Passivism and Struggle


The failed 1926 general strike in the United Kingdom.

Free Northerner wrote half a year ago against activism and for passivism as a way to defeat the American Deep State. Naturally, in his piece, he quotes Sunzi’s Art of War:

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

To be wise as serpents, indeed, is the infallible counsel of Jesus Christ. Therefore let Sunzi be heard, and his words be heeded. Fights in the streets, attractive as they are to young men, who love to prove themselves by martial heroics, are not the way. Instead, the Lord would have us watch for the right time, the ripe time, the time the Greeks call καιρός, the passing instant when an opening appears which an arrow must drive through with force. The space that appears is, in the Zhuangzi, the space into which Cook Ding moves his knife without tiring out the blade: ‘A good cook changes the knife once a year – because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes the knife once a month – because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room – more than enough for the blade to play with. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.’ Such, it seems, is the principle Free Northerner advocates for war against the tyrant: to make no mistakes, be in a position that makes defeat impossible, and never fail to strike at the spaces that open until – ‘flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground.’


Christians thrown to the lions.

About power, then, Free Northerner is no quietist; unlike many advocates of Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, whose hands and tongues are tied by the need to appear respectable and avoid being seen as extremists, he is not shy of seizing power. When they’re ill, he’ll go for the kill. Thus he speaks of power and authority:

As Mao once said, power comes from the barrel of a gun. Power is violence. The ability to force your will on others, even if it might be concealed behind a few layers of a civilized facade. In society, many men have more violent force than any single man, now matter how strong he might be, so man’s capacity for violence comes from his authority, which is, essentially, how many armed men can a man get to follow him?

Authority comes from either illusion or legitimacy. Legitimate authority comes from men obeying you because they accept you are their rightful leader. Illusion comes from people obeying because they believe others perceive you as legitimate and are afraid of the violence they will enact should they disobey. It is necessarily tyrannical. Legitimacy lasts until it is squandered or the authority dies. Illusion and the tyranny that results lasts until someone openly disobeys without consequence and [thus the illusion] is dispelled.

Right now, the left holds power and it holds legitimacy. People believe the left should rule because they believe in equality and the rule of the people, two left-wing ideals. Cthulu continues to swim left as people hold these ideals ever stronger.

The myth that the repræsentative institutions of the liberal state are actually the ‘rule of the people’, of course, is a strong one – though the myth weakens as the people see that the media, which once held them securely in thrall, are baldly and boldly lying. Indeed, Free Northerner says, Golden Dawn in Greece has become a major force precisely by switching, after decades of work with little fruit, from an activist to a passivist strategy. In the face of tyranny, the quiet building of institutions is something I heartily approve of. To gain skills useful to those around us, that is wisdom. To appear weak while building strength, that is wisdom. To be quiet until the perfect moment to speak, that is wisdom. Patience, no doubt, is everything in this game. There is nothing new under the sun. The Church has beaten the ungodly before, and indeed we can and will do it again.


‘The Resurrection of Christ’, Tintoretto, between 1579 and 1581.

Nevertheless, doing the work required will be more difficult perhaps than many passivists reckon. Free Northerner says,

You can not change the education system to stop being leftist, but you can homeschool your kids. You can’t stop the Supreme Court from driving bakeries out of business, but you can become an elder at your church and keep gay ‘marriage’ out. You can’t change divorce laws, but you can build a working home with a good woman. You can’t stop the feminist invasion and destruction of male public spaces, but you can create your own male private spaces.

While I agree that these are crucial areas in which to work, I am highly sceptical that the Deep State will leave us alone to do our natural work. The Deep State already has broken the power of the sovereign states to resist. What state magistrates, after all, beholden to the power of national party officials, will actually call for nullification and give it teeth? And this Deep State, in its arrogance, has shown no signs of stopping. It has continued to intrude deeper and deeper into those parts of life in which the magistrates once respected the natural sovereignty of the family and intervened only in cases of gross injustice.

For homeschooling without fulfilling the Deep State’s requirement, you can be jailed for extremism. For keeping sodomitical ‘marriage’ out of your unregistered religious meeting, you can be jailed for extremism. For keeping your wife from using her freedom to work outwith the home, you can be jailed for extremism. For creating discriminatory male spaces that are at all visible, you can be jailed for extremism. In any divorce, moreover, court settlements can easily – as they already do – favour the party who better serves the system. In my æstimation, Free Northerner has still banked on too much freedom.


‘The Drownings at Nantes in 1793’, Joseph Aubert, 1882.

There is certainly something passivism gets right: attracting too much attention will get nothing done. But even the Church in Qing China, between 1724 and 1860, was persecuted sporadically. Foreign missionaries were banned, of course, but now and then Christians also had their books and images confiscated, and they themselves after interrogation were compelled to recant their faith. To these things the Church was subjected even when it remained largely quiet and even when most of the magistrates were inclined to turn a blind eye to Christianity in order to avoid causing trouble for themselves. The Church remained resilient in China because it was so much a part of the fabric of social life, though quietly, that the ‘cure’ against Christianity would generally be worse than the ‘disease’. But I can only imagine that the Western magistrates will be more zealous to stamp out hidden institutions that do not teach or at least submit to the Deep State’s propaganda, and that – at least now and then, if not as fiercely as the Japanese – they will deal exemplary punishments to cow both churches and other institutions into submission.

When the Deep State decides to take children away from their parents to make them janissaries for ‘social justice’, it will not deem resistance acceptable, and it will not hesitate where the Qing dynasty magistrates did. Is a passivist then to allow his children to be taken? For the sake of not attracting attention, will he give up his natural duty and not fight because the time has not yet come? I do not know, but I think most believe it justified, right, and necessary then to take up arms against the will of the magistrates, and to call his neighbours to defend their own right and duty by defending his right and duty. But that is the spark of civil war, and I cannot say in what circumstances men will accept that as a duty and actually win.


‘The Oath of Brutus’, Edouard Cabane, 1884.

The hope of winning a civil war against a ruler tyrannical and still feared is not in a few armed men. Against a nuclear power with some of the world’s most sophisticated weapons, a few men with guns cannot win. There are some, I know, who seem to believe that with their Second Amendment guns they can take on a powerful army. But the only hope of victory is if the military and police forces, won over by the justice of the few men’s cause, refuse to impose the wicked will of the Deep State that pays their salaries. If these forces be evenly split in opinion, God knows with what bloodshed the people will win their freedom.

Here I have still præsumed that the men defending their families from tyrants will be armed – and so, it seems, has Free Northerner – but of course even this condition we cannot safely count on. Whether ’tis better to suffer the confiscations of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them – who knows which way gives life? It could be here that men of valour had the practical hope of defence, but here that the wicked and the fearful were too many and too strong. Yet later, disarmed, they would have no news to make, and the people might already have turned too docile.

And all the while, of course, traitors let hordes of invaders into Europe and seek, for votes, to do the same in Americas.


Cologne train station. ‘The sex mob scandal has a background.’ Reuters.

In the Church, we see the likes of Russell Moore, who as head of the Southern Baptist Church’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) plays a leading role in George Soros’s front group Evangelical Immigration Table. This state of affairs does not inspire confidence. I strongly suspect that most evangelicals, in any case, lack the biblical conviction, the habits of character, and the institutional strength to withstand the will of the powers that be. They lack both the will and the ability to fight in their hearts. It is true, of course, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But when the struggle touches flesh and blood, decadent Western Christians think they must contend for nothing but their own miserly freedom to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – Lord, that is, of their hearts and little else. Such freedom, they do not see, means no more than the ‘freedom’ in Hong Kong to chose by, yes, universal suffrage a Chief Executive from among two or three candidates approved by the oligarchs; most the people of Hong Kong, despite their other idiocies, can see that such universal suffrage means nothing. The Church that we know is filled with those who do not see the costs. When you point out the costs of certain moral commitments, they may often move the goalposts by judging those commitments ungodly and, though they may not say it, judging you a blasphemer. In the end, all you have in common with them are some theological opinions about the gospel, and perhaps very little agreement about the law of nature.

Realistically, even when things are quiet on the whole, the quiet will be punctuated by dramatic incidents. These incidents even the passivist must expect. He must be ready both to suffer the consequences of such incidents – for he will not always pass unnoticed – and, sometimes, to strike before the general strike and the general collapse. It is not often in one battle, after all, that even a Sunzi wins a war. Even when the battles are few and carefully chosen, they are more than one. Nor even with excellent intelligence does a general avoid all surprises, and yet he is compelled to do his best to win a war with as few fights as he can and as many fights as he must.

The readiness to strike, moreover, generally depends on some habit of actually striking where the iron is hot. There is no martial virtue in a people that has never expected and trained to fight.


‘Leonidas at Thermopylæ’, Jacques-Louis David, 1814.

It remains to be seen what the Church will fight for when the American Deep State’s directives interfere with daily life around the world, and what the Church, urged on by accommodationists, will surrender by degrees to an aggressive power; it also remains to be seen, as the Deep State attacks the power of the Church as well as the freedom and dignity of the native peoples in the countries it holds, whether Christians around the world will build the institutions to strike when the time is ripe. In any case, the Church must equip its people for psychomachia (the war of the soul), the Inner Crusade, so that the people may have the virtue to take up arms and use them well for the good of the commonwealth when the will of God brings both need and opportunity.

There are many concerns that I must give to God. He alone can grant victory, and he alone holds the cosmos in the palm of his hand.

Family Service as Public Service


‘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.


Good short article looking at noble beauty in vestments. But I still cannot get over the fiddleback chasubles: not a fan.

Take Back the Arch of Constantine


I need not tell you that this is a picture of Muslims claiming the public space to pray their salat. Observe, however, that this act of submission to Islam takes place right in front of two historic places:

  1. the Arch of Constantine, commemorating the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (‘in this sign thou wilt conquer’);
  2. the Colosseum, where St Ignatius of Antioch, student of St John the Apostle, was fed to the lions as a martyr of the faith.

This site the Muslims carefully chose for an act of aggressive protest on Friday, gathering in the thousands, after Italian authorities ‘shut down a number of so-called “garage mosques” to avoid young people becoming radicalized’. The Italian policy is sensible. Thomas D. Williams reports, ‘Until now, Italy has shown itself to be remarkably resilient to attacks from Islamic terrorists and has been proposed as a model for counterterrorism for the whole world, in part because of its willingness to deport radicalized individuals seen as a threat to national security.’ I fully support Italy’s sensible measures and believe that backing down in the face of protests would bring to Rome what has happened to Paris. Through both violence and public shows of Islam’s demographic strength, Christianity would be silenced in the public spaces of Italy.

But it is not the time to complain. It is the time for Italian Christians, seeing their country’s public spaces invaded, to act in the Name of the Lord. Let action begin in the places sacred to the faith of Jesus Christ. The main struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. It must begin with the true faith, with love for our Lord, not with resentment. So the Muslims pray; let the Church pray too.


CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Wikipedia user RClay.

As the sun is ready to set on Saturday, a procession – with litanies said and Psalm 16 (15 in the Roman reckoning) sung – goes up to the Arch of Constantine, which marks in stone the victory of Christ and the conversion of the Roman empire to the Christian faith. For why? thou shalt not leave my soul in hell; neither shalt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Reaching the Arch, the procession of believers moves anticlockwise thrice around it, and the office of Vespers begins.

Deus, in adiutorium meum intende.
Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Lumen hilare, known in Greek as Phos hilaron.

As dusk falls, candles are lit, for light but also to signify the light of Christ, while the hymn Lumen hilare is sung. Then follow the Psalms and the rest of the office, concluding with the Magnificat and the final prayers.

In this way the Muslims may be kept from driving the worship of the Lord out of the public squares, if Roman Christians faithfully and visibly gather at landmarks of the faith to give their praises to God in Christ. Let that be the beginning of a response to the land’s invasion by an aggressive Islam.

Virtue Unafraid of Losing Religious Freedom


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.

Irregularity Not Injustice


I don’t know where people get off thinking that religious folk have to oppose extrajudicial killing as a mortal sin. Is it morally licit? Maybe not. But it’s not as cut and dried as many make it out to be, and many of those who think it is also make a lot of excuses for ‘nuance’ about other things that are much more clearly wrong.

Even those who generally are morally principled, I think, are often unduly influenced by the opinion of their peers, and forgetful of history they’d rather not remember today. Ruled by fear, they are unnerved by having to think about taking up arms against a power ruling with arbitrary injustice; except, fearing to think even of such things, they can only declare evil the power they fear. But a fearsome power is not in itself evil, nor is a tame power good. Power, political power, is always a proper object of fear, though we seek to keep it from pursuing injustice rather than justice, the common good rather than private gain. Indeed, justice matters, but justice is not always neatly in the system of procedural rules any more than the gospel is always neatly in the organs of the Church hierarchy: it is not always wrong for Cicero to have Catilinarian conspirators strangled without trial, nor is it always wrong for the people led by a lesser magistrate to resist by force the imposition of an unjust order. Protestants of all men ought especially to know and acknowledge what they themselves – or at least their fathers – have lived by. Irregularity does not in itself prove injustice.

So let us not, looking at the rulers of the world’s nations today, be so naïve as to make a fetish out of procedure. For Protestants, even our own religious principles militate against the liberal insistence that justice comes forth from regular procedure and only from regular procedure. The love of safety is only that: love of safety. In the communication of right, in the sharing of justice, there are deeper things in the constitutions of man and human society.

Taken by Moonlight

O wondrous moon, thou hast seduced my sense.
Tonight, what books can keep me from thy gaze?
Thy light so near, thou takest me from hence
To excellencies far above the ways
I took this evening – when thou drewest up
Mine eyes from earth and filled desire’s cup.

To China, My Heart

I wonder if normal Christians find it strange that I feel a special sense of duty to China from sharing my grandfather’s birthday. His birth date is recorded to have been in October, and mine in December, but seems his month and day were in fact according to the Chinese lunar calendar, in which case mine matches his in the solar.

If I were to ask for the intercession of departed saints, I would certainly be inclined to solicit his prayers, not because of any long and exemplary faithfulness to Christ but because of the circumstances of his becoming a Christian. It was nothing short of miraculous, I felt, that the Lord saw fit to convert him to the true faith in the last months of his life on earth. For decades he had resisted this faith, and when my father had converted to it he even had told him not to go to church – with which, being clean contrary to the commandment of God, my father dared not comply. My attempt to ask him about his religious beliefs had elicited a memorably clever reply but nothing of substance. Years later, as he lay dying, his defences stripped from him, with nothing between his soul and the eyes of God, he was compelled to bend the knee of his heart to the one true God by the mediation of Jesus Christ. When I heard the news, I think, I was in the shower on the other side of the country, and it was as if something had washed my family clean. His death, when it came, was great sorrow but also great peace for a man who had been carried by angels to meet his Maker. To a man who has been shown such extraordinary favour for the sake of Christ, will not more favour be shown?

Even today, whenever I go up the hills of Oakland to the land of the dead, to the darkness of death and the memorial of a great cleansing, I feel the holiness of God manifest. When my eye passes over Oakland and Berkeley, over the Bay to San Francisco, and over the ocean to the land of our fathers, it is as if God has given us possession of the earth because he has sanctified this family. No matter what happens in our family, this is the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy, granting that we may eat the flesh of his dear Son, and to drink his blood, to the cleansing of our sinful bodies through his body and the washing of our souls through his most precious blood. When I am there, I am assured as if by a promissory note that this family, sanctified by Christ himself from my grandfather on, will serve God even to the end of the world. By the power of a God who can convert the most stiff-necked people, and who made a noble pagan but a deeply flawed man into one of his saints, there is nothing that cannot be done. To see the land of the dead is also the hear the promise of life.

And Luminous Authority begat Nation’s Hoisting-up, and Nation’s Hoisting-up begat Walking in Righteousness.

And so, marking to what dangers my grandfather once submitted himself in service to China as a spy, my heart wants to do the same in Christ. The line of providence from my grandfather to me seems too great to cast off as coïncidence, since the all-wise Lord knows no such thing as luck or chance. In 1949, he had left China as an exile; near the turn of the millennium, ad te omnis caro veniet. The new millennium in China belongs to the Lord, and what things soever he has ordained for that nation will come to pass. And the power that turned the heart of my grandfather to his children, and of his children to him, that same power is the Holy Spirit in me to magnify and bless.


Science Authoritative by Opinion


Emile Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (The Free Press, 1995), 210: ‘Opinion, eminently a social thing, is one source of authority. Indeed, the question arises whether authority is not the daughter of opinion. Some will object that science is often the antagonist of opinion, the errors of which it combats and corrects. But science can succeed in this task only if it has sufficient authority, and it can gain such authority only from opinion itself. All the scientific demonstrations in the world would have no influence if a people had no faith in science. Even today, if it should happen that science resisted a very powerful current of public opinion, it would run the risk of seeing its credibility eroded.’


Mere Wage Increases Alienate the Worker


Karl Marx, in ‘Wages of Labour’, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, against the notion that a mere increase in wages is adequate or even ultimately useful to the worker:

‘The raising of wages excites in the worker the capitalist’s mania to get rich, which he, however, can only satisfy by the sacrifice of his mind and body. The raising of wages presupposes and entails the accumulation of capital, and thus sets the product of labour against the worker as something ever more alien to him. Similarly, the division of labour [which is increased by the accumulation of capital] renders him ever more one-sided and dependent, bringing with it the competition not only of men but also of machines. Since the worker has sunk to the level of a machine, he can be confronted by the machine as a competitor.’

Raising the worker’s wages has not given him greater power over his own work; instead, because of the other things a wage increase involves, it has only further alienated the worker from his work and its product. Thus, Marx says, Proudhon is wrong to regard æquality of wages as the goal of social revolution; instead, he goes on to say, the workers need to seize the means of production for themselves in order to take back their own work.


Dignity of Humbler Work


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


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.


John Bramhall on Renouncing our Merits


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.’

Moses, King of Israel

Many of those who consider Israel before Saul to have been a theocracy of the papal type show no awareness of these words of Moses, in Deuteronomy: ‘Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.’ With Aaron as high priest but Moses the prophet-king as shepherd of Israel, the constitution clearly appears more Ghibelline than Guelf; nor do I see any evidence to the contrary. Incidentally, Moses’s statement here is biblical support not merely for kingship but for an integral monarch, not alienated from the power of the people but sitting in the midst of the elders and the tribes.


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.’