On candlelight vigils

The refusal to deal with reality — and I mean hard-tack, material, worldly reality here — is paradoxically the consequence of refusing to deal with spiritual realities. It comes home to us again as the fatuous displays of an affected grief continue in Paris, and sympathetically all over the West, as also in the cells of secular Westernization, elsewhere. Of course, many in the Islamic world are not soi-disant “grieving” at all. They are quietly, and in some places noisily, exulting.

Our media do not like to report that: it contradicts the narrative of “universal values” that, for instance, President Obama was supporting, when he managed to deliver an address on the occasion of the massacre in which, so far as I can count, every single statement was demonstrably false. He is a more extreme case of ideologically-based mental dysfunction; though to be fair to him, President Bush shared many of his delusions, being possessed by the idea that Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries could be pacified, by means of these same “universal values.” (I notice that, in his moment of shell-shock, President Hollande of France is temporarily freed of them, his mind wandering instead to the promise of some perpetual state of emergency.)

There is such a thing as human nature, and one might say that it is universal to our species. But “universal human values” are another thing entirely.

For no: down here on Earth the human values are invariably contested. We who live in anno 2015 should be — though we are not — especially familiar with this, having witnessed a radical transformation of values within our own societies over the last few decades. We are not, however, because our new “multicultural” values forbid us to think about such things. As Obama was demonstrating, “we” (I exclude a certain shrinking proportion of the general population) have become immune to the factual.

But I would be delusionary myself, if I were to suggest there is anything an individual can do, to divert the course of history. We can — and here I am reverting to the “Reason and Revelation” upon which our civilization was founded — most certainly do things to help God save us, and to save those we truly love, in the face of Eternity. But the course of history, including wars, will always remain “above the pay grade” of any particular human beings.

This is the answer to all the “what if?” questions at the root of our current politics; all premissed on the idea that “we,” the enfranchised voters of America or wherever, are as gods. It is what got us evicted from Eden in the first place. We try to exercise a power we do not have, in the course of which we “make a lío” of everything we touch.

Of wars, for instance. We think, par example, “What if Winston Churchill had prevailed sooner, and stopped Hitler in time?” Or anyone else for that matter: say, an assassin in the Munich beer hall. (I give the “or” because the belief that Churchill understood what was happening in the 1930s was a myth of his own invention, constructed in the decade after. Check the records and one finds that he wobbled like everyone else between believing this, and believing that; there were even moments when he was recommending defence cuts.)

For no: great wars do not happen because nameable individuals have made “mistakes”; nor can be avoided by making the right calls. This is something only the worshippers of technology are capable of believing. Instead, wars happen when, as a consequence of the aggregate “mistakes” of many million people, circumstances emerge that are truly beyond the possibility of sane, or insane, human control.

I fear that, with respect to the next war that will engulf Europe, and cause catastrophes still unimaginable, we have again reached that point. As I watch the great masses outpouring their fake grief in fits of populist emotion, I realize that they, much more than any Muslim fanatics, have determined what that future will be. They are, in the strictest sense, de-moralized. The fact that they indulge in the sacrilege of godless “candlelight vigils” is an indication of how far gone they are: to a mess no longer within the human capacity to repair. They are — and have been for some time — completely incapable of defending what remains of our civilization, against a quite straightforward threat. They no longer even belong to what is, for them, only a museum relic.

But in saying this I am no Cassandra. The most of which I can be accused is parody of some wizened, minor, Old Testament prophet: for the prophets of Israel did not consciously predict anything. Rather they understood the present, thanks to God-widened eyes. They described the horror that was plainly before them, in the souls of men. They did not prescribe happyface political solutions. Their message was instead: Repent!

Which is something each of us can do, and no one can do for another, except through Love. And by capitalizing that word I mean to distinguish it from what is trite and comforting and charming.

Our civilization was able to flourish, for all its sins, because God permitted it to flourish; because the Holy Spirit persistently intervened in response to the calling of real Faith. But where there is no Faith, there is nothing for Him to respond to. At least, that is my cruelly limited, but sincerely Christian understanding of how things are.

Let me bring that up to date. Wars are not won and lost by the number of soldiers, nor the calibre of their weapons. The godless believe that, but they are wrong. With every possible material advantage, the United States lost wars in, successively, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

My views have changed over the years. Once I thought that “ideas have consequences” — which they do, perhaps, but only within human souls. They do not, and cannot, “fix” anything. In the face of reality, no human five-year plan is ever going to work. There are consequences, I have come to think, deep within the ocean of human history, not of ideas but of human Faith, and of its failure. We work with Christ or — God help us — we work against Him.

“Sacrilege” was the word — I am trying once again to be “insensitive,” as I was doing in my last Idlepost — for these candlelight vigils, and this foolish little inverted-crucifix peace sign, overbrushed with an image of the Eiffel Tower. What the masses are proclaiming is their faith in the efficacy of human emotion. It is the faith of Peter Pan.

But it is worse than that. They are using a means long hallowed within the Church, and adapting it to the worship of some other God than Our Saviour. Their only defence is the bottomless, “invincible” ignorance in which they live, as a consequence of Europe’s abandonment of the Faith. They are not projecting, but rather exhibiting, the collapse of our Western, and once unambiguously Christian, civilization — into the hands of the very people who have been murdering them.

As some other strange Catholic observer recently remarked (I’ve lost the link), we did not win the Battle of Lepanto with superior force. We had just enough to make it physically possible; hardly enough to make it likely. What tilted that playing field was many millions of humble peasants, praying their Rosaries that God would help us. He heard them, and did.

To the masses of today in their candlelight vigils, this remark will seem utterly absurd. But I believe it to be the truth; and that, because we can no longer grasp it, we can no longer understand more mundane realities, either. They — we — do not know where to turn for help.

Sainte vierge Marie, Reine de France, priez pour nous!