Tag Archives: church

To save the West

By Augustinus

As Europe, North America and South America breezily jettison the Christian foundations of their political orders the “west” such as it is, spirals into further decline. To save the West you need to look to the Church for a rennaissance …but the Church itself, as in past epochs, is in crisis. What therefore is to be done?

Renew the church and you will save the West. So how do we renew the Church? As everyone knows, everyone has an opinion about how to do that. Some want to continue down the route of Vatican II and “liberalize” the Church even further (e.g. Gary Wills and Hans Kung, Richard Rohr and the National catholic Reporter folks etc). Some want to reverse Vatican II’s “reforms” (the traditionalists).  Some want to accept Vatican II’s reforms but then stabilize the ship by interpreting Vatican II documents conservatively (Popes John Paul and Benedict and some prominent “theocons” like George Weigel and the folks at First Things etc).

I do not agree with any of these positions.

Its not about Vatican II. like every other ecumenical council down through the ages this council did some bad things and some good things. I have posted on Vatican II previously so won’t go into that issue here. There is always going to be debate about development of practices, doctrine and church. There always has been such debate and always will be. The cause of the crisis in the church today is not about Vatican II or development of doctrine (understanding the so-called “sexual revolution” including feminism, gay marriage and so forth) or development of practices (such as Latin vs Novus Ordo rite etc)….though, of course, these issues are important. My point is that these issues are NOT the source of the crisis in the Church–they are symptoms.

What then is the source of the crisis in the Church today? If we could pinpoint that source we would also gain a deeper understanding of the crisis of the West more generally. In my opinion the source of the crisis is partially found in what the 19th century Popes called “modernism”. It is a heresy much like the ancient heresy of Arius. The Arian heresy claimed whole countries, most of the eastern Church, most of Northern Europe, most political leaders. It took centuries to defeat.

While the 19th century Popes were onto something when they decried modernism they left out the most crucial task for the Church then and NOW: How do come to grips with the rise of science. Modernism is so potent a force because it claims that it is allied with science. To solve the modernist crisis the church needs to embrace science and become a leader in the scientific enterprise–just as it was in the days of the Church Father and in the middle ages.

On devotion to the church

By Augustinus

One has to decide for oneself what you want your life to amount to. When you come to die what do you want to be remembered for if anything.? I can sympathize with the guy who says:

“Why must you always hound me to make my life “meaningful”, to make my life count??  Isn’t it enough that I survived and provided for my family and even helped out a few friends and strangers along the way? I perhaps harmed, through ignorance and selfishness, a few people along the way but I have attempted to make amends to these people and I have always tried to learn from my mistakes. Most importantly I have tried to avoid increasing the misery in the world. That should be enough!

Now go away and leave me alone. It is you people…the ones who always insist on living lives of greatness that bring misery into the world. You are like the reformers, the incessant busybodies who are always out to “improve” things. You mow down villages to create parking lots and you empty out neighborhoods, calling them slums, to create roads suitable only for machines not human beings. You are always trying to make the world a better place and in the process you create living hells for all concerned. What folly! Stop! Silence! lead a humble, quiet life. Don’t attempt the grandiose as you will only create misery and chaos in your wake.”

Like I said I have a lot of sympathy for this point of view. I hate the social justice warriors and the reformers and the do gooders. They would do well to learn the truth of the old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The do gooders never question themselves. They are utterly convinced that they are on the right side of history and that their intentions are pure.

So I say again I sympathize with the sentiment to avoid the grandiose and huge projects and to seek the quiet humble life. But the problem is that we live in times that do not allow anyone to live the quiet humble life. The reformers and the do gooders will not allow it…they won’t leave us alone and therefore we have to respond to prevent them from creating another living hell. The social justice warriors will be coming for you and your family soon if you do not toe their line. In addition, Jesus commands us to be perfect. That dis-allows the option of mediocrity. The pursuit of perfection involves navigating the thin line of humility while attempting holiness and greatness.

To not waste your life you have to give it to something greater than yourself. The social justice warriors are right about that. But they forget that you also need to attempt perfection via humility. the crucial thing is what do you choose to devote yourself to? First on the list of worthy things to give yourself to is of course God–the uncreated. Once you have that straight then you are on the straight path as the Prophet (peace be upon him) says.  To choose God first you need to tangibly, in reality and therefore you need to dedicate your life to service to his church. Next on the list of worthy objects of devotion are family and friends. But again devotion to the church will allow you to better serve family and friends so everything comes back to the church as the tangible, the real life marker of one’s devotion to perfection.

Now the church in its worldly dress looks fragile, corrupt in many respects, old fashioned, unattractive, quaint and bizarre. But when seen with the eyes of faith its supernatural virtues appear and the Church is crowned with glory and beauty and there can be no greater object of devotion in this life than the church. That devotion is what is needed to bring the church through its latest crisis.

This is the kind of leader we need here in the USA

By Augustinus

In Europe everyone thinks Marine LePen of France is a right winger. She has certainly opposed unbridled Muslim immigration into France and has criticized the socialist regime currently in charge in France but she relies on left-wing advisors, refuses to get married in the Church, and lives the kind of libertine lifestyle lauded by secular elites in the west–all this according to press reports out of France.

Marine’s niece however is a different story! Marion Marechal -LePen is still in her twenties but has won several elections and is poised to replace Marine as leader of the right of center National Front party in France. She appears to be a practicing Catholic. She makes the pilgrimage to Chartres each year; opposes abortion, meets with the country’s catholic bishops, insisted on marrying in Church, quotes Latin in debates with former Presidents of France, trounces those former presidents in those debates, polls high across among most constituencies in France and is universally regarded to be an extraordinarily smart politician–all this while still in her twenties!

The secular elites in Europe are worried about her! Check out this recent story:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12035135/Marion-Marechal-Le-Pen-the-new-wonder-girl-of-Frances-far-right.html

Aphorisms on The Church and the Individual I

  1. Only the church can create a true individual. The saint is the only true individual. The opposite of the true individual is the groupmind or herd.
  2. I do not know if I would be more disturbed by a world filled of atheists or a world full of unchurched “spiritual”/religious people. Who is more deranged? The dogmatic materialist who insists that he is a mere robot without a “Self” or consciousness and that is OK by him OR the man who denies the personal God and insists on a universe populated with invisible and powerful supernatural beings who powerfully influence our freedoms and who we do not fully understand?
  3. It is equally outrageous to claim that supernatural agents exist and that nothing exists except dead matter for as far as our instruments can see …i.e. as far as the last outpost in the vast reaches of the known universe.
  4. The known universe is very likely a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole universe and our universe is but a tiny fraction of the arbitrarily large number of other universes that very likely ‘exist’.
  5. What is my suffering compared to the vast size of the known universe-never mind the infinite reaches of the multiverse?
  6. To bear suffering with humility, dignity and patience is the mark of a great soul and individual. To over-medicate suffering, deny it, fetishize it, embrace it, etc are all typical responses of the herd. Only the true individual or the personal can overcome suffering and the personal is inimical to the herd. The individual, the subjective, the personal measures up to the universe as the personal contains a universe.
  7. The herd opposes the personal. If you flatter the herd, you will puff it up and it will eventually turn on you and trample you into dust. If you attempt to befriend the herd it will treat you as one of its own, i.e. with contempt and then ignore you and eventually destroy you and itself. If you drive the herd with whip and lash into verdant pastures, it will live, cease to be a danger to itself and others and you yourself may prosper from it.
  8. Religion is the whip that controls the herd but it is also the force that makes true individuality, dominant individuality possible. The essence of religiosity lies in rulership. Rulership of oneself and others. That is why the monarchies of the past almost universally allied themselves with religion but always feared it and tried to control it. Monarchies began to die off when the institution of the divine kinship began to lose its force in Europe due to the reformation and wars of religion.
  9. Religious and scientific awe is the only proper response to life. Religious awe without scientific awe is not properly religious and scientific awe without religious awe is not properly scientific.
  10. When a member of the herd gets separated from the pack she likely feels shock, fear and awe. She becomes aware of other minds, agents, predators of super-natural proportions out there that she must face alone. To banish her terrors she proclaims either that all the minds out there are beneficent gods or she proclaims loudly that there are no supernatural agents out there at all…and no minds out there with powers larger than her own prey-like mental capacities…. But she cannot convince even herself of this whistling in the dark gambit…so she desperately tries to run with the herd again in order to submerge her fears in the crowd and to elevate her denunciations via the law of numbers…but her efforts are futile as the herd is funneled by its predators into a headlong rush off the nearest cliff.
  11. Anti-religion atheists are incapable of sensing anything in religion but a crutch for frightened children but they fail to see that they fail to see, they do not know that they do not know. They are like frightened children themselves who are trying to self-soothe back to sleep after a momentary awakening from a bad dream they themselves induced.
  12. It is possible to be an atheist without being anti-religion. Look at Santayana or most of the great autocrats of the enlightenment. The modern brand of militant atheism which presumptuously claims the mantle of science is a pale and pathetic echo of the atheism of the enlightened autocrat.
  13. The ‘religious” person or worse yet the “spiritual but not religious” person is incapable of sensing anything in religion but a balm for their weaknesses and ‘failings”. In this they agree with the militant atheists as well as the reformation protestant reformers.
  14. The political ideology of the herd, inherited from the bloodbath that was the 20th century, is that the victim is holy. Members of a herd can only grasp the concept of victim or prey as that is the thing they are most familiar with. They cannot conceive of being anything like a predator. Like all prey they fear being separated from the herd and falling prey to a tiger or wolf or hunter etc The all-seeing eye of the predator is that which most frightens the herd animal. Their fears shape and constrain the bounds of thinkable thoughts. So falling prey to a predator is the thing most to be avoided and feared and thus it is the thing most hated and feared. Victims are therefore hated and feared by the herd. To either deify or denigrate the prey-not the predator, the victim-not the hunter-this is the herd’s answer to suffering.
  15. Being designated an official victim yields enormous benefits in the world of the herd so every group, no matter how wealthy and influential it might be, attempts to portray itself the victim.
  16. The fact that there really are victims of unspeakable crimes does not negate the fact that the criminals can hold their victims in thrall long after the criminal event itself when the victims embrace the ideology of victimhood.
  17. Nietsche, Kierkegard and Scheler all understood the ideology of resentment and victimhood. Resentiment is the condition which embraces the role of victimhood and then attacks anything of excellence that threatens its benumbed complacency. Fear and hatred of the excellent is the essence of the demonic. Nevertheless, although we see false victims all around us who seethe with resentment the fact remains that there are real victims of innumerable injustices and these deserve our sympathies. Nietzsche and Scheler should have read Dostoyevsky more carefully.
  18. The mark of the true individual is loving compassion for others. Love is not some wilting sigh, dripping with compassion. It is an aggressive assertion of the true, the good, the excellent and the valuable. It is the mark of the absolute individual. Love and aggression are intimately related creative states. Love requires aggression against the herd, the swine incapable of appreciating the pearls lying at their feet.
  19. The ultimate, the unconditioned or God places an obligation on, or within each individual and this obligation is identical with the unique destiny of that individual. It comes in the form of desire and love. Love is destiny. Aggression is love’s instrument for attaining to its destiny.
  20. The ‘personal’ or unique individuality is unconditioned and indeterminate in the sense that it is uncaused and undetermined. The personal cannot be a member of a series because it is utterly unique and un-repeatable. The personal is not reducible to a standard 4 dimensional spatio-temporal instantiation as it has no determinant boundaries-at least in the vertical dimension. Its depths cannot be sounded or measured. The interiority of the personal is essentially limitless and its depths unfathomable. Its outward-looking axis is also limitless as its desires and aims are boundless and infinite.
  21. Love/aggression is the source and the essence of the personal. Love is free, and when directed at another individual, its true aim, it is unbounded and indeterminant. If you ask the lover how much he loves his beloved he will answer that his love has no bounds. If you ask a parent how much he loves his child he will answer that his love knows no bounds. The personal’s mode of operation, love, dis-regards cause and effect and is directed to the utterly unique; i.e. another individual. The lover is passionately interested in and committed to this utterly unique, wonderful (in his eyes at least) and very likely fallible and flawed individual-no other individual will do. Once love strikes it can be fulfilled only with that other individual. That is why I always suspected that the final verses of the Book of Job, where his lost children and wife are replaced by new ones, were interpolations not intended by the original author. When you are in love with someone you cannot replace the beloved with another and find fulfillment—never mind justice. If I lose a child having another child will not heal the wound left in my heart at the loss of the original child. Love, therefore begins in the personal and unique and finds fulfillment in the personal and unique. It starts in freedom and ends in freedom.
  22. Proof that religious sacrifice was an attempt to grasp the power of the personal, lies in the fact that the victims who were sacrificed were universally the divine Kings. Awareness of the dignity inherent in personhood thankfully prevented spread of human sacrifice. Religion as awareness of the rulership inherent in the personal began to decline when animal sacrifice began to replace human sacrifice as the primary religious act. With animal sacrifice religion degenerated into attempts to propitiate the deities or attempts to see the future…i.e. magic.
  23. Christianity provided a solution to the problem of the degeneration of the religious consciousness in the antique world by bringing back sacrifice of the divine king.
  24. The theologies of the reformation began to polemicize against the idea that the central Christian ritual of the Eucharist was a sacrifice. Thus began the decline of Christianity in the West.
  25. It is unclear whether philosophy can replace the role of religion in revealing the essence of the personal as its conceptions of the personal are too puny.
  26. If sacrifice of the divine King can no longer give the individual access to the personal then religions will generate a new way to attain to the absolute individual, to the personal, but that new way has not yet been revealed.
  27. Apocalyptical ideologies within all the major world religions all point to visions of hybrid human/divine beings who partially model possibilities concerning the absolute individual but most of these visions border on jibberish so the only remaining alternative is some combination of religion and philosophy.
  28. This is as I see it a major task of the church in the current age: to develop a vision of the absolute individual by steering the culture through the Scylla of the seductive but dangerous excesses of the fevered religious imagination on the one hand, and the Charybdis of the dangerous excesses of the nihilistic mechanical materialist on the other hand which would suck the individual into an fathomless whirlpool of nothingness.