There was a point to yesterday’s effusion, and let me write it down before I’ve forgotten what it was.

When we say, “Nothing is perfect in this world,” we do not mean perfection in the sense of “the perfect world of scientific socialism.” (I lived with a socialist once, and would goad him in the kitchen with remarks like, “In the perfect world of scientific socialism, that toast would not have burnt,” &c.)

The grammarians among my gentle readers will know that the past tense is “perfect,” when the action is complete. For it is in this that the perfection of the past consists: it is truly settled, unchangeably over. It is immortal in that way. That is what the word means to the wise; and this meaning survives in such locutions as “a perfect fool.” One might say, “a complete fool” and mean the same thing exactly, although in both cases some hyperbole is involved. But no hyperbole in the Christian (and classical) conception. Nothing living in this world is complete, and were we to understand anything completely (supposing our understanding were important), we would have to pass beyond our natural limitations into the supernatural realm, where the actions of this world are completed, and the justice of the Creation is fulfilled.

But the boundary of death lies in our way. We can, especially near the border itself, see a little beyond it into what we might poetically call that green and pleasant land, which cannot be literally so because it is unearthly. We can rather sense in moments, or in sanctity perhaps as a matter of course, that which transcends our human experience, and leads beyond to its completion.

We might say that, through appearances — by which I mean going beyond appearance — we can discern some good in each imperfect evil and discount some evil in each imperfect good, yet one hesitates to put this in a way that might be exploited by the administrators of the Dictatorship of Relativism, whose notion of “beyond good and evil” is devilish and inverted. What we see is “a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower.” Blake, who wrote this, carefully avoided heresy in this instance at least, by his use of the indefinite article: “a heaven” and not the Heaven that lies beyond the possibility of human understanding.

In Augustine’s De Agone Christiano, or as we might say, Le Combat Chrétien (I am trying to read his earlier opuscular works in a pocket edition with Latin on the left, French on the righthand pages, and me in the gutter, somewhere between), the Saint of Hippo takes on the Donatist nutjobs of his day, whose paramilitary Agonisticici (“those who engage in the martyr’s struggle”) are not without some distant resemblance to our post-modern “martyrs” (of Manhattan, Madrid, Baghdad, Mosul).

As ideologists, they locate perfection in this world, and verily the next world in terms of this one, thus imagine that by simply killing a lot of people the good which Mohammad “commands” can be accomplished. This is true even for those Donatists/Islamists who do not kill but engage in what we might call the intellectual equivalent of global bisection. The Christian, Augustine says, must not be like that, and so he draws a colourful contrast between the catholic sane, and the uncatholic fanatical, while playing aggressively with the Donatists’ own propaganda terms.

We are engaged in a Combat, to be sure, which in moments seems to reduce to a streetfight, but is no streetfight in its ends. We have an Enemy, to be sure, but he is not human — not a physical person nor some abstract complex of human souls. We meet this Enemy in nature and in supernature, yet our “soldiers of Christ” will get nowhere unless they begin to understand what this Enemy is, and what he is up to.

He is trying to lead us away from God, to a place infinitely apart (Hell). Our struggle is to prevent him from doing so. Our tactics must lead us to God, through or around every obstacle. Our advantage comes when we follow those orders, which originate in the Divine, and use our freedom and intelligence to discern this light from that darkness — with the calm exhilaration of the happy soldier who sniffs victory in the air.

For sure, this is war. But to win we must not conduct it on the Enemy’s terms. Like a terrorist, he actually wants us to hate him, almost as much as he hates us, just for being alive. Let us not be suckered; let us double down on Love.