Jan 28, 2021

'Immortal Combat,' the Gorgons and Geryon: One Priest's Insight into 2020 (Part 2)

 I was reminded of Fr. Longenecker's book and my first crack at it in the post, Immortal Combat and Cerberus Unleashed: One Priest's Insight into 2020, after listening to Andrew Klavan answer a mailbag question yesterday. He addressed a secular Jew who was reading his book, The Great Good Thing, about his own conversion to Christianity, and who was questioning whether his experiences were really coincidences or were God-directed. Klavan answered at length, but he began by saying, "The narrative of materialism is so powerful that you can't talk about the supernatural without sounding like a lunatic, even to yourself." I know this is how I sound to non-believers, because I was one once, and Klavan is right: I sound nuts even to myself.

This is why I find Fr. Longenecker's book so valuable. As westerners, Madonna had it right when she said we live in a "material world," but it's also true that we accept that fiction and myth can teach us about reality. Novelist Andrew Klavan would agree. Fr. Longenecker uses this to great advantage by engaging our imaginations. 

In the first part of the book, Fr. L writes about the three-headed Hound of Hell, representing power, pride, and prejudice. In the middle chapters, he takes up the mythical figures of Medusa and her sisters, the Gorgons, to reveal the next unholy trinity of fallen human nature: Resentment, Rivalry, and Revenge.

He purposely capitalizes the three R's because he wants us to consider that Resentment isn't some temporary peevishness at some slight. It's a way of life. He writes, "It is the repeated reliving of a negative emotion. It is a deep-seated cycle of anger in a person's life. It is relentless restlessness and discontent that comes from our power, pride, and prejudice being frustrated." He calls it the "Resentment loop." And like looking into the face of Medusa, it hardens us and allows us to justify cruelty to others. 

Dennis Prager has long described this as the poisonous effect of the victim mentality. But, Fr. L goes even further and explains why we enjoy it: In the Resentment loop, "we are asserting ourselves over our rival. We feel powerful again. In our minds, we prove that we are right, and they are wrong. Our pride is fed. Our prejudices have been proven. We prevail. We are omnipotent again, and that feels good. Very good. . . Resentment becomes the motivating factor in our life." And If we're busy blaming others for our unhappiness -- which, even if accurate (there really are victims of mistreatment), resentment is self-destructive -- we aren't very adept at assessing our own culpability.

Sidebar: this is why the Christian notion that "we're all sinners" is so essential to civil society. A people who are preoccupied with putting their own house in order do not wish to assert dominance over others. They're practicing the conservative ideal of personal responsibility (through self-reflection, or what Catholics call the "examination of conscience") and are amenable to limited, separated powers of government, understanding that no one is qualified to tell others how to live. Drew Klavan describes this in his answer to his pen pal as acting "in humility," knowing that there's a (supernatural) reality beyond our ability to comprehend. Or, as I said in my first post, practicing self-doubt.

Now, once a powerless person enters the Resentment loop, he relieves his frustration by expanding both the target of his resentment and by gathering with others into a Resentment group. "His unhappiness isn't 'caused by 'that woman,' but by all women. Her problem was not caused by 'that rich white man,' but by all rich white men. Their problem was not caused by 'that Hispanic or African American or Jew or Catholic, or Muslim,' but by all Hispanics, African Americans, Jews, Catholics, or Muslims." And by forming a group of the resentful (BLM, Antifa), the Resentful has more power -- "stronger together," as a certain failed Democrat nominee for president declaimed. 

"The Resentment group is not satisfied with discussion and debate. They want action. They need to go to war against the enemy. They develop an identity and demand change -- and all of it fueled by Resentment." In other words, they become activists. I think Fr. L may be onto something, she says dryly.

When the resentful form into a collective mob, it is truly frightening to see. Their Resentment and rage render them irrational. There is no discussion with the slaves of Medusa. They are obsessed with their righteous crusade because it has become the source of their self-esteem. Unwilling to compromise, they are driven by an unholy energy. Like the living dead they stagger on, never stopping, never resting, always seeking Revenge. 

They can never be appeased because they do not want their problem solved. They do not want the problem to be solved because their Resentment has become the only source of meaning in their lives." [emphasis mine]


Before leaving the Gorgon sisters for even darker images, Fr. L makes one more important point: the religious zeal with which the Resentment group pursues their crusade makes them feel noble and heroic. And it is under the guise of good works -- "social justice" -- they act out on their Resentment. I have some personal experience with this in my interaction with what Fr. L calls a "religious Resentment" group called JustFaith (which is connected with Jim Wallis of lefty-evangelical Sojourners notoriety, who has been in the news recently for being canceled and removed from his own publication for not being anti-Catholic enough).  

Several other conservative Catholics and I joined a pilot program with JustFaith many years ago to discuss the moral implications of the federal budget. When I questioned if the "socialist" justice ideas the group had for the budget were actually doing good, the mask slipped from the leader's face. I contend this moment when the pious lefty Christian "shocks you with a snarl instead of the usual smile" and "his eyes flash" and "you are turned to stone," is the moment you've struck on a truth he doesn't "handle" well, as Colonel Jessup might say.

Which brings us to Geryon, the guardian of Dante's eighth circle of hell, where the fakers, the cons, and the hypocrites reside. Where the damned are so convinced of their righteousness, they perpetually question why their golden robes are lined with lead. These are the People of the Lie. And the horrifying part about them is their monstrous form is disguised with the face of an honest man or woman. "Indeed, they often have a respectable face of a member of the establishment. The 'honest' face is smiling and charming. The face has good manners. The face is courteous and polite. The face is well educated. The face is caring. The face is pious. The face is even prayerful and serene. . . Judas himself had the face of an honest man." Maybe even more terrifying is that we're all People of the Lie. We all want to be seen as righteous crusaders for truth or justice, no matter how distorted our view of reality is.

Fr. L says you can spot the People of the Lie because they never admit they're wrong (Nancy Pelosi's spa scandal comes to mind. -- she actually blamed the salon owner!), or they deflect from their errors, dismiss your attack, and "prove" their moral superiority with brazenness and skill (Democrats' failure to quell the violence of their voters is Trump's fault). It's always someone else's fault. There's always a scapegoat. 

Fr. L tells a couple of heartbreaking stories about kids of "respectable," churchgoing families who project their problems onto a "black sheep" child and ruin his or her life. The People of the Lie are capable of such cruelty because 1) they're self-deceiving 2) they project their own Resentment and rage onto others (Saul Alinsky's "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."), and 3) they are impervious to criticism. They are "experts at the fake apology" and "their failure cannot be their fault. Others must always be to blame." Wow, anyone else picking up on the resemblance to the left-wing movements Antifa and BLM?

But, it's even more common for the People of the Lie to "occupy the top jobs" rather than be rioting out in the streets. They are "the smooth, successful ones -- the media manipulators, the polite politicians, the urbane bankers, and the smiling socialites. They are the pastors with pleasant faces, the bishops and cardinals with slick diocesan systems, and the smooth prelates in scarlet robes. . . They are charming and sophisticated. They are suave and svelte, respectable and smooth. They are powerful and persuasive, but deep within they are the sons and daughters of perdition. Their father is the Father of Lies, and they are the People of the Lie, and there is no human cure for them."

I wanted to quote the former at length to contrast Obama and Trump. Does anyone really think Trump, the quintessential Ugly American, wears the mask of shape-shifting Geryon? How about Obama, whom Joe Biden called "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy?" I credit Trump with being an authentic sinner rather than a fraudulent saint.

Before getting to God's supernatural solution as explained by Fr. L in Part 3, we have to go all the way down into the pit of hell of human depravity with Geryon, because "the perceptions and behaviors of the People of the Lie are basic to our humanity. This is the Sin of the World" which Jesus came to take away.

Power, pride, and prejudice lead us to Resentment, Rivalry, and Revenge, which ultimately end in self-deception, projection, groupthink, scapegoating, and eventually, murderous tribal mobs. Activism in pursuit of "social justice" (never just "justice") becomes a religious crusade complete with warrior heroes and martyrs. War, whether metaphorical or literal, is a means of unifying and inspiring the Resentment group. However, there is no possibility of a perfect union based on lies, so those who stand out as unique -- whether because they're eccentrics or disabled, or even particularly talented or intelligent (think Socrates) -- must eventually be purged from the group. What we call "eating their own." And it must be done violently to appease the gods and as a deterrent to other non-conformists. 

Ironically, Fr. L says "we may not burn witches at the stake or wheel out the guillotine, . . ." But, he wrote this book last year (2019) and didn't anticipate the vicious hatred of the President, who was guillotined in effigy at one of the protests recently. Can the real executions of political opponents be far behind? I know. Don't answer that.

We become habituated to this cycle of sin and violence such that anytime a new crisis arises (Chinese flu), we "solve" our problem with blood sacrifices and scapegoats. Cain had no remorse for murdering Abel (out of resentment). In fact, he snarkily replied to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Remember Obama badly distorting this story to mean the opposite? Was that ignorance or a lie?

"Eventually the dynamic of lies reaches a climax. The dark cauldron boils over, and violence erupts. And the system of sacrifice is the way the society of lies channels the violence." Today, it's the police and whites (mostly white men) designated as the sacrificial victims -- the scapegoats. It's different from when the Jews would designate a literal scapegoat on the Day of Atonement and send it out into the desert with the people's sins attached to it. There is no admission of guilt in our society of lies. Only blame-shifting.

This is why the Baptist preached repentance -- "make straight the way of the Lord," and God Himself provided the blood sacrifice in Jesus. There is hope. Stay tuned for Part 3.


First published on September 11, 2020 on Ricochet. Reproduced here with some edits in anticipation of Part 3.

Jan 26, 2021

"Immortal Combat" and Cerberus Unleashed: One Priest's Insight into 2020

Fr. Dwight Longenecker dated the Introduction to his book, Immortal Combat: Confronting the Heart of Darkness, October 31, 2019. Was he divinely inspired, prophetic, or did he just have a foretaste of the societal crisis playing out in 2020 as indicated by the irrational hatred of President Trump and the bad behaviors of actors both Left and Right resulting from it?

Whatever the case, Immortal Combat is the best explanation for the position we find ourselves in I've read to date. As Fr. Longenecker says in his critique of therapeutic Christianity, "From the beginning to the end of time, the heart of the old, old story is not comfort, but conflict." He then proceeds to engage our imaginations to understand spiritual warfare using the Bible, Greek mythology, The Lord of the Rings, and other popular culture references. Even Fluffy -- Harry Potter's three-headed Cerberus in The Sorcerer's Stone -- merits a mention. He says, 

We must go into those swamps and caves, for if Christianity is true, then it is the most astounding and revolutionary message ever to take humanity by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake.

It is desperately important in our age to speak in these terms because our moral imagination, on the one hand, is weak, pale, and sickly, while ironically, in the realm of popular culture, the mythical imagination is healthier than ever. The academic world is a dry husk of learned articles filled with jargon and footnotes, while in the world of movies, television, gaming, and fantasy literature, the imagination roars and soars. 

We must, therefore, use the imagination to dive like a spelunker into the depths of the underworld, then surface spluttering with joy, clutching the pearl of great price -- which is to truly grasp the mysterious meaning of Christ's sacrifice.  

You might think the obvious place to start exploring the conflict between good and evil would be in the Garden with The Fall of Adam and Eve. But, Fr. Longenecker reminds us the story of Lucifer and his rebellion predates humanity. He says the Bible itself is a "chronicle of war. It is the record of brutal, seemingly endless cosmic combat taking place in the gritty reality of human history." He reminds us of the warriors' stories told there: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Jael, Samson, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Saul, David, and Elijah. . .

But immortal combat didn't end there either. It didn't even end with Christ's victory for those of us inhabiting Satan's domain here on earth. Even "the history of our religion is one of war:" the Crusades, the Albigensian purges, the Thirty Years' War, the battles of Lepanto and Vienna, the brutalization and murder of martyrs and suspected martyrs. Fr. Longenecker doesn't let anyone off the hook; in fact, he reserves his harshest critique for the religious who serve at the command of the Father of Lies. 

As for Jesus, he was no pacifist: "He recognized immediately who His real enemies were and called them out as a brood of vipers, hypocrites, sons of Satan, liars, and murderers. He said clearly that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, that He would baptize with fire, and following Him would mean separation from wife and children, mothers and fathers. To join Him is to join the forces of light against the powers of darkness." And no saint ever attained heroic virtue except by fighting the good fight. Even the Little Flower said on her deathbed, "I will die with my weapons in my hand!"

If you're convinced we're engaged in "total war," Fr. Longenecker helps us to get to know our enemy, and he does so by describing the Sin of the World that Jesus overcomes. He begins with Minotaur and the Labyrinth. "He has the virile power of the bull combined with the intelligence and pride of man. He blends the brute strength and malice of the bull with the cunning deception of a cruel and violent man. At once stubborn and aggressive, he is at the same time shrewd and brutally handsome. Most intriguing of all, Asterion the Minotaur is hidden in the dark." [emphasis mine]

This is key to understanding the Sin of the World (fallen human nature): we don't see it in ourselves. We think we're the hero, Theseus, sent in to rescue the innocents sacrificed to Asterion, but in actuality, we are the Minotaur lurking in the labyrinth with murderous intent. Do you doubt? Just wait, there's more.

Next Fr. L takes on the Dragon in the Garden. He heard from an exorcist, "A real exorcism. . is a knock-down, bare-knuckle, snarling, hand-to-hand combat with the devil. You fight amidst the stench of hell, and the worst of all is the fact that you lose track of where you are. You seem to be in a wilderness with no points of reference. There is no logic or reasoning. Nothing can be predicted and planned. You're wrestling on quicksand; everything slips and slides. There is no foothold. It is like grappling with an octopus in oil in the dark."

I wrote in the margin next to this paragraph, "Critical Theory." Sounds like it, doesn't it? No logic, no reason, disorienting in the extreme. I have said before that confronting a leftist with the truth is like having hold of an octopoidal creature that squirms and flails until it escapes. "There is no truth in him." It's horrifying.

We always have to remember the devil is a liar, first, foremost, and forever. "His realm is chaos and destruction." Does that sound like 2020 much?

Fr. L gives us a new way of understanding Original Sin. We often think it is Pride or disobedience, which it is. But, it comes because God has given us a share in His power -- the power to choose. He values our freedom to love so highly that he gives us the freedom (and the power) to sin. And the fallout from that power of choice is eternal. It was Adam and Eve's free will that made them believe they could be "as gods." To not just know what is good and evil, but to decide for themselves!

"Embedded in this power to choose is a little red spark called 'desire.' . . . Desire is the engine of choice." And desire is the wrench the devil throws into the works. He corrupts our innocent desire for the good, the true, and the beautiful into something selfish. Something covetous. Something murderous. God becomes our rival and we desire to displace him. This longing to be our own gods (Fr. L calls it "imitation desire") is the murderous impulse we hide from ourselves. As T. S. Eliot said, "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."  

Which brings us to Cerberus, the three-headed Hound of Hell. Fr. L describes the three heads of Cerberus as representing power, pride, and prejudice. We've seen how the corruption of desire leads to poor uses of our power to choose and that our being "as gods" convinces us our choices are justified, but what do we mean by "pride?"

Fr. L says pride is the "total conviction I am right." And here I want to segue into a personal story about the importance of self-doubt.

My sister, Trink, and I are separated by fifteen years and we've lived over a thousand miles apart for most of my adult life. But, we've developed a close relationship by phone --  many lengthy phone conversations. Probably twenty years ago, she and I were having a discussion about society or politics or something (I don't remember the specifics), and she asked me the question, "So you believe in social engineering?" It was a small thing. About the size of a mustard seed? But, it got me thinking -- "no, actually, I don't believe in social engineering" -- and doubting my long-held lefty, atheist convictions. The simple question had to come from someone I trusted and who I knew loves me, and it set my feet on the path to political and religious conversion some years later. Keep this story in mind when I get around to part three about how to engage in this immortal combat. Hint: it's going to depend on the imitation of Christ.

Back to Fr. L: "Pride is the total, complete, foundational assumption, before all else and above all else, that I am right, that my choices are right [after all, why would I choose to be wrong?], that my beliefs are right, that my decisions are right, that everything I do is right." And it is the hiddenness of this abuse of power and resultant pride that leads to the third head of Cerberus: prejudice.

"Furthermore, prejudice poisons our relationships because if my choices are right, then the people who choose differently must be wrong. Power and pride automatically demand that the person who is different from me and who has chosen differently must be wrong -- and if wrong, then bad." 

Now we've come to the heart of the current conflict in our society. Lacking all humility, we hate each other for our differences. And, I would say, the worst examples of the unleashing of Cerberus are out in the streets causing mayhem and murder. They are justified in their incivility because they are right (in their own minds), and if they are righteous (they decide what's right and wrong, remember) and we don't agree to defunding the police, or teaching the 1619 Project as authentic history to our elementary students, or kneeling for the anthem, or affirmative action, or universal healthcare, or, or, or . . . we are evil, and we deserve what's coming to us. After all, you have to break a few eggs. . .

In a healthier society, "we soon learn that to live together with others, power, pride, and prejudice must be suppressed. We have to keep Cerberus on a leash. Family, society, education, and religion all provide the leash we need [and we see now the results of degraded family, society, education, religion. . .]. We are taught self-control. We learn that it is unacceptable to exercise raw, selfish power. We come to understand that we cannot assert our instinct to be 'right' all the time." 

But, our fallen nature, and the devil's influence are so strong, we practice self-deception and dress up our aims as virtuous -- Black Lives Matter! Anti-fascism!! Anti-racism!! When in reality, we manipulate others to get our way, at best and, at worst, we form mobs and riot in the streets.

And it's not just the Left, but the religious Right does this, too: "In fact, too often we fall into the trap of asserting our power by using religion to control others. With endless rules and regulations and a hefty does of guilt we manipulate and control. With 'scholastic' debates about points of doctrine and morality, we assert our pride and prove ourselves not only right but righteous. We use religion to bolster our prejudices rather than challenge them. Furthermore, we do  all this believing God Himself approves."

There's so much more to this little book (144 pages), but it seems this is enough for now. Go buy a copy and read it, or you'll have to wait for me to get around to Parts Two and Three. And who knows how long that will take! 2020 will not wait. It's relentless.


First published on August 6, 2020 on Ricochet. Reproduced here in anticipation of Parts 2 and 3.

Jan 19, 2021

Good News You Can Use -- and Keep Your Peace

Welcome back to all my R> friends and especially to those who made comments! I forgot I had comment moderation turned on and needed to approve comments before they'd show up! I wasn't feelin' the love, but I am now. Thanks!

I hope to post links here periodically that I find uplifting and hopeful. I'll start with a podcast episode giving Catholic Answers to people living through the present turmoil called Living in Peace with Fr. Jeffrey Kirby. I particularly like his response to the woman who's always tried to live a faithful life, but her family is highly dysfunctional and she's questioning God's love for her amidst it all. He tells her, basically, God puts people like her just where she's needed most. I think that's a message we can all use in times of suffering -- it's not pointless. God brings good out of all things and He has us where we are for a reason. Keep the faith.

On a lighter note, but one I take as a very, very good sign of the times: Fr. Mike Schmitz's Bible in a Year podcast is #1 on the Apple Podcast charts, beating out popular secular fare like social commentary and true crime stories from NPR and NBC News. Fr. Mike was already a popular YouTube figure in the Catholic world, but now he's teamed up with noted Catholic convert and teacher, Jeff Cavins, and is using his Great Adventure Bible Timeline to read through the narrative books of the Bible to tell the story of salvation history. I've completed Cavins's study twice -- long and short version -- and have found this method of reading the Bible very helpful for getting the arc of the story in a memorable and coherent fashion. But, having Fr. Mike read it to us this way is a special treat. I highly recommend subscribing.

In other good news, South Dakota is growing! It turns out people prefer less draconian "safety" measures in favor of freedom. I know there's always a risk when Californians flee their state to take up residence in a "free" state, but I'm going to take this preference for a lighter government touch as good news.

And, finally, this is brushing up against political-talk, but I find these black voices commenting on events of the past year much more compelling than even some of my favorite Catholic authors (Fr. Longenecker) or the head of the USCCB, Archbishop Gomez:

Race, Faith, and Justice: An African Catholic's Perspective


How the Left Hijacked Civil Rights

I think you'll need a Wall Street Journal subscription to read that last one, but it's worth it if you're excited to run into truth-tellers. We're donating to the Woodsen Center.

Thanks for your patience while I work out the kinks of this long-neglected blog. 

Oh, and here are some pretty picture from my garden. Spring is coming!

Jan 18, 2021

Anthony Esolen on Practical Freedom

 I keep returning to Anthony Esolen in these times of plague and social upheaval like a desert wanderer returning to a well. He's convinced me to "do more human things" (see post below) and now he consoles me with "practical freedom" in a time when our freedoms seem so imperiled. He writes:

In this time of plague, when children cannot be together, why are they not roaming the outdoors? I walk the trail in the woods behind our neighborhood, and see only the prints of dogs and men’s boots in the snow; no children. At every pass we have absorbed laws, not of morality, which are liberating, but of etiquette, which is a curb on adventure and genius, and of security and sloth, which deaden the soul.
One of those absorptions is the notion that everyone must graduate from high school. For many young Americans, high school is little more than an antisocial sandbox, a terrible waste of youth. 

I worry about our young people and the deadening effects of postmodernism and its bastard step-children critical race theory, scientism, "social justice" (as opposed to actual justice), and secular "humanism" (as opposed to religious humanism of the made-in-the-image-and-likeness of God sort), among others. What, really, is so "educational" or human-fulfilling about public K-12 education followed by a debt-driven four or five years at university in America now? Not much, I would argue. 

In Practical Freedom, Part II, Esolen compares modern life for America's young to the past lives of cartoonist Chuck Jones and the father of gynecology, Horatio Storer, and he notes:

Though the malady may now be acute, this constriction of life has been going on in the United States for at least 50 years. In 1983, I visited for the first time my cousins in a rather poor region of Calabria, in southern Italy. By then I could speak Italian, so I asked my great aunt Concetta why she had left us so soon after coming to the United States in 1976 to visit her brother, my grandfather, whom she had not seen since 1920. She had planned to stay more than a month, but two weeks was all she could endure. Her answer took me aback.
“You have no liberty in America,” she said.


I am not describing an idyll [in Italy circa 1983]. That is the point. You can have life, or you can have safety at all costs, but you cannot have both. 

Here's the thing. Chuck Jones didn't even know he was risk-taking when he traveled cross-country with a friend at age 14, or when he dropped out of school and became a janitor at the studio he would one day dominate with his art at age 15. Storer didn't think it was out of bounds to build a log cabin with his friends at age 10, or enter Harvard and at 19 voyage around the storm-tossed seas of the North Atlantic as a naturalist. It was all normal to them.

Think how stunted our kids are in the "new" normal. Some of us remember when at least one neighbor friend would have a cast to sign every summer from falling out of a tree or playing tackle football sans helmets and pads. I remember playing kick-the-can with maybe ten other kids well into the summer nights, and even running across the sloping roof of a neighbor's modern home built into the hillside. We were wild -- and free. Creative expression was a thing, even in the now cancel-worthy un-pc name-calling we'd do and the consequences we'd learn from. Maybe even a bloody nose.

So, why am I consoled by the disturbing contrasts Esolen highlights? Because it's still possible to do
human things. Tree climbing and summer nights spent outdoors are not monitored and regulated by either Big Tech or Big Government, despite Gavin Newsom's best attempts. Maybe you have to get permission from the farmer down the road for your 10-year-old to build a log cabin in his woods with his buddies, but it's possible. Sign a promise that you won't sue him if someone gets hurt (and damn the lawyers and insurance companies). 

We've tried the "safe" life with our kids, and you know what? Life is still full of tragedy and suffering. Might as well grab on and live it to the full. And get your kids and grandkids to go climb a tree.

Jan 15, 2021

More Human Things with the Carmelites

I've adopted Anthony Esolen's New Year's resolution to "do more human things" since leaving Ricochet, and encouraging my friends and family to do the same. In my case, I'm returning to playing piano and taking lessons from a truly great teacher, working on behalf of the garden committee planning this year's Colorado Springs Garden Tour, "reading" the Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz, praying (lots of praying), and taking care of my family as usual. 

But, the Carmelites of Fairfield, Pennsylvania? They're really upping the ante. Watch and enjoy. 

Jan 12, 2021

Antecedents to Consequence

Joan of Arc is the fictionalized memoir of a contemporary of Saint Joan's, which Twain described as the "best of all my books." Some literary critics agree, but others have problems with the novel because they doubt Saint Joan's visions as antecedents to the consequences that played out in Joan's real life. As the author of the Introduction states, 

Readers who can accept the historical validity of Joan's visions will be able to read the fictional memoir in an historical way, that is, according to the ordinary way history proceeds, by antecedent to consequence.

The events of the past week in our nation's capitol bear examination by the light of their antecedents, and the reaction to those events might be considered as antecedents to future consequences. I won't pretend to be thorough in this post, I only present my thoughts in brief now before they are overcome by further events.

The Capitol crimes were preceded by months of social and political disruption due to COVID-19 and BLM/antifa riots, and the model for the events of the day was established in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Kenosha, to name several. I needn't recount the details. And before that? Ferguson, and Occupy Wall Street. It isn't the Tea Party that established political violence and destruction as the means to ends. It was the Left and its useful idiots, among whom we can count the president-elect and vice-president-elect.

Last week was tragic on many levels. As the blogger at The New Reform Club noted,

Nihilism is what is killing our democracy. The leftists who toppled statutes believe, because they are taught to believe, that the people the statues depict – the people who founded our country – hated them. And thus that the country itself hates them. The Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol believe – because the people in that very building told them – that the people in that building, who run this country today, hate them. A country cannot have peace while its government tells its people the country hates them. Yet our government has managed to tell both halves of its divided nation that they are hated. If there were a Darwin Award for governments, the American political establishment would be tough to beat. 

 Read the whole thing

This spirit of hatred, accusation, unforgiveness -- murder, in the end -- must necessarily precede violence. What did we expect? Which begs the question, what do we expect from the (over-)reaction to January 6, 2021? 

It's my belief the violence will only be stoked by reactions like that of the Editor in Chief of Ricochet. A people stricken by the last year of disease, joblessness, personal and professional loss, and a significant loss of freedom, are given the message they're hate-worthy because of the misguided actions of a few. That they're unworthy of the representation of their choice and that they must be silenced for the "common" good.

While I believe the hatred of Donald Trump is mostly irrational, I will hold him responsible in one way, suggested by Elder Daughter: he should have said some time shortly after the election, "if I must leave office, I will do so peacefully." He needed to reassure the hysterical Nevers who've always exhibited a bad-faith belief in the worst of him (he's a Russian agent, he threatened Ukraine for personal political gain, he believes neo-Nazis are "good people" on both sides -- all lies), and he needed to signal to his supporters that this would be an orderly transition one way or another. Not saying so was irresponsible and unwise.

But, I am in agreement with Dennis Prager when he says "it matters who starts it" (a conflict). The breakdown of the rule of law and civil society was started by the Left. The Left has spent decades corrupting our institutions and destroying the public trust. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (both of whom corrupted our government and deserve prosecution more than Donald Trump ever will) signaled their hatred of ordinary Americans with "bitter clingers" and "basket of deplorables." Have candidates for high office ever spoken of people they hope to govern that way before? I suppose so, but I don't know of examples.

I agree with the blogger at The New Reform Club that rough speech is preferable to political violence. I expect most of us on the Right do. Too bad the Left, Big Tech, and the ruling elites prefer suppression of dissident speech. I predict they're going to get more political violence as a consequence -- and so will we all. 

Jan 10, 2021

It Still Works!

I haven't updated this blog since 2014. I wasn't sure all the buttons and levers would still operate, but they do! At least, I think they do. This is my test run to see how it goes. 

If you're just visiting for the first time, I'm guessing you're a friend from Ricochet. Welcome. I'm going to use this as an outlet for ideas no longer welcome there. But, I also plan to keep mostly clear of politics. That doesn't rule out religion and philosophy and those creative enterprises that make us human. I hope to opine on those. 

It's a fresh start on this blog. I've learned a lot while I was away. I hope you find the lessons I'll share worthwhile.