Encore une fois

It is among the tenets of our faith that zombies can be cured. And there are a lot of zombies in France, according to the political sociologists. These are the people from the more traditional regions, which long resisted the Revolution and the lashings of laïcité that followed through nine or ten more generations. From materials sent me by a concerned priest, I learn that they are now called “Catholic zombies.” This because, while among the walking, spiritually dead, who no longer attend the Mass, or otherwise engage with the living Church, they still have basically Catholic attitudes. Many were even baptized, once upon a time. Which is to say: they are a bunch of terrifying reactionaries, who don’t kill their babies and think marriage should be cross-sexual. (Sometimes a million or two of these zombies march on Paris.)

Verily, it is the teaching of our Church that anyone can be saved, even Hitler. Though truth to tell, it may be too late for him. A religion which holds that the dead rise will have a natural affinity for zombies. Though I’m not sure I would want to take that theological observation too far. Rather, I would rephrase it to say, once a Catholic always a Catholic, even if a Catholic who is bound for Hell. It does not follow he will get there, however; for as Father Brown put it:

“I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.”

This may strike my non-co-religionists as abstruse. But they may always read G. K. Chesterton for themselves. (Or Brideshead Revisited, wherein it was famously quoted.)

Indeed, I would say it of the whole of Western Civ, and cite myself as an example. For my people took their leave of Catholicism five centuries ago. A very long thread, to be sure. But look, I am back.

Verily, we live in a zombie civilization, which seems sometimes to have severed itself from its origins in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet is at the present day still hacking and thwacking at the invisible thread. And why? Because secretly it knows itself to be still attached — that it is still Western, and even Roman in the strangest freaky ways. The zealotry, the frenzy of the progressives, who never can believe they have freed themselves, so that they “move on” from one outrage to another, is curiously the best evidence for this. Little things — even a little thing like Trump — can drive them to hysteria. They thought all that was buried; they thought they’d put the stake through it. They thought they were on the right side of l’histoire.

And there it is, trailing with ghastly wounds and swaddling gauze — the undead, vestigial Christianity.

The stuff to which I was referred (here, for starters), wanders along this line. The mere rise (from retirement) of the politician, François Fillon — self-declared Thatcherite, but also notoriously practising Catholic — was the occasion for this delightfully shrieking headline in the progressive daily, Liberation:

“Help, Jesus has returned!”

But of course, they overstate the political significance. The zombies are for the most part still zombies; only some of them are cured. Patience, patience. They make only a blip in the demographics; enough perhaps to turn an election or two, but not and never enough to “change history.” Here today and gone in the next newspaper headline. Put not thy faith in demography.

Instead, consider what would be the effect if, instead of merely voting their frustrations, they returned by the millions to Holy Church. It has happened before in the chronicles of nations, and Lord, I would like to see it again.