Sunday, November 27, 2022

Advent 2022: The Tao of Catholicism

A few days ago, I whipped through C.S. Lewis's book The Abolition of Man. Considering the book was published almost 80 years ago, it felt eerily prophetic to read Lewis's warnings about untethering ourselves from the natural order of things. Lewis, using the Chinese concept of the Tao to stand in for natural law, argues that the more we attempt to detach ourselves from the Tao and claim to be able to make up our own subjective realities -- and if you're thinking of transgenderism and transhumanism at this point, you're not alone -- the more inhuman we will become, since humanity, being part of the Tao, can never separate itself from the Tao; it can only harmonize with it or come into conflict with it. And if the latter, it's a conflict we can never win.

For this viewpoint to resonate, one has to accept that there are objective and eternal truths and values in the world. The problem in our postmodern world is that this proposition is often rejected, and things aren't likely to end well for those who reject the Tao. But the problem didn't begin with postmodernism or wokeness; Lewis argues that it goes back to the dawn of the Enlightenment, when the spiritual was cast aside as primitive superstition and scientific materialism trained us only to believe in what we could perceive with our physical senses and measure in a lab. The danger in such an approach is that it desacralizes nature, turning it into an object to dissect and exploit rather than as something to respect, nurture, and harmonize ourselves with. Humans, by extension, are likewise treated as science experiments, and those conducting the experiments are able to amass significant power over humanity. But if those in power have rejected the Tao -- i.e., natural law and its eternal, unchanging, objective values -- then what will temper their use of power? If, in a postmodern world, anything goes, then we're setting the stage for a totalitarian society that exerts virtually unlimited power, unburdened by any kind of moral constraints.   

Lewis, as you probably know, was good friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, who was fresh in my mind following our family's annual Thanksgiving tradition of watching the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings film trilogy (extended editions, as is our way). Tolkien was, of course, a devout Catholic, and he called Lord of the Rings "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work." That's very obvious to someone raised Catholic and/or immersed in Catholic culture. But unlike Lewis, who tended to pound the reader over the head with religious allegory in his fictional works, Tolkien disliked allegory and instead let his religious and spiritual views speak subtly through the actions of his characters and the unfolding of his storylines. There are many parallels to Christian, and specifically Catholic, theological themes and values, but very rarely will you find a one-to-one symbolic stand-in. The strong Marian overtones in the character of Galadriel are probably as close as LOTR gets to a direct comparison to Catholicism, but the Catholic-ness of Tolkien's work is also there, more indirectly, in things like the elves' lembas bread, which sustains people physically with just a small amount, whereas the small wafer of the Eucharist sustains people spiritually; the story's many acts of redemptive suffering, an idea that's been developed in Catholicism far more than in other branches of Christianity; and the ways in which various characters express the threefold office of Christ as priest, prophet, and king, a concept that dates to the early centuries of the church. 

But even more than that, LOTR inherently promotes the Platonic ideals of goodness, truth, and beauty that the Catholic church also aspires to. 

As with LOTR's "fundamental Catholicism," though, there aren't one or two specific things you can point to and say "that's definitively where the Platonism is." It's just suffused throughout the entire tale, in a way that tells you the author has internalized those ideals in his own life so deeply that his expressing them is second nature to him. It feels natural, never forced or contrived. And I find that approach reflected in Catholicism itself, inasmuch as its theology is largely allowed to speak for itself. 

Catholicism feels emotionally and spiritually mature, in a way that many non-Catholic churches I've visited don't. I don't like going to church and leave feeling either lectured or talked down to. And I think this is why evangelical Protestant Christianity has never clicked for me. The me-and-Jesus personal-relationship emotionalism, the selective moralizing, and the overly simplistic notion that a one-time mental assent at an altar call is all you ever have to do -- well, I just think it misses the point. Catholicism has its own issues, but where I think it excels is in pursuing a deeper, rational, philosophical understanding of the divine than you can find in other flavors of Christianity. And at the same time, it allows the seeker to delve into the mysteries of the divine, in ways that stripped-down literalist Christianity are incapable of doing.

Why is that important? Well, at least for me, literalism is a frustrating dead-end that leaves you twisted up in knots as you try to rescue a God that becomes either self-contradictory or a monster. I just don't get anything out of picturing God as a petty rule enforcer, ready to send the men and women created in his image to hell for the slightest infraction. I think that completely misses the point of pursuing a relationship with the divine. The point is not to nervously walk a tightrope your whole life and hope that you don't mess up and fall. The point is to know that you will inevitably fall, and that the one who came to the world out of love provides a safety net and always helps us get back up again. And by being shown mercy, over and over, we learn over time to become more like the one who lifts us up. We imitate Christ, picking up our own crosses as he did, and strive for the ideals. We may never reach those lofty goals, but the point is to improve ourselves as we try, not to just simply say we can never do any better and thus feel justified stuck in whatever rut we find ourselves. 

If the Platonic ideals are reflected in the Trinity, I see the Father as goodness, the Son as truth, and the Spirit as beauty. The Father found his creation good because the creation arose from inherent goodness. The Son came to impart the truth -- not an exclusionary truth that condemns and limits, but one that says "no one comes to the Father but through me" because the Son represents the full truth of the divine, a truth that can be found in its fullness nowhere else. And the Spirit is the one who breathes life into creation, who comforts and nurtures -- who imbues the world with beauty. It will, incidentally, surely land me in hot water with most Catholics, but I connect with the Spirit as being the feminine aspect of the divine, seen spiritually in Sophia, the Wisdom of God, and in the human realm through the person of Mary, whom St. Maximilian Kolbe referred to as "a quasi-incarnation of the Holy Spirit" and, in my view, was not wrong.

Going back to C.S. Lewis, the eternal objective truths he spoke of in The Abolition of Man are to be found here, through the pursuit of these Platonic ideals. It's not so much that the Christian concept of God is "the truth" in opposition to the claims of competing religions, but rather that the idea of God itself points to an ideal of goodness and truth, and that the theology of Christianity orients us toward a particular pursuit of those ideals in a particular way, so that we may more fully reflect those ideals in our own lives. I find this concept of God not that dissimilar from the Neoplatonic idea of the One, the self-caused first principle that in turn was the cause for everything else in the universe, and whose truth we can perceive only through a pursuit of the good and the beautiful -- for the more beautiful something is, the closer it approaches to the Platonic ideals. Even Bishop Robert Barron has suggested that the most effective strategy for evangelization is not thumping a Bible and aggressively preaching in people's faces, but capturing people with the beautiful. Once you've done that, you can enchant them with the good, and once they've embraced the good, you can lead them to the truth. 

In seeing "God" as more like the One, an embodiment of the Platonic ideals, I understand that I probably part ways with many Christians, who would choose literalism over symbolism and abstraction. But there's no escaping the fact that my theology draws as much from the likes of Plotinus and Jung as it does from the early church fathers. It has to, because if I were forced into an exclusively literalist interpretation of Christianity, I wouldn't even be here writing this post. I feel a pull toward the theology and ethics of Christianity, and yet the only way I can stay in the fold is to approach it in my own way. The truth is that I feel more at home with the Christian mystics, like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, who, although they most certainly conceived of God in at least some literal manner, allowed for a wider understanding of what "God" is. Catholicism also throws off some strong pagan vibes for me -- Catholicism replacing as it did the pagan worship of the Roman empire, and absorbing some of its essence in the process, and I'm OK with that -- but that's another post for another time. The point is that I've comfortably arrived at a place of thinking of myself as an outside-the-box Catholic -- sometimes way outside. 

This is also where the concept of the Tao comes into play for me in a Catholic context. If the Tao is, at its essence, the way the universe works and the objective realities that govern it, then for me there is no significant difference in my mind between "God" and Tao. They're both ways of expressing ultimate reality, and neither in turn is terribly different, in my mind, from the Neoplatonic One. The Jews just happened to personify their concept of the ultimate, where the Chinese and the Greek didn't. I suppose you could even add the Brahman of Hinduism to the discussion, inasmuch as it seems to sit somewhere between the impersonal and the personified, but I don't see any need to complicate the issue by dragging in a pantheon of foreign deities.  

There's an interesting book out there called Christ the Eternal Tao, written by an Eastern Orthodox priest who inherited a worldview that drew parallels between the Christian and Taoist traditions -- not in one of those reductionist "all religions are essentially the same" ways that dumb down religions to their lowest common denominator, but in a way that respects how the East and West have interpreted each other's concepts of the ground of all being and found them to actually be not all that dissimilar. As the author points out, the Chinese translation of the Bible begins the Gospel of John by proclaiming that "In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God." Thus is the Tao the Word, which is more than just the literal Word of God -- i.e., the Father speaking to us through the Son -- but a kind of primal order, a creative principle, that weaves the underlying fabric of the universe. 

This is a God that relies more on an apophatic theology of negation than on exacting fundamentalist claims of what God is. In other words, this kind of God is not an angry, judgmental old bearded man sitting on a cloud and keeping eternal tabs on us, but one that can only be grasped by what cannot be said about it, since its essence lies beyond any human ability to express it. Or, as the Taoists put it, "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao." We can only say that it is the basis of truth and objective reality. But really, to only say that is enough. 

That being said, it also doesn't hurt, in terms of my personal spiritual worldview, that the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism, regards the Tao poetically as a "Great Mother." It's always been difficult for me to conceive of the universal creative force as solely male when it's the female that gives birth. I'm sympathetic to the Hindu concept of the latent male spirit providing the raw material for creation and the active female principle shaping that material into life. But again, no need to overcomplicate things. Taoism, after all, has its concept of yin and yang, the primordial male and female principles that work in tandem to create. In Judeo-Christian terms, it's easy enough to see yang and yin, respectively, as the Father, the architect of creation; and Sophia, the Wisdom of God, hovering over the waters and breathing life into that creation. Compare Genesis 1:2 with Proverbs 8:22-31 and see if you perceive the Sophian connection. Again, this is a poetic expression of the Beginning in my mind, but it's one that allows me to comfortably remain within the spiritual tradition I was raised in.

All I can say with certainty is that I feel the need to connect to the spiritual, as I believe very strongly that material existence alone is an incomplete picture of who we humans fundamentally are. Lewis used the term "rational spirit" in The Abolition of Man, and I found that to be a very profound and succinct encapsulation of what it means to be a balanced person, one who rejects neither the material nor the spiritual worlds but sees them as a kind of yin and yang of our existence, two complementary parts of a greater whole. Allowing ourselves to harmonize with the Tao can help us achieve this balance. And it's worth noting a correlation in terminology between East and West that suggests a certain approach to living that transcends and unites cultures. Specifically, the word Tao itself suggests a Way, a path that both we and the cosmos follow; while early Christianity was also called The Way, indicating that Christians followed in the way that Christ laid out for them to follow. Christ the eternal Tao, indeed.

I'm kind of tired of writing blog posts about how I've wandered in and out of faith. The sex-abuse scandals and the seeming eagerness of the churches to shut down during the height of COVID hysteria shook what faith I had left at the time. In 2021, I was still wrestling with my internal struggle between literalist and metaphorical approaches to religion, and on whether I wanted to follow a Catholic or Orthodox path at all. At this point in my life, I'll suffice it to say that I've decided to return to church for Advent, because in such tumultuous times, I feel the need to reconnect myself with the Tao that the contemporary Western world has rejected. Why wouldn't I do that through, say, a Taoist temple instead of in a Latin Mass? Well, I hope I've made that point abundantly clear. But I've also taken to heart a bit of advice I heard years ago from the Dalai Lama, one that seemed odd at the time. Aware that a lot of Westerners were kicking the tires on Buddhism, displeased with the religious traditions of the West, he actually encouraged people to stick with the traditions of their own cultures and to strive to look more deeply into them for what they were seeking. 

That's not to say that I'm ever going to blindly take on every theological tenet of Catholicism. I've never been one to uncritically conform to someone else's worldview, religious or otherwise. Heck, I admire the Episcopal church for its ordination of women and the way it doesn't fence off the Eucharist, and at the opposite end of the spectrum I think Orthodoxy has done a better job of preserving and defending essential traditions of the faith, while being more sensible about human relationships by letting its priests be married. I also believe that Christianity ultimately boils down to observing the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, which aligns me more with the Quakers and Anabaptists, and I hold views about Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Sacred Feminine that simply can never square with Catholic teaching. But at the same time, Catholicism is my heritage. It was what was handed down to me. In a sense, it was what was handed down to all of us in the West. It's not an exaggeration to say that Catholicism is Western Civilization. Sometimes it gets things wrong, but when the going gets tough, I know where I'm going to declare my allegiance.

Besides that, when Cardinal Robert Sarah opines that the Christian life needs to be built on the pillars of crux, hostia, and virgo -- the cross, the communion host, and the Virgin Mary -- I find myself nodding in agreement. And the Catholic church is the only place you'll find all three. Yes, there's also Eastern Orthodoxy, but as much as I love Orthodoxy, it just isn't home. Orthodoxy also has no contemporary figures like Cardinal Sarah who resonate with me, and I absolutely love the good cardinal. He's probably too old to be in the running for the next pope, and that's a shame for the church, because I think he'd make an extraordinary leader. (Then there's the aforementioned Bishop Barron, of whom I'm also quite fond, but that's another post for another time.)

Come the New Year, I have plans to attend a Latin Mass and an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy once a month, while visiting the local Novus Ordo church every other week. There are things I like about all three expressions of Catholicism, and if I plan to get back into churchgoing, for spiritual as well as cultural reasons, I figure I'm going to take in the full breadth of what the church has to offer. The Tao of Catholicism, I figure, is more easily seen when immersing oneself in all of the faith's ecclesiastical forms. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Same Fanatical Imperialism, Different Packaging

My initial reaction to the U.S. Soccer Team's decision to subordinate the national colors to a sexual ideology was that imperialism never dies and that one religion always replaces another. Team USA has decided to swagger into the World Cup in Qatar, where same-sex activity is illegal, and lecture the host nation on what its political and social views should be. Centuries ago, the West marched into the Middle East with crosses held high. Today, as Christianity diminishes, the cross gives way to rainbows, promoted by people who are no less fanatical in their zeal than were the Crusaders of old. 

It seems the West, and in particular the United States, just can't shake its habit of trying to bend the rest of the world to its will. Everywhere we look, we see ignorant savages who need to be educated to see things our way. One day you're handing out Bibles to the Indians, and the next you're accusing other cultures of bigotry if they don't share your politics. No matter one's personal views on gay rights, or anything else, it's not our place to force those views on others -- especially when we're a guest in someone's house. Would Americans like it if we were hosting an international event and a conservative Muslim nation's representatives decided to admonish us for not subjugating our women? Or if a Catholic nation's representatives went around criticizing America's easy access to abortion?

The American Conservative's Rod Dreher, whom I cited in my last post, sees what's happening and has had a change of heart regarding his own past tendencies toward American cultural imperialism. In the wake of 9/11, Dreher was all too happy to want to bomb some sense into what Americans considered a bunch of backwards Islamic nations, without understanding that constantly forcing our will on those nations, often at the barrel of a gun, was what inflamed their violent hatred against us in the first place. Ron Paul was saying as much practically the day after America was attacked, but no one listened. For Dreher, it took relocating to Eastern Europe to appreciate how much resentment there is against the United States worldwide, not just in the Middle East. Dreher writes:

[...] America, which used to be a beacon of hope to others, is now seen with ambivalence, and even hostility, by people who see how the United States is destroying its own society, and is also trying to export its corruption abroad. It's a challenge to love your country when you listen to older people in the former Soviet bloc ask you, one way or the other, what happened to the Shining City on a Hill that they used to love?

Dreher, naturally, isn't alone in once being unable, or unwilling, to see America's arrogance. People don't want to think poorly of their home nations, and of course the United States is controlled by a massively powerful corporate-government alliance that colludes to control what the public can hear, think, and say. As just the most recent of many ongoing examples: 

  • YouTube censored a video whose creator documented Democrats' claims of election fraud when Donald Trump won in 2016. The establishment wants you to know how wrong Republicans are for criticizing the outcome of the 2020 election, but they won't let you see that Democrats did the same thing, because that undermines their anti-conservative agenda.  

  • Elon Musk's Twitter permanently banned an account for a post that mocked the vicious murderousness of U.S. foreign policy.

  • Elon Musk's Twitter also banned an account for pointing out Ukrainian war crimes that the U.S. military-industrial complex won't allow you to hear, or even consider. (So much for Musk's commitment to free speech. I admit he had me fooled.)

The flip side, of course, is that the Woke Gods will attempt to force not just you, but the rest of the world, to accept its holy dogma. And what does that dogma look like? Dreher again tells it like it is:

The United States is a country where we castrate young males and cut the breasts off of young females, and call it liberation. We are a country where it is considered moral progress to bring in deviant men who dress like women, and have them read to children modern fairy tales teaching them to question their bodies and their sexual identities. We are ruled by an elite class that treats LGBT culture as sacred, and that celebrates its way of life in commerce, in advertising, in education, and everywhere it can possibly be inculcated into the rhythms of daily life. Our ruling class and its dominant value system now celebrates racism, and calls it "diversity, equity, and inclusion." Our young people are suffering a horrible mental health crisis. Millions of our people, especially poor and working class people, are succumbing to "deaths of despair" via drug and alcohol addiction. 

Our young are going to live with less material, social, and emotional security than their parents and grandparents, while our liberals are tearing down all sources of solidarity outside of radical politics, and our conservatives mostly don't care. The United States is busy destroying its higher education system, which used to be the envy of the world, all for the sake of ideologizing it. We are also destroying the capacity for excellence in science and nearly every other field of endeavor, for the sake of DEI ideology. The rich are getting richer, and the numbers of the economically precarious grow daily. And for the past two decades, Washington has not seen a war it didn't want to fight, even as the woke war machine understandably struggles to convince young Americans that serving in the armed forces is worth doing. Respect for God is in collapse among American youth. Violent crime is up. American pop culture celebrates what is most violent, sexual, and degraded in the human experience, and export that baseness globally. 

Over and over, as I travel through Eastern Europe, I hear the same thing from beleaguered parents, teachers, and religious leaders: that there is no way to resist American pop culture and its effect on their young. A high school teacher in Poland once told me that there is nothing at all in his country remotely as powerful as Western pop culture in forming the moral sensibilities of young Poles. What we Americans have done and are doing to our country, we are training the next generation of young people abroad to do to theirs. 

 And on and on.

I'd be resentful too if I were a citizen of a foreign country trying to defend my young people from the rot and depravity of Woke America. When the Ukraine cheerleaders say they're defending the "liberal order" in opposing Russia, this is what they want to preserve. It's not just American and Western military and economic hegemony, but also the corrupt values the ruling elites now embrace. 

And as I've said before, wokeism is all the more insidious because it emerges from a society that claims to champion "freedom" and "democracy" and tricks people into believing they're still free, even as the West slips into totalitarianism. And it plays on people's sympathies by exploiting minority groups to amass more and more power. This is how Dreher put it in a September 2022 interview:

The basis of the woke ideology is, on the one hand, that we must protect the weak because they are victims. As Christians, we accept this, but woke has taken this to a whole other level and treats the victims as saints. It justifies the elimination of classical liberal values ​​such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech by demanding sensitivity to the victims. It claims that victims need to feel safe, so they destroy freedom by claiming safety.

Everywhere you look, everything is black and gay -- one because of white guilt, and one because of woke moral supremacy. The woke hate the majority culture, and they expect that you won't push back because to do so will get you branded as a bigot. They've turned color and sexuality into ideologies and weaponized them as a means of consolidating their own control over society. Even as we decline into an era of segregation and upside-down racism -- a world in which failing to overtly celebrate people's sexual orientations, or in which daring to point out the incontrovertible truth that humans are sexually dimorphic and can't change from male to female, gets you scarlet-lettered and can even end your livelihood -- too few will stand up and denounce the growing tyranny.

In talking to my wife about the state of the West, I suggested that much of what plagues us is that America lacks any discernible culture. We were a bunch of (mainly) Europeans thrown together and expected to create something new -- but lacking a shared ethnic identity, we never really had anything to fall back on. We tried to create a melting pot, but now everyone wants a tossed salad instead -- the scourge of "multiculturalism" wherein we might all be stuck in the same bowl but we never come together as one, leaving us forever at odds with each other. And so if the lettuce leaves outnumber the tomatoes, the tomatoes are elevated, praised, and given special treatment, while the lettuce is lectured about its privilege and told to learn its place and step aside. Obviously, this would never happen in a melting pot, where everyone blends into a harmonious whole. 

In the end, the flag and the Constitution are essentially the only culture Americans have, and that's nothing to base a national culture on, especially when people no longer even care to defend the liberties that the flag symbolizes and the Constitution enshrines. 

The Founding Fathers, moreover, are essentially our only national mythology, and what good does that do when the younger generations have been conditioned to hate those whose lofty ideals gave us arguably the greatest experiment in self-governance in the history of the human race? 

When asked what the framers of the Constitution had given the people, Ben Franklin is said to have quipped, "A republic, if you can keep it." Two and a half centuries later, it seems we indeed weren't able to keep it -- and we now seem all too eager to throw it away. 

Maybe people are just too tired and beaten down to care. Maybe their dumbed-down education has left them incapable of critical thought. Whatever the case, I think it's just a matter of time until it all comes crumbling down. 

At this point, maybe it deserves to. 

I think I'll be shifting gears on my blog heading into the new year, provided it doesn't get nuked in this growing climate of intolerance. I figure it does little good to complain about a seemingly inevitable collapse. I'll probably just do my best to hold on to what I can of fading Western culture until it's gone.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Demons of Wokeness Versus the Better Angels of Western Civilization

I'd intended to sit down today and write a post about the upcoming Advent observance and my plans to attend Latin Mass throughout the season. But then I got sidetracked by a post I saw from Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. Dreher is a crunchy conservative and an erstwhile Catholic who left, disillusioned, for Eastern Orthodoxy some years back. His book The Benedict Option, which caused quite a buzz on its release, calls for Christians to form intentional communities as a bastion against an increasingly hostile post-Christian West. 

In 2017, when the book came out, it seemed needlessly alarmist. Just five short years later, with Christianity virtually dead in Europe and faltering in America as woke supremacy continually adds to its cultural gains, marginalizing traditional Western values more with each passing day, the Benedict Option already seems like a missed opportunity. The Amish have always lived out a kind of Benedict Option in their insular communities, but for the rest of the Christian West, it might just be too late to give it a try now, even if the will existed to do it. 

In the American Conservative article, Dreher cited a new book called Return of the Gods, by an evangelical pastor named Jonathan Cahn. I'd never heard of him before, but given my interest in pagan history, I was intrigued by the pastor's contention that with the decline of Christianity, the old gods have returned under new guises and are wreaking as much havoc on our world as they did for the ancient Jews who, much to their God's consternation, kept wandering off to worship the neighboring pagan deities.  

Dreher tells us that Pastor Cahn writes of the return of Baal, Ishtar, and Molech as something like demonic entities that have infiltrated our people and institutions. Cahn regards these entities as literally existing and not as, say, types of Jungian metaphors. I fall in the latter camp, but I can't bring myself to disagree with the pastor's observations as I look around at the confusion and evil running rampant in our world. As religious tradition wanes, it's clear that wokeism has filled the God-shaped hole in our culture. And the future doesn't look good, if the spirit of these malevolent entities that the ideology feeds upon is allowed to hold sway.

Baal, characterized in the book as the god of "fertility and abundance," is seen in America's "worship of sex and money," Dreher tells us, pointing to the similarity between the bull as a symbol of Baal and the bull statue seen on Wall Street, the holy temple of capitalism. Is there any doubt that money, material acquisition, and outright greed have become modern virtues? Your worth as a human being is so often determined by what kind of job you have and how much it pays, while so many average Americans have been conditioned to defend the worst excesses of capitalist greed, whether it's megacorporations offshoring their jobs to maximize profits or a healthcare industry that predates on the sick. If you can't afford your insulin, then you'd better go get a second job and stop whining about it. 

Meanwhile, our culture worships the rich and famous, and our entertainment is drenched in sex, often in the rawest and crudest terms, as what was once relegated to the shadows of porn increasingly becomes mainstreamed. 

The second deity to re-emerge, Cahn argues, is Ishtar, whose embrace of wanton sexuality, prostitution, and social transgressions is seen in today's embrace of gender ideology and the glorification of sexual deviance that has undermined the norm of the nuclear family. The goal of the Ishtar spirit, the pastor says, is to invert society's standards so that the traditional foundations of the culture are seen as outdated and repressive, while former taboos are first tolerated, then celebrated, then essentially worshiped. Turn on your TV for five minutes to see where we are as a culture on this point. 

Ishtar's sexual deviance extends to a blurring of the lines between male and female, and I don't need to tell you how deeply, and quickly, trans-ideology has taken root in the West, where "man" and "woman" have been reduced to interchangeable thoughts in someone's head. 

Finally, we have Molech, the god to whom children were sacrificed in exchange for blessings. Cahn draws a parallel to abortion on demand in our culture, and of course he's not wrong. But I think we can look deeper than that and consider how children are being sexualized while support for pedophilia grows, and those who try to shield kids from the madness are the ones who are vilified. In a very real sense, we're sacrificing our children's innocence.

"Woe to those who call good evil and evil good." Some biblical prophet wrote that about 2,800 years ago -- proof that some things never change.

I'm convinced that something happened to us, collectively, during the draconian COVID lockdowns. The fringe insanity that used to be confined to academia and think tanks suddenly spilled out into the mainstream, and no one was prepared, or even able, to push back. And now here we are, with the intolerant, authoritarian woke cultists forcing us all to pick sides. They divide us by reducing us to identities, praising some while marginalizing others based on perceived "privilege," rather than treating us all with equal dignity and respect. They've turned people's pigmentation, bedroom habits, and "gender" into political weapons. And they shield themselves from criticism by elevating minority groups and thereby equating criticism of their movement with bigotry. It's deeply sinister. And some of us aren't falling for it. Me, I choose to side with the commonsense, classical-liberal, equality-over-"equity" philosophy that underpins our civilization and has done so for two millennia.

And I think that, despite my well-documented struggles with religious belief, this is why I still feel a draw toward the essential tenets of Christianity, and particularly the Catholic bias toward the Platonic ideals of goodness, truth, and beauty. 

Even when the institutional church has fallen far short of being Christ-like, the fact remains that our culture of tolerance and charity, one that embraces the goodness of life and the worth of the human being, one that gives our lives a spiritual dimension that saves us from becoming mere one-dimensional consumers driven by our base instincts, with no greater purpose to our existence and nothing greater to strive toward, all stems from the ethics of Christianity upon which our civilization rests.

As I was organizing my library of books on religion and spirituality the other day, I commented to my wife that I feel as if I have trouble articulating to my daughter why I find religion socially and personally valuable. And I think it's because of the way Christianity has positioned itself in the centuries since the Enlightenment. It's been constantly on the defensive, seen as a relic of primitive and ignorant minds that attributed lightning bolts and earthquakes to angry deities, with nothing else to offer the modern person. And the church does itself no favors when it only reinforces that impression in the minds of people who have grown weary of a religion that, to them, feels like an ancient holdover wielded as a weapon today, in contradistinction to the central figure of Christianity, who taught compassion, forgiveness, and mercy.

Not that Jesus was an anything-goes hippie; that's an error in the opposite direction that a lot of contemporary churches are making. Jesus, after all, had little use for hypocrites, the greedy, and those who exploited or neglected the poor and needy. And yes, he did make moral distinctions, as when he condemned most instances of divorce and said that men who looked lustfully at a woman had already committed adultery in their hearts. 

The truth is that modern Christianity draws far, far more from Paul and the Old Testament than it does from the four Gospels that give us the crux of the life of Christ and the path he laid out for his disciples to follow. Just look at the ethics expressed in the Sermon on the Mount and see if they square up with what Christianity looks like today. The fact that they don't is evidence that Christ himself has been marginalized in Christianity. The Quakers and Anabaptists are exceptions in centering their faith life on the Sermon on the Mount, and because they do, they express a Christianity that's far more authentic to what Christ seems to have wanted from his followers. Catholicism likewise has the Corporal Works of Mercy, based on the parable of the sheep and goats in the 25th chapter of Matthew. 

But Catholicism also, for better or worse, represents what mainstream Christianity became in the West, shaped as it was through the lens of pagan Rome and its empire of violence and control. Yet the church still somehow managed to remain essentially Christ-centered while adding layers of rituals, creeds, and devotions that gave the practice of Christianity enough depth to build a civilization upon. 

I think things started going wrong when the first Protestants, rightly calling out the failures of institutional Christianity, overcorrected and shifted the focus of the religion away from Christ, to whose example we look to become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4), and onto an interpretation of Paul's epistles that emphasized a simple one-time declaration of faith in an atoning sacrifice as sufficient to call oneself a Christian. Christianity thus became transactional and effortless. Instead of following a righteous example, picking up our own crosses, enduring hardships, and confessing when we fall short so as to reconcile ourselves again on our lifelong journey toward theosis, we no longer had to make any effort at all, beyond a simple acceptance of Christ as having died as a stand-in for the punishment we deserved. In fact, post-Reformation, making an effort at all was said to be missing the point, inasmuch as it implied a "works-based salvation" when salvation was a "free gift" given to all who accepted it.

It's this overly simplistic reading of Christianity that I think leaves it unable to push back against an extremely relentless woke ideology that's every bit as powerful, rigid, and intolerant as the medieval church was at the height of its own powers and corruption. Nor does it help that, as mentioned, this same brand of Christianity has a tendency to boil itself down to a condemnation of a tiny handful of personal sins -- in particular, abortion and homosexuality. 

Yes, scripture is clear about sexual morality. And Paul, as much as I dislike him, was eerily prescient in regard to what a debauched and dying culture would look like. In fact, let me give him the floor for a moment, from the epistle to the Romans (1:24-32):

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator, who is forever praised. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

But the point is not that Christians are to go around judging people for their ungodly practices -- and notice that it's not just homosexuality that Paul condemns, but also gossip, slander, deceit, infidelity, materialist idolatry, and a dearth of love and mercy. Those details tend to be conveniently glossed over. No, the point, as ever, is for Christians to serve as an example to others of how to live a righteous life. It's essentially a life of self-discipline and sacrifice, of giving to those in need, of bringing love into a world filled with malice, of celebrating goodness and life. You live in such a way that your example will heap hot coals on the heads on your enemies -- quoting Romans 12:20 and Proverbs 25:22. As when Christ told his followers to give their accusers the shirt off their backs or to walk two miles when conscripted to walk for one, you strip away any claim to moral authority that your enemies may attempt to hold over you. 

And that's precisely what the woke cult is doing in our world today -- lording their intolerance over everyone. They have the upper hand not just because they've captured every major institution of power, but because too many traditionalists, including Christians, don't know how to serve as an example of a better way to people, especially young folks, who've been conditioned for years at this point to think that deviance is normal, speech is violence, upside-down discrimination is progress, male and female are feelings, and opposing views are "hate."

Some Christian groups have once again overcorrected, as they did during the Reformation, and attempted to appease the culture by essentially aligning with it, even if doing so undermines the very tenets of the faith. By doing so, they might put themselves in the good graces of the woke, but they make themselves culturally irrelevant. What purpose do you serve if you're just an echo chamber for the prevailing culture?

In fact, by arriving at a place where it ends up on the outside looking in, Christianity actually has an opportunity to do what is hasn't been able to do since it was compromised by its alliance with empire: to be a social corrective, a voice speaking truth to power, as Christ himself did. The personal cost may well be high, as it was for Christ himself, but doing the right thing is scarcely easy. 

Back in 1969, the man who would become Pope Benedict XVI had much to say about this moment in our history, when the church would lose its social influence. A great deal of what he foresaw has come true. But he didn't fret, because he was confident that the true church, the church of faith, would prevail over shifting cultural tides, even those that crash down and inflict massive damage upon what we think of today as Christianity. Here's some of what then-Father Joseph Ratzinger had to say back then:

From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge -- a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. 

[...] The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. 

[...] But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. 

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

This new church will have no choice but to shake off its cultural accumulations and the comfortable privileges it has long enjoyed. It will have to return to the basics of the faith, which will mean that, like the Quakers and Anabaptists already know, it must become more Sermon-on-the-Mount-centric. Father Ratzinger also said that out of necessity, many of its priests will "pursue some profession" outside of the priesthood, to meet the increased demands of a small and voluntary society, "entered only by free decision." 

I see myself as one of that group, eager to keep the spirit of Christ's teachings alive, even though my chance to enter the seminary has long since passed. My ordination would come by way of an alternative seminary whose apostolic succession follows untraditional lines, and I do indeed plan to follow that path to ordination in the near future. My concept of Christianity is rooted more in the ethical and mystical than in following institutional rules and dogmas, and it incorporates an affinity for the Sacred Feminine and the dynamic dance of yin and yang energies that come from Taoist philosophy. So my religious and spiritual philosophy is not in any way Christianity by the book, though it at least bears some similarity to what Ratzinger envisioned, in terms of looking at Christianity through a new lens. 

The most important thing for the future will be that Christianity presents itself as a dynamic, hopeful, life-affirming way, setting itself up as a viable alternative to the corrosiveness of wokeism, which is something that it's spectacularly failing to do right now. And what it must do to get to that point is to successfully explain to people why it's a viable alternative, while also demonstrating the authentic classical-liberal tolerance that's always been a hallmark of Western civilization. That's what wokeism lacks, and that is its Achilles' heel. Wokeism is waging a strident crusade on our culture. Its cross held high against the infidels is the rainbow flag. Its original sin is whiteness. And unlike Christianity, it offers no redemption, no salvation, no forgiveness, only condemnation, self-loathing, divisiveness, and destruction. 

We have an opportunity to show that we're better. Western culture has always made room for dissenters and those of different political and social leanings. In Christian terms, we love the sinner and hate the sin. But we also insist on proclaiming what's right, and we attempt to win people over by persuasion, not by judgment and coercion. 

We absolutely have to try. The stakes are high, and our civilization stands on the edge of a knife. It feels as we're at the beginning stages of a paradigm shift in which authoritarians, globalists, elitists, secularists, technocrats, corporatists, and the wealthy and powerful are aligning against common-sense populists, traditionalists, localists, liberty-lovers, and the everyday working class. We're certainly seeing how important religion is as a cultural glue, and how quickly another ideology can rush in to fill the void left by a lack of religious and spiritual unity. We need no less than a new Enlightenment to pull us out of the irrationality and hatred of wokeism, along with which will come the end of individual autonomy if it succeeds. 

We can fight and prevail, or we can tumble into an abyss of totalitarian intolerance and kiss liberal Western society goodbye.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

A Post-Mortem, for the Election, and for the West

I think that this picture might do a better job than any other I've seen to illustrate the impending death of Western civilization. 

More on that in a moment. First, the midterms. 

As we now know, the landslide that Republicans should have enjoyed amounted to a big, fat nothingburger. Part of that comes down to continued election corruption -- isn't it funny that whenever there's a slow-walk count of the votes, like in banana-republic Arizona, Democrats always "find" the votes they need to win? -- but an even larger part has to be laid at the feet of voters who have proved themselves to be absolute drooling morons.

How else do you explain the re-election of Gretchen Whitmer, the poster girl for draconian COVID overreach, unless the voters in Michigan have Stockholm syndrome? How do you explain victories for a gubernatorial candidate in Arizona who refused to even debate, and a Senate candidate in Pennsylvania who, thanks to the ravages of a stroke, literally can't put together a coherent sentence? 

Not in a million years could you make something like this up. 

Republicans have been quick to blame Donald Trump, claiming that his endorsements were a kiss of death. But the fact is that the vast majority of his endorsed candidates won their elections. Granted, if I were a Republican, I'd want to distance myself from the narcissistic buffoon too. But Trump isn't the problem. It really does come down to a toxic stew of fraud and voter idiocy. There's no other way to explain how the party that brought us the worst inflation in 40 years, wokeness on steroids, throttled domestic oil production, lockdowns and mandates, and bottomless funding for Nazis in Ukraine could get voted back into office. 

Even here in conservative and still mostly traditional Idaho, our lockdown-happy governor overwhelmingly won re-election. There's some small comfort in knowing that Ammon Bundy won the votes of over 101,000 liberty-loving Idahoans, that he finished only three percentage points behind the Democratic candidate, and that he piled up more votes in many Idaho counties than the Democrat did, even despite the constant smears Bundy endured from the media. Yet at the same time, 17.2% of the vote isn't going to win an election anytime soon. It just doesn't seem as if there are enough people left who actually care about liberty, limited government, individual rights, and constitutional principles to win the fight. 

As far as election fraud goes, let's face it: Any party that relentlessly claims that its opposition is a "threat to democracy," as the Democrats did in this election cycle, will manipulate the results to ensure that it remains in charge, if it really means what it says and wants to keep the so-called "threat" away from power. And the Democrats have every major institution of power aligned with them to make sure that happens. After all, if the elections are as fair and legitimate as these people claim, then why would they go to such great lengths to demand that we not talk about them? What's there to hide if everything's on the up-and-up? 

It's really a stroke of diabolical brilliance on their part: Run a fraudulent election, and when your opposition balks, just accuse them of spreading "misinformation." When you control all the messaging in the media, it becomes as easy as pie to marginalize the critics. Propagandizing the low-information public to embrace your point of view is the easy part. This is how dictatorships are born. And it's even more insidious in the "free" Western world because the people are under the illusion that they're still free, because they get to "vote." At least in a place like communist China, you know what you're up against. Here, you get people who blather on about "freedom" and "democracy" but will silence and cancel you if you stray from the narrative. 

And now we even have evidence that it's happening, thanks to The Intercept's report telling us that private companies like Facebook are actively working with the Department of Fatherland ... er, Homeland Security to control public narratives on social media. (Gee, if only there had been some historical figure to warn us that government and corporate collusion is a cornerstone of fascism.) This information goes a long way toward explaining why there's such a meltdown on the Left about Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, which has long been one of the establishment's primary outlets of narrative control. It also explains why the government has announced that Musk is under federal investigation, in exactly the same way it weaponized the FBI against Trump when it raided his house. It's all about using intimidation to try to silence the opposition.

And hey, I hate to say I told you so, but it turns out all those "fact-checks" on social media that were so rampant during COVID were never about controlling "misinformation" but about censoring information that contradicted the establishment narrative. Their misinformation is OK; your truth isn't. 

Of course, this should surprise no one who's been paying attention. After all, you didn't think the government was going to stop trying to control what you can think and say, did you, just because the Biden administration shut down its Ministry of Truth shortly after announcing it? That was just a trial balloon to see how people would react -- and, perhaps, to take notes on who reacted. 

Knowing that this is where we are makes it both funny and sad to see our leaders bloviating about "maintaining the international order" by shoveling tens of billions of dollars into Ukraine, as if anyone in power actually gives two flying fucks about Ukraine. This is all about maintaining the West's stranglehold over the planet, even if it means Europe has to starve and freeze in the process, and even if it means blowing up Russian pipelines and then trying to blame Russia for it, when Russia could have just turned off the spigot rather than destroy its own infrastructure. 

Really, what in the West is there to preserve at this point, other than the power and wealth of the people in control?  

Let me go back to that picture up above. The large, unattractive man in the center of the picture, surrounded by lovely young ladies, was crowned the "winner" of the "Miss" Greater Derry beauty pageant in New Hampshire, making him eligible for a scholarship that was denied to all the actual biological women competing in the contest.

Let's face it: Even if he were a biological woman, he would have been, by far, objectively the most unattractive woman in the pageant by a country mile. This is, in so many ways, the pinnacle of the kind of forced diversity that exists all over entertainment and the media these days, where people are awarded the roles they get solely because of whatever identity group they represent. A dozen or so actual women, all physically attractive and all no doubt possessing numerous notable talents and aptitudes? Meh. Ugly dude LARPing as a woman? Automatic winner! 

So first we regressed to a pre-Civil Rights time when color once again trumps character (or merit), with the "anti-racist" left creating an upside-down world where two wrongs -- in this case, sending whites to the back of the bus -- are perceived as a right. (Of course, the "anti-racism" seems to apply almost exclusively to blacks but not to, say, East Asians, who are just as sick of this crap.) And now women are in the woke crosshairs, subordinated within their own sex to make room for men, who apparently do "woman" better than any man does. That's the message being sent loud and clear to every woman with stunts like this pageant win. Not only do women have to share their private spaces with entitled, narcissistic men, and not only do they have to watch their records being smashed by men who invade their sports, but now they can't even win a pageant intended for women.

It blows my mind that this garbage is pushed by the most "progressive" members of our culture, and they're doing everything they can to erase women.

It's even worse when you see women participating in their own marginalization, as when women's rugby erases the word "women" from its own World Cup, and when a women's pro hockey league rebrands itself by taking "women's" out of its name to accommodate people who aren't actually women. How fitting that the "diversity, inclusion, equity" movement fueling this insanity abbreviates as DIE. It certainly spells the death of women's sex-based rights, along with any sense of logic and reason.

Not that the incident with the pageant "winner" is unique, either. Up in the People's Woke Republic of Canada, where the PM tows your vehicle away and freezes your bank account while calling you a fascist, this guy went missing. But read the description.

I mean, this is pure gaslighting by any definition of the word. If the elites tell you the emperor has a beautiful new cloak on, don't you dare point out that he's actually naked.

And this doesn't even touch on the spate of deviants targeting children, whether it's kids watching a sexually explicit drag performance in a bar with a neon sign on the wall that says "it's not gonna lick itself," or a "family friendly" "pride" event featuring a dildo ring toss for the kiddies. But call these people out as the groomers they are, and the establishment takes their side and censors you from speaking the truth. You can't say the word "groomer," while they can keep grooming your kids.

Woe to any culture that corrupts and sexualizes innocent little children like this. Indeed, woe to any culture that abandons decency and reason in favor of madness. We're up against a fanatical religion that's every bit as intolerant and irrational as the medieval church that resorted to any means necessary to silence the heretics. 

As we've seen ever since popular culture effectively banned the word "Christmas" because maybe 10% of the population doesn't celebrate it, we're bring ruled by vanishingly small minorities who are allowed to set the agenda and lord it over the majority because all the institutional powers have their backs. This is the opposite of how a tolerant and pluralistic society is supposed to work. In a normally functioning society, the majority rules but ensures and enforces protections for minority groups. That's essentially why the Fourteenth Amendment, and its guarantee of equal protection under the law, exists. Now in our dysfunctional woke nightmare, the majority is subordinated to the will of the minority, dragging us back to the segregationist 1950s but with the tables turned. Note that even the term "Black" now gets uppercased in print media while "white" remains lowercased: The upside-down racism is often subtle, but it's undeniably everywhere. 

Self-loathing Westerners with their guilt-ridden white-savior complexes think they're being "progressive" by doing all this, when all they've managed to do is create an apartheid-like tyranny of the minority -- a totalitarian one that's so "liberal" and "tolerant" that it'll destroy you if you raise the slightest objection. Western civilization cannot but collapse in short order under these conditions. 

This is the mindset that got re-elected, folks. This is the enlightened "international order" of so-called "democracy" that we're spending billions to defend -- and by funding Nazis to do it, no less. 

A multipolar world, with Russia, China, and other emerging nations coalescing to build their own interdependent economies that bypass the West, wouldn't be such a bad thing even if we weren't in this sorry state. But at this point, maybe it would just be best for everyone if the corrupt, vulgar, decadent, depraved West got put out of its own misery. There certainly doesn't seem to be much left to save, and not enough people to fight for what's left.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

On Playing Your Role in a Dying Society

"If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let you do it." No one knows who said it first. It's been incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain, who, though no doubt a cynic, never gave any indication that he was opposed to the electoral process. It's also been attributed to Emma Goldman, the famous anarchist and someone whose principles I've long admired. She may never have said it, either, but it at least squares with her political philosophy.

Voting gives you the illusion that you have a choice in selecting your masters. You're always told that you're a good little citizen if you dutifully pay your taxes, serve on a jury, and vote, because it's necessary for the system to function that you play the role prescribed to you. The ruling class tells you that voting is a cherished expression of "democracy" -- that favored buzzword that's essentially code these days for Western economic and military hegemony, often imposed on other nations through the barrel of a gun, and an enthusiastic embrace of authoritarian woke supremacy. Disagree and you'll be "fact-checked," accused of spreading "misinformation," or outright canceled. 

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of "democracy" in the first place, because I think it just drags us down to the lowest common denominator. Ignorant people who don't do their research vote for whoever their TV or their tribe tell them to, which generally means we end up with the worst rulers imaginable -- we get the people who want the money and power that come with the position, rather than actual public servants. No one wants to say it, but the truth is that most people just aren't cut out for self-rule. Jefferson understood that people couldn't be both ignorant and free, but the Founding Fathers were seemingly naive enough to think that their grand experiment in self-governance could work. People complain that communism is a great idea in principle that fails because it misreads human motivations, but I honestly think that so-called democracy suffers from the same kind of flaws. Ultimately, I think a constitutional monarchy would suit us better, or a world run by Plato's philosopher-kings. The problem, of course, is finding people benevolent enough to not abuse their power over the people. Either you end up with tyranny from above or rule by idiocracy from below. You can't really win. 

Either way, it amuses me that, after the 2020 debacle, anyone would honestly think that elections are not engineered to produce the outcomes the ruling elite desire. Of course, that election was so fair and perfect that you weren't allowed to even question it. Never mind the ballot mules, the mysterious vans showing up in the dead of night at polling places to deliver boxes of ballots, or the election workers blocking out their windows to conceal their work inside from public view. Nope, nothing to see here. Just "democracy" in action.

Sure, the Republicans might take back both houses of Congress -- but if they do, that's undoubtedly part of the plan, too. The corporate-media-government complex can spend two years demonizing the Republicans so much that the public will be brainwashed into never voting for them again. And if you think that can't happen, may I direct your attention to both the nearly universal compliance with the COVID lockdowns and the mindless embrace of the Ukraine narrative. Most people are, sadly, very easily propagandized. 

Just remember the kind of people we're dealing with here. These are people who will silence and threaten you if you point out the simple fact that men can't become women. These are people who are trying to smear the richest man in the world because he had the audacity to buy Twitter and promised to make it an outlet for free expression. These are the people who demand you accept the Ukraine narrative and never question the tens of billions of dollars being shoveled into the West's proxy war with Russia -- just ask the spineless members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who were obviously pressured behind the scenes to retract a letter urging the Biden administration to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. These are the people who will go so far as to freeze your bank assets, confiscate your property, and characterize you as a terrorist for engaging in peaceful acts of civil disobedience. These are the people who, in the governmental and corporate worlds in tandem, canceled an entire country for doing the same thing the United States has done over and over to smaller nations. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, and they will stop at nothing to prevent you from opposing their narrative. If they can wage economic terrorism on protestors and nations that won't bend the knee, they can do it do you, too.

And while this bunch is obsessed with topics like abortion, transgender activism, reverse discrimination, and policing speech, Americans are concerned about their wallets. Ordinary Americans with the slightest shred of common sense know there's already a recession under way, but leftists won't admit it until after the midterms. They know that the economy will work against them at the polls. 

But I'm afraid it's too little, too late at this point. Western civilization is rapidly unraveling, as our self-loathing culture, led by its cabal of leftist white saviors dragging us into a morass of reverse racism and moral depravity, sacrifices all that's good and decent on the altar of woke supremacy. They've quite literally created a system of ideological apartheid, a tyranny of the minority, in which the vast majority must bow to any number of "identity" groups, in many cases vanishingly small ones.

Here in Idaho, I went out and cast my vote for Ammon Bundy for governor -- not because I think he's the perfect person who can fix our problems, but because I know he would try to create the kind of Idaho I'd like to see -- one that pushed back against our cultural decline, slimmed down government, supported families, promoted colorblind equality of opportunity, and upheld the constitutional liberties that made America the greatest social experiment in human history. The American ideal has been squandered, and I'm under no illusions that we can get it back. Even in the remote chance that Bundy would win, he would be under such constant brutal attacks from the media and woke corporate monopolies that he could probably never get anything done. But I figure it's still worth voicing my opinion, even if my vote ultimately means nothing. 

When I do vote, I don't throw it away on a lesser evil that I happen to hate slightly less than the other candidate. I vote my conscience. As John Quincy Adams once said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

Even if the system wasn't rigged, as an anarchist in principle, I would still find the idea of voting for my oppressors to be a ridiculously self-defeating exercise in futility. I threw away the little virtue-signaling "I Voted" sticker that was given to me as soon as it was in my hands, because I have no interest in broadcasting to anyone else that I obediently "did my civic duty." At best, by going to the polling center with my wife, I acknowledged that we'll always have somebody lording their power over us and registered my opinion about the people who I believe would oppress us the least. 

My vote will change nothing, but at least I can say that I wasn't part of the problem when people inevitably start grumbling about the predictable idiots they helped put into office. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Pink Is for Everyone

Years ago, there was an ad from featuring a guy who was obsessed with everything lime green. When he's surfing the website and sees a lime-green hatchback that the seller's wife says no one will ever want, it's of course love at first sight for Lime-Green Guy.

"Oh, sweet mercy."

The humor is in the love for a weird, unloved color. But while people might find a guy odd for loving lime green, there's still something of a stigma around men and the color pink. And there's no reason for it, other than years of social conditioning that says blue is for boys and pink is for girls. 

It wasn't always this way. As GQ explains, pink was once the color of male power and virility:
Centuries ago, men wore pink to express their masculinity as it was a derivative of red, the color of fire, strength, and passion. The courtiers of King Louis XVI walked around in pink coats embroidered with flowers, something you might envision your grandmother loving. [...] It wasn’t until after World War II, when men came home to reclaim the workforce, that femininity was designated pink by the home and the hearth.

That pink is a "derivative of red" -- a mixture of red and white -- was probably also symbolically significant, with the fire and heat of red being cooled by the purity of white. That would suggest a social restraint on the otherwise unchecked power of masculinity, as manifested in things like social propriety, gentlemanliness, even chivalry.   

Some cultural observers think the modern trend of associating pink with femininity cemented itself with the emergence of rigid stereotypes for men and women in the 1950s, followed by a subsequent feminist rejection of pink as being too frilly and girly. Marketers played a role, too, as retailers in the mid- to late 20th century slowly coalesced around pink for girls and blue for boys, following decades of no consensus on the matter -- or, in some cases, just the opposite. And if it seems surprising to think that folks ever associated blue with girls and women, may I direct your attention to the Virgin Mary, who at least in Western Christianity has for centuries been associated with blue

But the point is that colors don't belong to a particular sex. And as far as pink goes, it's "a feel-good, comforting colour that appeals to all humans, male and female, young and old alike," writes Karen Haller, operator of a "behavioral design consultancy" that helps people use color and design in ways that promote health and positivity. 

Haller continues:

The confusion arises when we apply social conditions to a particular colour and it becomes something we feel we should view in a particular way. We base our choices on what we think we should do or we follow what everyone else is doing because we‘re worried about being judged, instead of embracing a colour because of how it speaks to us or makes us feel, act, and behave.

That seems to be where we are now as a culture. Lots of men still shun pink because they think it's off limits to them, or because they think it undermines their manliness. If we men are socially "allowed" to wear pink, it's usually for just one month a year, in support of a women's cause. (In fact, one of the things that got me thinking pink as of late was the pink jackets the umpires are wearing during the T20 Men's Cricket World Cup.) It's a worthy cause, of course, but it ultimately also keeps the color pink tethered to the fairer sex. 

To be sure, it takes a certain level of confidence, and/or a willingness to flout convention, for a man in today's world to wear pink without feeling self-conscious. But it might be worth the risk, guys: Researchers have found that men who wear pink earn more money than their peers, get more compliments from women in the workplace, and are more likely than men who wear plain old white shirts to the office to have an advanced degree. Not that there's anything magical about a color, of course, but there's an obvious correlation between guys who feel secure enough in their masculinity to wear pink and those who pursue success and excellence.

Now, I never was a ladder-climber, even when I did work in an office environment. So my affinity for pink is rooted in nothing more than just liking the color, and not caring what anyone else thinks about it. My favorite dress shirt for years has been a pink button-down Gold Series shirt from DXL. On top of that, when I started wearing bow ties a year or so ago, I liked pairing my pink tie as an accent color with shirts of other colors that I owned. I suppose it just never occurred to me that I wasn't supposed to embrace pink. 

But then I've always had a contrary nature, and that plays into it, too. I'm the kind of person who wore a tie only on casual Fridays and would light up a cigar to observe the Great American Smokeout. I absolutely despise being told what to do. Heck, the reason this blog launched in November is that I didn't want to start it in October and make people think I was mindlessly jumping on the Susan G. Komen bandwagon. I'm allergic to groupthink. As such, October may end up being the one month out of the year when I stick to my traditional blues, blacks, grays, and greens and avoid pink altogether.

Mostly, though, I just got it in my head to try something different. My wardrobe has been dark and drab for most of my adult life, and I decided it was time to brighten things up a bit. It's also one little thing I can be in control of, in a world where I control so little. I can't even control my increasingly malfunctioning body as I age. But I can control what I wear.

As I accumulate more pink-colored items to wear, I figure this will also be a kind of sociological experiment, living as I do in a pretty conservative area where people rarely challenge social norms. Around here, tattoos are about as wild as it gets. I've had one person, a female cashier, comment on my pink Crocs, but that's about it so far. Similarly, I've had a few comments on my bow ties -- mostly from older folks. (Well, I'm an older folk, but I mean older than I am.)  

In any event, I don't intend to become a human flamingo. As I incorporate more pink into what I wear, I'll use it mainly as an accent color. I don't like drawing unnecessary attention to myself anyway -- though I hate being like everybody else, hence the attraction of trying something different but still kind of low-key.

The real challenge, I've already found, is just to find pink stuff that fits me, as a big-and-tall dude, and that isn't covered in hearts, lace, and rainbows. The last thing I want to do is walk around looking like a 14-year-old girl. But trust me -- if you go looking for pink apparel, even if you specify men's apparel, you'll usually get search results for women's apparel, or you'll get something more suited for wearing to a teenage girl's slumber party. Which just proves that pink is still socially geared toward women, for no good reason whatsoever.

Don't misunderstand, though. I'm not trying to appropriate anything from women. Women already have to deal with being marginalized and having things that should be exclusively theirs taken away from them. I love women and would never dream of intruding on their turf. But at the same time, those goofy online quizzes do tell me that I have a girl's brain -- not surprising, as I've never comfortably fit in to most male stereotypes. I also happen to have a female alter ego who loves pink so much that even her hair is dyed pink. (Don't worry; she's just a figment of my imagination. I'm not going to start cross-dressing anytime soon. I'd make a really ugly woman anyway.) 

Moreover, my spiritual life is centered on the Sacred Feminine, with Mary symbolizing a kind of compassionate universal mother and the feminine creative principle. In pagan terms, she's my goddess. In psychological terms, she's the loving mother I never had. I also think of the Tao as a life-giving mother, but as someone who grew up Catholic and always felt drawn to the Blessed Mother, Mary stands in well enough as a human symbol of the feminine divine.

And then there's Wonder Woman, who's pretty much my archetype of the ideal human person. Her creator, William Moulton Marston, considered her to be "psychological propaganda for the new type of women who, I believe, should rule the world." And that's because he essentially felt that women were superior to men, inasmuch as men ruled with force and violence, where women could induce submission in relationships and were therefore more able to employ things like truth, beauty, and love to bring about positive social change. Not all that different from Catholic theology that adapted the Platonic transcendentals into the theology of the divine as the embodiment of goodness, truth, and beauty. 

Think about Wonder Woman's monologue from the end of the wonderful 2017 movie:

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light and learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So, I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.

And so it all comes full circle: Wonder Woman is a kickass Mary; Mary is the human face of Sophia, the Wisdom of the Divine, who is in turn a personification of the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of divinity; and the Divine itself is the Great Mother, understood as the limitless fruitful womb of the Tao, or as the active feminine creative principle that animates the inert male principle in Hinduism.

Bit of a digression there, but it's important for understanding where I'm coming from. With National Novel Writing Month upon us, I may try to finally write my book explaining my own Divine Feminine-based theology. (Again being contrary -- writing nonfiction in a fiction-writing contest.) And in the meantime, I'll probably add some more splashes of pink to my personal look -- just because I can. 

Perhaps the funniest part of all this is that I seem to be drawn to pink far more than my 11-year-old tomboy daughter is. I dressed her in pretty little dresses when she was too young to choose clothes for herself; now she's a shirt-and-pants kind of girl who doesn't really give a flip about looking, or acting, girly. And good for her, for choosing her own path. 

Would that we all did the same, rather than locking ourselves into the expectations that we think others have for us.

[Pink toy soldiers photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash.]