Be Not Afraid

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

There are tough times ahead. Things are likely to get a lot worse before they get any better. Not that famine or plague threaten us, or even incipient war; for the time being, we are still coddled, yes and swaddled too, into a comfortable immobility, by our continued prosperity and remaining might. But for conservatives, for traditionalists and reactionaries in particular, and in general for anyone who holds normal moral convictions, a time of persecution – political, social, economic – appears to have dawned, especially if they happen to be Christian. There is reason to expect that, even in this time of burgeoning prosperity, the sword of the state might descend upon the necks of such as we.

And of course, there are good reasons to worry about global war and pandemic, and so famine. Things could go badly off the rails at any moment. This is always so, to be sure. But our condition along these dimensions seems now particularly delicate. One feels that we are poised at the verge of an abyssal precipice.

But there is no reason to fear. Indeed, there is one insurmountable, unstoppable reason to share with each other this holy day good cheer and happiness, and indeed contentment at our parlous circumstances: namely, that the total, complete victory of the Good, the Right, the True, and the Beautiful is absolutely ensured by the mere existence of God. If God exists, nothing whatsoever can prevent his eventual victory – and ours, so long as we make clear to him (and, what is perhaps more important, to ourselves) our utter commitment to his side in the battle against evil.

If God exists, the battle is won already. All we need to do is choose which side to fight on: the losing side, or the winning. Which side will win is a foregone conclusion.

See, this is one of the great things about metaphysics. Once you understand what “God” must properly mean, you understand that he must necessarily exist, that he is perfectly good and omnipotent, and therefore that he’s already got this horrible mess covered. It’s a done deal, signed, sealed and delivered, the price already paid. The way home is now completely open to us. There’s nothing we need to do, other than to stop fighting for the losing side, to pledge ourselves to the winner, and to follow his orders.

Such times as these call for a fair bit of moral and physical courage, just to get through the day. We the heterodox among the moderns are ever under threat of detection and ostracism, and so of financial and social ruin. Fortunately, our heterodoxy in the eyes of the modern world is our orthodoxy under the implacable gaze of the real world. We cannot therefore ever lose, as things are truly accounted in the real world – i.e., in the Book of Life.

Be then of good cheer. Wassail! Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

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PS: Our faithless or metaphysically challenged adversaries cannot share our basic confidence or sanguinity. They can hope for no more than a temporary delay of their inevitable doom. They cannot but fear. This is why they are so angry.

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PPS: I should emphasize also that the courage required of us is not mostly in respect to our status in society at large, or to the broad stream of history, but in relation to those homely little things close to us: those whom we love, and with whom we live and work; most of all, perhaps, must we leave behind fear in respect to ourselves. That near relative or friend from whom you find yourself estranged; that business contact with whom you feel reluctant to deal, for some reason; that onerous task or work of self-discipline, of penance or of askesis, that you would rather not face: such as these constitute the theatre of our first, most important, and most consequential efforts on behalf of our Lord. Put on then the whole armor of Christ, gird your loins, and tackle these things. In no other way might you so effectually work to the winning of some great world historical war of cultures. And know this: even if such efforts end in frustration or failure, you simply cannot in the end go down to permanent defeat, provided you put yourself on the side of the necessary ultimate victor, who is Lord of all, God of all, Source and End of all, Solace of all, healing and perfection of all.

If you put yourself on the side of Infinity, and stay there come what may, your personal defeat is an ontological impossibility.

19 thoughts on “Be Not Afraid

  1. Pingback: Be Not Afraid | Reaction Times

  2. Pingback: Peace Unto All | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. … but in relation to those homely little things close to us: those whom we love, and with whom we live and work; most of all, perhaps, must we leave behind fear in respect to ourselves. That near relative or friend from whom you find yourself estranged; that business contact with whom you feel reluctant to deal, for some reason; that onerous task or work of self-discipline, of penance or of spiritual life, that you would rather not face: such as these constitute the theatre of our first, most important, and most consequential efforts on behalf of our Lord.

    The wonder of Christian political science is precisely that, in dealing with these things close to us in a forthright, charitable and Christian manner, submitting to authority and living with the Light of Christ, and quite importantly living together in the Church (instead of the atomized state that the enemy has made seem so natural to us), without any concern for the redemption of the political order, we wreak great changes in the constitution of things on that plane, so that over time the Empire is transformed into a Christian order.

    • Yes. That was how the Roman Empire became Christendom. There’s no other way to work that transformation. Personal sanctity is the most powerful lever we have because in the final analysis it is the only lever we have. Absent personal sanctity, our acts are righteous and productive of real good only happenstantially, when our selfish somewhat deluded interests happen to terminate upon the common welfare, upon general righteousness, upon reality as she actually is.

  4. Thank you. This is something that i know and i share the facts with my family regularly. But, it is nice to hear it from someone else.

  5. Merry Christmas to you Kristor, and to Profs Smith and Bertonneau and the other writers here, and Mery Christmas also to all posters and commenters and readers. May God bless each of you richly in the coming year. Praise Jesus, all shall be well.

  6. Thank you, Kristor. I’ll be sure to call this message to mind whenever I feel besieged by the world that appears so blind to its own mendaciousness.

  7. God also has angels like the destroyer that don’t bother saying “be not afraid”. God’s wrath seems to be MIA in today’s churches. While we can all be saved through the sacrifice Jesus made individually, it does not mean that God can not punish nations or peoples that sin.

  8. Maybe that was too heavy. Have a great new year. I just find the subject of Angels fascinating as I have always wondered what they would be like. Unfortunately we only have movies like the Prophecy to speculate or Pilgrims Progress which doesn’t have any real depth of character for the angels.

    • I forget where I read it, it might have been CS Lewis or possibly an essay by Tolkein or something. But the idea of Angels being *perfect will*. At the moment of their creation, they choose to align with God or with themselves (pride). In any case, I’m told that Tolkein’s writings on ‘creation’ for his LOTR universe (Silmarilion, I think) really helps visuals angels and the story of the universe just prior to creation–granted of course that Tolkeins writings are fictional and intended for illustrative purposes.

      Re: your previous comment, that’s one of the things that drew me to convert, when I realized that “Old Testament” God didn’t ‘go away’, but rather struck a new deal. I think it was Brant Pitre who helped me grok covenant theology: Gods covenant with Abraham, according to Judaic law at the time, is valid until either all of Abraham’s descendants die (almost impossible) or God dies. God dying is impossible to Abraham, but when we crucified Christ, that invalidated the covenant with Abraham and created the ‘New and Eternal Covenant’ we all know and love today. This, I believe, is what people point to when they try to shield the faithful from ‘Gods Wrath’. But the Venerable Fulton Sheen had it right: The West is all about Christ, without the Cross. All our modern heresies can be viewed in this light–trying to avoid the suffering that purifies us and makes us holy. ‘Be Not Afraid’ is essentially saying that suffering has meaning, and we can pick up our crosses knowing that they will not defeat us, because Christ already defeated it. This includes the counter-intuitive suffering that comes with an easy life devoid of moral challenge.

      The Angels have it easy, because they don’t need fear. They are perfectly ordered or disordered from inception. We get all the unique highs and lows that come with free will, and being able to choose to follow Christ, and all the Joy, Glory, and Sorrow that implies.

  9. I think it’s that angels don’t have faith. Jesus became annoyed by demons that knew why he was on Earth and that he was and is the son of God. Demons and fallen angels know but don’t serve God. They made the choice to rebel even with the knowledge they had. I think that’s why believing humans are better than the angels. We know very little by comparison but serve Christ in spite of how little we know because we have faith that what we believe is true. Angels and demons have seen God so they don’t have doubts as to what the truth is.

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