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?