December 31, 2008 § 1 Comment
For the truth is that Mr. Shaw has never seen things as they really are. If he had he would have fallen on his knees before them. He has always had a secret ideal that has withered all the things of this world. He has all the time been silently comparing humanity with something that was not human, with a monster from Mars, with the Wise Man of the Stoics, with the Economic Man of the Fabians, with Julius Caesar, with Siegfried, with the Superman. Now, to have this inner and merciless standard may be a very good thing, or a very bad one, it may be excellent or unfortunate, but it is not seeing things as they are. It is not seeing things as they are to think first of a Briareus with a hundred hands, and then call every man a cripple for only having two. It is not seeing things as they are to start with a vision of Argus with his hundred eyes, and then jeer at every man with two eyes as if he had only one. And it is not seeing things as they are to imagine a demigod of infinite mental clarity, who may or may not appear in the latter days of the earth, and then to see all men as idiots. And this is what Mr. Shaw has always in some degree done. When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship; and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs, with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter. It is only the quite arbitrary and priggish habit of comparison with something else which makes it possible to be at our ease in front of him. A sentiment of superiority keeps us cool and practical; the mere facts would make, our knees knock under as with religious fear. It is the fact that every instant of conscious life is an unimaginable prodigy. It is the fact that every face in the street has the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy-tale. The thing which prevents a man from realizing this is not any clear-sightedness or experience, it is simply a habit of pedantic and fastidious comparisons between one thing and another. Mr. Shaw, on the practical side perhaps the most humane man alive, is in this sense inhumane. He has even been infected to some extent with the primary intellectual weakness of his new master, Nietzsche, the strange notion that the greater and stronger a man was the more he would despise other things. The greater and stronger a man is the more he would be inclined to prostrate himself before a periwinkle. That Mr. Shaw keeps a lifted head and a contemptuous face before the colossal panorama of empires and civilizations, this does not in itself convince one that he sees things as they are. I should be most effectively convinced that he did if I found him staring with religious astonishment at his own feet. “What are those two beautiful and industrious beings,” I can imagine him murmuring to himself, “whom I see everywhere, serving me I know not why? What fairy godmother bade them come trotting out of elfland when I was born? What god of the borderland, what barbaric god of legs, must I propitiate with fire and wine, lest they run away with me?”
The truth is, that all genuine appreciation rests on a certain mystery of humility and almost of darkness. The man who said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,” put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.” The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see, and greener grass, and a more startling sun. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inherit the earth. Until we realize that things might not be we cannot realize that things are. Until we see the background of darkness we cannot admire the light as a single and created thing. As soon as we have seen that darkness, all light is lightening, sudden, blinding, and divine. Until we picture nonentity we underrate the victory of God, and can realize none of the trophies of His ancient war. It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we know nothing until we know nothing. – G. K. Chesterton, in Heretics
(HT: Federalist Paupers)
December 31, 2008 § 2 Comments
In the Psalms we meet from time to time the prayer that God should free man from his hidden sins. The Psalmist sees as his greatest danger the fact that he no longer recognizes them as sins and thus falls into them in apparently good conscience. Not being able to have a guilty conscience is a sickness, just as not being able to experience pain is a sickness… And thus one cannot approve the maxim that everyone may always do what his conscience allows him to do: In that case the person without a conscience would be permitted to do anything. In truth, it is his fault that his conscience is so broken that he no longer sees what he as a man should see. – Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI
December 29, 2008 § 6 Comments
It is hard to know where to start when commenting on something as whoreifying as this article by Deborah Swaney. In keeping with the observations in Paul Cella’s latest post here, as well as his excellent piece on Christendom Review, we note that modern man seems perfectly capable of observing what is going on around him, yet utterly incapable of processing it and knowing what to do about it. I propose that this incapacity is rooted in his view of himself as a member of a group of free and equal modern supermen, self-created through reason and will, emancipated from history and nature. Indeed our beloved Supreme Court has told us that this kind of nihilistic emancipation is the heart of liberty.
It is no surprise, then, that modern man is perfectly capable of seeing the disaster before his eyes but remains castrated and impotent in its face; castrated by his own conception of himself as a god.
Swaney observes, just as an example:
The media onslaught extends to cyberspace as well, with an explosion of kids’ interactive Web sites tied to TV shows like iCarly and Hannah Montana. “They push girls to further identify with these older, more mature girls,” says Levin. And that’s just the nice sites: One called “Miss Bimbo” gives girls a nearly naked doll to look after and urges them to score points redeemable for plastic surgery and skimpy clothes.
But what prescription emerges? The world view which informs it is in the headline of the article itself: “Girls Growing Up Too Fast”. Apparently once they are a little bit older it becomes perfectly healthy for young women to, at least as a game, whore an imaginary naked woman for points redeemable for plastic surgery and skimpy clothes.
And make no mistake about the prescription. We are told to
Forget about overreacting. Sending your daughter to school in overalls, clutching your old prairie-skirted Holly Hobbie doll is like putting a giant “L” on her forehead and a “kick me” sign on her back. The idea is to help her live in the real world while preserving her innocence and honoring your family’s morals.
Notice that it is “your family’s morals”, not public standards of morality. No amount of observed and acknowledged whorification of girls just out of diapers will be permitted to infringe upon the “freedom” of adults to be whores.
December 26, 2008 § 1 Comment
No, not that Calvin. This one:
December 25, 2008 § 3 Comments
I have nothing to say that will not sound banal in the face of the Incarnation and the Nativity; so I’ll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
December 20, 2008 § 1 Comment
For our nominalism files, we discover the reason for the decline in the rate of black illegitimacy: redefinition of the term ‘parent’.
“The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.”
December 20, 2008 § Leave a comment
These people really have an instinct for news, don’t they? If they were reporting the news on the day in 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Moslems and the city’s population was slaughtered, their headline and lead would have been something like this:
Lovely City Remembered
May 29–Constantinople, which was conquered and sacked by the Ottomans yesterday, with many thousands of its Christian inhabitants slaughtered and others sold into slavery, was described by survivors as a place of many wonderful memories.
So writes Lawrence Auster, satirizing the way the press has handled the case of a man in Britain who was beheaded on his own front lawn.