The Social Gospel, the activities of Social Justice Warriors, Political Correctness, electioneering, and the like (and their counterparts on the right side of the aisle) are all desperate and in the end bootless Pharisaical ritual purifications, undertaken to assuage the universal feeling of having done less well than one might have. They fail, in the first place because scapegoating never provides more than a few minutes of emotional relief, and in the second because they involve no inward purgation, and a fortiori no sort of metanoia, which is the only thing that can salve the sick conscience and repair the wounded mind. They wash the outside of the bowl, but not the inside.
Severe monastics undertake heroic asceses, purifying themselves outwardly many times each day as a way of prompting and guiding their inward purgations. They engage in service work, in caring for the poor, the sick, the orphan, the widow. They fast from food and speech, and from simple hearty harmless pleasures. All this to empty themselves of everything but the love of God. The outward work is the visible sign of an inward effort, and an aid thereto. For those struggling up the pitch to sainthood, the real work is inward, and the bloody uncomfortable outer work rather a relief.
Such folks not uncommonly hide their works of charity and sacrifice. We almost never hear of them. Indeed, they barely notice themselves.
But with the Pharisee, all the outward work is undertaken as a way of avoiding the inward effort. Heroic and indeed valuable as his work may be, it is all for show. Its economic intentions are outward. So its inward effects, where there are any, are perverse, as smoothing the rough edges of wicked intentions. It is a vain repetition, which must be repeated again and again, just to keep even with the compounding guilt. But this it somehow never seems quite able to do. So the Liberal must engage in ever more strident, ever more extravagant outward displays of piety: must find some new and ever odder sort of victim to consecrate to the gods, yet another sacred cow, that may not ever be touched.
The apotheosis of Pharisaism is paying someone else to plant trees – or something – so as to reduce your overall carbon footprint. You keep living just the way you had, but you get to feel virtuous because you paid for your vice with cold hard cash peeled from the surfeit of your hoard. The wealthy environmentalist of today is like a Roman voluptuary of the late Imperium, expiating his lust and gluttony by sacrificing a cock to Apollo, or perhaps financing an evening’s gladiatorial games. These days, the voluptuaries finance NPR, or Planned Parenthood, to expiate their guilt, and to win recognition of their piety.
But none of it is any good. None of it works. It doesn’t work to sacrifice something that you won’t miss.
The ancient law of the tithe requires the consecration – to sacrifice, or to some other usage of the Temple – of the first born of every womb, the first fruits of the crop, the seed corn that would otherwise finance the next year. The value of the first born is greater, because it might turn out that the first born is the only born. So dedicating the first born to the god is a demonstration of total faith in the plenitude of his grace. It is a dedication of the whole future life of the house to the god. This act of martyry, of the holocaust by matriarch and patriarch of the very meat of their union and its whole project, cannot be accomplished without a severe and determined inward movement of the heart.
If you won’t miss it, it isn’t a sacrifice in the first place. It is but vanity.
The widow’s mite was meet indeed, who gave everything. Anything less is … less; less than is meet, or right, or our bounden duty. Anything less is a cheat, and an insult – a mockery. We mock – I mock – but God is not mocked.
 Now that sodomy is the law of the land, and the hunt to legalize paederasty, incest and polygamy are well under weigh, and with infanticide and zoophilia already heading toward habilitation, can necrophilia be really beyond the pale? What is there, after all, that could be really intolerable, except intolerance?