The Crisis of Our Times

"Not by force of arms are civilizations held together, but by subtle threads of moral and intellectual principle." -Russell Kirk

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On Immoral Wretches, a Lake of Fire, and other Light Hearted Comedies

Today a coworker asked me sarcastically if I believe that all of us immoral wretches will burn in hell. It was put snider than what my meek delivery hints at. Of course his statement was followed by some remark about the religious right controlling the Government-presumably a government that he finds fault in. Like an idiot-stumbling over lines of argument and phrases of refute in my mind-all I could spit out was "I guess." I guess...Well I do, though thats a simplified remark, but perhaps a remark appropriate for his level of understanding-I don't know. Whether or not hell is an inferno in grand degree or some other over heated holler, I cannot say--I've never been there and fully pray I shall never be. What I do know is that its a place of great discomfort. I've heard people say that its a disjoining from God, which seems obvious. Unfortunately to many of those who fail to believe, and even some that say they do, that type of hell seems a lot less hostile than the burning inferno that we've come to imagine. Considering that every good that we can enjoy, every good that we know is from God and enjoyed within him, I couldn't imagine a worse sort of hell-even though I can only in part conceive of it, much like trying to conceive being dead. So we, obviously, can only try to describe hell through what we know from our material world and what has been revealed to us. Christ describes hell many times as a horrible place of pain. As a realist, which to be honest I take almost as much from the Greek Academy and from Cicero as I do from Augustine and the Church Fathers, I believe in an ordered world, thus I believe in justice. If the world is just, there must be a hell, but we can only describe it in physical ways, thus the idea of the inferno. Living as we do the greatest pain that we can imagine is our whole body in tremendous pain, such as being set on fire, sustained without the escape of death.
Thus I guess you could say that those immoral wretches will burn in hell. Believing in Justice, I can say I do know that everyone will receive what is due to them, whatsoever that should be.

Though of course, its by God's Grace that we are saved from the reign of Death. By faith in God we follow him, we seek him, so that we may understand him more, and thus so we may love him and follow him more fully. The fruit of faith is just actions. Those of us that do not live morally, in that we live contrary to what is our proper role and order, run the risk of hell, being not given God's Grace.

We are not spiritual beings like angels, nor are we purely animal creatures like dogs. We are harmoniously combined, but we must order ourselves properly. Any proper order starts with the highest to the lowest-the highest should always reign over the lowest. Our highest element is a soul, which practically is our Reason-which we share with the angels and which separates us from beasts.

In order to live correctly we must conform our animal element to Reason through our Will. Cicero and the Academy prescribe this as well. Through Right Reason we break ourselves from the slavery of the physical-lust, sloth, gluttony, pride, etc. We break our wrongful habits, we end our addictions, and we end our search for happiness in material things, because such searches are in vain.

Such is vain as far as all those things are temporal and base, subject to chance and fortune. You wish to find happiness in wealth, but wealth can be lost, you try to find happiness in sex but sex can be denied, or food or anything else that you have no ability to control. We must order ourselves properly so we can think properly. Those that do not are immoral and may be in danger of hell, but even before death grasps them they already obtain it in part. I love ideas and the quest for truth. I love talking to people who are intelligent. I can think of nothing worse than talking to someone who acts as a child, who whines, who cries, and acts unsteady. Those who allow their base appetites and habits to reign above their reason, act as bratty children. To me that's already a small part of Hell, and I pity them.

All right, All right...I can hear some of you already asking, if it is in our ability to make such proper orderings why do we need Jesus or Christianity. Well we have the Reason, but our will is only partially free. Because of original sin we are under the reign of death, and our wills are stained because of it and imperfect, unlike the angels who have perfect will. So no matter how much we will to be perfectly like the angels in obedience there will be times even in the best of us that habit and addiction get the better of us. Thus no matter how much we try we are not worthy of Heaven, eternal communion with God.

We don't have that power, we must ask for the aid of that who does God. We were given this ability, and thus salvation and freedom, because of Christ, the logos.

Christ was born without the stain of sin. He was completely innocent. Upon being betrayed he suffered Death unjustly. Death is the just punishment for sin. Christ was perfect in faith, action, and will. By being punished unjustly he was punished enough to satisfied death for us all. Its a little like a population sentenced justly to a jail term and then a truly innocent man being sentenced unjustly, who then satisfies our sentence for. By his death we were set free, by following Christ we are granted God's Grace and are made worthy of Heaven. By the Cross, we are set free. Grace is only granted to those that seek God, the Truth. To seek for something you must first have faith that it can be found, that should be obvious. In my day-to-day studies I seek Truth, which rightfully is God, because
I believe Truth exists. Newton sought the properties of gravity because he had faith that gravity exists.

Even though there have been people who doubted gravity, though usually under some intoxicant stronger than caffeine, they were still subject to its truth, and its the same for those that don't acknowledge God. Once on our search we start understanding, and we conform our actions appropriately-those who still say by faith alone are we saved and think that actions don't matter are just kidding their selves, if they had faith then they would act accordingly. This is just a breezy summation of it. Augustine in The Free Choice of the Will gives a better description and in the next couple days I'll type it up and put it on here.

So are immoral wretches going to burn, I guess you could say that, but that's not important to me, I hope not to be there with them. Unfortunately you immoral wretches act like children--which is shown by your disregard for marriage, your objectification of other people, your insistent greed and search for material happiness, and in the extreme your disregard for life (abortion, contraception), and of course your genuinely whinny nature and your possible addiction to Reality TV (ohh...the agony)--so I'll have to deal with you here...pity...thank God I have the free will to avoid you.

Cheers.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Handful Of Dust

Just finished reading a wonderful book by Evelyn Waugh, titled A Handful of Dust. The title is borrowed from a line in T.S. Elliot’s famous poem, The Wasteland. I’ve only breezed through the first few parts of that poem but I hope get a better read of it in the near future. Mr. Waugh’s book is disturbing, hilarious, and reflective of our times--mostly all at once. The central character, Mr. Tony Last, lives a fair life, with an intelligent son (John Andrews) and an attractive wife, Brenda-who those of high society believe to be much above her husbands worth. They reside in a family estate, left to Tony by his father, called Hetton Gardens. Hetton requires a grand amount of Tony’s wealth to keep and is never a very comfortable place-to the irritation of Brenda. Its large, gothic, and uninviting. Mr.Last rarely has guests and when one should appear it is to his annoyance. One day a fellow, John Beaver, who he met a club-Brat’s-comes stopping by for the weekend. John is unanioumously disliked by all who matter, and at the moment of his arrival becomes more than Mr. Last wishes to endure. He avoids him thourghly, leaving Brenda to tend to him. They hit it off, though it seems remarkable considering Mr. Beaver’s "awfulness." From this moment on Mr. Last’s life slowly swirls into the abyss. His wife’s boredom leads her into an affair with John Beaver. She gets a flat in London and finds any excuse to stay away from Hetton, her Husband, and son. Months into the affair an awful tragety occurs. John Andrews, out on his first hunting trip, is a victim of a freak accident, a startled horse knocks him off of his and in flight stikes him on his head with a violent kick. Tony is informed of his son’s death and sends a friend Mr. Jock Grant-Menzies to inform his wife in London. Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Brenda blurts out unconsciously, "thank God." Though she makes her apologies, her actions soon shed light on the remark. Within a few weeks she proclaims her desire for a divorce and wish to marry Mr. Beaver. Mr. Last, though not in favor of it, is naturally forced to go along with it. They make the appropriate arrangements, including how much Brenda will receive in alimony. Under the law the only grounds for divorce is adultery and Tony agrees, inorder to hide Brenda’s affair, to spend the night with a woman so that the hired detectives can get enough evidence for the court. Later on, Tony is informed, through Brenda’s brother, that she wants more-which would force Tony to sell his beloved estate. Tony had enough and refuses any settlement and starts to plan for a trip to hideaway for awhile. Upon making his plans he meets a Dr. Messinger. Dr. Messinger is planning a tripto Brazil to search for an old forgotten city. Tony decides to go along for the adventure. While in Brazil Tony catches a harsh fever. Dr. Messinger attempts to go ahead of the river in search for helpbut drowns on his way leaving a very ill Mr. Last to fend for himself. Tony recovers but finds himself stuck forever in Brazil-and to throw salt on the wound to read Dickens for the rest of his life.

Well that’s a very vague breakdown of the plot and leaves more than enough for any future readers to find interest in--and I hope that you do. I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s just over two-hundred and twenty pages so its not exactly an overwhelming task to read---though it is certainly a rewarding book.

Quite a few things sprung to my mind while I read. It’s in a way an apotalyipic revelation, that in large degree we see in our present time. Marriage, decency, parenthood, any responsibility or duty at all in fact, are considered anchors to personal passions and thus unbearable chains of slavery. Morality itself is an unbearable bore. The characters are stuck in an eternal adolescence, thinking it proper form to follow their base passions without the sting of natural consequence. Certainly we all know the type and and many of you are perhaps just that sort. Central to the problem, and I believe implicit in the book, is that society had Christianity formerly as its rock, its very foundation.

This foundation decayed through neglect has become a skeleton, where old institutions-such asmarriage, church, parenthood-still exist but mean nothing at all. Any shape is bound to lose its form when it loses its center, and so society has decayed to a state of eternal adolecence.
It does sound familiar doesn’t it.

As with Mr. Last, when tragity strikes and disillusion takes its toll, they, or maybe "we" is a better word, search for an unknown place of happiness that’s stamped on their hearts, not in the higher spiritual order of things but in the only place that weak minds can comprehend, the material world. Tony searchs for a mythical paradise in Brazil, but instead finds his search take him into an unescapable hell. Sounds like so many of us who’ve turned away from God and Truth inorder to adopt a man made political religion of mathematical precision, that guarantees Nirvana but instead leads us to totalitarianism, Nazism, Communism, and all the otherhells that men’s minds have cruelly conjectured.
God is the only eternal and by latching on to him we cleave onto eternal truth and wisdom. Everything material was created from dust and back to dust it will go. Grabbing onto it can not bring you truth, purpose, or even a tolerable existence. All such grasps will only clinch a handful of dust. Evelyn Waugh makes that point rather clearly.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Final Note on Christmas from Peter Brimelow

Peter Brimelow, in conjunction with www.vdare.com, each year holds a "War Against Christmas Award," which takes a look at how the importance and its explicit recognition of the Christmas Season are in decline around the country. After citing numerous examples, he makes the following point (cited from Steven Rothberg):

Balance it with Christmas. Stay aware of the relative significance of other holidays when compared with Christmas. As most of us know, Christmas is one of the most valued holidays in the Christian calendar—by contrast, Hanukkah is a good deal less significant to the Jewish community. Moreover, Kwanzaa—while of great importance to many African-Americans—is primarily a cultural celebration rather than religious. As such, keep all three holidays in their proper perspective. ‘It can be a serious mistake to elevate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah to the level of Christmas,’ says Steven Rothberg, president of CollegeRecruiter.com. ‘To do so might be really insulting to Christian customers.’
The truth is that there is no “Holiday Season.” There is only Christmas. Everything else is a distraction and a delusion.
American Christians do not hunt around for days dedicated to
obscure saints—Lew Rockwell can supply a list on request—and celebrate them loudly in order to step on Ramadan or Yom Kippur. Neither should anyone else step on Christmas.
When people get cards wishing them “UNmerry Christmas”, then they can start getting offended.
And only then.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Goodbye Christmas for now, but hopefully not Forever 1/6/06

Epiphany has passed and Christmas is officially over. Today, I started to de-decorate my house--taking down the stockings, mistletoe, nutcrackers, holly and unwrapping my favorite Dali prints--that for the season masqueraded on the wall as wrapped gifts. The lights that adorn my house
have just begun to come down. I prefer a more traditional Christmas (as opposed to a Griswold Christmas—there’s nothing worse than a pop culture reference…lol) so it won't require much of my time to pack up those few lights. Last night was the last time they'll shine, but I did notice that my house was the only one in sight with lights on (or even hanging)--most of the block packed them up before the New Year and the remainder did so last week.

Stopping the Celebration of our Lord's Birth prematurely is nothing new of course, though in my Grandfather's time it would have been just enough cause to boycott an un-festive corner store or to send a few shame-on-you-nods toward the culprit across the street--of course today its more typical to get a puzzled look from someone when Epiphany is mentioned. The modern Christmas season starts on Black Friday and ends the day after Christmas--just
in time to celebrate Valentines on the Corporate Calendar that most follow now a days. Its not
that the world has been filled to the brim with atheists or those annoying hippy types. They’re few in number and most of them don’t even put the lights up or apathetically leave them hanging all year long. Christians are criminal in that respect, or at least those that label their selves by that name on occasion. The people who should guard that holiday the most and feel the greatest anger at losing it are just handing it over with out resistance—on occasion they do let them know that their smile is just a forced one. Look at America, a country filled with backwards Medievalists—as Europe seems to believe—and yet here we spend more time buying gifts than in praying and meditating on the greatest gift that has ever been given to humanity. I read in the newspaper, a few weeks before Christmas, about the controversy with Wal-Mart, and other stores, not wishing an explicit Merry Christmas to customers or allowing the Salvation Army in front of their doors. The articles showcased the reactions of the Christmas shoppers and most of them thought of it as some thing between horrible and distasteful. It didn’t stop them from shopping there though. They expressed their scorn and continued buying Polly Playthings and Tiny-Tot Torture Chambers that come with the combustible head G.I. JOE. They expressed that if they actually looked for a store that showed support for the Christian holiday, or at least not explicit scorn or apathy towards it, they’d be hard pressed to find one among the accessible corporate producers and store chains—far more effort than American fortitude could endure. There wouldn’t be anywhere to buy Dad that assault rifle he wanted or little Billy that computer game that looks so awesomely realistic—you know the one where you can see in minute detail the enemy’s brain splat on the Screen when you shoot him with the titanium loaded lazar launcher. I mean if we had to do that—to actually find a large accessible store like that--we couldn’t get anyone any real presents, we’d be left to giving books from the private bookshop or even worse giving to some Charitable Organization in our loved ones name. That sure doesn’t sound like Christmas.

Does it?

Errrrr....Happy New Year! 12/31/05

Happy New Year! Current mood: content
Happy New Year!Such a simple and casual phrase of goodwill--which surely has at least a small semblance of sincerity in the heart of the well-wisher--but as this millennium has stayed the course laid out from the last it will be a phrase given in vain. These years have seen nonsensical wars, endless hate, and minds filled with dangerous Utopian visions and silly ideologies (idiot-ologies as the respected John Adams labeled it). They have been years filled with people whose ears are taken with deceptions and whose hearts are more prone to be enflamed by word democracy than the name Jesus Christ. The Cultures that fill these fleeting moments of eternity are crumbling away and the demagogues that preside over and awe the masses can only point fingers at each other or blame it all, in full, on the immigrants crossing over the blurring borders. They’re blind to the root cause, despite how obvious it may be, that those occupying the lands of the West, of Christendom, have their eyes and hearts centered upon their selves and not the Truth. They are inspired by little other than the pursuit and occupation of whatever in their immediate disposal that can be of USE to gratify their base inclinations—only to hunger twice as much afterward. How could a climate such as this produce a culture worthy of even a passing remark from the mouths of the Wise, Noble, or even the Semi-Awake? How could such a culture ever wish to produce anything to compare to the Confessions of St. Augustine, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the works of Michelangelo, or the masterpieces of Bach? Instead we get the DaVinci Code, the Motorcycle Diaries, the scribbling of Picasso, and the drooping noise of Korn. It’s a brave new world indeed. These have been years where Darwinism—despite its immanent holes and giant grasps—has been taught as irreproachable fact. In the course of events starting with the communitarian gathering of Greece and the thought from the Academy to today’s events and rather lame attempts of thought—liberalism, nominalism, extremism, etc.—can any proof be acquired to support the new faith—which Darwinism has been called—that places its whole being in the notion of Human progress. As Mencken stated that the evolutionary course from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt is proof enough that no evolutionary progress exists. War, Famine, Plague, and Death, the Four Horseman have been with us for some time but none more brutally present than in the 20th century (a Century that parallels the 14th in cruelty, war, superstition, and death) and these few years that followed it. And it doesn’t appear that the semi-sincere well-wishes, resolutions, or the sounds of pouring champagne will scare them off just yet or discourage their loyal vassals from carrying them out with bright smiles on their faces. So another year gone, and another here to come………and yet again another semi-sincere phrase from the lips of a reluctant well wisher….Happy New Year!

O Holy Night, O Silent Night 12/24/05

Its the 24th of December, the beautiful Eve of Christmas, and I have of yet not made a post--though many ideas have come to mind. And most of those ideas have came out of my intellectual response to other people's blogs--namely those disparaging religion but at the same time complaining about the decay of culture (a paradox to me and surely for many). And since its the time of the great Holiday, I don't wish to trouble my audience--even if that be only me--with any slanderous remarks or mean spirited name calling, of which I'm prone to do (just joking of course).
Instead I think it would be much more appropriate to contemplate on the miracle that occured, really just a small step in time, those many years ago in a small impoverished manger. That Christmas Day, a baby was born who was not just a man but God himself. As odd as it sounds, that fact just really started to ease into my mind today. Since the time I was a child I knew something or other about Jesus, that he was the son of God, and that--paradox to our mind--he was God himself. Throughout my short life I've went through various stages of belief--at a young age superficially accepting without any care for understanding, through a period of mocking disbelief, to now just a state of awe at what an amazing fact (and its correlating grand concept) that virgin birth of God is. God chose when, how, and where to be born as well as to whom. Nothing is insignificant. The very fact that God made the choice to become a man--a strange decision if any motive other than great love is considered--is stunning. In great part it is this level of love that has been given to us on that most holy day that I've just started to fully appreciate. The God of all things, the highest being of all beings, the Truth and creater becomes the created (in part), he becomes a lower form (in part) because he put himself into a state of suffering, pain, and temptation in a world full of human-made distortion. That's absolutly awesome to me. The concept is so deep that if a man feels no humility in his soul (when that wonderful miracle is ACTUALLY contemplated), then I'd have to deduce that they're of some other sort of creature.
That love is our continuing gift and that wonderous mystery should be the aim of continuious devotion. Its sad to me, in thinking about all this, that on the Day when the greatest gift was given to humanity, we now consecrate to ourselves--marching out in the cold air, fighting trials of traffic and those of a natural sort, fighting with our fellow man to waste away our money on unneccessary items to put under our Pine Tree (which is itself elaborated with luxurious figures of a fat man dressed in red) to gratify our desire (if only in part) of a cornucopia of endless material goods to hoard to ourselves. We give because we want praise, or maybe more often because we feel we have to in order to get more for ourselves. On the day when our eyes should be on God, in thanksgiving for the Son and in celebration of his endless love, we're flattering our own egos with every material indulgence, giving and expecting presents for ourselves. If God cannot satisfy you, What will?
I'm not throwing stones, or for that matter, spears and daggars. The sin is mine as well. I was out there with all you, and I think it was actually you that blooded my nose last night so you could grab the last Polly-Plaything there was at Toys-4UR-Souls. I recognize the need for change and I DEARLY HOPE YOU DO TOO.
All praise to God, but alittle thanks to you to for suffering my rants and tired thoughts.
God Bless and Merry Christmas,
B. Hoffman