Interview: Drieu Godefridi

This is a new series we are launching – interviews with important thinkers of our time.

For our inaugural interview, we are very honored to have Dr. Drieu Godefridi. He obtained his PhD from the Sorbonne in philosophy, and he has written several important books on gender, the IPCC and environmentalism.

Dr. Godefridi’s books may be found here.

The Postil (TP): Welcome, Dr. Godefridi. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. To start, do you think the West is in crisis, where everything must be questioned so that it can be replaced by something “better?” Or, is it simply bad political management, in that we are in a period of kakistocracy?

Drieu Godefridi (DG): There is an element of risk in answering such a broad question. The West is more powerful than ever, its military might is peerless and its cultural impact is probably greater than ever. At the same time, the threats to this hegemony are evident — mass migration, economic stagnation in Europe, self-destructive totalitarian environmentalism — and a Left getting more and more extreme by the day.

TP: Why does the West still want to be “moral”, while also being aggressively atheistic (where science alone is the arbiter of truth)? Can this contradiction be easily resolved, or will it only produce chaos?

DG: I don’t see either the United States or Eastern Europe as being particularly “atheistic”. What you say is true only of Western Europe, and of the American Left. This is not “the West” as a whole; the Kulturkampf is still very much ongoing. As for the “morality” of Western Europe, for instance regarding foreign affairs, it leads nowhere, as Henry Kissinger predicted in his formidable book Diplomacy. After Brexit, I see the European Union — beyond its function as a common market — as condemned; it is now only a question of time. When Germany is unable to pour huge amounts of money into Eastern Europe anymore — which will soon come about, given the utter folly of the Energiewende, Germany’s energy transition to poverty — Eastern Europe will exit, too.

TP: The native populations of the West have constructed all kinds of myths about their own “evil” (white supremacy, colonialism, misandry, environmentalism, and now genderism). These are very powerful myths which now determine global intellectual and socio-political discourse. Where does this self-loathing come from? And how can we diminish its harmful impact?

DG: Myth and ideology are consubstantial with mankind. That aside, I see no commonality to those ideologies, for instance, you may think that colonialism was economically deleterious — as F.A. Hayek did — yet be radically opposed to the other ideologies you mention. Nevertheless, one thing they do have in common it is that they are false. To say that the West is “white supremacist” is grotesque and does not deserve serious consideration, no civilisation has taken in so many people from every race, continent, creed, religion and origin as has the West over the last 50 years. And genderism, basically the idea that sex is a cultural creation, not a biological reality, is a false theory with absurd consequences, particularly detrimental for women. As for environmentalism that is a very powerful and comprehensive ideology that is the subject of my latest essay.

TP: You have long defended Liberalism, while also refuting Libertarianism (or perhaps, “Rothbardianism”). Why is Libertarianism a failed project? And why is Liberalism still important?

DG: Capitalism is fundamental to the West and is the embodiment of freedom in economic affairs. I’m very much in favour of capitalism. Libertarianism as an apriorist theory that pretends to “derive” all rules of law and of morals from a single axiom —non-aggression— which seems to me a very simplistic contrivance. An anarchist political theory is a contradiction in terms.

TP: Is Croce correct in observing that liberalism has been replaced by “active libertarianism?” And is Croce also correct in calling “active libertarianism” a form of fascism?

DG: I do my utmost to avoid those words. The word ‘Liberalism’ had been employed, particularly in English, in so many different and irreconcilable ways, that even Joseph Schumpeter and Hayek were sceptical of its usefulness back in their day. It’s even more true nowadays. People in favour of infanticide — postnatal abortion — and euthanasia without consent or those viewing sex as a cultural creation are not libertarian, liberal or whatever: they are merely rationally and morally wrong. 

TP: You have also written about George Soros and his efforts to construct his own “empire.” This “Sorosian” imperialism has its roots in the ideas of Karl Popper (which is Marxism without Marx, in that the desire to change the world remains valid). But Soros is also a highly successful capitalist. How can “Sorosian” imperialism (making the West into an “Open Society”) be properly critiqued, while retaining the importance of capitalism?

DG: The political philosophy of Mr. Soros is international socialism with a heavy accent on “crony-capitalism” — he is himself the ultimate insider, and has been criminally convicted as such. Mr. Soros, who has invested $35 billion not in true philanthropy but in the promotion of his political ideas, must be seen as a sui generis phenomenon. You are right regarding its origins, for his foundation was named after the “open society” of Karl Popper. But in fact Soros is no Popperian at all. Popper was in favour of democracy; Soros is funding hundreds of extreme NGOs; some of which use violence and intend to abolish democracy in the name of Gaïa, Allah or whatever. Soros is no Popperian, he’s an international socialist who fancies himself as some kind of god. Popper defined himself as a liberal in the classic sense of the word, close to the philosophy of Hayek and the Founding Fathers of the Unites States.

TP: You have just written a very important book on the dangers of environmentalism, which we had the pleasure of reviewing. Why did you write this book?

DG: My goal is to show that the end result of the green ideology will be misery and the complete abolition of freedom. If human CO2 is the problem and we have to reduce it to zero —as stated by the IPCC, the EU, the UN and the American Left— there is no room left for freedom. Freedom = CO2. Whichever perspective we choose, be that theoretical or practical, contemporary environmentalism brings us back to this truism, this obvious truth: if human CO2 is the problem, then Man’s every activity, endeavor, action, and ambition is the problem.

TP: Why has environmentalism become the West’s new religion?

DG: People in Western Europe do not believe in God anymore so were ready for a new source of “meaning”. As Ayn Rand stated, real atheism is not for the weak. Most people try to find a substitute for God. Gaïa — the “All-Living” — is exactly that to the environmentalists.

TP: Freedom is disappearing very rapidly. Theoretically, freedom is a Western virtue. But in current Western socio-political policy, freedom has become a crime. Why this contradiction, and how can we overcome the emerging oppression?

DG: By winning the Kulturkampf. Cultural submission to the Left — the European way — is no solution. We must fight for freedom and defeat these extremists within the framework of the constitutional order — which is the American way, thanks to the ultimate fighter Donald J. Trump, probably the most important political figure of our time. You do not collaborate with the enemies of freedom: you fight them, you defeat them. There is no middle ground. We will not be subordinate to “Gaïa” — which is a concept devoid of meaning — nor material “equality” — which is a natural impossibility — we are the resistance; we are freedom fighters.

TP: Lastly, what do you think is the most important issue of our time? And why?

DG: Freedom is the most important issue of all time in the West because, from ancient Greece to today, it is the value on which our civilisation rests and is, at the same time, the driving force of our society. If you abolish freedom, you abolish the West as a distinct concept.

TP: Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to share your valuable ideas with our readers.

DG: And I’d like to thank you for the recent appreciative review of my humble essay on the totalitarian essence of environmentalism.

The image shows, “Green Graveyard,” by the Brazilian artist, Benki Solal.

In The Green Reich, We Are All Jews

This is a book that everyone must read. It is brief, to the point – and utterly frightening, for it lays out the end-game of environmentalism, which will affect us all, if we blindly keep empowering it, as we are now so gleefully doing.

People often wonder how Hitler was allowed to come to power and carry out his plan? Just look at the way you vote, the way you think about humans and this planet, why you want to go green, what you demand from politicians you elect when it comes to the environment.

If you are honest about the answers that you arrive at, you will understand how evil becomes institutionalized and therefore massively murderous. Hitler famously said that he had planted the seed and no one could now predict how and when it would grow back again.

Environmentalism is that Hitlerian seed, sprouted and flourishing, and which is now so eagerly being nurtured to maturity by people who naively believe that they are doing the right thing. And once the process of evil is locked into place, its mechanisms always follow through to their bitter end. Such is the dire warning of this timely book.

The author, Drieu Godefridi, a Belgian philosopher, writes in the grand tradition of Émile Zola’s open letter, J’Accuse! Like Zola, he has shoved before our complaisance a defiant open-letter to humanity, in which he warns against the death-cult that is environmentalism, whose adherents now inhabit the highest political, social and cultural offices and positions, and who are widely regarded as the vanguards of morality. Huge money fuels environmentalism, because it is a source of profit and therefore an industry. Thus, celebrities tout it, experts hector us with its “facts,” politicians tax us over it and legalize it – and it is now a towering Moloch, to which all must bend knee, and into whose maw we must toss our humanity.

Godefridi’s original, French title was posed as a question, L’écologisme, nouveau totalitarisme? (“Ecologism, the New Totalitarianism?”). The answer to which is a ringing, “Yes!”

But this is totalitarianism in the true sense of the word, not in the muddled way that this term is commonly tossed about in popular parlance. Ecologism (or environmentalism, as is more usual in English) seeks to take total control of all aspects of human life, even to the extent of determining how many people may actually live on this planet.

Such totalizing means that human life itself can no longer be possible outside the parameters established and policed by environmentalism. Thus, the various curtailments of human liberty that we now agree as acceptable – hate speech laws, rights legislation, indigenization, the green initiative, fewer births and declining populations – these are all slow entrenchments of totalitarianism, where humanity is purely defined by the logic of environmentalism. But notice that this creed is always clothed in the appearance of morality, as being the “right” thing to do. And people for the most part love such clothing, because there yet remains a deep hunger for morality, despite avowed atheism. As such, environmentalism is the new religion whose tenets Goidefridi thoroughly explores.

The English translation of the book, recently published, bears a more sinister title, The Green Reich. The question in the original has now been transformed into a cogent warning, wherein the future is hyper-Hitlerian, in which all of humanity will be held in the same contempt as the Jews in Hitlerian ideology. And Godefridi makes it very clear that the grim program of the environmentalists is far more comprehensive and thorough than anything Hitler could imagine. But the aim is similar; only the labels have shifted – to return purity to nature, to the planet, through the destruction of verminous humanity.

Two common presuppositions that undergird all aspects of environmentalism are that the planet is over-populated, and therefore, there is overconsumption of resources. This results in harmful waste, especially CO2.

These Neo-Malthusian assumptions then proceed to fashion “solutions,” which must be implanted, in order to combat the glut of humanity. Thus, the population of the planet must first be reduced. This will greatly lessen the consumption of natural resources, which will eliminate C02. Therefore, very few humans, and perhaps none, should live on this planet, in order for earth to continue to live on into the future. Nature now is far more important than humanity, because humanity is seen as inherently unnatural, entirely alien to the planet. In effect, mankind is a terrible disease, from which earth needs to be cured.

Stark choices always construct the most powerful narratives, because they demand totalizing solutions. Thus, the deeply ingrained Christian habit of the Western world, of trying to be moral in action and thought, is weaponized against humanity, by making morality an efficient tool to achieve the goals of environmentalism. Humanity has gravely sinned against the planet and now must sacrifice itself in order to give an afterlife to mother earth. Here is the devastating consequence of Western Godlessness – sublimating redemption into self-annihilation. Thus, humanicide is the cardinal virtue of environmentalism. Since humanity is the greatest threat to the planet, humanity itself must find ways to limit its own potential to do harm. And the best limitation is self-elimination.

The book opens with a rather chilling dialogue, set in a stark future, between a father and son, after the “Great Stop” (i.e., the world, as we know it, has been stopped). It is a zero-carbon dystopia, where humanity proudly wears the badge of “Accursed Parasite,” and therefore the human population is slowly but surely being wound down. A nation of sixty-million now has 24 million – and counting.

Each human is allowed monthly CO2 rations, which means there is no travel, you must eat what is allowed, and live in prescribed accommodations. There are no schools or labor of any kind – what would be the point, since there is no world to build, let alone a future generation to prepare to inhabit it. Rather, the world is only there to be unbuilt. And the earth is worshipped as the goddess, Gaia, the all-wise mother, in whose praise the impieties of historical “Terracide” are remembered as piety, from a time when humanity was barbaric and given to robbing the earth of its wealth. Such is the new “holy” wisdom. Each human properly belongs to the “Official Altruistic Death Program” that encourages people to voluntarily “humusate” themselves (that is, made into humus, which is so very useful to Gaia). When the last human is thus composted, the planet finally will be able to recover from the destructive human presence and rejuvenate itself. Gaia utterly cleansed of humanity is the highest virtue.

The points in this dialogue are based on actual studies put out by environmentalist “scientists;” none of it is fantasy; only the conceit of the dialogue is imagined. In effect, environmentalism is an anti-human death-cult. To that end, The Green Reich makes some very disturbing connections, which should really make people question the kinds of politics that they are advocating when they hand power over to ideologues who say they want to “save the planet.”

Godefridi points out that the environmentalists’ only talking point is the vilification of CO2. Few people (voters) understand what is at stake here. Humanity is carbon, as is all of life – the very act of breathing is the constant emission of CO2. All life needs carbon; earth is dead without it. So, phrases like “carbon-neutral,” “decarbonization” and “carbon-free” become code-words for a human-neutral, dehumanized, human-free planet.

Once these code-phrases become part of everyday thinking, humanicide itself becomes that much easier to implement, because people will actually want to have a future that will have zero CO2 emissions – that is, a future without human beings.

The first stage of this program involves the end to all fossil fuels, the burning of which is held to be the greatest crime, or catastrophe. Here “local” takes on a drastic meaning, for you will only be able to travel as far as your own two feet can take you, the combustion engine having been outlawed. Thus, no cars, ships, planes or trains. And once herded into state-designated locales, humans will be that much easier to cull. Do you see how much more efficient this is over Hitler’s ghettoization of the Jews? For example, there are some environmentalists who object to relief aid for famine-stricken areas – because they see famine as a boon to the life of the planet. The more humans that can be wiped out, the better.

A localized humanity will also have to eat differently, because animals raised for food emit far too much CO2. This means that entire industries and livelihoods will be dismantled and eliminated, and a vague sort of veganism will be mandated. Food will serve no purpose, because life will no longer have intrinsic worth, which means that it will become harder and harder to justify human life as a good in itself.

Next, given the elimination of entire food groups, human health will undergo a drastic shift for the worse, as nutrition and medicine will become pointless – the end-game being depopulation. Keeping a human alive for years on end will serve no purpose whatsoever, especially since said human needs and sheds CO2 constantly. But the dystopia is not over just yet.

As already stated, the fundamental premise of environmentalism is its anti-human agenda. Thus, the direst disaster that human beings bring upon this planet is to give birth to more human beings. Babies are the greatest enemies of environmentalists, as these little, new humans produce too much CO2, and besides are guarantors of the CO2 cycle grinding on well into the future. Therefore, births must be reduced, if not eliminated, where child-bearing will be a moral and legal crime. Ultimately, environmentalism is a purified form of antinatalism, purified because human life is seen as harmful in its very essence, not simply because of its actions, or its outcomes. It is no longer about too many humans – the very fact that human life itself exists is bad – because humanity is a parasite upon the earth.

Godefridi describes the environmentalist ethic as “physisist,” where the being of the planet is more valuable than human beings. This down-grading of humanity as the least desirable type of life-form means that nature is the preferred value which supersedes any and all value that humans have given to themselves. It is now the job of environmentalist “thinkers” to brainwash humans into disavowing their own value. The planet cannot be saved with humans on it.

Such self-loathing is delivered for consumption via the education-media-culture conglomerate, where “norm criticism” (that pusillanimous mental exercise that sees every form of Western thinking to be inherently evil and fit only for eradication) is the ideology de rigueur. Thus, a habit of self-loathing is now the proper way to “think,” which makes environmentalist propaganda a breeze to disseminate. Hatred now is the most valuable cultural currency.

There are also various offshoots of antinatalism that derive their moral justification from environmentalism, such as, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and the Church of Euthanasia, both of which, as is obvious, work to rid the planet of humans, though Godefridi does not get into these. Such movements may seem laughable and loony – but notice that they are offered no real opposition. People simply accept the lie that there should not be to many people living on this planet. And it really is an elaborate lie.

This is because no objection to antinatalism is now even possible in the West, given the normalization of abortion, and now transgenderism and pedophilia. Everybody has already bought into the premise that there are too many people on this planet, and therefore people really must have fewer and fewer babies.

No one questions this assumption, let alone seeks to destroy it. No one in power disputes it – because such politicians are put into office by voters who have already accepted the Malthusian presuppositions of environmentalism. So, who will truly have the last laugh?

Many are the “philosophers” who promote this anti-human agenda, such as, Peter Wessel Zapffe, Michel Onfray, Thomas Ligotti, Martin Neuffer, Jean-Christophe Lurenbaum, E.M. Cioran, David Benatar, Gunther Bleibohm, and Julio Cabrera. Their etiology is rooted in the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. What they advocate is now no longer unimaginable; it even passes for “scientific” truth – the Chinese one-child policy is the perfect example of what can be done with the right kind of “help” from the government. Again, the basic tenets of environmentalism are accepted without question by the voting public.

It would have given Godefridi’s argument fullness if he had spent some time examining the deep connections that environmentalism has with antinatalism. However, his book is more of a philosophical essay rather than a history of those ideas that are now preparing us for mass extinction.

And, as such, Godefridi has written a stirring and urgent call to action for all humanity. We need to abandon the differences that always play so prominent a role in how we manage this world. Instead, we need to unite and confront the true enemy at the gates – the death-cult that is far too quickly gathering momentum and adding devout and powerful believers into its folds. If we do not come together and defeat this pernicious ideology, we may not survive the looming Holocaust that environmentalism is now preparing for us. This is Godefridi’s urgent message.

Indeed, environmentalism has had great successes. It has convinced the majority of the public that what it claims is scientific truth. It has convinced governments to implement anti-carbon policies, which are anti-human policies. It has convinced people not to have children. It has convinced people to panic whenever the environment is mentioned (eco-anxiety) – high emotions are the best way to bring about quick change. It has convinced people to work against their own humanity, not only their own interests.

Only time will now tell how willingly people will allow themselves to be humusated, for humanity has largely accepted the Great Myth that it is the source of all problems that are said to face the planet – because it is the “Accursed Parasite.”

Perhaps it is for this reason that Godefridi chose a more ominous title for the English version of his book, wherein the “logic” of Hitlerism concerning Jews is now extended to include all of humanity. In the emerging Green Reich, we are all indeed Jews. And for us, who constitute the Accursed Parasite, there is only the Final Solution, the ultimate Holocaust, so that the noble planet may at last be purified of its most pernicious disease. It would seem that most humans have now been conditioned to agree, because they accept everything that environmentalism preaches as the gospel-truth. Therefore, most have already decided that people really do need to disappear.

All hail the Green Reich!

The photo shows, “Doomsday Abstraction,” by Zdzislaw Beksinski.

On Images And Culture

Begging my readers’ patience, I will take a small anthropology tour through our culture. What I want to draw our attention to is the place of the image. We are not only fascinated with looking at images, we place them on our bodies as well: t-shirts, tattoos, hats, shoes, pants – in short, everywhere.

There is nothing unusual in this. Were we to examine primitive tribes, we would notice a vast assemblage of image-markings. People cover themselves with colorful muds, distort certain parts of their bodies, do amazing things with hair, dress themselves in utterly impractical costumes. Something is at work in the human soul that is demonstrated in all of these behaviors. My suggestion is that it is an effort to live “according to the image.”

Clothing is mentioned with an essential role in the Genesis account of human beginnings. Our sin plunges us into shame. We are “naked” and seek to “hide.” The theological unpacking of this reality is deeply important in Scripture, particularly in the New Testament. But it also reflects a simple human experience. The naked truth of ourselves is generally experienced in a shameful manner. That is to say that we feel exposed, vulnerable and in danger when various aspects of that truth are seen by others. And so, we cover up.

God provided Adam and Eve “garments of skin” in Genesis 3. Those garments have been deeply elaborated on ever since. Perhaps the deepest commentary on this is found in St. Paul: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

This would probably be more accurately rendered, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ as a garment.” The word “put on” (ἐνεδύσασθε) specifically refers to “putting on” a garment. This “putting on” is the true and spiritual fulfillment of which all efforts to clothe ourselves are a mere reflection, and often one of deep distortion.

I take us back to my first observation: we universally seek to cover or mark ourselves with something. Our appearance is a canvas which we cannot help but disguise. And, following Genesis, we can observe that we desperately want to cover or mark ourselves in order to disguise our shame – in one form or another.

It can be argued that we wear clothes because it is too sunny or cold. But our clothing long ago transcended the practical need of hairless animals. Our clothing, like most of our lives, reflects psychological and spiritual issues more than anything. The state of our soul is often on display for anyone who understands the nature of the great human cover-up.

A frequent element of our covering is the projection of power. We use various symbols and clues as signals. Identifying ourselves with a team proclaims the power of a tribe: we are not alone. Much of our political signals are aggressive in nature, not surprising in a culture in which almost all citizens feel largely powerless. Our coverings can signal beauty, strength, anger, sexual desire, any number of things in the cultural dance surrounding inner shame.

The modern fashion of tattooing (more prominent in America than Europe) is a deeper form of covering, at least in its permanence. It strikes me as interesting that such a permanent form of covering should become popular in a culture permeated by impermanence. In my part of the world, it seems less and less common to encounter people who have no tattoos.

Please understand that I am not saying that our clothing and markings are themselves shameful. They are quite the opposite. They represent protective coverings that protect us from the shame we feel and the shaming we encounter in social settings. Our inner shame surrounds our sense of identity. Shame is about “who I am.” Our coverings represent an effort to publicly proclaim, “This is who I am,” regardless of what might be the case inwardly. As such, our coverings are an attempt to say, “This is who I want you to think I am.” Many times these same created coverings are used to hide our inner shame from ourselves. The modern selfie is a fascination with the image, an effort to proclaim an existence and identity in a world where social media has become a substitute ontology: “I’m online, therefore I exist…. And they like me!”

All of this feels intensely personal as I think about it. As an Orthodox priest, I am costumed in almost every setting. In public, I wear a cassock. In Church, I am covered in vestments. But there, the covering is extremely intentional. As he vests, the priest prays: ” My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of gladness; as a bridegroom He has set a crown on me; and as a bride adorns herself with jewels, so has He adorned me…. Your Priests, O Lord, shall clothe themselves with righteousness, and Your saints shall shout with joy always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

According to Eusebius, St. James, the Brother of the Lord, wore a linen garment like the High Priest when he served in the Church’s assembly. That ancient reality, still enacted in the Liturgy, is a visible “putting on of Christ.” It is Christ who is present and leads us in our offering to the Father. The robing of the priest covers the person of the priest himself (and his shame), in order to present the Lord of glory.

To wear a uniform or costume (I don’t know what else to call it) in public is always to disappear to a certain extent. My own parishioners, when they occasionally see me without the cassock (when I’m out for a walk, etc.), do not always recognize me – at least not at first glance. It reminds me that I am not “me” to them, but “their priest.” My late Archbishop used to forbid priests to wear things like bathing suits in front of their parishioners. If we wanted to swim, we needed to go somewhere else.

It is possible to lose yourself in such a covering. A priest can begin to mistake himself for the robe he wears. Indeed, I think some are drawn to the priesthood precisely because they want to lose themselves – and for the wrong reasons. We can clothe ourselves outwardly, but if the clothing only hides our shame and does not transform it, then it becomes part of the sickness in our lives that binds us to our shame.

Just as our first experience of shame was our “nakedness” (the emptiness of our existence in the presence of God), so our salvation is expressed in terms of being clothed: ” Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:22-25)

The “new nature,” created “after the likeness of God,” is nothing other than the very righteousness of Christ, described as a garment. But this is more than a garment – it is a “nature,” meaning that it no longer represents a garment that hides us, but something that changes us, so that the inside (“nature”) matches the outside (“righteousness of Christ”). We can be seen exactly as we are – without shame.

It is noteworthy that St. Paul completes the admonition with the commandment to “speak the truth.” This is the opposite of what takes place in almost all of our various cultural versions of clothing. What you see of others is never “who they are,” but what they want you to see, an effort that is rarely successful.

However, our holy transformation (conformity to the image of Christ) begins in Baptism, and continues as we “speak the truth,” meaning as we “bear a little shame” in the truth of our confession and repentance and in our dealings with others. It is, admittedly, a most difficult thing. The greater our inward fear and the depth of our wounds, the harder it is to trust this work of salvation. By grace, it is possible.

Nearly six years ago I had a very graphic dream that involved my late Archbishop Dmitri. It was some few months after his death. The last words he spoke in the dream have stayed with me: “I believe that soon, we shall all have to stand naked before the judgment seat of Christ.” I did not know then how important those words would become for me. May God clothe us with the righteousness of Christ and conform us inwardly to His image.

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows, “The Brioche,” by Edouard Manet, painted in 1870.

Mary: We Are Her People

In my childhood, it was not unusual to hear someone ask, “Who are your people?” It was a semi-polite, Southernism designed to elicit essential information about a person’s social background.

The assumption was that you, at best, could only be an example of your “people.” It ignored the common individualism of the wider culture, preferring the more family or clan-centered existence of an older time.

It was possible to be “good people” who had fallen on hard times, just as it was possible to be “bad people” who were flourishing. Good people were always to be preferred.

I am aware of the darker elements of this Southern instinct so foreign to today’s mainstream culture. I am also aware that within it, there is an inescapable part of reality: human beings never enter this world without baggage. The baggage is an inheritance, both cultural and biological that shapes the ground we walk on and the challenges we will inevitably confront.

Father Alexander Schmemann is reported to have said that the spiritual life consists in “how we deal with what we’ve been dealt.” In some families, it seems that no matter how many times the deck is shuffled, the same hand (or close to it) appears.

The Scriptures are rife with this element of our reality. It is a story of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, tribal destiny and inherited blessings. Two of the gospels give a chapter to rehearse the genealogy of Christ.

Modern thought wants to imagine each human being entering the world as a blank slate whose life will be formed and shaped by their desires and choices. This is our imaginative version of freedom and we work to maximize its reality.

Nevertheless, human experience continues to be doggedly familial. Those who do family therapy carefully ask questions about the generations that have gone before. The battles of our lives are not about theory, but the cold hard truth of what has been given to us.

The Scriptures relate the stories of families, including their tragedies and horrific crimes. No Southern novelist ever did more than echo the iconic behaviors of Biblical failure.

This familial treatment is intentional and tracks the truth of our existence. There is never a pain as deep as that inflicted by someone who is supposed to love you.  Such injuries echo through the years and the generations.

The face that stares back at us in the mirror is easily a fractal of someone whose actions power our own insanity. We can hate a parent, only to be haunted by their constant presence in us.

This, of course, is only the negative, darker side of things. Blessings echo in us as well. In the delusion of modern individuality we blithely assume that we act alone in all we do. Life is so much more complicated!

What I am certain of, in the midst of all this, is that our struggle against sin and the besetting issues of our lives is never just about ourselves. If we inherit a burden within our life, so our salvation, our struggles with that burden, involve not only ourselves but those who have gone before as well as those who come after. We struggle as the “Whole Adam” (in the phrase of St. Silouan).

There is an Athonite saying: “A monk heals his family for seven generations.” When I first heard this, my thought was, “In which direction?” The answer, I think, is every direction. We are always healing the family tree as we embrace the path of salvation, monk or layman. Our lives are just that connected.

When the Virgin Mary sings her hymn of praise to God, she says, “All generations will call me blessed.” This expresses far more than the sentiment that she will be famous (how shallow).

It has echoes of God’s word to Abraham, “In you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). It is in the Offspring of Mary that the word to Abraham is fulfilled. In the Scriptures, God is pleased to be named the “God of Abraham.”

That His name is tied to that of a human being brings no offense. Indeed, paradise itself is called the “bosom of Abraham.” It is right and proper that Christians should see the same treatment in the Virgin, the one in whom all these things are fulfilled.

“All generations” is a term that includes everyone – not just those who would come after her. For the salvation of the human race, in all places and at all times, is found only in Jesus, the Offspring of Mary. She is “Theotokos,” the “Birthgiver of God.” Mary is exalted in the bosom of Abraham.

When I look in the mirror these days, I see the unmistakable reflection of my father. No doubt, his reflection is seen elsewhere in my life, both for good and ill. I’m aware that some of my struggles are with “my daddy’s demons.”

Of course, my vision is limited to just a few generations. I see my own struggles reflected in the lives of my children (for which I often want to apologize). I do not see the link that runs throughout all generations – throughout all the offspring of Adam – it is too large to grasp.

What I do see, however, is the singular moment, the linchpin of all generations that is the Mother of God. In her person we see all generations gathered together. Her “be it unto me according to your word” resounds in the heart of every believer, uniting them to her heart whose flesh unites us to God.

Across the world, the myriad generations of Christians have sung ever since:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

To which we add:

More honorable than cherubim,
And more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim,
Without corruption you gave birth to God the Word,
True Theotokos, we magnify you!

We are her people. Glory to God!

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows, “The Blessed Virgin,” by Giovanni Battista Salvi, called il Sassoferra, ca, 17th-century.

Progress? How Pathetic!

Imagine pulling into your local farmer’s co-op, where hippies, “traddies,” and other divergent elements of our modern melting pot all coalesce in the interests of health, localism, and fresh asparagus.

You park your dinged-up Ford Explorer, bedecked with rear-view Rosary and other ostentatious sacramentals, in the only available parking spot. As you exit the vehicle, fumbling with your keys and shopping list, you notice that the Prius you’ve inattentively parked next to is so adorned with adhesive political messaging that it looks like a leftist bumper-sticker emporium: icons of Marx and Che keep company with “I Support Planned Parenthood,” “Coexist,” and “I’m Non-Judgmental and I Vote!”

There must be more than a dozen decals, simultaneously assaulting your intellect and senses with offensive thoughts and substandard graphic design. The chaos is getting to you. Then, as if guided by preternatural help, your eyes land on a sticky slogan you’ve never before seen, and it helps to contextualize all the others, for it reads: “MY PATHOS RAN OVER YOUR LOGOS.

Alas, there is order amid the chaos!

It is my contention that the progressivist spoils rhetoric by giving pathos rather than logos the central position among the rhetorical appeals, and the effect of such an inversion is dangerous, for emotion unhinged from reason is like powerful wild horse infuriate with passion.

If we extend our simile by incorporating the mob mentality and a dastardly provocateur, then we have a cautionary parable about a madman instigating a stampede, with all its potential for death and destruction.

But let me back up and give some of the principles that govern the subject under consideration.

According to Aristotle, in any given rhetorical situation, the rhetor has three “appeals” he can make to his audience: logosethos, and pathos. Simply explained, logos is reason, ethos is character, and pathos is feeling.

Because logos pertains to the subject matter, ethos to the speaker, and pathos to the audience, the first appeal has more of the nature of objectivity to it, while the others are necessarily subjective as they pertain to persons — though, of course, standards of ethical goodness are objective, and standards of beauty that can move the human heart are not entirely arbitrary.

Because he joined rhetoric to logic — whereas Plato joined it to mercantile pursuits! — Aristotle’s approach to rhetoric is very logos-centered. We can understand Plato’s mistrust of rhetoric as the notable rhetors of his day, the sophists, were responsible for the death his mentor, Socrates.

And this illustrates why rhetoric ought to be joined to logos, for without having acquired the art and science of right thinking, one ought not to pursue the art of persuasive speaking: the reason why is obvious; in addition to the sophists, history presents us with a rogues gallery of despots and charlatans who moved men to mischief by the clever use of speech.

Aristotle would have preferred that the rhetorician stick to reason, but he conceded that the other appeals were necessary. Man is a “pathetic” being, he acknowledged, meaning quite literally that we have feelings. Because of this, feeling must be incorporated into rhetoric, but not given the centrality that belongs to reason.

The three rhetorical appeals have an affinity to the three transcendentals: logos corresponds to truth, ethos to goodness, and pathos to beauty. Far be it from me to downplay either pathos or beauty, but certain beauties have been known to turn men’s heads away from reason, which accounts for the more decadent aspects of romanticism.

I make no claim to understand the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, but I do know a little about his heretical leanings, including not only his eschatological “hope” for an empty Hell, but also his bizarre Christology concerning Our Lord’s descent thither.

Von Balthasar is sometimes called the “theologian of beauty,” as he apparently wrote a great deal about it in his theological tomes. But if my understanding is correct, he did with this third transcendental precisely what we ought not to do with it: untether it from the other two, or — probably more accurately — he put it in the lead position over the others.

Without truth, beauty can mislead us, leading us to find her in what is contrary to the law of God, and therefore contrary to reason, to logos. To give an obvious example, God made the female anatomy to be beautiful to the male, and this is no bad thing.

Beauty is the splendor ordinis (splendor of order) or the splendor formae (splendor of form). Speaking abstractly and dispassionately in purely aesthetic terminology, one may note that there is a more perfect proportionality, or order, in one or another specimen of the female form, yet we must ever be mindful of the words of Our Lord: “whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

The undeniable logical truth of that statement, and our obligation to conform to it for the sake of ethical goodness lead us to discipline (yet not destroy) our pursuit of the pathos of beauty.

Saint Augustine rightly called God the “beauty ever ancient and ever new,” but when Saint John set out to speak of Christ’s eternal generation, the Holy Ghost gave him to use the word logos, not either of the Greek words for beauty, kallos or hōraios.

There was a primacy to logos in the best of Greek thought, and that concept ripened in the Hellenized world so that, “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4) it would be there as a personal, proper name of the Second Person of the Trinity. We can adequately appreciate His beauty only when our reason has been elevated by grace to know Him and our will has been moved to love His goodness.

From the high-brow heterodoxies of the ex-Jesuit von Balthasar, let us move to the lowbrow journalism of the popular still-Jesuit, James Martin, who loves to extol false mercy. What Christian virtue is more beautiful than mercy?

We all love mercy; we all count on it. Inasmuch as we have received grace, we have received mercy, and we ought to show it to others, as is manifest from Our Lord’s parable of the unmerciful servant and the fifth Beatitude. Our Lady is the Mother of Mercy, the saints were all agents of divine mercy.

Yet, the beautiful appeal to mercy can, in the mind of one bereft of logos, be perverted into something contrary to reason; it can and often does become an invitation to moral libertinism that also contradicts ethos.

Hence James Martin’s nonstop cheerleading for unnatural sins of lust and the people who commit them. Frequently, his defense of the unspeakable is couched in terms of an emotional appeal to stop being “mean” to homosexuals, for doing so is not merciful.

Tugging at the heartstrings of his readers by showing how cruel “anti-gay” people can be, he elicits sympathy not only for persons who are allegedly being abused, but also for the cause for which they stand, which is itself inherently mortally sinful.

See this Twitter thread, for example, which includes a real gem: “LGBT issues seem to bring out the mean in people, too.” I replied to this (in a non-mean way) by saying, “Let’s take a balanced approach in our analysis. Vice, in general, tends to bring out the worst in people. Some have even been saying mean things about Jeffrey Epstein” — which raises the ethical question as to whether it is even possible to be “mean” to a #MeToo villain.

Following Martin’s method, if I were a Nazi and wanted to defend my cause, I could say how mean the Communists are to our people. I could conversely argue in favor of Communism by showing how mean Nazis and “Fascists” are to us. (A “Fascist,” by the way, is generally anyone that the speaker does not like).

Amid all the positioning for superior victim status, questions of truth and falsity, good and evil get set aside, which plays into the progressivist cause. Pathos is the most useful defense for the indefensible.

James Martin recently retweeted the tweet of one Michael Bayer, who announced a new “ministry for LGBTQ+ people,” called “Affirmed,” wherein, “every person is affirmed as made in image of God, called to deeper relationship with Jesus, and invited to share their gifts” (I note in passing the progressive aversion to definite and indefinite articles, those perfectly innocent parts of speech).

There is here an appeal to mercy, to affirm people. Affirming people is good, right? But do we affirm wife-beaters, serial adulterers, pederasts, racists, drug-dealers, gun-runners, and mercenary capitalists who defraud workers of their wages?

These people need mercy and affirmation just as much as the others, right? But they don’t fit into the progressivist narrative, which is very selective in identifying recipients of mercy. And what of that work of mercy, “admonish the sinner”? Perhaps “Affirmed” should have its name changed to “Admonished.”

The pathetic progressivist approach to mercy has been further augmented and institutionalized since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, which offers a “forgiveness” and mercy that are distorted, house-of-mirrors simulacra of the genuine items.

While Christian forgiveness and mercy are supernally beautiful things, there is something ugly about the habitual adulterer, with no purpose of amendment, being welcome to receive Holy Communion.

Grace heals hardened sinners (if they cooperate, which is part of the pure mystery of grace and free will), but the notion of God overlooking ill will and impenitence flies in the face of the Gospel: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings [beautiful image, no?], and thou wouldest not? [Ah! But the beauty is stifled by the ugliness of ill will!]” (Matt. 23:37).

In the next verse, we are told what was to happen: “Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate,” which prophesy was brutally fulfilled. (There will be a beautiful ending, though; when its people respond to grace, Jerusalem will return to Our Lord: “For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” [Matt. 23:37]).

There is a profoundly unChristian aesthetic in the image of the hardened sinner who will not let go of his sins being unconditionally embraced by God. Would it not be cruel for the Good Shepherd to feed his wayward sheep with food that would harm or even kill them?

Yet that is what happens when the person in mortal sin receives Holy Communion. The shepherd who knowingly gives Holy Communion to his adulterous sheep poisons them by allowing his flock to eat and drink judgment to themselves and become guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. I Cor. 11:26-30).

Cardinal Burke, the Darth Vader figure in the progressivist legendarium, recently made an excellent point regarding the canonically mandated denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, telling Martha MacCallum, “It’s not a punishment. It’s actually a favor to these people to tell them don’t approach, because if they approach, they commit sacrilege” (my emphasis). There is logos, and ethos, and pathos — all in good order.

But the inverted mercy of the progressivists is profoundly unmerciful, which fact probably betrays its actual origins.

Seventy-two years ago, Brother Francis gave a name to this wrongheaded prioritizing of pathos over logos in Catholic thinking: “Sentimental Theology.” And when the sentimental theologian enters the domain of rhetoric, he becomes terribly pathetic, and we must not fear subjecting his pathos to the careful judgment of logos — even if we don’t have to make a bumper sticker about it.

Brother André Marie is Prior of St. Benedict Center, an apostolate of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond New Hampshire. He does a weekly Internet Radio show, Reconquest, which airs on the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel.

The photo shows, “The Whale Bus,” a view of life in the 21st-century, as imagined in 1899. Drawing by Jean-Marc Côté.

The Need For The Good

C.S. Lewis once said that courage is the “form of every virtue at its testing point.” It is easy to forget that figures such as Lewis, Tolkien, and even Chesterton, did not write during a time of Christian ascendancy.

Lewis was denied a chair (a full professorship) at Oxford for years precisely because of his embarrassingly public profession of faith. To the “learned” sceptics around him, it made him seem “less than serious.”

Tolkien was a devout, practicing Catholic, but was never as public as Lewis. Lewis wrote popular books on the topic and gave radio addresses. All of that is a reminder that courage was a virtue in daily demand in their lives.

Universities have long been hot-beds of unbelief as well as places where mediocre men and women can do great damage to the careers of giants. We do not live in exceptional times in that regard.

The same pettiness and meanness have found ways of trickling down into other parts of the culture, infecting Christians as well. Every virtue requires the practice of courage (another virtue) if it is to find expression.

It is interesting that the topic of virtue was the one matter on which Christians of the early Church and the educated pagans around them agreed. Indeed, the list of virtues that came to be a hallmark of ascetic writings in the Fathers was pretty much the same list found earlier in the works of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. In general, what constituted a “good man” was much the same whether seen from the point of view of a Christian or a pagan philosopher.

The short list of the virtues is instructive:

  • Prudence – the ability to discern the appropriate course of action to be taken in a given situation at the appropriate time
  • Courage – fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation
  • Temperance – the practice of self-control, discretion, and moderation, tempering the appetites
  • Justice – fairness, being equitable with others

Christians writers added the “theological virtues” to that earlier list: faith, hope, and love.

When we read of Roman soldiers being so deeply moved by the courage and faith of suffering martyrs that they renounced the gods and leapt into the arena in order to die with them, we are seeing a case of men who were already committed to courage and justice who would rather die with the innocent than be united with the wicked.

It is difficult to preach to those who have little virtue.

Virtue is a word that asks the question of “what kind of person” we are. What kind of person leaps into an arena in order to die with the innocent? What kind of person leaves everything he has in order to follow Christ? What kind of person shares what he has with those who have less? What kind of person speaks the truth when a lie would be richly rewarded?

Virtue is a way that we can measure a faith in its depths. It is not theological sophistication that measures character – it is virtue.

I recall my father’s conversion to the Orthodox Church. He abruptly left the Episcopal Church after the decision to ordain a practicing homosexual as a bishop (2003). The day he left, he met with an Orthodox priest and asked to be received. The next day, he went to see the priest at his Episcopal Church to tell him what he was doing and why (he was not the sort of man to “ghost” another). He asked the priest, “Can you look up how much I owe on my pledge for the year?”

The priest responded, “Jim, when most people leave the Church, they don’t pay the rest of their pledge.” My father responded, “That pledge was between me and God.” He paid it. He was 79 years old at the time.

I was well aware of my father’s faults and had the temerity as a teen to point them out to him from time to time. I could never have accused him of cowardice. I do not say the same about prudence or temperance.

Those came slowly to him. But he was the kind of man whose conscience would not be silenced for any reason of convenience. He belonged to what is now called the “Greatest Generation.” They endured hard times. Some, like him, were never far from those times at any point in their lives.

When we think about the world in which we live, and how the faith survives, we do well to ask about virtue and character. What kind of people endure difficult challenges to their faith? What kind of community fosters virtue in its members?

It is interesting to me, in thinking of Lewis and Tolkien, that they both lost their mothers when they were young. Tolkien was orphaned, and Lewis was shipped off to horrible boarding schools.

When they met, Lewis was not yet a Christian. However, I suspect that his character was already formed. I do not think we can point to specific communities for how they became good men. Oddly, I think we have to say that they read good books. Many of those books were tales of ancient heroes.

What kind of community fosters virtue in its members? First and foremost, I think, it is a community that tells good stories of good men and good women. It is the task of the Church both to tell and to become the good story.

The Church is the sacrament of virtue and that place where every virtue finds its true home. Character and virtue ask questions that have very little to do with success.

The greatest failures of Christianity in the modern world have not been failures to “succeed.” They have been failures of character, when “success” and worldly concerns have overwhelmed doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason.

God give us courage!

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows, “The Good Samaritan,” by Maximilien Luce, painted in 1896.

Building Dystopia

High architecture, that of grand buildings, is a bridge between God and man, and a sinew binding state and people, the ruling class and the masses. Low architecture, that of daily living and daily use, is key to satisfaction in the life of a populace.

Thus, a coherent and uplifting architecture, high and low, is, and has always been, necessary for any successful society. I will return below to what architecture we should have, why, and what needs to be done to achieve it. Today, though, we most definitely don’t have a coherent and uplifting architecture, and Robert Stevens Curl, in Making Dystopia, explains what the abomination of Modernism is and why it utterly dominates our current architecture.

Curl’s aim is to prove that both architects and society have swallowed the most appalling lies, and been in thrall to the most stupid delusions, for many decades. And since architecture is not mere abstraction, but rather something that affects the lives of everyone, this is a societal disaster of the first order.

Built on propagandistic falsehoods designed to conceal the ideological nature of the project, Modernism is a cult, devoted to destroying opposition and both unwilling and unable to defend its myriad fatal debilities.

It has destroyed the urban fabric all over the globe, and thereby hugely harmed the social fabric. So-called post-modernist successors to Modernism, namely Deconstructivism and Parametricism, are little better. Curl offers no quarter; Modernism and all its works should be erased.

The author is a well-known British art historian, author of more than forty books. This book, written as an “exposé of the ideologies of those responsible for an environmental and cultural disaster on a massive scale,” with its great heft, thick paper, and numerous photographs, screams “expensive”—too expensive, in fact, for the casual reader, unfortunately.

Moreover, there is too much repetition and too much rantiness; the book could have done with less variation on the same prose points and more pictures to illustrate the innumerable references Curl makes in the text and the voluminous footnotes.

And Curl makes little or no effort to make his text accessible to someone who is a complete novice to architectural history (nor, for the same reason, is it possible for someone not well versed in architectural history, such as me, to wholly say how accurate the history Curl offers is).

The result is a book that is self-limiting. But I don’t think Curl wanted Making Dystopia to be a best-seller. I think he’s aware of the book’s limitations. He is old, and most likely his target is not casual readers, but young architects—those who have been or are being brainwashed in the vast majority of architectural schools today (the sole exception he mentions, repeatedly, is the University of Notre Dame).

I suspect that he mostly hopes that select audience will read his book as part of their education, and that he will, after he is dead, thereby help to break the stranglehold of Modernism. He even offers the reader a drawing of himself, dead in a chair, with a personified “Death come as a friend to continue ringing the warning bell.” In this context, the book as written makes perfect sense.

Most of Making Dystopia is straight history of Modernism, focusing in turn on several different times and places, alternating (often on the same page) with hammer-and-tongs attacks on Modernism.

Since any style known as “modern” risks circular definition, Curl begins with classification. Namely, that Modernism in architecture and modern design is that style “opposed to academicism, historicism, and tradition, embracing that which is self-consciously new or fashionable, with pronounced tendencies toward abstraction.”

It originated, and the word first began to be used, in the 1920s, to describe “the new architecture from which all ornament, historical allusions, and traditional forms had been expunged.” Modernism, in its 1920s post-war context, made a certain type of sense as an experimental movement.

But for reasons Curl identifies, none of which are that “Modernism is better,” it swallowed the world, becoming the global compulsory style and destroying much of the world’s urban fabric with stale, ugly, unrealistic, short-lived, and expensive buildings that did not fit their environment and made no effort whatsoever to serve their actual primary purpose—to be places in which to live and work, or to make grand statements unifying the society in which they were built. Instead, Modernism created the inhuman, uncomfortable and divisive.

Modernism as a self-limited, organically-arising, change, where the style would have soon enough have passed on like Art Deco or Art Nouveau, might have made some sense. Change is in the nature of art, and while Modernism was a rupture, not normal organic change, it could perhaps have been accommodated as one of architectural history’s dead ends.

Some of the early Modernist architecture has a certain stark beauty, after all. But why should a few architects, standing in opposition to thousands of years of organic movement, have succeeded in destroying in the way they did?

Curl chalks it up to the general turn among the taste-making classes against tradition and in favor of anything cast as “original,” which while problematic in literature or food, was disastrous in architecture, a far more public form of art with far broader consequences than fads in more ephemeral areas.

Whereas prior to the 1920s even an average architect could create nice-looking buildings that fit their purpose, in the urban landscape and for the people who lived or worked there, simply by using pattern books, now a vulgar supposed originality was required.

Modernism aimed at Utopian social engineering totally unmoored from the past. And as with other similar twentieth-century ideologues, by convincing the right people, in this case the taste-making classes and, just as importantly, big business, Modernists were successful in their engineering efforts.

Still, they required a mythology, in the way of kings fashioning false genealogies. This was provided by Nikolaus Pevsner, who in 1936 published the still-influential Pioneers of the Modern Movement (republished as, Pioneers of Modern Design), an attempt to tie admired nineteenth-century styles such as Arts and Crafts to the modernism of men like Walter Gropius.

It was Pevsner who made silly claims, believed by nearly all today, such as that the Glasgow School of Art was a Modernist building, rather than “a brilliant eclectic design, drawing on Art Nouveau themes,” which was organically derived from other styles, instead of being a rupture with them.

Curl deconstructs Pevsner at some length, giving numerous textual and pictorial examples of his “selectivity and exaggerated claims,” propaganda “based on wishful thinking,” since proving that Modernism was a rupture is key to Curl’s criticism of it. Curl’s goal is to undercut this “Grand Narrative,” which is ubiquitous among architects today, and show that Modernism has no clothes.

The real origin of Modernism was sui generis, in Germany immediately after World War I. Everything was up in the air, so architecture was too, and all the visual arts. In 1919 the Bauhaus art school was formed by Walter Gropius under government aegis.

Nominally apolitical, the Bauhaus was in fact a den of radical politics (liberally larded with nuttiness), harshly opposed to all tradition, whose artists regarded art as a necessary herald and handmaiden of political change, and human life as meaningless without reference to politics.

Although architecture was not the main focus of the Bauhaus, in the ferment of the 1920s its principles rapidly infected German au courant architectural thinking, both in terms of design and in the rejection of the need for any underlying skills in craft.

German architects in the 1920s and 1930s not only embraced Modernism, they also embraced architecture as part of system building. As Thomas Hughes discusses in American Genesis, the 1920s were the time when technological inventions became servants to their own creations, large systems built around new technology.

Modernist architects embraced this as the wave of the future—that is, the future was technology and machines, and buildings, rather than reflecting human uses, should now reflect machine uses, from electricity to motor cars.

In architecture, the Bauhaus had ties to the Deutscher Werkbund of the previous decade, a group devoted to experimentation in architecture in pursuit of integrating modern mass production techniques into industrial design, and this type of system became part of the ground for further drastic change in architectural style.

Curl offers innumerable examples, in narrative and in picture, of different architects and architecture of this time. The most influential architect to emerge from the Bauhaus was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who over the period from 1910 to 1930 abandoned neo-Classicism for the so-called International Style of Modernism, much of which he originated.

Mies was a self-promoter eager to work for anyone in power; he was the last director of the Bauhaus, and having tried and failed to ingratiate himself with the National Socialists, he emigrated to the United States in 1937.

Many of the German avant-garde also emigrated; they later spun stories of their opposition to Hitler, some of which were true, but as Curl points out, the Nazis were not nearly as opposed to Modernist architecture as is often suggested—they were “ambivalent,” being most definitely not conservatives, but revolutionaries, and therefore attracted to certain of the ideological underpinnings of Modernist architecture. In particular, they “accepted Modernism for industrial architecture,” as well as for quite a bit of worker housing.

While some architects outside Germany expressed interest in Modernism, especially the long-lived and ever-varied Philip Johnson, making it a niche taste among the elite, it was only when many Bauhaus and Bauhaus-sympathetic architects emigrated from Germany (the “Bauhäusler”) that the International Style actually became international.

The Bauhäusler were eagerly promoted by ideological allies in the United States and Britain, and so rapidly became extremely influential, then dominant, then utterly dominant, in the Western architectural establishment, both among professional architects and among teachers.

It was not that a great deal of actually built architecture was modernist in the 1930s and 1940s; it was that all the taste-makers decided, nearly simultaneously, that the only type of architecture that was acceptable to the elite was Modernist. Architects who objected were pilloried, cast as bourgeois, marginalized, and sidelined.

The 1930s also saw the rise to international fame of the megalomaniac Frenchman Le Corbusier, that Rasputin, who became the most successful propagandist for Modernism, and established some of its most enduring dogmas, including divorcing all buildings from their context and siting, and pretending a house could be a “machine for living.”

This process continued, and even accelerated, after 1945, when actual construction of Modernist buildings began to dominate. For the next two decades, the cult resulted in the destruction of innumerable town centers and the construction of endless shoddy and ugly buildings totally unsuited for their claimed uses and unfitted for their sites, the very opposite of their claimed “functionalism.”

Modernism was never popular among people in general, but their betters told them what they needed. Without the eager cooperation of giant corporations, though, Modernism would never have succeeded in lasting as long or being as destructive.

Part of this was ideological (similar to “woke” corporate behavior today), through a successful propaganda campaign to cast Modernist architecture as representative of “progress” and “democracy, ” part of it was the desire to make profits by participating in industrial construction techniques (which, as Curl points out, were actually mostly more expensive than the classic techniques replaced, despite the claims of their proponents) and, as with General Motors, to destroy cities to make them better for cars.

(For that latter, Curl covers the famous revolt of Jane Jacobs against Robert Moses’s planned, and partly completed, destruction of New York). Anyone who disagreed was ignored or destroyed.

Curl also spends some time on post-Modernism, a varied set of styles, of which the two most prominent were, or are, Deconstructivism and Parametricism. The former, as its name implies, is deformations of Modernism, meant to provoke anxiety and unease among viewers and users.

The latter (of which London’s Shard is an example) is an attempt to use computer algorithms to construct non-linear buildings, mostly similarly disturbing but in a different way.

“Deconstructivism and Parametricism, by rejecting all that went before and failing to provide clear values as replacements, can be seen as intentional aggression on human senses, abusing perceptive mechanisms in order to generate unease, dislocation, and discomfort… Deconstructivism and Parametricism induce a sense of dislocation both within buildings and between buildings and their contexts. . . . By breaking continuity, disturbing relationships between interior and exterior, and fracturing connections between exterior and context, they undermine harmony, gravitational control, and perceived stability, [which is] crucial to any successful architecture.”

Now, I was curious what proponents of these post-modernist styles say about them. Maybe sense is coming back into fashion. So I went and read up what Patrik Schumacher, who named Parametricism in 2008 in a “Manifesto,” said. I knew we were in trouble when Schumacher called his own style “profound.”

Then he said tripe like “It cannot be dismissed as eccentric signature work that only fits high-brow cultural icons. Parametricism is able to deliver all the components for a high-performance contemporary life process. All moments of contemporary life become uniquely individuated within a continuous, ordered texture.”

Proponents of Deconstructivism say similar things. I wasn’t surprised, though I was disappointed. It’s obvious that both styles are merely the bastard children of Modernism, as can be seen by their use of the ancient technique of obfuscation through cant.

What does Curl want to happen? He calls for a reworking of both architectural education and the relationship of the public to architecture; the public should no longer allow itself to be treated as acolytes to the priests.

“Architecture is far too important to be entrusted to the products of talking-shops: as a public art, it matters hugely, and it cannot succeed unless it connects with the public in a positive way, conveys meanings, arouses resonances, reaches back to the past and forward to the future, and has the appearance of stability.”

Mostly, he wants a realization that Modernism is awful. He wants the spell to be broken; he offers less of a specific program than, like Puddleglum in C. S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, a stamping on the Witch’s enchanted fire and thereby recalling himself, and his friends, to what was actually real and beautiful, as opposed to the unreality the Witch was trying to sell them.

This is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not really far enough. We should ponder what is the purpose of architecture, of buildings. As Curl says, “Architecture is the one art form which plays an important role in everyday existence.”

It is frozen music. Destroy architecture and you destroy a key component in binding a society together, through its role in offering a common art and through that, a common culture.

“Without the ability to comprehend basic truths about morality and beauty . . . humans are truly lost, adrift in a sea polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of discarded toys promoted by fashion, with nothing to which they can hold fast. High culture has been suppressed, even superseded, by advertising and the mass media. . . .”

In other words, architecture is the art that binds a society together. It is an antidote to centrifugal forces, including those so common in the modern world, whose destructive force is ever-building, yet tamped down by promises of unbridled freedom and the fool’s gold of consumerism, for now.

Foundationalism, my own aborning political program, is really two things: the renewal of society, or the rebuilding of a crumbled society, and the long-term maintenance of that society, both along lines recognizing reality, with a strong bias toward traditional Western knowledge and modes of thought.

No society can long exist, much less be a strong society, without a unifying component of the spiritual, in a broader sense than simply religious. Because, as I say, a coherent and uplifting architecture is necessary for any successful society, architecture, the right architecture, is the second of the pillars of Foundationalism.

The goal of architecture under Foundationalism will be a form of emotional resonance, where all sectors and levels of society feel they have something in common that ties them together and which impels to virtue.

Since Foundationalism envisions a bound society, tied together by many threads and wholly opposed to atomistic individualism, binding forces are critical to its creation and maintenance.

In Foundationalism, architecture will not be a set of rigid beliefs, an aesthetic canon for the elite, as is Modernism; it will instead, like governance, be an organic new thing based on the wisdom of the past, intertwined with all the people, high and low.

Pushing art as part of Foundationalism may seem odd for me, since certainly I have little artistic or creative sense, and therefore cannot knowledgeably discuss architecture or any other type of art.

But I don’t need to—that’s the advantage of hewing to classic architecture traditions, that they can express any meaning desired, in a variety of languages, and offer beauty and continuity, along with enough originality to prevent seeming calcified. Foundationalism has no need to create anything that is new, though some organically developing novelty is to be expected.

Oh, I am sure there is a great deal more that someone knowledgeable can say about architecture as aesthetics, and how that matters to a society. Roger Scruton has written a whole book on it (The Aesthetics of Architecture) which I am sure it would be immensely profitable to read.

But a careful, philosophical parsing of architecture and society isn’t what I’m after. I oppose instrumentalism as the lens for viewing human beings; I am not so much opposed to instrumentalism in the works of men’s hands. What I care about is the function architecture will play under Foundationalism, and the implementation of that function.

The general type of high architecture necessary for this is entirely clear. As Wolfgang Schivelbusch said in Three New Deals, “Scholars gradually recognized neoclassical monumentalism—whether of the 1930s, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, or the Napoleonic empire—for what it is: the architectural style in which the state visually manifests power and authority.”

Neoclassical monumentalism, let’s be honest, impresses everybody. You are lying if you think Le Corbusier holds a candle to, say, the Jefferson Memorial. True, there are limits to this.

The monstrous proportions of buildings proposed, but never built, by Hitler and Stalin take this arc too far, becoming anti-human and enshrining the state as a false god (the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle portrays many of these buildings as if-built; this reality comes through clearly).

Any such program, especially one perceived as right-wing, therefore has an uphill battle, since the gut reaction is that here Albert Speer reborn. But monumental classicism has a long history apart from the regimes of the 1930s (which, as Curl points out, often approved of Modernism, especially Mussolini’s Italy).

And anyway, when my program is being put into place, those who would complain the loudest in that ideological vein will be picking sugar beets in Saskatchewan as part of my rustication and lustration program for those who did the most damage to our society.

Therefore, as far as high architecture controlled by the state, Foundationalism will kill two birds with one stone—every ugly government building built since the 1940s will be torn down, and to the extent new ones are needed, neoclassical buildings will go up. A lot fewer will go up than are torn down, since there will be far fewer government employees.

The extra land will be given over to parks, or perhaps public buildings tangential to government, such as libraries, which will also be done in classical style. Since we will not be exalting government as such, or government workers, we will not need giant new halls to act as the focus for our rulers; most new buildings will be actual monuments or multi-use, Roman Forum-type constructions.

(There will be, of course, government, and strong government. It will have limited ends, though, even if unlimited means, and will not aspire to order every aspect of daily life—far less than our current government does). And no private creation of any significant ugly building, Modernist or other, will be permitted. Those that exist already will be torn down as resources permit.

What of low architecture, that of daily life, of houses and workplaces? There, too, forms of classical architecture will be strongly encouraged, but the goal will be less monumentalism and more organic coherence with how people actually live and work, combined with beauty and the inspiration and joy in living that comes as a result.

The government will not mandate such architecture, as it will with high architecture, but rather encourage it, through education and subsidy. Such encouragement will take the form of only allowing government funding, and student loans (if those still exist) for architectural schools that, at a minimum, teach the execution of classic architecture as a priority.

All government contracts will only go to approved architecture, as will tax benefits for privately constructed buildings, which will, over time, ensure that architects tend to gravitate to where the money is.

The Foundationalist state will seek ways to ensure that honor and prestige, as well, accrue to architects of preferred styles. Moreover, given the well-known association of the Left with Modernism (something Curl spends a fair bit of time on, focusing on the nihilism and destructiveness common to both), since the Foundationalist state will, as its very first act, utterly and permanently break the power of the Left, that alone will clear the way for traditional architecture to rebound from the boot that Modernism has placed on it for so many decades.

Other aspects will have to be worked out; this is not an ideology, but a set of principles to use. (Prince Charles has recently put forth ten principles that are a good place to start, in a December 2014 article in The Architectural Review; he is pretty odious otherwise and not very bright, but he has always been sensible on architecture).

It is worth noting that Foundationalism does not idolize agrarianism. The rural life and culture has its place, and nature and its forms influence good architecture, but high culture, and the drive to create a successful society, always revolves around cities.

Foundationalism strives to offer a goal for, and outlet for, and inspiration for, human aspiration, and rural life does not build spaceports (aside from today not occupying the daily life of any significant percentage of the population).

And the Foundationalist state will take a similar approach to other art (though a more restrained one, since architecture is the most important art for the state), and we will return to the traditional approach where artists work in cooperation with the pillars of society, state and private, rather than being destructive agents of the Left as they mostly have been for the past century (a topic I intend to discuss the whys and wherefores of at some point, as it is not the natural order of things).

And, at that point, Making Dystopia will have accomplished the goals of its author, and be merely a chronicle of an overly long, and overly destructive, but fortunately vanished, period of architectural and societal distress.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows an Untitled piece by Zdzisław Beksiński.

In The Beginning…

In these days of darkness, moral disintegration, and confusion, we need more than ever to remember who and what we are—that is, we need to remember what it means to be authentically human.

We in the West are surrounded by voices shouting lies and half-truths, with the media leading the charge over the cliff and most people following them like unthinking lemmings. Fortunately, we are not bereft of a source of wisdom to help us.

The New York Times may not provide the needed wisdom, but the Book of Genesis does. In particular, the first eleven chapters of Genesis tell us fundamental truths about the true nature of humanity and the current plight of the human race, and can act as an antidote for the poison proffered us by the media.

I specify the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, because every good scholar recognizes that these chapters are quite different from the ones that follow. Genesis 1-11 steps back and surveys the human race as a whole; Genesis 12-50 zooms in and focuses rather narrowly upon Abraham and his descendants.

Sensitive readers whose literary palates have been trained by exposure to the literature of the Ancient Near East will perhaps recognize in the first eleven chapters a different literary genre from the chapters that follow, however artfully the final editor has combined a number of different stories and sources into a single narrative.

It is these initial chapters, with their birds’ eye view of our race, which offer us the wisdom necessary for spiritual survival in our day.

It is upon these chapters that I have focussed in my book In the Beginning. The book provides a translation of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, followed by a verse-by-verse commentary.

I try to situate the stories of Genesis within the culture of their time, explain how their original readers would have understood them, how they functioned in the Israelite culture which preserved them, and what they now teach us.

I also attempt to integrate the insights of Genesis within the Bible as a whole, including the words of St. Paul, as well as the findings of modern science.

There is no escaping the fact Genesis is a controversial book. Whether the topic is scientific evolution or binary sexuality, the geographical location of the Garden of Eden or the teaching of St. Paul, the words of Genesis are sure to provoke discussion and generate plenty of response in the comments section of blogs.

That is inevitable, and that for two reasons: 1) Truth always divides, and 2) The Book of Genesis, being a very ancient book, is hard for moderns to understand since we no longer share the culture of the people for whom it was written. More interpretation is required for Genesis than is required for modern books.

I commend my volume to you. A new, expanded edition of it, published by Sebastian Press, includes a new introduction, extra textual commentary with some revision, an appendix on the Fathers’ use of the creation stories, and introductory endorsements from the heads of three Orthodox seminaries.

Father Lawrence Farley serves as pastor of St. Herman’s Orthodox Church in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He is also author of the Orthodox Bible Companion Series along with a number of other publications. Father Lawrence’s many books can be found here.

The photo shows, “God creating the Sun, the Moon and the Stars,” by Jan Brueghel the Younger, ca. 17th-century.

Tsar Nicholas II And Thailand

An Orthodox parish appeared in the Thai city of Hua Hin about seven years ago. Hua Hin is situated near Bangkok and it is one of the residences of the King of Thailand. When the members of the Russian Orthodox mission were discussing who to dedicate the new church to, the Orthodox community from the island of Phuket proposed that the church be dedicated to the Royal Martyrs.

When St. Nicholas II was the tsarevich (crown prince), he visited the Kingdom of Siam during his Eastern journey, which makes him the only Orthodox saint who has ever trod this country so far. The factors contributing to the dedication of the church in honor of the Royal Family were: the importance of the monarchy for the Thai people, the Russian monarch’s holiness, and the status of the city as a royal residence. Another weighty argument was the fact that the parish on Phuket suggested donating relics associated with the Royal Family to the new church, namely a medallion which belonged to Princess Tatiana Nikolaevna and the cross that she used to wear on her neck (these were bought by Sergey Yefremov, a parishioner, at an Armand Hammer Auction).

The rector of the Holy Trinity Church on Phuket painted an icon of the Holy Princess Tatiana and donated it to the new church in Hua Hin, and Sergei Yefremov sent them another present from Russia, namely a small icon of the Protection of the Holy Theotokos from the Church of the Feodorovskaya icon in Krasnoye Selo near St. Petersburg (also from the Armand Hammer collection).

Although the community is small, the church started holding interesting annual public and church meetings and concerts, along with other events with the participation of the Russian Federation’s Ambassador Extraordinary to Thailand. Last year there were also Church-wide festivities on the occasion of the centenary of the Royal Family’s martyrdom.

Pilgrims from across Thailand came in buses and their own cars, and at least half of them were Thais—most probably because the tourist season had ended long before and all who remained in Thailand were its permanent residents and a handful of tourists.

Of all the Thais who were present at the church service, one elderly couple stood out: the former commander-in-chief of the Thai Royal Navy, Admiral Varong Songcharoen, and his wife, Vorasulisi (Bhakdikun) Songcharoen, who is related to the New Martyr Nicholas Johnson. Admiral Varong and his spouse had recently returned from Russia where they had participated in an international conference dedicated to the memory of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and St. Nicholas Johnson.

The service was solemn, with an assembly of priests in the altar, and a male choir singing in the church which was packed. After the service Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin) delivered a sermon on the podvig of the last tsar and his family and on how much the monarchical system in Thailand should be valued.

After the sermon the choir performed the anthem of the Russian Empire, “God Save the Tsar”, as well as the royal anthem of Thailand, Sansoen Phra Barami [meaning, “Glorify His Prestige” in Thai.—Trans.]. Fr. Oleg spoke on the New Martyr Nicholas. Most of the parishioners knew nothing about him, and the presence of this saint’s Thai relatives in the church was both stirring and mysterious—you immediately wanted to know them better.

When all the prayers were over, the celebration continued in a freer atmosphere—during the festal meal, the choir of St. Nicholas Church sang songs, and students of Sunday schools from Pattaya and Samui Island gave performances.

The program concluded with the launch of a Thai book that was published especially for the feast. The book was composed of selected letters and diary entries of the Holy Emperor Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. The purity of love and faith and the high standards of family relations in their correspondence demonstrates to us an example of family holiness.

The greatest impression came from the illustrations: the photographs of the Royal Family, skillfully colored by the well-known photographer Olga Shirnina (aka Klimbim). The book was launched by the project manager Xenia Bychkova who expressed her gratitude to all those who had worked on this book. The launch in Thai was prepared by a student of the Orthodox theological college in Phuket, Karl Ratchanont Teikoksung. Fr. Oleg presented each Thai who attended the service with a copy of the book.

Reflecting on the Orthodox community in Thailand, I asked myself the following questions: Do we and the Thais understand the meaning of today’s celebrations? How can residents of Thailand, a monarchical state, mark the martyrdom of a monarch of their friend-state?

Some reflections…

Hieromonk Micah (Phiasayawong), the first Laotian Orthodox priest: Today we commemorate Tsar Nicholas and his family: how much they did for the Church and the people! Both the tsar and the tsarina faithfully accepted their crosses. Apart from having the power of the State in their hands, they believed in God, and they taught us to believe in God also. This day is a sad one and a happy one at the same time. When we look at their example of a holy life, it gives us joy, but when we recall how they were killed we feel sorrow. They were the father and the mother of the entire Russian land, and now they are saints and all of us (not just Russians) love them.

People in Thailand know about St. Nicholas II as he did much to help Thailand avoid French and British colonization—he is perceived as the defender of Thailand’s independence. As for Laos, no one knows about the tsar there. Laos is a Communist state, and they have a negative attitude towards royal authority (The last King of Laos, Savang Vatthana, abdicated the throne, after which he and his family were sent to the “Re-education camp,” where all of them perished in about 1977).”

Nicholas Thanaboon Kebklang, a student of the Orthodox theological college on the Island of Phuket: “July 17 is a sad day for the Russians. Exactly 100 years ago [this article was published in Russian in 2018 for the tragedy’s centenary.—Trans.] they lost their beloved state—Russia. Tsar Nicholas II was brutally murdered together with his family. Some may perceive it as a shocking and tragic event—and it is really so. But the tragedy of that fateful day is our today’s joy. Tsar Nicholas and his family became holy martyrs for the Church, and this is a victory, a triumph in Christ. Who is our God? Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in Heaven… (Lk. 6:22-23).”

Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin), Dean of the Patriarchal Parishes in Thailand:Today in Hua Hin, apart from the exploit of the martyred Royal Family we honor Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, Many consider him the last Russian monarch, although he was never crowned. He was executed by firing squad in the city of Perm a month prior to the martyrdom of St. Nicholas II’s family. His faithful secretary, who didn’t leave the Grand Duke even in the hardest of times despite mortal danger, was martyred with him. He remained wholeheartedly faithful to Michael Alexandrovich both in the good times and during persecutions even to the point of death. This man’s name was Nicholas Johnson. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonized him as a new martyr. His icon lies on the analogion. It turned out that some of his relatives are Thai and reside in Thailand. Notably, one is Mrs. Vorasulisi Songcharoen, the spouse of the Thai Royal Navy Admiral Varong Songcharoen. Two months ago the couple emailed me and then came to the church on Saturday to pray at a memorial service for the repose of St. Nicholas Johnson. However, we didn’t have a memorial service because he is already ranked among the saints; instead, we held a service of intercession. It was then that the couple said that they wanted to attend the celebrations in Hua Hin.”

Vorasulisi (Bhakdikun) Songcharoen, the New Martyr Nicholas Johnson’s great-niece: “My great-uncle, Nicholas Nikolaevich Johnson, the secretary of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, was executed with him on the night of June 13, 1918, in the city of Perm, and was recognized as a new martyr afterwards. We learned about his tragic death not long ago, and on the 140th anniversary of his birth we asked Fr. Oleg (Cherepanin) to conduct a memorial service. Fr. Oleg kindly explained that we shouldn’t pray for his repose now because he is already a saint and what we can do is ask for his blessing. Fr. Oleg helped me understand and accept this tragedy from a more spiritual point of view, even if we are very sorry and sad. Now they are saints of God, and we can no longer think of them the way we would think of all other people. Fr. Oleg helped me perceive this feeling and accept this way of thinking, and I enormously appreciate that. Earlier I had thought desperately: “What a terrible tragedy! Why did it happen?” and so on. Instead of dwelling solely on the tragic aspect of the subject, we all should take into account that it was one of the most important lessons of history we must learn.

“Three weeks ago, I attended events organized in Perm to commemorate Grand Duke Michael and my great-uncle St. Nicholas Johnson. The procession of the cross walked from the city to the chapel built on the hill where the Grand Duke and his secretary are believed to have been killed. It was explained to me that it was a procession of repentance. In my view, the penitential nature of this procession is very important. With so many people and so many priests participating, it was a religious procession of people who had the same sense of remorse for what happened 100 years ago…

“I have been to Russia on three occasions: during the first visit I tried to find my mother’s grave; the second trip was last year because my son wanted to see Moscow; and this year we travelled to Perm in connection with the centenary of my great-uncle’s martyrdom. So, we walked in a cross-procession to the chapel—the supposed place of his execution, then we were present at the ceremony of the unveiling of a plaque in the building where the Grand Duke was seen for the last time; next we took part in the planting of a tree and visited a museum dedicated to the story of Grand Duke Michael and St. Nicholas Johnson. We also participated in an international conference where the tragic events of 100 years ago were discussed in detail from different perspectives: historical, legal, archeological, social and so on. It was also mentioned that it would be more correct to call Grand Duke Michael “Tsar Michael II” because in fact he was the last Emperor of Russia.

“The remains of the Grand Duke and my great-uncle haven’t been found yet, but the search will continue using the most advanced technology and instruments. My cousin and I have provided our DNA samples so the remains could be identified once they have been found. I was happy to have a chance of offering my mite and I pray that the bodies of the Grand Duke and my great-uncle could be discovered and buried in an appropriate manner.”

The original Russian version of this article was translated by Dmitry Lapa, and appears courtesy of Orthodox Christianity.

Dismantling The Outrage Industry

In 1986 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association organized a conference in Amsterdam which brought together over 9000 people who came to learn how to present the Gospel in Billy Graham style to those around them, most of them from Third World countries. By all accounts, it was a resounding success in accomplishing the goals it set for itself.

And outside a large hotel adjacent to where the conference was being held sat the fundamentalist preacher Carl McIntyre, by then just over eighty years old, who had set up a booth to denounce Billy Graham and the conference. He was both uninvited and unwelcome, but perhaps not unexpected: he had been denouncing Graham for years for his disreputable practice of working with mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and (horrors!) Russian Orthodox, and had a habit of picketing and railing against those with whom he disagreed. (He had similarly picketed another such Billy Graham conference years earlier in Berlin).

Those with whom McIntyre disagreed formed a long list, including Pentecostals and the National Association of Evangelicals, which he considered dangerously apostate because they did not separate themselves from all non-fundamentalists.

McIntyre was nothing if not interesting. He suggested that a full-scale version of the Jerusalem Temple be built in Florida, and that Noah’s Ark be rebuilt and floated as a tourist attraction—the latter, he said, “would forever down these liberals”. His presence at the Amsterdam conference was like a zit on a teen-aged face—unsightly, embarrassing, but ultimately not significant. And like zits, McIntyre would fade away, which he did in 2002 at the age of 95.

I mention this historical curiosity to offer the decades’ long angry indignation and self-righteous rage of Carl McIntyre as a kind of cautionary tale. McIntyre was (absurdly) irate at Billy Graham. Other people can be (less absurdly) irate at many things. In fact the world is stuffed to overflowing with things which can legitimately be considered wrong and causes for ire. (To be clear, I do not consider Billy Graham to be among them).

For example, one can work oneself into a triggered lather over the media’s promotion of homosexuality and the transgender movement. One can lament and lose sleep over the heretical papalism of the Phanar. One can create a full-time job for oneself bombarding the media with protest over their determined blindness to the widespread martyrdom of Christians throughout the world. One can spend all one’s time searching out, documenting, and denouncing instances of alleged White Supremacism.

One can, if one likes, take a page from McIntyre’s own playbook and rage against every Christian group that transgresses one’s own narrow definition of the true faith, forming one’s own immaculately pure church jurisdiction as an alternative. The list of things to get angry over goes on and on. But one may still ask: why bother? Why spend all your time raging against your favourite abomination so that moral indignation dominates your life? (I would ask this particularly of those on the ideological left, some of whom seem to make triggered anger a way of life, and exist in a constant state of fulmination, denouncing with name-calling everyone even slightly to the right of them).

This does not mean that one should refuse to denounce error or call a spade a spade. Christians are not called to be quietists who sit about contemplating their navels in happy hermetically-sealed solitude, refusing to interact with the world. But neither are Christians called to spend all their time raging against error as if denunciation was their main job, and as if the anger of man could indeed work the righteousness of God (notwithstanding James 1:20 to the contrary).

It is all a matter of balance. We must find a way to balance speaking the truth about error and maintaining our inner peace. If we speak what we consider to be the truth while anger fills and overflows our hearts so that we forfeit our inner peace, we have lost that balance.

The fact is that the world is a lunatic asylum—one in which the inmates are usually running the place. That is why the world is not only stuffed with errors, but with errors that are mutually exclusive. People are crazy on both the Left and the Right, and everywhere in between. All the errors are—well, erroneous, and many are quite grievous.

So\ the question is: where to start? With so many errors to choose from and with so much wrong with the world, which error should I pick as my target for denunciation? Which terrible sin should I devote all my righteous energies to combat? Globalism? White Supremacy? Phanariot papalism? Creeping ecumenism? Atheistic evolution? Maybe something having to do with the church calendar? Perhaps I should toss a coin or cast lots…

As with all questions of this kind, the apostolic Tradition and the practice of the apostles provide the answers we need. St. Paul, for example, was not shy about denouncing error when he encountered it as he did his work. But his work was not battling the errors that filled the world, but glorifying Christ and building up His Church.

Denunciation was something of a side-line—he would swat mosquitoes when they landed on him, prepared to bite, but he did not go about chasing the world’s mosquitoes. Or, to vary the metaphor, he would confront the demonic when he met it in his ministry (see Acts 16:16-18), but he did not charge about in every direction like Don Quixote tilting at windmills trying to exorcise every demon in the world. Such a task would be too great for any man—and would result in the loss of one’s peace, and possibly of one’s mind.

It is this peace that we must maintain at all costs, and we must let this peace act as arbiter in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). There is a time for everything, including for measured denunciation. But after we have spoken the truth with serenity of heart, we must return to our place, rooted in the peace of Christ. When faced with grievous error and staggering stupidity,

I am often reminded of a line in Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall. In this film, Woody’s character was talking with Annie’s younger brother Duane (played by a young Christopher Walken), who was sharing with him in detail his surreal and pathological fantasy of suicide by car crash. After a moment of silent reflection Woody’s character responded, “Well, I have to go now, Duane, because I’m due back on the planet earth.”

I sometimes feel like this when dealing with the insanities of the world. After speaking my piece, I have to go, and happily leave the insanity behind. Like Woody’s character in Annie Hall, I am due back on the planet earth. Or, to quote the more stately words of St. Paul, “What have I to do with judging outsiders?” (1 Corinthians 5:12) Like the apostle, I will speak the truth about error and sin.

But I will not let self-righteous rage eat me up, or devote my whole life to dealing with them or to anything other than glorifying the Lord and helping to build up His Church. I cannot spend all my energies going toe to toe with craziness. I am due back on a saner place—perhaps not the planet earth, but the Kingdom of God, for that Kingdom is the source of all the world’s sanity and the world’s peace.

Father Lawrence Farley serves as pastor of St. Herman’s Orthodox Church in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He is also author of the Orthodox Bible Companion Series along with a number of other publications.

The photo shows, “The Wave,” by Carlos Schwabe, painted in 1907.