Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

An old song

“It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody,” as gentle reader may recall from the lyrics of Mr Bob Dylan. The song, from what the smug call Dylan’s “gospel period,” was written so long ago that it was able to get up John Lennon’s nose. I think of it as the antidote to Lennon’s dark satanic hymn, “Imagine.”

Before I lapse further into pop history — those born in 1979 have now celebrated their fortieth birthdays — I must Keats-like play the Jilt. There is constant time, and fluctuating time. The two are interspersed, giving the impression of change and constant movement, when nothing is new. One of the purposes once assigned to education was to make our “youff” aware of this. They were gonna-have-to serve somebody then, now, and always. They would also be faced with the denial of history and reality, again and again.

We are living in seriously troubled times, but the more I read of history the better I am convinced that all times are troubled. Perhaps there are advantages, for us, when the trouble comes plainly to the surface; though we are unlikely to see this at such times. But it is there to be seen. Only when we recognize an evil, have we any chance to escape it — socially or personally.

This morning a lady in Australia sent me a link to the best historical essay I have read, on the Internet, in a long time. (It is here, and I would enjoin everyone to read it.) It describes a previous “woke” phenomenon, in Tsarist, pre-Communist Russia; indeed something that contributed powerfully to the subsequent Leninist revolution. It was not just anarchists assassinating police, and anyone they could find in a uniform. Nor was it just the tacit, then active support, given to the anarchists in nice liberal, bourgeois society. It was more the capture of the public imagination by forces not merely irrational, but increasingly satanic, and overtly so.

Outwardly, nothing good would come of it, for seventy-something years of Communist tyranny, murder and slavery, should not be confused with something good.

Yet in a small minority of people, and through their suffering, something good was served. In its violent departure from Christianity, the revolution instilled real faith. From Dostoevsky to Solzhenitsyn, Russians have been telling us hard truths about the nominally modern world, which we might otherwise lose sight of. In the immortal works that emerge from times of trouble, we find our Christian heritage.

Good and evil are not glib things. They are more real than any passing physical objects, from Walmart stores full of shoddy goods, to cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces. The world is beautiful, to those who can understand some part of it, or ugly when they make it so. Detached from any principle of politics or trade, its beauty remains always accessible to us — appearing, often, in the most unlikely places.

We gotta serve somebody: this is the way of the world. So long as we must eat and breathe, it will be that way. We may put our faith in God, or in Rebellion. There are many illusions, but there is no third choice.

Monks have more fun

All my life, it seems, I have been learning that Patience is a Virtue. So that I still look forward to graduating from the junior school, and learning patience itself. This virtue may have applications in both Action, and Contemplation — as Cluniac and Cistercian may argue between themselves. One should at least try to be on both sides of such issues.

This is part of my ambition to be an Unmodern — to be on both sides — a goal that might not require patience, per se, but in which it would be very useful. Ironically, it embraces the modern irony, which George Grant once illustrated for me, as the fact he owned a Volvo.

I, truly, once owned a rusty-trusty Volkswagen Rabbit, in what I claimed was an unmodern way. I never condescended to drive it, awarding my then-unestranged wife that thrill. For looking into the matter quite generally, we should perhaps avoid mere unmodern postures; lunging instead towards the more heroic conceits. Sometimes, I reflect, a car may be necessary; for another, though surely not for me.

I had a Spiritual Director, once, to whom I repeatedly asked the question, Why? As in, “Why has this happened to me again?” … referring usually to some personal disaster. “Because you haven’t learnt yet,” this often-patient priest would reply. “Keep trying.”

He said all we can do is keep trying, and fight discouragement when it comes our way. We must be, or become, patient.

“God is not out to get you, you know.”

Now, the very mention of a Spiritual Director is an affront to the modern ear. With his, essentially false, idea of personal freedom, he thinks having one would abridge his Rights. But the religious have no power to stop you doing anything, unlike the civil authorities. The worst they can do is wash their hands of you. It is not your Freedom, but your Conscience, they afflict.

(Of course, in the good old days they had some civil powers; and even the Presbyterians left the civil authorities to hang you. They just made suggestions. And where would the lamented Spanish Inquisition have gotten, had it not been for enforcement by the Spanish State?)

The monk is happy, because, through the mastery of patience, he can be free. It is a series of unmistakably voluntary actions that leads him deeper into the life of prayer. Even outside a monastery, I have noticed, saying one’s Rosary requires a little determination. Not as much as it would take to read Heidegger, but some.

Patience, on the road to real Freedom. This is a peculiarly Catholic (or Orthodox) way to read the map, along the pilgrim stations. It might also be read as the order of generalship; the route of a Crusade. Though we think them rather confused, the Mussulmans may have something in their notion of Jihad. Their shaheeds can be somewhat impatient, however. (So can some of ours.)

To Witness, in the Christian idea of sanctity, requires a motherlode of patience. As I understand, it requires emptying oneself, of one’s ego. It is bound up in fussy rules, such as, you mustn’t kill people. (Except when they don’t leave you a plausible alternative.) It demands the highest possible reach of “objectivity” — when you acknowledge something that you’d rather not.

It is Temperance, a word which conveys more than “patience,” including chastity against the forces that burst through its walls; chastity in sex, for instance; but also chastity in everything else. The modern world makes jokes about this. We are obliged to make jokes about the modern world.

The monk is happy in his cell, where, as in a fortress, he is hard to assail. I’d say the same for nuns, but I don’t even try to understand women any more.

On the bright side

If thou hast ever been driven into the desert beyond Basra, gentle reader — and I have known men who were — you may think twice about returning on holiday. “Iraq is not a country which I would recommend to mountaineers,” wrote H. W. Tilman. (He more enjoyed the Himalayas.)

Among the peculiarities of its climate, the desert beyond Basra offers violent gales, accompanied, naturally, by sand storms. These begin quite early every morning, and continue into the late afternoon. The sand, chiefly, makes it impossible to do anything between those hours, except cower in one’s tent (“until it collapses”). Evenings are devoted to digging out half-buried trucks.

In my present circumstance, within a construction site (see here), I try to think of this. Similarly, during heat waves in summer, I imagine myself sailing on the windless waters that circle the earth around the equator. (“Doldrums,” I think they’re called.) Or in winter, I could be crossing the Greenland ice cap, on snow shoes, with no end in sight.

The fires are raging, I hear, in California. Just now I was listening to some global environmentalcase, talking his rot about “climate change.” I reflect on my good fortune. Without resorting to anything so fanciful, I am able to conjure places slightly worse.

De-programming suggestion

Here is a perfectly sensible guvmint policy, suggested by me, but I’d be happy if anyone else takes the credit for it.

Divide all “entitlement” programmes (you know who you are), by four. Cut one of these quarters each year — thus reducing the payouts by a quarter immediately, by another third at the beginning of the second year, and by half at the dawn of the third — while “downsizing” the bureaucracies that administer them, proportionately. As the fourth year begins, the programmes will end entirely, and the respective departments be donated to nature.

My “modest proposal” applies to both Dominion and Provincial governments; in the Natted States both Federal and State. Too, it would affect all Municipal budgets, insofar as they also have “entitlement” programmes. Of course, many other programmes can be cut, but we’ll do those piecemeal.

Gentle reader may ask, What to do with these vast savings? I reply, essentially, nothing. The national debt could be consolidated into a sinking fund, denominated in units of the old currency, as a new gold equivalent replaces it. The old currency will continue to trade in the free market, for whatever it will fetch; it could also be used for play money, or shipped to landfills, in boxes. In the new currency, taxes will be much lower.

May I humbly suggest a universal sales tax, say something like seven percent in aggregate, distributed to all levels of guvmint, by a fixed formula. This will cover their necessary provisions, for the military, police, courts, gaols, pageantry, &c. It will also enable us to close the income tax department, while being fully graduated: for the more you spend, the more you pay. Conversely, saving money will become cool again, especially for the deadbeat poor, always with us. The Church might want to resume her missions to them.

There are little details that I won’t go into in a short Idlepost, including the sell-off of public schools, the cancellation of all subsidies to universities, public broadcasting, &c; except to note that my proposal is humane. It gives all recipients of guvmint largesse three years to adapt to the new fiscal regime. Many will complain, I know, but with the withdrawal of funding, the volume of their noise will be diminishing. It is like unplugging a deafening machine. They may seek replenishment from private charities (which will be paying the sales tax on what they disperse, like everyone else). Ministers of the Crown will provide colourful ideas, for what they may do with themselves.

As I further propose to cut all paycheques to elected politicians, together with their splendid retirement plans, there would anyway be a new class of politicians rising, consisting exclusively of those with pockets deep enough to afford “public service,” as opposed to those who see the chance to get rich in it. Featherbedding would thus tend to be in decline. The Auditor-General would have powers to hasten this.

In Canada, and most other Western countries, guvmints are elected for a term of about four years. My “Old Tory” coalition will be, perhaps, smaller in the fourth, at the end of which it is likely to be trounced at the polls. But who cares? Losing elections means shedding unwanted responsibilities.

While, in this fourth and final year, the opinion polls show them to have cratered, they would be focused on making such constitutional adjustments, as will prevent subsequent guvmints from attempting to restore spending on demographic or regional constituencies. On their own dime, the spokespersons for these constituencies (generally self-appointed) would be free to lobby Parliament for cash; but it would be pointless.

Or who knows? Maybe the general electorate would like the new arrangements? People can be quite eccentric, and aren’t really predictable four years in advance. “Darn,” we will say. “Four more years of dealing with these idiots.”

Still, on balance, I think getting the de-programming started would be the more formidable political task.

On the walking dead

The widow of a man I much loved (once my admired boss), flattered the doctors and nurses in the Canadian hospital where she watched him die. Her husband went in as a hopeless case, and they kept him alive for four months. This might not seem a major achievement, but she said they were the best four months of her life; and of his, too, she thought. Depths were plumbed, and she discovered “true love,” after a long life of “faking it.” This, anyway, is how she put it. She would always be grateful for the time that was granted through this medical staff. It took a lot of work.

Now, had he been dying during our Batflu “crisis,” this wouldn’t have happened. The lady would have been banned from entering the hospital. Had he been suspected of “Covid-19,” instead of four months, her husband might have lived four days in a ventilator. He would have spent them, if he was lucky, in the semi-coma he came in with. Funerals were denied. His lady would have been left in despair. According to her, she would have taken to the bottle. Thanks to four months, she doesn’t drink, any more.

I shouldn’t seem to be disparaging the “walking dead.” As a critic writes, in many Batflu deaths, the co-morbidities were “manageable” (diabetes, hypertension, &c). The “last straw,” which finished the patient off, cost him only a few months, or perhaps even years. These could have been invaluable.

Time is what we have, on this planet. It is a mysterious thing, as Augustine and other ancients explained. It seems glib and straightforward, until we try to think it through. We have, indeed, limited time to get a handle on it. We waste our time, unconscionably; yet there are moments when we don’t.

I tried to explain this, myself, to another old friend, diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was accused of insensitivity, for making her feel uncomfortable with a decision. She had “opted” for the “MAID” euphemism, the “medical assistance in dying” that grows ever more popular in Canada, so that it may become our leading cause of death, after abortions. She need no longer fear my insensitivity, however. She’s dead now, thanks to a doctor.

We have a society that just wants to die; to get it over with. Or kill “nicely,” the flip side of the coin. This is what happens when a world is built around convenience, with the perverse notions of “efficiency” that follow. While in good health, our time is wasted, on cheap pleasures; or working at trash jobs, to pay for them. We have a “culture of death,” as a recent Saint called it.

Another good friend, reading my Thing column today (here), warned that I might be condemned for insensitivity, for something I wrote that people won’t understand. I said that the Batflu toll is dominated by old people with multiple co-morbidities, i.e. one foot in the grave already. The Red Chinese virus might have pulled the other one in, or maybe it didn’t. But it’s an easy thing to write on a death certificate, currently. Inflating the numbers is a lucrative game.

My mama, who was a champion nurse, taught me not to be sentimental about medical conditions. Instead, we should care for persons, who are afflicted in one way or another. Getting emotional about numbers — which I notice is all the rage in modernity — makes no sense.

A person who is dying is not a statistic. Conversely, a statistic is not a person dying. I used to think non-morons could grasp this. My confidence is sorely tested by events.

What?

Awakened, early in the morning, by head-splitting jackhammer noise, which was not soon over but persisted through the day, my first guess was that I had died, and gone to Hell. It reverberated through the building, so that tenants I spoke with, from much other parts, were also convinced it was coming from the flat just above them, as well as from next door, next other door, across the hallway, and from the flat below. “Modern life,” I then diagnosed.

Our landlord, reputed to live in Switzerland, was not available for comment. Did we ask him to make cosmetic changes to our balconies? No, gentle reader.

I do not live in Beirut, incidentally; and given my druthers, might choose Bhutan. (Except it is also “modernizing,” I gather.) It seems our building management has awarded the contract to a Roumanian comedy team, to redesign our balconies, which may have looked “out-of-date.” This has the advantage that it may justify city bureaucrats in awarding the landlord permission to increase our rents. It is an immense and cumbersome bureaucracy; possibly too complicated to bribe.

Well, one balcony down, one hundred and nineteen to go. The building manager estimates the job will be completed by some time late in the Spring of a future year, “if all goes well.”

Meanwhile, we were told to clear our balconies thoroughly, and immediately, of their furniture, little gardens, &c. Then we were given 48 hours to have air conditioners removed, too, or workmen would do this for us — dispose of the machines, bill us for costs, &c. We are further instructed to keep windows and balcony doors tight shut through the heat waves, against the swirling debris within this construction project. The memos, which always end with a pro forma apology for “any inconvenience,” start with threats and penalties if we don’t do what they are about to “recommend.”

My diagnosis was correct.

Is it just my impression, or is every little shit determined to create his own parallel to the Batflu crisis, so that he may dole out threats and punishments, like the pros? Or enhance the background clusterfuck in his own unique way? (Excuse my Gaelic.)

I shouldn’t have called them a “Roumanian comedy team.” I’m not sure they’re Roumanian.

How to rise

Like many aging gentlefolk, home-schooling themselves through the Batflu summer, I have spent an inordinate amount of time “researching” whimsical topics on the Internet. For instance, I am now largely caught up on abbeys and cathedrals, throughout Europe. I was an architecture nut before I became an Anglican, then a Roman; and therefore obsessed with temples of all kinds; yet without any calling to faith. That came later.

I was not obsessed with the religion of the churches, but with their art. The European mediaeval (and earlier) heritage in art is not the equal of the world’s other cultural traditions, whether civil or religious. It is their decided superior. This is what called me back to the West, when I was travelling. We have not equalled Sung Dynasty pots, or a thousand other specific accomplishments, but I’m referring to a matchless whole. What we export today (via our Western conception of free trade) is, in the main, worthless. What we once exported — this cultural tradition — is now deprecated, when it is not suppressed.

My catch-up is a depressing activity. I have only been trying to learn what has happened to the physical structures; what nasty tampering has been done, to make them more “market-friendly.” Chartres, Reims, Beauvais, were already built. Notre Dame must be restored, again, after the recent fire. That psychopath of vanity, Emmanuel Macron, wants to turn it into a “starchitecture” showpiece. Our critics now confuse our wealth with our garbage.

But in the condition of splendid greatness these monuments were secondary from the start. They were expressions of faith, and means of communication, at the highest level, among the men who made them. Now they are dead museums, quite literally. In France, for instance, the greatest cathedrals were long ago appropriated by the state, and converted into tourist attractions. Christians are still allowed to pray in them, for the time being, subject to the state’s rules and regulations. As we’ve seen through the Batflu, the “right to worship” can be casually withdrawn.

Even the satanic creatures of the French Revolution could not bring themselves to level Notre Dame, although their mobs desecrated it, until they converted it into a “Temple of Reason,” under police protection. Today, only Islamists would torch it again; or perhaps Antifa, which serves the same master. Or it will burn as an accident during more riots.

What we cannot foresee, for now, is the re-animation of souls. The Spirit is still there, but ignored. To the modern mind, even at its least destructive, it is a cost-benefit analysis. What advertising will draw people to see this potentially lucrative property, and how to extract the most cash from them? What tee-shirts can we sell them? There are moments when I think, bomb it and have done; there will be better to see in Heaven.

Christ is not mocked, although the great majority of tourists do not understand that they are doing this, when they visit His Church as if it were Disneyland.

There is no such thing as “white supremacy,” except among a handful of pathetic goons, but here I am recalling French supremacy, along with Italian, Spanish, &c. What they had in common was Christian faith, operating through artists. It raised them miraculously above their normal stations. It may come again: in Africa, or China.

It cannot come to Europe unless something other than cathedrals are restored. Probably, we have to hit bottom first, but hitting bottom is not how to rise.

Meditation for Labour Day

I bring gentle reader shocking news. It is Labour Day already. In North American terms, this means that the summer is over, and we must return to work. Allow me to sound like Trump for the occasion; one reader says I always sound like Trump, and I would hate to disappoint him. The work before us is yuge, putting things back together that we have wantonly pulled apart. It was the summer of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and of the Batflu Gestapo; all perfectly unnecessary, and each founded on deceit.

The gentleman also says that I am a “Truther.” So let me also rant on behalf of the good, the true, and the beautiful. For these are things voluntarily sought, as opposed to shoved down our throats by swinish bureaucrats and violent demonstrators. (The Nuremberg Rallies were also “mostly peaceful.”)

There will be elections, here and there; we have a moral duty to cut all the radicals off their funding. Trump says, “Make America Great Again,” but when not proposing Christian sanctity instead, I say, “Mow them down to marmalade.” Start with the public health officials.

Er, I mean this “metaphorically,” of course; lest I be charged with a “political incorrectitude.” I try to be “metaphorically correct” at all times, and whenever I can, to massacre the vilest ideas.

The most effective strategy is to recover, in our own souls, the idleness of labour; the notion of Homo Ludens, of all good work as play. The best jobs are not done exclusively for money, which, like anything that becomes “virtual,” will not be worth anything, soon. The best work is done wilfully, as an end in itself. It is to make things that are the opposite of “virtual,” including, every day, the example of good living.

Humility is the great weapon against the arrogance that would impose “employment” on other people; that compels them, under the threat of arrest or starvation, to do what they don’t want to do, or to do what they believe to be evil. Simply avoid these tyrants, until they catch up with you. Get as far away from them as you can, in your own vocation.

Inscribed into a Gothic joist, I saw somewhere in Olde England (in what was once the hall of a mediaeval farmhouse), a carpenter’s declaration. This was: “In the work of my hands I am closest to God.” That work was being undone by death-watch beetles, but this only gave another generation of workmen an opportunity to work with their hands, and in their archaeological skills to be closer to the same Maker.

A little-known fact is that all honest work is liturgical. This includes such jobs as cleaning toilets. I once watched the son of a gloriously old man, still living independently, alone in his modest residential cell, go to work on his porcelain. His son, scrubbing the thunder box, looked like he was enjoying himself. By the time he stopped for tea, it was gleaming. This younger man also worked daytime, as a lawyer. (Perhaps he enjoyed that, too.) In his own phrase, he liked to “live like a marine” — so far as that was possible with nearly a dozen children. I daresay he had changed a few diapers, too. This is holy work.

At the other extreme, we have union members, such as public schoolteachers. Note that these unions have been diminished since their conception in ancient guilds. They strike today only for more money, which indicates a hate crime. They hate their jobs. They think that if there is the slightest danger they should walk off them. But it is precisely where there is danger that work is most rewarding. Mow them down, I say.

In the highest sense, our work should be idle. As the Shakers said, “Hands to work and minds to God.” They were wonderfully unboastful people who, by their craftsmanship, speak still to our time.

The cost of compliance

The present danger — the Red Chinese Wuhan Laboratory Batflu — is visible everywhere thanks to state-mandated muzzles or batmasks. We are now in the sixth month of “fifteen days to flatten the curve,” and I’ve noticed that these filthy mouth-pieces have become another urban environmental blight, on a scale even worse than the sidewalk basketball bouncers I recently decried. I spotted four discarded Batflu-spreaders on the sidewalk during a walk of less than one city block yesterday, to a deadbeat “supermarket” to fetch milk for my tea.

I’m sure these cloth garottes are choking our Blanding’s Turtles — already considered endangered by our provincial bureaucracy because less than one in a thousand of their eggs ever hatch, and then the adults try to cross country roads. Call up a picture of one on the Internet, and gentle reader will see that they are all apparently wearing yellow batmasks on their chins, in compliance with guvmint regulations. For if they took them off, they would risk being confused with another turtle species that might not be Protected.

But while my affection for Blanding’s Turtles, and empathy in light of their persecution by Ontario motorists, is of long standing — a friend proposes that we found a Blanding Lives Movement — I am even more concerned about the fate of our children. The Batflu has been discouragement enough, to those who may never reach maturity, but the spectacular success of the Nanny State effort to keep them socially atomized and in muzzles, portends innumerable (fake) “pandemics” to come. For what faceless time-server, “dressed in a little authority,” can resist an opportunity to treat the general population as if they were retarded children? Especially now, that the general population has shown it will comply?

According to an item that somehow slipped into the New York Times, only a tiny fraction of the much-publicized Batflu deaths were attributed to the Batflu alone, on death certificates sampled from across the Natted States. By this focus, the “pandemic” toll is reduced from the official number of 187,777 (I just checked this morning), to about 9,200. Of course, the commie and never-Trumper meejah have gone splenetic to “cancel” this interesting fact. It is as bad as the French study which showed that your one-in-ten-thousand chance of dying with the Batflu in that country is cut a further five times if you happen to smoke.  Or the Hydroxychloroquine scandal, in which Mister Trump suggested (correctly) that a simple anti-malaria drug, already mass-produced and dirt cheap because long out of patent, can cut it by a few times more.

Of course, we will never know the true death tolls, even approximately, because they are impossible to collect. Doctors are notorious for filling out death certificates “subjectively” (I’ve heard too much about this over time), and one of their motives is, understandably, to avoid oversight. A Batflu death will not be reviewed or challenged. So I also doubt the certificates that only mention “Covid XIX” are reliable either.

“Unassisted” Batflu deaths might be as high as 9,200 (one-in-thirty-five-thousand); we just can’t know. We do know that the overwhelming majority of those who die after testing positive (or are assumed to have been positive) are quite old, and afflicted by (usually multiple) co-morbidities. They are the same sort, and in roughly the same numbers, as are carried away by old-fashioned, conventional flus (for which vaccines are also nearly useless). They were “the walking dead” already, in the phrase of another rudely candid bloguiste. Young, healthy people die from it almost never; so that when one is said to do so, a coroner should be summoned.

However, this is an intensely politicized issue, in which the Left, and related sleaze, are very deeply invested. The chance that we will be told anything resembling the truth, through “mainstream” meejah, is practically zero. On the other hand, the chance of one “pandemic” after another is a near certainty — until the general public learns why arbitrary instructions from Nanny State should be, consistently, treated with contempt.

Reparations

Let us make a small point, in few words. I should like to resist, in my ineffectual way, what has now emerged from that long, narrow, mental asylum, that stretches down the west coast of the Natted States. The legislators of California have convened a task force to examine the possibility of paying “reparations” to black people, in view of the fact that some of their distant ancestors were slaves in other states. Judging from their voting propensities, coastal Californians are always eager to pay huge sums for new government welfare programmes, or at least compel others to do so.

I have no opinion on the idea of reparations, in itself. My view is, you cannot argue with the insane. My one comment is that the programme needn’t be proposed, because it has been tried already. Conceived in the 1950s, market-ready by the ’60s, it was merchandized under the brand name, “Great Society.” It persists today, as a correspondent notes, with such gifts from the state as free cell phones, rent subsidy, food stamps, Electronic Benefit Transfers, supplemental nutrition (“WIC”), free school breakfast and lunch, free healthcare, utility subsidy, … and so on. All were designed to buy off the poor, and specifically to secure the Democrat Party’s near total command of the black vote, and by extension, others willing to queue. “Reparations” were not demanded openly, but the notion of these people as victims of history was never advanced subtly.

Free money, to all who agree that the world is unfair, is a suicidal fiscal policy. But my objection is to the moral disorder, in which it places each recipient. His freedom, including that vital freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, is abridged; his income depends on his willingness to play victim. The lolly breaks down that nexus of personal responsibility, family, and near community, that is the recipient’s only hope to escape what might really be bad historical circumstances, making him instead a bureaucratic “client.” It is profoundly corrupting, and the evidence that it has corrupted may be easily found, in such events as the destruction of black fatherhood. While they were too shy to do this before, the introduction of explicitly racial criteria is the “new thing” in the progressives’ repertoire.

That looting, firebombing, and other property destruction — along with incidental murders and other mayhem — is now being defended by progressives as “reparations,” should come as no surprise. Sadly, this attitude cannot be confined to seaside California, where the San Andreas Fault might cure it in less than an hour. Madness acts as a virus, contagious in crowds, and superspreaders are now dispersed around the world. The virus will burn out eventually — it requires infinite electronic money — but the social fallout is already immense.

I am encouraged to see, however, that in the course of nature, black people themselves are becoming the “first responders.” There is evidence that a quickly growing segment among “African Americans,” and other racial minorities, have tired of being used by white hustlers, and would prefer to solve problems that the hustlers have compounded by their own constructive acts. For the “victimhood” pose is not only morally egregious, but boring, and having waves of college-educated young white simpletons as your political patrons makes the situation plain.

Florentine aside

Rules are for the little people, in art as in life. Those who have the power, whether by genius or strength, only obeyed them when they were little. Breaking rules was a coming-of-age. When a Nancy Pelosi, or a Justin Trudeau, act openly above the law, in a way that no little person could dream of, we (that small minority who notice) accuse them of hypocrisy.

But on their own small, toothy scale, they are doing what a great original artist does. They are being transformative. The only difference is that the great artist — a Fra Angelico — lacks the criminal tendencies, and is utterly sincere. He craves no pelf. Too, he is being creative, in partnership with God. He is bringing something new and living, true and beautiful into the world. Whereas, Pelosi and Trudeau are just helping themselves to the groceries.

Connoisseurs of rightwing media will know to what events I refer. I find them tedious to relate. From ignoring their own Batflu regulations, to siphoning millions from the tax troughs, it is all one continuity of habit. You have the power to do it, and no one to stop you. Discretion is unnecessary, if you pose as a progressive; the choral yapping of your meejah lapdogs protects you.

The elected politician who does not leave office rich, earns only the contempt of his colleagues. The one who was rich to start, and leaves office ruined, wins no sympathy. On the contrary, he will be hated by the whole political class, and their hysterical poodles. Trump may end like this: his sincerity dooms him.

Do my political examples show bias? Of course. The authors of the Nanny State have always been the principal beneficiaries of it. All socialist systems are built around an élite, a master class. There was a time, very brief, when a Christian could be a socialist, in the foolish belief that it would establish some kind of monastic equality.

But as my old Czech drinking buddies knew, “Communism is only possible among friends.” They picked up each other’s bar tabs voluntarily, without paperwork. Whereas, dirigisme in politics is not only the opposite of freedom; it produces monopolies of wealth in which the masters can bathe. It makes the little people littler, and more interchangeable; it makes the big ever less accountable. As history will bear me out, this has been true in one hundred percent of cases, and will remain true while the world wags.

My party political bias is transparent, however. It is also transient. The Left is always lunging for control, with a shopping list of policies to impose. But this is true of all politicians; every one is a socialist at heart.

The only break comes when one of them is genuinely Christian, and thus discerns an interest higher than himself. He may prophesize civic glory, oppose trash in culture and art, denounce corruption and despotic rule. He will champion the poor, against their actual oppressors. And he will go down in history as Savonarola.

We are not fragile

I had intended to take the whole month of August off — from any participation in the meejah, of which my Idleposts are an example. A couple of my friends do this, devoting the thirty-one days of the eighth month to re-sanitization. “September will be work. Get ready for the crazy. It’s an annual cycle. We toggle between the usual nonsense, and right up the wall. Set August to ‘off’.”

They disconnect themselves from all periodical input, especially electronic. I would myself avoid print generally, except books published before I was born. (Anything since, I count as “too recent.”)

But I kept putting “off” off. Suddenly it was August 31st, only one week prior to North American “Labour Day.” Perhaps I would declare seven days’ rest, a bit late. Gentle reader might, if curious, look through the approximately 1,500 Idleposts I have left up, though none were written before I was born. (Some of the worst have been deleted.)

Too, I invite him to meditate, on the theme, “We are not fragile.” Over-informed readers may catch the reference. I first used it, as a headline, over an advertisement I wrote in 1988, during Canada’s “free trade election.” I gathered more signatures on it, and more impressive, than the “Liberal” culture marms did on theirs, for their ad declaring that the Mulroney government’s Free Trade Bill would eviscerate the Canadian culture and economy. My thought was, if it could, it should; that what’s truly not worth having is not worth having. But let us proceed on the possibility that, even in a slightly more competitive environment, we could hold our own. That we might even flourish. For, “We are not fragile” — not afraid to be alive, not pathetically inferior.

(Perhaps I was wrong.)

This morning, turning the meejah back on, I was made aware of an assertion by the Pope in Rome. He was affirming that the Batflu was good for the Environment; that it enabled the old thing to take a rest. We all need a rest sometimes, I suppose; the pope most urgently.

But Catholic idleness is a different thing from not getting up in the morning. Since God made the world, in anticipation of man, He probably designed it to be durable. The evidence I’ve seen, suggests it is robust.

So on behalf of the Environment, I would like to reply: “We are not fragile.”

Abandoned

My old friend and exemplar, Anne Roche Muggeridge, would never in a thousand years have left the Catholic Church. But in the midst of the post-Vatican II squalor in the 1970s, she did ask this non-rhetorical question: “What do you do when the Church leaves you?”

This is a problem akin to modern marriages. They aren’t — I mean this literally — worth the paper they were signed on. Quite apart from the deterioration in contractual law, so that many other contracts expire from the moment you change your mind, the collapse of “good faith” is appalling. What is just, is not enforced; and what is enforced, is not just. More fundamentally: no man’s word is his bond; for, “that would be slavery.”

Don’t forgive me for the vulgar commercial analogy. It is useful. In earlier life I became familiar with quite impressive Chinese business practices, in which there were no written contracts. This was possible because a man’s word was his bond (as was once possible here). He would endure ruin rather than break it. This made him the more cautious in his business dealings. “Contract” was enforced by the culture. Fail once, and no one would do business with you ever again. You might as well become a pirate or a highwayman, for no other jobs would be available. And mysteriously, long before the Internet, if your credit was not good in Bangkok, it was not good in Singapore, either, or in Hong Kong, or in San Francisco. And there was no way to sue.

The Church was long accepted as a middleman to God. Her priest is supposed to act in persona Christi. But what if we doubt that he believes this himself? He is still a priest, and we ought not to judge him. His sacraments are “guaranteed,” by Our Lord. But what if the priest takes them frivolously? What if, almost everywhere we turn, we find a Church that does not take her own doctrines seriously? One in which bishops — even the highest bishop — seems to be an impostor? Then what?

To my understanding we act, according to our commitments, sincerely. We stand a little aloof from the clergy, and wait patiently for Christ to sort them out. We stop doing things like giving them money; giving it directly to the poor, instead. In other ways, we keep our distance, for buttressing falsehood could not be what Christ wanted Christians to do. Crucially, we keep examining ourselves, for signs of arrogance and other moral slips. We say our prayers devoutly. Especially we pray that Christ will not forget us.

I read this morning that three hundred and fifty “faith leaders” have endorsed Biden, hailing his “moral clarity.” The various signatories are mostly non-Catholic; though nominally Catholic career politicians are their intended beneficiaries. Their declaration is a tissue of media clichés and absurdities. One camera-ready (tatoo’d, half-naked) priestess celebrates, “The sleeping giant of progressive Christianity.”

Fifty-five million babies have been sacrificed on that altar, so far within the USA. (Disproportionately black.) I could mention many other outrages, but that fact is overwhelming and decisive. What need one add?

That no politician can help us, nor any Disney-costumed “faith leader,” or progressive witch-doctor of any other kind. That we must keep Christianity alive, out here in the “asphalt jungle”; wait even here for the Catholic Church to return. Perhaps we can get help from foreign missionaries, now that we are savages again. Some, surely, will be brave enough to come here.