Men Without Chests

Men Without Chests August 1, 2015


Since my reversion, I have twice had the privilege of meeting with Father George W. Rutler, pastor, author, columnist, EWTN host, theologian, sharp social critic.

The highly educated and wonderfully articulate Rutler, a Catholic convert, currently serves at St. Michael’s Church in New York City.

His most recent column appears at Crisis Magazine and I must strongly recommend that you read it in its entirety.

The Pity of Christ succinctly addresses the latest, most insidious American failing: our massively misdirected moral outrage (to which my Facebook newsfeed stands testament this past week – a time during which the unfortunate killing of a lion and four snuff-like videos have vied at once for my attention).

Fair use permits me to only quote brief passages from the column so I have been quite selective here.

But these are key:

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis called these sheep in sheep’s clothing “men without chests” because their perception of reality lacks objective moral reason. Consequently, they really have no heart, if the heart is the seat of a righteous will, and thus they are ruled by whim, incapable of courage. The eagle on the Great Seal of the United States has arrows and an olive branch, but the sheep in sheep’s clothing would carry a limp pre-Raphaelite lily. For them infanticide is no big matter provided it is described in gentle tones; and the shooting of unarmed soldiers (deprived of defensive weapons by the sheep in sheep’s clothing) is just “heartbreaking.”

And this:

General Patton was thought by some not to have much pity. But he had a chest. When he entered Ohrdruf, the sub-camp of Buchenwald, his reaction to the corpses and crematoria surprised his soldiers. He did not say the lurid scene was “inappropriate” or “unacceptable” or “heartbreaking.” He bent over and vomited. And the medals on his chest rattled.

While pleas of ignorance ring hollow:

When the people who lived outside the camps protested that they did not know what had been going on, General Eisenhower ordered them to walk through the fetid buildings and look at the corpses.

It’s not the “tone” that’s been problematic. And nothing that I have seen can dismissively be labeled merely as “heartbreaking.”

No, wanton destruction and death everywhere surrounds us.

Perhaps it’s time that we, like Patton, reveal whether we have chests that rattle when we vomit. Assuming, that is, that what we are witnessing – if we in fact are looking – actually sickens.

I remain, as yet, unconvinced.


Photo Image: General Patton via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

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