There are two options now before me; before America; before the West; before Christendom, as we all approach what seems to be a cultural crisis hundreds of years in the making: either to panic, or to commend our spirits to God, so renewing our pledge of fealty to him our Captain, and then to keep fighting, and before all else to keep praying.
There must be a demonic aspect to the present crisis. Our adversaries on all sides are too various, distributed and yet spookily coordinated for any merely human agency to have organized them so well. Another clue to their demonic inspiration: they are rather dense, as befits an army dedicated to confusion and disorder. They make stupid, obvious mistakes, such as threatening election officials – a federal offense – and then posting recordings of those threats online.
Synchronistically, I just finished the book Daimonic Reality: a Field Guide to the Otherworld, by Patrick Harpur. I have been reading about demons and angels a lot over the last five years or so. I had not wondered why, until yesterday morning. The topic is interesting, but so are many others. Why had I got on to it? Perhaps, I then thought for the first time, out of the blue: perhaps, it has something to do with our present crisis. Perhaps I have been prepared. Or we: for, I am not special. Lots of people in recent years have begun to take angels and demons rather more seriously than had been the case since 1900 or so.
In his book, Harpur discusses – frankly, and with refreshing seriousness – all sorts of preternatural phenomena, and subsumes them all under the category of the daimonic: UFOs, fairies, poltergeists, lake monsters, Bigfoot, goblins, vampires, ghosts, witches, elves, Black Dogs, Men in Black, Satanist cults that prey upon children, shamanic and mystical descents and ascents, crop circles, demigods, myths, monsters: on and on. Among them, apparitions of the BVM. These all erupt into physical reality – which is to say, only, that they are phenomena that, to those who suffer them, are as real as hammers and nails or as eggs and buttered toast at breakfast. But, from … where? They appear in all cultures, and always have, in one form or many another. What are they, and what their significance?
Harpur is a careful, thorough observer, honest, and quite intelligent. But he is unable to make sense of the data he catalogues in his natural history, and so falls back on Jungian archetypes and a murky notion of an objective yet chaotic daimonic realm that is as it were the unconscious of the cosmos, and so derivately of each of her members. He rationalizes his incomprehension of such phenomena by an elaborate but, in the final analysis, confused and nonsensical argument that the daimonic per se simply cannot be understood; that understanding as such, and rationality, are the province alone of the ego, which he holds in suspicion above all the other daimonic entities he apprehends; so that to the daimonic, understanding cannot properly pertain.
We take understanding for granted, but when you think about it for what it is, understanding is one of the spookiest things imaginable, and most difficult to understand. Understanding is daimonic.
Harpur indulges in a trite and tiresome trope among New Age and liberal writers who hate their patrimony: evil rational Western intellect, trying to make sense of things: how evil, trying to identify some sorts of things as evil, and others as good! How dogmatic and doctrinaire! We can’t have such things as dogma or doctrine, you know; can’t abide logical consistency. That would … well, it would force us to make all sorts of uncomfortable, costly decisions about our own lives and loyalties. And that would be … evil.
Now, I can see that there must be an unconscious of everything that is, including the cosmos as a whole. I can see that the unconscious – or rather, preconscious – mind of each individual mundane entity must participate the unconscious minds of all the larger systems it partakes (and, so, via their mediation, of their other subsidiary participants), thus furnishing a medium for and matrix of causal influence of all sorts, and thus of the sorts of causation to which we are so accustomed – and too of extraordinary sorts of causation, including such apparently preternatural sorts as telepathy and the like.
But I disagree that this pervasive mutual preconsciousness of things is anywise naturally chaotic. It can’t be, if the world is to be coherent. If there is to be a world at all, it *must* hang together seamlessly. If it is to cohere causally, it must cohere logically. It must make sense. It must be then intelligible, in whole and in each of its parts, and between them. In no other way might those parts be intelligible to each other; in no other way might any of them be intelligent.
And if a world is to hang together so as to constitute a coherent whole, it must do so without the tiniest jot of actual (as distinct from apparent) disagreement or confusion among its elements. In any world, properly so called, the agreement of things, their mutual fitness – even the disagreeable things – must be perfect.
Excursus: Agreement is of two sorts: the disagreeable sort, and the euagreeable. Things can conspire coherently toward evil or toward good. But they cannot even be proper things, in full, if they do not coherently conspire – if they do not, literally, breathe together.
So: seeing that we do indeed inhabit a coherent world, we may feel confident that it is amenable to understanding – even if we have not yet quite understood it, indeed even if we cannot ever quite understand it completely. And this must be true of the daimonic items of the world, as much as it is of the rest of it.
Harpur can’t see any of this. He insists that in the final analysis our world simply cannot be understood.
What is the reason of this lacuna?
He explains that UFO abductees often develop all sorts of pathologies, and are often subject to repeated episodes; and that such experiences are usually painful or terrifying occasions of horrible dread and disgust. Meanwhile he recounts that apparitions of the BVM are always sublimely blissful, wonderfully beautiful, and profoundly salutary for those lucky enough to suffer them: spiritual lives blossom, miraculous healings abound, pure springs are discovered where before there were none, conversions of life and faith multiply among pilgrims to their sites, and Mary’s detailed predictions come true.
Harpur just can’t see this difference between these two sorts of experiences; or else, does not want to admit that he has seen it. Part of the problem is that he has not the philosophical equipment to do so: he does not understand Christian theology, angelology or demonology. His understanding of the Faith is that of the standard New Age caricature; as if he had read a bit of Dan Brown, and taken it as authoritative. But the real problem – and, perhaps, the reason and motivation for his studied and indeed somewhat determined ignorance of Christianity (he knows a lot about Christian doctrine, but has little notion what it means) – is that he just cannot see that many of the phenomena he notices are simply evil, and a few simply, supernally good.
The surest indication of his unwillingness to look evil in the face, or to recognize Christian theory about the daimonic for what it actually is (i.e., far more experienced, practiced, and sophisticated than his own, and thus clear in its discernment of good and evil): he ignores exorcism, completely. He uses the word ‘possession’ only once in the whole book, in passing, and then only as a metaphor, rather than another of the concrete daimonic phenomena he purports to cover comprehensively.
He does not attend at all to the best and most carefully documented of all daimonic phenomena.
Recall Virgil at the Gates of Hell, who could not understand how to overcome the demonic refusal to allow him and his Christian student entry – so that Dante, who could understand it, had to pray for help, and then get it from an angel. The inference: pagans like Harpur – and liberals and atheists, and moderns in general, who are afflicted with the Enlightenment destruction of categories and names, and are therefore in their approach to experience radically handicapped, and so confused – do not comprehend evil. They can’t see it properly. They cannot name it.
So they cannot fight it. So they cannot but support it, willy nilly.
Evil confuses the minds of the evil about evil.
Consider then the Confucian mandate to rectify names; consider also the epistemological and moral disaster of nominalism.
Alright; say that the demons are involved in our politics. As of course they must be, if they exist at all (which according to the Church they do). What do they want?
The demons want us to panic, so that we stop praying. Panic makes us easier prey.
Viz., the media gin up fear about covid. They try to confuse us with noise, rather than providing information. They want to shut down Church, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Indeed, they want to stop sociality in all its forms. They want to destroy all the cultural outworks of a healthy cult, all the customs and traditions of the world. They want to destroy nations, families, sexes. They want us isolated, like the UFO abductees alone in their bedrooms or driving a lonely country road late at night. They want us alienated from each other. They want us to despair.
Panic is the terror borne of despair.
These next weeks look like a fulcrum of the war between Christendom and her Enemies, that has been preparing for centuries. We seem now to be at a particularly acute crux of that long twilight struggle. If the tide of battle does indeed turn now decisively, to one side or the other, a trophy will be erected here upon it, by those who follow us. A great cross, such trophaioi anciently were, with the battle relics of the defeated foe hung upon them – broken shields, shattered helmets, torn banners. And scalps, bones, guts, sinews. Trees they were, of sacrifice.
Any life is a series of turning points, of course. This may be no more than another routine turning point, like the decision whether to have the marginal beer. But maybe not. It seems possible that almost everything might be about to change, for good or for ill. The Storm seems to be upon us.
What to do?
Don’t despair. Don’t panic. Don’t ever give up. Believe: John 14:1. Be ready, indeed eager to die for the Church, and for the Good, and for all their childer. Don’t stop praying. Pray harder than ever in your life for Christendom.
She shall surely prevail, somehow or other, sooner or later. We may count on that eventual victory, for Aslan is our King, who cannot lose. Our confidence shall stiffen our resolve and render us all the more fell and lethal, all the more dreadful to the foe. Nothing earthly is so dreadful as a warrior convinced in his guts of the justice of his cause, and determined to fight to the death in her defense.
But, Christendom shall win through us. If Aslan fights alone, his battle is not ours, and he fights against us. We win – our side wins – by and through our fighting. That’s how the winning side becomes our side. And, our prayer is perhaps the most important and efficacious aspect of *how* Christendom shall prevail through us.
Whatever else you can or cannot do, you can pray. So, don’t stop praying.
And remember: because our adversaries don’t comprehend evil, they are confused. This weakens them.
Be convinced. And, be at peace. We win.