholic Church of today, a decade or two ago mindlessly pacifistic, now for the most part groveling before Bush-Obama global-scale militarism. Today’s liturgy of the Mass, largely a stranger to its former outward majesty of character, being more-or-less stage-scripted for effect, with the priest, or podium-installed lay-deacon or female all-purpose attendant now facing the congregation and as it were dominating the liturgy, having all-too-typically gone the length and converted themselves into variants of a Hollywood MC, potential prime tools of any sort of actual or subliminal promotion or propaganda. Hence while in the old liturgy the celebrant remained almost unnoticed, a humble, self-effacing surrogate for Christ, now he typically "performs" before a congregation, these still in many cases, in the style of the first years after Vatican II, with arms or hands joined, and here and there on occasion rocking back and forth to guitar or piano, in a kind of illusory state of a group/volitional fusion. In all these new liturgical departures wings being given, more than anything else, to the above-noted escape from that which capitalism/collectivism most hates and fears: individual moral responsibility. Post Vatican II Catholicism being a central part of a universal, essentially-a-moral syncretism, the only “correct” religion of today, scarcely needing to trouble itself seriously over denominational differences.
Divine Love, as noted, contrary to the effervescent chimeras of the weary ages, and like silent but towering waves of a sea, or that chant which is an image of both, inundates the soul from those very same Divine Processions into which it is, like a speck of sand, irresistibly drawn, but from whence it emerges not some lobotomized crew-member of some geo-space-ship but rather volitionally and intellectually resilient, whole and strong. An inundation destined as well relentlessly to demolish the artificial and unsubstantial sea walls of time-bound political, scientific and ecclesiastical error and precipitancy, in an overpowering tide to which however heartfelt human cooperation must be joined, and which conversely human stinginess or lukewarmness alone can cause to subside. A Divine generosity which doesn't easily spend itself, either in human affairs or in the oceanic inner voyage of the spiritual life, in both cases enlarging yet again upon God's initial gift and giving us credit for such magnificent things as we are put in possession of solely by such Trinitarian means. In a divine "folly" far different from that of mythology, whether of the ancient or the modern variety.
St. Teresa of Avila compares the mystical soul in particular to a frail merchant ship upon a wind-tossed sea, overloaded with unmerited treasures that seem about to sink it with each new towering wave of the divine bounty (trans. 1946): an apprehension proportional on its own plane to that often experienced by the truly-pious with each Holy Communion. Of a threatening failure to "measure up", not indeed to the blunt and crass challenges of corporate competition but rather to the delicate impulses and injunctions of Divine Love, a stranger to blunt human assessments of every sort. Of a learning instead how to adequately invest the prodigal riches of the divine Companionship, that which by the self-same law of faith, made manifest in our own very person, is meant to produce a like harvest in other mortals like ourselves, in a reciprocity the unique self-consciousness of whose exalted spiritual/social advantages was to be found in whole Catholic nations as late as the 1960s. Something detectable, and shareable, according to the measure of our faith, even by coarse outsiders like myself, in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, at a time when most still had their Faith.
Here too the deeper and fuller meaning of that “imputation” of justice the misunderstanding of which led Luther into his errors concerning justification. It is indeed true that we can never deserve such blessings, through which, with incomprehensible prodigality, we are constituted as God’s own very sons and daughters, except in so far as God chooses to impute to us such worthiness. Just as He “justified” and chose Abraham to be the father of nations in the proffered but unaccomplished sacrifice of his son. An "election" which enables us to transfer, all undeserving, the atmosphere of the very Divine Trinitarian Household to our Christian homes, social lives and polities, and its joy into the most secret, intimate recesses of our souls and minds. And so we didn’t after all need the Reformers to tell us that it is the way of God to gratuitously share with creatures, whether rational, animal or purely-material, His otherwise incommunicable goodness and love. Be it in the creation of a universe or in the bloody sacrifice of the humanity of His own Son, an offering recapitulated, made spiritually-accessible to humankind daily in the un-bloody “new and everlasting covenant”, of the one-same Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This font of graces imputing an entirely-undeserved worthiness whose liberality, again, constitutes a kind of divine folly, especially considering the grudging race of Adam upon which it is conferred. Leaky vessels which nevertheless such a heavenly Merchant counts sea-worthy to carry inestimable spiritual and sociopolitical goods.
Accordingly, we must not be so rash as to imagine that we have no part in the working out of our salvation beyond the mere uttering of a testimonial. Even if what we contribute, be it the simple performance of moral, social and spiritual duties, acts of true patriotism, the suffering of heavy mental or physical persecutions or even martyrdom, is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what is imputed, indeed, generously given to us in return. The prodigal love and friendship of God. The fact of the impossibility of adequate repayment not at all rendering efforts toward same vain or unnecessary. The Blessed Virgin, like Rebecca of old, under her title Mother of Divine Grace, rather being ready to generously embellish our efforts, and thus to make them worthy of the divine pleasure (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary). Even as she prepares for us an especially-gratuitous “final concession”, in the words of the Fatima seer, of the divine mercy: this in an impending, and indeed unprecedented, reestablishment of the benign and exalted Catholic social and spiritual order. And even as for our part "after doing all these things”, things that our correspondence with such graces requires, we “still remain useless servants", ever in debt for gifts of infinite value, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Implying a condition of humble-if-joyful servitude of which we must remain ever aware.
United with Christ in His invincible moral integrity there is recapitulated in us that “moral” unity of mankind, one spoken of by St. Thomas Aquinas: a human oneness which is in fact essential to our race. A fundamental, metaphysical unity which moved the same Angelic Doctor to term us “one man in Adam”, in a oneness which yet allows for a multiplicity of neighborhoods, nations, tribes and personalities, just as the human body allows for its myriad organs and specialized tissues. This unity something far different from the modern totalitarian/monistic determinism, which ironically and for all its slogans-of-solidarity yet frequently threatens to amputate some needy or vulnerable member, or to terminate the whole in mass starvation or biological or thermonuclear war. A contrastingly true and defining unity being the reason that Original Sin is unfortunately but perforce transmitted over the generations (Aquinas, Thomas, Saint, ed. 1947): this corporate sin however residing on a different plane from purely personal guilt or innocence, likewise constituting yet another reminder that “no man is an island, entirely unto itself”.
In Catholicism, in all its human/divine dimensions, men however "put away the old man and put on the New", in a Calvary-mediated turn of character, a formation most readily brought to perfection through our being mysteriously carried, during a lifelong term, in the spiritually-nourishing womb of Mary, the Mother of Grace, the New Eve. A spiritual womb in which the Mystical Body, the members of the humanity of Christ Who is its Head, is knit most-closely together, in an ineffable gestation which according to St. Louis DeMontfort makes us and our human societies no freaks of either nature or grace (ibid). Our Lord Himself having been formed, as the Nicene Creed tells us, “by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mother”, His Body, grace-infused mankind, finding itself in such a healing and enlivening obscurity secure against the profane probings of social engineers, while even the secular human social body, to the degree it is identified with and influenced by the latter mystical spiritual society, undergoes analogous transforming ministrations as well, sometimes well before the acceptance of Catholic Faith by that society at large. The divinely-loving process of evangelization thus begun informally, in manner and institution, in a most benign and native-custom-embracing way, sometimes long before it commences formally and Sacramentally: in a human development found indeed already among urbanite and barbarian alike in pre-Constantinian Roman times.
Of course, in terms of our social duties, by which we "love one another as He has loved us", this correspondence with grace hardly requires us to overwhelm others with unwanted, let-alone patronizing, attentions, but rather according to the Pauline formula to "anticipate one another in charity", to conceive ingenious contrivances toward our neighbor's peculiar and specific good. Hovering efforts of which however the same neighbor, and certainly any onlooker, is typically and where possible best left unaware: constituting eventualities and surprises far different from the mines and booby-traps of the present-day social interaction. A "forestalling" and painstaking preoccupation of course supremely applicable to the public and political sphere.
Had not God some special message to convey about the whole idea of mother-country, in being so pointedly concerned with the choice of a nation as the vessel of His Revelation? Nay, even more, in being Himself the most loyal and truly patriotic of Israel's many patriotic sons, enlisting Himself among their very number, mingling in a sanguine familiarity with its fishermen, farmers, officials and matrons, in streets, markets and agape-inspired wedding-feasts? For had the familiar-scale, internally- and externally-reciprocal and unique nation meant so little to God as it does to the modern system, then His entire revelation, Old Testament and New, could in many ways just as easily have been spread abroad by a group of world-traveling scholars, some sort of cosmopolitan, "citizen of the world" Magi or Mandarins, with God choosing to grace their numbers by His own presence. Endowing them, instead of the Jewish Apostles, with some sort of charismatic or even apostolic powers. But such a “global efficiency" is not the way of God, being rather more likely to be found in the bailiwick of the perennial anti-system, capitalism, a colossus which will not be satisfied with the devouring of Muslim or partially-Christian nations like Iraq, Lebanon or Palestine, or the various now-mostly-vanished, newly-Catholicized nineteenth century American Indian tribes. So that for instance on another plane we see it presently poised to devour great sections of "listed" nationally-defining historic English cityscape (Ross, Michael, J.P.M.A., 1990), in that judicial/corporate end-run around land use protective institutions which has for some time now been a familiar phenomenon on these more-Westerly shores, even as the children of the same Londoners for most practical purposes identify with the amorphous anti-culture of present-day globalist society. In beginnings of a process whereby all of the more-dominant nationalities, whether English or Chinese, German or American, will in the end face the same melt-down as we have experienced here, if it is allowed to continue. Since the strange god of capitalism can ultimately tolerate no other loves, loyalties, or even symbols, other than its own, in a wickedness if not indeed “intrinsic” to capitalism, as noted in one papal encyclical, then one which nonetheless follows sooner or later in practical fact, as most evils do. That socioeconomic devolution namely that has been traced in previous pages, a very death-agony of the national life. That stable reality, hardly meant to be "developed" into oblivion, capable of uniting many races and cultures within its legitimate, unifying, peace-loving embrace.
Catholic political Civilization, a Trinity-inspired stow-away often ironically carried in the cavernous holds of the ocean-going vessels of a Jewish capitalism morbidly bent on its demise, has yet proven to be far and away the more consequential of its many cargoes, destined to proliferate across the Globe in myriad locally-specific, reciprocal forms of law, culture and economic development, albeit under a synagogue influence which has too often twisted much of the Christian message involved. Catholicism under the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her generous sharing of our joys, sorrows and place-specific cultures, as well as under the tutelage of monks and missionaries, brokering a Civilization that remains a continuous living historical mold into which all of our more pedestrian lives may be—and to the varying degrees of our inescapable exposure to it have been—poured. A mold, often neglected and disowned, the breaking of which however would take far more than the many radical anti-matter ideological and moral rebellions of the centuries; a cultivar destined in the near-future to be purified of those Gnostic/Puritan economic and political forms, unnatural barriers to a baptized cult-culture-law sequence meant to bring whole societies unfailingly to the Heavenly throne. For that sociopolitical mold is “not of this world”, rather being hidden away in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, there remaining free and invincible against the assaults of purists and philistines alike, ever patiently-but-indomitably self-repairing to the honor and glory of God, even if time-bound individual nations and persons, or even global systems, choose to isolate themselves from its salutary influence. These being fated, when all is said and done, to be mere object lessons on the royal road of the divine triumph of Christ, to culminate at last in the Second Coming.