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So Much To Think About Today
Let’s start with the National Prayer Breakfast. You laugh? Perhaps rightly so because, as usual, Zhou—the current occupant of the Oval Office—spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. And Zhou, if you can believe it, in this day in America, spoke of mutual respect. Bradley Devlin covered the moment for TAC, and then some:
To set the context for this extended quote, Zhou said that he and Kev had had a good meeting and discussion regarding the debt ceiling, and that the discussion took place in a tone of mutual respect. Dems and GOPers should “fight like hell,” he said, but in a spirit of “mutual respect”:
Whether the 2020 election was stolen or not, Biden is in the White House because some thought he would create a modern era of good feelings, or at least a return to normalcy.
Yeah, that’s what politics is about in this day in America—good feelings. Which usually translates to: ignoring reality.
But good feelings and normalcy in our current context aren’t what they once were. Sure, Republicans can be permitted to “fight like hell” for a little while, just as long as they follow the script: liberal modernity must always win. The industrial slaughter of the unborn must continue. If you do have children, then you ought to let the state education system imbue them with LGBTQ ideology and critical race theory. If your child decides they are the opposite gender, you better not suggest it was the education system that encouraged them to live that lifestyle—they were born that way—and you certainly don’t have a say in whether the state can force-feed your child foreign hormones or mutilate their body.
Well, I guess the good news is that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be delivering the GOP response to the SOTU. She’s done some good things down in Arkansas so far. We’ll just have to see.
It’s true, we may all be neighbors. But as Our Lord says in Matthew 10:34-36:
Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
A house divided may fall, but a house built upon sand surely will.
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That’s just the lead-in. Rod Dreher, also at TAC, has a typically long and frustrating article—meaning, he offers some real insightful views but also offers a dollop of self promotion to go with wrongheaded ideas as well. However, it follows on logically from Devlin’s much briefer piece.
Remarkably, to me, Dreher is just now reading CSLewis’ space trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. As Dreher notes, That Hideous Strength was written in 1945 and already the prescient Lewis saw where we in the West were headed. Only the existence of the Soviet Union, I suppose, allowed us to delude ourselves about that for several generations. No longer. So, some extended excerpts—but nothing like the half of it, even (I’ve omitted ellipses for the sake of contunuity, so don’t be fooled into thinking I’ve presented extended continuous passages):
We are only now beginning to learn what the passing of Christianity out of the West means.
Ever heard of “whole body gestation”? It’s the idea of women choosing to donate their bodies — brains dead, but otherwise intact, and the plug on life support not yet pulled — to be impregnated, and to bring a baby to term for a couple that wants one.
Some years back, when I was writing The Benedict Option, a senior physician who worked at the time in a top medical facility in the US, told me that as a believing Christian, he was horrified by the things he could see coming down the pipeline. He said he knew a few other believing Christians on staff, and would take them aside and try to engage them in conversation about this stuff. He said every one of them shut down. Their cognitive dissonance was overwhelming. He came to realize that they had to live in denial about what they were participating in to be able to maintain their careers and their faith.
I’m just about to finish C.S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength. I finally got around to reading it at the strong urging of “Will,” the ex-occultist I mentioned in my previous post. He said that the prophetic vision that Lewis lays out in that novel tracks very closely to what he learned from the demonic intelligences with whom he was in close contact during the years he worshiped them.
Whether or not you believe Will specifically, it seems to me no question at all that we have entered into a period of history in which the satanic — literally, I think, but let’s say figuratively, for the sake of argument — reigns. If you don’t want to think of this literally, then what do I mean by “figuratively”? By “satanic,” I mean an ethic that places Promethean humanity in the position of deciding to play God.
You don’t have to be a Jew or a Christian to recognize the profound truth of that statement. I recall this morning reading in James Billington’s great history of Russia, The Icon And The Axe, how a vogue for Satanism swept the Russian elites in the years before the Revolution. Billington doesn’t talk about it in terms of literal cult activity, but rather as a cultural phenomenon. Cultural elites openly admired Lucifer as a self-made man, so to speak, as a Romantic figure who lived life on his own terms. They saw his model as something to aspire to: the idea that by rebelling against all forms of received authority, especially the Church, self-liberated man could build paradise on earth.
That description of the elite in pre-Revolution Russia should sound familiar. It should come as no surprise to know that the young Marx was also deeply involved in the occult and in the German Ideology of man creating himself, even deforming the myth of Prometheus in his doctoral dissertation in philosophy: ‘In a word, I hate all gods!’ The further point, which Dreher will make further on, is that this flirtation with the new gnostic Prometheus disarmed the elites from the ability to resist the truly satanic that had come to replace their flirty version. We’re there.
Whatever else one might say about Vladimir Putin, he has—to the limited extent that any one man can do such a thing—done his best to restore the Russian cultural tradition. His successes have been remarkable in rejuvenating the nation, which explains the remarkable—even demonic—hatred for him in the decadent West.
By the way, The Icon And The Axe is, indeed, an outstanding book. However, for those who haven’t read it, the subtitle is An Interpretive History of Russian Culture. That will give those who haven’t read it a better idea of what it’s about.
Dreher then recounts a conversation with “an Anglican ordinand” who described the prevalence of occultism and even outright satanism at his former place of employment (and ad agency):
They described Satanism as learning how to be the most complete Self. Of course. It always was. This is what Lewis presents, in a fictional model, in his novel.
We have gone very far down this road. Reading Lewis last night, the hero of his novel says towards the end (no spoilers) that the West has been lost to Christianity, and wherever the West touches in the world, the light of truth fades.
Yes, we’ve been deluded. But the truth of our plight and the evil that the West has propagated is becoming ever more apparent. Also the depth and extent of it all: Even Abortion Freedom Has Become a Matter of Contention. Two Bishops in a Duel.
Lewis wrote this in 1945, the year of triumph over Hitler! He saw how hollow the victory was. He knew, as T.S. Eliot knew, that the West was already post-Christian. Can anybody possibly doubt it now?
Our country is not what we think it is. Through our government and through leading institutions of the private sphere, we are pushing our ideology on these people, and giving them no way out. Specifically, we are pushing them to abandon the traditional model of the family, and to train their children to rebel against their own bodies, and to come to want to sever their penises and breasts from their bodies, and have their uteruses scooped out — the organs of generation and nurture — from their bodies, in order to be their Most Complete Selves. Can you not see what is happening?
Dreher then launches into an extended phenomelogical illustration of just how bad things are.
This new order is being cemented into place all over. Soon there won’t be any cultural memory of what it was like in the Before Times. This is what the woke campaign to replace old statues with new is about.
There really is no way around this conflict. Our liberal framework has blinded us to a significant degree to the nature of power dynamics between radically incompatible frameworks. … the Church of Satan has done a brilliant job of showing how absurd liberal religious tolerance is, by forcing public spaces to erect Satanic statues and imagery, based on the First Amendment. You have to hand it to them: they know how to exploit the weaknesses of secular liberalism. What we’re living through now is an unmasking of the true nature of the conflict — and the feebleness with which liberalism can defend the Good.
Libertarians, please reread that. Preferably several times. Universal tolerance is a self contradiction. The Founding Fathers knew that a semblance of toleration could only endure in an America with a shared culture. We no longer have that.
Philip Rieff’s theory of culture held that every culture is defined by what it forbids. When he first published this in the 1960s, he said that we in the modern, post-Christian West are trying something never before seen in history: to build a culture on forbidding forbidding. Rieff said it couldn’t be done, and of course he was right about that. The owl of Minerva teaches us that “liberal tolerance” was just a phase to neutralize defenders of the old order until it could be erased in the hearts and minds of Westerners (at least those in the elite leadership classes), to prepare the way for the new one. Conservatives in Mainline Protestant churches who were routed by liberals who began by only seeking “tolerance” for different views know how this works. So too do people who remember circa 2005, when the tolerance mantra was “How does my gay neighbors’ marriage hurt my own?” No sensible opponent of same-sex marriage thought the matter was as crude as that. But we saw that there would be a logical and inevitable move from toleration of same-sex marriage to mandatory affirmation of all things LGBT. And we are just about there. Two radically incompatible social orders can only live uneasily together, and then for a short time. …
A house built on sand. This war on Russia is nothing but a distraction from the truly existential civil war in the collective West.