Being Christian in the World: Refuge and Risk

The present situation makes the Benedictine option desirable and plausible, but it is not without the risk of sliding towards communitarianism. And a Christian cannot run away from his responsibilities to a temporal order, and notably the political.

The present situation of the Catholic Church in our country seems to me to be determined by the following three parameters:

First, the rapid decrease in the social presence of Catholicism since the 1960s—a quantitative decrease that is approaching a threshold where the disappearance of the Catholic fact becomes conceivable.

Second, the irruption of a historically unprecedented factor, Islam, which occupies a growing place, visibly growing, in French society.

Third, the enthronement of the ideology of human rights as the exclusive principle of political, social, and moral legitimacy, installing each “me” in an immanence sure of its right.

On whatever side the French Catholic turns, he sees a threat rising up that can seem insurmountable, coming simultaneously from within, from outside and from himself! The temptation is great to respond to this triple offensive by resorting to the eternal strategy of the weakest party: the defensive, the refuge in a stronghold. In fact, we still have sufficient resources to build a good-looking Catholic fortress: sheltered behind its ramparts, we would no longer be demoralized by the indifference or hostility of global society, Muslims would become external and foreign to us again as they were forty years ago, and by “tightening the bolts” of a Christian life delivered from equivocations and timidities, by forming among ourselves this “Christian society” that France is no longer, we would be able to reorient our lives in the direction of the Transcendent.

Need for Social Support

This last argument must be taken seriously. Indeed, as supernatural as it is in its source and its intimate workings, the Christian life inevitably depends on social supports placed at our disposal by the collective organization of which we are members: places of worship, financial means, competent administrators, respected pastors, and in general everything that contributes to the social authority of the religious institution. It is only when they are subjected to systematic persecution—a situation, as we know, which does not exclude great spiritual fruitfulness—that Christians are entirely deprived of such support.

It is, moreover, the need to find such support that in the past led the Church to ask for help from the political authorities, a help that she obtained at the price of obscuring her own vocation, which caused an incurable wound in her credibility. No one today asks for or proposes such political support. It is unthinkable. That is why the withering of the Church’s social vitality (that social vitality which had allowed her in the first part of the last century to adapt with some success to her exclusion from the political sphere) is such a cause for concern or anguish for Catholics today, a concern or anguish which makes the “Benedictine option” desirable and plausible.

However, if this option is to effect—that is its purpose—of concentrating the forces of Catholics and giving them back a sense of strength, this revival would, I believe, be short-lived. This Benedictine option seems to me to have three disadvantages.

  1. Any defensive regrouping entails the risk of sectarian closure, with the inevitable weakening of intellectual and even moral demands, since we would now be “among ourselves.” As soon as we give up trying to convince, persuade or even interest those who are “outside,” a great source of improvement is lost. Moreover, we would be claiming to be reaping before the renewal of Catholic intellectual life (which is the most encouraging aspect of the present situation of Catholicism) has reached maturity.
  2. Since we need collective or social support, we must not exaggerate their contribution to Christian life. Whatever the political and social situation, leading a truly Christian life remains the most difficult and improbable thing in the world; it remains that fragile miracle which constantly enlightens and renews the life of the world. If Catholics, or Christians in general, are sincere, they admit that our little faith, hope and charity are not responsible for anything other than our little faith, hope and charity. The threshold of the Christian life is therefore not the accusation of the “world” or “society” but penance, “the repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
  3. There is no remedy, nor should we seek one, for the situation facing the Christian. It entails a double obligation, of fidelity to the Church and of mission to one’s neighbor, a mission as urgent and perilous today as it was in the time of the Apostles. Let us not covet, but rather fear, the impression of recovered strength that a Catholic “gathering” would easily create. Paul’s authority assures us that there are always enough of us so that God’s strength can be seen in our weakness.

Moreover, our responsibility as Christians is no less political or civic than properly religious. This Europe that turns its back on us, let us not turn our backs on it in turn. If we want to give a generous meaning to what otherwise risks remaining a slogan, the “Christian roots of Europe,” we must hold ourselves responsible for what is happening in Europe, co-responsible with the other citizens concerned about the common fate, but also especially responsible as Christians who claim the unparalleled part—good and bad mixed—that their religion has taken, in the deepening of the European soul.

The Civic Obligation of Christians

This is where the relationship of the Church to herself, to her own life, and her relationship to Europe come together. Christians cannot devote themselves exclusively to the deepening of their sacramental life, however essential it may be. As citizens and as Christians they cannot abandon Europe to its fate. They have an inseparable civic and Christian obligation to preserve what, for lack of a better expression, I call the “Christian mark” of Europe.

Now, the shift imposed by the present pontificate has redoubled the difficulty of this task. On the one hand, ad intra, the sacramental rule is obscured or “blurred,” those thresholds that give meaning and relief to the interior life of the Church are erased. On the other hand, ad extra, religions are equalized, indifference to their dogmatic and moral content is shown, and the religious composition of the European population is shown to be of the utmost indifference.

Thus, the political and religious articulations of the present world are ignored or brutalized. This politically and religiously unformed humanity is the subject and the vehicle of a religion without any other content than emotional or sentimental. In such an involution, the dulling of the religious requirement is one with the darkening of the political view. We see that the urgency for the Christian citizens of Europe is not less civic than religious. For them, it is a matter of preserving or reviving the Christian mark of the European nations, and inseparably of preserving or reviving their political legitimacy. Instead of seeking refuge in a “small Christian society,” accept to be a citizen and a Christian in the greater society, inhospitable as it has always been.

Pierre Manent is a political philosopher at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, and Boston College. His many books are widely translated into English, including, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western DynamicA World beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation State, and Modern Liberty and its Discontents. This article appears courtesy of La Nef.

Featured: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, by Ambrosius Francken I; painted ca. early 16th century.

The Anthropological Problem in Eschatology

The Question of Man

In our time, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is man himself who is in question. And at the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are living at a critical, extremely critical moment in history—and it is possible (and even likely to be so) that we are living in the end times.

Epidemics and wars are mowing down millions of human lives. In the Special Military Operation (SMO) the world is brought to the brink of a nuclear war, which, if started, could end humanity’s existence.

At the same time, the horizons of the post-human future are becoming clearer in philosophy and science. The Singularity theory, the transfer of the initiative to a strong Artificial Intelligence, the success of genetic engineering, the improvement of robotics, attempts to merge people and machines (creation of cyborgs)—all this calls into question the very species of man, proposing to turn this page of history and decisively enter the era of posthumanism, transhumanism.

In such a situation, it is extremely important to address the anthropological issue anew with the utmost seriousness. If man is on the verge of extinction, annihilation, fundamental and irreversible mutation, then what is he after all? What was he? What is his essence and his mission? By approaching the limit, man can better review his own forms, and thus grasp his eidos, his essence.

Such a review can be done in many different ways. It all depends here on the original point of view. Each scientific or ideological paradigm will proceed from its own structures. In this paper we aim to make sense of man primarily in the context of Christian eschatology. But in order to clarify how Christian doctrine represents man, his nature and his destiny in the last times, it is necessary first to make an excursion into a more general problematic of religious anthropology in general.

Humanity’s Dualism at the Last Judgment

The end of the world in the Christian tradition (as well as in other versions of monotheism) is described in some detail. The culmination of all world history will be the moment of the Last Judgment. And here we encounter the main feature of eschatological anthropology: dualism, the final division of humanity into two groups, represented by the images of lambs (cattle, flock—πρόβατον) and goats (ἔριφος). The lambs are the elect who receive a good answer at the Last Judgment. The goats are the damned, doomed to eternal destruction. The lambs go to the right, to salvation; the goats go to the left, to damnation.

Matthew’s Gospel describes this division this way (Mt 25:31-36):

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
31 Ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ πάντες [a]οἱ ἄγγελοι μετ’ αὐτοῦ, τότε καθίσει ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ·

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
32 καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,

33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
33 καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
34 τότε ἐρεῖ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῖς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ· Δεῦτε, οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
35 ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν, ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με, ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
36 γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με, ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με.

This formulation suggests that the division occurs among the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη), but tradition interprets it as a division among people on a deeper—ontological—principle. Sheep are those whose nature turns out to be good. The goats—and here a clear reference to the ancient Hebrew rite of casting out the scapegoat—are those who have moved decisively to the side of evil.

Eschatology thus sees the end of human history not as a unity, not ex pluribus unum facere (from many one), but precisely as a division, a division, a fundamental fork.

Humanity at the Last Judgment is bifurcated, and finally and irreversibly. The result of humanity’s existence in time is its distribution into two sets, which in this very bifurcated state enters eternity. It is no longer a stage, not an intermediate position, but precisely an irreversible end. The end of man is the absolute and irrevocable decision of God at the Last Judgment.

Thus, eschatology strictly states that the omega point for humanity will be its bifurcation, the division into sheep and goats. On the damned—as scapegoats—will be symbolically placed all the sins of humanity, and as such they will be separated from the rest, whose sins will, by contrast, be forgiven by divine Grace.

The Particular Unity of the Church

So, the end of man will be his bifurcation. Biblical tradition begins human history with Adam and Paradise. Man was created as one, and his division into man and woman (Eve’s creation) was the prelude to the fall into sin and further fragmentation. The end result of the entire historical process will be the Last Judgment. We can say that the general vector of history moves from unity to duality.

In this, Christian teaching is based on the fact that in the final stages of sacred history, the process of fall into sin was overcome by the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who restored—but on another ontological level—the original unity, uniting scattered people into a new wholeness—the Church of Christ. The unity of the Church restores the unity of Adam and forms the part of humanity which at the Last Judgment will be numbered among the sheep, the flock of Christ. But this unity is not mechanical. It is not the result of adding up everyone. Only the saved are included in the unity and wholeness (synodality) of the Church as emphasized in the Creed (“I believe… in the one holy and apostolic Church”). This is what the Gospel parable about those invited to the wedding feast tells us— ” For many are called, but few are chosen (Mt. 22:14).” After all, the unity of the Church consists of the fellowship of the elect—the saints, the saved, those who have accepted Christ, and those who have remained faithful to this choice until their last breath. Sinners, on the other hand, do not inherit the Kingdom of God; they are cast out of it. They have no part in the “next age.” Their fate is utter destruction, the disappearance into the abyss. Therefore, the unity of the Church does not include those who have voluntarily renounced it.

Unity by Subtraction

This theme of the unity of the Church, which does not include sinners, is saturated with a fundamental metaphysical meaning. Unity is usually understood as an addition, that is, the addition of all the parts, which is intended to recreate some whole. This is partly the meaning of “synodality,” that is, “gathering together.” By putting everything together, we would have unity. But in the case of the anthropology of the Last Judgment, this is not quite so, or even not at all.

The unity of the Church includes the saints, the righteous, and the saved. But—it excludes sinners, or rather absolute sinners—unrepentant and unredeemed by loved ones and saints.

This problem came to a head in connection with Origen’s doctrine of Apocatastasis, that is, the strictly Platonic understanding that the unity (split at the beginning of the manifestation of the world) process will be fully restored at the end of time, including repentance of the fallen angels, and even the devil himself, thus forgiving them. Here, indeed, unity is thought of as first the scattering and then the gathering together of all that is scattered, including sinners and Lucifer.

But this doctrine was rejected by the Church. And this is clearly no accident; rather, a completely different understanding of unity is emphasized. Unity includes the saved and excludes the damned. Unity is subtraction, not addition. Those who go the way of the goats take on the negative side of creation. What is, is affirmed as such, but it involves a kind of purification from what is not. And men and angels who have taken the path of evil take it upon themselves to become bearers of non-existence.

Theology is based on a radical gap between the two natures—the nature of God and the nature of the world He created. Their separation becomes explicit at the moment of the beginning of creation, and is subject to judgment at the moment of its end. That is, metaphysically there is 1 and 1, one God and one creation (as not God). To affirm the oneness of each unit, one must deny the existence of the other. God is so superior to creation that there is, even when there is no creation. Thus, this oneness of God equates the world with nothingness. Hence creation ex nihilo.

But there is also a satanic unity of the world opposed to God. For the world to be one and the same, there must be no God. This is what the devil is going for—and also the entire depiction of the world of the European New Age. The unity of the world is ensured by the nonexistence of God.

In both cases, unity is the result of the negation of the second unity, that is, subtraction. One of the units of the formula 1+1 must be subtracted, taken with a minus sign. To get unity from 2 you must subtract 1. One must gather that which belongs to the unit of God and deny that which belongs to the unit of the devil. Or vice versa.

Hence the main problem of eschatological anthropology. At the Last Judgment, the cursed part of humanity is subtracted from humanity, becoming a collective—cathedral!—”scapegoat.” And it is this condemnation of sinners that constitutes the fullness of the assembly of the righteous. All humanity is humanity minus those who have sided with Satan. And it is the act of subtracting that makes this humanity complete.

In the act of creating something that would not be God in nature, there must be involved both something of God and something not of God, that is, nothing. Something of God mixes with something that is not of God—like soul with body, spirit with dust. And this mixing is not unity. It is only a task given to the subject. In choosing spirit, the subject chooses the Church, unity with God, in His direction. By choosing the opposite, that is, dust, matter, materialism, the subject chooses nothing. The righteous man purifies spirit from matter; the sinner purifies matter from spirit. By subtracting each other from humanity, the two parts build the ontological foundation of eschatological anthropology. The unity of the righteous represents the synodality of being, which surrenders itself to God, the true One and Only. The aggregation of sinners forms the army of the damned, the cathedral of nothingness. A collective of scapegoats.

The Scapegoat

We should look more closely at the Gospel image of the separation of sheep and goats. There is clearly a distinct reference to the Old Testament sacrificial rite in which one goat was separated from the sacrificial animals (sheep and bulls), which became the “scapegoat” (Hebrew for “azazel”— עֲזָאזֵֽל—the expression לַעֲזָאזֵֽל—literally, “for complete removal”). In the Septuagint this expression was translated as ἀποποπομπαῖος τράγος, Latin caper emissarius.

The book of Leviticus gives this description of Aaron’s sacrifice (Lv. 16:21-22):

21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.

21 καὶ ἐπιθήσει ᾿Ααρὼν τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ χιμάρου τοῦ ζῶντος καὶ ἐξαγορεύσει ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῦ πάσας τὰς ἀνομίας τῶν υἱῶν ᾿Ισραὴλ καὶ πάσας τὰς ἀδικίας αὐτῶν καὶ πάσας τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπιθήσει αὐτὰς ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ χιμάρου τοῦ ζῶντος καὶ ἐξαποστελεῖ ἐν χειρὶ ἀνθρώπου ἑτοίμου εἰς τὴν ἔρημον,

כא וְסָמַךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת-שְׁתֵּי יָדָו, עַל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר הַחַי, וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲוֺנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֶת-כָּל-פִּשְׁעֵיהֶם לְכָל-חַטֹּאתָם; וְנָתַן אֹתָם עַל-רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר, וְשִׁלַּח בְּיַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי הַמִּדְבָּרָה.

22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.

22 καὶ λήψεται ὁ χίμαρος ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτῷ τὰς ἀδικίας αὐτῶν εἰς γῆν ἄβατον, καὶ ἐξαποστελεῖ τὸν χίμαρον εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.

כב וְנָשָׂא הַשָּׂעִיר עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲוֺנֹתָם, אֶל-אֶרֶץ גְּזֵרָה; וְשִׁלַּח אֶת-הַשָּׂעִיר, בַּמִּדְבָּר.

On other occasions, the “scapegoat” was thrown off a cliff. This ritual clearly resonates with the Gospel account of how Jesus Christ healed a demoniac in the country of Gadara, commanding the demons to come out of him and inhabit a herd of pigs grazing nearby. The demons obeyed, and the entire herd rushed to the precipice and tumbled from it into the abyss. In this case, the role of the “scapegoat” is played by the herd of pigs, which took upon themselves the sins for which the demon-possessed suffered.

According to tradition, a piece of red woolen cloth was tied to the goat to be sent off to the desert. Part of it the Old Testament priest tore off during the passage of the goat through the city gates and hung it in public view. If God accepted the cleansing sacrifice, the cloth would miraculously turn from red to white.

It is important to note that the scapegoat was separated specifically from the sacrificial animals, which were considered clean, and it represented a special sacrifice. The complex symbolism of the scapegoat, associated it with the fallen angel, Satan, but remained entirely within the structure of Jewish monotheism. In the apocryphal book of Enoch (8:1), Azazel appears as the name of one of the “fallen angels.”

In ancient Greece, a similar ritual was associated with the ritual execution of a criminal who took the sins of the community (φαρμακός, κάθαρμα, περίψημα). In this, we can likely recognize echoes of the ancient cults of Dionysus. [The French philosopher René Girard based his philosophical system on an analysis of the scapegoat figure, in his books, The Scapegoat, Violence and the Sacred, I See Satan Falling Like Lightning].

It should be emphasized here that the final fate of humanity at the Last Judgment divides it into a sacrifice pleasing to God (the sheep, and not by chance the lamb symbolizes Christ himself) and those who are sent away, separated, cut off, fall away from the main flock (humanity). The goats are not pleasing to God, are not accepted by Him, and therefore are rejected—perishing without a trace in the wilderness or falling into the abyss.

Here we may recall the story of the two children of Adam (the unity of mankind), Abel and Cain. Abel’s sacrifice is accepted and Cain’s is rejected. The creation of Eve (the division of man), which led to the eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (again the duality opposite to the unity of the tree of life) and the birth of the two brothers Cain and Abel (the story of the first murder) are all initial prototypes of the final human story, the last sacrifice at the Last Judgement.

Thus, at the end of the world, humanity’s duality, manifested in its irreversible division, becomes fully explicit, obvious, but implicitly this division began already in paradise.

The Division of Angels

However, even before the creation of man, a similar division occurs at the level of the angels. Created immortal, incorporeal and eternal spirits, angels are divided into two halves (Ps. 90/91:7):

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee
πεσεῖται ἐκ τοῦ κλίτους σου χιλιὰς καὶ μυριὰς ἐκ δεξιῶν σου πρὸς σὲ δὲ οὐκ ἐγγιεῖ
יִפֹּל מִצִּדְּךָ ׀ אֶלֶף וּרְבָבָה מִימִינֶךָ אֵלֶיךָ לֹא יִגָּשׁ׃

Here, too, the original unified angelic nature is dissected. Part of the angels are faithful to God and retain their supreme position in creation. The second part, under Danica (Hebrew בֶּן-שָׁחַר “son of the dawn,” Greek ἐωσφόρος, Latin Lucifer) or Satan (Hebrew שָׂטָן—literally, “adversary,” “enemy”) rebels against God and His creation, and as a result of the battle of angels, in which the good angels are victorious, he falls to the very bottom of existence—the realms below the bottom of creation.

Thus, the history of man and his separation echoes the fate of the higher incorporeal entities, the angels, who are also divided into two irreconcilable halves. In a sense, this is the logical result of the freedom that God has fully given to His creation. Every being endowed with intelligence and will, whether human or angel, is capable of consciously making a fundamental choice—to be with God or without Him, and without Him, in the end, means against Him; that is, the way of rebellion and godlessness. Such a choice inevitably leads to the abyss and turns the subject’s being into a rejected victim, that is, a scapegoat.

According to the teaching of the Church, the Last Judgment will determine the final fate not only of human beings, but also of angels. [And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day (The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Jude 1:6)]. It is then that Jesus Christ, along with the good angels and saints, will also condemn the evil angels, who shall share the fate of the goats, the “scapegoats,” and finally perish in the abyss.

Thus, eschatological anthropology is inextricably linked to angelology. People and angels have a similar fate—both are given the fullness of mind and will and, therefore, the ontological fullness of freedom. And with the support of this freedom, both determine their own destiny—to become God’s accepted sacrifice or rejected. From indefinite unity, the path of the intelligent creature leads to the ultimate and irreversible bifurcation of the Last Judgment.

The Common Destiny of Men and Angels

The commonality of the destinies of humans and angels is an essential element of religious anthropology. Both begin in unity and end in separation. Both are fully endowed with freedom, intelligence, and will. But they belong to two different dimensions—humans are endowed with a dense body, which angels are not, and are therefore mortal (in body). Angels do not have bodies and do not depend on a dense shell—they maintain their existence from the beginning to the end of creation. Therefore, their choice is not in time, but in eternity—Danica fell in the very origins of time, and falls on the continuation of the entire history of the world and will finally be overthrown at the Last Judgment. Angels have a different scale, but the same ontological problematics as humans.

This scale, in addition to temporality, is also reflected in the fact that the angels, being free from the body, are able to control the bodily elements of the world. Hence their power. The Apocalypse gives a picture of the end times, when angels, faithful to God, inflict world plagues on mankind. And Satan, the fallen angel, is called by the apostles “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31) and even “the god of this age” (2Cor 4:4), which emphasizes the enormous scope of his power in controlling the processes of the cosmos.

It can be said that the history of man goes from the unity of Adam to the final separation at the Last Judgment in the horizontal—temporal—dimension. The “history” of the angels is vertical. It is organized along the axis of eternity, which permeates creation once and for all. That is why the devil appears already in paradise, and in the end times he takes almost complete power over the world. And they have a common end—the Last Judgment. At the beginning and end of world history, the fate of angels is extremely close to the fate of people, and the eternal vertical of creation with the horizontal of time. And this leads us to be more attentive to both dimensions, the anthropological and the angelological, which can never be completely separated from each other. At the beginning and end of history, the respective moments—unity and bifurcation—unite angels and humans fully. But even in the intervening epochs—as well as in the different slices of the angelic vertical—humans and angels are in close proximity to one another.

Most importantly, human history and the destiny of angels are defined by a fundamental code of bifurcation. In eschatology this becomes fully explicit. It is at the end of time at the Last Judgment that the whole truth about the fall of the angels will be revealed. Similarly, the entire content of man’s being in time will also be revealed—the secret will be revealed [Mt 10:26; Mk 4:22; Lk 17).

The commonality of humans and angels is structured by a fundamental duality: Humans, occupying the middle—horizontal—layer of creation, move to the final separation gradually—in the course of the historical process, reaching its culmination at the moment of the Last Judgement (here human duality is manifested in absolute degree). The fall of angels takes place vertically and instantaneously—in the context of a created eternity, always simultaneous for any moment of historical time. This is why the dualism of angels is permanent. It is always there, from the beginning of time to its end; but the final condemnation of fallen angels will coincide with the Last Judgment.

In other words, the dualism of humanity is implicit in the course of history, while the dualism of angels is explicit in relation to any moment of human history—the choice of people unfolds in time, the choice of angels is instantaneous. At the same time, the dualization of humanity unfolds in the context of the once and for all accomplished fall of the angels. Both dimensions create the volume of the ontological process, which, in fact, is sacred history.

The Anthropology of the Psalms (Avdeyenko ‘s Interpretation)

This fundamental dualism of anthropology (as well as angelology) is brought to sharp focus by the contemporary Russian Bible scholar, philosopher, and theologian Yevgeny Avdeyenko. In his interpretation of the Psalms and the Book of Job, he gives a detailed interpretation of the entire ontological scope of human duality, interpreting the biblical texts in this way. Avdeyenko emphasizes that the Psalter plays such an exceptional role in Christian tradition and liturgy precisely because it presents the fundamental structure of man, and King David appears as the most vivid example of man as such—summarizing the ontological history of Adam and anticipating the new Adam of Christ. The entire content of the Psalms is a narrative of the structure, nature and destiny of man as such. And this is precisely its enduring significance.

Avdeyenko’s contrasting emphasis on the anthropological nature of the Psalms is accompanied by another crucial point: in his reading, the Psalter opens as a fundamentally dualistic narrative where the main content is the opposition between two zones of existence—light and darkness, good and evil, the heavenly realm and the underground hell (Sheol)—right down to its lowest layer, the abyss of Abaddon. God is one, but precisely because He is one and only He is one, being is essentially dual. This will be fully revealed in the division of the Last Judgment, but for Avdeenko this same dualism predetermines the entire content of anthropology and sacred history, of which the Psalter is the semantic mediator.

Anthropological (as well as angelological) dualism for Avdeyenko is not postponed until the final chord of the end times; it operates initially and without interruption and is the main key to comprehending religion as such. Here it is appropriate to recall what we said about the vertical along which the fall of the angels has forever passed, is passing and will continue to pass. Man—Adam, David—is always placed in the middle of this vertical, where the choice is possible in time. The finalization of this choice will coincide with the end of time. But the impact of the two opposing poles man always feels—in every moment of his existence. He always faces the choice of Cain and Abel, the faithful Apostles or Judas, the archangel Michael or Danica. In contrast to the angels, whose choice has always been made and made unambiguously, man has until his last breath the possibility of changing his ontological camp—” Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it” (Ps 33:15). And then he has only to wait for the Last Judgment.

Man’s dualism includes time. This is the core of his moral nature. Man is never mechanically doomed to be good or evil. It is a choice made throughout a person’s life. This is what the Psalms tell us, as Avdehyenko discusses at length.

Children of Light and Children of Darkness

Anthropological dualism is already found in a purely Christian context in the Apostle Paul. In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, he writes:

5 For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

5 πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς υἱοὶ φωτός ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ἡμέρας. οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους·

6 Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.

6 ἄρα οὖν μὴ καθεύδωμεν [b]ὡς οἱ λοιποί, ἀλλὰ γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν.

7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night.

7 οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες νυκτὸς καθεύδουσιν, καὶ οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν·

8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

8 ἡμεῖς δὲ ἡμέρας ὄντες νήφωμεν, ἐνδυσάμενοι θώρακα πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ περικεφαλαίαν ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας·

In John’s Gospel, Jesus himself speaks of the “children of light” (John 12:36):

36 Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke; and he went away, and hid himself from them.

36 ὡς τὸ φῶς ἔχετε, πιστεύετε εἰς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα υἱοὶ φωτὸς γένησθε. Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἐκρύβη ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.

Paul’s division into “sons of light” (υἱοὶ φωτός) and “sons of darkness” (υἱοὶ σκότους) draws our attention to the same anthropological dualism. Those who are with God, with Christ, those who believe in light are the humanity of Abel, Noah, the forefathers, the saints, and the martyrs. They, being in time, prepare with their being the sacrificial animals of the Last Judgment—the sheep, the lambs. This is the humanity of light. But people do not become such by predestination, by birth, or by rigid mechanical conditions, but by their own free will. Only those who are absolutely free can choose between light and darkness. And this is why Paul calls Christians precisely to “become” sons of light, to become them—to be awake, to stay awake, to awaken from the inertia of everyday life. To be “sons of light” means to become “sons of light,” to put ourselves into “sons of light. Jesus Christ himself says the same thing in John’s Gospel—”Believe in the light, that you may be sons of light.” If you believe, you will become sons. No one is born a son of light knowingly. Man always, personally, determines his own nature—placing it either above himself—in the realm of the faithful angels, or below himself—giving himself to the attraction of Danica, sinking into Sheol, slipping into the abyss of Abaddon. And if a man falls, turning away from the light, he becomes a “son of darkness,” a “son of night.” Again, he is not born, but he becomes—constituting his being himself with the support of freedom—mind and will. No one can be forced to become a “son of light” or a “son of darkness.” There is always a choice. Man is this choice himself. This, in fact, is what the Psalms and the Gospels tell us, and what the Bible as a whole tells us.

Anthropology and the Physics of the Resurrection

The Last Judgment occurs after the resurrection of the dead. Christian teaching specifies that “not all will die, but all will be changed.” The apostle Paul writes (I Cor 15:51-52):

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed.

51 ἰδοὺ μυστήριον ὑμῖν λέγω· [a]πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed.

52 ἐν ἀτόμῳ, ἐν ῥιπῇ ὀφθαλμοῦ, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ σάλπιγγι· σαλπίσει γάρ, καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐγερθήσονται ἄφθαρτοι, καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀλλαγησόμεθα.

The dualism of eschatological anthropology will be fully revealed, after this fundamental metamorphosis of humanity, when the resurrected dead will coexist with the changed—clothed in incorruptible flesh—of the living.

To better understand the meaning of the resurrection of the dead, the expectation of which is included in the “Creed” of the Christian, and therefore is an integral part of all doctrine, we should turn to the phases of creation. The eschatological processes partly repeat the phases of creation in reverse order. Creation comes from God and is directed outward (toward Him). The end of time brings creation back to God, puts it in the face of God—bringing it to His judgment. This return is the universal resurrection, where the entire content of the history of the world is recreated instantly and simultaneously.

But resurrected humanity requires different ontological conditions compared to the world in which we find ourselves. These conditions can be summarized as the physics of resurrection. Other laws are in effect here—beyond the usual time and space. The apostle Paul says this about the physics of the resurrection (I Cor 15:39-44):

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but one is the flesh of men, another of beasts, another of birds, another of fishes.

39 οὐ πᾶσα σὰρξ ἡ αὐτὴ σάρξ, ἀλλὰ ἄλλη μὲν ἀνθρώπων, ἄλλη δὲ σὰρξ κτηνῶν, ἄλλη δὲ [a]σὰρξ πτηνῶν, ἄλλη δὲ ἰχθύων.

40 And there are bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial: but, one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial.

40 καὶ σώματα ἐπουράνια, καὶ σώματα ἐπίγεια· ἀλλὰ ἑτέρα μὲν ἡ τῶν ἐπουρανίων δόξα, ἑτέρα δὲ ἡ τῶν ἐπιγείων.

41 One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory.

41 ἄλλη δόξα ἡλίου, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα σελήνης, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα ἀστέρων, ἀστὴρ γὰρ ἀστέρος διαφέρει ἐν δόξῃ.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.

42 Οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκρῶν. σπείρεται ἐν φθορᾷ, ἐγείρεται ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ·

43 It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power.

43 σπείρεται ἐν ἀτιμίᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δόξῃ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δυνάμει·

44 It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

44 σπείρεται σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἐγείρεται σῶμα πνευματικόν. Εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, [d]ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν.

These are the properties of the resurrected body—it is

  • incorruptible,
  • in glory,
  • in power,
  • spiritual.

So also the Second Coming of Christ takes place in power and in glory. Hence the expression Savior-in-Power (Majesta Domini, Pantocrator), referring to the figure of Jesus Christ, the Almighty, seated on the Throne in Heaven. Here incorruption and the spiritual nature of the world are revealed directly as an area of direct experience. The moment of the Last Judgment reveals a special ontological dimension.

Eternal Creation

The physics of resurrection will become clearer to us if we carefully trace the steps of the cosmogonic process.

The main ontological difference in religion is the creator-creation pair, God and the world. God is eternal, unchanging, primordial, uncreated. The world is placed in time, that is, finite, limited, and created. This is the basis of theology and the whole Church tradition.

In addition to this main distinction, however, we should already distinguish at least two levels, two sections—the corporeal and the spiritual. We are talking about the created spirit, not the Holy Spirit, who is God and the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. To this area of the spirit belong the heavenly paradise and the angelic ranks, as well as the assembly of those holy people who, through their faith, their exploits, works and deeds, have attained the spirit, having been transformed into a new nature—have become in the full sense of the word “sons of light.”

The other zone of the created world is the corporeal realms, denser and grosser than the spiritual worlds.

The laws of time and space apply to bodily creation and determine the life, forms, and timing of bodies and bodily phenomena. Spiritual worlds are governed by other laws. There is not what we understand by “time” and “space” as applied to the world of bodies. Spiritual worlds are creation, not God. Thus, in part they are like the corporeal world (they are created and finite), but in part they are closer to God Himself (there is no time and space). This is why Christ himself says, “the kingdom of God is within you.” This realm of the spirit is not subject to the laws of time and space (so it, being all-encompassing, is able to fit inside the human heart). Compared to the totality of the history of the corporeal world, the spiritual realm is eternal. Such are the angels—the intelligent spirits, the “second lights. They belong to this spiritual dimension—vertical in relation to the corporeal cosmos. They can be everywhere at once and at any moment. They are not subject to death and decay. But at the same time, they are fundamentally finite; they once were not and once will not be. It is said that “the heavens will pass away.” In the same way, spiritual creation will pass away. Compared to bodily creation it is eternal. Compared to God’s true eternity, it is finite and relative.

In the process of creation, the spiritual world comes first—it begins with it. Spiritual beings—angels—are created first and help God to order creation. The corporeal world—with time and space—is formed in the next stage. In the cross of creation, the vertical of created eternity is drawn first, and only then the horizontal of the corporeal world. Man is central to this cross—he stands in the center of the corporeal world and in the middle of the vertical of eternal creation—between the good and evil angels.

At the end of time, this process will take place in the opposite direction. First, the corporeal world will be elevated to the celestial-spiritual world and this is the moment of the resurrection of the dead. And then this resurrected—eternal—creation will appear before the Last Judgment. Horizontal time will ascend to vertical eternity.

Thus, the resurrection is not a return to earthly bodily life, but to the structures of spiritual creation. Hence the properties of resurrection physics of imperishability, power, glory, spirit. These same attributes are characteristic of angels. Christ responded to the Sadducees who denied the resurrection (Mk 12:25):

25 For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.

25 ὅταν γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν, οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται, ἀλλ’ εἰσὶν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·

This comparison does not imply immortality; but the resurrection body itself will change its nature, becoming a spiritual, heavenly body and imperishable (though finite) in comparison to ordinary earthly bodies.

Eternal Resurrection

Since the resurrection of the dead, or the changing of those living whom the Second Coming will catch on earth, precisely recreates a spiritual, eternal creation, it should be noted that the moment of resurrection cannot be uniquely coupled with the structure of time. Resurrection time does not come as ordinary time does. In a certain sense, it is a special time and accordingly this spiritual world of created eternity is always there—from the beginning of the world to the end. Likewise, there are always angels—spiritual beings. They do not come into the world as corporeal men and do not leave it. They are only visible or invisible. Likewise, there are people who will be resurrected. In order for them to be resurrected, they must already be—be in some sense always. Not necessarily in time and in body, but necessarily in conception, in their sense. In order to be resurrected someday, one must be resurrected always—in this vertical dimension, resurrected in the spirit.

This is precisely what Christianity asserts. Christ will not simply resurrect everyone by his rising from the dead—but has already resurrected everyone, because he has recreated, renewed creation, restored its spiritual structure.

In every human being, underneath the ordinary physics is the physics of the resurrection. Beneath the physical man is the spiritual man, belonging to the resurrection world, the Kingdom of Heaven.

The resurrection, while not an event in time, is an event in eternity, that is, it is always active. And so it is now.

The line between the living and the dead in the resurrection optics is erased. All are equally confronted with the fundamental problem of choice. Bodily life—precisely because of its extreme distance from God—offers unique opportunities to prove devotion to God—despite the fact that the very conditions of earthly existence compel one to deny His existence. But man cannot be completely devoid of mind and will, that is, of involvement in the world of the spirit. Otherwise, he would be a machine or an animal. Therefore, in the depths of every human soul there is an area of fundamental choice. This is the territory of the body of glory, the body of resurrection. It exists not only afterwards, but now, always. It is located—like the original Adam—on the vertical between the Archangel Michael (who is like God) and the fallen angel, the devil, the Danite, the “son of the dawn.” It is this ontological location of his heart—on the line of eternal creation and, accordingly, in the realm of the resurrection—that makes man human.

Eschatological anthropology does not refer to the future in the usual sense, but to the eternal present.

Importantly, the Creed speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

and will come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead
Καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς

Here it should be pointed out that Christ will also judge the “living,” not just the resurrected dead. But these will be special “living” ones—already “changed” (ἀλλαγγησόμεθα—from the verb ἀλλάσσω), according to the Apostle. What is this change?

It restores man’s “body of glory,” his “spiritual body,” without him having to go through three successive phases—birth in body, death, resurrection. Such a change, albeit as an extreme case, is possible precisely because of man’s inherent nature of “creaturely eternity.” At the deepest level of his being, he is already resurrected, and it is possible to actualize this “resurrection” either through death or bypassing it. Saints, martyrs, and those Christians who have most fully developed their Christian identity are able to approach this state of “resurrection” even before the Last Judgment. Associated with this is the appearance of imperishable relics and other relics. The very bodies of the saints are transformed, falling out from under the material conditions of time. This means that the spiritual man, the man of power, the body of glory, is already in everyone, and this is the way of the Christian—to change while still alive, so as to come as close as possible to the ontological conditions of the Last Judgment. We must try to stand before that Court as early as possible, without waiting for the fulfillment of time. And the very will to change human nature accordingly brings closer the Second Coming of the Savior.

Such a change in life means becoming a “son of light,” awakening and irrevocably separating one’s destiny from the “sons of darkness,” from the state of meaningless and insensitive sleep.

Modernity Through the Eyes of Tradition

Now let us turn to a completely different section of anthropology—to the way modern Western philosophy and science present man, his essence and nature. We practically always start with modern notions, which we take for granted (“progress obliges”), and through their prism we turn to other—for example, pre-modernist—notions. This is done with a certain amount of condescension. If we do this, then any religious anthropology, and especially its eschatological section, will look like naive and arbitrary generalizations. But here’s the interesting thing. If we look from the opposite side and try to assess the anthropological theories of modernity through the eyes of a man of Tradition, a shocking picture will open before us.

If history is a process of splitting humanity into sheep and goats, i.e., actualization through a sequence of acts of free choice of people’s will towards in the sons of light or the sons of darkness, the last centuries of Western European civilization, retreating further from God, religion, faith, Christianity and eternity, will look like a continuous and worsening process of sliding into the abyss, a massive transition to the Danica side, a conscious and structurally verified vector of direct God-fighting. European Modernity is the way of the goats; that is, the compulsive invitation to societies and peoples to become scapegoats at the Last Judgment. From the very beginning, Western European civilization of the New Age has been built on a rejection of religion, first through the relativization of its teachings (deism) and later through outright dogmatic atheism. Man is now thought of as an independent material-psychical phenomenon, a bearer of rationality. God appears as an abstract hypothesis. In New Age culture, it is not God who creates man, but man invents “God” for himself in a naive search to explain the origin of the world. This approach leaves no place at all for spiritual worlds or angels in existence. All spirituality is reduced to the human mind.

In parallel, the very act of creation and created eternity are rejected. The idea of the structure of time and history changes accordingly. Heaven and the Last Judgment are presented as “naive myths” that do not deserve any serious attention. The emergence of man is described as a stage in the evolution of animal species, and human history as a gradual social progress leading to ever more perfect forms of social organization with ever-increasing levels of comfort and technical development.

This picture of the explanation of the world and man is so familiar to us that we rarely think about its origins and the assumptions on which it is based. But if we nevertheless turn to them, we see that it is a radical rejection of the ontology of salvation, a desire to categorically forbid man to create his being in the realm of eschatological sheep. The New Age paradigm turns its back on God and Heaven, and accordingly moves inward. In religious topology, it is an unequivocal choice of hell, a slide into the abyss of Abaddon. And beneath the formally atheistic and secular world order, the image of the fallen angel, which is the true origin of God-fighting initiatives, is becoming increasingly clear. The devil draws humanity to himself at all stages of sacred history, beginning with the earthly paradise. But to the full extent he manages to seize power over mankind and become the true “prince of this world” and “the god of this age” only in New Age.

Postmodernity: The Return of the Devil

The transformation of anthropology in an openly satanic vein is particularly evident in its later stages, in what is usually called the Postmodern. Here New Age optimism is replaced by pessimism, and humanism is abandoned altogether. If the New Age (Modern) rebelled against God, religion, and sacredness, the Postmodern goes further and calls for the elimination of man (anthropocentrism), scientific rationality and the final destruction of social institutions—states, families—up to the rejection of gender (gender politics) and the transition to transhumanism (transferring the initiative to Artificial Intelligence, creating chimeras and cyborgs through genetic engineering, etc.). If in Modernity the movement towards the civilization of the devil was outlined and expressed in the dismantling of traditional society, Postmodernity brings this trend to its logical end, directly implementing the program for the final abolition of humanity.

The program of the final transition to the object as a triumph of materialism is especially and vividly presented in the modern direction of Western philosophy—critical realism or object-oriented ontology (OO). It openly proclaims the demolition of subjectivity and an appeal to the Absolute External (Quentin Meillassoux) as the last foundation of reality. At the same time, many philosophers of this school directly identify this figure of the Absolute External with Satan or his counterparts in other religions—in particular, with Ahriman of Zoroastrianism (Reza Negarestani).

Thus, collectively, Modern and Postmodern represent a single trend aimed at placing humanity on the path of the rejected victim, the scapegoat, and by the time of the Last Judgment, which is denied, let it fall into the abyss of irreversible damnation.

The denial of religious anthropology and its eschatological apotheosis already contains a program of scapegoating, and as secular culture becomes more entrenched, developed and explicit, especially in Postmodernity and Transhumanism, this program becomes explicit and transparent. We can say, in simplified terms, that at first the New Age mocks the existence of God and the devil, rejecting the existence of the vertical as the axis of creation; and then in Postmodernism the devil and the lower half of the vertical return and make themselves known in full. But there is no longer a God (“God is dead,” cried Nietzsche, “we have killed him, you and I”) who could help humanity. He was discarded at a previous stage; this remains unchallenged in the Postmodern. All that remains is the devil, leading humanity down the broad road of damnation, cynically (Satan likes to joke) called “progress.”

The Armageddon of Our Hearts

If we now combine these two perspectives, eschatological anthropology and the conceptions of man in Modernity and especially in Postmodernity, we get quite a comprehensive picture. It will become evident that we are in the final stage of the end times in the immediate vicinity of the moment of the Last Judgment. There is nothing arbitrary or speculative in this statement. If we take the vertical of the world into account, this is the position humanity is in at every moment of its history: the Last Judgment and the resurrection of the dead are always close to man at every moment and in every place of his existence. But in the general dimension as applied to all mankind this event takes place once and for all—when both dimensions, the vertical and the horizontal, meet in the most complete and unvarnished way. And if at the Final Judgment whole masses of people happen to be totally unprepared for this, and moreover have been brought up in the attitude that nothing like this can happen, because only matter and its material derivatives exist, they are very likely to be among those who will be sent into the abyss. This is especially true of those who, succumbing to the hypnosis of progress, will go so far down the road of dehumanization that they will completely lose touch with human nature itself, and thus with the possibility of choosing the good part, which is always possible while we are dealing with humans—however difficult that choice might be in certain circumstances. But when the transhumanist project is fully realized and humanity irreversibly migrates into the zone of posthumanity (this is what modern futurologists call the Singularity moment), severing ties with its nature, the world and history will end, as witnesses will be removed from the center of reality. At the same time there will be no emptiness, but the exposure of eternal creation and the angelic vertical in its entirety—this will be the moment of the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. Until this happens, the division of humanity into sheep and goats acquires a particularly intense dramatic expression.

The masses are increasingly becoming “sons of darkness,” turning away from faith in the true divine light. They are opposed by the “sons of light,” who remain faithful to God, to the Savior, to the vertical. Both of them, despite the fact that the figure of the angel has long ago disappeared from the holistic picture of the world, consciously or not, find themselves extremely close to the angelic poles, separated from eternity and to the end of the world, as far away from each other as possible. For the goats, this means that they become literally possessed by the devil, turning into his helpless instrument and losing all autonomy. This is what it means to become “sons of darkness,” scapegoats, God’s rejected sacrifice. But it is also extremely difficult to remain faithful to heaven and light in such an extreme situation, and this desperate situation of the “little flock” needs the special support and guardianship of God and the guardian angels. At some point, the everlasting vertical battle of angels coincides with the last war of mankind, in which the “children of light” meet directly with the “children of darkness” in the immediate run-up to the Last Judgment. This is what is described in the Bible as the battle of Armageddon. It is impossible to describe it in purely earthly, rational terms, because it includes the ultimate volumes of theological, metaphysical, and ontological content.

The SMO has the most direct relation to eschatological anthropology. No one knows the exact timeline, especially because we are not talking about an event placed in time, but about that hard-to-imagine state of the world in which time directly collides with eternity, and accordingly, forever ceases to be the time it was before. Here begins the “future age,” facing along the vertical of being. Subliminally all this has already happened and is happening now, but it will be fully revealed in the Apocalypse, which in Greek means “revelation,” “discovery.” The hidden becomes manifest. This is how the mystery of man’s duality is resolved. And every person becomes a direct and immediate participant in it—because the front line runs not only in earthly geography, but strictly through our hearts.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Featured: The Last Judgement, by Fra Angelico; painted ca. 1435—1440.

Conjuring Satan—False Transcendence and Counterfeit Words in an Age of War

1. The Ukraine War as an Ideological Struggle of Light and Dark

Shortly before she was murdered, Daria Dugin appeared in the documentary, Azovstal on YouTube (hedged with warnings, lest anyone believe its contents), by John Mark Dougan, an American living in Moscow these last six years, and former police officer and marine [a more stable link to the documentary, in case Youtube removes it]. The documentary is about the war that that has been waged by the Ukrainian government in the Donbas for some eight years and which has led to the people of the region joining the Russian federation.

For those who simply repeat the refrain of the Western media that people in the region are awaiting their liberation by NATO supplied and trained Ukrainian troops, and that the election that transpired there in October 2022 was rigged, I recommend they watch this documentary—perhaps they may also watch, while they are at it, another of Dougan’s YouTube presentations. This is a testimony by Maria Lelyanova. When she first met Dougan, she was a vehemently anti-Putin Russian liberal who took her news from Western outlets (apparently it is possible to do that in Russia). They got into a conversation about the war and Russia’s role in it—it was, she said, all Putin’s fault, and most Russians were either ignorant, or like her and her friends totally ashamed of their country and its aggression.

Having met Dougan and having been a liberal and strongly anti-Putin Russian who took her news from Western outlets (it is possible to do that in Russia), Lelyanova engaged in arguments with him about the war and Russia’s role in it. Dougan’s response was to ask her if she would be willing to accompany him to the Donbas region, and see the truth for herself. To her credit she agreed—whereupon she saw the state of devastation of the region and listened to stories that led her to conclude that everything the Western media had told her about what was going on in the Donbas was a lie; the anguish on her face throughout her discussion with Dougan bespeaks the horror she had just witnessed as she roamed and spoke with the people there.

As for Daria Dugin, she knew from the outset that the Western media was lying. Her interview with Dougan was, I believe, her last media appearance before her assassination. She conducted it within the shell of a bombed-out school—and spoke of the terrors inflicted by Ukrainian troops and the ethnic supremacist militia, which Western “journalists” occasionally reported on, prior to Western media owners and government officials deciding that such truths were not in the public’s interest, and the only story to tell was the duality—Ukraine government and anti-Russian Ukrainians very good freedom lovers vs. Russian government and most Russian people completely evil.

That line, combined with the unity of purpose of Western governments (including non-NATO members) in supplying weapons to the Zelensky government and Ukrainian army, and Western media, who supply the propaganda that Ukraine is winning, that Putin will die, or be toppled any second now by a popular uprising, etc.—lends support to Daria Dugin’s claim that this war has become far more than a regional war. And, indeed, given the causal chain that led to it, and given the anti-Russian machinations that convinced the Western public that Russia was seeking world conquest by toppling the United States of America, it appears it was planned to be an international event.

Early indicators of the international machinations by the West are evident in the CIA support for Chechen and other Islamist militarists operating in the Caucasus during the second Chechen War; Joe Biden’s senate resolution 322 of 2005, which acted specifically on behalf of two Russian oligarchs and criminals, and was really the prelude to the Magnitsky Act of 2016 (you know the one named after the martyr “lawyer” [sorry that is the word that the Irish citizen who lobbied for the Act, Bill Browder, deems to be an accurate descriptor for the word “accountant”], allowing for the seizure of Russian assets); the US pronouncement at the Bucharest Summit Declaration by NATO in 2008 that NATO supported Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO.

It was in that same year that the five-day Russian-Georgian war occurred. Having been the recipient of generous military funding and training by the US (as well as weapons from the then pro-Western Ukrainian government), Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili thought he had been given the green light to attack the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This decision led to Russia’s military response and the beginning of what was up until that moment a new low in post-Cold War Russian-US diplomatic relations. Saakashvili, by the way, is now in a Georgian prison doing time for corruption. But before that, thanks to the support of Ukrainian President Poroshenko, he had a stint as a Ukrainian politician in 2015-16, as governor of the Odesa Oblast, only to come into conflict with Poroshenko (with each accusing the other of corruption). He was subsequently kicked out of Ukraine, only to re-enter the country through Poland before he was kicked out yet again. Thereupon, he was granted permanent residency in the Netherlands, until his Ukrainian citizenship was restored a year later by Zelensky. But then he decided to sneak back into Tbilisi, where he was arrested. Funny old world, isn’t it, when such men are heroes?

Certainly, by the time of the Maidan of 2014, NATO and the US government and the EU had made sure, and the media had fallen in line with its reporting of the “Revolution of Dignity,” that Russia was a major threat to the West’s strategic interests; or more accurately the hegemony of values and priorities that suit the tastes and interests, the careers and prospects of the West’s ruling class and those whose professional careers are predicated on serving that class.

So, when Daria Dugin reported that this war was an ideological struggle between globalism, which she depicted as those who have marshalled and stand for the darkness, and its opponents, those who are fighting for light, she was expressing which values she stood for in the context of a war that should have remained regional, were it not for the incessant machinations of the globalist project of the Western world’s elites, and its dependents and enablers, from the government to the media to the universities and to the various covert and overt intelligence agencies, weapons manufacturers and military contractors, and the military itself.

Those who watch Daria Dugin and think that the Ukrainian army are fighting for freedom against the incursions of the evil Russian Vladmir Putin hell-bent on world conquest—first Ukraine, then the rest of Europe—if they were to watch this clip, they would think that this only confirmed how evil and deranged she was that she could have the truth in such reverse, and that she had lies like flies fly from her mouth.

The demonic, as Kierkegaard, was wont to say, is the truth in reverse, and the devil is also the Prince of Lies. The question is: who here speaks the language of the devil, whose mouths are full of (f)lies?

For her part, Daria Dugin had no compunction in using the kind of language that was once routinely used throughout Christendom, but which has now largely evaporated in the West along with the belief in hell or the devil. It is not the preferred language of the Western, ostensibly well-educated liberal progressive metro-cosmopolitan urbane class, which defers to what they consider to be the kind of abstractions that all good, true and beautiful people use, such as rights and morality (of which they are the paragons).

These same smooth-talking progressives now throw their lot in with the president of an oligarchical ethno-nationalist state, from which millions of ethnically impure people fled prior to the Special Military Operation or invasion (according to how you interpret the events since February 2022), that was beholden to its own neo-Nazi styled militia before it became an all-out war state. Its very existence owes much to those same smooth-talking sophisticates who used a combination of media outlets, private/corporate and public finance, and political meddling to assist the channeling of urban political regional interests into a military overthrow of a functioning, albeit undeniably corrupt democracy, which nevertheless was able to maintain the peace between groups that cohabitated and yet lived with deeply divided allegiances and historical memories, by allowing political, regionally different, interests to compete in elections. Given what has transpired in the last eight or so years in Ukraine, Daria Dugin’s language strikes me as reasonably apt, as the country has become a living hell for much of the population—though, as is always the case, those who create hell on earth, often have the resources to live in a better neighbourhood.

While our urban sophisticates generally want to leave God out of it, they purport to be not only the class who knows everything important about the way the world is and what can be done to make it even better, which is to say they not only know what can be done to make it totally inclusive, diverse and equitable, but to be motivated by love. As such, they are compelled to denounce all those enemies of humanity out there (such as Daria Dugin, before and after her murder, and her father, and of course, the least human of all alive today, Vladimir Putin). Their love requires the daily media outpouring of bile and brimstone toward any who do not share the fantasies that they see, or agree with, or who do not use the words, the spells and incarnations, they chant repeatedly to ensure mass psychosis and hypnosis: the defiant must be shut up, abused, dehumanized—or, as we still put it, in spite of our enlightened sophistication, demonized. But ideological language has always been but the secularized use of words to express the depth of faith of the ideologues who are prepared to kill and sacrifice their enemies to get their world and to designate those who are non-human.

In other words, the Western sophisticates agree with Daria Dugin that the war is not just a regional fight but a planetary ideological struggle between the light and the dark. The only difference being which is the force of light: the one that prefers old fashioned traditions like families and churches? Or the one with the rainbow flags in churches (see below), drag queens reading to kiddies in libraries, and proudly designating the pronouns they insist on being called by, as they denounce anyone and everyone as a racist who does not go along with this? Racist? Well, one can always rely upon Creepy Sleepy Joe—as Kevin of Kevin’s Corner has christened him—to let the cat out of the bag (recall him saying how his party had put together the greatest election fraud in history):

“We need to challenge the hundreds of callous and cynical laws introduced in the states targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need,” said Biden.

“We have to protect these children so they know they’re loved and we’ll stand up for them and so they can speak for themselves,” he added.

“Folks, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected!” he claimed.

“But the antidote to hate is love,” Biden continued.

And drugs. And surgery. And ensuring that every one of the members of medical, psychiatric, social work, and teachers associations and boards get on board (or lose their credentials and job) with the decision to not inform little Mary, who is a tom-boy, or little Johnny who likes to dress up in little girls’ clothes that this is probably a phase that a lot of children go through, but instead join children in their fantasy whilst locking them inside a destiny laid out by the Big Medical and Pharmaceutical Complex pushing expensive and life-altering surgery and drugs.

Not only that, these same interests are determined to prevent the parents of these children from having any say in the matter. And that’s because, as the President, who could barely get thirty or forty people to attend his meet-and-greets when he stepped out of the basement to campaign before becoming the most electorally successful President in the history of the United States, himself says (albeit in more mealy-mouthed words) to not push for drugs and surgery is not only hateful but racist.

Now, it is true that Joe knows a thing or two about racism—Kamala Harris certainly thought so when she was telling other Democrats and the world why he would not make a fit President because he was a…. (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), and were he alive I am sure his old pal, who also knew a thing or two about racism, Senator Robert Byrd and KKK organizer and member, might be able to set us straight and confirm that if we don’t believe Joe we too are haters, and racists. That is the kind of reasoning and love that preside with the leading forces of the West’s light.

Forgive me, but I spent some forty years reading the greatest minds who have every put pen to paper, and when I try to make sense of the intricacies of the dialectics of imbecility—of which Joe is truly a master—I always need to hammer away at a few thousand brain cells. But the dialectic of imbecility, and the love and reasons, and the words that drive it, is nothing other than fake words, fake reasons and fake love. And those whose livelihoods and power is predicated upon the cultural triumph of the dialectics of imbecility also require ensuring that anyone who thinks what they are doing is as preposterous as it is politically and culturally deadly are to be deemed as haters, and hence to be punished for engaging in hate speech. Yes, indeed—the truth in reverse.

The underlying question of this lengthy and far roaming discussion that links this great evil of our time with the diabolical fakery of words (lies) and transcendence is—to whom and to what is that love directed? That was the great question of Augustine who grasped that our loves are the weights that bear us to where we are in our lives and worlds. There is no doubt the team represented by the Empires of Lies is built on love—for all worlds, all realities to which we contribute are built upon our loves; for our loves are the springs of our action. But while the Beatles in their youthful exuberance sang, “All You Need is Love,” one could hardly expect a pop group to be sufficiently well-versed in Augustine or Dante (though I think Bob and Leonard were, even in their younger days), to explore how love of the self and the things of the world are precisely why the world is the way it is. That’s why love and hate are not merely antipathetical but part of a continuum—to love God, His creation, His laws, and His gifts is to hate the devil and vice-versa (albeit demonic creation is, again as Augustine said, always privative, always negation and defacement).

2. A War Built on Lies and Conspiracies of Liars

Before, though, I dig deeper into the matter of love, and the central love—that of the self—that conjures up Satanic powers, let me just pause further upon the way in which this war has been built on lies—and lies obviously include the use of silence to conceal truth—and the use of force to defend lies, or for those with a more religiously attuned sensibility, let’s observe more of the (f)lies spread by those who serve the Prince of Lies.

As I argued in a previous essay, Putin, sadly, was telling the truth when he called the West an Empire of Lies, run by liars. He was calling out the fact that the leaders of the West were completely indifferent to the truth that Ukraine had been mired in a civil war for some eight years that had provided NATO with the opportunity to train and supply an army, that had long thrown off any concealment of serving the entire Ukrainian population, ready to take that war to another level, as it marshalled in excess of 100,000 men on the borders of the Donbas. The imminence of turning the autonomous regions of Donetsk and Luhansk into a killing field that would have made the previous 14000 or so dead (that is the usual number cited) pale into insignificance compared to what in all likelihood was about to happen as the self-declared autonomous regions were about to face a full escalation of destruction.

But this essential trigger behind Russia’s actions was never reported by the mainstream media or discussed by a political class who spoke as if all of a sudden that imperial itch which has possessed those nasty Russians from time immemorial and Vladimir Putin ever since he was a boy torturing flies and cats, inexplicably seized power of a country that had been doing so swimmingly well, a country mired in a war with Chechnya and its terrorists, subjected to the rapacious brutality of the mafia, oligarchs, and Western grifters plundering Russia’s bargain basement priced formerly state controlled resources.

Inane as the lie was, though, it worked because it was sold to a population who take pride in their knowledge, even when they know nothing (but I am getting ahead of myself for this is the very essence of the satanic), and sold by those who are so caught up in their lies that they generally believe them, too. That is because they have cleverly built a world of mirrors which reflects back the lies they speak to themselves, to each other, and to the population who takes their information from them.

Funny wasn’t it, how the mainstream media predicted the war, even down to trying to identify the exact day of invasion, whilst being silent on the massive deployment of Ukrainian troops on the Donbass, as if that deployment were nothing—but again the demonic specializes in making as much of nothing, as it does nothing of much.

Likewise, Western reporters and pundits, in the main, thought nothing of the fact that the Minsk agreement had meant nothing except as an excuse for doing nothing about people being bombed and killed in their homes—in a recent interview in Die Zeit, Angela Merkel has said, what should have appeared obvious to anyone who thought about what was going on “over there,” that being a signatory to the agreement had just been a way of buying time, so Ukraine, with NATO help, could build up its army.

I do not believe one Western journalist prior to the civil war becoming a war between nations had ever thought that the people of the Donbas region were intending to massacre the majority of the Ukrainian population and were arming themselves to go out and conquer Kiev. The population in the Donbas, because of their historical memories and attachments was, though, not a population in which the government in Kiev had the slightest interest in protecting. But it was a population which wanted to protect itself from a government and the various ultra-ethnic nationalist militias, who were pushing for ever more political persecution, and the continuation of ethnic cleansing that their national hero Stefan Bandera had engaged in when collaborating with the Nazis.

Though, unfortunately for the people of these regions, they happened to live in the “industrial heartland of Ukraine”—which accounts for some 80% of Ukraine’s oil, natural gas and coal reserves, and vast deposits of precious minerals and metals, as well as rare earth minerals essential for so much modern technology, so the option of being left alone was not going to fly with a kleptocratic class that had allied its interests with ethnic purists. Of course, those who blame the Russians claim that these resources are the real reason for Russia’s invasion—the problem with that, though, is everything else we have been talking about. Which once again is indicative of this event being conducted by the West’s appeal to truths in reverse.

The epithet “Empire of Lies” applies as much to the European Union as the USA, with its preposterous claims (deluded self-understanding?) of being a force for peace, a soft-power, when it suits its interests (to spend money on projects that make it an ever-greater imperial force) whilst also being a supporter of other people fighting their wars because it suits the West’s larger program. All of the West’s warehouses, full of human rights research, draft documents, protocols, treaties and covenants mattered not a jot when there was a coup in 2014, or a killing-fields about to happen. If the EU had been useless in stopping the horrors of the Balkans in the 1990s (keeping its hands clean by belatedly coming in to try the war criminals it held responsible and to broker peace deals), on this occasion they were going to be far more proactive, and go all out in support of the ethnic-nationalist state—and the Neo-Nazis, which, of course, for the West do not really exist outside of the diabolical imaginations of Vladimir the evil one and his minions. That is probably why the USA, Germany and Italy are among the 50 countries that voted against the proposed resolution put by Russia opposing the glorification of Nazism. But why would the West care? Ukraine is a democratic state, and its decisions to close down Russian-speaking media and schools, to allow its ethnic militia to infiltrate its institutions and sabotage any change of reassuming more peaceable ties with Russia (that was Zelensky’s mandate), and now just recently raiding and closing down Ukrainian Orthodox Churches (UOC—Ukraine’s largest denomination), are just the kind of realist pebbles in the diplomatic shoes that imperial Western powers have to deal with as they race ahead, dreaming up and filling up treaties, covenants and the like, devoted to “human rights.”

These issues indicate the problems that the West has in presenting itself as the force of human goodness is that there is no consistency other than its right to dictate what “good” and “evil” are in the world. To someone who takes good and evil seriously this is exactly the way that people intending evil behave—they say what suits them when it suits them, rather than inflect their speech in deference to what they know to be true. Truth may shine in its own light, but it is darkness that requires the extinction of speech which would light up what transpires in its coverings.

The war, as in so much that has preceded it in the West, has also proceeded by way of censorship and denunciation—perhaps in a time of open warfare this would be considered a state of exception. But there is no declaration of war by the US or European powers, and the control of speech in the West is no longer anything exceptional. And everything of significance concerning this war is proceeding under cover of darkness—the main stream media refuses to allow any serious discussion of why Russia is at war, and simply ignores news that shows a very different side to the violence committed during the war. Who in the West, for example, would know that Marianna Vyshemirsky, the pregnant woman photographed, early in the war, in the Mariupol hospital which had just been shelled, and whose picture was sent all over the globe as an example of Russian brutality and cruelty, is now a Russian citizen supporting the Russian war effort? At the time the photo was taken, she was critical of the Ukrainian government and army—but her account of events was spun into an attack upon Russia and a tribute to Ukrainian bravery and determination.

Or, let’s pause upon the biggest story of the moment, a story which our media and the US government are attempting to hide/bury—the story of FTX, the biggest case of financial fraud since Enron, and political graft possibly since ever. It is a story that ranges from straight-out fraud and political and media coverup, to corrupting scientific research and influencing public policy, to bankrolling politicians, primarily, though not only, the Democratic party (FTX was the second biggest donor to the Democrats), and its progressive causes, to money laundering and this war. It is a story with a cast of characters so wide that no Netflix Series could do justice to the telling, from Sam the vegan and his parents (his Mum being a Hilary lawyer) and goofy poly-girlfriend Carolyn Ellison and her parents to (gee golly gosh, heavens to Betsy, well I never) the Clintons (and probably their parents), and the Bidens and Tony Blair and…. you and I both want this essay to have an ending, so let’s just say lots and lots of powerful and wealthy people.

In any case, as soon as the collapse was made public, along with the money-laundering, connections to the war and the political loop to the Democrats was being talked about, the factcheckers and Google algorithm manipulators were setting everyone straight that there was no money laundering going on because those who one would consider involved, like members of the Ukrainian government, and the various political recipients of FTX money, and honest Sam himself had said it just wasn’t so. Though back in March of this year, that is before the FTX collapsed and before those who make up the facts that pass their own factchecking set to work on the straight story, there was a story in CoinDesk with the headline, “Ukraine Partners With FTX, Everstake to Launch New Crypto Donation Website: FTX is converting crypto contributions to Ukraine’s war effort into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine.” It continued:

“Ukraine Partners With FTX, Everstake to Launch New Crypto Donation Website: FTX is converting crypto contributions to Ukraine’s war effort into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian government launched a new crypto donations website on Monday, streamlining its multimillion-dollar effort to turn Bitcoin into bullets, bandages and other war materiel.

Aid for Ukraine,” which has the backing of crypto exchange FTX, staking platform Everstake and Ukraine’s Kuna exchange, will route donated crypto to the National Bank of Ukraine, Everstake’s Head of Growth Vlad Likhuta told CoinDesk. Ukraine’s crypto-savvy Ministry of Digital Transformation is also involved.”

It will probably take years before anything like the full extent of this particular labyrinth of lies and fraud and endless shell-companies, and players making an incalculable number of decisions involving other people performing an incalculable number of legally dubious to out-right criminal tasks will be sufficiently public enough to be more than a salacious story of youthful folly, gaming and sex, buried amidst a blur of complexity, mostly to be cordoned off, when it gets interesting, into the financial pages.

In the meantime Bankman-Fried has finally been taken into custody in the Bahamas (which some say may well have been done to make sure he does not have to answer harder questions at the congressional hearing he is meant to appear before). And the big question is: will he be suicided like Jeffrey Epstein, or can he just keep his mouth shut in a mid-level prison with vegetables, video games, porn and drugs?

Only a week or so earlier, the New York Times had Bankman-Fried appear along with other illustrious global leaders, including the man of the year himself, Zelensky, and Zuckerberg, Janet Yellen, the actor Ben Affleck, and the CEO of Blackrock, as part of its DealBook Summit. But my readers might be thinking, but this is a heck of a digression from the war and the diabolical nature of our Western world.

Sadly, though, it is only a digression in so far as the entire story the media chooses to tell is to ensure that everything they say about FTX, which is actually very little, is a digression from the real story of politicians being funded by an enormous financial fraud and money laundering scheme that reaches from the globalist party of the US (that also allows for the RINO’s on the take—presently the press is trying to make it look as if Sam gave away donations to all parties equally, lest one suspect that the money was used to push certain liberal progressive globalist causes) to Ukraine and back. And then there is the possibility it just may have been crafted to ensure that there is no way to escape a social credit surveillance society, and the globally regulated digitalization of money that crypto has threatened to destabilize. That this objective and the objective of Russian regime change are mere variations within the greater objective—a liberal progressive globalist world feudal system, as laid out in the Great Reset and Agenda 2030. That’s the big conspiracy—well, actually it is not really a conspiracy—it is openly stated.

The conspiracies are all those everyday meetings, plannings and activities which don’t make it into the light of day, because none thinks their objectives would be better met if knowledge about them were more public. And now that the mainstream and tech media and intelligence agencies have conspired to suppress investigative reporting that reports the “wrong”—i.e., unapproved—”facts,” they can sleep comfortably in the knowledge that even if someone finds out and tells the world, they won’t be heard, though they often involve “lies” and making nothing of much—like people’s life-time savings, efficient energy systems and a reliable food supply—and much of nothing really important—take your pick from all the great “nothings” that are supposed to keep the planet and us safe from extinction—the capacities of solar and wind power to provide all the energy we will ever need, wearing masks and taking vaccines so we will be “safe,” and the pedagogical and institutional commitment to great big abstractions which dictate policy, emancipation, equity and the like. Conspiracies, conspiracies?

Sorry, of course, there were no people conspiring to do such dastardly things as deceive the Russian Federation into believing that NATO would not expand into its environs, or plot and achieve a coup in Ukraine, or start persecuting and killing Ukrainians who identified themselves as ethnically connected with Russia, or tell lies about how Russia had interfered in the US election of 2016 to such an extent that it had created the vilest succubus to ever hold presidential office, an orange haired Hitler no less, who even said he wanted to be able to cooperate with Russia, or to ensure that people would think that the information revealed on Hunter Biden’s laptop was all planted by Russians, or to ensure that people who argued the case for NATO’s role in causing the war be subjected to algorithms making their work appear conspiracy theory/Putin stooge crazy.

Likewise there was no conspiracy to ensure that President Trump would be barred from social media; nor to ensure that others who wanted to use social media to argue against mandatory vaccines be de-platformed or cast out of their profession; nor to denounce, or de-platform, sack, or incarcerate people who think Black Lives Matter is socially divisive and destructive agit prop rather than the truth; or who beg to differ on the claim that every girl or woman who thinks she is a boy or man is really a he, or who might think that the formerly he—now—she should not be in a woman’s toilet, sports-team, prison, or woman’s beauty pageant; or who think that it is not hateful to distinguish between gender and fantasy; or who think free speech means tolerating speech that goes against the new dictates on which words or their use are hateful and are a call to outright violence. For while people may well, spontaneously come up with very bad and mad ideas, to dictate which ideas be stamped as “true,” even ones as crazy as that sexual organs don’t really mean anything when it comes to sexual identity (now confirmed by no less an authority than the Cambridge Dictionary)—when it comes to enforcing and policing narratives, or implementing action within certain institutions, social spaces or media, requires panels meeting to decide which narratives, words, ideas are to be tolerated and which are to be identified as in need of being censored.

No matter how much our ruling classes bandy the term “conspiracy theory” about to shut people up by shaming them for being idiots in believing what their eyes and ears might reveal rather than the corporate media, there have been conspiracies aplenty alright, and they have all involved threats and coercion, misinformation and disinformation. And they have all been done in the name of freedom and democracy. As I write this, the mainstream media hatred being directed toward Elon Musk for releasing the so called “Twitter Files” is only matched by its utter inability to care about the magnitude of the particular conspiring that was going on at Twitter between political stakeholders, state intelligence officials and its management—which also just happened to include some very high-up former state officials—about who and what to censor or shadow ban.

Is this the world—a world in which our political class, our media and the majority of our intelligentsia simply demand they be believed and obeyed, in spite of speaking out of ignorance and/or outright lies—that those warred against Nazis (or spoke out against communists) fought for?

One person who thinks not is Youtuber and journalist Mark Jones, a former British citizen also living in Russia, who reports under the name iEarl Grey. In a podcast with John Dougan, Jones made the salient point that he is continuing the same fight as his grandfather, who fought against the Nazis. I cannot help but agree with him. And with echoes of Daria Dugin, he adds, “I don’t need to be an ideological citizen to see the ideological battle that is being fought. We have the degraded Western democracies of the West, the collective West, with their pronouns, with their trans rights. I call it Godlessness. This to me is the same war my grandfather fought. And simply I cannot side with Nazis. To support them would be to betray my grandfather’s memory and the honour of all those who fought in the Great Patriotic War. So, to me this isn’t about what country you are from; it is about whether you choose the side of light with Christian orthodoxy on the one side, or whether we choose darkness and the satanism of the West.”

I have formerly said that I do not see Russia or China as “saving” the West, for I think the West as such has been devoured by its own darkness. I am less interested in concurring that Russia as such represents the light, than emphasizing that the West is being devoured by its own darkness, by its own satanic conjurings—and this is also what the Russian and Chinese political leadership sees.

3. Why Talk of Satanism—or, Why Even Non-Religious People Can Learn from Religious Language

For those who recoil from such starkly religious language as expressed by Mark Jones and Daria Dugin, or, God forbid, Alex Jones or the writers in the Epoch Times or E. Michael Jones and many others who have devoted their lives to struggling against the West’s self-mutilation and conscious Luciferian decision and descent, I would ask your forbearance and willingness to consider that the deployment of such language is not simply or even exclusively based upon a faith and in a doctrine and teaching which one may or may not have, but a realization that the language bereft of the figurative imaginative power is less able to assist us in grasping reality.

The philosopher G.W. F. Hegel wisely saw the relationship between grasping and concepts—in the German, they share the same stem—and he also, again wisely, saw that conceptualizing follows our figuring through images, rites and the representations of religious belief. But where some like Herder, Hamann, (and my good and humble self) beg to differ with Hegel’s conviction that the concepts of reason provide a more accurate and adequate expression of the real than our faculty of imag(in)ing. Hamann had made the powerful observation that faith trumps knowledge—though Hegel had built his entire philosophy in arguing the opposite against various proponents who had believed they had identified reason’s limits.

But unlike the various targets of Hegel’s criticism (Kant, J.G. Fichte, F.W.J. Schelling, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Friedrich Jacobi), Hamann was not arguing that faith leads him to knowing more important things than what knowledge yields—but rather that faith is the condition of us being able to go in search of our knowledge and mount our reasons. That is why, Hegel’s philosophy requires the very thing that is its own ruin—a total system—while Hamann’s thought is content to pick holes in the metaphysical towers of Babel he saw the philosophers around him constructing, whilst combing satire, irony and a concession of ignorance with a philological and hermeneutical attunement to history and his own environment.

No serious faith is predicated on theology, or philosophical argument—those things come later. A faith informs and forms a life; the life of oneself and the life of those who bond with and around their faith. To understand what faiths do, requires looking at where faith has been a source of action and how it has cultivated the natural habits and sentiments. There is nothing special about faith itself—it is as J. G. Hamann insisted, an essential part of what we are—if you will, it is an ontological condition. The issue is: which faith? (Which is, but a variant on what/who to love?)

All religions—and all the language that finds religious modulation and expression, which is to say all language which not only speaks to but which is bound up with personal and social creation as it is borne by devotion, rite, ritual, incantation, supplication, and the moods of exhilaration, despair, despondency and love—deal with the arc from life to death. This is the case not only for individuals but for collectives who share that language and sense of what is to be revered and shunned, and hence of how that collective and its members live, what it holds sacred.

The tragedy and sorrow of the West today, which is of such a magnitude that anything resembling salvation cannot simply come from politics, but only from a complete redirection of faith, which is the real source of culture and the meaning of our collective and personal lives, comes from the faith that it has adopted. That faith along with the crisis of the West has been diagnosed by countless thinkers, each of whom have identified different aspects of it. To mention just a very small portion—Eric Voegelin, for example, addressed the gnostic roots; Leo Strauss, the scientistic displacement of classical wisdom; Heidegger its preoccupation with beings and technics at the expense of openness to Being; Chesterton and Belloc, the loss that accompanied the defeats of the Church; or Jacques Ellul, our worship of power and its mechanics.

While I have framed the crisis of our time in terms of a geo-political spatial entity, “the West,” the fact is that Western civilization was ever poised between turmoil, destruction, death, and a creative spirit that expanded and conjoined those in search of greater—a universal kind of—solidarity. Crisis is ever with us; or to use religious language, our souls are ever on the verge of being lost, and the devil and sin never far away.

The issue of our time is not so much the ever-permanent presence of the forces of destruction, war, pestilence, and our own tortured and torturing hearts, but the added layer of delusion and deceit that are not just discernible in our practices but in how we speak and (don’t) see what we are or what we do. In such a world of self-delusion and self-imposed blindness my heart breaks for the generation of lost souls of the young so caught up in their wrath and fanaticism that they seriously think that once the weather is under their control and they can have the sex organs of their choice, and that they can enjoy themselves unconditionally—be fully emancipated—all will be well. They are so f’d up and they have been made that way—and they think they can fix up the world, when they would, if I may defer to Jordan Peterson, be better off just learning how to tidy up their bedrooms, and then going and reading a serious book or two, or doing the gardening or something else useful, because thanks to the failure of the last generation so many are not capable of doing anything other than throwing tantrums and pulling down statues, burning books, and buildings and denouncing people for lacking their approved “virtues.” To say that we are in the grip of Satanism is only far-fetched if one has no idea that Satanism is the worship of death and the killing of our God-given or (for the naturalists, natural) potentialities.

Dostoevsky and Baudelaire both understood that the devil is a smooth-talking, urban sophisticate oozing charm and wit. Baudelaire and Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov were themselves too intelligent to believe in God, but that did not stop them being visited by the devil; the demonic—as with the hellfire of war—is like that; he just comes in, irrespective of what we think or believe. And that is the condition we find ourselves in. We live in a world where evil masks itself under the very abstractions that serve to conceal intentions beneath the grander sounding norms we venerate. That is, our kind of intelligence is purchased by sacrificing the most elemental apertures of the species’ intellection—the eye and the ear—and the symbolic imagination, as it combines our most important communal associations of life and death. We also live in a time when we are oblivious to how what we worship and say is an invitation to our own collective and personal demise. We summon the demon who speaks to us in soothing tones, because we think we are so very clever. That faith in our cleverness is closely bound up with the displacement of our daily acts of transcendence in favour of descent into our own appetites and innards of destruction, assisted at every step by the words and formulae that we draw upon to drive us ever further down there.

4. Satanism as a Romance with the Self (and the Warring Members that Make it)

The difference between Paul’s description of the flesh as made up of warring members and Freud’s depiction of the Id is negligible in so far as they both identify our appetites as tumultuous and destructive. But where Paul sees our salvation in becoming members of Christ’s Church, being born anew in Christ, Freud holds out the prospect of a rational cultivation of our most potentially destructive appetites which will make us more fulfilled and complete.

As convinced as Freud was of his intelligence, diagnosis, and psychiatric cure for our discontents, many would say that he sought the impossible—for there is no rational cultivation of our appetites as such, merely rationalizations about why we might succumb to our appetites. That even Freud knew they had to be curbed was the basis of his Eros and Civilization, and that they could be connected to the death drive (the demonic) of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The great political and social question facing every group is where must they be curbed? And the respective answers to that inevitably draw us into what does the group hold as sacred—which might also be put thus: What do we accept as having unconditional authority over us? Knowing the answer to that question—which can also be formulated as which God(s) do we serve—is essential for identifying why a particular “life-world” (to use the term of Edmund Husserl) is the way it is. The respective answers we can find in the West of a mere few generations back compared to today provide the key to what we have become. But allow me an anecdote that I think provides an important cipher about what the educated professional classes of the West hold sacred.

Last night, I went to a concert given in a Uniting Church. The concert was beautiful—two harpists with glorious voices. On the wall behind the performers was a huge cross, though Jesus was not on the cross—and no image of Him was to be seen in the church. Beneath the cross lay a huge gay pride flag. A smaller version of the flag was to be found on the window as one entered the church. The symbolism was all too evident, though I have zero doubt that those involved in making the decision thought that they were good people making a statement about their commitment to diversity and inclusivity. They may well find aspects of the Christian tradition to their liking, though I am also sure that they find much that is merely the “prejudice” of a more “ignorant” time, and they most likely believe that their faith in diversity and inclusivity is divinely intended. I also suspect that Christ’s absence not only from the cross but this church had to do with the belief that God is beyond gender—and, at least prior to transgenderism requiring a complete overhaul of pronouns, quite possibly a she—though it is hard to spin Jesus Christ in his earthly incarnation as not being a man. Perhaps, for them, the absence of Christ suggests Christ redeemed. In any case, he would be among the supporters of LGBTQ+ because they, in case one had not noticed, are still persecuted; and to deny the right to hang the pride flag in the church or on government buildings would only confirm how much hatred still exists toward members of this community.

That they might not be able to fly this flag in the mosque does not stop the same people denouncing those who would deny that it should be flown in a sacred space as homophobic, being able to swiftly change gear and denouncing as Islamophobic someone who also might point out that Muslim countries are far less tolerant of LGBTQ+ things, and that if they tried it on there, they probably would be getting, at the very least, a very long jail sentence. Comparative cultural understanding—as opposed to blathering meaningless formulae, such as the importance of respecting all cultures—does not figure very highly among the inclusivity and diversity ethic. But this is why the Vice Chancellor at my university can urge all students staff to celebrate Ramadan one day, whilst encouraging all to participate in LGBTQ+ week celebrations the next. He was particularly proud of the drag queen participation to kick off this year’s annual Christmas party.

I also have no doubt that had I spoken up and said I thought the use of a church to fly a pride flag was not only dumb, and a tasteless, political and bullying gesture directed at traditionalists, but an act of sacrilege, I would most likely have been hissed at, and most assuredly asked to leave. The people who made this decision to hang the flag beneath the cross think that it is not only acceptable but a sign of their goodness and their faith that the wall of their church be adorned with a huge flag to a group bonded by its sexual choices.

That the flag itself is one which is equated in its symbolism with the word “pride” is itself indicative of the great importance, indeed as its placement illustrated, the sanctity that is now placed upon our sexual appetites. The way in which sexuality features in contemporary Western culture and daily life is an interesting symptom of the difference between us and previous generations.

Sexuality in itself within the Christian tradition belongs to “mere nature”—although nature is construed as being divinely created—rather than belonging to the sacred as such; and it was only in the holy bonds of matrimony that it took on the form of a sacrament. That is, apart from the fact that Christians (and Jews and Muslins for that matter) have traditionally condemned same-sex practice, there is a more important point that I think is the source of serious social disintegration and civil strife. For my point is not about whether same-sex practice is moral or not, but where sexual appetite itself now figures in the order and scale of values, and in the ordering and configuring of our institutions; also, whether sex is something that is done or something to be sacralized. This is where I believe the real social division around sexuality—in all manner of variations—sits today: there is not a dispute within public institutions about whether people, of a certain age, may express their sexual preference, but whether a particular type of sexual preference should be a source of a certain kind of sacredness. That kind of sacredness is itself predicated upon a particular view of the self, which is itself symptomatic of an orientation to life that defies its “laws”/orders—for it is the defiance of life’s laws, made under the presumption that the self is the creator of its own laws.

The most important poem in the English language, Paradise Lost, took this act of revolutionary defiance as its central theme—the fall as the result of pride; the result of the created aspiring to take control of creation; the angel taking the place of God. Blake, Shelley, and Byron would all see Milton’s Satan as a heroic figure, though while it is indisputable that Satan gets all the best lines in Paradise Lost, Milton’s depiction of Satan is not in the slightest bit flattering. Milton’s Satan is a creature of restless being, and endless suffering. His sole solace is the words he tells himself. They themselves are but the delusions of a self that flies to become what he cannot be; in search of escape from the prison of a self—a prison that is completely of his own making. It is a great fall, to go from being one of God’s favourites to a lowly slithering creature seeking to tempt others into sharing the same ambitious delusions that have made a hell of his own self. There is, in sum, nothing heroic in Satan’s actions—his words are all heat and light, putrid sulfur; and his deeds are nothing more than restlessness, accompanied by words.

For his part, God does not need great lines—His word is creation itself. The modern mind may wish to elevate to a heroic station a being who is a king over nothing but his own torment, and may recoil from Milton’s expression of faith, but the poem is an expression of faith. And while it is also an attack upon the abuse of prerogative political power, and rightly so given how the doctrine of the divine right of kings had so easily become a formula in defiance of Christian duty, rather than a means for delivering it—it is much more a prophetic poem of what happens when man seeks an infinite universe and ignores the finitude and fragility of his own being.

Milton may have been hailed by the romantics, but he was no romantic. Nevertheless, if one wishes to understand the modern soul, one cannot underestimate the importance of the romantic consciousness—and that consciousness would be responsible for valorizing various priorities in what we now value and how we now act, by calling for others to join in the creative ambitions they held.

It was also the romantic consciousness that valorized the demonic on the basis of Satan being the arch rebel, not only against God, but against the order of creation itself. In 1797 the literary critic Friedrich Schlegel noted the “tendency of modern poetry to Satanism.” When Schlegel made this note, Blake had already written the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, whilst Goethe would follow shortly after with the publication of Faust, a work which provides a definitive formulation of the demonic—the spirit of negation—and then Baudelaire and his lyric masterpiece, The Flowers of Evil, with its section devoted to Satan’s Revolt. That is to say, the leading poets of Great Britain (Blake, Shelley and Byron), Germany, and France all made the devil intrinsic to modern “redemption.”

Just as words are the currency in which past and future are inflected via the priorities of the present, poets excel in their ability both to gauge the value and efficacy of that tender, at the moment of its circulation, and to combine those words in ways which elevate our sensitivity to what really is and what thus must also be. Shelley may have been overstating it somewhat, and mistaking the modern poet with the Homeric bards, when he said that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, but only somewhat. For the master craftsmen of the word introduce new coin that when potent enough becomes part of our everyday life and way of living: for good and ill, our priorities owe much not only to the sexual revolution of the 1960s but the modern bards with guitars who have been our pied pipers into this world we now inhabit. They are late pieces of ballast from the Romantic revolution; and I confess I love much of their creation, but I cannot deny that so many of the most creative musical minds and performers of the last fifty years have sided with and enthused those who are making merry hell, and their muddled musings whether coke-baked or merely the produce of narcissistic self-delusion have invariably supported the present ruling class that is creating a world of slavery in the name of freedom. Van Morrison, God bless him, and Eric Clapton have made themselves hated today by speaking out against the hellish conformity that our ruling political class is building. But poets and musicians have contributed to the fueling of the Heroic/Satanic defiance which has made the Self the be-all and end-all of existence.

That defiance was also the defining gesture of an age which had emerged from the first anti-Christian revolution and was limping toward the first openly atheistic revolution—ironically enough given the range of this essay, it is noteworthy that it is that country, having consciously thrown off its atheistic and communist past, that is now considered the source of all today’s evil by Western powers whose attack upon the truths revealed through traditional Christianity is a centre-piece in the strategy of their “world-making.”

Revolution was both a product of an enlightened age wishing to overturn crown and altar and all traditions which were not created by reason’s light, and the romantic age that sought to unleash the vitality of darker powers and passions in order to bring into existence a world that was as sublime as the artistic creations of the geniuses of the spirit. On the surface romanticism was a reaction to the excess of faith in light of an earlier generation; but it was also primarily a family squabble within the modern soul, a fraternal reaction, in which genius was “the middle term,” the genius who could fathom and express all. In the one, the scientists were the geniuses who could plot the mechanics of the world that could be incorporated into medicine and the various physical structures of the world and ourselves to build a better one for our needs. In the other, the world was to be an artistic occasion for those with the vision and insight and knowledge to also build anew. Though, unlike the philosophes many of them seemed far less ready to ditch tradition, for they appreciated it was a repository of experience and knowledge, and they would find sustenance in myth because it expressed knowledge of intimations and things closer to the nether aspects of our being. But in the main, and with occasional notable exceptions of genuine religious conversion, tradition was not itself something that should fetter the genius of the poetic creator; and its more typical legacy was to have fellow artists view traditions as syncretistic aesthetic opportunities. Romantics and the enlightened philosophes were both engaged in building the world out of the vicissitudes of the self as a god in its own right.

Carl Schmitt had astutely observed this in his book Political Romanticism when he wrote of the centrality of J.G. Fichte’s egoic philosophy in romanticism. For Fichte, the world is but the fact-act of the postulating and ever acting I; and the world but the occasion for that act. Having noted how the romantics were “fond of perceiving themselves as members of a higher organism,” Schmitt continues: “Just as in the schism between reality and possibility and between finitude and infinity, the community and history had availed themselves of functions that, in Christian metaphysics, belonged to God, here too they became the true cause for which everything else is only an occasion. Closer examination shows, however, that it is neither of these two demiurges—humanity and history—but rather the romantic subject itself that takes everything as an occasion. Here the opposition of romantic productivity to the activity that Fichte’s ‘ego’ postulates is the appropriate point of departure for the exposition of the romantic character. That is because this Fichtean ‘ego’ became the romantic subject.”

Revolution was another common thread between enlightenment and romanticism. The dialectical character of that relationship, as well as its revolutionary commitment, is visible in the kinds of contradiction that are typical of the modern radical imagination and which are starkly evident in the contemporary mythologizing and “romanticising” of indigenous life, of natural wilderness and of the energy provided by the sun and wind, on the one hand, and faith in science and social and emancipation progress—”I believe in the science”—on the other. It is the contradiction that breeds Extinction Rebellion and a society in which surgical tampering (and hence highly developed science) with genitals and vaccines is seen as essential commitment to emancipation; a society in which an entire population can be forced to wear masks because nature is a threat to our very existence, and one in which all things natural are to be esteemed so that the mere Anthropocene can be seen as a kind of cancer upon infinitely wonderous and sacred nature, a society in which the drive for total emancipation exists side-by-side with the drive to ensure none not comply with technocratic dictates. In sum, it is a society that in wanting to have everything is prepared to leave so many with nothing – perhaps mere organ assemblages to be harvested for the new transhumanist gods, or brain implants that will be able to be programmed to do the bidding of those doing the transplanting.

The revolutionary mindset that united the men and women of clarity and distinctness, of light and mind, and the students of the mechanical parts and laws of existence, with those devoted to discerning and expressing the darker and more chiaroscuro truths disclosed by myth and stemming from heart and passions, as Camus pointed out in his brilliant and important mid-20th century work L’Homme révolté, was above all a metaphysical revolt, a revolt predicated upon the deities of our own mental imaginings responding to the inevitable trials and habitual unfairness that comes with life; not rebellions we undertake against specific injustices.

Camus had rightly also identified the primary importance of the Marquis de Sade within this call for metaphysical rebellion—for de Sade wanted nothing less than the entire annihilation of the world, if that were necessary to satiate his infinite libidinous energy. It was, albeit unintentionally, a position that mirrored the philosopher Kant’s insistence that justice must be done even if the entire world were to perish. Neither was interested in modulating his passions (Sade) or ideas (Kant) to the requisite adaptations of life’s craggy contingencies. The dialectic of the modern satanic and moral purist (as expressed by Kant philosophically, and the Jacobins politically) eventually yielded a mindset in which absolute emancipation and absolute justice were perfectly congruent, and the body and it sexual organs were to provide the point of “indifference.”

Total freedom construed appetitively (Sadean and not-Kantian), and complete virtue unsullied by appetites (Kantian and not-Sadean) has become the West’s sacred temple—which is to say the temple is the self, the self, though as it conforms to what it is supposed to be—virtuous and fully committed to total emancipation, which is also to say a self that is compliant with what the satanic heroic rebels define it to be.

The monument to that dialectical resolution was the totalitarian revolutions of the 20th century, the children of which are the people who seek to completely rebuild the world so that it conforms to their ideas about emancipation. Their intellectual “leaders” invariably recognize the Marxian and post-Marxian “mother” (total critique in search of complete emancipation), but largely ignore (mainly through ignorance or willful decision not to confront inconvenient truths) the absent/unseen fascistic “father” (corporatism and “communities” bound by leadership). To be sure, both built obedience around the cult of the leader; and today’s globalised corporatist powers have retained the primacy of compliance with the decrees of leaders, whilst, quite cleverly leaving the primary leaders to remain rather faceless (though the narcissistic temptation to be loved and seen does afflict many of the more prominent ones).

Thus, just as the modern elite, as I have suggested many times in this magazine, reconciles communism and aristocratism of Marx and Nietzsche by having radicalised foot-soldiers tear down traditional authority in the name of equality, the power of the most wealthy is enhanced by their purporting to represent the interests of their clients, which is to rebel against the existing order of oppression. That representation relies upon those very foot-soldiers, who also seek out vassals (their own clients) amongst those in the lower classes.

Communism did breed a new class of rulers, as earlier dissidents said time and time again; but global corporatist governance has been far more successful in retaining its power over its under-classes and maintaining relationships of dependency, thanks to ensuring, with the help from their foot-soldiers, that they are sexually satiated, even if pornography is the primary means of slaking sexual desire amongst the less well-resourced males, drugged up, and self-satisfied in their “knowledge” about the world; which, given that they are educated into a level of sophisticated stupidity, is nothing but phrases and formulae circulated by teachers, professors and journalists, who pretty much think the exact same thing on any important topic.

If as I have suggested the modern revolutionary disposition is predicated on the hybrid of enlightened and romantic ideas and priorities about us and the world, not only as they are but what they can be, it is also, as Milton foretold, pride that is the fulcrum for the creation of this new world; and that pride is nowhere more obvious when we note how lacking in experience, how young the greatest exponents of revolution are, when they choose to devote their lives to it. Saint-Just was not even thirty when he went to the guillotine, Robespierre not forty, Marx in his mid-twenties when he wrote, feverishly from Paris, that he had discovered the solution to “the riddle of history,” Lenin’s brother Alexander was twenty-one when he was executed for his role in attempting to assassinate the Tsar, which no doubt played a decisive role in Lenin himself, drawn into revolutionary circles before he was twenty.

The notion that youth know so much that they should be politically committed is so commonplace in the West (New Zealand is currently having a judicial inquiry into whether sixteen-year-olds should have the vote) that to suggest that there is a connection between political commitment and pride would be seen by many people to be mere prejudice. We are meant to believe that even a child is not only able to diagnose the causes of the world’s ills, as if the world’s ills are settled and knowable to all, but also knows how to fix them. Of course, “fixing the world” requires believing in the science and the technocrats and corporate and political global (Western) leaders, who fund the science and whose profits are predicated upon the same leaders selling their solutions to the population at large. All of this is pride writ gigantic: from the billionaires and technocrats who believe they alone (hence those who criticize them must be silenced) can save us from oppression, poverty, climate, overpopulation, disease, and possibly even death itself so they and some of us—ermm, I mean them—may live forever, to the politicians, teachers, journalists, celebrities who tell us what to do, and what to think, so the planet and the species can be saved, to the poor idiots who think that they should be proud of their sexual being, and the even poorer idiots who think that all of this should be the priority of the Christian churches.

If I may briefly return to the great big pride flag in that church for the moment. Pride in one’s achievement is something not to be taken too far; for one’s own grasp on reality, being up today may be swiftly followed by being very down tomorrow: fortune is a great wheel. But the brief flicker of pride in a moment of great achievement, the success following devotion to a pursuit involving vast efforts, much time, and many obstacles may well be warranted and briefly pleasing—but pride in one’s mere being, and in a being defined by sexual appetite is something of very recent pedigree, and not something that owes anything at all to achievement. Being proud of one’s sexual appetites is so silly it belongs in comedy, as evident in some of the best jokes by the late great Norm MacDonald. Heterosexuals don’t have a flag, but if they did, that would be as diabolical as it was foolish—and it is not inconceivable that the great new world order might one day require that people bond around some symbol expressing their sexual preference.

Folly is ever the footman of the (d)evil—folly opens the doors and windows of the soul for (the d)evil’s entrance. We have in the West succumbed so much to folly, we think it is a gesture of solidarity and love (and see as hateful those like me who think this is nuts) to embrace this destruction of meaning and this elevation of sexual pleasure that it is perfectly reasonable to hang a pride flag under a cross in a church.

Were one simply to draw on the church wall people engaging in anal sex or cunnilingus or fellatio it would be far harder to keep up the pretense that we were talking about something dignified—but it would at least be honest, an honest way of saying that we want sex—”and when do we want it—now.” But that is only partly true of course; for while that is what the symbolism of the flag really expresses, the fact that this desire is dressed up and decorated and valorized in a way that is as far from actual sex as possible—flags are usually associated with ceremonies requiring strict decorum, while churches are (at least for non-Satanists) not usually the place for sexual activities.

What is essentially a statement about sexual desire and choice, a statement of the sort that satanists would, in more ritualistic attuned times, make by having orgies in a church, is publicly presented as if it were about love. But the Church and traditions more generally have never persecuted people for merely loving each other; the strictures of tradition kick in when it comes to how the love is demonstrated. Early Christian fathers were not romantic—sex was sex and love was love; and given how common it is for people to have sex who do not love each other, and how common it is for people who love each other deeply and not to have sex, it is symptomatic of the triumph of the myth of romantic love (so brilliantly dissected in Flaubert’s Madam Bovary) that we who live in an age that is so hypersexualized want to delude ourselves into thinking sexual attraction is the equivalent to love and that that should be the basis of the family.

Most of the human race until relatively recently would have thought this ridiculous—note this is a very different point from saying that sexual attraction may also involve love, and may even lead to love, but in and of itself it is not love. This is why I would be just as incensed over the stupidity of a flag dedicated to any kind of sexual pleasure or relationship in a church as I am to the pride one. I am incensed not because I find same sex immoral, but because I find the idea of hanging up a flag about sexual preference (and transforming preference into an identity) in a church to be a symptom of the mental derangement and blindness of the modern soul—a derangement based upon a failure to understand what is really sacred and what is simply something people choose to do. Dressing this all up as if it has some kind of historical continuity with the early Church martyrs, who adopted lives of renunciation, is simply an indication that people have lost their minds—and losing one’s intellect, as Dante reminded his readers in The Comedy, is also the price one pays for favouring sin. One chooses damnation, by choosing the particular objective of the moment, in place of fathoming the discernable flow of consequences that follow from damnable choices.

No, the real issue is sex and NOT sex—it is a desperate hunger for the sacred. The fact that the church I visited has thrown out all vestiges of sacred imagery except the centre-piece of the Christian faith, the cross (albeit a Christless cross) does not mean that those who attend it wish to live without the sacred. We as a species are creatures who desperately require transcendence. In a time where we compartmentalize life so that religion is simply a compartment we can enter into or leave alone, it is commonplace to ignore the fact that while religions cultivate us in different ways according to what they deem sacred and what aspects of our selves and lives they prioritize, they do so because of an original disposition which persists even in a purely secular environment. That disposition is natural, which is why the failure to reflect upon our nature is a very stupid and dangerous thing; and the insistence upon our lives being mere social constructs is an extremely unfortunate formulation that shows indifference to the limits of the act of “construction.” Construction, of course, is an engineering term and no one thinks they can construct a bridge or building without the right materials and knowledge—but in social thinking, the term serves to displace the importance of the materiality of ourselves, and to valorize the use of words—which stands in the closest relationship to the way in which false transcendence is bound up with false words.

And that is what this war in Ukraine has exposed—a war that is very much the result of false words entered into by an “Empire of Lies,” which has made of the self and its appetites the true object of worship. To be sure the larger abstractions of freedom/emancipation and equity enable that act of worship, lest the inanity of it be too obvious. But therein is the great diabolical trick—self-worship based upon verbal rites/formulae that are but vapid incantations deployed to hurt and persecute—all done in the name of love.

We are all dependents, at every second; and though the stupid elite enablers like to babble on about their autonomy, our dependent nature is not lost on those who have strategically positioned themselves to decide what the future with our limited resources must be like—which is just another way of deciding who must do what, to ensure their survival and wealth enhancement—which is also to say, who will live, and who will die.

The thing about the devil’s party, as I have said in the book I coauthored with my friend Guan BeiBei on Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, is that it can never endure, because it is a party of Selves devoted only to themselves and their own appetites. But that too is why the values are so empty—and being so empty must be proclaimed at such volume and with such force and why the cultural war keeps finding new sacrifices to be made: today I read of a lesbian actress being threatened with a three-year jail term in Norway for an act of hate speech, i.e., publicly stating that sex organs define male and femaleness. The Satanic powers feast of our conceits and what we are prepared to give and to say to justify the appetites that fuel them.

Little daily acts of transcendence require that we lose our self in something higher, in an art, a craft, a love, a relationship, a commitment, a way, the depth of our faith and the Lord or God we serve; and that in losing ourself, more becomes of our selves—that is also because it is not a known identity but a mystery to be revealed. When words assist us in that transcendence, they too reveal their potency, through the very reality that they reveal. The Satanic is the promise of the overcoming of mystery, of the obliteration of revelation. Its means for achieving this are delusions, fueled by lies and animated by pride, which is followed by death—death of the soul, and of peoples.

I said above, I do not know if I can unequivocally affirm that Russia represents forces of light in the present war, but I cannot unsee the darkness in the forces that the West has sided with. Turning that around, if indeed it were possible, can only begin with us not being willing to accept lies as truths, and refusing to enter into the satanic church of the modern self’s identities and appetites.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen booksHe also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.

Featured: “Sole Morte,” by Odd Nerdrum; painted in 1987.

“God is Dead”

Aphorism 125 of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science is the epiphanic place of nihilism, connected with de-divinization, with the Gottes Tod, with the “death of God.” Unlike the scientific and anti-metaphysical discourse that developed in the space of the modern, Nietzsche did not affirm the non-existence of God, arguing it perhaps more geometrically. On the contrary, he alluded to the death of God and, therefore, to his decline; or, more correctly, to the evaporation of an order of values and ontology that found its ultimate foundation in the figure of God. In the words of The Gay Science:

“Who has given us the sponge to erase the horizon completely? What have we done to unhook this earth from the chain of its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Is not ours an eternal fall? And backward, sideways, forward, to all sides? Is there still an above and a below? Are we not wandering as if through an infinite nothingness? Do we not feel the breath of emptiness upon us? Is it not colder? Does not night keep coming, ever more night?”

The Nietzschean phenomenology of the death of God alludes to the cancellation of the entire horizon of meaning around which Western civilization was oriented, now at the mercy of an “eternal fall” and an “infinite nothingness” that leads it to ruin without references, without values and in an “empty space”: “Is there still an above and a below?” Or, more generally, a solid point of reference for orientation in the Babel spaces of the de-divinized world devoid of foundations? For the sake of philological rigor, it is worth remembering that the death of God, before Nietzsche, figures in the work of Hegel—in Faith and Knowledge (1802), Hegel writes, in fact, that the sentiment on which the religion of the moderns rests is crystallized in the formula: “God himself is dead” (Gott selbst ist tot). In the opinion of the Heidegger of Holzwege, it is also the first recorded appearance of this formula in the history of Western thought.

Following in Nietzsche’s footsteps, the decisive question is not whether God exists or not, but whether he is alive or dead; that is, whether or not a world of meaning and project, of meanings and symbols, is organized around the idea of God. The nihilism of the death of God does not coincide, therefore, with the subjective gesture of one who, like the fool in Psalm 52, denies the existence of God (dixit insipiens in corde suo “non est Deus”). Instead, he alludes to the historical process of devaluation of all values, to the decline of the horizon of meaning around which Western civilization was organized: a process at the end of which nothing remains of God and being. With Heidegger’s grammar, “the nihil of nihilism means that there is nothing of being,” and that, we may add in the Nietzschean way, there is nothing of God either. Thus writes Nietzsche in the posthumously published fragments:

“What I describe is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming…: the rise of nihilism…. What does nihilism mean? It means that the supreme values are devalued. They lack purpose. The answer to “why?” is missing…. So, we cannot postulate any “beyond” or any “in-itself” of things. Value is missing, meaning is missing…. Result [of this devaluation]: moral judgments of value are… negations: morality is to turn one’s back on the will to exist.”

Die Heraufkunft des Nihilismus, “the rise of nihilism” is what Nietzsche describes in statu nascendi his own epoch, prophesying the dominant character it will acquire in the history to come (“the history of the next two centuries”). In addition to outlining its development, Nietzsche highlights some defining features of the phenomenon of nihilism. First, he emphasizes its processual character—nihilism is not a “fact,” but a process that has begun and is in the process of development, the logic of which consists in the fact that die obersten Werte sich entwerten, “the supreme values are devalued.” By virtue of this Umwertung, “the end” (das Ziel), the answer to “why” (wozu), value, meaning, the beyond and the in-itself of things, morality are missing. Everything rushes into the abyss of meaninglessness, as nothingness devours every thing and every project, every meaning and every value. And, in this way, Western man finds himself condemned to live in the nihil of a civilization in which God is dead and there is no longer any answer to the fundamental questions, which are no longer even asked.

As in the film, The Neverending Story (1984), based on the book of the same name, nothingness has devoured all reality and all ideals. This is the horizon of meaning; or rather, of the meaninglessness of the postmodern era, perpetually suspended between “passive nihilism” and “active nihilism,” theorized by Nietzsche, who understood the latter as an overcoming of the former. In the postmodern era, as has been stressed, active nihilism and passive nihilism coexist as a depressive disenchantment of those who no longer believe in anything and a consumerist superhumanism of those who make their own being and their own power coincide with purchasing power in the market. With the death of God, the sun goes out, understood in its double sense: a) as the center of gravity around which life revolves, now at the mercy of disorientation and estrangement (Entfremdung); and b) as a source of energy capable of illuminating and heating the life of mortals. The sun, which Plato assumed in The Republic as the image of the “good in itself” (αὐτὸ ἀγαθόν) and as “beyond essence surpassing it in dignity and power” (ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας πρεσβείᾳ καὶάι0), is extinguished. And there remains only the icy darkness of the de-divinized reality, mere background available without limits for the processes of usability and transformation of the techno-nihilistic will to power.

The desolate scenario of the dark desert of the “night of the world” (Weltnacht) arises—darkness falls upon the world and humans do not perceive the absence of God as a lack, even mocking those who, like the Nietzschean madman, distant heir of Plato’s liberated caveman, dare to pose the problem of the Gottes Tod. In fact, the madman, when he announces in the market the death of God, provokes “great laughter”:

“Where has God gone?” He exclaimed. “I’ll tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how did we do it? How could we empty the sea, drinking it to the last drop?”

The murder of God coincides with the process of devaluation of values and consumption of being: a process by which, in the end, there is nothing left of values and being, since everything—at the material and immaterial level—becomes a fund made available by the technocapitalist will to power, which trades and exchanges, produces, markets and consumes everything.

In the time of Vollendung, of the “fulfillment” of metaphysics in planetary technic, what survives is only a grandiose apparatus which, arranging everything in view of its own unlimited power, Heidegger himself interprets as the Weltbild, the fundamental “world image,” within which the figure of the modern Weltmarkt, of the “global market,” the culmination of technique and nihilism, can be constituted. Thus writes Heidegger in “What are poets good for in times of misery?”:

“The humanness of humans and the thingness of things is lost within the self-asserting manufacturing (des sich durchsetzenden Herstellens), in the calculated market value of a market (in den gerechneten Marktwert eines Marktes), which not only spans the earth as a world market, but which markets as the will to will in the essence of being (im Wesen des Seins marktet) and thus brings everything that exists into the action of a calculation, which rules most tenaciously where it does not need numbers.”

Being and values are consumed, and in their place survives the post-metaphysical disorientation, the “absence of homeland” (Heimatlosigkeit), evoked by Heidegger, and the fall into an endless abyss. The ontology of capital is nihilistic, insofar as it presupposes that being is not, and that there are only entities available for the processes of techno-scientific manipulation, oriented to excessive growth. Likewise, its morality is nihilistic and relativistic, since it is based on the universal negotiability of values, which all precipitate into nothingness and become relative to the only surviving value—the exchange value of a market that has as its objective nothing but the unlimited self-empowerment of the device of the Wille zur Macht, of the “will to power.”

The Nietzschean thesis of the death of God has had, moreover, an important repercussion in the theological field; and this according to a spectrum of positions, ranging from Karl Barth’s theology of crisis to Bultmann’s theology of demythologization, from Bonhoeffer’s theology of κένωσις (or “emptying”) to the so-called “theologians of the death of God.” The thesis generally shared by these authors, although quite different from each other, is that secularization is complete, man is mature and, therefore, no longer needs God. In Bonhoeffer’s words: “The world lives and suffices itself, in science, in social life and politics, in art, in morals, in religion. Man has learned to fend for himself, without recourse to the working hypothesis: God…. We have seen that it goes on—exactly as before—even without God.” There is no doubt. The time of the death of God coincides with that of absolutized nihilistic relativism; that is, with the “dictatorship of relativism,” as Joseph Ratzinger has defined it.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: “Lamentation of the Virgin,” by the Rohan Master, from the Hours of the Cross, folio 135, plate 57; painted in 1435.

How “Creation” Implies God

Background to the “Creation” Dispute

There is nothing very new about the thesis of this article—for many proofs that God is Creator of all finite things have already been attempted—often with great success. Moreover, we know as an article of Catholic faith that the existence of God can be known with certainty by the light of natural human reason (Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, 1806). Yet, what may be somewhat novel about this article is that I will attempt to prove God’s existence by means of a series of diverse considerations about the very meaning of the term, “creation.” Moreover, I will examine certain presumptions about creation which have been made by atheists, i.e., by those who deny the very conclusion which is presently being sought.

Any self-respecting atheist must deny that the world is created by God. And yet, this very fact, namely, that the atheist feels called upon to deny the reality of creation, is itself significant—so much so, that this universal reaction of atheism will itself serve as the point of departure for our investigation.

Astronomer Robert Jastrow has commented upon the strange situation now confronting his fellow astronomers (many of whom appear to be scientific materialists). Jastrow observes, “…I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy—partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers,1978, 11).

Jastrow proceeds to explain the enigma confronted by modem scientists:

”The essence of the strange developments is that the Universe had, in some sense, a beginning—that it began at a certain moment in time, and under circumstances that seem to make it impossible—not just now—but ever—to find out what force or forces brought the world into being at that moment…. the astronomical evidence proves that the Universe was created twenty billion years ago in a fiery explosion, and in the searing heat of that first moment, all the evidence needed for a scientific study of the cause of the great explosion was melted down and destroyed” (God and the Astronomers, 11-12).

More recent estimates of the time of the universe’s birth now place it some 13.7 billion years ago.

Scientists today pursue the vision of Grand Unified Theories which attempt to unify the fundamental forces of nature as different aspects of the same force. Senior physicist at the Argonne National Laboratory’s High Energy Physics Division, David S. Ayres, remarks that the “Grand Unified Theories offer detailed insight into the processes which occurred at the instant of creation ….” (Argonne News, 1984, 8-9).

For centuries, atheistic materialists had blandly assumed the eternity of the world while denigrating the peculiarly Judeo-Christian belief of creation in time as a vestige of religious mythology. Science seemed squarely in the atheist’s corner until the recent advent of the Big Bang theory—a theory whose scientific underpinnings have come to be regarded by most scientists today to be quite secure. The 1965 discovery of the apparently vestigial fireball radiation of the Big Bang by Amo Penzias and Robert Wilson of the Bell Laboratories has left the theory, at the present time, with “no competitors” according to Jastrow (God and the Astronomers, 14-16).

Small wonder, then, the “peculiar reactions” of many astronomers, as noted’ by Jastrow! What he refers to are the efforts made by many of his fellow scientists to ignore and refute the mounting evidence in favor of the Big Bang.

Jastrow describes the situation thus:

“Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the Universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind—supposedly a very objective mind—when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases” (God and the Astronomers, 16).

The reactions to the possibility of a Big Bang began shortly after World War I—and from a rather surprising quarter:

“Around this time, signs of irritation began to appear among the scientists. Einstein was the first to complain. He was disturbed by the idea of a Universe that blows up, because it implied that the world had a beginning” (God and the Astronomers, 27).

It is not here suggested that Einstein and all others who opposed the Big Bang theory were atheists. Certainly, Einstein himself appears to have embraced the conception of God propounded by Spinoza (God and the Astronomers, 28).

And yet, conversely, it is manifestly evident that scientific materialists would be in the forefront of those astronomers who would feel uncomfortable in the face of a new theory which seemed to challenge their most fundamental convictions. While it is not suggested that the physical theory of the Big Bang necessarily implies the theological doctrine of creation, nonetheless it is quite understandable that even the appearance of such an implication should cause more than a ripple of resistance among those both philosophically and scientifically indisposed to the notion of creation in time. Yet, we shall see that our concern in this paper will extend to a much broader notion of creation—a notion not restricted merely to that of “having a beginning in time.”

In point of fact, just when most of the scientific community has gotten comfortable supporting the relatively recent Big Bang theory, we are suddenly reminded by new evidence that the history of science is littered with the intellectual corpses of bygone universal beliefs. True science is never dogmatic. What actually happens is that a generally accepted scientific hypothesis is sometimes greeted by new sets of data that contradict its basic premises and soon a new, and quite different, scientific hypothesis replaces the formerly reigning one.

We now learn that findings from the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) appear to contradict the “standard model” for galactic expansion, which has accompanied the Big Bang hypothesis. It turns out that distant celestial objects, now being seen for the first time through the use of the JWST, do not conform to Big Bang expansion model expectations. Instead of distant galaxies being huge and having a certain amount of “red shift” in their light, the Webb telescope is showing us the exact opposite! The number of disc galaxies is some ten times that of standard galaxy expansion models. Moreover, distant galaxies are being found to be unexpectedly smooth, small, and old. In fact, more and more data seems to contradict what had been predicted based on the massive galactic expansion model assumed to follow from the Big Bang.

This has led some astronomers to actually reject the Big Bang hypothesis altogether!

Still, two points must be made clear:

  1. While frequently associated theses, the fact remains that the Big Bang hypothesis is separate from the cosmic expansion model. Moreover, the Webb telescope data does not in itself address the cosmic microwave background radiation which has long been taken as evidence for the Big Bang.
  2. For purposes of this article, much more important is the fact that the Big Bang hypothesis belongs to the subject matter of natural science, not philosophy. Contending physical hypotheses concerning the origin and development of the universe must be evaluated by astronomers and other physical scientists. That is not my task. Philosophically, I will show that, whether the universe began in time or not is entirely irrelevant to the philosophical question of whether it is created by God.

I need to determine the proper philosophical meaning of “creation” as well as whether the universe was created in that properly philosophical meaning.

The Eternal Enigma

The central question which this article seeks to address is simply the age old puzzle: “Why does anything exist at all?” The believer immediately responds with a simple affirmation of his faith: “Things exist because God exists to make them.” But the atheist is driven to the logical alternative of insisting on the aseity of the Universe: “Things simply explain their own existence; their very fact of existing is its own explanation. Moreover, the Universe has always existed in some form or other, and hence, needs no God to have created it.” Some atheists and agnostics attack the principle of explanation itself, suggesting that not everything may need a sufficient reason or that, perhaps, the principle is limited in scope to the observable phenomena.

In one of human intellectual history’s less ingenuous moments, Karl Marx simply refuses to grant intellectual legitimacy to any question put to the very existence of the world. He labels such inquiry “…perverse…” since it implies “…the inessentiality of nature and of man …. ” Marx insists that for socialism “…the real existence of man and nature has become practical, sensuous and perceptible…” and, hence, such a question “…has become impossible in practice” (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, 1961, 112-114).

Still, examples of those willing to address directly the central issue are not difficult to find. The problem as to why things exist at all is clearly posed by Kai Nielsen (who was himself an atheist):

“Indeed, ‘Why is there anything at all?’ is an odd question, but in certain philosophical and perhaps even religious moods it is natural to ask: Why is it that any of the things that make up the universe actually exist? They do, of course, but why is this so? There might have been nothing at all!” (Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice: A Modern Introduction to Philosophy, 1971, 180).

Or again, as F.E. Copleston put it in his famous 1948 British Broadcasting Corporation debate on the existence of God with Bertrand Russell:

“Well, I can’t see how you can rule out the legitimacy of asking the question how the total, or anything at all comes to be there. Why something rather than nothing, that is the question?” (The Existence of God, ed. John Hick, 1964, 175).

John Hospers puts succinctly the theistic response to the given existence of the world (not that he holds it himself):

“Why, indeed, does any universe at all exist—why is there a universe at all rather than simply nothing? For this you have no explanation at all. But I do. I hold that there is a necessary being, God, and that since he exists necessarily all contingent existents (and that includes everything in the universe) owe their existence to this necessary being and are explained by the fact that this necessary being exists” (John Hospers, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd edition, 1967), 440.

But in a contrary response to this same most basic question, as Roy Wood Sellars puts it,”…the modem materialist stresses the aseity as against the contingence notion of creationalism” (A History of Philosophical Systems, ed. Vergilius Ferm, 1950, 425).

The meaning for the materialist of this “aseity” is put with clarity by Nielsen: “…all other realities, if such there be, depend for their existence on these physical realities, but these physical realities do not depend on any other realities for their own existence” (Reason and Practice, 334).

Hospers elucidates in his own manner the claim that the universe simply explains itself and needs no further explanation:

“…this is just a “brute fact”—the universe has such-and-such laws, and if those are ultimate (underived), we can’t derive them from any other ones….If we have once arrived at a basic or underived law (not that we ever know that we have), then it is self-contradictory to ask for an explanation of it” (An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 442).

What Hospers means here is that the ultimate laws of the universe, by definition as ultimate, require no further explanation. They are self-explanatory.

Again, Anthony Flew challenges the position that God is any greater an intelligible explanation of the universe that is the universe itself:

“No reason whatever has yet been given for considering that God would be an inherently more intelligible ultimate that—say—the most fundamental laws of energy and stuff; much less for postulating the actual existence of such a further and extraordinary entity, instead of somehow contenting yourself with the alternative idea that the world we know is—in the vertical dimension-not dependent on anything else, and that it is also, in some state or other, probably eternal and without beginning” (Anthony Flew, God: A Critical Enquiry, 96).

The atheistic alternative explanation to claiming that the universe is its own explanation is the claim that not everything needs an explanation. That is to say, the principle of sufficient reason itself is attacked. Again Nielsen puts the case succinctly:

“It would only follow that there is a necessary being if it were true that there is a complete explanation that would give us an adequate explanation of why anything exists at all. Why should we assume or even believe that we actually have such an explanation?”

“It is certainly very natural to reject the principle of sufficient reason and to say that it has not been established that there must be or even that there is (if only we could discover it) an explanation for everything. Some events or states of affairs may never be explained. There may even be some things that are inexplicable” (Reason and Practice, 181).

I do not intend here to reiterate and refute the monumental errors of idealism and process philosophy which provide the most substantive attacks on the principles of sufficient reason and causality. Those who sincerely seek the most exhaustive and convincing defense of these principles are referred to Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s classical treatment in the latter part of the first volume of God: His Existence and Nature (1934, 181-194). I have offered my own defense of these transcendental first principles on the Strange Notions website.

It suffices to point out that it seems a bit hypocritical that scientific materialists should ultimately retreat behind a denial of rational principles when it is they who dare to mock all others as being “irrational” and “unscientific.” It is indeed curious that those who demand a scientific explanation for everything should, in this singular instance, fail to see the need for any explanation whatever! One cannot but compare such selective abandonment of rational principles to the curious biological doctrine that spontaneous generation never occurs except, of course, when the evolutionist has need of it in order to initiate the process of evolution itself!

In the end, the consensus of atheists and theists who address the basic question of existence, as well as the dictates of right reason, present the following stark alternatives: Either God (the Infinite Being) exists, or else, the world (all finite being) explains itself, or else, not all things have full explanations. It is our contention that the latter two alternatives are not only absurd, but impossible.

“Creation” as Expression of Infinite Power

For those scientific materialists who refuse to follow the intellectually suicidal denial that there must be reasons for things, the universe must be conceived as self-existent, that is, it somehow explains itself. Moreover, these atheistic materialists clearly accept the metaphysical principle that “…from nothing, nothing comes to be….” (St. Thomas Aquinas, in I Physics, 14, n. 2), since they universally deny that the cosmos had an absolute beginning in time. Thereby they implicitly acknowledge that a universe which just “pops into” existence (out of no pre-existent state) is not only absurd, but impossible.

While it is evident that the natural intuition of the laws of being would require every intellect to affirm that being (the world) can only come from pre-existent being (a prior state of the world, or God), why is it the case that the reason of virtually every man, theist and atheist alike, sees in the notion of instantaneous creation of the world (out of nothing and using nothing) the exclusive mark of divinity itself? With but a modicum of metaphysical reflection, the human mind—theist and atheist alike—grasps that the act of creation is intelligible only as an expression of power—infinite power. And it is precisely this manifestation of power without measure which commands intellectual assent to the existence of God (in the traditional meaning of the term) as the sole adequate explanation or foundation for such power.

The average person who considers the matter will express the insight as follows: “To make something out of nothing can only be the act of an infinitely powerful being, God.” The professional theologian or philosopher will render this insight with greater precision by saying: “That something should come to be while presupposing no pre-existent matter or subject requires the infinite power of God.”

In each case what is affirmed is the absolute need for unlimited power as the only adequate explanation for the universe beginning to be in time. Yet the question remains, “How can we be so certain that the ‘popping into existence’ of the world requires the existence of an all-powerful God?” Is this inference simply the product of a primordial insight or intuition which is, at root, rationally indefensible? Are we ultimately reduced to a form of fideism here?

Still, if this be fideism, then the atheist must suffer it as well — given the firm tradition of atomistic materialism, tracing all the way back to Democritus in the fifth century B.C., which assumes that the universe has always existed, never having a beginning in time. That is why so many scientists held out long for the Steady State theory, which holds that the universe is eternal and largely unchanging.

Why Creation Requires Infinite Power

While there appears to exist a nearly universal intuitive recognition that the act of creating requires the infinite power of a Supreme Being, the attempt to give intellectual justification to this primordial insight is fraught with difficulty. For, even if one grants that the existence of the world had an absolute beginning in time and that this beginning must have an adequate explanation, it is not at once clear precisely why this phenomenon requires an infinitely powerful cause.

Is it because being infinitely transcends non-being? But then, the being of the world is itself only finite (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 7, aa. 2-4). Perhaps, alternatively, one should focus upon the fact that between non-being and being there is no middle ground. Hence the act which transcends this “gap” between non-being and being must be considered as literally immeasurable. Yet, no reputable thinker would dare to refer to a real relation between non-being and being—since a real relation always requires two real terms, and non-being is not real. In Summa Theologiae, I, q. 13, a. 7, c, St. Thomas refers to the merely logical character of the “… relations which are between being and non-being, which reason forms, insofar as it apprehends non-being as a certain extreme.” Hence, the metaphors about “transcending an infinite gap” from non-being to being begin to sound suspiciously poetic or mystical.

It is necessary to turn to the Common Doctor of the Church for illumination of a precise, scientific conception of exactly why creation requires infinite power. The following is neither poetry nor mysticism:

“It must be said that the power of the maker is measured not only from the substance of the thing made but also from the way of its making; for a greater heat not only heats more, but also heats more swiftly. Thus, although to create some finite effect does not demonstrate infinite power, nevertheless to create it from nothing does demonstrate infinite power…. For if a greater power is required in the agent insofar as the potency is more remote from the act, it must be that the power of an agent (which produces) from no presupposed potency, such as a creating agent does, would be infinite; because there is no proportion of no potency to some potency, as is presupposed by the power of a natural agent, just as there is no proportion of non-being to being” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 45, a. 5, ad 3).

The principle which St. Thomas employs here is laid down when he says, “…a greater power is required in the agent insofar as the potency is more remote from the act…” For, as power means the ability to produce being or to act, its measure is taken not merely from the effect produced but also from the proportion between what is presupposed by the agent in order to produce the effect and the effect produced.

Thus, to make a chicken from pre-existing chickens requires a certain measure of power. But to produce a chicken from merely vegetative life would require even greater power; and to produce a chicken from non-living matter yet greater power. But to produce a chicken while presupposing no pre-existent matter at all clearly would require immeasurably greater power. It is immeasurable, as St. Thomas points out, precisely because “…there is no proportion of non-being to being.”

Note that this argument does not rest upon an attempt to measure any supposed infinite relation between non-being and being. Rather, it is precisely the absolute lack of any relation whatever between non-being and being which demands an infinite power to create. For it is precisely the proportion of the potency to act which is measurable. The greater the distance (not physical distance, but remoteness or distinction in existence) between the potentiality and its act, the greater the power needed to actualize that potency. But such a proportion between some presupposed potentiality and its act is always measurable (in some sense), and therefore, is finite—since it is of the essence of the measurable to be finite and since a thing is measured only by its limits. But where there is no proportion, as between non-being and being, there can be no measure, and thus, no limit. The power required in that case knows no measure and no limit. It is therefore infinite.

Note well that St. Thomas does not argue from the remoteness of the potency from the act in the case of creation. Rather, he considers the “… proportion of no potency to some potency…”—for a creating agent presupposes no potency whereas a natural agent always presupposes some potency. He observes that there exists no such proportion just as “… there is no proportion of non-being to being.” A fortiori, the remoteness of no potency to the act of already created being becomes even more immeasurable (if that were possible).

Thus we have the rational explanation for the universal metaphysical intuition that it would require infinite power to create ex nihilo.

The True Meaning of “Creation”

If it were necessary to prove creation of the world in time in order to demonstrate the existence of God, it appears that such a task could never be accomplished by unaided natural reason. For even the most famous Christian apologist for God’s existence, St. Thomas Aquinas, concedes that reason alone cannot prove creation in time: it is simply an article of Catholic faith which is neither contrary to, nor demonstrable by, natural reason (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 46, aa. I-3; De Potentia Dei, q. 3, aa. 14 and 17; On the Eternity of the World, 1964, 2-73).

In fact, according to St. Thomas, the world could well have existed from all eternity—and yet it would still be a creature of God (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 46, a. 2, ad. I; Etienne Gilson, Elements of Christian Philosophy, 1963, 214).

One of his famous Five Ways to prove God’s existence, the Third Way, presupposes this very possibility in the logic of its argumentation. In fact, in Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 13, St. Thomas insists “… that the most efficacious way to prove God to exist is not on the supposition of the newness of the world, but rather on the supposition of the eternity of the world.” Thus, our belief in creation in time is just that—a matter of reasonable Christian belief.

The point of all this is simply to observe that, for St. Thomas, the notion of creation is quite distinct from the notion of beginning in time. After all, on the very supposition of an eternally existent God, could one deny the possibility that such a Being may have been creating the world from all eternity? And would not such a world be a creature in virtue of its being an effect of God despite its beginningless duration? In such a case, creation would be an ongoing production of the being of the world by God—with absolutely no reference to a beginning in time.

Moreover, grant that God did create the world in time. What then would be the relationship of the world to God in the next instant after the moment of creation? Or, the next day, or year, or twenty billion years? Could God cease causing the world and yet the world continue to exist? Certainly not. For, as St. Thomas observes, “With the cause ceasing, the effect ceases” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 96, a. 3, ob 3. Also, “Removing the cause removes the effect,” Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c). Creation must not be conceived as a once and for all time act. God must continue to create, or else, the cosmos would at once fall back into the nothingness from which it came (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. 1). St. Thomas refers to this continued act of creation as “conservation.”

“It must be said that the conservation of things by God is not through some new action, but through a continuation of that action by which He gives existence, which action is indeed without motion and time” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. I, ad 4).

In other words, a proper understanding of the term “creation” is conceptually distinct from the notion of “beginning in time.” For St. Thomas, the world is created, not because it began in time, but because of its radical dependence on the Supreme Being during every moment of its existence—past, present, or future.

We are thus left with three alternatives regarding the existence of the world: Either it came to be in time—thereby requiring an infinitely powerful Creator, or else, it has existed from all eternity as the created effect of that Creator, or else, it has existed from all eternity without the causation of such a Creator.

On the first two suppositions, the existence of an infinitely powerful God is at once granted and this investigation is ended. But it is the third alternative which now requires closer scrutiny.

For the existence of the world is itself an act whose being demands some explanation. Existence is an act. It is the very first act of any substance (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. 1, ad 3). And no substance is explained unless and until its substantial existence has been accounted for. Thus we may properly inquire as to the explanation of the existence of this finite world in which we find ourselves.

When we inquire as to the explanation or sufficient reason for a supposedly uncaused finite universe, it becomes at once clear that the need for some foundation in an infinitely powerful being is not escaped. For, just as there is no pre-existing potency for such a world which is created in time, so too, there is no pre-existing potency against which to measure the actually existing universe even if it has always existed (as atheists insist). Hence, its existential foundation, even if this is not conceived as a cause outside its own being, must manifest a power which knows no measure, i.e., it is infinite.

To put the matter in other terms, the power required to explain a being (or beings) is not dependent on whether that being is an effect (whether or not such effect happens to be produced in time). Rather, such power must be measured in terms of its being the reason why there is being rather than non-being. And, as St. Thomas points out, “…there is no proportion of non-being to being” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 45, a. 5, ad 3). Hence, the power requisite to explain the existence of the cosmos knows no measure — whether it began in time or not. Immeasurable or infinite power is needed to explain any existence at all — of anything.

But the world is clearly finite—since space and time are the limiting modes of material existence. Since the finite clearly cannot contain the infinite power needed to explain its own existence, it is evident that an infinite Being must exist.

Some Final Reflections

It may well be suspected that the foregoing demonstration of God’s existence is simply a variation of St. Thomas’s Third Way of the Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c., or else, perhaps, the argument which many have abstracted from his proof for God’s eternity which is presented in the Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 15. Yet it should at once be evident that neither of these demonstrations proceed from the same starting point as the present analysis. For, both of the aforementioned texts of St. Thomas take as their initial data the existence of things which are possible to be or not to be. But the present argument proceeds neither from the possibility nor from the necessity of the world—merely from its existence and from the need for a sufficient reason for said existence.

If it were possible for the world to be its own reason for existing, then there would be no need to posit the existence of a transcendent God. It is only when it is shown that the existence of anything at all requires infinite power that it becomes evident that the finite cosmos necessarily requires an Infinitely Powerful Being as the only adequate explanation of its existence.

Hence, the present argument proceeds, not from the possible, as such, but from an analysis of the creative power implicit in any being whatever—whether it be possible or necessary, finite or infinite. It is the factual existence of things which is at issue here, not their indifference to existence.

But it is precisely that indifference to existence manifested by the possibles which St. Thomas uses to prove their causal dependence. As he puts it in the context of the Contra Gentiles:

“Everything however which is possible to exist has a cause, since it is from itself equally [related] to two [contraries], namely, existence and non-existence. [Therefore,] it must be, if it appropriates to itself existence, that this is from some cause” (Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 15).

Again, the same point is made in the Third Way when St. Thomas insists “…that which is not does not begin to be, except through something which exists” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c).

In both these cases, again, St. Thomas reveals the causal dependence of the possibles. But the present proof seeks not to reveal causal dependence except as incidental to the need for infinite power as the sole adequate foundation for all existents. Perhaps this point could be more adequately expressed by saying that God Himself, who is absolutely uncaused, nonetheless requires infinite power in order to render His own existence intelligible. That is why St. Thomas’s task in the aforementioned contexts differs from that of the present article.

In conclusion, the intellectual exploration completed in this article entails the following central points:

First, it was established that there exists, either explicitly or implicitly, among theists and atheists alike, a universal intellectual recognition that the theological notion of an absolute beginning in time of the world entails a creation ex nihilo whose sole adequate explanation would be an Infinitely Powerful Being, or God in the traditional sense of the term.

Second, the concept of “creation” itself was scrutinized so as to reveal that it may be properly distinguished from any notion of “beginning in time”—thereby demonstrating that the mere existence of any being whatsoever entails the presence of an act (esse) which requires infinite power to be posited “outside of nothingness.” (The central metaphysical task of this article has been to establish the philosophically scientific validity of this second step.)

Third and last, it was seen that such infinite power clearly cannot reside in any finite being and, that, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to admit the existence of an Infinitely Powerful Creator as the sole adequate explanation of the finite world.

The notion of “explanation” does not necessarily denote extrinsic causality in every case. While every being requires a sufficient reason, only those beings whose sufficient reason for existing is not totally within itself would require an extrinsic sufficient reason or what is called a “cause.” This means that, while an infinitely powerful God is required to cause the existence of all the finite beings in this finite world, yet God can still be said to be his own explanation, and yet not his own cause, since he is his own intrinsic sufficient reason for being.

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, where he also served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. He is the author of two books, Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence, and Origin of the Human Species, as well as many scholarly articles. [A, earlier version of this article appeared in Faith & Reason, 11:3-4 (1985), 250-63. Permission to print kindly granted by Christendom Educational Corporation, Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia, 22630.]

Featured: “The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise,” by Giovanni di Paolo; painted in 1445.

Lourdes to Paris and Back Again

Several years ago, on a solitary pilgrimage to France, I spent an afternoon sitting before the Holy Grotto at Lourdes and praying upon the many, many petitions that I carried with me in two great manila envelopes. I was very much moved by my parishioners’ expressions of faith in, and love for, Our Lord and Our Lady. Each of their notes and letters, signs of interior devotion, was attentively left at the special place designated for such messages within the Grotto itself, just a few feet away from where the Virgin had stood and St. Bernadette had knelt during the apparitions of 1858. Lourdes never fails to inspire. There is such a tremendous outpouring of love and charity here that no one can honestly deny the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.

The Visionary, Saint Bernadette Soubirous.

One night, after the iconic candlelight procession, I encountered a Chinese couple named Kang and Yan. They had been enticed away from the hustle and bustle of Paris to the mystique of Lourdes. The husband had been exposed to Catholicism in Hong Kong but was a non-Christian. His wife, Yan, came from mainland China, just next to the North Korean border. She actually showed me on her iPhone a fascinating photo that she had taken of the People’s Paradise from across the river that separates her Chinese hometown from that de facto nation prison camp. Her parents are Communist Party members and she was raised in an atheistic home. But she was deeply moved as she stood before the Holy Grotto. Kang could not cease commenting about the evident power of Lourdes, and aptly noted that the countless volunteers who care for the sick are in a way proof of the veracity of the apparitions.

During my stay I was lured away by beckoning friends to spend a few days in Paris, although I was reluctant to leave Mary’s peaceful enclave in the picturesque Pyrenees mountains. The “City of Light” is a looming magnet and is the heart of the revolutionary engine of 1789. Still, I took the slow train to Bordeaux and then the lightning-fast TGV northwards to Paris and plunged into the secular arena.

The peasant’s veil and shoes St Bernadette wore during the apparitions of 1858.

Arriving, I walked out of the Montparnasse train station and was quite surprised when the first thing I heard was a plaintive call, “Bonjour, mon Père,” I turned to see a young Frenchman looking at me hoping for a few Euros. Yet he was not typically bedraggled (at least not outwardly). We began to chat and I encountered a life that had spun out of control and was caught in the web of disorder. Hunger made its imperious demands and he was in the humiliating state of holding out his hand for help. I asked if he would like a blessing, and he responded, “No, I am an atheist. I have seen too much suffering to believe in God.” I repeated my offer, this time looking more intently at him. He paused, then with bowed head, said, “Oui, mon Père…” My trip thus began by blessing an uncertain atheist in the streets of Paris.

On the steps of the glorious church of la Madeleine a very distressed young Frenchman frantically approached me. He wore a beard and a longish topcoat that gave him the appearance of a 19th Century rationalist. He told me of his alienation and despair. For a moment he began to ramble about Nietzsche but then desperately asked me if God really exists. It was another moment of unexpected humanity and Christianity. I put a few coins in his hand and laid my own upon his head in blessing.

I will always wonder if his presence on those church steps revealed the Hand of the Good God drawing him away from nihilist darkness towards the Light from Light.

Back safely at Lourdes again, one fair morning I found myself standing alone in a little park before a statue of St. Bernadette. But I was outside of the “pilgrim zone” of the village. Suddenly I was approached by a different sort of Frenchman. He must have seen his opportunity to pounce since I was isolated for the moment from the protective pious throngs. At first, I could not catch his slurry patois, but it was evident that he was an anti-clerical and was berating our Holy Religion. I wanted to be sure I understood him before I responded, so I explained that I was not French and could he speak more clearly, s’il vous plait. He said with obvious disdain, “What are you then, Italian?” Taking that as the one compliment I’d get from this unpleasant encounter, I nevertheless answered, “Je suis américain.” At this he bellowed, “C’est pire!!” (That’s even worse!). And then a new torrent of abusive language poured forth.

Now here I must interject that being Catholic and American is something I thank God for every day. The virtue of patriotism demands at least that of any man. For patriotism, love of country, is an essential ingredient to uprightness of character. Even more so is love of our higher country, that indefectible Kingdom of God which is the Church of Christ.

Patriotism is not quite nationalism. It is a moral virtue akin to filial piety writ large. Patriotism does not despise the patriotism of another country. Nor is patriotism naïve to the continual necessity of bettering one’s native land and mores. In fact, as an American patriot I appreciate and hope to be enriched by the patriotism of the French. One can have a hierarchy of loves that are not mutually opposed. I am an American patriot, but I also have a deep love for France, along with all that which is good and noble in its people, history, culture, language and religion. And as a Catholic priest, France has a claim on me as La Fille aînée de l’Église (“the Eldest daughter of the Church”).

All this is in my heart and mind. But my apoplectic Gallican interlocutor—un véritable bête noir—apparently had not evolved past brute to the level of authentic human sophistication that would have enabled him to engage in the least modicum of proper human discourse with a stranger. He was a bleak contradiction of all that was noble in his own land. He chose, instead of gracious hospitality, the barbarity of gratuitously assailing someone he did not even know, indeed, a visitor who had come in good will to honor la Belle France and its people.

I said simply in response to his anti-Catholic and anti-American slurs, “C’est pas vrai…” (“What you say is not true…”). His rage boiled over and he began shouting louder. He was losing it. I chose to walk away yet he followed close upon me. I was wondering where this was going to end up because he was menacing me physically at this point. And to be honest, I was asking myself how my old Tae Kwan Do moves could be managed in a cassock, but decided this would produce quite an awful headline. I said to him, “Que Dieu vous benisse,” and made my escape. He roared at me as I turned the corner and slipped out of danger’s way.

This particular member of homo sapiens had really disturbed me, my spiritual force field had been punctured. I stopped momentarily on the sidewalk to consider what had just occurred. I resolved to return to the park, when suddenly before me blocking my way were two kindly, smiling Sicilian faces of an elderly husband and wife on pilgrimage. They greeted me warmly and immediately we were immersed in a lovely conversation about the Faith and Our Lady and all things beautiful and good. God sent them just in time, literally within minutes of a near disaster in the park.

I continued down the sidewalk and headed back to the safety of the Grotto (I needed to talk about this with Our Lady), when I came across an old man begging, yet another gypsy. His name was unusual, something like “Geor.” He was clearly not faring well and needed someone to care that he existed, at least for a moment. We exchanged a few words and I gave him something to help him. Then I blessed him. He took my hand and kissed it and tears welled up in his eyes.

Still contemplating the vitriol to which I had been subjected in the park, I ran into a rotund, avuncular, italianissimo priest, who asked, “Ma che c’è, fratello mio? Che succede?” (What has bothered you, brother?). I told him about the enraged Frenchman who had accosted me. The good Padre immediately took me for a cappuccino and lent a listening ear until my nerves were sedated. His quintessentially “good Italian padre” approach rescued me from my temporary discombobulation. In turn, I had rescued him from the trinket shops—a fair sacerdotal exchange.

This all happened within a space of 30 minutes during my morning walk.

France is a culturally and religiously occupied territory. The destructive spirit of 1789 has to have had something to do with the poison coursing through the veins of the angry man in the park. The very Church of God, which made France great (not perfect) for over a millennium, has been undermined and attacked in this country for far too long. The secular ruling elite have banished the Gospel from public life and horribly twist the people’s perception of what is in fact the best thing that has ever happened to them, viz., their conversion to the Faith.

They are so fanatical about this suppression of Catholicism that they cannot see that only the Faith will be able to save them from the twofold jeopardy of laicisme and islamisme, or whatever it is that is bothering them. Each one of us is created imago Dei—children of God with a destiny in Christ Jesus. Understanding this is key to finding our way out of Europe’s existential malaise, for it is essential to the re-conversion of France to the Faith. And I hold that it can happen.

In the post-Nice, pre-Covidian era there was a heightened worry even in Lourdes that there would be a terrorist attack. Huge concrete barriers have been erected to prevent car bombs or trucks from ravaging the shrine which daily swells up with thousands of pilgrims. The workers there had repeatedly told me they have occasionally noticed strange men in long beards and long tunics, as if they are doing reconnaissance. I myself noticed this one night. And in fact, to some I myself am also a strange man with a long beard and long robe!

In any event, the man in the park (who is emblematic of the militantly irrational secular Left) is truly a tragic, and unarmed figure. Europe is in a civilizational crisis that could be assuaged by shelving Voltaire and revisiting Aquinas. At least that would be a worthy start.

There is so much suffering in the world! It either crushes us or redeems us. At Lourdes, however, there is redemption. This is demonstrated in the vivid scenes of so many sick people endlessly streaming to the Holy Grotto; processing in their wheelchairs, candles in hand; attending Mass after Mass and standing in endless lines for confession and access to the healing waters. All these actions are signs that suffering can wound but need not destroy us. There is always hope beyond the suffering, and we can look toward the example of our Divine Lord and His Sorrowful Mother. Heaven is in solidarity with mankind in our suffering.

I hope and pray that each of us realize the tremendous blessing that is ours. We profess the True Faith, we join together in common prayer before the Altar of God each day, we are enriched by the grace of the Sacraments, we know and love Our Lady, the sweet Immaculate Heart of the plan of salvation. We even know that we are so very imperfect, yet have the faith to be able to see how God’s loving Hand still guides us. There is so much good in our parish life. And there is so much bewilderment and chaos in the world swirling about. Bless the Lord every day for what we have been given and let us never forget how good indeed God is…

Lourdes in its holy splendor.

Father Francis M. de Rosa is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A graduate of Niagara University, the Ateneo della Santa Croce in Rome and Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, he also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. He has published articles on bioethics in the Linacre Quarterly and the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. He was ordained in 1997 and is the pastor of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Colonial Beach, Virginia and St. Anthony of Padua Mission in King George, Virginia.

Featured: “Our Lady of Lourdes,” by Francisco Oller; painted in 1878.

The Triumph Of Christmas

Today’s skeptics, who seem to reject something traditional just because it’s traditional, cannot sit still during the holy season of Christmas without mocking the notion that Christ would have been born on December 25th. If it were just the unbelievers who engaged in this mockery, it would be expected, since unbelievers, by their very nature, are not expected to believe.

More troubling is the fact that, like evolution and all other modern atheistic fantasies, this one has seeped through the all-too narrow wall separating Catholics from the rest of the world. The anti-Christmas myth, which makes a myth out of Christmas, is being foisted on Catholic children as fact. To benefit these, and any Christian who respects piety, history, Scripture, and Tradition, we present our defense of Christmas.

Since there is no date for the Nativity recorded in Holy Scripture, we rely on the testimony of the Church Fathers and of history to get an answer to the question, “When did Christmas take place?”

First, let us see the essential significance of the Savior’s birth at the time usually attributed to it. The winter solstice, the astronomical event which recurs every year, is traditionally said to be the birthday of the Messias. To elucidate the meaning of this fact, we will turn to Saint Gregory of Nyssa (+ 385 or 386):

“On this day, which the Lord hath made, darkness decreases, light increases, and night is driven back again. No, brethren, it is not by chance, nor by any created will, that this natural change begins on the day when He shows Himself in the brightness of His coming, which is the spiritual Life of the world. It is Nature revealing, under this symbol, a secret to them whose eye is quick enough to see it; to them, I mean, who are able to appreciate this circumstance, of our Savior’s coming. Nature seems to me to say: “Know, oh man! that under the things which I show thee, mysteries lie concealed. Hast thou not seen the night, that had grown so long, suddenly checked? Learn hence, that the black night of Sin, which had reached its height, by the accumulation of every guilty device, is this day, stopped in its course. Yes, from this day forward, its duration shall be shortened until at length there shall be naught but Light. Look, I pray thee, on the Sun; and see how his rays are stronger and his position higher in the heavens: Learn from that how the other Light, the Light of the Gospel, is now shedding itself over the whole earth.” (Homily On the Nativity)

Saint Augustine, a Western Father, concurs with Gregory, the Easterner:

“Let us, my brethren, rejoice, this day is sacred, not because of the visible sun, but because of the Birth of Him Who is the invisible Creator of the sun. He chose this day whereon to be born, as He chose the Mother of whom to be born, and He made both the day and the Mother. The day He chose was that on which the light begins to increase, and it typifies the work of Christ, who renews our interior man day by day. For the eternal Creator, having willed to be born in time, His birthday would necessarily be in harmony with the rest of creation” (On the Nativity of Our Lord, iii).

Similar sentiments are echoed by St. Ambrose, St. Leo, St. Maximus of Turin, and St. Cyprian.

To further the beauty of this mysterious agreement between grace and nature, Catholic commentators have shown this to be a marvellous fulfilment of the utterance of St. John the Baptist, the Voice who heralded the Word: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Literally fulfilled by the ending of the Precursor’s mission and the beginning of the Savior’s, this passage had its spiritual fulfillment in the celebration of John’s feast on the 24th of June, three days after the summer solstice. As St. Augustine put it: “John came into this world at the season of the year when the length of the day decreases; Jesus was born in the season when the length of the day increases.” (In Natali Domini, xi).

Lest anyone find all this Astronomy to reek of paganism, we remind him that in Genesis, it is recorded: “And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. ” Further, the Magi, those holy men from the East, who came to greet the Expectation of the Nations, were led thence by a star.

“But,” you may say, “the winter solstice is on the 21st of December, not the 25th.” Correct. But if, from the time of the Council of Nicea (325) to that of Gregory XIII’s reform of the calendar (1582), there was a 10 day discrepancy between the calendar and the actual astronomical pattern governing it, then it is entirely possible that a four-day discrepancy had occurred between our Lord’s birth and the Council. We illustrate this possibility as follows: The calendar that many of the Greek schismatics still follow (the Julian calendar), is presently fourteen days off from the Gregorian. This additional four day discrepancy from Gregory’s time has happened over about 400 years.

But now for the meat of the issue: when did it happen? According to St. John Chrysostom, the foundation for the Nativity occurring on the 25th of December is a strong one. In a Christmas Sermon, he shows that the Western Chruches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept the Feast on that day. This fact bears great weight to the Doctor, who adds that the Romans, having full access to the census taken by Augustus Caesar (Luke 2, 1) — which was in the public archives of the city of Rome — were well versed in their history on this point. A second argument he adduces thusly: The priest Zachary offered incense in the month of Tisri, the seventh of the Hebrew calendar, corresponding with the end of our September or the beginning of our October. (This he most likely knew from details of the temple rites which were transmitted to him by a living tradition, supported by Holy Scripture.) At that same time, St. Luke tells us that Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist. Since, according to the Bible, Our Blessed Lady conceived in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (the end of March: when we celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation), then she gave birth nine months later: the end of December.

Having no reason to doubt the great Chrysostom, or any of the other Fathers mentioned; in fact, seeing objections issued only by heretics and cynics, we agree with the learned Doctor and conclude that, by God’s Providence, His Church has correctly commemorated the Feast of His Nativity.

Further, as the continuity of the Old Testament with the New Testament was preserved in two of the principal feasts of the New: Easter corresponding to the Pasch and Pentecost to Pentecost (same name in both dispensations), it would have been unlikely for the Birth of the Eternal God into our world not to have had a corresponding feast in the Old Testament.

Until the time of the Machabees, when the temple was re-dedicated after its desecration by the Greek Antiochus IV, Antiochus Epiphanes (see 1 Machabees 4). One hundred and sixty-seven years before Jesus, the commemoration was instituted according to what was written: “And Judas, and his brethren, and all the church of Israel decreed, that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month of Casleu, with joy and gladness” (I Macc. 4, 59). To this day, Jews celebrate the twenty-fifth of Casleu (or Kislev, as they say) as the first night of Hannukah. This year (5757 in the Jewish calendar), 25 Casleu was on December 12. Even though the two calendars are not in sync, Christmas and Hannukah are always in close vicinity. With the Festival of Lights instituted less than two centuries before Our Lord’s advent, the Old Testament calendar joined nature in welcoming the Light of the world on his birthday.

As for the objection, “Jesus couldn’t have been born in the winter, since the shepherds were watching their flocks, which they couldn’t have done in winter”: This is really no objection. Palestine has a very mild climate, and December 25 is early enough in winter for the flocks and the shepherds to be out. The superior of our monastery, Brother Francis Maluf, grew up 30 miles from Beirut, which has the same climate as Bethlehem, both being near the Mediterranean coast, and he has personally testified to this fact.


For almost 2,000 years, the Church has been defending Christmas against a concerted, diabolical attack.

No, it’s not another wacko conspiracy theory; it’s a fact. Since the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, the truth that God was born a Baby at Christmas has been assaulted with relentless demonic fury. Saint John, the very Apostle of Love, tells us: “For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an Antichrist” (2 John 1:7).

What the Apostle was condemning in those strong words were the earliest of the gnostic heresies, those strange amalgamations of Christianity and pagan mystery religions. Their sectarians fancied that they were little sparks of divinity trapped in matter, who could only be liberated by the gnosis, the secret knowledge.

There was also an early heresy, called docetism, which said that the Word did not assume real flesh, but took the appearance of a man (dokein in Greek, means “to appear”). Rebuked by St. Ignatius of Antioch and condemned by the Church, docetism would return in more subtle forms, admitting that our Lord was man, but denying that he had a real human soul (Apollinarianism), a true human nature (Monophysitism), or a human will and operation (Monothelitism). The last of these heresies was so repulsive to St. Maximus the Confessor (580-662), that he preferred to have his hand cut off, his tongue sliced out, and to die in exile rather than submit to a corrupt bishop who professed it.

Then there were the denials of our Lord’s divinity in heresies like Arianism, which still persists in sects as divergent as Unitarianism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Finally, there was Nestorianism, the heresy that denied the union of the two natures in the one Person of Christ. The heretical Patriarch Nestorius had it that there were two persons in Christ, the divine Person of the Word and the person of Jesus Christ the man. Consequently, he asserted in a sermon that Mary should not be called the Mother of God; she was only the mother of a human person.

The Fathers of the Church have left us heroic professions of truth against these blasphemies, and all of them impress upon us that the little Inhabitant of the Christmas Crib was Almighty God come in the flesh to save us. St. Athanasius made the point, against Arianism, that since Christ was supposed to divinize us by grace, He could not perform this mission if He were not Himself divine by nature. St. Gregory Nazianzen professed, against the Apollinarians, that “What has not been assumed has not been healed,” i.e., our Lord did not redeem human nature unless he possessed a human nature. Far from being satisfied with artful turns of phrase in their polemics, these Fathers, like St. Maximus the Confessor, suffered for their confession at the hands of the antichrist heretics.

The entire Catholic Faith is summed up in the image of the Madonna and Child: She, the Immaculate Conception, was conceived full of grace to be Mother of God; and He is One of the Holy Trinity come down to take her Flesh as true Man in order to save us. So much do heretics hate this beautiful scene that the Iconoclasts, who inherited many of the earlier eastern heresies, cut off St. John Damascene’s hand for painting it! That hand was miraculously restored it to him by our Lady.

Orthodoxy has always been attacked by antichrists. (Yes, there will be one Antichrist at the end — “the man of sin” of 2 Thess 2:3 — but St. John speaks of many “antichrists” in 1 John 2:18.) Is it any wonder that certain nefarious elements in society “have issues” with Christmas? As the early heretics wished to “dissolve” Jesus by destroying the union of two natures in one divine Person, so too, modern antichrists wish to dissolve the divine Babe from our public square: “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1).

According to St. Robert Bellarmine, the focus of the devil’s attack in the second millennium has moved away from the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Instead, the old goat has taken aim primarily at the Church, giving us the Great Eastern Schism and the Protestant Revolt. And he has been refining his approach ever since. In our own day, he has given us the “deadly error” of indifferentism (to quote Pope Gregory XVI), the heresy that says one religion is as good as another. He has caused an even worse pandemonium: an identity crisis within the Church herself. Some of our very own ecclesiastics do not know what the Church is. They have “dissolved Jesus” in His Mystical Body.

But even in the midst of such a crisis, we find consolation: “Behold, I make all things new!” (Apoc. 21:5). All the historical triumphs against error won by the martyrs and confessors will be renewed in grand style. The victories of the devil and his antichrists continue to mount, but the Triumph of the divine Babe will be all the sweeter because of it. It will mark the victory of our Lord, His Church, and His Vicar. What’s more, to the eternal confusion of Antichrist and Satan, Christ’s Triumph will be the Triumph of His Mother, the Woman who will crush the head of the ancient serpent!

And that should give us all a Merry Christmas.

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 featured image shows, “The Nativity,” by Matthias Stomer, painted ca. 1640.

Islam And The West… Where Are We Heading?

One of the most serious challenges faced by the West at this time is Islam, both within and without. The West’s secular pundits, who often forget that this is essentially a Christian invention and project (harking at least back to Saint Augustine, an African Berber-speaker of Punic), are only now starting to realise what the Church has known for nearly fifteen hundred years. The Church though, unlike many modern populists, always made a distinction between Islam and Muslims, who could and should be converted.

When it comes to Islam, many in our society are either naive or dishonest. So, for example, recently, while waiting for a train connection from Marseilles, I noticed the memorial plaque for the victims of the Islamic attacks outside the station – “to the victims of the terrorist attacks”, as if “terror” was the underlying ideology, not the instrument. Others speak of religiously motivated terror – although this activity seems largely limited to Islam in a structural sense.

In discussing this challenge, the first thing we need to know is that the modern secular definition of “religion” has many shortcomings. Secondly, we need to cast aside the silly notion that Jews, Christians and Muslims are somehow common spiritual descendants of Abraham, a modern ahistorical anachronism. We must not forget that Christianity is a Faith, and only in Christianity do we find theology stricto sensu: Theology as a prudent and rational exploration of the divine is a Christian peculiarity, and thus also a liberation from fanaticism. This is something different from gathering knowledge about one or more gods, their myths, cults and associated rites – theology is something different from having a profound knowledge of religious things.

“Islamic theology,” on the other hand, is an oxymoron, because Allah’s relationship with his human believers is that of a master to his slaves, one of “obedience” or “submission” which is actually what “Islam” means, and is fundamentally different from Christianity. Thus, the fact that Islam is a biblically inspired monotheism should not be overstated, as this says nothing about its nature.

Another big difference that I will briefly touch upon is that education was always the core business of Christianity, both for laypersons and professionals. In the Islamic world, illiteracy is the norm; this is not a coincidence. A Muslim imam’s qualifications are to merely know the first Surah plus one more, usually a “large” chunk of text, such as Surah 112, and to lead the ritual prayers. When we discuss the possibility of Islamic schooling in the West and the ensuing curriculum problems, we forget that traditional Islamic schooling, unlike in Christendom, was always only for boys, and consisted largely of learning to recite the Qur’an by heart. In the Middle East, until quite recently, bright Muslim children were sent to Christian schools, for good reason.

Most readers probably are aware of the traditional account of the origins of Islam, the revelations to Muhammad in Mecca, his later flight to Medina, the invasion of Syro-Palestine. Modern historical-critical research, such as that carried out by Inârah, shows that this is largely later mythological fiction. Islamic tradition only starts about a century and a half after Muhammad was supposed to have died. At best, Islamic tradition can only tell us what Muslims of the eighth and ninth centuries thought happened in the seventh century.

Where then lies the problem with Islam? Islam on the one hand is based on a heterodox variant of Christianity, teaching Psilanthropism (Christ was a mere human) and Adoptionism (Christ did not die on the Cross, but was replaced). On the other, it continues ancient Near Eastern Imperial religious traditions – such as, the Egyptian sun cult of Aton under Amenophis IV, later Akhenaten, in the 14th century BC, or the cult of Aššur in the Assyrian Empire. Some have also called these traditions “monotheisms;” but one might better view them as atheism, since Akhenaten, who saw himself as Aton’s son, was Aton’s sole mediator – the notion of deity is here a totalitarian abstraction. According to this ancient Egyptian “theology” of the state, the king conquered the world for the god, and the help of the god was requested to increase the conquered world, and thus the reign of the god. Since the king is god, the divine and human spheres merge into one another.

We see something similar in the religion of the Assyrian empire, where the “king” was the vicar of the true king, the divine abstraction of Assyrian might, the king-god Aššur. The same is true in Islam, where the Caliph, an Aramaic loan-word meaning vicar, i.e. “Khalīfat Allāh,” is the vicar of God, in the Egyptian and Assyrian sense.

Since there is no mediation in the Trinity in Islam, Allah, like Aššur and Aton, is all powerful. Allah, although etymologically related to Hebrew ʼělohīm and Syriac alāhā (possibly even a borrowing of the latter form), has much more in common with Aššur, in terms of content: a common etymology does not equate to functional equality. Historically, the caliphs, like the Assyrian kings, were totalitarian rulers who exercised an office in the name of their God. Thus, to the caliph alone does God speak; he alone knows his will, and he alone is entitled to interpret God’s word and volition – the earthly ruler becomes God’s sole mediator; to him alone does God reveal himself; he alone mediates God’s will to the people. Hence, it is not surprising that even moderate Muslims wish for a return of a caliph.

Here we must be clear – the accounts of Islam’s origins which we often hear about, Muhammad in Mecca and Medina, to whom the Qur’an was revealed by the intermediary of the Angel Gabriel, is largely a later fiction, as I have noted. What we have with the Umayyads in the seventh century is an Arabic eschatological movement with Judaeo-Christian roots centred in Jerusalem – Safa, Marwa, Bakka, Arafat, etc. are all found here (only later were these relocated to Mecca), And Muhammad is a borrowed Hebrew Messianic epithet – in Christianity, it is for Christ of the Second Coming (in Judaism for the First Coming). When the eschatological expectation did not transpire as expected, the Umayyads lost credibility. They were overthrown by the Abbasids in the eighth century, the real founders of what we call Islam.

The Abbasids, on the basis of this heterodox Judaic Christianity, created an imperial religion to unite their subjects. As with Assyria, the world was divided into believers (those who submit) and the unbelievers (those who are yet to be conquered). In Islam, even today, we see that the world is divided into Dar al-Islam, the Islamic World and Dar al-Harb, the “House of War” – the area which still must be conquered. Later (fifteenth century) a “third domain” (category) appeared in the Ottoman Empire, intermediate between the first two, the Dar al-‘Ahd or Dar al-Suhl (that is “domain of the pact” or “of the alliance”) to describe the relationship of the Ottoman caliphate and sultanate with its Christian vassals, such as the Georgian kingdoms of the Caucasus or the Romanian principalities, which paid tribute, provided troops and protected Muslims in exchange for peace.

For most of the Sunni world, the West falls into this category for two reasons – first, we are useful idiots, i.e., we sell them weapons (to be used to fight the Shiites), and because Islam is patient – we take in Muslim refugees who have a higher fertility rate. Arab newspapers note openly that Jihad can take different forms – the womb can also be a weapon. Since Ayatollah Khomeini, the shiites have invented a theocracy with global ambitions, but that is another topic.

Here we see that Islam is entirely incompatible with western values and notions of equality. In Christianity, we are saved through Christ and have been set free. In Islam, subjection to a totalitarian abstract notion of the divine is the norm. Prayer is not “free speech” before and with God, but ritualised recitation. The Qur’an is a quite different book than the Bible – a hodgepodge of disparate texts that show a different relationship with the divine than do the Old and New Testaments. But then, again, we must note that the Qur’an actually plays no role in Islam, where doctrine is derived from later tradition, the Sunna. Where Christians follow the example of Christ, Muslims follow that of Muhammad – the results are quite different, as is obvious.

One of the things that continues to surprise us is that after every terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims on behalf of Islam, or with regard to the Islamic state, western apologists note that these are radicals who misunderstood the teachings of Muhammad. This claim is blatantly untrue as any superficial reading of Muhammad’s hagiography (the Sīra) shows. One is reminded of Communist sympathisers during the Cold War – Communism is the best system, but the Soviets got it wrong. Funnily enough, all communist states were, like Islamic ones, similarly unenlightened – here though, we should note that while Communism and Islam are antithetical to what the West stands for, we are discussing ideas and not judging people or their sincere beliefs. In this light, Islam should be viewed as a late offshoot of ancient oriental imperial religions (lacking theologies in the Christian, Western sense), as the many disputes about the place of Islam in Western societies alluded to at the outset, make clear.

To illustrate this point, we quote here paragraph 24 of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam: “All rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration are subject to Islamic Sharia law.” So, which “rights” then actually remain? And there are many “experts” ready to clarify what the “Sharia” (a broad term) has to say about any life situation. The relationship of the fundamental rights entrenched in liberal-democracies with Islam is very problematic. Muslims understand this problem very well, as do the refugee offices of Western countries, where critical voices from the Dār al-Islām seek their salvation – that some leftists, who themselves implicitly or explicitly reject the universality of such fundamental rights because allegedly “Western” or “imperialist,” is not surprising. Here, we should briefly note that the mission to Muslims, especially during the “Golden Age of the Islamic Problem,” beginning around 650 and coming to an end around 1570, was always interconnected with the scientific study of Islam.

Indeed, we can trace the rise of what became Islam largely through Christian churchmen of Late Antiquity. They noted clearly and correctly that this was a “heresy”, i.e., a heterodox form of Christianity rather than a separate religion. While the Middle Eastern clerics were primarily concerned with survival – in Europe, for medieval people, this problem affected all levels of life. Theologically, it was necessary to confront this problem by shedding light on the ignorance about the nature of Islam. But this could only be done by becoming aware of the facts; these in turn required linguistic and literary knowledge. Petrus Venerabilis (Peter the Venerable) was one of the most important people of this time who helped to disentangle the image of Islam. Peter had the Koran translated and then wrote an account of Islamic doctrine himself, the Summa totius haeresis saracenorum, as well as a refutation in the Liber contra sectam sive haeresim saracenorum.

Together with the translations of the Qur’an, these were the first scholarly works on Islam. The Summa in particular was free of the gross errors that had manifested themselves in the centuries before. This new approach contributed much to the emergence of a new image of Islam. The Summa objectified the debate and adopted a more scientific attitude towards Islam. Peter was the first to lay the foundations for a confrontation with Islam. Peter did not want to confront Islam with violence, but with the power of the Word of God.

In this context, his translation of the Qu’ran can be seen as a fundamental work for refuting Islam. The translation thus joins the series of writings that Peter called christianum armarium. By this Peter understood a Christian library to serve as a weapon against these enemies; but certainly not only as a weapon in the offensive sense, but also as a kind of shield which was to protect Christendom. Peter’s main intention with the translation and the Collectio Toletana was to provide European Christians with accurate information about Islam. For Peter, however, the Muslims were enemies only insofar as they rejected Christian salvation. Should the Muslims, however, recognise this, Peter’s enmity would also be settled.

At his weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, on 14 October 2009, Pope Benedict XVI used Peter the Venerable as an example of compassion and understanding, citing Peter’s governance of Cluny, diplomacy, and study of Islam. If the West is to have any future, we need to address Islam as set forth by Benedict, following Peter’s study, prayer and mission.

But then again, unless we in the West return to our Christian roots and reconcile ourselves with Christ – well then Islam will steamroll us. Secular values are but fleeting vanity.

A version of this was delivered as a lecture at the French Riviera Institute, October 15 2021. Translated from the French.

The featured image shows, “The Annunciation,” from the Chronology of Ancient Nations by Al-Biruni, 1307.

Want Answers?… Simple But Wrong, Or Complex But Right?

There is a vague discomfiture that comes with the realization that the times have so little improved from those of even our remotest ancestors. One might well consider that man has been regressing since the very beginning with the fall from God’s good graces. And yet, never willing to admit to error, man calls error progress and progress never quite enough. There is, quite naturally, —or so the progressives insist—an existential necessity for progress for its own measure, never bothering to consider either the direction or better purpose toward which we are supposed to be progressing. It seems progressives—perhaps unintentionally, though of that I have serious doubts—are hellbent on putting “all ya’ll deplorables back in chains” while lasciviously twerking the pâté de foie gras.

In his 1905 essay, Notre patrie, Charles Pierre Péguy (1873-1914), French Catholic poet, author, and writer made this penetrating observation: “It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.” Now, I have never admitted to any great mathematical profundity, and you are welcome to check my subtraction if you are in doubt, but as near as I can figure that was one hundred sixteen years ago. But wait, there’s more! As Roger Kimball opines, Péguy has enduring importance “because of his insights into the distinctive hubris of modernity: the curious modern tendency to substitute faith in technique for the cultivation of wisdom, the belief that a perfect administration of life could somehow relieve us of the burden, the unpredictable adventure, of living.” Elsewhere, R. R. Reno notes, “Péguy flourished in the first years of the twentieth century, his life cut short by a German bullet in 1914. Since that time, the modern hubris has grown only more monstrous.”

Always a keen observer of human nature, “Truth may be contradicted a thousand times,” the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Old Errors and New Labels wrote, “but that only proves that it is strong enough to survive a thousand assaults…”

But for any one to say, “Some say this, some say that, therefore there is no truth,” is about as logical as it would have been for Columbus, who heard some say, “The earth is round,” and others say, “The earth is flat,” to conclude: “Therefore there is no earth at all.”

Like a carpenter who might throw away his rule and use each beam as a measuring-rod, so, too, those who have thrown away the standard of objective truth have nothing left with which to measure but the mental fashion of the moment.

There are those who loudly deny logic and reason; others, far too many, through self-inflicted vincible ignorance would rather be led by the nose than to think or act for themselves. Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia (1930-1974) once said, “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Thus, it is that the silent masses accept without question the simplest expositive, never knowing nor caring whether what they are told is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Nearly eleven decades ago (Daily News, Oct. 5, 1912,) Chesterton posed an interesting “what-if” very much aimed squarely at this generation. “Suppose,” he wrote, “for some reason or other, our great-great-grandchildren come to the conclusion that the 20th century was the beginning of a relapse into barbarism, like the decline of Rome.” Seems as though such supposing no longer needs to be supposed. He goes on, “They will have plenty of coincident facts to quote; the nature-worship which we call pantheism, the power of the medicine-men whom we call scientific specialists, the belief in tribal curses and destinies which we call heredity, the disproportionate preoccupation with the tribe or pack which we call sociology, the Nietszchians with their worship of force, the Eugenists with their hints of Infanticide.”

To translate into current post-modern cant: worship which we call secular humanism, the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God; the power of public experts and scientific publicans lacking commonsense, bereft of productive expertise or strict commitment to the scientific method; the belief in the immutable destinies of tribe and race which demand open borders and unrestrained migration; the disproportionate preoccupation with tribe or race or ethnicity under the guises of woke identity, reparations for inherited sins, and equality of outcomes; the Nietszchian nihilism (“God is dead”) which has led to the indiscriminate use of force by the state; the Eugenists (dehumanizing pro-choice) with their demands for unlimited, unrestrained murderous human sacrifice—no more hints of Infanticide—whether unborn, one foot in the grave, or whomever they by happenstance deem a burden to society or a heretical hindrance to their temporal great god Progress.

What Chesterton once supposed is clearly no longer merely a figment of his enormous imagination. What he imagined as possible most assuredly now haunts us. The reason his imagination failed to account fully was explained by his contemporary, C.S. Lewis. In the opening of Mere Christianity, Lewis suggests the absence of “some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it,” would result in man fighting like animals:

Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the ‘laws of nature’ we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong ‘the Law of Nature’, they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation, and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law—with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

We may put this in another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law, but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.

Lewis then stated the obvious. “This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it.” Apparently, not everyone got the memo. Some people, he wrote, would say that “the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behavior known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities.” “But,” Lewis countered, “this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. … It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”

Roger Simon recently opined on what he sees America moving toward, even living through: real-life “Communism, American Style.” Key to his argument is what Karl Marx assumed: that his system would first come to the more modern industrialized state, which to Marx at that time was Germany. He was wrong about that. “Or,” Simon asks, “was he? Perhaps he was just ahead of his time.” Bear in mind, Marx’s manifesto depended on an existing technologically advanced, affluent society, and an impossible to ignore class dichotomy. Again, Simon asks, “What modern industrialized state could be more fecund for communism than the United States of America, the country with the most-est of all?“

America is and has been for a very long time, the richest, most affluent country to ever exist. By third-world standards, even the poorest of the poor supported by an indulgent welfare state are more affluent than over half of the world’s population. “It’s the part of human nature that makes for good communists. In fact, communism owes its existence to them. They are the part of America that will allow, indeed are allowing, communism to walk in the door. Among them are some of our richest and most successful citizens, but that does not stop them from being fools.”

Follow The Pied Piper Of Science

It should be noted the three authors cited (Lewis, Chesterton, and Sheen) were of the latter part of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century and yet what they wrote is as relevant to the latter half of the twentieth and the first quarter of the twenty-first. One cannot turn a page without discovering some relevant thought, idea, or warning of what the future holds should man not change course and return to God, reason, and objective standards of truth. Unfortunately, only the choir will bother to read the music, the conditioned congregation much too enthralled with the high priest’s siren exhortation to hear it. To be fair, the conditioned are often unaware of the conditioning being set upon them for the conditioners are well aware of the dangers of an informed public, thus the censorious exorcism of opposing voices from the public square.

C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

In Religion Without Dogma? (1946), Lewis analyzed the underlying problem of the materialistic mindset which he had but tangentially touched upon with The Abolition of Man (1944). If there is no God, if the material world is all that there is, then thoughts are but electro-chemical reactions in the brain. From where, Lewis then asks, does this capacity for thought come from? For the secular humanist and progressive materialist there can be no soul, no spirit, no transcendent mind; brain function (thought and body control) merely the result of random, electro-chemical processes. As Lewis explains it, “Every particular thought (whether it is a judgment of fact or a judgment of value) is always and by all men discounted the moment they believe that it can be explained, without remainder, as the result of irrational causes:”

Whenever you know what the other man is saying is wholly due to his complexes or to a bit of bone pressing on his brain, you cease to attach any importance to it. But if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be equally worthless. Therefore, naturalism is worthless. If it is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat.

I remember once being shown a certain kind of knot which was such that if you added one extra complication to make assurance doubly sure you suddenly found that the whole thing had come undone in your hands and you had only a bit of string. It is like that with naturalism. It goes on claiming territory after territory: first the inorganic, then the lower organisms, then man’s body, then his emotions. But when it takes the final step and we attempt a naturalistic account of thought itself, suddenly the whole thing unravels. The last fatal step has invalidated all the preceding ones: for they were all reasonings and reason itself has been discredited. We must, therefore, either give up thinking altogether or else begin over again from the ground floor.

Dwight Longenecker, in his essay Religion Without Dogma, adds, “The same is true of relativism. If the idea that ‘there is no such thing as truth’ comes from the human brain, and the human brain is the result of random, irrational evolution, then the statement, ‘there’s no such thing as truth’ is also senseless. But of course, we know certain statements are true not because they are true in the realm of ideas, but because first of all they are true in this physical world of reality. The philosopher proves the brick is real by kicking it and howling in pain.”

With The Abolition of Man, Lewis envisioned what a world completely governed by scientifically verified facts and devoid of any conception of the Tao would look like. Lewis considered the Tao (a term from the Analects of Confucius) “to mean something like moral inheritance, the legacy of humane wisdom that the older generation imparts to the younger and which the younger have a duty to hand on in due course” (Michael Ward, After Humanity). For Lewis, a society rooted in technology-inspired manipulation must, by definition, organize into two classes of people: conditioners and the conditioned. Lewis saw with rare prescience and clarity of mind exactly “what the thing called ‘Man’s power over Nature’ must always and essentially be:”

And all long-term exercise of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones. … In order to understand fully what Man’s power over Nature, and therefore the power of some men over other men, really means, we must picture the race extended in time from the date of its emergence to that of its extinction. Each generation exercises power over its successors: … This modifies the picture which is sometimes painted of a progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power. In reality, of course, if any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are the patients of that power. They are weaker, not stronger: for though we may have put wonderful machines in their hands we have pre-ordained how they are to use them. … There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. … For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.

Lewis did not address or identify the conditioners directly, but the twenty-first century conditioned know all too well. Einstein, perhaps one of, if not the greatest scientific mind of the twentieth century, provided a hint, arguing in a 1949 article against the concentration of wealth and power in a few hands (conditioners):

[Such concentration will result in] an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

Chesterton had a great many things to say about a great many things which is to say he found a great many things interesting though often paradoxical. There is much controversy these days over how many of the rich and powerful elite despise the current order of things; they hate whatever stands in their way of attaining more wealth and power, their insatiable desire to destroy and reconstruct the world into something more to their benefit. Of this sort of radical revolutionary Chesterton would most certainly have had something to go on about. And indeed, he did just that in his introduction to The Defendant (1901). “I have imagined that the main business of a man, however humble, is defence. I have conceived that a defendant is chiefly required when worldlings despise the world—that a counsel for the defence would not have been out of place in that terrible day when the sun was darkened over Calvary and Man was rejected of men.” Some three decades later it would seem Chesterton was just getting his second wind:

If the modern man is indeed the heir of all the ages, he is often the kind of heir who tells the family solicitor to sell the whole damned estate, lock, stock, and barrel, and give him a little ready money to throw away at the races or the night-clubs. He is certainly not the kind of heir who ever visits his estate: and, if he really owns all the historic lands of ancient and modern history, he is a very absentee landlord. He does not really go down the mines on the historic property, whether they are the Caves of the Cave-Man or the Catacombs of the Christians, but is content with a very hasty and often misleading report from a very superficial and sometimes dishonest mining expert. He allows any wild theories, like wild thickets of thorn and briar, to grow all over the garden and even the graveyard. He will always believe modern testimony in a text-book against contemporary testimony on a tombstone. He sells the family portraits with much more than the carelessness of Charles Surface, and seldom even knows enough about the family even to save a favourite uncle from the wreck. For the adjective “fast,” which was a condemnation when applied to profligates, has become a compliment when applied to progressives. I know there are any number of men in the modern world to whom all this does not in the least apply; but the point is that, even where it is obviously applicable, it is not thought particularly culpable. Nevertheless, there are some of us who do hold that the metaphor of inheritance from human history is a true metaphor, and that any man who is cut off from the past, and content with the future, is a man most unjustly disinherited; and all the more unjustly if he is happy in his lot, and is not permitted even to know what he has lost. And I, for one, believe that the mind of man is at its largest, and especially at its broadest, when it feels the brotherhood of humanity linking it up with remote and primitive and even barbaric things.

Read with a mind open to truth—a nonexistent bit of nonsense the radical left in all its incantations must necessarily deny—one can always find in Chesterton a diamond hidden among the discard and clutter. Admittedly, our current condition is certifiably Mad Hatter, complicated and complex, beyond Wonderland nonsense; by all appearances we have lost our collective minds. Chesterton noted eleven decades ago that “there is nothing that needs more fastidious care than our choice of nonsense. Sense is like daylight or daily air, and may come from any quarter or in any quantity. But nonsense is an art. Like an art, it is rarely successful, and yet entirely simple when it is successful.” It is difficult to imagine one so disinherited of a past while content and happy not knowing what has been lost, and yet, that is tragically the output of many, if not most, elite institutions of “higher” education.

There is truly nothing simple in pretending to be sane, especially when it is the “expert” opinion of any well-known but quite mad, mad scientist with a god complex. I believe it was Chesterton who said that any really true opinion can be proved from anything which is very much the old joke: opinions are like anuses, everyone has one and most borrow a foul odor from the barnyard. And yet, by all the evidence, opinions are the dernier cri of modern civilized man. Unfortunately, civilization, unlike opinions, is fast dwindling into oblivion.

Chesterton in his essay for The Illustrated London News (September 9, 1911) wrote, “Vox Populi vox Dei is not a maxim we are in any danger of overdoing; for the modern world has profoundly lost faith in both the two entities. But there is one sense in which the voice of the people is really like the voice of God; and that is that most of us take precious little notice of it.” Every bit of his observation is truer today than yesterday and by every indication will be all the more so tomorrow. The conditioners neither listen to the voice of the conditioned nor to a higher power.

Fulton J. Sheen (1895 – 1979)

In Religion Without God (1928) Sheen observed, “there is, in modern thought, a too general readiness to accept anything which criticizes the traditional, and too great an unwillingness to judge the value of the criticism.” This is, of course, ever more so with post-modern thought, evidenced by cancel culture with the willing, some would say, vainglorious assistance of the agitprop corporate media:

The scientific study of religion has undergone tremendous changes during the last four centuries, changes due in part to the modern mode of approaching problems, and in part to the universal adoption of the experimental method. This changed attitude toward the problems of religion has been marked with each succeeding century. The sixteenth century asked for a “new Church,” the eighteenth for a “new Christ,” the nineteenth for a “new God,” and the twentieth asks for a “new religion.” In response to these appeals and in the name of “progress,” “science” and “liberty,” the Church became a sect, Christ but a moral teacher, God the symbol for the ideal tendency of things, and religion an attitude of friendliness to the universe.

Sheen noted there were two possible adjustments in life: “one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives. ‘If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.’ The method of adjusting moral principles to the way men live is just such a perversion of the due order of things.” Man has increasingly, over the last half century instead of making men conform to principles of morality, changed the principles to conform to heterodox immorality. “This kind of philosophy would never have permitted the Prodigal Son to return to his father’s house. It would have settled the ‘crisis’ by finding a new and handsome name for the husks he was throwing to the swine, and called it ‘progress away from antiquated modes of morality:’”

The giggling giddiness of novelty, the sentimental restlessness of a mind unhinged, and the unnatural fear of a good dose of hard thinking, all conjoin to produce a group of sophomoric latitudinarians [17th century English theologians not insisting on strict conformity to a particular doctrine or standard] who think there is no difference between God as Cause and God as “mental projection”; who equate Christ and Buddha, St. Paul and John Dewey, and then enlarge their broadmindedness into a sweeping synthesis that says not only that one Christian sect is just as good as another, but even that one world-religion is just as good as another. The great god “Progress” is then enthroned on the altars of fashion, and as the hectic worshipers are asked, “Progress towards what?” the tolerant answer comes back, “More progress.” All the while sane men are wondering how there can be progress without direction and how there can be direction without a fixed point. And because they speak of a “fixed point,” they are said to be behind the times, when really they are beyond the times mentally and spiritually.

The high priests of the great god “Progress”, as Sheen called them, preach the gospel of want and greed, of hatred and despair, on the one hand bemoaning how terribly awful and rotten the world has become while on the other hand promising utopia, but first, all must be destroyed so it can be built back better. Sounds much too much like, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of controversy.” In the meantime, lower your expectations, you overindulgent deplorables. No bread? Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. All this recalls a song by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition:

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
I saw so much, I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.

The condition of the conditioned’s condition has been conditioned by the conditioners. Any more questions?

The Abolition Of Commonsense

It should come as no small surprise then how little commonsense plays any meaningful role in the daily life of post-modern man. Evidence of the ubiquity of nonsense pervades every niche, nook and cranny of society, tribe, creed, and culture. Opinion has become the opioid of the masses, addicting the “unwashed” masses to an insidiously nasty habit; facts are irrelevant or inconvenient, truth subjective and relative.

Should opinion be not “as you like it” it must be denigrated, censored, and silenced. Opposing opinion is “fact checked”, then, disavowed as dangerous, evil, hate speech, or against established community standards—which, unsurprisingly, are never critically defined. Most Americans fail to grasp the serious political and intellectual implications surrounding the silencing of opposing voices:

Banning the speech of the allegedly oppressive majority while directly or tacitly inciting protected groups to make unchallengeable claims to marginalization and voice hatred of the majority, outlawing “hate speech” promises to make the public square even more filled with hatred. The criminalization of “hate speech” leads not just to more “hate speech,” but also to civil strife. Most pernicious of all is the legal and moral acceptance of the premise contained in “hate speech” criminalization: the forced acceptance or celebration of unfalsifiable, self-created identities that are impervious to even mild rational interrogation, which opens the way to despotism.

In denying or banning speech considered dangerous or “hate speech” throughout the public square, America will cease to be a nation of the people, by the people, for the people; and it most assuredly will too soon perish from the Earth.

Of opinion, John Stuart Mill (On Liberty, 1859) warned, “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind:”

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Mill’s argument is especially persuasive given post-modern political discourse is too often manufactured out of whole cloth, almost entirely from fickle public opinion, such opinion biased to conform to the prejudice of the one asking for it. Even then, the published analysis is carefully tricked to a preferred outcome and unwelcome opinion either ignored or suppressed. Long before opinion polling became digital and commonplace, Mill saw the problems inherent in relying on opinion as a virtuous, rational source for serious decision-making. “We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still:”

First, the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to suppress it, of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.

Unfortunately, for the good sense of mankind, the fact of their fallibility is far from carrying the weight in their practical judgment, which is always allowed to it in theory; for while every one well knows himself to be fallible, few think it necessary to take any precautions against their own fallibility, or admit the supposition that any opinion of which they feel certain, may be one of the examples of the error to which they acknowledge themselves to be liable.

Reliance on opinion rather than true knowledge founded upon verifiable fact and data is a guaranteed recipe for poor decisions. Likewise, wholesale mindless acceptance of the magical tunes played by the pied pipers of science and polity, as well as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE) polemics of disharmonious mountebanks are guaranteed to lead naïve and gullible lemmings over the proverbial cliff.

Intellectual giant, Thomas Sowell, in his inestimable wit and wisdom once quipped, “It is depressing to hear ideas trumpeted as New! when the underlying reasoning involved was common in the 1840s or the 1790s—and discredited by the 1920s.” Elsewhere (Barbarians Inside the Gates), he says, “I never cease to be amazed at the people who want to make your decision for you, instead of supplying you with the information you need to make your own decision.” In Knowledge and Decisions (1980) he acknowledges the intentional shift away from traditional education which had once focused on the enormous range of human knowledge. In describing what “knowing” meant he employed the phrase “ignorant savage” which, to the progressive woke politically correct social justice warrior is “hate speech”: undeniably racist, xenophobic, and culturally insensitive:

The savage is wholly lacking in a narrowly specific kind of knowledge: abstract, systematized, knowledge of the sort generally taught in schools. Considering the enormous range of human knowledge, from intimate personal knowledge of specific individuals to the complexities of organizations and the subtleties of feelings, it is remarkable that one speck in this firmament should be the sole determinant of whether someone is considered knowledgeable or ignorant in general. Yet it is a fact of life that an unlettered peasant is considered ignorant, however much he may know about nature and man, and a Ph.D. is never considered ignorant, however barren his mind might be outside his narrow specialty and however little he grasps about human feelings or social complexities. We do sometimes refer to a “learned fool,” but the notion of a “fool” implies deficiencies in the reasoning process (so that one is easily deceived or fooled), whereas it may actually be knowledge that is lacking, so that the “learned” person has simply not learned enough outside a certain sliver of human experience.

Sowell adds, “We need to consider the full breadth of knowledge and its depth as well. That is, we need to consider not only how much we know, but how well we know it.”

Perhaps nowhere has such lopsided uninformed opinion become the main course du jour than on university campuses where traditional education over the past several decades has been barbarously exorcised. In The Dying Citizen, (2021) Victor Davis Hanson describes the uptick in an array of nonteaching, in loco parentis, and therapeutic services, coincident to an increasing array of noncompetitive degrees and skills:

In other words, too often the universities saw themselves no longer as teachers of the inductive method and the elements of foundation knowledge. Instead, they were activists. They became intent on shaping young minds to adopt a politicized agenda, whether defined as unquestioned embrace of climate change activism, identity politics, or redistributive economics. Deductivism—picking and choosing examples to conform to a preconceived result—was a recalibration that proved far more costly, and ultimately toxic, for the student than the prior commitment to traditional education that had emphasized a set body of knowledge, and inductive method of accessing it, and the training of an inquisitive mind.

“In today’s world,” according to Ryszard Legutko (The Demon in Democracy), “entertainment is not just a pastime or a style, but a substance that permeates everything: schools and universities, upbringing of children, intellectual life, art, morality, and religion:”

It has become dear to the hearts of students, professors, entrepreneurs, journalists, engineers, scientists, writers, even priests. Entertainment imposes itself psychologically, intellectually, socially, and also, strange as it might sound, spiritually. A failure to provide human endeavors—even the most noble ones—with an entertaining wrapping is today unthinkable and borders on sin.”

The modern sense of entertainment increasingly resembles what Pascal long ago called divertissement: that is, an activity—as he wrote in his Thoughts—that separates us from the seriousness of existence and fills this existence with false content. Divertissement is thus not only being entertained in the ordinary sense of the word, but living and acting within artificial rules that organize our lives, setting conventional and mostly trivial goals which we pursue, getting involved in disputes and competitions, aspiring to honors-making careers, and doing everything that would turn our thoughts away from fundamental existential matters. By escaping the questions of the ultimate meaning of our own lives, or of human life in general, our minds slowly get used to that fictitious reality, which we take for the real one, and are lured by its attractions.

Legutko states what is intuitively obvious to anyone not yet ensnared by trivial pursuits, that the “difference between Pascal’s divertissement and today’s entertainment” is,

the modern man, no matter how much a desire to have fun has captured his soul, knows very well that it is an artificial construction, not the real thing. Whether some other, more objective reality exists is to him a matter of indifference, and if told there is not, he would probably still remain unmoved. Having neutralized all musings about objectivity, the modern man takes pride in his deep involvement in entertainment, which in the absence of other objective references he considers natural.

In an insightful essay, Arthur Milikh describes what has become obvious and objectively true throughout most of the latter half of the twentieth century, but progressive dogma in the first two decades of the twenty-first:

America’s universities have been progressivism’s most important asset, its crown jewel. For over half a century, they have served as the left’s R&D headquarters and the intellectual origin or dissemination point for the political and moral transformation of the nation, especially through the sexual revolution and the identity-politics revolution. Universities have trained the new elites who have taken society’s helm and now set its tone through the other institutions thoroughly dominated by the left: the mainstream press, mass entertainment, Fortune 500s, and tech companies. Universities have also brought to rural and suburban America these moral revolutions, converting generations of young people to their cause. Universities are arguably the most important institution in modern democracy—no other institution has such power to determine the fate of democracy, for good or ill.

Universities were meant be the one fixed place in democratic society insulated from the ceaseless motion of democratic life, with its petty passions, consumption, and moral and intellectual fashions. They were meant to serve as the guardian of the mind and its greatest fruits. In previous eras, segments of society (especially the clergy and the aristocracy) were devoted to protecting learning and a tradition of books. But democracy does not support such classes, and it was originally hoped that the universities would assume this role. Regrettably, they are no longer animated by their original purpose of serving republican self-government or the freedom of the mind. As such, they must be treated as political entities.

That the freedom of speech is under attack on many campuses should not be surprising, given that the freedom of the mind, of which speech is the expression, is rarely understood as their purpose any longer.

In a recent interview Milikh observed how great books formed and informed him far beyond what is now considered accepted norms of academic pedagogy. “In democracy,” he said, “all you have is basically public opinion. You have no past. We don’t remember what happened 10 years ago. And so, all you have to compare your own life against is what you see directly before you or the kind of propaganda images given to you.” Anyone who has ever read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will recognize the similarities to the “memory hole” in constant use by the Ministry of Truth. He went on to remark how many people are no longer curious, but rather, are sponges absorbing whatever is given them; never thinking through any of the opinions handed to them.

What struck this avid reader the most was this: “Reading great books gets you liberation from the immediate, liberation from the propaganda, liberation from all the opinions that you are told you must hold to be a good, decent person.” Hearing this woke a memory of something I had recently read (Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds):

The ability to tell the truth and survive would appear to depend—among other things—on your line of work. ‘Cancel culture’ certainly does exist. And by now it has become clear how it works. It operates most effectively when it can locate a hierarchy above an individual that is itself wobbly, gutless or otherwise vulnerable to mob pressure. Universities have become Exhibit A in all this. In 2019 Cambridge University’s dismissal of Noah Carl and Professor Jordan Peterson (the latter from a visiting fellowship) amply demonstrated how mobs of ill-informed activists can pressurize an ancient institution into going against the only principles that justify its existence. After all, if a university is going to encourage non-experts to judge experts and privileges people who do not read over those who do, then what is the point of the university?

This then “circles back” to the core issue: no one has the time to read great books. Yet, time is but the effect not the cause of such disinclination, neither are the myriad of excuses so easily inculcated in young minds. The truth is basic, fundamental skills (the 3Rs: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic) have been purposefully and maliciously demoted, superseded by mind-numbing intersectionality, multiculturalism, gender-bending, CRT, equity, and social justice indoctrination. Thus, no one reads because they have never been taught, encouraged, or even permitted to read great literature, especially with an open and critical mind. Tragically, the statistics bear this out.

There is, of course, a purpose behind the deliberate social indoctrination—exemplified with the historical distortions found in the New York Times 1619 Project or the mandated indoctrination of Critical Race Theory. Santayana’s warning, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” rings clarion to modern ears. It is perhaps a pointless exercise, given so few are capable of or bother to read, to mention what Nicholai Bukharin and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky had to say in The ABC of Communism (1920) on education:

The task of the new communist schools is to impose upon bourgeois and petty-bourgeois children a proletarian mentality. In the realm of the mind, in the psychological sphere, the communist school must effect the same revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois society, must effect the same expropriation, that the Soviet Power has effected in the economic sphere by the nationalization of the means of production. The minds of men must be made ready for the new social relationships. If the masses find it difficult to construct a communist society, this is because in many departments of mental life they still have both feet firmly planted upon the soil of bourgeois society, because they have not yet freed themselves from bourgeois prejudices. In part, therefore, it is the task of the new school to adapt the mentality of adults to the changed social conditions. Still more, however, it is the task of the new school to train up a younger generation whose whole ideology shall be deeply rooted in the soil of the new communist society. [emphasis mine]

In bourgeois society, the child is regarded as the property of its parents – if not wholly, at least to a major degree. When parents say, ‘My daughter’, ‘My son’, the words do not simply imply the existence of a parental relationship, they also give expression to the parents’ view that they have a right to educate their own children. From the socialist outlook, no such right exists. The individual human being does not belong to himself, but to society, to the human race. The individual can only live and thrive owing to the existence of society. The child, therefore, belongs to the society in which it lives, and thanks to which it came into being – and this society is something wider than the ‘society’ of its own parents. To society, likewise, belongs the primary and basic right of educating children. From this point of view, the parents’ claim to bring up their own children and thereby to impress upon the children’s psychology their own limitations, must not merely be rejected, but must be absolutely laughed out of court. Society may entrust the education of children to the parents; but it may refuse to do anything of the kind; and there is all the more reason why society should refuse to entrust education to the parents, seeing that the faculty of educating children is far more rarely encountered than the faculty of begetting them. Of one hundred mothers, we shall perhaps find one or two who are competent educators. The future belongs to social education. Social education will make it possible for socialist society to train the coming generation most successfully, at lowest cost, and with the least expenditure of energy.

The social education of children, therefore, must be realized for other reasons besides those of pedagogy. It has enormous economic advantages. Hundreds of thousands, millions of mothers will thereby be freed for productive work and for self-culture. They will be freed from the soul-destroying routine of housework, and from the endless round of petty duties which are involved in the education of children in their own homes.

That is why the Soviet Power is striving to create a number of institutions for the improvement of social education, which are intended by degrees to universalize it. To this class of institutions belong the kindergartens, to which manual workers, clerks, etc., can send their children, thus entrusting them to experts who will prepare the children for school life. To this category, too, belong the homes or residential kindergartens. There are also children’s colonies, where the children either live permanently, or for a considerable period, away from their parents. There are in addition the crèches, institutions for the reception of children under four years of age; in these the little ones are cared for while their parents are at work.

In a 1955 essay, entitled, “Propaganda” the late author and historian Richard Weaver wrote, “It’s tempting to say that the only final protection against propaganda is education. But the remark must be severely qualified because there is a kind of education which makes people more rather than less gullible:”

Most modern education induces people to accept too many assumptions. On these the propagandist can play even more readily than on the supposed prejudices of the uneducated. It is the independent, reflective intelligence which critically rejects and accepts the ideas competing in the market place. Education to think rather than mere literacy should be the prime object of those seeking to combat propaganda.

Life seldom comes with simple questions, simple answers to life’s complexities are rarely persuasive, at times foolish, but more often dangerous, even on occasion dead wrong.

Deacon Chuck Lanham is a Catholic author, theologian and philosopher, a jack-of-all-trades like his father (though far from a master of anything) and a servant of God. He is the author of The Voices of God: Hearing God in the SilenceEchoes of Love: Effervescent Memories, and four volumes of Collected Essays on religion, faith, morality, theology, and philosophy.

The featured image shows, “The Questioner of the Sphinx,” by Elihu Vedder; painted in 1863.

Secularism or Islamism: Two Nightmares?

The idea of an ideal world comes from the Christian idea of the salvation of the world. Al-Massih (the Messiah) has achieved the salvation of the world by his victory over Shaytan (Satan), obtained at the time of the Passion. This salvation has unhappily been rejected by one part of humanity, so in order that the world in its entirety may be saved, we must now await the manifestation of the Antichrist, Ad-Dajjal, and then the glorious Coming of Christ, who will purify the world of the Antichrist and of his supporters. (In the New Testament: Matthew 3:12; Matthew 13:36-43; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).

We can also say here that over the centuries, what we derived from Augustinism prevented Christians from announcing the true hope for the world and also from dialoguing with Muslims on the theme of the eschatological hope – for the world.

Those who reject the salvation of Al-Massih have kept the idea of the salvation of the world, or of an ideal world, but have charged themselves with the execution of the judgment of the world. The massacres perpetrated are an act of judgment, from which it is expected an ideal world will emerge, liberated or submitted, but pure and perfect. (And there is also satanic nihilism in which there is no hope at all remaining).

We find this idea in the secularism of the French Revolution where the revolutionaries massacred those that resisted them, in the illusory hope of a liberated world. We find it again in the ideal of the Soviet conquest of the world by the Socialist International.

Islamist thought also aims at massacring the unsubmitted in view of an ideal world which is “submitted” to the same logic (which would explain why global secularist movements are sometimes the first to finance these Islamic movements).

This thought is expressed in numerous hadiths of the Muslim tradition, but as it involves armed combat, these writings circulate in a rather private, non-official way: Muslim governments, conscious of the subversive charge against these traditions do not favor their exposition in the full light of day. In effect, on the basis of such a belief, the least bit of preaching or media campaign defining “the forces of Evil to combat” is capable of drawing believers into massive combat. And thus all manipulations are possible.

Francoise Breynaert is a secular oblate of the Fraternity of Our Lady of the Desert (Belgium). A doctor of theology, she has published foundational works (biblical, Christological) and also Marian and spiritual works. She has also done theological research on the salvation of non-Christians and the Good News for the deceased, and on the Coming of Christ, which the West often confounds, unhappily, with the end of the world, and finally on the exegesis of orality in connection with the Christians of the East. Her works are recognized (imprimatur, episcopal prefaces) in France and abroad. Her research has interested Islamologists who, in turn, have made her part of their studies.

The featured image shows, The Annunciation, from Mir’at al-quds (a Mirror of Holiness), Mughal India, ca. 1602-1604.