Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Missing Element

Image result for left at the altarI know I've been on a bit of a jag about marriage and feminism, etc., recently. But, really, it's been an interest of mine since, oh, I don't know, I got married.

Actually, even before that. I was raised in a family. Like some of you. My parents' marriage was typical and a-typical. I suppose the opening words of Anna Karenina might apply:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Was it a happy or unhappy marriage?

I don't believe in that dichotomy. It doesn't really apply very much in the world of men, They had good spots and bad spots. Put it this way, it was good enough that all three of their sons would get married, and so far, all of them continuously for more than 15 years.

On the other hand, I am highly critical of marriage stuff and gender stuff. Even insofar as it appears in the lives of Catholics.


The problems and blessings of marriage are Christ-facts.

Consider this video. It is argued not by one person who is clearly right and one person who is clearly wrong. And that fact is what makes it interesting and worth thinking about. It is also what led me to see once again the importance of this single law: marriage with Christ is one thing, marriage without Christ is something else, doesn't work and is basically of no interest to me.

In this video we have Turd Flinging Monkey (henceforth TFM) criticizing someone from Prager U (henceforth PU) I respect both entities. But they are like children in the market place: "We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn." (Mt 17) In other words, they are playing around with ideas and missing the key point. Why doesn't either side acknowledge the role that Christian theology has played in marriage? Why do they treat it like it's a purely natural institution and that the issue of marriage today can be dealt with on a purely naturalistic basis, when what we have here, the crisis that both sides are attempting to address, is what results when you take away the benefits, values and virtues that Christian discipleship brings to marriage, though not its expectations. In other words, the high view of marriage that we have in the West about marriage came by way of Christianity, a view that replaced the Roman view that had dominated before that. Do you honestly think that Muslims, Hindus and the Chinese look at marriage the way we do, or that the differences between us are insignificant?

Yes, there are some commonalities. Marriage is about sex, children and common economies (original word, oeconomia was Greek for household management, btw) in every culture. But is this really what PU and TFM are disagreeing over? PU says marriage makes men better, and he is pretty much correct; TFM says it makes too many men victims, and he is pretty much right. But how can they both be right? Because a good thing, marriage, very often goes wrong. It's like credit cards - very useful but potentially very harmful; or guns.

No one talks about the good of marriage, it seems to me, without being influenced by the Christian tradition. Why does PU do it? I don't know precisely, but you can bet that an at least tacit espousal of Christian principles lies underneath. Why does TFM complain about marriage today? Because he wishes the Christian view of marriage were true (at least tacitly, unconsciously), that is to say, obtained in real life. From my study of MGTOW, I have been forced to conclude that these men do not hate women; they hate the way women are today. Who can blame them? And, who can blame these terrible women for acting and being the way they are, seeing that they are no longer protected by Christian assurances?

You cannot have fidelity, faithfulness and fruitfulness - the good around which the Christian understanding of marriage is based - if you do not consider these goods as laws of conduct binding your conscience and your eternal fate.

PU wants to argue us into marriage by saying that men work harder and make more money in marriage. Pretty weak argument. The alternative that TFM gives us, doing your own thing, spending your own money, working and playing as much or as little as you want, is weak too - whom does that make happy for very long? PU says that men spend less time in bars when they are married - who said that is bad? Sitting around drinking with your friends doesn't sound too bad, does it? You need to give me something more than a traditional Christian view of life disguising itself as an economic argument! PU is either confused or dishonest. Probably confused.

Christianity's view of marriage is the one we all dream about, but the one for which hardly any of us are willing to sacrifice. We want the white dress without the virginity; the veil without the 'unknowing' it signifies; we want to be desired without being sexually fruitful; we want fidelity without the concrete bonds fidelity implies; we want faith given to us without giving faith to the other; we do not trust and so cannot act in a trustworthy manner.

Because of all of this, I don't care about pagans' discussions about marriage. It's like listening them discuss when they should get vasectomies. Tune out. Because of this, I don't care about their weddings, the children they raise in insecure homes because they are not willing to give these children the security they deserve from marriage as I understand it.

To MGTOWs, I say, become Catholic. It teaches everything the absence of which has so hurt you!

To Prager and other conservative entities preaching the benefits of marriage, I say, unmask the true value of marriage! It's not economic or psychological, first of all; it is these things because it is, first of all, spiritual. You cannot save marriage by arguing its economic and otherwise materialistic and selfish benefits. All of which it has, certainly, but not because they are sought for themselves.

I am not suggesting that marriage is easy and free from the bad aspects that our post-Christian culture brings with it into marriage - are any wives truly free of the influence of feminism? are any husbands truly free of the utilitarian view of marriage Marxism espouses? I have never met any not like this. Having a road map does not guarantee that you will be able to read it properly, nor that the person you are sharing half of the driving with won't drive you into a river. But without the map, you are almost guaranteeing that your journey will fail. In the absence of the Christian faith, what are you relying on for guidance in marriage? Inspiring Facebook memes? Parents and friends with ruined marriages and who provide advice that is always only about how you must put yourself first? As Tolstoy implies in Resurrection, you will never get the difficult spiritual advice we need from people, but the stuff that's easy and that we all want to hear is really easy to come by.

“Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers”

- St. JP II

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ad Hominem Souffle!

An homage to Karen Straughan of Girl Writes What, a men's rights activist. You can see the first part of the videos I will be talking about here.

I made the 'mistake' of watching these videos, and now this picture keeps appearing on my YouTube homepage:

You might be thinking, "Big deal. It's a cute young couple."

I might have thought that before watching the videos, but it's not possible to me now. This is what I see now:

1) a couple who will not last the year (I hope.)

2) a man who needs to man-up and live out his beliefs honestly

3) a spoiled woman-child

My two television fictional heroes of the last ten years would include'Robert Goren' from Law and Order: Criminal Intent and 'Gregory House' from House. Why? Because they are the geniuses who can solve mysteries that elude everyone else, while being eccentric and, especially in House's case, non-PC.

Now, in their profiling tradition, I am going to profile these two people, and how what their podcast reveals what is actually rather apparent in their pictures, if you know how to look. If I fail to convince you, well, blame TV.

Let me start with the girl, since I am actually more interested in the guy.

The girl's name is GeeGee, or is it GG? I neither know nor care.

Look at her. At first flush she looks like a neat, interesting, empowered, 'out there' girl. See her funky earrings and kimono, or whatever it is. With her boyfriend she hosts a podcast called Dirty, Sexy, Monogamy, I think it is called. Cool. Not. Consider the words. Radical and yet safe. Dirty - oh, you go girl. And yet monogamy - safe, control, limits, wisdom? This title exemplifies perfectly the sort of eat cake, have cake too of modern feminism and liberalism. What do I mean: Bernie Sanders the socialist with three houses, environmentalist jet-setter, Al Gore, and now here, no taboos from traditional Christian sexual morality, but all those parts of it that I like, such as monogamy. Monogamy for her means control everything her man thinks, says and does.

Look at him. Mike is his name. Picture perfect gentle man. Like Trudeau. The exact thing women expect a man to be, need a man to be, insist a man be. You know the reason why men grow long beards these days? Until a few weeks ago I had been letting my hair grow long. Yes, it was a rebellion against the Super Ego. The beards of hipsters are telling women (i.e. today's 'the man') that they are not going to live how women wish them to. I am reminded of that episode of Sponge Bob when he becomes "normal."

His lips are pursed - does that not smack of anxiety and hyper-self-consciousness aroused by this tyrant-woman he has let control his life? And look at his perfect beard. His inoffensive buttoned-up collar shirt. There's a guy to make every woman feel safe. A man with no thoughts of his own to challenge queen Her.

Oh, but he does have thoughts of his own - judging from the video, he is actually rather intelligent and, moreover, rational. He is perfectly willing to question his presuppositions based upon new evidence. Insofar as she lets him.

She, on the other hand, is a dogmatist. She is juvenile. She learned everything about the world by twenty and is determined to fit everything new she meets into those rigid categories. Her response to the fact that there are 900 university programs dedicated to women studies in the US and only one dedicated to the study of men is okay in her opinion because ALL OTHER PROGRAMS EVERYWHERE ARE THE STUDY OF MEN, you know, like math, history and biology.

And, she honestly thinks history means 'his story.' (BTW, Wikipedia say: Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation")

But I don't really care what she believes. Feminists are idiots - hardly news.

I care about him. Poor Mike is shot down time and again to placate her. She seems to me to have gone through life getting everything she wants, from her parents especially, in her college years, in the affirmative action job market, and now by her boyfriend.

Rank and file soccer mom feminists, you know the kind who vote for Hillary because she is a woman and Trudeau, because he is thin, and a self-proclaimed feminist, again, want their cake and eat it too. They want to be uninhibited in their sexual expressions while decrying the self-expression of men. So, be crazy and sexy, but be monogamous in the precise manner in which you are told.

Well, that's great, but what about poor Mike? Is he a picture of 21st century enlightened man, who is ever-solicitous and attentive to the needs of the modern woman, or is he a fragile, insecure man-boy, who has been told his whole life not to be what his intuitions suggest that he should be? Here's where I need some help from Goren and House. What makes a man like this? An absent father who has made him reliant on his mother's attentions, a woman who, naturally, responds more positively to femininity than masculinity when according praise to her children? Sounds possible.

Image result for beard
A big middle finger to Mrs.The Man.
Now, to be fair, I can't stand lives repressed, any lives, whether we are talking men or women. For instance, I encountered an East Indian family the other day and the father acted like his serene highness, dictating to his family how things are going to be. I wanted to punch him in the face. The wife seemed like a neat person, resourceful and cheerful. I get the same feeling when it comes to Mike and GG. That's what this post is about. I want people to be themselves - sure, I want them to be polite and all that - but free to be as dumb, smart, clumsy and awkward as God made them! Poor Mike. What some men won't do for sex and/or affirmation.

A man doesn't need to grow a big beard or even take off his collared shirt to be a real man. But I hope he can wear the same sort of decisiveness that comes from being okay with who he is on his heart. I hope he can live with a healthy amount of independence from the Super Ego of the modern gynocentric world in which we live. Men (and women) shouldn't ever be so sensitive that they are afraid to do what they know is right. Mike, obviously, doesn't agree with a thing his girlfriend/podcast partner believes. How can it be moral for their relationship to continue? Anne-Marie and I do not agree on everything, of course, but we do agree on the fundamentals. As a result, we are not colleagues and best friends, but we are good enough husband and wife, raising awesome kids.

Image result for catherine doherty

Here's a perfect way to end a post like this. A picture of two homies doing their own thing in the way they liked. Catherine Doherty and Jean Vanier.


I leave you with this:

The one great rule for dealing with social justice people:

Never trust a human being who does not care that you find it offensive when people tell you that you cannot say what you like because it is offensive.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tyranny is Always Respectable

It strikes me that, in terms of tyranny, we are always caught up in its previous manifestations. That leaves us vulnerable to the forms it would take next. When tyranny comes next, it won't look anything like Mussolini. No, we are prepared against that. When it comes next, it will be dressed up according to modern orthodoxies, just like Mussolini, Sulla, Marius, Caesar, Robespierre, Lenin, etc, were enrobed in the orthodoxies of their times. Next time our tyrant will come to us speaking of 'safety' and 'security' - like tyranny always does - but next time it will be the safety of women, minorities and such like against a supposed great foe, in other words, it will be about the things we hold precious, but which make us vulnerable to manipulation by the unscrupulous. But if this foe were truly great, would we be able to suppress it, would the one who jumps to the fore as our saviour be able to? Of course not. Classic misdirection.
Next time our tyrant will enslave us, but only after he has drafted us into the service of eradicating the great foe - he is called misogyny and racism this time - the foe who, it turns out, was the only person or institution capable of offering any resistance at all to the new tyrant.
The first casualty will be the media because they are always listening to the wind that blows. That's their job. More than any other group they make the mistake of confusing trends with morality, new with good.
A tyrant uses a people's fears and values against them, not by blatantly contradicting them, but by fanning the fears and pride we have attached to them.
It is best to remember that no ones loves 'the people,' 'women,' or 'diversity,' the least so politicians who direct most of their energy toward accumulating power for themselves. You can't spend 99% of your life working on your own reputation and expect us to believe that the final 1% will be spent on 'the people.' The ones who love 'the people' are found in soup kitchens and retirement homes, nowhere else.
The only defense against tyranny is the insistence on everyone's maximum liberty. We all differ over in what goodness consists. That's not the problem. The problem is the idea that one can increase the good in the world by imposing these conceptions on others. There is a great difference between education and propagandizing. The former respects others' learning processes and their freedom to dissent from your conception. The latter works and works until agreement is met with. It seeks to attain assent at any cost, not understanding that true, fruitful consent can never come about by such means. There are pluses and minuses in everything. Have you hidden this fact when it comes to your pet thesis? Then you are engaged in propagandizing, not enlightenment.
The types of people most prone to the manipulations of the promised saviour are the unwise. These are the people who have to stick with simplistic either/ors - hate/love, tolerance/bigotry, etc. No matter the issue, activists are usually the most simple-minded among us. Although this is itself a gross simplification, it is better to be wary of them than, as we do now, consider that what they have to say is important and that their utterly unschooled position is credible. Activists are simple-minded and they live within the dim corridor of undisciplined feeling. They are the worst; the second ones to fall to the saviour. They don't know how to disengage and look at things impartially for their feelings have always been their only guide.
I have spent my life studying. But even now, at my age, after all of that study and thought, I would be completely at a loss were I to be saddled with questions of how to make the world a better place, company X more profitable, to reduce the debt of country Y, to decrease unemployment, to work out a superior tax plan. How is it that so many uneducated, unthoughtful people believe they have the answers to these problems? The tyrant has no idea either. He or she - likely she - has not spent her life trying to work out these problems in think tanks with the most highly educated people in the world. The highly educated are usually far too smart to have this requisite inflated sense of their own capacities.
In the end, tyrants, journalists and activists cannot live in a vacuum of personal liberty. The US, for instance, was founded by people who wanted to run their own lives, farms and businesses themselves, to engage with whom they saw fit, and not with whom he they did not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Public Virtue

"They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. "Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them." (Ez 33:31-2)

The whole thing with Trump's recorded scurrility has left me scratching my head. Why?

On the one hand, I am a Christian and I want the world to be better than that indicated by Trump in that infamous conversation. I became a Christian because I was disgusted by the ways of the world - I mean the things represented by Trump. His words represent the world I grew up in and are not some anomaly.

On the other hand, potty mouth is about the least worrisome thing there is. I have a potty mouth, especially when I talk to my brothers, certain close friends, my wife, and when the suds have been flowing. I often bring such things to confession, but I generally consider them as venial sins.

Society's inconsistency bothers me, especially the way in which the various party fight out their proxy war by means of selective outrage.

On the one hand, we are taught that one should be true oneself, and not suppress one's feelings (i.e. homosexual feelings, feeling that one is the other gender, etc.), but on the other, we want men to curb their sexuality into something more genteel and palatable to women. That's not going to wash. Feminists have no problem with gender identity stuff but are outraged when men look at boobs. That fails to convince.

I think we can all more or less agree on the force things, that is to say, people on most spectra of the ideology wars. We don't like rape and we don't like underage stuff, power imbalances, etc. We mostly all agree on that. We might interpret individual cases differently, but on principle we all tend to agree.

And, as usual, Christians are caught somewhere in the middle. We object to strip clubs, which most feminists do too now (though they didn't in the 70's-90's, then they considered them 'empowering'). We object to pornography, we object to double-standards, etc. Of course, feminists say they object to double standards, but they really do not. They support gynocentricism, because they are not driven by reason, but by resentment.

Now, it's always hard to be a Christian because, on the one hand, we know that people are people, lying and images are empty and humility is king. We Christians want to be honest, even if it makes us look bad. A real Christian has to look at Trump and say, I say/said stuff like that 1000xs in my life and yet not want anyone to think that this admission constitutes approval of it. I am a sinner in reformation. Nor is he scandalized. I think of the story of the foul leper whom none of the other friars could handle looking after, but St. Francis himself.

We can't live like Bill Cosby who lived a completely double life. On the surface he was an outstanding community pillar, but on the inside was a sexual abuser. I would rather have Cosby stand for all the good things he stood for and go to sex-addiction treatment - to be open about his problem. This is how I tend to think about myself. I try not to let people think too well of me: I never disguise my sexual-ness. I don't flaunt it either. I like beer, I like women, and I am a potty mouth at times. I am a sinner in reformation. Why can't we be this way? I do not ask men not to be men, but I want us all to strive for something higher. I always feel sorry for men who feel that the Church expects them to experience sexuality like women do.

The Church does not consider that there are two kinds of people, one that experience sexual desire and the other that does not.

What are the conversations like in the Clinton home? "Hey, we got this tape of Trump talking trash about women. Of course, we don't think he's ever done anything like you've done, Bill, because if we knew he did that kind of stuff, we would destroy him with it."

So, in the end, what is to be the Christian attitude to politicians who live or do things that are sinful? We know about abortion, even though we don't act on it very often. Do any of us ever consider the politicians we vote for to be upstanding Christians, or the kind of people Dante would put in limbo as the virtuous pagans? No, I think we generally assume that they are all dirt bags, the best of whom would be just kind of your average beer-drinking, strip-club visiting, porn-watching kind of guy. (Remember, more than half of Christians watch porn. For some stats, see here.)

What bugs me even more than the sin itself is the dishonesty and two-facedness surrounding it. Porn is tempting. It's easy to access. This is why it is so pervasive. So what are we to make about Trump in this context? Is he worse than the average American? I doubt it. If he was, this fact would come out.

So what is this intense need of ours to grandstand? We all know people who have said far worse than Trump - maybe we ourselves. Bad people should not be rewarded, of course. But if you found out that Generals MacArthur and Patton were womanizers would you pull them and put in some lesser men to fill their spots?

What's worse is our selective outrage. I never supported Trump because he was the type of guy I thought I'd like to spend time with. I think he'd be good to help with the US's terrible financial predicament. Christians don't look to the City of Men for heroes, but for generals and financiers. I take it for granted that most people are contracepting, bigamous, greedy, etc. Trump is all these things, but not a rapist, it seems. Bill Clinton is a rapist, it seems, and his wife bullied his victims. She is also a rapid abortionist, and Trump is tepidly pro-life.

Image result for hillary clinton defending rapistMy question is, why are my female Facebook friends (okay, with a few exceptions) dumping on Trump because of his alleged sexism and racism, but not on the Clintons' worse sexism? Is it because they cannot believe that a woman could be the way Hillary actually is, or because they have been manipulated by the MSM?

Society is deeply divided by gender. This election shows that.

I think all politicians are scum. And, it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than... I remember Glenn Beck practically anointing Ted Cruz with holy oil as the next messiah at one point. Americans Protestants are wont to do things like this. Do they really think that a man who serves mammon does actually really serve God too? They seem to act as if they think this way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


People's fascinated outrage with Donald Trump has always confounded me. No one can actually think he is worse than Hillary Clinton, can they? I ask myself. Then I realize, Trump has done what cannot be done: said something concrete. No matter what else, you can't pin Clinton down to anything, because she vectors within realms of interpretation and quantities. Concern for the poor, the middle class, etc. - these are meaningless concepts because they can mean whatever you want them to mean. A wall separating the US and Mexico is not something you can interpret. If it's ten feet tall or fifteen, it's still a wall. You can't be sorta pregnant.

Image result for idealismMost of the hardship of my life has surrounded my inability to abide by the rule that no one should be definite about anything. I am always definite. I loved completely. I followed rules to the letter than I signed on for. And yet time and time again the other people changed their minds and I got the short end of the stick because of it.

I was told that love is everything. And it wasn't.

I was told that there are no bad questions. There are.

I was told the pursuit of knowledge is the most important thing. It is not.

I was told to be true to your convictions. That is now called bigotry.

If you pay attention to the way our culture is moving it's always followed this rule: that rules are irrelevant. Nothing could have undermined the Roman Empire but the Romans disregarding their own rules.Nothing might undermine the American Empire, but the Americans - and they will. Cultures move toward the path of least resistance. It's easier to break rules than to follow them. Who should we let get married? Everyone! Who is ill? No one! Who wins - we all do!

Image result for idealismBut we all lose. Civilization is about ideals. Great ones are based on great ideals, but they don't seem to hold sway indefinitely.

Civilizations are forged in crucibles. Rome was built on the backs of soldier-farmers. The US on the back of farmer-industrialists. Rome was built under the tutelage of virility, manliness. The US on the ideal of liberty. These were great ideals. Not sufficient, but great. The bottom line is, ideals trumped the manipulations of the other kinds of people, the destroyers of civilization: the cowardly and the venial. These types cannot put a forest under the plow, as the great men who settled the US and Italia and Germania could. No, they are the parasites who come out and feed on what the great built. And in the end, they will destroy all that the great men built up. People fear that Trump will be that Caesar who will turn the US from a republic to an empire. But that's not an apt description of Rome's fate. Rome was destroyed long before Caesar came along to pick the bones. It was destroyed the moment Carthage was destroyed, Rome's final mortal enemy. The Scipios were replaced by the bureaucrats. Civilizations are forged in fire. When the fire cools, their vigor is lost, and they die with the cooling of the last embers. Yes, Caesar was more noble than Caligula, and that is Trump to Clinton, but the difference is negligible when it comes to the fate of a civilization.

If the West of the US is a civilization distinct from that of the Holy Roman Empire, that is, if Locke and Voltaire and separable from Paul and Aquinas (and I do not think they are), then it has its own history. If it ends now, then for as great as it is, it would be but a flash in the cosmos. I think that the US world is with respect to the Holy Roman Empire, like Rome was to Greece, or Persia was to Babylon. In every case the story is the same: Gregory and Charles Martel forged a civilization from the crucible of Germanic and Muslim fire. The parasites destroyed it, whether we are talking about the Bourbons and Hapsburgs or the Robespierres, Lenins, Merkels and Obamas.

Image result for those who pray fight workBut hopefully something of the ideal carries on: Roman virility, on the one hand, Christendom's love of God and man and reason, the Enlightenment love of reason and liberty.

We need to judge people harshly. Did they create or consume? Trump, for instance, asks a good question: what good or service did the Clintons provide so as to earn them their $200 million dollars? An industrialist creates value - whether by bringing forests under the plow, by mining mineral wealth, or with a new idea, like the printing press, the light bulb, the internal combustion engine, or the personal computer. Charles Martel provided a good too: security against Muslims. This is creative. You can't farm without security. The US military has been providing this to the world for seventy years. The military is the first thing that the parasites turn against because they take their service for granted. Does the military today create or consume? Trump has done well to point out the services that it provides: it gives the world freedom to do business, to create.

Law and order are absolutes that people do not tolerate for long. They are absolutes and therefore inexpedient.

World War Two, I think, was the West's last moment of excellence. How we view our war heroes determines the health of a civilization. It indicates whether we are in decline or are still vital. Watch how November 11th is observed. It will determine where we are going.

Do a people believe that who they are deserves to continue?

People are either creators or consumers, idealists or cynics, builders or parasites. People either believe in something great or they do not. These two types of people could not be more dissimilar.

In the end, don't believe people. Or at least, take them with a grain of salt.

And don't be like them. Mean what you say.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016


We all write out of our own 'stories.' Writers do anyway. We tend to take our experience as normative. And that's okay to some extent, because our lives are the ones given us by God for a reason.

Image result for angry preacherWhen I was young, and I mean a teenager, I placed 'hypocrite' and 'Christian' side-by-side. I had no reason to do so. I only knew what I was told. How I picked up on this one, I'm not really sure. I wasn't the first person to put the two together and am certainly not the last. It wasn't that my thorough knowledge of Christ's teachings came first, then my observation of His followers, and then my comparison and conclusion. That's how I put them together now, and in doing so draw a rather different conclusion.than I did at fifteen. Believe which one of us you will.

1. Most people don't know Jesus' teachings well enough to draw this kind of conclusion. Most secularized people say Jesus said "don't judge" and then think that this means He did not teach an objective morality. That's simply false. He said "don't do X" and "do Y" all the time. Do not commit murder, fornication, adultery, do not covet... 

2, Most people don't know Christians well enough to conclude that they are hypocrites. A hypocrite is someone who says he believes X and does the opposite on purpose for some ulterior reason. A hypocrite is not someone who yells, knowing full well that Jesus said not to get angry. A hypocrite is someone who yells, knowing full well what Jesus says because he thinks he is a special case, because he thinks rules are for suckers, and/or thinks others things are more important than following Jesus even though he says nothing else is more important than following Jesus. An alcoholic who slips up and drinks is not a hypocrite - if he knows full well that what he did is wrong and yet felt too weak to resist the pull. It is not hypocritical to say that I slipped up, I made a mistake.

How can any person look at a congregation gathered on a Sunday and conclude: hypocrites? Who knows people that well? Very few can and should. You don't know whether my sins are signs of hypocrisy, or of sincere struggle, of personal crisis, or, even, of moral progress. I rarely know myself what my own sins are signs of.

Most times my hypocrisies do not have anything to do with my attendance at church. They have to do with what I think or say. The tongue, the tongue, as David McPike likes to remind me! Most times my hypocrisy is a result of me applying a degree of severity to someone else from which severity I wish to immunize myself. This is hypocritical for a Christian because of the Christian's commitment to God's love. Let me explain:

Christians believe

a. God loves all equally (perfectly).
b. His grace is poured out to all sufficiently in Jesus Christ.
c. All have a responsibility to the good life concomitant with points (a) and (b).

Image result for angry preacherThis is our Faith. It is the heart of the Faith, not a periphery of it. In other words, love, justice, judgement are at the heart of the Christian life. Our idea of God as love it at the centre. We cannot hold positions and attitudes that contradict these three points. It is impossible for a Christian to believe that God is easier on me than on person X because He loves me more. When a Christian sins he is directed toward the idea of God's mercy, and not to his own sense of justification or entitlement. He hopes, he does not insist.

"Love sins" are the biggies, then. Let's think back to Jesus' teaching on the unforgivable sin. (Mk 3:28-30) The Church has always interpreted this as a sin of despair, a sin of presumption, a sin of judgement against God's mercy. (Aquinas correlates despair and presumption in (ST II-II, 21 & 22)).

Few other things make Christians hypocrites as the sins of love. If we malign a, b and c we are in big trouble. Claiming someone is a hypocrite is as likely (if not more likely) to be an instance of hypocrisy than a correct judgment of hypocrisy in another person. Why? Because it is a kind of presumption about another person's degree of love of God. In these cases it is usually a sin against (b) or (c), but even sometimes (a). When we call people out we are very often doing so through lack of love and so we are lying about our religion of love. Yes, sometimes people are hypocrites, like the crusader for marriage who is actually an adulterer. But even then, why am I calling him out? Why am I apt to jump on him? Why do we get so personal?

Now, I don't want to be a Pope Francis here (lol) and deny objective morality, but let the teachers teach, the shepherds shepherd and me worry about me.


So why do people keep calling Christians hypocrites? This is a very interesting subject.

1. Why did I?

I did because I wanted more from people. I wanted guidance and edification and meaning from my elders and I wanted to see Christian virtues in the world at large. So, it was personal. It was not about the world at large, or the Church or Christians. It was about me!

2. Why do we hear it so often in the media, etc.?

a. It's potshots, plain and simple.

b. It's disappointment like I felt as a teenager.

In no case is it a reasoned reflection on Jesus' teaching and the life people actually lead.

I include Gandhi in this. For as wise and good as he was in so many ways, when he said that "if Christians only lived like their Jesus then..." he was being rather simplistic and narrow-minded, like I was at 15 years old. Gandhi had no insight into the hearts of men. He had no idea of their struggles. He was being imperialistic in his own way.

Let us take the Gospel that was read today: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple... In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple."

The 'giving up' part came easier to Gandhi than to many of us. Today is the wonderful canonization day of St. Teresa of Calcutta, a woman who also excelled in the 'giving up things' part. I do not think that she considered that the hardest part of her life in Christ. I get the impression it was the 'dark night' part. We have a saying in Christianity,

"If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."

My impression is that Gandhi did not get this part and focused more on the externals. Knowing one of his mentor's as well as I do (i.e. Tolstoy) I think I am justified in verging toward this assumption.

Finally, our preoccupation with this term hypocrisy is about frustration with, fear of, and disappointment with the other. So many people say they don't go to church because Christians are hypocrites. I have proved above that this is not true and that people who say this cannot know whether those people are hypocrites or not. I think it is more likely that frustration, fear, disappointment and alienation have much more to do with why they don't go to church.

I can't speak for any other denomination than the Catholic, nor even every Catholic parish, but I can say for certain that hypocrisy is not a common feature among Christians today: going to church provides very little social advantage today. In fact, pretty much the opposite is the case. It's a liability. Not really a place for hypocrites anymore.

A few last points:

When a person accuses a congregation or a people in abstract of being hypocrites, it is usually the case that they are superimposing a set of standards on a people they do not actually endorse. For instance, outsiders will remark that Christians are hypocrites for having jewelry and nice houses but don't care if they are using contraception. Whose standard is that, anyway? It's not the Church's.

Also, people often alienate themselves from the Church over their experience with their parish priest. The priest won't marry my daughter because... The priest won't let us to x, y, z at our father's funeral. The priest has this rule or that rule. He let's that group of people do X but won't let us do Y. All I can say is that if we applied these strict standards to everyone in ours lives, we'd have no families or friends left. Why's the priest get it so hard? Have you even tried to understand his reasoning?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Sledgehammer or Scalpel of History?

An excellent, but, alas, futile, article appeared in the National Post yesterday. It is easy to read, but here's my synopsis: history is being used by lefties to force a political direction. I hope this is not surprising to anyone, but I know it is.

Clinton and Obama always talk about being on the "right side" of history. That's a Christian idea. I wouldn't even say Judaeo-Christian. But it didn't mean to Christians what the left means by it. Christians looked forward to the millennium, a new heaven and earth. Lefties think we can have a perfect culture here. The French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions were about this. When you think about these examples it's easy to see how good intentions cannot be multiplied indefinitely. Give a man a fish... teach a man to fish... compel a whole society to fish or be liquidated. On the other hand, Christians do not think that St. Martin and St. Francis sharing their clothes with the poor brings about the better world of Christian hope. They do it because it is a loving thing to do. They know that down the road there are brigands who will likely take the gift they gave from that poor person - final sum: zero.

But back to history. It is a cruel mistress if we wish to marry her. We want to see what we want to see. The left wants to see a positive, unassailable trajectory. The woman we want to see, is not necessarily the woman who is. Ask any divorced man if that is true.

The left sees on a continuum, the ending of slavery, the enfranchisement of women, the liberation of homosexuals, of transsexuals, of pedophiles, whatever...

Sure we can poo-poo them. But what about us?

One needs not become a relativist to counter the left. Hardly! The right is far more philosophically consistent.

But... how much do we Catholics buy into the left's story?

I think most of us agree that slavery is wrong. The papacy has always led the thrust against it. Read here. But we can't even view this myopically. When we think about slavery we tend to contrast it with a picture of our modern Western lifestyle.

we think of this:

Image result for slavery

This no doubt shocks us when we compare it with the kind of life black people can enjoy today:

Image result for black man in white suit

But that doesn't get to the historical truth about slavery. If you want to compare your typical black slave a few centuries ago, why not think about your typical Russian:

Image result for russian peasant 18th

and here's a scene of your average Austrian at the time:

Image result for peasant misery

Are they more like the slave above or the dude with the white suit and nice watch? I am reminded in this context of the doofus football-playing millionaire raised by self-less white parents not standing for the American national anthem because racism, Colin Kaepernick.

But I want to jab a little more harshly on a Catholic soft spot. (There's nothing more I can add on the subject of racism that hasn't been said already.)

Once again, I am talking women. The sacred cows of the Catholic intelligentsia.

Just like all people can agree that slavery was bad and the world is a better one that has things like the Emancipation Proclamation, all people tend to agree that it is a better world that has women suffrage.

I will offer a big, fat OH REALLY! here.

Not only am I going to say that talking about women before and after the 19th Amendment tends to have the flavour of comparing the blacks in the two first pictures above, rather than comparing it to the third and fourth, I want to say that its more like comparing apples and oranges.

Even conservative commentators err here. Is the world better for women now or, say, one hundred years ago. Most people say better now. I disagree whole-heartedly. Women are not happier now. I don't know if anyone is. But women have borne the brunt of the ill-effects of the sexual and industrial revolutions. Picture a world where families take care of each other verses one that relies on faceless government programs. Picture a world where a woman, especially young women are expected to be self-reliant. Have women ever been self-reliant? If they have not, how can we assume that they are biologically fit for that new niche? Why do feminists talk about a rape culture? Not because there is one but because they are afraid - afraid of the world that has been created 'for' them.

Now, I have no statistics to go by here - obviously: no one asks girls in 1850 how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 10 so that we can compare it to girls today... I'm not trying to prove anything. I just want to readers to consider questioning the dominant narrative.

A few points of thought:

were the girls on the prairie (think Little House on the) miserable without a vote?

was St. Bernadette miserable having to gather wood and water for her family?

was St. Theresa of Avila miserable that she couldn't attend the University of Paris with St. Ignatius?

was your great grandmother?

Would your great grandmother have envied women living on her own, engaging in 'consequence free' sex, rather than living as she did, with the assurance that her husband would also be there for her, since those who fled their familial responsibilities were heavily socially ostracized, that her sons and daughters would also be there helping on the farm, helping her into her old age? Would she have wanted to trade in these securities for a vote?

Let me reference one of my favorite YouTubers, Karen Straughan, quoting anti-suffragettes in 1909, "It is our fathers, brother and sons who  represent us at the ballot box... love us..." (watch this clip, at about 6.50). The fascinating passage evokes perfectly the way these women viewed their lives, not in antagonism with men, as feminists view it today, but in symbiosis. I mentioned this to a girl friend of mine about a year ago, a girl who - understandably - assumed women's suffrage was an unalloyed good. She was really struck by my perspective.

Now, feminism has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. It has created the antagonism is was supposing to describe. (In this light, the BLM movement is creating the antagonism it supposes to describe.)

Men and women work against each other in every facet of life now: women accuse men of sexism when they don't get their way, while mean treat them (understandably) with suspicion. This was not life on the farm, the life of Sts. Bernadette and Theresa of Avila.

It is a very different world now. Do I think we can turn back the clock to a better world by annulling the 19th Amendment? Nope, absolutely not. The world we have now is a world of abortion and contraception, a world where men do not have to care for women necessarily. Women are left with a sad thing in exchange, a vote.

I have said all of this simply to draw to your attention your commitment to a narrative created by people who do no want the world to be like what Christians want it to be. Should you really trust the story they have told you?

Are antibiotics unalloyed goods? Are seat belts? Are electric cars, video games, cellphones and the printing press?

The fact is, the world is far more complicated a thing than the preoccupation with being on the 'right side of history' makes itself out to be. Black-and-white thinking is for simpletons, and it can be very dangerous. Political manipulators want us to think simplistically. There is racism or there is fiscal responsibility. There is freedom for women or family.