Essays in Idleness


Papa Ratzinger

The “Pope Emeritus,” ill, aged, and feeble, has now died. This closes the year as it closes his era: for this pope remained the living symbol of continuity through the years of his retirement. By some, he will be remembered as alive.

Papa Ratzinger faced a Church, and a Catholic congregation, many parts of which showed “signs of age,” and had fallen into desuetude and disability. This was true even when he wrote, more than fifty years ago, that in future the Church would be contracted. He had no illusions about the reality, in which the media, artificial intelligence and technology, had displaced the Fathers as interpreters of the Word. Notwithstanding, he took on “the overriding priority” with which Christ had endowed the papacy, from its beginnings. He brought strength and direction to the faithful — remaining and reclaimed — who turned to him as they turned to Christ, whose love could not be hidden by encroaching human blindness.

He died on the nineteenth anniversary of my own reception into the Catholic Church; for I am among those reclaimed by hope. Papa Ratzinger had been, through most of my adult life, a singular hero. I had long before his elevation come to regard him as our best mind in Christendom. I read all of his writings as they appeared, and subscribed to Communio. I was elated — staggered — when he was elected to replace Saint John Paul II.

The Italian prime minister, Mrs Giorgia Meloni, who often ignores the rules of political theatre, is the one world leader who used the future tense in remarks on the departed pontiff:

“He will continue to speak to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural, and intellectual depth of his Magisterium.”

Beginning again

Saint Stephen’s Feast has not changed much over the years. On the day after Christmas, we begin to celebrate our martyrs. From all over the world, we read that Christians are persecuted; especially in those countries most fashionable to the Left. In North America the prejudice is more genteel than murderous — it belongs to the self-styled “smart people” — although the enemies of Christ have grown more restive.

The “spirit of Christmas” is more and more under attack, and among the Woke, the definitions of prejudice have tended to invert victims and executioners. In America itself, among other declines, the custom of singing Christmas carols, hymns and other choral music, has died out in the cities. The spirit against Christmas is growing, the spirit of statism and disbelief now predominates.

I just listened to a lecture from a self-declared “conservative,” who thinks we should “continue” to celebrate the good feelings of the winter “festive season,” while pitching away all of the embarrassing, sentimental religious paraphernalia. Commercialization alone should survive, he seemed to propose; the reasons for it should be discarded; and persons not participating in the business of accumulating wealth should be subtly punished, to put them in the new spirit.

At large, Christianity continues to be (by far) the most persecuted religious faith, very obviously by many Muslims, but also by Hindu nationalists, Communists, animists, and believers in scientism. The Christians meanwhile retain their near monopoly on forgiveness, such that where it fails there is usually media coverage. It is not that Christians are made of better stuff than the various tribes of the unchurched; they are certainly not more, nor less, human. Rather, they have received the gift of a higher religion.

With forgiveness comes the possibility of innocence and joy; childlike qualities that can perhaps be shared only by those who love children. It is missing from those who, on principle, don’t have children. Our leading politicians tend to be childless, as well as post-Christian in their attitudes. The contraceptive culture embodies their commitment to sterility. For them, the unwelcome task is to train other people’s children. They do this grimly, and selflessly, through progressive education systems, built around the denial of God. The children of the faithful are legally rounded up, and submitted to their grooming.

We may have to use physical force, to keep our children out of these schools; and prepare them to eschew anti-Christian universities.

For in the Christian religion we must take the consequences. Martyrdom has always been necessary, and should be embraced.

Christmas advice

My general advice, to those who seek it at Christmas (around here), is to master benignity. I, for one, will not destructively criticize those I believe to be benign. Perhaps I could try to be benign myself, through the time left to me on this Earth, by not offering to “name and shame” the many who are not. But I find this task exhausting.

It is a Canadian tradition, to advise people to remain warm, or to try to become warm, given our unsympathetic winter environment. As few of us seem to have empathetic landlords, either, it is a purely adventitious wish, like “climate change.” I mentioned being cold to one of my dearest friends, in email this morning. He replied that he is both cold and bald. This may have raised the temperature by a fraction of a toque, or one degree on the white man’s thermometer. If it has, we are on a roll.

We have other faults, my friend and I, chiefly medical.

As you probably know, the chief cause of death in the modern world is “instruction from a doctor.” He will either tell you to die, directly, or recommend some exercise or pharmaceuticals that will kill you. Or he will practice “open-heart operations,” and other ruthless surgical “procedures” — counting on patients to be nearly comatose, & thus unable to resist.

Well, both of us have been living dangerously. I believe we both took instructions from doctors, more than once in the past year. Paul (to give him a name) was told to perish repeatedly. That he is still alive, 359 days later, is a reason to thank God (who doesn’t obey the doctors).

It is now Christmas, I declare. A very merry Christmas to my several other readers!


Local news is no longer available for Toronto, now that the Liberal Party has bought the “legacy” media with our tax money, and must, we presume, give permission for reporting. We get only happy-face news, except from sources abroad. Or perhaps I am exaggerating, from the fact that the two most sensational local news items reached me (a resident in Toronto) through informants reading the New-York Post, and the London Daily Mail, respectively. Indeed, now that the events have become common knowledge, even in Toronto, there is some discreet reporting in local rags.

There was the killing of six at a “condo” meeting in the suburbs — the sort of thing one must expect given contemporary housing arrangements. And then there was a “homeless” man, beaten and knifed to death by a gang of eight girls, mostly thirteen and fourteen years of age. He had refused to surrender the bottle of liquor he was nursing against the overnight cold.

According to police, all eight of these girls, who had met on “social media,” were easily arrested near the scene of the crime. For Canada has very accommodating laws for under-aged criminals, and none need to fear any serious punishment. I learnt this myself when I had a few thousand dollars stolen from my flat, several years ago, by an intruder I could easily identify. The thief would be forgiven for a “first offence,” as he had been on all his previous first offences. Also, it was just a “property crime,” for which our courts are habitually lenient. The same apparently applies to murders — though I’ve just found out.

This is the new, progressive, post-Christian city, in which a plurality of my fellow citizens actually vote for the Liberals, whom they consider to be the moderate party, rather than for the Conservatives, who sometimes make incomprehensible distinctions between right and wrong. It will end in tears, I suppose, and the occasional old-fashioned gunshot, but mostly knifings.

The news & the weather

“A mix of sun and clouds,” I was told this morning, when I consulted the weather channel. A little bit of rain or snow, if the skies should precipitate at all. Temperatures will accord with the season. The sun will, likewise, rise and set at the accustomed hours; ditto the moon. The planets, and the stars, are in the positions predicted by the astronomical almanac, and all is (hard-) right with the world. They may, however, have moved, slightly, over the next million years.

I used to keep the weather records for Georgetown, Ontario when I was a schoolboy (on behalf of an older and more experienced schoolboy, who had gone off to college); so perhaps my habit of looking at the weather can be explained. As well, my sceptical view of predictions, should they extend for a week into the future.

Were we to keep a printout of the daily averages for the past century or so, and consult it each morning, we could beat the official forecast, perhaps six times in ten. What the weather will be like in the next hundred years is, however, beyond our faculties for prognostication. The most junior weatherman should know that.

There has been nothing to add on the “global warming” fraud since this blog began. Indeed, I began noticing it was a fraud, as a paid hack journalist, years before. Persons who identify atmospheric carbon and nitrogen fertilizers as pollutants, when they are beneficial to such things as plants and animals, have tested our patience through the years. At their unreasonable demand, some billions upon billions of dollars of economic wastage and mindless neuroticism has been paid out. (The Batflu “pandemic” is another aspect of this collective madness, which is the ceaseless contrivance of our progressive politicians.)

Unfortunately, hysterias cannot be defeated by argument. Pain alone seems to work, and then, only a gradual restoration of sanity can be expected: not the quick changes that we see in the weather, or in the annals of genuine scientific discovery. But it is well to free the mind from hysterias, if one has a mind that desires to be free.

Vitai lampada

To my mind (as ever), the soccer victories of Moroccan Islam over Spain and Portugal, were balanced by the English win on the cricket field of Multan, Pakistan (clinching their test series). One should observe these sporting events with reserve, as I was taught to do as a child (in Pakistan). We win on some occasions; we lose on most of the others; or in cricket, it is often a draw. In the past, along with cucumber sandwiches, one greeted the marvellous stroke (of friend or foe, equally) with gentle and not too prolonged applause.

Demonstrations afterward were, unquestionably, barbaric.

Among the younger souls, participating in the match, the object was to “play up, play up, and play the game.” This was an irreducible aspect of joy, perhaps hard to explain to a modern. The phrase presented the view of Sir Henry Newbolt that (so far as I could make out) wars should be fought in the spirit of the cricket pitch — rather than sport conducted in the spirit of war.

Oh yes, and there was terrible carnage and gore, death and frightful disharmonies — but we must not let this take our mind off the game.

This stirring poet and government advisor (died 1938), working from a line out of Lucretius (celebrating “the torch of life”), wrote various further lines that my Canadian mother was able to recite, while riding a tonga in Lahore. An Anglo-Indian lady, riding in another tonga in the opposite direction, once answered her, apparently with a quip from the same poet. My memory can no longer supply what it was, however; for this happened in ancient times. (I think it was 1959.)

The Muslims are perhaps recalling the year 711 AD, as they triumphantly cavort through the immigrant slums of Europe. This too passed anciently, even before the invention of cricket.

Taking sides

From whom should the citizen take advice? From someone who wants him dead, or from someone who thinks he is endowed with everlasting life?

This is the primary political choice for the modern, emancipated, democratic woman (or man, or trans person), expressed with my winning simplicity. The first team consists of pagan environmentalists, the second of Christians and other subscribers to the philosophia perennis.

Note that the position of God, which we assign in this latter, is favourable to us. But He cannot be favourable to the modern heathen, who believes He is dead, or never existed. (There are also various semi-religious godless, who subscribe to the muddy grey, avoiding both black and white by neurosis. I think the word for them is, “agnostics.” I would perhaps take them aboard my yacht, were they drowning in her vicinity.)

But returning to my initial question, would you rather trust someone whose ideal is to kill you; or instead, someone who is characteristically pro-life?

This is a puzzle I have been dealing with for more than half a century, since an aspiring hack journalist or whatever. For I’ve been “pro-life” actually longer than I’ve been Christian. Indeed, I called myself an “atheist” when I spoke up for Humanae Vitae, in a 1968 high school debate, which made me as unpopular then among the Pepsi generation as it would now.

Paul R. Erlich has been around all this time, and since publishing his book, The Population Bomb (in 1968), he has been a prominent player on the pro-death team. He would perhaps complain that he hasn’t proposed to murder anyone. He may get impatient, but would rather the great mass of us die off naturally. The world would then become a better place.

“Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive / Officiously to keep alive …” was how (my adored) Arthur Hugh Clough satirized this position, in his “Modern Decalogue.” This was a gentleman of the pro-life camp, who perfectly understood the views of our bourgeoisie — their murderousness and their sentimentality — almost two centuries ago. One may see that he was already using the word “modern” with distaste.

Pleasures of ischaemia

During my last twenty years as an imaginary sailor, through which the High Doganate has been my port of call, the world has grown increasingly unfriendly. When I moved in, to begin with, after I had been exiled from my old home and family, and impoverished at the command of the state, it seemed that the world had changed, perhaps not for the better. But I could argue that only my circumstances had been transformed. Now, with the expansion of powerful new gizmos (“social media” is just one example of what they are capable of doing) it seems that the spirit of this planet has also … “evolved,” as they say.

Privacy has been or is being progressively deleted, and human freedom has been therefore cancelled, to accommodate these new inventions — about which no one may complain, for they have proved very popular in the marketplace. In a similar way, silence was deleted by the imposition of previous innovations. The world at first remained potentially free, but became intolerably noisy. Then, as consumers acquired the new products, from motor cars to motor boats to motor aeroplanes, freedom had to live with the abandonment of peace.

Things seem different now. The conformity of death, or of the simplest and most primitive living creatures, is now promoted as our two remaining options by the woke-environmentalist generation of our worldly masters. “Saving the planet,” we are compelled to agree with them, will require us to stop eating, and moving about. The authorities may also close our bank accounts. All are placed under medical supervision.

My own situation is complicated — enhanced — by my medical condition, since indulging in a heart attack and stroke last year. The doctors left me (involuntarily, I suppose) forgetful of names, and staggering like a Parkdale inebriate. This dizziness, in the time since the surgical operation, could have been regarded as a nuisance, for the constant inclination it gives me to fall on my face. Indeed, twenty-two months of “that old vertigo in his head” (Swift’s description) sometimes seems quite enough.

But that is where my calling as an imaginary yachtsman comes in.

You see, I live in a flat which is about thirty feet in length, by nineteen in width. By interpreting this as the deck of a catamaran yacht, I am able to appreciate the action of current and waves. Also, through the door to my balcony, the winds, summer heat, and winter cold, can be admitted. I have re-imagined a life in which, for instance, I am able to escape the Liberal Party of Canada simply by sailing away.

Readers should be advised that I’m an old-fashioned sailor: please do not send any navigational devices nor other gizmos to me as a gift. Indeed, the wonderfully efficient format of the double canoe with platform between is an ancient Polynesian innovation, not a modern one; rather more clever than our cumbersome galleons. They sailed by the stars and by the subtleties they observed at each of the sea’s locations. And they flourished in a great region that was temperate by nature, on little islands in the gentle breeze, avoiding extremes of north and south entirely. What use could they have for our modern gizmos, who already knew what they needed to know?

For note, the next best thing to imaginary sailors, is real ones.