On to Martyrdom & Everlasting Victory

Whatever the outcome of the present electoral controversy in the United States, it seems that we are bound soon to some radical political crisis, that will profoundly shape the American future – and, so, the future of all Christendom, such as she still is.

All political crises are of morals, and of cult. They are, that is to say, crises in the continuous and ever greater conflicts within a people or country beset and bewildered by divergent and incompatible – and, so, incorrigibly disagreeable – coordinate systems of First Principles, and so of all the prophets and laws that hang upon them. A disagreement about cult eventually pervades life down to the most picayune decisions – about raiment, personal grooming, quirks of diction – so that almost any of them can become dire shibboleths to one faction or another, signaling friendship or enmity.

Such fundamental disagreements as derive from the First Principles of incompatible cults, and so are not amenable to correction via compromise in custom, policy, or law, cannot but eventuate in war of some sort. The Left more and more these days deems the Right insane and evil both essentially and in all particulars, and would expunge them from society, or just destroy them. They blame white men – white *Christian* men especially, NB – for all the ills they apprehend in modern life, and so they hate and abhor such men above all. The Right, for their part, more and more recognizes the Left as a Cult and Culture of Death. These terms are heard more and more often these days even from politically and theologically moderate Christians on radio, both Catholic and Protestant.

The cultural battle is shaping up more and more clearly and forthrightly – more and more *honestly* – as a global contest between Christian culture of every land and Anti-Christian culture of many sorts; between the cult of Christ in all her variations, and the diverse cults of his Adversary.

So, it seems we are bound in earnest toward the consummation of what we have so far, for 60 years, blithely called a culture war. What has so far transpired of that war has been mostly just a pale quiet and more or less polite discussion, compared to what seems now to loom before us.

The cult of Christ cannot in duty to her Lord surrender to his Adversary without a fight. So, if it comes to a fight, there will be a fight. Many in the cult of Christ will die in that fight. They will die whether or not they choose to join it. For, no quarter will – or, on the logic of the Left, can – be given to those who have not chosen to fight, but rather only ducked any vociferous pledges of fealty to either side. They, too, the lukewarm, will be deemed – not unjustly – too Christian (Luke 9:50) to be tolerated. If the Christians lose the fight, many more will die in the persecutions that follow.

Horrible as all that would be, and much as we must all do our best to avoid it, and somehow defeat the Cult of Death without … well, without killing a lot of people, Christians must remember that death in defense of the Faith is to be welcomed. Martyrdom is a wonderful opportunity to surrender all our worldly goods and affections upon the altar of the Most High God, and for the sake of that perfect Good who is the source of all other goods. It is the ultimate, total and irrevocable decision for Christ, and commitment to his cause. It is also the most efficacious sort of witness to the Faith, and a terrific evangelical lever upon the spirits of all who observe such sacrifices; the persecutions in ancient Rome were followed by massive waves of conversion.

It is also the Golden Ticket to everlasting bliss. Martyrdom is the surest way to avoid hellfire. Because why? Because it is the perfection of the Baptismal vow to renounce Satan and all his works.

If we have faith, we may ride to war, or to the gallows, in peace, and rejoicing. Whether we ride on chariots or tumbrils, we may sing hymns and psalms of thanksgiving. We may care nothing of death, for we confide at last in the ultimate death of all death, and the triumph of life everlasting – of *our own* life everlasting, with all that we now hold rightly dear.

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and, armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his Truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little Word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s Truth abideth still;
his Kingdom is forever!

Luther’s terrific hymn is a gloss on Psalm 46:

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease in all the world; he breaketh the bow, and shattereth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still then, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

It behooves me to note in conclusion that, come what may of our present political and cultural turmoil – God send there may be but little of it, and that the side of Truth shall soon prevail, not by our destruction of his enemies, but by dint of their own confusions – nevertheless we shall all sooner or later face the martyr’s choice. We shall all die. The only question then is whether we shall die nobly, as faithful Christian witnesses and vassals of Christ our Captain and Head, or debased, as defectors from the cause of Truth in favor of the Father of Lies, and so for the sake of some lesser and impermanent good. We might as well then get on with the choice, so that no matter when or how death comes, we are ready for him. Why wait?

Memento mori.

18 thoughts on “On to Martyrdom & Everlasting Victory

  1. But the Consul’s brow was sad,
    And the Consul’s speech was low,
    And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe;
    “Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
    And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?”

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the gate:
    “To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds
    For the ashes of his fathers
    And the temples of his gods?”

    • I should add a comment to my contextless excerpt of this poem. [[Note to the Editor: Please feel free to consolidate my comments that I may not overcrowd the combox with my own formless musings]]

      We are beyond Tu Quoque fallacies which I indulge, the most glaring being the excessive concern for a peaceful transition of power. Where was this four years ago, when the masses protested in the streets for four months?

      We are beyond it, I say. There’s nothing that can be done. This election will be decided by the courts, and perhaps will have to be ratified by the senate like Trump’s election was earlier this year. All future elections will be decided this way, until we become all one thing or all the other.

      There is no fight in me, my friends. I hold the least popular opinions, and live the least agreeable way. Add on to this that I am the chief of sinners: on what grounds might I protest? Who would rally to my cause? The tallest grass gets the blade, so too the loudest voice. What should I advocate for, the kingdom of heaven on earth? I would be a fool to suggest my lamp was filled with oil and I was ready for the Lord’s arrival at the banquet. Then some different, more just system: revolution then? Someone remarked once that Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. St. Thomas More (as presented in “A Man for All Seasons”) says: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

      So all that’s left is the quietest rebellion. Let me attend to my faith, celebrate Mass, work out my salvation with fear and trembling–greater fear, still greater trembling nowadays–and if that should be taken from me then may I fight for that, facing fearful odds for the ashes of my fathers and the temple of my God.

      • Scoot, may God bless you, my friend; your inward heartfelt rejection of the demonic spirit of this age is the most trenchant of anything you might offer. Never surrender your inmost citadel, for there is nothing else to you, at all, when push comes to shove. I pray that you may never be pushed, or called upon to shove. But when that trial comes to you – as I suppose it must, to all of us under heaven – I pray that you shall not be found anywise wanting. As indeed I pray for myself, and for all of mine.

        Onward, then, into the breach. Let’s see what happens.

        PS: NB: the weakest reed may still stiffen the Resistance. We should not therefore fret that we are but sinners, ergo weak. Be weak! Invoke then the reinforcements of the Almighty! What then can stand before you both: you, a weak and broken reed, and your Omnipotent Captain?

        PPS: Quiet, peace and humility are among the most effective weapons in the arsenal of the Church. They may get her through the coming storm.

  2. I was explaining the metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of the needle in out family devotions yesterday. I explained that the eye of the needle was, in fact, a narrow gate in the wall of Jerusalem, and that the camel must be imagined as loaded with great loaded panniers draped over its back. The load in those panniers is really everything we have acquired in our trek through life, but we like the camel cannot carry these things through that narrow gate. It occurred to me that passing through the narrow gate would, in fact, scrape that load off of any camel’s back, provided the panniers were not tied to the camel (or the camel to the panniers). What is more, it occurred to me that a camel can pass through the narrow gate and lose its load without ceasing to be that particular camel. I’m not sure how well the reflections will serve in the event, but do find them helpful now that the beast is looming over the horizon.

    • This comment is perfectly pertinent. The only thing that can get through the gate is the camel himself. So, get on, camel, and through the gate.

      That gate cannot withstand the camel who no longer travails, nor is heavy laden. Matthew 16: 17-19.

  3. Pingback: On to Martyrdom & Everlasting Victory | Reaction Times

  4. I am not American but it seems clear to me that the primary battle between the forces of Christ and Antichrist will be in America. Of course, the war is everywhere, all over the world but the world stands or falls with America which is why it is so important for all of us to pray for her especially at this time.

    The other thing I would like to say in response to this essay is that the time for peace and reconciliation has passed. We have to stand up and fight. Fight as soldiers of Christ which means with the weapons of love and truth, but fight all the same. Those who preach peace will go over to the enemy.

    • Thanks for your prayers, William. It does feel as though the crisis is at last upon us, although from this point things could get much, much worse everywhere – on all sides – if they go now badly for our side. Or else, if things go well for us in this affray, they might stay about the same for a while, until we arrive at some new crisis.

      In whatever is coming, the quislings and the lukewarm will not, cannot be tolerated, by either side. No one will be able to trust them, or ought to. So, there is no avoiding this fight, if that’s what it should come to. Everyone shall be forced to make a choice. Whatever they do or do not, that shall tell their choice. No one will be fooled. Every man will know where each laid his true loyalty. Everyone will know well who was a true man, and who nothing more than a miserable hypocrite or sunshine soldier.

      Wherewith, another Protestant hymn by James Russell Lowell, all too dreadfully pertinent:

      1 Once to ev’ry man and nation
      Comes the moment to decide,
      In the strife of truth and falsehood,
      For the good or evil side;
      Some great cause, some great decision,
      Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
      And the choice goes by forever
      ‘Twixt that darkness and that light.

      2 Then to side with truth is noble,
      When we share her wretched crust,
      Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
      And ’tis prosperous to be just;
      Then it is the brave man chooses
      While the coward stands aside,
      Till the multitude make virtue
      Of the faith they had denied.

      3 By the light of burning martyrs,
      Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
      Toiling up new Calv’ries ever
      With the cross that turns not back;
      New occasions teach new duties,
      Ancient values test our youth;
      They must upward still and onward,
      Who would keep abreast of truth.

      4 Tho’ the cause of evil prosper,
      Yet the truth alone is strong;
      Though her portion be the scaffold,
      And upon the throne be wrong:
      Yet that scaffold sways the future,
      And, behind the dim unknown,
      Standeth God within the shadow,
      Keeping watch above His own.

      God is keeping watch. Nothing is lost. Everything is remembered. There is in that for each of us either terror or solace – or most likely a bit of both – depending upon our ultimate fealty, which, until the moment of martyry, must be for each of us at least a bit in doubt. God, grant us strength to choose aright, then, now, always.

  5. I have to say I’m baffled by the doom and gloom around here. The Republican Party gained power almost everywhere in the election, the notable exception being the presidency. And let’s be honest, an incompetent would-be tyrant is not better than a somewhat milquetoast center-right “Democrat” who can’t do anything because Congress will almost certainly block any leftward turn he tries to make (it’s doubtful that the senate will turn democratic).

    Not only that, but faith in the usefulness of the democratic process has been shaken among right liberals, making them at least a little less liberal. I thought that would be welcome news, since the first step toward the instauration of a monarchy must be the breakdown of democracy, which will never happen so long as everyone maintains faith in it.

    One gets the impression that the loyalty displayed here is not to apostolic Christianity and its principles and worldview, but to the current president above even his political party.

    • There have indeed been a number of positive developments in the last few weeks. The crisis of confidence in our electoral system and in the media and social media companies, in particular. It looks more and more like a collapse in the credibility of the Established Cult. A “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” moment. That could segue smoothly into an Emperor’s New Clothes preference cascade. Which would be great.

      But, that would provoke – is already provoking – a reaction among the clerisy of the Established Cult. So things are not unlikely to get a bit sporty in North America. And everyone is vulnerable. We’ve never seen anything like the IT reach of the Deep State Temple Thoughtcrime Police. “Anonymity” online ain’t in it. If the Stasi want to, they can easily round up everyone who has ever viewed an Orthosphere page.

      We have around here no great faith in Donald Trump – or any other man, but one. But there is no one else anywhere apparent on the scene so likely to overturn the liberal order as he – or, should he fail thereat, his enemies. If he does not overturn it, they will. And not in a good way. They’ve been quite forthright about their plans for deplorables such as we, should they come to power.

      There’s good reason therefore to gird our loins, right now. Let’s hope it all blows over in a favorable direction in a few weeks. If it doesn’t, then martyrdom is in the cards.

      • I don’t know. Maybe I’m younger than the writers around here, but a large part of me hopes for the clarity of explicit martyrdom breaking upon the scene once more, along with defense of the Faith by might and main where required. The Chanson de Roland is a beautiful and inspiring song, much better than the filthy roguish tune that has replaced it in most French hearts.

      • CS Lewis noticed 70 years ago that the differences between the two sides of the culture war have been growing ever starker with each passing year, gradually eliminating social room for any moderate or centrist or noncommittal position, and more and more forcing everyone to choose. From where we now stand, the only way that the two sides can get any more clearly differentiated is by Deep State persecution of apostates such as we. Ostracism for political incorrectness, doxing and canceling are groundwork for reeducation camps and guillotines.

        The first few martyrs will suddenly clarify everything enormously, and irrecoverably. There will be no going back. We may in fact have reached this point already.

        Then, we’ll all reap the whirlwind. The chaff will be burned in unquenchable fire.

        Be fruit.

      • Rhetocrates, I dare say we will indeed see a few martyrs (whether ever officially recognized or not). But we may more likely find all of us suffering slow, inexorably crushing martyrdom of death by a thousand cuts over decades of time. There are elements of the Cult of Death who would like nothing better than to employ death directly and up front, but the Cult is driven by principalities and powers, who may have quite other designs.

      • If the demonic memes kill their hosts too quickly, they won’t have much opportunity to use them as vectors of their propagation. The more lethal strains don’t survive as long as the less lethal, so that as the disease progresses through its victim population it grows less virulent, more stealthy. This is why you hear senior voices on the Left telling their younger more deranged colleagues to shut up already about the reeducation camps and firing squads. They don’t want the immune system of the body politic to wake up and go to war against them, all. They want us not just confused, but bored and sleepy, and a bit drunk or hungover. Innumeracy and illiteracy help, too: if you can’t think, you can’t critique. That’s good for silly memes that make no sense.

  6. There are three pathways I can see having modest plausibility:
    (1) Trump wins in the courts and (after a couple of months of desultory riots (winter is a terrible time for extended rioting)) he spends considerable political capital reforming the election process such that nobody can steal elections under cover of night again. In such a situation, the Cult of the Christians has some breathing space to right some political wrongs and make some headway within the system, and (just possibly) turn a bit of the system around toward God once again. Trump himself would not be the primary focus of those battles of turning this or that issue around, he is too wrapped in other motivations. Or we could continue the long slow downward slide we have been seeing for over 60 years. Or
    (2) Biden succeeds in getting the election results approved his way seemingly “by the books”, at least so far as most people can tell, and he takes office quietly. If he did use fraud, he and his will cement in the process of that fraud to make it permanent. But he need not do it in such a way as to make it obvious and universal (i.e to force all Dem candidates winning over all Republicans), they can decide to take the slow and easy approach: to consolidate bit by bit over the Cult of Christians in every corner, but over time. Or
    (3) One side or the other decides that “the process” is not going to work out “properly” (due to shenanigans?), and resorts to major force (i.e. involving, at a minimum, federal forces such as FBI, and state militia forces) to claim the White House. In this, the Dems would have tremendous advantage in being the apparent winners of the election, and all decent Americans would have to worry about giving aid and support to those who would use force to “decide” an election. Most Americans have never bothered to think through the moral and political minefields, and indeed even for those who have tried, there is no easy solution. In such a scenario, there is no guarantee that America would come out the other end, even if an entity claiming the same name did. Once the Praetorian Guard names the emperor, it is not easy to restore power to “the people” in a real sense.
    Two of the 3 scenarios above allow for the possibility that we who hope in the Lord will continue to see our way of life further and further constricted, narrowed, beaten down, and eventually outlawed, piecemeal. This is the slow “bloodless” martyrdom of religious oppression. And, if I may offer to Kristor, it is far the harder to manage. Quick martyrdom is extremely painful and causes an avalanche of fear, but one complete act of defiance sees you through. The slow martyrdom requires a repeated defiance, and not just that, it requires an ongoing re-consideration of which things must be defied and which things can be merely borne or avoided, about which reasonable men will constantly second-guess.

    • Indeed. Two out of those three scenarios offer Christians much the same quotidian difficult picayune moral choices that we have routinely confronted since – o, since God knows when. WWI? 1840? 1789? 1215? The scenario that is unprecedented for Americans since 1865 is the one in which martyrdom right now, all at once, becomes really somewhat probable; becomes a choice.

      When things are dreadfully clear and there is no alternative but to pick your side forthrightly, so that everyone knows about it, why then part of what comes along with that as a package deal is that the choice is a wager of one’s very life. God grant we choose well.

  7. Excellent post.

    I, too, have been thinking along those lines. It seems like many on the right (most?) are looking for some political figure–anyone–to deliver them from the Adversary and his earthly minions. But, isn’t propping up this Evil System a waste of energy, time, and money?

    Instead, let’s pour energy into building up “treasures in heaven.” Isn’t that the only real thing that matters? This heavenly-focus will soothe our anxiety as the dystopia (Great Reset) arrives and sharpen our resolve.

    The other important part is to make a commitment to the Truth. We should all think about what that means and what steps we will take in support of Truth. Put differently, how much are willing to suffer in support of the Truth?

    Finally–on a positive note–our side is the *only* side of freedom and agency (as spiritually understood). Leftism necessarily leads to despotism, destruction & death. The suffocating health dictatorship most are living under right now is just one example of how leftism actually works. Surely, we should hope that some will be shaken from their delusions to repent and confess faith in Christ.

    For those who don’t…. one of the most terrifying punishments in the Bible was God “hardening” a person’s heart and giving a people “over to their delusions.” Put differently, God may permit value inversion (that good is evil and evil is good) as a *means* of punishment! This creates–quite literally–a hell on earth. So, the delusion of the Great Reset is that it will usher in a socialist paradise (like Star Trek), when–in reality–it is going to begin Dante’s Inferno.

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