Category Archives: Ethics

Turning Christians into Followers of Christ

After Tuesday’s resounding victory for Donald Trump, you’ve got to love some of the sanctimonious remarks tweeted by evangelical clerics and retweeted by evangelical theologians. Here is one:

I could not help saying something. The craven capitulation to globalist propaganda, the Pharisaic condemnation of Christians who disagreed and voted accordingly, the rejection of a reading of holy Scripture on natural law rather than liberal ideology, all conspired to elicit a response. Never before liberal modernity have such things been imagined, and never before have such things been taken into the Church to be enshrined as orthodox doctrine.

(Edit: I see that the bloke has deleted his tweet, but it remains here for posterity.)

I see. The Lord has called upon me, a Chinaman, to be a race traitor and regard my people as nothing. After all, if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. If the Chinese nation were to fall on account of an unrestrained flood of strangers from abroad, I should not oppose it so long as the strangers were Christians or potential Christians. For it is said that water is thicker than blood, and therefore the common bond of baptism erases every consideration of ethnicity in civic prudence. I would be astonished were the sentiment not so common.

Then, a red herring all too easy to find is the proposition that the world is saved by the weakness of Christ on the Cross and not by the strength of the nation. No shit. I fail to see how this truth about everlasting salvation impinges upon my duty to consider myself responsible for my own family, my own tribe, and my own nation. It is Christ that has justified me by his death; therefore I shall never do good works again, because such works would deny the gospel. God forbid! Yet here is an accusation of implicit hæresy against all who would support our own people according to the principle taught by St Paul, that if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Have any of us claimed that a man will thus be accounted holy before God, or that the human race will thus be healed of sin? For that indeed were hæresy, and that indeed were publicly to be opposed. Yet not once have I heard a professing Christian make that claim, which liars now pin upon Christians who support the policies Donald Trump stands for. In the hands of these snakes, even truth is wielded as a weapon against truth. May they crawl on their bellies to the end of their days, and may their heads be crushed in the dust unless they repent.

This sort of nonsense, by the way, is why millions of Christians have abandoned going to church. Such a fate befell the Protestant Episcopal Church as it left orthodoxy behind, and it now happens to all the other churches that pander to those who despise Christians. They are the Pharisees who call others Pharisees and talk about making them ‘followers of Jesus’.

No, turning Christians into actual followers of Christ, fearing no death and conceding nothing to the powers and principalities, is quite other than certain clerics have imagined. The task of learning to do so, and teaching others to do so according to God’s word as it is – and not as the plastics wish it to be – will be neither easy nor quick. God willing, however, it can be done.

Natural Beef

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By Julie A. Brown (CC BY 2.0).

I once saw a specimen of beef in Wegman’s, so fine that I could not help drawing my parents’ attention to it, that they too might appreciate the beauty by which naturally raised beef is distinguished: the meat’s deeper red and the fat’s orange tinge, but especially the fat’s delicate fractal interlacing with the muscle. When we consider the necessity of food for the human race’s large population, and for its various populations considered severally, I hope we can treat with dignity what is often a short and miserable life.

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We Must Desire What Seems Impossible

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John Williamson Nevin, in ‘Catholic Unity’:

‘Nor should it relieve the case at all to our feelings, that we may not be able to see how it is possible to bring this state of things to an end. An evil does not cease to be such, simply because it may seem to exclude all hope of correction. Those who seek to reconcile us to the system of sects in the Church, by insisting on the impossibility of reducing them to the same communion, presume greatly either upon our ignorance or our apathy as it regards the claims of the whole subject. If we know that the Church is called by her very constitution to be visibly, as well as invisibly one, we are not likely to believe that any difficulties which stand in the way of this are absolutely insuperable in their own nature. And if we have come to feel the weight of the interest itself, as exhibited in the last prayer of the Saviour, we are not likely to be soothed and quieted over the general surrender of it by a view which cuts off all hope of its ever being recovered.’

All Souls

Today, the day after the Romanists’ observance of All Souls’ Day, I wanted to link to some 25 pages from the Rt Rev. N. T. Wright’s For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed (SPCK, 2003) about the bodily resurrection of Christian believers and various other matters related to the destination of the departed. If you have not already read Dr Wright’s thoughts, I highly recommend them.

Along with the theology, I think a bit of æsthetics is in order here. For that purpose, there may be few things as grand and yet sober as the funeral procession in Brussels of the mighty Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Below, I show some parts of this procession.

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See here the heraldic dignities of the dead emperor. Four men display the arms of Burgundy, of Castile and León, of the Empire as ruled by the House of Habsburg, and of all Spain. They are followed by other imperial insignia: standards, maces, golden tabards. Yet for all this grandeur the men are all dressed in black, and for all the sombreness they show the colourful signs of earthly dominion under God.

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See here, following the horse dressed in the imperial arms, first the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, then the sceptre, then the sword.

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See here the orb and the imperial crown, and staves of authority.

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See here the emperor’s mourning son, King Philip II of Spain, his train carried by a nobleman; behind him follow a line of other nobles.

What lordly dignities! what great power on earth! And yet, once summoned by his Maker to a presence he cannot flee, the emperor could not refuse, and like all men he was buried into the dust from whence he had come, to await the resurrection of the dead.

Family Service as Public Service

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‘Trahimur omnes laudis studio, et optimus quisque maxime gloria ducitur.’

Supporting your family is a public act, a service to the commonwealth, if you lead by example and teach your children to win dignitas by serving the people. The citizen who will not serve the people he belongs to is a mere ἰδιώτης, tending to his own affairs to the neglect of the whole, and the neglect of his own soul’s aspirations – for the individual man is incomplete in himself – but he who does serve is worthy of honour, and neither the Lord nor his reverent children will forget.

Even where the Way is not ascendant, even where his faithfulness and the liberality of his spirit go unnoticed, his spreading abroad God’s gifts is not something the Lord will allow to have been in vain. As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Though our own work in itself is vanity of vanities, by the love of God it is the abundance of his abundance. By doing what is well pleasing to the Lord, and teaching our children to do the same, we perform the highest acts known to man: we pay honour to the commonwealth and, by faith in Christ, to God himself. And the Father who did not forget his Son in Hades will also not forget us who work by the same power, by the same humanity which the Son has taken on and redeemed.

Virtue Unafraid of Losing Religious Freedom

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And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

By and large, American Christians are on the one hand woefully unready to lose their legally recognized religious freedom, and mortally afraid of losing it, and on the other hand just as mortally afraid of fighting for it rather than saying quietly in a corner, or shouting in the Internet æther, that they have these political rights. O Christian, speak only for your religious liberty and you will lose it. Jesus said we would be persecuted for his Name, because if people hated him, then they would hate us too. Have we no confidence in his everlasting salvation, and in his temporal provision for us, that we must give this pusillanimous face to the powers that be? Shame, shame on the Church; glory be to God for any fortitude he gives us beyond our selves in the years to come, to endure to the point of shedding our blood. He has conquered death: what cause have we to fear? We have none, but our deeds insist that we do. To appropriate what Sarah said to Abraham, the words quoted by St Paul in Galatians, Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. For we cannot be justified by the unseemly cringing we see so often, but only by the merits of Christ, of infinite worth and of efficacious force for the elect of God. So delight yourself in the Lord, and speak, and say to kings and governors what is true. No punishment, no exile, not even death itself can kill me if I have a share in the Resurrection of the Son of God.

Almighty God, help me do what thy word hath taught me, and by thy Holy Spirit strengthen my heart and my hands for thy service, with the faith that Jesus Christ took to the Cross, that counting this perishing life to be nothing I may attain the blessedness of the world to come. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

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Dignity of Humbler Work

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Statue of a plumber, Omsk, Russia

John W. Gardner in Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? (1961):

‘The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.’

In other news, I should watch Good Will Hunting.

For the People, Against Feminist Alienation

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Since men and women are natural and complementary parts of a whole family, to set them against each other is a crime against nature, displaying the curse of God. Hence, to have women’s interests alienated in politics from those of their husbands is as wrong as it is unnatural, seeing as women are by nature part of a whole ordained by God.

An international bourgeoisie waging class war against the people, in contrast, is an unnatural part of any nation, a usurious excrescence upon the natural, and is therefore rightly deprived and broken by the people, whom we may call the proletariat, acting for themselves in concert with other nations against a common enemy. Therefore nations that so join themselves in a common struggle with other nations, while keeping themselves whole and entire, have not aided and abetted an enemy, as traitors who hold power may claim; but rather they have given help abroad to those who would destroy their lives at home, meeting oppression with sabotage, and unjust violence with just. In doing what is natural and just, they are not at all to be compared to those who would politically cleave apart husband and wife, for they exercise a divine right.

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John Bramhall on Renouncing our Merits

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John Bramhall, in His Lordship’s answer to M. de la Milletierre, on the value of our merits at the hour of our death:

‘It is an easy thing for a wrangling sophister to dispute of Merits in the schools, or for a vain orator to declaim of Merits out of the pulpit; but when we come to lie upon our death-beds, and present ourselves at the last hour before the tribunal of Christ, it is high time both for you and us to renounce our own merits, and to cast ourselves naked into the arms of our Saviour. That any works of ours (who are the best of us but “unprofitable servants”; which properly are not ours but God’s own gifts; and if they were ours, are a just debt due unto Him, setting aside God’s free promise and gracious acceptation) should condignly by their own intrinsical value deserve the joys of Heaven, to which they have no more proportion than they have to satisfy for the eternal torments of Hell; – this is that which we have renounced, and which we ought never to admit.’

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Knowledge Without the Fear of God

Jeremy Taylor, in ‘Via Pacis: A short Method of Peace and Holiness’, on the subordinate place of knowledge:

‘What availeth knowledge without the fear of God? A humble ignorant man is better then a proud scholar, who studies natural things, and knows not himself. The more thou knowest, the more grievously thou shalt be judged: Many get no profit by their labour, because they contend for knowledge, rather then for holy life; and the time shall come, when it shall more avail thee to have subdu’d one lust, then to have known all mysteries.’

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Slavery Abolished by the Gospel’s Restoration

Abraham Kuyper in Pro Rege 2, on the abolition of slavery by the impulse of the gospel:

‘We owe the abolition of slavery exclusively to Christ’s dominion in the family. Neither Christ nor his apostles ever demanded that every converted slaveholder immediately release all his slaves. We find no command in Scripture by which the rights applying in those times were either attacked or overturned. The slavery that already existed was allowed to continue under the gospel. But the gospel did penetrate the master-servant relationship; from this position, it went on to sanctify this relationship spiritually and to elevate it by appealing to masters to honor their slaves not only as their fellow human beings but also as their brothers in Christ. With this, the gospel created a situation in which the slave-master relationship gradually came to an end, out of an impulse that the gospel carried within itself.’

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Bourgeois Secure Freedom

Carl Schmitt, in The Concept of the Political:

‘The bourgeois is an individual who does not want to leave the apolitical riskless private sphere. He rests in the possession of his private property, and under the justification of his possessive individualism he acts as an individual against the totality. He is a man who finds his compensation for his political nullity in the fruits of freedom and enrichment and above all in the total security of its use. Consequently he wants to be spared bravery and exempted from the danger of a violent death.’

Aside

Respect is not always earned. It can be lost – a magistracy, for instance, forfeited by tyranny or gross neglect – but respect often exists by nature even before it has, in strict terms, been earned. Even faithfulness is not … Continue reading

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The Need for National Prejudice

Joseph Marie comte de Maistre in Against Rousseau: On the State of Nature and On the Sovereignty of the People (McGill-Queen’s Press, 1996), 87:

‘Nothing is so important to [man] as prejudices. Let us not take this word in a bad sense. It does not necessarily mean false ideas, but only, in the strict sense of the word, opinions adopted before any examination. Now these sorts of opinions are man’s greatest need, the true elements of his happiness, and the Palladium of empires. Without them, there can be neither worship, nor morality, nor government. There must be a state religion just as there is a state policy; or, rather, religious and political dogmas must be merged and mingled together to form a complete common or national reason strong enough to repress the aberrations of individual reason, which of its nature is the mortal enemy of any association whatever because it produces on divergent opinions.’

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Love Your Personal Enemy

Carl Schmitt in The Concept of the Political:

‘As German and other languages do not distinguish between the private and political enemy, many misconceptions and falsifications are possible. The often quoted “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27) reads “diligite inimicos vestros,” and not “diligite hostes vestros.” No mention is made of the political enemy. Never in the thousand-year struggle between Christians and Moslems did it occur to a Christian to surrender rather than defend Europe out of love toward the Saracens or Turks. The enemy in the political sense need not be hated personally, and in the private sphere only does it make sense to love one’s enemy, i.e., one’s adversary. The Bible quotation touches the political antithesis even less than it intends to dissolve, for example, the antithesis of good and evil or beautiful and ugly. It certainly does not mean that one should love and support the enemies of one’s own people.’