Monday, December 30, 2019

Are American Monarchists Dreamers? - Crisis Magazine

Are American Monarchists Dreamers? - Crisis Magazine: One of the commentators on a recent Crisis article of mine declared that “Charles Coulombe is a weird person who desires the destruction of democracy and its replacement with monarchy again. There is a bizarre thread in Crisis now that desires such stupid stuff.” I suppose I am a weird person, so I can’t disagree …

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Essential Films: 8 1/2 (1963)

LA STRADA (1954) HD remastered Federico Fellini

The Well-Fought Fight - Crisis Magazine

The Well-Fought Fight - Crisis Magazine: The incorporation of Anglican hymnody into English-language Catholic worship is one of the great blessings of the past 50 years. And within that noble musical patrimony, Ralph Vaughan Williams surely holds pride of place among modern composers. Well do I remember the summer day in 1965 when I heard a massed chorus of men and …

Monday, December 23, 2019

Proclaiming the Gospel in a secularized world dec 23

Proclaiming the Gospel in a secularized world

In his recent address to members of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis recalls that we are no longer living in a Christian world, and speaks of the need for pastoral conversion and being authentic missionaries.
By Andrea Tornielli
Pope Francis’ discourse to the Roman Curia on Saturday 21 December, was important both in terms of what he said, and how he said it. Recognizing something that was already evident to several great men of the Church even before the Second Vatican Council, the Pope confirmed that: "Christendom no longer exists”.
“Today we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to… We are no longer living in a Christian world, because faith – especially in Europe, but also in a large part of the West – is no longer an evident presupposition of social life; indeed, faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed”. 
“We need a change in our pastoral mindset, which does not mean moving towards a relativistic pastoral care”, said Pope Francis. This change of mentality means recognizing that “Christian life is a journey, a pilgrimage”, one that “is not just geographical, but above all symbolic: it is a summons to discover the movement of the heart, which, paradoxically, has to set out in order to remain, to change in order to be faithful”.

The faith used to be passed on within families and the example of parents; society too was inspired by Christian principles. Today this transmission has been interrupted and our social context, if not anti-Christian, appears to be at least impermeable to the Christian faith. Hence the question that gave life to the Second Vatican Council and was reflected in recent pontificates: how to proclaim the Gospel where it is no longer known or recognized?
It is no coincidence that with an exponential crescendo, successive Bishops of Rome have identified mercy as the medicine necessary to heal the wounds of contemporary humanity. The mercy of a God who seeks us out, approaches us, and embraces us before judging us. It is by experiencing that embrace that we recognize ourselves as poor sinners in constant need of help.
At the end of Saturday’s meeting, Pope Francis gave his collaborators of the Curia a copy of the book-length interview "Without Him we can do nothing", written with Gianni Valente. The Pope called it "the document" he wanted to offer for the extraordinary missionary month. In that recently published book, Pope Francis explains that "mission is His work", the work of Jesus.
"It's pointless getting agitated. There is no need to get organized, or to make a noise. There's no need for gimmicks or stratagems", because "it is Christ who makes the Church come out of itself. In the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you. And when you arrive, you realize that He has come before you, and is waiting for you”.
Proclaiming the Gospel, adds the Pope, "does not consist in besieging others with apologetic speeches”, in shouting “the truth of Revelation” in peoples’ faces. Even less "is it necessary to fling truths and doctrinal formulas on others as if they were stones". Because "the literal repetition of the announcement in itself has no effect, and can fall into emptiness, if the people to whom it is addressed have no opportunity to meet and taste in some way God’s tenderness, and His healing mercy".
A distinctive feature of the Christian mission, suggests Pope Francis, "is that of acting as facilitators, and not as controllers of the faith". To facilitate, that is, "make it easy, not to put us in the way of Jesus' desire to embrace everyone, to heal everyone, to save everyone".
Always aware that "without Him we can do nothing".
23 December 2019, 12:18

Viktor Orbán, Defender of the Faith - Crisis Magazine






Viktor Orbán, Defender of the Faith



Just a day after the second World Conference on Persecuted Christians ended this November in Budapest, Hungary, a “reformed” jihadi terrorist stabbed two innocent people to death in London, before being shot by police. The inability of the liberal secularists, who are at the center of most Western governmental policies and who control most of the information the public receives via the media and academia, to comprehend the motivation for such an attack is the reason why they will only increase.
The London Islamist attack, one of many over the last decade in Europe, focused many to ask why certain European countries have been targeted regularly and why other countries have not been targeted at all. Hungary, the host nation for the conference and still the only nation in the world to have a specific governmental ministry devoted to the assistance of persecuted Christians everywhere is regularly attacked by the European elites. Yet, strangely, it has not suffered a single Islamist attack. The unashamedly Christian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, in a speech which should be seen as clarion call for European renewal, stated that the “key” to Hungary’s survival over the last eleven hundred years was the adoption of Christianity—meaning, of course, Catholicism—by the great Hungarian king St. Stephen. This was a “spiritual rebirth and a true conversion.”
Mr. Orbán linked the persecution of Christians in other parts of the globe with the increasing hostility towards mainstream Christianity in Europe. A “mysterious force seals the lips,” not only of politicians in the West to this persecution, but also of most of those in the media. Is this just rabble-rousing or conspiracy lunacy, or is there, in fact, as he went on to say, an “organized and wide-ranging attack on European culture and civilization?
One answer or significant piece of evidence to affirm his contention goes back to the deliberate omission from the European Constitution of the foundational place of Christianity in the formation of all that is meant by the term “Europe.” At the time, St. John Paul, and then his successors, pointed out the grave danger this “forgetfulness” would bring to the future of Europe. Both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have spoken of the “spiritual vacuum” at the heart of secular Europe; a vacuum will eventually be filled and, as the demographics of Europe shift via massive immigration, what will fill the vacuum will be Islam.
The curious marriage between radical Islam and the secular liberalism of the elites in Europe is, at least on the surface, difficult to comprehend, but if Mr. Orbán is correct and it is essentially an attack on European culture and civilization, the ugly union becomes more obvious. On a spiritual level, secularism and radical Islam hate the cross and the victory it signifies. European civilization and culture is—or was—inescapably a Christian culture, and the hatred for that culture and history is almost a hallmark of the left. Academia and the media place all the ills of the world at the door of Western colonialism, oppression, and the evangelization of the Church. The recent Amazon Synod at the Vatican was a perfect example of how that mindset has entered the highest levels of the Church. The naīve glorification of “native cultures,” resplendent in a prelapsarian world in union with nature, then destroyed by the proclamation of the Gospel, was symbolized perfectly by the presence of the pagan fertility statue of Pachamama in the Vatican itself.
Europe, said Mr. Orbán, is “in deep trouble.” The cause he identifies is its deliberate and organized desire to forget or eradicate its Christian identity. The liberals are using what the Hungarian Prime Minister called the “muzzle of political correctness” to accomplish their death wish, which, coupled with the advancement of radical Islam, will eventually produce, if this self-loathing continues, a Europe that will be cut off from its roots. Any horticulturalist knows that a tree will die when it is rootless.
Hungary has no intention of allowing that to happen. This is obviously the reason why the policies of the Mr. Orbán government to promote the family, Christianity, and authentic Hungarian culture are so relentlessly condemned by the empty vessels who direct the European Union, which is the most hostile agency in Europe towards orthodox Christianity.
Hungary’s Christian revival is a small sign of hope in an otherwise bleak European landscape. Christians, said Mr. Orbán, have the “right to defend our culture and the way of life that has grown from it.” It is precisely this language which so antagonizes both the liberal intelligentsia and the forces who wish to radically change Europe itself. Hearing about the persecution of Christians in other cultures, the “greatest mistake Europeans can ever make,” Mr. Orbán warned, is “to say this could never happen to them—it is much closer to us than many people think.”
Both the Prime Minister and his energetic and dynamic Families Minster, Katalin Novak, spoke beautifully about the gift the persecuted Christians give to the lethargic and somewhat weak Christians of the West. Mrs. Novak described the lack of courage of so much of Western Christianity, and Mr. Orbán declared that the persecuted Christians give the West what it needs most: “Christian faith, love, and perseverance.”
Budapest, described by one participant at the conference as a “citadel of Christian freedom”, is leading the way to save European civilization because—as Hilaire Belloc so prophetically said—either “Europe will return to the Faith or she will perish.”

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Catholic influence on film - Part 2

Catholic influence on film - Part 1

How Catholicism influenced moviemaking from the early days of film (VIDEO)

How Catholicism influenced movie making from the early days of film (VIDEO)


NEW YORK (CNS) -- Motion pictures have enchanted the public since the late 19th century, providing audiences with vivid storytelling on a host of topics and conceptually transporting them to distant places.
The art form was able to merge literature, theater and even biblical accounts and project it all onto accessible screens for the masses to take in.
However, as the film industry grew in the early 20th century, Catholic Church leaders became concerned about some of the content that had become so readily available to their flock.
Priests in the United States began to discuss films they deemed objectionable during Mass and to instruct the faithful to stay away from the "sinful" content.
Catholic groups throughout the U.S. began to organize in an effort to influence filmmakers into creating content that reflected moral standards and wouldn't lead viewers to sin.
In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio decision that free speech didn't extend to motion pictures, and states throughout the country began to introduce censorship legislation.
Faced with mounting political pressure and the possibility of having to comply with hundreds of decency laws throughout the U.S., movie studio heads worked with Jesuit Father Daniel A. Lord to develop the 1930 production code of standards for wide-release films, basically as a way of self-regulating.
"But, at first the code was really not being enforced," said John Mulderig, assistant director for media reviews for Catholic News Service.
In response, the U.S. bishops established the National Legion of Decency in 1933 to directly address the morality of films being produced by the motion picture industry.
"The hope was that if the legion were present and were able to say, 'You're going to lose a significant portion of your patronage, that is the Catholic population are going to obey their bishops and stay away from not only bad movies but perhaps boycott theaters that show movies that violate the code, then you're going to take a hit at the box office,'" Mulderig said.
"That indeed is exactly what happened ... the bishops managed to show in a very short time that they had command of the faithful. The faithful would obey them and not go to certain movies or not even go to a movie theater for six months that had shown a film that contravened the production code.
"As soon as that happened, then Hollywood sat up and took notice," he said, "and this brought on the enforcement of the production code ... in a serious way.”
That financial incentive provided the Motion Picture Production Code -- better known as the Hays Code after Will H. Hays, who was the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America at the time -- with more authority.
In 1934 -- under the direction of prominent public relations professional and pious Catholic Joseph I. Breen -- the MPPDA established the Production Code Administration, requiring all movies to receive a certificate of approval before release.
Hollywood studios adopted the code -- which was not enforced by federal, state or local governments -- to avoid governmental censorship and that code actually led to the disbanding of many local censorship boards.
It gave Breen the power to change scripts before shooting actually began and he'd frequently tell producers what they needed to alter in their films to avoid a "C (Condemned) Rating" by the Legion of Decency, whose reviewers were given an advance screening before its release, said Bernard F. Dick, a renowned film scholar, author and movie reviewer for the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures, or NCOMP, as the legion was renamed in December 1965.
NCOMP was the successor of the Legion of Decency.
"No exhibitor would want to release a C-rated movie," Dick told Catholic News Service during a September interview at his home in Teaneck, New Jersey. "Breen would get the script and look at it and say, 'These lines are sex suggestive.' That was one of his famous phrases.”
The Legion of Decency wasn't just concerned about the depiction of sexually explicit content.
It was also troubled by profanity, violence, criminal activity and how religion was sometimes depicted, said Frank Frost, a founder of the U.S. membership affiliate of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema, now called Signis, and a movie critic for NCOMP from 1964 to 1971.
Gangster films that came out during Prohibition sometimes depicted murderous criminals as heroes, scenarios that could easily prompt a "C-rating," Mulderig said.
Gritty subject matters were not always condemned, however.
Leaders at the Legion of Decency realized there were benefits to having movie plots depict the seamier part of life where there were elements of promiscuity, crime and immorality, as long as the storyline had a redemptive quality to it or provided a price paid for sinful lifestyles, he said, and those films didn't necessarily receive a condemned rating.
The Legion of Decency would send out a team of reviewers and consultants to a preview screening of each wide-release film and they would write their impressions of the movie. Some would gather at the Manhattan headquarters of the legion to discuss the content before a classification was assigned.
A synopsis of the movie, its classification and sometimes the reasons why it was given would then be distributed in a newsletter to subscribers and to the National Catholic Welfare Council news service (the precursor to Catholic News Service), which would distribute it to its subscribing Catholic newspapers throughout the world.
Films were initially rated by the Legion of Decency as A: Morally unobjectionable; B: Morally objectionable in part; and C: Condemned.
John Mulderig poses for a photo Sept. 13, 2019, in Catholic News Service's New York bureau, where he serves as assistant director for media reviews. The CNS Media Review Office evolved from the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
The A ratings were later divvied up to A-I: Suitable for all audiences, A-II: Suitable for adults and adolescents, A-III: Suitable for adults only and A-IV: For adults with reservations.
Over the years, the B and C ratings were merged into a new O rating to reflect a morally offensive classification.
"I grew up really with the Legion of Decency, because on the first Sunday after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the priest would ask us all to stand and take the Legion of Decency Pledge," Dick said.
The following is a version of that pledge.
"I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.”
Though the pledge was voluntary and didn't carry penalties from the church to violators, people at Mass did feel an obligation to recite the oath, Mulderig said. "I presume that if you refused to do that, you would be somewhat conspicuous.”
As a boy in the 1950s, Jesuit Father Kenneth Meehan was an enthusiastic movie patron who had three movie theaters near his childhood Baltimore home and he eagerly awaited the Legion of Decency newsletter to arrive in the mail telling him about the movies ready for wide release.
Admittedly, Father Meehan said he did frequently look for the movies condemned by the legion, figuring that if the church saw fit to be outraged by the content, the film was probably racy enough to satisfy an adolescent's salacious appetite.  
Regardless of his youthful indiscretion of mind, Father Meehan did answer the call of God and during his summer break from seminary studies, he took a job at the New York office of NCOMP in the early 1970s as a movie reviewer.
"This was a dream come true for me," he told CNS. "I was allowed to blend my calling with my love of the movies and of writing."
He would use his movie reviewer experience after he was ordained a priest, teaching in Catholic schools throughout the mid-Atlantic states during the next several decades, frequently in classes dedicated to film studies.
During the middle of the 20th century, the church grappled with changes in taste and public morality and its impact on the film industry changed.
In the 1960s came the Legion of Decency's name change to NCOMP. This was meant to reflect that the organization's mission had evolved, that some of its moral standard requirements had become less stringent and that it had begun to publish reviews that evaluated the artistic qualities of a given film.
The name changed again in the 1970s to the Catholic Office of Film and Broadcasting, which merged with the National Catholic Office for Radio and Television in 1980.
In 2010, it became the Media Review Office of Catholic News Service, which is owned by the U.S. bishops but is editorially independent.
This move allowed the film reviews and classifications to continue being a part of the content CNS offered, Mulderig said.
By the 1980s, the Catholic film office lost negotiating power with movie producers and eventually discontinued producing its newsletter.
But its classifications and movie reviews continue to be one of the most popular features among CNS subscribers and still grace the pages of Catholic publications and websites.
"I certainly believe our reviews are relevant today," Mulderig said, "I think primarily for two groups of people.
"One would be the parents of underage kids who want guidance about exactly what their child will see if they go to this movie," he said. "The other area is adult Catholics who specifically want to avoid certain things.
"I think it's helpful that we're engaging with the film in the overall assessment of 'is this film one that upholds Gospel values or contradicts Gospel values?'"

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family - Crisis Magazine

Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family - Crisis Magazine: When they were casting for the old western The Rifleman, one small boy was brought into the room after another, to meet the star Chuck Connors and the director.  Then young Johnny Crawford came in, a little gangly in the arms and legs, with tousled hair and large brown eyes.  “That’s the son of Lucas …

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christ, the King of Advent - Crisis Magazine

Christ, the King of Advent - Crisis Magazine: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” In the Church calendar, the days of holy feasts and solemnities go by with dizzying speed. And sometimes the chronology seems disordered. We might wonder, for example, why the Slaughter of the Innocents on December 28th comes before the Epiphany on January 6th. The short …

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Christ in the Waste Land

Christ in the Waste Land


Voiced by Amazon Polly
Thirty-six years ago a small slim book crossed my desk at the offices of National Review in Manhattan. Its title was The Restitution of Man: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism; its author, Michael D. Aeschliman. I slipped it into my briefcase and began reading it over a martini on the flight back to Wyoming. At home, I finished the book and wrote an enthusiastic review for the magazine. Now it is back in print in a third edition, this time from Discovery Institute Press in Seattle, with a new foreword by James Le Fanu, the British medical doctor and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, and other new material. It is good to make its acquaintance again. Aeschliman describes his aim as being “to recover, refurbish, and defend… [the concept of] the irreducible sacredness and ultimate value of the human person: person, not just thing; subject, not just object; end, not just means; essence, not just existence; soul, not just body; value, not just fact.”
It is a concept that has been subverted, attacked, and mocked since the 18th century, and in the 21st century categorically dismissed by a majority of the scientific “community” and by progressives generally. “Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles,” William Provine, a contemporary philosopher, asserts. “There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable… modern science implies too there are no inherent moral or ethical laws… free will, the freedom to make uncoerced unpredictable choices among alternative choices of action, simply does not exist… there is no ultimate meaning for humans.” Provine’s conclusion, based supposedly on scientific principles, is bad science and not really philosophy at all, as the ancient philosophers practiced the discipline. Science is alive and active and productive in the material world only. Beyond the world of facts, things, and sensations, it is as helpless—and as useless—as Leviathan beached on the Bonneville salt flats. By comparison with science’s ignorance of metaphysical matters, Scripture and theology are adept at perceiving the metaphysical implications of biology.
Science has never disproved claims regarding “the sacredness and ultimate value of the human person” as its subject and it cannot do so now, as Aeschliman so passionately and convincingly demonstrates. Despite its title, The Restoration of Man, while centered upon Lewis, considers his work in the wider context of the centuries-long intellectual counter-revolution. So widely does Aeschliman range across this anti-secularist tradition that he has appended a 30-page “Glossary of Biographical Identifications” running from Acton and Addison to Yeats and G.M. Young. Indeed, this book is a dense—yet also accessible and compelling—compilation of references and quotations amounting to a rich literary pastiche. The final two paragraphs in the “Afterword” suggest the author’s modus operandi. I quote them at some length, though in part:
In the ongoing cultural struggle… that is modern mental-intellectual life, Lewis, along with such writers as G.K. Chesterton and T.S. Eliot, sought to recover, renew, refurbish, and extend the age-old tradition of “Logocentrism” deriving from Plato and the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. This tradition has universal scope and significance. As Eliot said, “Man is man because he can recognize supernatural realities”—such as truth, validity, obligation, and mentality and meaning themselves—“not because he can invent them.” However, “it is in man’s power,” Lewis noted in The Abolition of Man, “to treat himself as a mere ‘natural object’ and his own judgments of value as raw material for scientific manipulations to alter at will.”

Aeschliman concludes, in his own voice:
the integrative metaphysical-ethical vision is the irreducible, indispensable prerogative, privilege, and patrimony of human civilization itself. No one over the last century has done more to convey, defend, and illuminate it than C.S. Lewis.
The scope of The Restoration of Man is limited to literature, literary history, and apologetics. Nevertheless, the book does, I think, cast light on political developments and events in our own time, in particular those subsumed within the category of the social and political phenomenon called “populism.” This suggestion, which may seem startling, is supported by Aeschliman’s assertion that the “integrative metaphysical-ethical vision is for everyone.” Eliot was saying as much in his vision of a “wasteland” that blights everything and everyone equally. Though the artistic and intellectual classes were the first to recognize it for what was (and is), a century after he wrote the poem the reality of the desolation of the modern human and natural landscape is being experienced by people of all classes and walks of life, and at every educational level—except, ironically, the highest ones.
The modern wasteland is an unnatural creation, and therefore a humanly distressing and painful one. It is the inevitable result of the attempt to abolish man and (regardless of the present panicky and strikingly hypocritical concern for the future of “the planet”) nature as well. What the sensitive antennae of educated people a hundred years ago apprehended, the thicker and more clumsy feelers of the lower classes are registering today. The masses have awakened to the scientific and liberal elite’s antihuman project and they are rebelling against it, sensing not just that they are being treated as less than human and more like “objects”—but that the world itself is becoming increasingly inhuman.
A world that was once palpably (and often painfully) real is rapidly becoming a world of mental abstractions. However, people cannot live on abstractions, any more than they can survive on moonbeams. The elite class, on the other hand, thrives on them, or thinks it does—provided it continues to enjoy the wealth that manipulating abstractions earns for it and that allows its members to climb above the wasteland and escape it.
Image: The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt

Christ in the Waste Land

Christ in the Waste Land


Voiced by Amazon Polly
Thirty-six years ago a small slim book crossed my desk at the offices of National Review in Manhattan. Its title was The Restitution of Man: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism; its author, Michael D. Aeschliman. I slipped it into my briefcase and began reading it over a martini on the flight back to Wyoming. At home, I finished the book and wrote an enthusiastic review for the magazine. Now it is back in print in a third edition, this time from Discovery Institute Press in Seattle, with a new foreword by James Le Fanu, the British medical doctor and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, and other new material. It is good to make its acquaintance again. Aeschliman describes his aim as being “to recover, refurbish, and defend… [the concept of] the irreducible sacredness and ultimate value of the human person: person, not just thing; subject, not just object; end, not just means; essence, not just existence; soul, not just body; value, not just fact.”
It is a concept that has been subverted, attacked, and mocked since the 18th century, and in the 21st century categorically dismissed by a majority of the scientific “community” and by progressives generally. 
“Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles,” William Provine, a contemporary philosopher, asserts. “There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. 
There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable… modern science implies too there are no inherent moral or ethical laws… free will, the freedom to make uncoerced unpredictable choices among alternative choices of action, simply does not exist… there is no ultimate meaning for humans.” 
Provine’s conclusion, based supposedly on scientific principles, is bad science and not really philosophy at all, as the ancient philosophers practiced the discipline. Science is alive and active and productive in the material world only. Beyond the world of facts, things, and sensations, it is as helpless—and as useless—as Leviathan beached on the Bonneville salt flats. By comparison with science’s ignorance of metaphysical matters, Scripture and theology are adept at perceiving the metaphysical implications of biology.
Science has never disproved claims regarding “the sacredness and ultimate value of the human person” as its subject and it cannot do so now, as Aeschliman so passionately and convincingly demonstrates. Despite its title, The Restoration of Man, while centered upon Lewis, considers his work in the wider context of the centuries-long intellectual counter-revolution. 
So widely does Aeschliman range across this anti-secularist tradition that he has appended a 30-page “Glossary of Biographical Identifications” running from Acton and Addison to Yeats and G.M. Young. 
Indeed, this book is a dense—yet also accessible and compelling—compilation of references and quotations amounting to a rich literary pastiche. The final two paragraphs in the “Afterword” suggest the author’s modus operandi. I quote them at some length, though in part:
In the ongoing cultural struggle… that is modern mental-intellectual life, Lewis, along with such writers as G.K. Chesterton and T.S. Eliot, sought to recover, renew, refurbish, and extend the age-old tradition of “Logocentrism” deriving from Plato and the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. This tradition has universal scope and significance. As Eliot said, “Man is man because he can recognize supernatural realities”—such as truth, validity, obligation, and mentality and meaning themselves—“not because he can invent them.” However, “it is in man’s power,” Lewis noted in The Abolition of Man, “to treat himself as a mere ‘natural object’ and his own judgments of value as raw material for scientific manipulations to alter at will.”

Aeschliman concludes, in his own voice:
the integrative metaphysical-ethical vision is the irreducible, indispensable prerogative, privilege, and patrimony of human civilization itself. No one over the last century has done more to convey, defend, and illuminate it than C.S. Lewis.
The scope of The Restoration of Man is limited to literature, literary history, and apologetics. 
Nevertheless, the book does, I think, cast light on political developments and events in our own time, in particular those subsumed within the category of the social and political phenomenon called “populism.” 
This suggestion, which may seem startling, is supported by Aeschliman’s assertion that the “integrative metaphysical-ethical vision is for everyone.”
Eliot was saying as much in his vision of a “wasteland” that blights everything and everyone equally. 
Though the artistic and intellectual classes were the first to recognize it for what was (and is), a century after he wrote the poem the reality of the desolation of the modern human and natural landscape is being experienced by people of all classes and walks of life, and at every educational level—except, ironically, the highest ones.
The modern wasteland is an unnatural creation, and therefore a humanly distressing and painful one. 
It is the inevitable result of the attempt to abolish man and (regardless of the present panicky and strikingly hypocritical concern for the future of “the planet”) nature as well. 
What the sensitive antennae of educated people a hundred years ago apprehended, the thicker and more clumsy feelers of the lower classes are registering today. 
The masses have awakened to the scientific and liberal elite’s antihuman project and they are rebelling against it, sensing not just that they are being treated as less than human and more like “objects”—but that the world itself is becoming increasingly inhuman.
A world that was once palpably (and often painfully) real is rapidly becoming a world of mental abstractions. However, people cannot live on abstractions, any more than they can survive on moonbeams. 
The elite class, on the other hand, thrives on them, or thinks it does—provided it continues to enjoy the wealth that manipulating abstractions earns for it and that allows its members to climb above the wasteland and escape it.
Image: The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt

crisismagazine.com/2019/doublethinking-1984-after-70-years


https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/doublethinking-1984-after-70-years

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Simon & Garfunkel - My Little Town (Audio)

Abuse of Language Leads to the Abuse of Power

Abuse of Language Leads to the Abuse of Power


The great Thomist Josef Pieper penned a short book in the late seventies on how totalitarian regimes use words to gain control over the masses: Abuse of Language – Abuse of Power. Pieper’s treatise came to mind as I read that the Canadian government is no longer going to refer to ISIS as ISIS (that is, the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or sometimes just the “Islamic State”). Rather, they will use the more neutral term “Daesh,” so as to avoid, they say, painting all of Islam with the bloodstained brush of terrorism. Ironically, not only does this name (which is in fact an Arabic acronym) mean more or less the same thing as ISIS, but the terrorists of ISIS have threatened to cut the tongue out of anyone using it.
Of course, this opens up many questions, not least the relation between Islam and terrorism. Taken to its logical conclusion, this change in nomenclature would mean that no terrorist act can, by definition, be termed “Islamic,” even if the terrorist confesses it so with his dying breath. Whence, therefore, Allahu Akbar? Is any and all bloodshed in the name of Allah no longer Islamic? Who is to say? What therefore do we make of Islamic “radicalization,” which literally means “going back to the root”? Do we not mean by this returning to the very origins of Islam that, even to the most irenic of historians, is steeped in blood and carnage? Can a change in name change this reality?
Well, no, but it can change our perception of reality, the “reality” of our thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
This is by no means the first time a regime has used Orwellian language to mollify evil: Hitler had his lebensraum, carving out a little bit of “living room” for “real” Germans in central Europe. No worries, just a little blue-eyed Aryan expansion. Oh, and we also have to “cleanse” the race of “impurities,” culminating in the “final solution.” Little written record was kept of Hitler’s decisions; it was all dark and secret, for light exposes the truth. The “labour camps,” wherein one was worked to death, or transported to the gas chambers, had the infamous sign in wrought-iron over the gate, Arbeit macht frei, “work will make you free,” a demonic parody of Our Lord’s words that, rather, it is the truth which shall truly set you free.

Few could outdo the Communists in their use of doublespeak: “Five-year plans,” “free the worker,” the “People’s Party,” “equality for all,” “enemies of the State,” and, proclaiming all the lies in official form was their official paper Pravda, which did anything but speak the “Truth.”
Beware of Soft TotalitarianismThe so-called “hard” totalitarian regimes are on the wane, but beware the soft variety, which is creeping into our very brains and thoughts, as our government, schools and their mouthpieces in the media, subtly alter the meaning of our language and its terms. Ponder the following:
Gay, which until quite recently meant “happy” or “joyful,” now applies to a group that engage in unnatural vices that will make them anything but happy and joyful.
The same goes for queer, which once meant “odd” or “out of the ordinary.” Now, it is a term of “pride,” which, along with gay, now forms “Gay Pride.” Are they proud for being happy? If memory serves, I recall a local brewer years ago marketed a beer that they called Pride Lager, bedecked with a pink triangle as its label, targeted to the homosexual community. It did not fare well. As you can guess, no one wanted to be seen with one in his hand, at least outside a “gay” bar.
From gay, to gender, a term once upon a time applied only to inanimate objects, while the term sex was used for people, as in “male” and “female.” Now we are taught a fluid notion of sex or, pardon me, gender, and even our traditional terms are fraught with discriminatory overtones. We are no longer male, nor female, but rather somewhere on the spectrum of who-knows-how-many (some say infinite) possible “genders.”
Hence, the expectation to no longer use the all-encompassing, and inclusive, “he” or “his,” but the awkward and clumsy “he and she,” “she or he,” or, alas, “s/he,” to say nothing of all the bizarre neologistic pronouns carved out of the thin air of political correctness, zhe, zir, shi and so on, soon to be prescribed in law. A column this morning in the National Post cautions against state interference in this gender war, but declaims from its media-moral throne that we should in all fairness use whatever pronouns people want us to use.
But do not pronouns mean something, and point, or not point, to an underlying reality? Why would I want to be complicit in someone else’s disordered “gender fluidity” or, as they now say, “dysphoria”?
I wonder how long it will be before Hamlet’s monologue, and much else in literature, is bowdlerized:
What a piece of work is man!… And, of course, woman, or, er, is that womyn? Humyn, anyone?
In the midst of an address to seminarians on his recent pilgrimage to Georgia, Pope Francis warned that there is a great enemy to marriage today: the theory of gender. Today there is a world war to destroy marriage. Today there are ideological colonizations that destroy, not with weapons, but with ideas. Therefore, there is a need to defend ourselves from this threat.
The Illiberal Liberal Prime Minister of CanadaOf course, if one were so to “defend oneself,” he (and, yes, she) would be accused of bigotry, hatred, and being anti-freedom. Speaking of which, here in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau and his cronies govern under the mantle of Liberal, derived from the Latin verb liberare, to free, or set something free. Even heterodox Catholics have adopted this term: They are “liberal,” while we benighted knuckle-draggers are “conservatives” or “traditionalist” (or something worse). As truth would have it, such “liberals” are anything but for true freedom.
Case in point: Trudeau and parliament recently legalized euthanasia, which, as its Greek etymology attests, literally means a “good death,” eu-thanatos. Who does not want a good death, surrounded by a priest and family, having received the Last Rites, breathing one’s soul into eternity, and carried to heaven by the Angelic Host. But that is not quite what they mean, as some healthcare worker injects a semi-compliant patient-victim with a syringe full of potassium chloride in the dead of night.
Trudeau has also made clear that his government will always and everywhere defend a woman’s “right to choose,” which, translated, means the right to have her unborn child killed. This issue seems “settled” in Canada, at least so far, but not so in Poland, already with one of the strictest abortion laws, but which the other day voted against a bill to outright ban the grisly procedure. The legislators were swayed by a host of protesting women, presumably educated into ignorance, out marching for their “right” to choose what is good for their own bodies.
Well, what of pro-choice? Why does that term bring to mind being pro-abortion? Are we not all pro-choice, in any real sense of that term? Saint Augustine’s phrase for “free will” was liberum arbitrium, which translates more precisely as “free choice.” After all, as Augustine rightly reasoned, we cannot not will our final end, which is God whom we all desire by nature. Rather, all we can really choose are the means to this end, whether well or badly. So everyone, not least Catholics who have the fullness of truth, is “pro-choice.” It’s just that some choices are evil, and lead us away from our final end, and from the common good of society.
Pope Saint John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae puts the point even more forcefully in speaking of the ‘unspeakable’ crimes of abortion and infanticide, and I cannot put the case more eloquently and clearly than he:
But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behavior and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as “interruption of pregnancy,” which tends to hide abortion’s true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth.
Time to Take Back the LanguageBy so altering the terms of our language, the powers of darkness have proved themselves wiser than the children of light. By co-opting the common and customary meaning of our words, with shrewd epistemology, they have altered our thoughts and concepts, which connect us with how things really are, or are not, which in turn is how Saint Thomas defined truth, adequatio rei et intellectus: a conformity between the mind and reality, a relationship that is forged, built up and maintained by what we mean by the words we use. Josef Pieper argues that it is in changing our use of language that totalitarian regimes change our notion of truth. We are enslaved not with guns and tanks, but by the ignorance resulting from the warping of our words and thoughts. We, and by that I mean especially our young people attending modern state-controlled educational establishments, are being turned into a nation of mind-controlled zombies.
Who of them connects “happy” anymore with “gay”? Perhaps they think of “gays” as joyful, happy people, surrounded by hateful bigots wanting to take away the source of their, er, joy? That is often how they are portrayed in films and sit-coms.
And who considers abortion “murder” anymore, except a few fringe “anti-choicers”? Even bringing the topic up in any discourse is considered bad taste. We will soon see the same thing with euthanasia, made even more palatable with the antiseptic phrase “medical assistance in dying.” Helping someone to die used to be “accessory to murder,” a federal crime, but no more, so long as the person has, and here we go again, “terminal,” or now the subjectively even more ambiguous “unbearable” suffering.
We are in strange waters here. As our minds get muddied and fogged up, we must breathe in the pure and clear air of truth in how we use our words, which shape our thoughts, which in turn influence our actions, for good or for ill.
Here is some advice: A good place to start in forming our minds is a decent primer on Aristotelian logic, then move on to some scholastic philosophy and theology, the two primary hallmarks of which were clarity and precision: To say what you mean clearly, and cut away what you do not mean. And amongst the greatest of the Church’s minds in training us how to think is Thomas Aquinas, held up by the Church as the paradigm of theological method, of the synthesis between faith and reason, and a source of much of the established terminology of the Church (and our culture).
John Paul II went so far as to praise Thomas in his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio “as an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.”
The American author Flannery O’Connor supposedly read a page of the Summa every night, a practice that bears much imitation.
After that, read good books, essays, articles, encyclicals. Look words up, find out their etymologies and meanings, and use them correctly, even if, especially if, it is politically “incorrect” to do so.
Let’s take back the language, so that our thoughts and our reasoning may be as clear, pure and, yes, as courageous in the truth as Christ asks of us, so that our “yes, may mean yes, and our no, no.” Anything more, comes from, well, you know…
Editor’s note: Pictured above, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (right) delivers remarks in honor of the U.S.-Canada relationship at a state luncheon in his honor (March 2016). (Photo credit: Wikicommons)