Yes, Lew. Well said! ”Love your neighbour” presupposes having your own home.
Woods you believe it!? Tom just keeps giving! This all helps add to my previous post on cultural marxism and add nuance.
Yes, Lew. Well said! ”Love your neighbour” presupposes having your own home.
Woods you believe it!? Tom just keeps giving! This all helps add to my previous post on cultural marxism and add nuance.
Leithart’s always worthwhile. Even though this wasn’t his best work and it’s not up to the standard of a book like For The Life of The World (how many works are?) it can teach us some important points. Peter’s typological understanding of scripture and symbolism is brilliant and poses really interesting questions around sacraments. Baptism is one he looks at in the book
This is no ‘mere ritual’ cut off from it’s end but a partaking in the the thing symbolised. No less than true life!
Leithart’s insights here, like Schmemann’s, need to be heeded and improved upon if we are to make holy the life of this world.
The last chapter’s argument that ‘pacifist’ Christians such as Yoder are basically a mirror image of one-dimensional ‘Constantinians’, with a bit more nuance, could go a long way.
A similar argument to this and Fr Schmemann’s description of Byzantium in Orthodoxy and The West could rightfully undermine the squishy pacifism which is fashionable amongst many Christian Theologians today. This ideology is, I suspect, more an idealistic idea drawn from ‘Christianity’ and political liberalism than genuine Christian faith.
It seems to require a shady re-reading of the Old Testament and skewering of The New Testament to create a hippy-dippy Jesus and non-judgemental Father. See Greg Boyd for a clear example of this at work.
Regrettably, many Eastern Christians today also try to root this in the early Church but this is often noticeably anachronistic and commonly no more than confirmation bias, based on the wrong biases of course… A kind of reading into ‘the fathers’ what we want; likewise in the form of eisegesis when we’re referring to scripture. There are many sensible Orthodox Christians on the more traditional side however.
Even if the early fathers, in some combination, were like Hauerwas then they need to be corrected. By Scripture and the growing body of Christ. The lack of skin in the game and disincarnate nature of their speculations, influenced by Plotinus, Aristotle, etc malevolently took them away from the Biblical view. The reaction to the strict Greek-Biblical distinction of smoe Theologians doesn’t mean that they weren’t at least partially corrected. This is a problem for Eastern Christians today who feel the need to sacralise ‘The Fathers’ in idolising fashion. The sacralising of time and space- the ‘east’ and ‘ancient church’. This is not Orthodoxy or the fullness of The Catholic Faith, which is a growing body.
In the west, the Just War tradition developed through a real world application of The Gospel. Incarnate and non-idealist, in the sense that Fr McGuckin, DB Hart and co miss when they speak of ‘intrinsic evil’ in relation to violence. The failure to appreciate any redemptive ‘violence’ or self defense could lead us into a time of disaster and attempts to place an area of the world beyond God’s redemptive power. Does this have no redemptive end in God? The God who killed first borns of the Egyptians, etc in the Old Testament. (Although, the differences between the Perfect God and His actions, and ours should be obvious. Yet might not the Church reflect a Holy ‘violence’ like this?)
Daniel M Bell Jr and Tremper Longman are two worthwhile authors on this, following on from Aquinas, C.S Lewis and co. Their work is at least worth considering!
Nassim is a man of many worthwhile talents and offers a refreshing way of looking at the world. His respect for skin in the game, more, soul in the game is appropriately Incarnational and depressingly rare, even amongst Christian Theologians who write for their own clique as much as other members of the intelligentsia. Vis a vis Nassim, it is no surprise given his vibrant Orthodox Faith and respect for living, breathing men and women, their interactions and history. One of his favourite books is Dr Norman Russell’s work on Deification and he heartily recommends it. I recommend similarly Taleb’s work- particularly The Incerto.
Alan Jacobs is a fine scholar at the intersection of Christ and so-called technology. Do yourself a favour and read his beautifully crafted work.
See also Jacques Ellul, George Gilder, Wendell Berry, Seamus Heaney, Marshall McLuhan, W Edwards Deming and Fr Walter J Ong SJ.
Above: Photo of Christ and St Joseph as carpenters*
Ireland’s roll of great men includes, amongst so many others, the diverse personalities and talents of these ten. Links attached by asterisks.
Edmund Burke *
Daniel O’ Connell *
C.S Lewis *
Padraig Pearse *
Terence MacSwiney *
Van Morrison *
Seamus Heaney *
Bobby Sands *
John O’Donohue *
and Jonathan Swift. *
… Most interesting is Heaney’s Catholic Mysticism and a sense of place. This form of poetic witness is Catholic in the sense of fullness which Florovsky points to, rooted and universal simultaneously.*
We can see happy similarities and complentarities with his friend Milosz.*
Both seem to have admirably resisted accepting the dogmas of the post-colonial school and wider anarchic assault on forms. The appreciation for both men of place and form, in light of eternity lends itself organically to Christian Truth.*
Moreover, this provides a timelessness to their work, untainted by the shallow modern search for ‘authenticity’ in terms of sociological identities. Equally, they do not fall into Marxist categories of ‘alienation’ or resentment; the kinds which Charles Taylor, Christopher Lasch and Gary North refer to.
In all of this, both Milosz and our own hibernian Seamus Heaney sit nicely in a pantheon which also includes GK Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor and other, more obviously, Christian writers.
“Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.
History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.
Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a God speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.”
― Seamus Heaney
”Having grown up in Ireland, and with Catholic relatives in his mother’s family, Burke was well aware that the “popery laws” had two general purposes: to persecute Catholics for adhering to their religion, and to reduce them to extreme poverty and ignorance by proscribing them from the social rights and political benefits of the British constitution. In the first section of his Tracts, he described how particular statutes prohibited the rights of inheritance, encouraged children “to revolt against their parents” by going to court to secure their estate; gave wives who became Protestant power over the children and property of their Catholic husbands, and excluded Catholics from all the professions. He noted that the penal laws prevented Catholics from attending schools, or establishing their own, or even from sending their children abroad to be educated. These laws extended to the keeping of arms for “the right of self-defence.” which Burke called “one of the rights by the law of nature.” He noted that “in order to enforce this regulation, the whole spirit of the common law is changed, very severe penalties are enjoined, the largest powers are vested in the lowest magistrates.” The whole system of the penal laws was fed by “informers,” who received a share of the fines levied or of property confiscated. In addition, many of the Catholic clergy were “banished the kingdom,” and “should they return from exile” they were “to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.” All of these unjust statutes, Burke insisted, violated the natural and civil rights of Catholics, and kept Ireland in a perpetual state of unrest.
In the second part of his Tracts, Burke turned to the larger questions of the nature and purpose of law, government, and civil society. Here he examined not the particular provisions and civil effects of the penal laws, but the legal and moral implications of their principles. Here, for the first time in his early political and legal writings, Burke set forth his belief in the moral natural law as the basis of every just and free social order. He rejected the claim that rulers have the right to make whatever laws they please, by virtue of being the duly authorized legal power of government:
They have no right to make a law prejudicial to the whole community…because it would be made against the principle of a superior law, which it is not in the power of any community, or of the whole race of man, to alter—I mean the will of Him who gave us our nature, and in giving impressed an invariable law upon it. It would be hard to point out any error more truly subversive of all the order and beauty, of all the peace and happiness of human society, than the position, that any body of men have a right to make what laws they please—or that laws can derive any authority from their institution merely, and independent of the quality of the subject-matter. No argument of policy, reason of state, or preservation of the constitution can be pleaded in favor of such a practice. They may, indeed, impeach the frame of that constitution, but can never touch that immovable principle. This seems to be, indeed, the doctrine which Hobbes broached in the last century, and which was then so frequently and so ably refuted. Cicero exclaims with the utmost indignation and contempt against such a notion: he considers it not only as unworthy of a philosopher, but of an illiterate peasant, that of all things this was the most absurd, to fancy that the rule of justice was to be taken from the constitution of commonwealths, or that laws derived their authority from the statutes of the people, the edicts of princes, or the decrees of judges. If it be admitted that it is not the black-letter and the king’s arms that makes the law, we are to look for it elsewhere.
Clearly, Burke rejected Thomas Hobbes’ conception of political and legal sovereignty, that the arbitrary will of the sovereign dictates the law of the land.”*
”Person: In your first book, Edmund Burke and the Natural Law, you wrote that the Natural Law is fundamental in Burke’s conception of man and civil society. What did Burke mean when he used the term Natural Law?
Stanlis: Burke seldom used the term as such. But he does appeal to the moral basis of law, particularly in two areas: in Ireland, with the anti-papal penal code against Irish Catholics, which was in complete violation of not only the civil and constitutional rights of the Irish people, but it was a violation of elementary ethics as well, because the great object of civility is to protect life, liberty, and property. Well, all three of them were being emasculated and destroyed in Ireland by the British government. Burke, in one sentence, said in effect that it was the Irish penal code that was the most systematically thought-out abuse of power “as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.” He had witnessed it in the process of growing up in Ireland, so he knew what it was like at first hand, seeing how whole families and regions had been destroyed by such abuse.
The other area where the moral Natural Law was most abused was in India. There the English, through the East India Company, had evolved into what Burke called “a statesman in the disguise of a merchant.” They had invaded and secured control of large sections of India, and had established their own court system, their own army, and were abusing their privileges, exploiting the people for their own benefit, and sending back fortunes to England so that they could live on in prosperity when they returned. So Burke defended the Indian people against that kind of abuse of basic morality.”*
I haven’t watched a Peterson video in a while but he’s truly excellent here and Ben’s interview skills are developing fantastically.
JP’s use of Piaget is particularly impressive and points implicitly to Theology and discipleship; which is a long obedience in the same direction, as his namesake Eugene Peterson suggests, quoting Nietzsche.
“Theology is an assault on the sin-distorted intellect; it is the obedience penetrating the realm of thought.”
― Emil Brunner
There is actually something of a ‘natural law’, it seems, to an extent which is greater than someone like Sherrard would allow for but not existent in a manner that someone like De- Chardin would describe it.*
It seems that we require rigorous discernment and passion if we are to engage with it, as well as an appreciation that we are not primarily ‘thinking things’ as James KA Smith puts it.
Perhaps we could and/or should describe Peterson as a ‘Natural Law’ thinker in the sense that Peter Stanlis describes Edmund Burke.*
Of course, from an Orthodox Catholic position, we know this all meets it’s fulfillment in The Triune life so I hope he becomes a Christian in a fuller sense but I welcome his insights alongside his conversion.
The Christian Scriptures and the Church, guided by The Spirit lead us into that greater fullness. However, God in His Wisdom reveals Himself in ways we do not grasp and spreads out in time and place to embrace the cosmos, so let this reffirm the Christian emphasis on humility. There is no contradiction between the wills of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit but we cannot grasp them all or appreciate their fullness.
Postscript: See my newer post True Lew for nu-ance.
Time on from a false prophet
So, I think I’m getting more why I go on about ‘race’ so much, as much as it seems dreadfully pedantic and unChristian to me. It’s the cultural marxist religion behind it. A religion which creates the terms in which we think, and which runs against Christian Truth- it’s the same with so-called feminism and other isms, which divide people in ways that Christ and The Spirit do not. Also, at another level, being a Catholic from northern Ireland, I sympathise with people like Larry Elder or Thomas Sowell, who are deeply submerged in leftist religiosity from birth and expected to toe the line with heretical orthodoxy. The new religion is replete with malevolent ahistorical binaries- oppressor and oppressed… we know too well about this in northern Ireland. We also know of ‘systemic’ discrimination based on certain characteristics. Only in our country the descriptors are Catholic and Protestant or Unionist and Nationalist, Republican or Loyalist.
However, that does not mean that we should swallow the poisons of false faith and bandish the Christian virtue of discernment.
Indeed, the religion of marxism has penetrated deep into our hearts and minds since the time of its founder and especially his sacred secular scripture: The Communist Manifesto, with his dogmas and doctrines dictating often how we think and feel, view the world and listen to others.
Yet, few of us are aware of this. Sure, we may know of the theory at an ostensible level and make broad statements about communism being ”nice in theory” whilst suggesting that ”it just doen’t work in practice”, but this is merely trite and doesn’t grapple with the multi-storied involvement of cultural and political marxism in our world today.
Yes, many intellectuals and supposedly radical students flagrantly spew Marxist terminology without care or due discernmment; we all know of this and the card carrying types, but these very visible manifestations are only relatively surface level…
More than ‘whatabout-ism’ is needed.*
Actually, it’s not even nice ‘in theory’ and that attitude treats marxism as something from the past in a manner that misses reality. Christopher Lasch dealt with the same problem vis a vis ‘Progress’, itself a central Marxist belief.* Alas this is a naive delusion.
This political religion, which makes claims about everything and acts in the world through it’s believers, is affecting us very practically in how we define and feel about people, value, alienation and more besides. Even the idea of ‘capitalism’ itself, as currently seen, flows from marxist dogma and the problems of the world within this context serve as ‘proof’ of the ‘truth’ of Marx.* So the story goes…
Liberal ‘Christianity’ in places like the USA is more doctrinally marxist or marxian than it is Biblical and views people and things more in those terms than traditional Christian ones- mistaking it for The Gospel. This is particularly clear with the ‘identity politics’ of many Episcopalians but is much more embedded and perniciously submerged than headline-grabbers like the neo-pagan goddess worship of Beyonce and ‘Mass’ in her honour.
The worrying thing is the more subconsious mass of beliefs underneath and habits of formation. James KA Smith says correctly that ”We are what we love”. In relation to this, it must be understood by Christians that different denominations and offshoots of marxism form our hearts and minds liturgically, claiming our whole Nephesh. Unfortunately Smith doesn’t grapple with this in his work- going after the crudely-drawn targets that marxist religionists themselves go after- and that is a great shame.
Clearly, we survive not just on the fumes of Christian Revelation, as Douglas Murray perceptively points out, but smother silently on those twisted heretical marxist perversions; which digress from the Ancient Faith, calamatiously corrupting Christian Truth.
All of this takes a conscious effort to resist, and Christians need to be especially careful, lest they follow the path of corrupting Christianity as Ivan Illich powerfully portrayed it.*
Marxism, in various forms, is an anti-Christ masquerading today in care for ‘people of colour’, for ‘women’, the ‘LGBT community’ etc. This false religion and it’s priests set the definitions and make all these individual human persons out to be the same and suggest they should think certain ways, feel certain ways, believe certain things and worship according to their secular liturgies.*
Moreover, in the realm of time, there is a push to put off forgiveness and love, instead encouraging resentment and divisions between groups of people.* There is no eschatological Christian content or in-breaking of Grace and they’ll suggest ”we’ll love you/them when…” and come up with a literally endless list of things that can never be fully accomplished. The utopian dogma manifests itself continuously and unashamedly.
The result is that Love is never allowed to take place.* There are always barriers put up and fortified- The dogma of these people is then doubled-down on if you Prophecy against their idolatry. It’s suggested that ‘you don’t get it’ because you aren’t this, that or the other- reinforcing their beliefs on you and about you and the world, without evidence, sense of Truth or Christian charity. This is also completely ignorant of what it means to be a person ultimately, in a Christian sense. (See Lossky, Fr Behr, Berdyev, Staniloae, JP2 et al on Personalism or Jordan Peterson on the individual). It’s a vicious cycle and they think it only proves their point. Yet, it actually shows how deeply ingrained the religion is and that they are unwilling to be freed from this hardness of heart by Christian Love and Truth.
Our first and last, our most important identity is in God and our terms of reference should be Christian- drawn from the scriptures and Christian Tradition; which must discern Orthodox Tradition from heretical versions like marxist, and other, ideologies…
In God we are beloved, * Brother, Neighbour, Sister, Friend, Lover.
Ours is not a blindness to difference or injustice but a wider vision of Just Love and sensitive discernment of the welcome peculiarities that make up God’s cosmic symphony. By God’s Grace and Spirit of Pentecost, we see through it and allow for all proportion in His Triune life.
Christian poetics is both/and- including the individual and groups together in organic synchronicity. This is demonstrated in the witness of Milosz for example-
“For Milosz,” Helen Vendler explained in the New Yorker, “the person is irrevocably a person in history, and the interchange between external event and the individual life is the matrix of poetry.”
Milosz articulated a fundamental difference in the role of poetry in the capitalist West and the communist East. Western poetry, as Alfred Kazin wrote in the New York Times Book Review, is “‘alienated’ poetry, full of introspective anxiety.” But because of the dictatorial nature of communist government, poets in the East cannot afford to be preoccupied with themselves. They are drawn to write of the larger problems of their society. “A peculiar fusion of the individual and the historical took place,” Milosz wrote in The Witness of Poetry, “which means that events burdening a whole community are perceived by a poet as touching him in a most personal manner. Then poetry is no longer alienated.”
I wouldn’t draw the east-west, capitalist-communist line like that, as should be clear in this essay but the so-called ‘alienation’ referred to is obviously not conducive or integral to the Christian Way.*
This is far from how people are talking about one another today, and to one another if they even bother to do that. The terms are assiduously wrong- Theologically, historically and morally. For example, cultural marxist and postmodern terms of reference actually create resentment antithetical to Christian love and reconciliation by drawing false lines. ‘Whiteness’ is a key one. It allows one to attack Christianity with greater subterfuge. Furthermore, ‘White and/or Christian guilt’ is a way to carve people up along tribal lines and is ludicroulsy lumped together. It does not sit properly with the Truth of history but carries as a religious belief amongst marxists in various forms.# *
This is an asinine and perilously heretical version of original/ancestral sin, and even digresses to a semblance of the ‘total depravity’ that many Protestants belief in. For a similar argument in some ways, see Alan Jacobs on ‘the myth of wokeness.’*
Then we have ‘The revolution’, which supposedly leads to a utopia; this is a parody of The Kingdom of God and what about the hatred of the rich that motivates her missionaries? (as Orwell rightfully saw it) Is this not a dangerous subversion of Christ’s love for the poor?*
Our worship and forms of habit need to be actively and, as much as possible, consciously Christian so that we are not worshipping and loving the wrong thing or in the wrong way.
Some helpful guides for resistance include, alongside aforementioned Illich- Christopher Lasch, Fr Schmemann, Solzenhitsyn, Czeslaw Milosz, Jordan Peterson, Paul Gottfried, Jay Richards, Leszek Kolakowski, Douglas Murray, Thomas Woods Jr, George Gilder, Gary North, Thomas Sowell, Christina Hoff Sommers and Frederica Mathewes Green.