How I Spent My Weekend

How I Spent My Weekend November 21, 2016

So this weekend was really quite lovely. Went to an American Solidarity Party planning session over at the UW Newman Center to see what happens at such things and was happy with the energy and the savvy at work in this nascent movement. As a Chestertonian and a Frank Capra fan, I’m a believer in ordinary people making stabs at working together for the common good and I particularly like despised underdogs.

This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one’s own love-letters or blowing one’s own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. I am not here arguing the truth of any of these conceptions; I know that some moderns are asking to have their wives chosen by scientists, and they may soon be asking, for all I know, to have their noses blown by nurses. I merely say that mankind does recognize these universal human functions, and that democracy classes government among them. In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves–the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state. This is democracy; and in this I have always believed. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The American Solidarity Party has all that going on, plus a sensible dedication to upholding the whole of Catholic social doctrine in support of the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.  No pitting the unborn against the rest of the Church’s teaching.  No attempts to minimize abortion and wink at it by overemphasizing lesser things.  Just the common sense awareness that abortion is related to, not the opposite of, such issues as unjust war, the death penalty, torture, refugees, a living wage, and racism.  When we march on Olympia on January 23, we will have a number of proposals for the legistlature.  So it’s off to a good start.

After that, I came home and worked on a big project I’m involved with that is super duper secret and which I’ve already said too much about and if you ask me I’ll have to kill you and I probably should kill you anyway just to be safe.  It’s going to be consuming a lot of my time and so I may get a bit scarcer till the project is over but I will trying to post a bit each day.

Speaking of day, Vox Day, a maven of of the Alt Right did me a favor by attacking me and sending a mob of his crazy, racist, Nazi-admiring, anti-semitic (and, oddly, racist Jewish) readers over to issue death threats, goosestep around, gloat about putting a bullet in my head when cucks like me are line up against the wall, chatter about “brown riffraff”, speak dreamingly about the day they herd my readers into gas chambers and generally make a spectacle of themselves.

Particularly surreal was the moment a racist Russian Jewish guy got into an argument with a bitterly anti-semitic Reactionary “Catholic” (who hates the Communist Pope and denounces the Church).  They fought for the longest time, like spiders in a shaken jar.  It was amazing.

Initially, I thought I would just ban the lot of them.  But since I’m constantly told that the Alt Right isn’t *really* racist and isn’t all *that* bad, I changed my mind (after banning a few of them) and just let the zoo run wild so that people could simply go and see for themselves if they are unfamiliar with the Alt Right (as most people are).  It’s a helluva education.  Go and look if you don’t believe me.

Plus, I thought, hey!  If these guys want to generate revenue for me with hate clicks, who am I to stop them?  Thanks!

So I just let the culture dish grow while I did other things.  Then I popped in last night and banned all the nuts.  Now I have my museum exhibit and a bunch of money, neat as neat.  Today I will be contacting the law about the death threats, which will be fun too!

Had a great conversation with Robbie George on Facebook in which we talked at some length about the poison of the Alt Right (they really really hate his guts) and we discussed the Muslim Registry (he plans to be right in line behind me to be registered as a worshipper of Allah if those clowns go through with it.  As a Syrian, he’s been worshipping Allah all his life).

First they came for the Muslims…

Anyway, what came out of it was that I invited him to be on Connecting the Dots on Wednesday to talk about this.  So that’ll be fun (assuming we get tech glitches fixed that are preventing today’s live shot).  We’ll also be talking about his piece on Gnostic Liberalism over at First Things.

On Sunday, I went to Mass and got some help from the Holy Spirit.  The gospel reading reminded me of how the gospel is revealed in weakness, not earthly power.

I started thinking about how much energy I’ve spent protesting sin. There’s a place for it, and Paul does insist “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.” (Eph 5:11–13). So I’ve been trying to do that.

But it can’t be everything. People need food too. The command to Peter was “Feed my sheep.” So I started thinking about what feeds me and what feeds other people.

It’s love, of course. And I’m such a dummy for not seeing it so often. I get that making truth visible–including the truth of what is wrong–is part of that. People who are being lied to need to see that people see the lie. And people who are being lied about need to see that people see the truth.  I hear from a lot of readers of color and women in particular who have been feeling very discouraged as Real Catholics[TM] have blown them off in their goosestepping after the Orange Messiah.  My goal has been to remind them that the Lord is with them and so, especially, is the Holy Father, who gets it.

But people also need to know what to do next.  They need, as I say, food. A friend wrote me:

request – you write a super duper article on “how” people who struggle with their faith – and try to maintain their faith – how we can STAY faithful when we see fellow-Catholics defending such appalling values, defending racism, not caring about the poor – Ive been looking at some folks thinking “we are of the same faith!?!?” It really bothers me! It makes me question everything! Then again this has ALWAYS been the case for Christians and I know it….its nothing new…and Im just one small Catholic trying to remain faithful….but wow! This election almost killed me! (and everyone else lol)….

For me, what helps is to always go back to basics. So, for instance, when I am shaken by the terrible behavior of my fellow Catholics, it helps to ask if such behavior somehow give evidence that Jesus has failed?  Does Jesus ever promise that his Church will be immune from members embracing sin? No. He does not. Indeed, he goes out of his way to tell the parable of the wheat and the tares (where both are allowed to grow together until the Harvest) and to point out that the great net scoops up good and bad fish with the Great Sorting only happening on the Last Day.

Indeed, one of the core lessons of Catholic history, again and again, is that attempts to immanentize the eschaton via the Donatist heresy, or Puritanism, or Communism always end in disaster. Some enthusiastic sect decides it can’t wait around for Judgment Day and set about trying to purify the Church or society right now by fixing on some scapegoat and purging or killing them.

We can’t do that and we especially can’t do that to the people who are at this hour, filled with a vision of doing that to their neighbors. We do, to be sure, have to fight them in defense of the innocents they seek to harm (so sign me up for that Muslim Register!). But we cannot desire their their damnation.

The key to hold on to is that the Holy Spirit and no member of the Church is the soul of the Church. God’s Providence and governance is not thwarted in this hour and it is our part to discern what he wants you and me to do. And in that respect, common sense is invaluable. Uncle Screwtape writing from the perspective of Hell, says of God:

Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking “Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?” they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on.

So the Christian tradition begins with a man writing from jail to a Christian community in far more dire straits than ours:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his practices ¶ and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And over all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:1–17).

The point is this: Paul wrote that from prison, where he had been before on various occasions. And one of the things he had to put up with was not only hostility from pagans and fellow Jews, but from fellow Christians as well. It’s a thing saints down the ages have had to endure. St. Joan, don’t forget, was condemned by a bishop and smeared by no less than William Shakespeare himself as a witch. But in the end, God’s voice is heard. That is the great paradigm we heard in the reading yesterday. Jesus is found at the bottom of the heap, not the top. His execution was, to almost every onlooker, just another brutal dispatch of some riffraff indistinguishable from all the other executions, mass shootings, starvations and all the rest of it down the ages.

But his Resurrection really does change everything. “On earth as it is in heaven” means that we have good hope of living “as if”. We can model our lives on an unkillable Life that has a long track record of just refusing to die no matter how many times you nail it to a cross and bury it. There is even a certain merriment in it, as the apostles who rejoiced at being found worthy to suffer for the Name discovered and as Paul and Silas, singing the jail at Phillipi found. Yes, there is real grief too. Jesus’ warning that a man’s enemies will be the members of his own family is a poignant reminder of the pain we face as disciples. But there is also the truth that even hard hearts like Saul of Tarsus can be reached.

We are in a peculiar moment of clarity as many Catholics are being faced with a stark choice: join Jesus in shame and ignominy outside the camp or join with those who mock him and his gospel in the lust for earthly power. This weekend my comboxes swelled up and burst with advocates of the Alt Right’s New Order. They gloated over their power. They announced themselves the future of the Church and of America and the world. They talked gleefully of gassing Jews and putting a bullet in the heads of their enemies. It was all about power. And not just them:

By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

Yes. Minorities have nothing to fear. No further territorial claims in Amerikkka. It’s good to have the evil and the crazy so clear and out in the open. Tila Tequila is a fitting symbol of the self-destructive crazy.

But it’s also crucial to recall that the weapons of the Spirit are how we fight this and all other sin. Jesus defeats death by death and, Bonhoeffer says, when Christ calls a man he bids him come and die. That death Christ died was for us. It was not done in futile passivity. It was willed and chosen by him. It was his idea, not that of his enemies. He was running the show from start to finish. As John puts it, “And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and tied a towel around himself. ¶ Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him” (Jn 13:2–5).

We now have to imitate that. It means claiming your dignity as a child of God, knowing where you come from (the baptismal font that washed away your sin and gave you the dignity of Jesus Christ himself) and where you are going (heaven and eternal glory). The demons who are the enemies of God hate that and will throw what they can at us. But we have the grace to go all in for one another, to lay down our lives for one another, to even lay down our lives for our enemies. We have the power of the cross to taunt the enemy with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the power of an indestructible life.

I don’t know what the next four years hold. But I know what eternity holds because it has already received Jesus and he already is ruling from there, with us seated at his right hand. I choose to not be afraid. I choose to give thanks as Jesus did on the very night he knew he was going to betrayed. I invite you to join me in that choice. Live as if he is risen.

Because he *is* risen. Be not afraid.

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