Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Words of Hope for Our Culture in These Dark Times

Our only final hope is in God, but as a culture there is certainly precedence that we may survive these dark times. And dark times they are. The LEFT seems to be ascendant in what remains of Christendom, which is perhaps another way of saying that Christendom is to have no remains in the West. We will not be granted any terms save unconditional surrender, and this it may not be enough:
Religious liberty is the terms of surrender the Right is requesting in the culture war. It is conservative America saying to the cultural and political elites, you have your gay marriage, your no-fault divorce, your obscene music and television, your indoctrinating public schools and your abortion-on-demand. May we please be allowed to not participate in these? 
But no. Tolerance isn't the goal. Religious conservatives must atone for their heretical views with acts of contrition: Bake me a cake, photograph my wedding, pay for my abortion and my contraception.... 
Even in abortion, the Left is tired of long-observed truces. The Hyde Amendment, which for decades has restricted federal funding of abortion providers while never intruding on the freedom of women to abort their children, is no longer tolerated by the abortion lobby, which even killed a human trafficking bill over it. 
As stunning as their ambitions of total victory is their continued pretense to be fighting a defensive war. It should be obvious to all that the Left long ago dropped its love of pluralism and tolerance — if that ever was their goal.
The Left is not interested in our terms for surrender--which is a very good reason for us not to surrender! To make use of an often-suggested metaphor, they are in the phase of the culture wars in which they are patrolling the wreckage of the battle fields in search of survivors to execute.

The barbarians of the last Dark Age came from outside the walls of Rome, had little trouble getting in because of the decay from within. We certainly have our barbaric outsiders--ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and I'm sure there are some who are not Islamic. We also have our interior decay, which shows that the barbarians are already running things here, too.

But, as I mentioned, there is some hope that our culture can re-emerge after this dark age, even if none of us will be alive to see it. Rod Dreher discusses the glimmers of this hope, whcih he calls the "Benedict Option." He quotes Alasdair Macintyre to the effect that we can hope that our culture, too, will find its St. Benedict:
It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.
Dreher states optimistically that we may not have reached the point-of-no-return, but I am a bit more pessimistic on that point. It seems to me that victory is beyond our grasp, though I pray that I am wrong. Victory is the primary goal in the culture wars, I suppose, and (more importantly) peace. But the secondary goal, which persists long after the first is gone, is to hold off our culture's utter annihilation until the next Benedict can get these community outposts established. I am left to wonder what such things would look like. And, it seems to me that there is one other right response, the only one left for us laymen who cannot simply leave all to enter the monastic life: we must remain at our posts and do our right duties as best we are able, even as society crumbles around us.

It may be that for those of us in that position, the right patrons are Athanasius, John the Baptist, Thomas Beckett, John Fisher, and (most of all) Thomas More.

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