At least since Nietzsche, modern European pagans of the more reckless jejune sort have been wont to proclaim that Christianity gutted Europe of her original, chthonic, manly, distinctive culture. The process took millennia, they say, but it has now been pretty much completed. Europe has been unmanned by the pale Galilean who had already sapped Rome and the wider Hellenic world with his flaccid Oriental mysteries, and lies now prone before her Mohammedan conquerors.
It’s a silly conceit. For one thing, the West began her precipitous Modern decline at exactly the moment that her formerly deep and utterly preponderant Christian faith began to weaken and splinter – thanks in no small part to that madman, Nietzsche himself (and to a few other madmen, such as Voltaire). For another, if Christianity really did gut Europe of such a vigorous exuberant cult, then … that cult must have been rather weak after all, mutatis mutandis – and so, by its own lights, deserving of death.
Non-Christian religions are often good at explaining the eternal perspective, and arguing in favour of an eternal perspective which shrinks (sometimes to microscopic levels) the importance of mortal life. But they tend to have trouble explaining why mortal life is of any value at all: why bother with it?
Mainstream Orthodox Christians also often have the same trouble – but this is not intrinsic to Christianity, but is a consequence of building in inappropriate Greco-Roman derived philosophy, and then seeing Christianity through its lens.
In one of his weaker arguments against theism, Bertrand Russell made the same point: to an infinite, eternal being, how could petty evanescent human affairs be even noticeable, let alone worthy of his attention? Wouldn’t he be rather too busy with the collisions of galaxies to worry himself over whether little George is grieving over the loss of his toy airplane?
We are here honored to present a guest essay by fellow orthospherean Mark Citadel.
My knowledge of the lives of Christian saints is sub-encyclopedic to say the least, in part due to a lack of time to really sit down and read. I have, in my time, gained a familiarity with some of the greats; St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, St. Cyril, St. Basil the Great, and one of my personal favorites, St. John of Kronstadt. However this barely even scratches the surface of the rich history extending from the Mediterranean to the frozen north of Europe, and even to the modern United States with great teachers such as the likely soon-to-be-canonized Seraphim Rose.
Saints of course have huge significance in Christian theology and ritual. Nicolas Zernov stated in his study on Orthodox practice that saints were treated “as teachers and friends who pray with them and assist them in their spiritual ascent. Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry was surrounded by disciples who did not prevent others from meeting Him, but on the contrary helped newcomers to find the Master. In the same manner fellowship with the saints facilitates communion with God, for their Christ-like character brings others nearer to the divine source of light and life.”
This is Gay Pride day, I gather. Or something. Somehow or other I encountered online today a Mercedes Benz commercial, extolling homosexuality and Mercedes vehicles – many other aspects of high end modernist taste appear in the ad, too. I won’t link to it. You can find it if you want to. It’s a gorgeous ad, I must say; impeccably done. If I was homosexual, I would find it wonderfully attractive.
But I’m not. So, I found it disgusting.
My immediate thought: “I guess Mercedes doesn’t want straight men to buy their stuff any more.”
The Summary of the Law is composed of two Great Commandments that both take the form “thou shalt:”
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Notice then that in the Decalogue, there are only two commandments that are likewise prescriptive:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
Honour thy father and thy mother … (Exodus 20:12)
These four prescriptives are related. Those of Exodus are corollary elaborations of those given by Jesus as the foundation of all law. Thus:
Love God, for he who is supreme deserves no less than your supreme loyalty; so, therefore: Keep holy and lively his Cult; preserve its doctrines and faithfully observe its observances, such as the sabbath, rituals, fasts and feasts, and so forth.
Love your fellow as if he were a human being like you, or there’ll be hell to pay; so, therefore: Honor your parents; likewise ergo the things that they honor: keep and honor your kin, and your patrimony.
If you are not doing these things, you have no society. If you don’t agree about First Things, you’ll have a hell of a time reaching completely harmonious and pacific agreement about anything else, including how people ought to treat each other; and if you don’t agree about that, you won’t care about keeping a patrimonial tradition; so that you won’t have a perdurant culture, or therefore a robust and durable people. No cult, no culture; no culture, no nation.
If you know in your guts that you are misbehaving, or failing to behave rightly, then you will be anxious to hide your guilt about your viciousness – your moral, ergo ontological weakness, ergo political weakness, ergo vulnerability – from your fellows. So you’ll want ways to signal that you are a virtuous person, that do not much interfere with your pursuit of your favored vice. Facebook posts promoting politically correct notions, participating in bootless group activities like marches and charity events, donating money, shopping at the right sort of stores, and the like: all are good for this purpose. They don’t require you to change anything about the way you live. They don’t require moral behavior. And so they are cheap, relatively speaking. Much cheaper than repentance.
The West needs a peaceful, orderly way to delete inapt state institutions. E.g., the Fed, the UN, NATO, the Department of Education. We want something short of a general catastrophe – war, plague, famine, pestilence, in short, Collapse – that takes down all institutions violently and unexpectedly, killing millions.
General pervasive catastrophe is the only thing that has ever worked to cleanse the administrative systems of cultures. But devising something equally effective yet much gentler does not seem to be an insurmountable engineering problem.
Iterated ritual formal elections are OK for relatively pacific and orderly changes of leadership in the creation and modification of institutions. But so far they have not been quite adequate to the elimination of inapt institutions – to their complete deletions. Thus the bureaucracy compounds out from under the control of the executive, or of anyone else.
Don’t be the Emperor. Be the child who announces his nakedness.
Don’t be the King. Be his fool, who speaks the truth about him.
You are a showman. You are a canny negotiator. You are accustomed to playing the fool. Play him.
Think of it as a crushing, maximal, appalling opening position. Your adversaries don’t know the first thing about negotiating. They won’t respond with a counteroffer. They’ll just convulse on the floor, bite their tongues, weep, gibber, and soil themselves.