Chastek Nails It

Reading Romans 1, James Chastek reads it into modernism, to devastating effect:

If one doesn’t see the universe as existing for God, he starts seeing it as existing both for itself and for human use. But this idea will get quickly and inevitably extended to that part of nature which concerns what we most desire, i.e. the objects of erotic desire. These desires then become the paradigm cases of what is both divine-eternal and yet merely for human use, thus making sexual imperatives simultaneously the voice of God and yet only the commands of “my body”. Like anything tied up with the reward system of the brain, however, if we try to make it infinite it leads to a ratcheting-up effect that demands greater and greater novelty, though this novelty becomes difficult to find without transgression of the boundaries of behaviors that were once kept off limits. At this point, the human person becomes simply a transgression machine, seeing in the infinite possibility of spirit only the limitless boundaries to destroy.

He has here in a few sentences summed the entire discourse of the orthosphere upon the modern disease.

It is very old.

Monarchy and the common good

Father Edmund Waldstein has posted some excellent writings explaining the pre-modern (classical and Christian) view of politcs and defending it from its ill-informed liberal detractors.  I particularly recommend them to Orthosphere readers, even though I know by now you’ve all heard plenty of arguments against modern autonomy-worship, because Waldstein bases himself on an understanding of the common good that, although a part of our philosophical patrimony, has been all but forgotten.  To sum it up

the human good is a participation in a higher, divine good. Thus our good exists not principally in our selves, but principally in the divine realm, and secondarily in ourselves. The divine good is more our own good than the good which exists in our own souls.

the community of men reflects God more than an individual man just as the universe reflects Him more perfectly than any one creature. Recall what I said about participation a moment ago: my own good exists more in the divine than in my individual existence; a corollary can now be seen: the common good, the order of the community, is more my good than any private good of mine. The common good of order or peace is common in fullest sense of the word: all the members of the community share it without it being divided or lessened by this sharing. Thus the common good is not merely a useful good; it is not merely the conditions that enable individuals to get what they want, it is the best good that individuals can have, it is that in which they find their happiness.

By the way, Waldstein is guided on this subject by the work of early twentieth-century Thomist philosopher Charles De Koninck, whose writings are one of those many Catholic intellectual resources that seem to have been thrown out and forgotten during the post-Vatican II deluge.

Catholics and the Pope, a year later


Fr. Hunwicke had a great post up a few days ago reflecting on the Pontificate of Francis one year after his election. He remains prayerful and hopeful but frankly acknowledges the Holy Father’s contribution to a certain poisoning of the discourse among orthodox Catholics (with predictable consequences), which he attributes to their tendency toward servility and Papal idolatry:

Despite the facile cliches which are so invariably abundant after conclaves, we have no divine assurance that any Pope since S Peter ever has been or is “God’s choice”. Even as a corporate collegium, the Cardinals are not protected in their prudential decisions. That would be an absurd dogma. I will not insult my readers by inserting here a history lesson about ‘bad popes’ … except to say that we can find more whole-hearted moral evil in quite a number of First Millennium popes than in the iniquities of an occasional Renaissance libertine. Popes, needless to say, are protected from proclaiming heretical propositions ex cathedra; but they are not vi ipsius muneris necessarily good or wise or nice men. Continue reading

Some links

Here’s something I’m excited about.  Orthosphere-contributor “Proph” has decided to return to the public a bunch of old posts from his excellent prior blog, Collapse:  The Blog.  Collapse was my favorite blog for a while, and as Proph re-releases more posts, you’ll be able to see why.

“Conservatives are stupid and crazy, say totally unbiased social scientists”.  How many times have you seen a headline like that?  Now Radish has gathered up all these reports and subjected them to the debunking they deserve.  As a side-effect, any residual respect for the social science you have might not survive reading that link.

The Vatican II that might have been.  (Hat tip to Phillip Blosser.)  Five of the original schemas drawn up by the preparatory commission (headed by Cardinal Ottaviani) for the second Vatican council have been translated into English.  Compared to the council’s final documents, they are admirably clear and unambiguous.  I note that there was a whole schema on marriage and chastity, and it has a chapter on male headship.

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued a report on the Holy See demanding that the Catholic Church embrace abortion, sodomy, and contraception.  When will the Church accept that the United Nations is irredeemably evil?

My series on Catholicism continues with a post on faith and the sacraments.

Last link on Catholicism–I promise!  Patrick Deneen on the more interesting intra-Catholic battle, the one waged between what he calls too different wings of conservative Catholicism, but that I would call real conservative Catholics vs. Americanist heretics.

For the Olympics, here’s Pat Buchanan asking “Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?”  He’s certainly a paragon of sanity compared to any ruler in the West.

Throne and Altar is back

If you haven’t noticed already, our own Bonald is once again posting actively (though not, thankfully, exclusively) at Throne and Altar and has burst out of the gate with a series of characteristically excellent posts. See this one for his rationale about restoring the blog. Go check it out, and if you haven’t visited before, please do avail yourself of the really excellent essays he’s posted there.

Feminism and a loveless future

Here’s something closely related to my last post.  At the Atlantic, Ann-Marie Slaughter calls us to commit ourselves more fully to the feminist dream:  more public day care so that women can spend their days self-actualizing in an office while their children are raised by paid professionals.  Sunshine Mary isn’t buying.

[…] The best option, both for individual children and for society as a whole, is high-quality, affordable day-care, either at the workplace or close by. High-quality means care provided by trained professionals who are specialists in child development, who can provide a stable, loving, learning environment that can take care not only of children’s physical needs but also provide stimulation and socialization.

Day care workers do not love the children they care for.  They may care about them, but they do not love them; it is dishonest and denies human nature to claim that they do.  Should children spend fifty hours per week with someone who does not love them?  Only a very sick society would choose this, but Mrs. Slaughter is fully on board with it.

Continue reading

Our place in the anti-liberal blogosphere

I just saw this map (here’s the post in which it is embedded) of anti-liberal blogs at Habitable Worlds, and it’s pretty cool.  At least at a quick check, both the groupings and the connections seem about right.  Presumably, the Orthosphere would be placed in the middle of “Christian Traditionalists” (hereafter “CTs”) with no connections to other groupings.  The map has an obvious focus on secular reactionaries–not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It is obvious that CTs are the cluster least integrated with others.  This is to be expected, given that the various groups of secular reactionaries aren’t separated by any sort of deep philosophical differences from each other the way they all are from us.  The map correctly shows some CT sites leaning toward manosphere/femininity territory.  One might have expected us to blend in seamlessly with the Christian manosphere, but if you read their blogs like I do, you know that they despise us.  A tighter connection to the “Political Philosophy” cluster might be an unrealized possibility.  Our goal is 1) to be right and 2) to make our arguments strong and interesting enough that we can seed ideas among the wider class of people disaffected with the modern world.

Are people even marrying anymore?

A fascinating discussion on the sacrament of marriage is being hosted over at Zippy Catholic (see here, here, here, and here). The question at hand is whether modern ideas about marriage (i.e., its indissolubility, exclusivity, unity, and openness to children) are sufficient to render most modern marriages sacramentally invalid. Zippy comes down on the positive side, arguing that, whatever arrangement they’re consenting to, a couple who believe they can divorce and remarry in case of adultery certainly aren’t consenting to marriage.

The rout of Thomism from American Catholicism

Great article at Culture Wars.  I agree with all the major points.  Secularists were never interested in dialogue with us.  Jacques Maritain made a complete ass of himself trying to suck up to Paul Blanshard.  Catholic intellectuals betrayed their ethnic subcultures in the name of anti-racism.  They never realized the importance of the sexual revolution or how seriously our enemies take it.  The intolerance of the philosophical guild helped minor academics successfully purge Thomism from Catholic philosophy departments.  Here’s how far it’s gone:

While this is not in the book, if we turn to Notre Dame, in 2005, Edward Manier, much in the same way that Louis Wirth did at Chicago in the 1930s, led an effort to address what to his mind was cause for great concern: “there are four Thomist adjuncts teaching introduction to philosophy in the department.” The department initiated a year-long review of the syllabi of those Thomists, to make sure they were teaching philosophy in a way that was consistent with the standards of contemporary academic philo-sophism. In essence, Manier and his colleagues wanted to be sure that classical realism keep its place in the intellectual catacombs of the 21st Century.

American Catholics will recognize many of the names in this story:  Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Mortimer Adler, Yves Simon, Ralph McInerny,…  Our Catholic readers will definitely want to check it out.