A question

“Whatever became of the ten northern tribes?”

The question, which is biblical (see the Books of Kings), was asked by a correspondent, after watching some excerpt from the Grammy Awards. It is a good question, so I have repeated it — answering a question with the same question, as it were.

Bad things happened to the ancient Israelites, from the Assyrian exile to the destruction of Jerusalem, and this list is not complete. But why did God let them happen?

The biblical account is clear enough. There is a “why,” and it involves a fundamental breach of Israel’s covenant with the Lord. And that, not with some later, but with the First Commandment. False worship, and the toleration of false worship, was not a “trend” but the thing itself. The Israelites had forgotten by Whom they had been favoured. They were now on their own.

Gleaning what I have of the latest persiflage from Rome, and the “fake news” everywhere else in the media, revealing the decline of social and political judgement at large, I think my correspondent has nailed it. Our “crisis” is not properly understood. We fall on fragmentary explanations. We have minds trained upon “evolution” and “progress,” which habitually look to petty cause and petty effect. To address the human fate, we seek management solutions.

As ever, “in the spirit of Vatican II,” I was struck by the extreme asininity of the rhetoric, in response to the general “perception” that the Church is harbouring, at its highest levels, internationally, the perpetrators of sex crimes. Rather than take action to root it out — regardless of cost, regardless of organizational convenience, to get to the truth and act on it with the institutional means that have long existed — we have these ludicrous public relations gestures. The word “homosexual” was banned from proceedings. One man named McCarrick has been defrocked, as the sacrificial goat — without even the appearance of an ecclesiastical trial. And while that was happening, the pope was appointing a few more very dubious characters to high positions — including McCarrick’s old roommate and buddy as Camerlengo, and a couple more prominent churchmen that Pope Benedict tried to get rid of, such as the sad old Communist now Archbishop of Peru. (The next Conclave is already stacked with shameful appointments.)

Men are what they are, and scandals may be repeated in any age. There are good men, too: including several excluded from the Vatican summit on “the protection of minors” who begged delegates inside to make a stand, to be heard, to ask serious questions and refuse to be put off with official silences and sophistry. No one inside rose to this challenge — a whole congress of cowardly and ineffectual mediocrities.

But like the current pope himself — the worst we have had in many centuries — they are not a cause but an effect of something much larger. The Church, and the societies she originally founded (“the West” and its offshoots, now all around the world) have breached the First Commandment. That we now take the other nine lightly, follows from this. Our worship is continuously “updated” to accommodate plainly temporal and profane aspirations, and we turn to God only to mutter our secular requests.

We do not worship God as He wishes to be worshipped, but as we wish to worship Him. In this, that most fundamental covenant, at the root of our own being, is breached. Why should we wonder that our civilization, raised through millennia of faithful labour, on His instructions and by God’s grace, is now falling to pieces?