Essays in Idleness



Allow me once again to repeat an old Idlepost, and somewhat rephrase it, in light of the season of “March Break,” formerly known as Holy Week and Easter.


Arguably, the Enlightenment gave precedence to the abstract, and withdrew it from the concrete. That vicious assault on the human soul, known as “liberal education,” is the dry wharks of that heritage. From kindergarten through post-graduate studies, students are taught to be abstract, that everything as fungible, to eliminate anomalies in light of “theory.” And these theories, although usually false, are not necessarily so, for e.g. the colour wheel does abstractly represent certain miraculous prismatic qualities of sunlight. But when imposed upon the extraordinary breadth and variety of pigmentation not only in paints, but in every creature and object in nature, this theory becomes fatuous. Like Darwinism, or Marxism, it explains everything by proving nothing.

It is not only watercolour that I am discussing here. For every other discipline, students are taught “the theory.” The systems of tutoring and apprenticeship by which concrete knowledge was once imparted were systematically replaced, by the schools and colleges of the Nanny State, in the name of “democracy.” The result gentle reader may see all around.

Christianity does not flourish in such an environment, for this religion speaks to actual men and women, not to “people” in the abstract. In order to become a Christian, a person must today begin to disengage himself from this “culture” of (not science but) theory, and — given the refusal of the post-conciliar Church to teach the Faith — usually on his own. To some degree the scattered Christian communities offer mentoring or advice, but the novice must make his own stand with supernatural courage; which is to say, abandonment to divine grace.

It is for instance “theory” that now requires Nanny State to lower the jackboot on the human face of marriage. For humans have been systematically reduced in “rights theory” to interchangeability. Such particular expressions as husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, have been struck out of all laws in the Province of Ontario, and many other jurisdictions. They were an embarrassment because they showed that human beings are particular, in ways defined by nature and her God.

Symbolism — you think it is abstract? — is rather plain and concrete. It can be removed like a bridge in Baltimore. Christ, for instance, is frequently removed. Through the hours of Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, to the Easter Vigil when the lights come on, and the full Gloria is sounded — we traditionally contemplated a world in which there is no Christ; and no salvation; and no absolution for our sins; and indeed, no sins: only departure from theory. Now we live like this, through the whole year passing. Christians are abandoned to the mockery of the State, and may be punished unless they bow before its fanciful constructions (sodomy; “re-assignment”; infanticide; self-murder).

God is effaced, we can no longer be in His image. Our race is reduced to animals — to roadkill in the passage of time. We are, according to the “deep ecologists,” one among more than eight-point-four million species on Gaia. We humans alone are too numerous, take more than our abstract share of planetary resources, and are thus due for radical culling.

The apes and dolphins and whales, who have not the equipment to rule instead, must wait patiently for the Antichrist — whose reign of terror will free them from subservience, and grant them their (theoretically) equal rights.

Even within quite “mainstream” Christian folds, Christ is reduced to an abstraction. The Gospel Jesus is too particular; a generic Christ will treat everyone the same. He will not be objectionable to the authorities; He will mind His own business and not create a scene. A democratic Christ, who blesses everyone equally, will preach multicultural homogeneity if he must preach at all. He is a Christ who, like the Islamic one, would not have to be crucified; whose case would never come before Pilate. He is a “nice” Christ, who embodies our own frequently proclaimed niceness, and looks faithfully the other way whenever something disagreeable is happening. Not man in the image of God, but God in the image of deracinated man.

And please, let this Christ not rise from the dead. For that is so disruptive.

Against this, what to say?

What John said, to the seven churches that are in Asia:

“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last. I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of Hell and of Death.”