The Servant Question

It is my opinion that it’s a great pity that our servants are now machines rather than people, and I think it is those who were servants who suffer the most from it. Because, of course, a man suited to be a servant does not cease to be that kind of man when there are no servant jobs available. He is obliged to become an anonymous servant to the public rather than a personal servant to a family.

This is not to craft a rosy picture of the servant’s lot; my view is only that, rosy or thorny, being a household servant was a more personal and more human situation than being, say, a waiter at a generic food chain, which I suspect is what many would-be servants have to be these days.  

My real cause for bringing this up, though, is to note that what most people today would object to is my assumption that there are men fitted by nature to be servants. This is held to be degrading and exploitative, as implying that some people are simply ‘less’ than others.

We moderns like to flatter ourselves as being more just and open-minded than our ancestors, that we alone see the dignity of servants, women, peasants, and other ‘marginalized’ groups of the past. In fact it’s quite the other way around, as shown by the very fact that we consider to be a servant a ‘degrading’ position.

What we actually do is assume a very worldly standard by which to judge of men: one based on intelligence, thrift, beauty, talent, and so on. We then make the bold claim that every man is or may become equal in these fields if only given the chance. Thus, to be a servant is degrading because no man is fitted by nature to be a servant, but rather to be one of the free and equal supermen.

What this amounts to is saying “a worthy man is a man like me, and I believe that with the right training you could be made into a man like me and thus a worthy man.”

Thus we claim to elevate the servant by saying that he could be just like his master, the woman by claiming she could be just like the man, and the peasant by saying he could be just like the landowner. It is not that we admire or appreciate these sorts of people themselves, but that we claim the belief that they could be the sort of people we could admire, and that it is an unjust thing that they are not.

We call this a belief in the equality of man: not that all types and classes of men may be admirable and deserving of their particular brand of respect, but that they would be so if only we could strip away their different roles and make them after the right pattern.

The old way said that a good servant may be as happy, fulfilled, and admirable a man as his master, only of course, the servant and master will not be happy, fulfilled, and admirable in the same way. They each have their own particular sphere and scope of life in which they may be considered an excellent sort of man without comparison of one with the other. They are each triumphantly themselves.

To say that no man is fitted to be a servant, but all could be made fitted to be a lord is only to say that anyone who is a servant is being cheated and is thus either an object of pity or contempt. Saying that there is no difference between a servant and a lord does not actually degrade the lord: it degrades the servant. Because the lord – or the tycoon or the scholar or the clerk or whatever he is – is being presented as the standard.

It is the servant who now must be changed to fit the new standard. The particular virtues of the servant, his particular kind of excellence is the one that is discounted. Oh, we don’t blame him, of course; it’s an unjust society that has caused this. But now he has the chance to become a truly worthy man if he will only become a very different kind of man. And we believe he can do so. We will even adjust our standards so as to be able to say that he has become so.

This is our idea of justice and humanity: to discount the merits of nine-tenths of the human race (for the kind of people we value must be a minority) and compensate by saying that we believe they could be very worthy people if only they were more like us and we are very sorry that, through no fault of their own, they are not.

Or, to put it another way, we judge every beast by its skill in climbing trees, and then consider ourselves very just and open-minded because we try to make out it is the monkey’s fault that the fish cannot do it. We assure the fish that he really could be just as skilled at climbing trees as the monkey if only he would work hard at it and the monkey didn’t keep him down, that he doesn’t have to be stuck swimming his whole life, that there really is no difference between him and the monkey.

We thus disguise from ourselves the fact that we think the only good beasts are monkeys.

Forgotten Man at the Everyman

My latest post is up at ‘The Everyman,’ where I touch a bit on the present attempted coup.

Law has no force of its own. It only has what it is given by those in charge of enforcing it, whether directly (in courts and legislatures) or indirectly (through public opinion). At the end of the day, whether the law has any effect comes down to what some individual person chooses to do.

Sir Josiah Stamp, the English collector of internal revenues, saw the problem back in the pre-war days:

“The government are extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics.  These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases.”

Likewise, the news media doesn’t have to be colluding or conspiring with anyone; all that is needed is an editorial staff willing to ignore stories that threaten to invalidate the election of their favored candidate. All that is needed is for those in charge of these networks to be more invested in seeing their ‘cause’ triumph than in telling the public the truth. And we already know that this is the case and has been for a long time.

There are safeguards in place to prevent all this sort of thing, but if the people in charge of them also decide to put ‘winning’ ahead of honesty then those safeguards will break down completely. Because, again, every single one of those safeguards depends upon someone – some person – actually choosing to do the right thing.

Hence, the forgotten man; the neglected fact that all these structures we hoped would guard us from the rule of fallen man can only be operated and enforced by men. Behind every human structure, behind every technology, every law, every regulation, practice, tradition, and safeguard, you only ever find a human face. And that human person can choose to be honest or dishonest, to follow the law or to skirt it for his own ends. No law or regulation can ever prevent that. It all depends on what he believes and what sort of person he is.

Read the rest here

“If I’d Lived Back Then…”

“If I’d lived back then, I would be so up in arms about slavery…”

No you wouldn’t. You would have said that slavery was the best thing for the Africans, pointing to the comparison of how they lived in Africa versus how they live in America. You would have said that most slave holders treat their servants very kindly, and that most Blacks weren’t suited to anything better anyway. You would have said that slavery was, if not a good thing in itself, yet the best thing we are capable of right now and anyway there’s no practical alternative.

The same goes for any other injustice that you look back and shake your head over. You wouldn’t have been a feminist in the 18th century, or an anti-Imperialist in the 19th, or anti-fascist in the 20th. You would have been entirely in favor of everything that you now look back and loathe.

I know this because ‘look back in loathing’ is itself the equivalent to these things. Shaking your head over the injustices of the past is the default attitude of today, just as being pro-slavery was the default attitude of the antebellum South. Had you lived there, I have no doubt whatsoever you would fall into the default attitude of that time, just as you fall into the default attitude of today.

If you want to convince me otherwise, then you would need to actually question the injustices, abuses, and idiotic ideas of today: the ones that might actually cost you something to question. Like ‘does a disease that is only seriously threatening to a small portion of the population warrant the wholesale suspension of individual rights?’ or ‘maybe contempt for the domestic sphere hasn’t been the best thing for either women or society.’

If not, then your self-insert fantasy about the past is quite simply irrelevant.

Sunday Thoughts: Preparing to Prepare

I am not going to talk about the election. What will happen is completely out of my power to influence and I don’t think my, what, five readers have much influence either, or particularly care what I have to say on the subject.

There was a surprisingly good homily at Mass today (my present situation is, and has been for a while, very unsettled, so I’m not part of a parish and have two or three churches that I attend depending on schedule): on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins and the need to be prepared for the coming of Christ. The priest pointed out that so many of us spend our lives, as he put it, ‘preparing to prepare.’ We’re not going to prepare to meet Christ – or to start a new career or make major amendments to our lifestyles or what have you – today, but we’ll start tomorrow. Except tomorrow is always tomorrow and today is always today, so we never actually start preparing. There’s always jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.

The difficult part of any endeavor, at least for me, is getting it through my head that today actually is different, or could be. It’s a self-reinforcing pattern: everything today seems much the same as yesterday, triggering the same responses. If we follow those well-worn paths, they will further make today seem much the same as yesterday. The cost of amendment is the discomfort of doing things differently with no guarantee how they will turn out. But there are never any guarantees in this life, only the illusion that things will continue to go on much as they have done. Since the bridegroom hasn’t shown up in the past hour, it’s odds-on he won’t show at all. No sense wasting time buying oil.

But today is not yesterday. Today is an absolutely unique creation. November 8th, 2020 never has been and never will be again. There is no reason at all it cannot be the beginning of a new life, the day when the preparations truly begin. It’s difficult to rewrite our programming (read: to change habits), but again, that discomfort is the cost of amendment. We always must die a little to come to new life.

Trust no Future, howe’re pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o’erhead!

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fear of Death

“When you remove, like even in the schools, you remove prayer, you remove God, you remove the fear of God, you create the possibility of the fear of everything else. But watch this: If you instill the fear of God, you eliminate the fear of anything else!”
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I know nothing of Kanye West, but if he’s putting out messages like this I will gladly give him a shout out. We live in odd times: the Church neglects her duties, so God raises up the rappers and playboys of the world to pick up the slack.

I bring it up because he’s quite right (Churchill said something similar): when one fears God, one need fear nothing else. Remove fear of God, fear of everything else rushes in. Particularly fear of death.

The thing about fear of death is that it amounts to fear of everything. Just about anything could potentially kill you. The Jews or the Jesuits might be plotting your downfall right now (well, the latter probably are). It may seem ridiculous to you, but there’s the nagging question: what if you’re wrong? What if you die, or you get someone else killed because you believed your own lying eyes rather than the experts? And in the final resort, death is always in reach; if your masters want your obedience, they can just put a gun to your head.

(Which is why the narrative that religion, and particularly Christianity, are means of controlling the masses and keeping the elites in power is rather silly. Which is more conducive to earthly power: the idea that all men are subject to God, who rewards each according to his works and promises paradise after death to the faithful, or the idea that this life is all there is and nothing awaits after death, putting the worst possible fate squarely in the hands of human authorities?)

The trouble is that everyone dies, and everyone dies of something. The fear of death must ultimately rule your life, and as we’ve discovered it can very easily consumed everything that makes life worth living.

We live our lives always under the shadow of death. That is simply how this world works. We Christians have hope in death. But even apart from that, it has never been the way of mankind to allow fear of death to rob of life or to deprive us of our virtue. That is cowardice, and to do right in spite of fear is fortitude; one of the cardinal virtues. Maybe the Jews are plotting our downfall. But I am commanded to love my neighbor, and it is a base thing to turn on a man whom I have never known to do wrong, so I will stand up for Mr. Schneider down the hall. If he later stabs me in the back, well, that’s on him. And if there is a deadly disease going around, so be it, but I have a duty to visit my father in his final illness. If I catch the disease and spread it, I can’t help that. I shall live as a man and die when it is my time.

That is how we ought to act. That is the human, classical, Christian way (yes, yes; there must be prudence as well, but not to the point of neglect of duty). That is what happens when we fear God more than we fear death.

Today we pray for the souls of the faithful departed who are in Purgatory. It’s a day also to remember that, sooner or later, we’ll be following them. Just how or when that happens is in God’s hands; what we do in the meantime, what sort of person we make ourselves, is in ours. Do we really want to be the kind that spent his life cowering in the shadow of the inevitable?

All Saints

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is rather simple. It’s that Christians don’t leave the Church when they die. The work they began in this life doesn’t end when they enter the next.

We have a perspective problem in this life. In fact, it’s very like being in high school (our education system has very few good qualities, but it’s useful as an analogy). We find ourselves in a confined environment subject to many seemingly arbitrary rules, with little or no sense of the larger world that would put them into context. Everything in that little world seems all-important: winning that football game. Getting that grade. Going out with that girl. Some people excel in the system, others struggle, and those who excel often make it all the harder for those who don’t.

All the while we’re told that this isn’t the real world, that it’s only a passing phase and things will get better. If we have sensible parents they’ll remind us that the skills necessary to succeed in high school are not always the ones necessary to succeed in life. But it’s hard to believe that in the moment. The ‘real world’ seems like shadow: something that will be, while high school is what is.

As the poet Brad Paisley put it, “At 17 it’s hard to see past Friday night.”

But our parents are right. High school is four short years, compared to potentially seventy or more of adult life. How many people ‘peak’ in high school? How many of those who were popular, who were the kings of campus went on to be failures at life itself? But equally comforting, how many made a success of both? The point is that life is the important thing; high school only matters insofar as it prepares us for life. No matter how much ‘success’ we had in school, it won’t matter a bit if it doesn’t translate into adult life.

Also, adult life is where we have access to a level of agency, to the power to act upon the world in a way that we scarcely dreamed of in high school. The adult world is immeasurably larger than the high school world.

We in this world are in high school. The saints are the adults. They’ve grown up, matured, set aside childish things and live and operate in a world infinitely larger than ours, with a scope and agency that we can hardly imagine. But like adults, they aren’t ‘other’ than us; they’ve been in the same position we are now and they are invested in our success (far more than adults in our world often are, to be honest).

This is something Professor Tolkien pointed out in On Fairy Stories: we have a bad habit of talking of children as if they were a distinct class of people. We talk of children the way we might talk of, say, Japanese or Jews or women: as if there are some who are children and some who are adults, and they simply exist side by side. But a child is just a person at a particular stage of development. Everyone either is a child or has been a child.

It is the same with Saints. They are simply people who have reached the final stage. They are complete people, standing to us in almost exactly the same relationship as adults stand to children. So of course we honor them, of course we seek their help and intercession. That is what is proper to people like us, just as it is proper for children to seek the aid and support of grown ups. It’s akin to Ray Harryhausen seeking advice from Willis O’Brien, or a young baseball player asking for support from one of his sports idols. The followers of Christ in all walks of life are now pursuing their vocations in Heaven, the true vocations of which their actions in this life were but shadows, and they’re eager to help us follow in their footsteps.

Because they too are in the Church. We worship and work and praise alongside of a great cloud of witnesses, of heroes who have triumphed before us and urge us on to “be imitators of them as they are of Christ.”

Brief Thoughts on ‘The Shining’

Last night I watched The Shining for the first time with my family. Though obviously I’ve been familiar with it for a long time and I’ve seen many clips of it (which, unfortunately, meant that I kind of went in knowing more or less what was going to happen).

Quick take: it’s pretty good. I can’t say I thought it was amazing, certainly not one of my top horror films, but it’s pretty good.

The best part: definitely the camera work and set decoration. I haven’t seen a camera move as much and in the way this one does in a long time; maybe ever. Especially the way it’ll hang over the character’s shoulders, following them from room to room as though something’s watching them. The suspense scenes are very well set up as well, like when Wendy is dragging Jack to the storeroom, and we can see he’s beginning to wake up as she fumbles with the doorknob. And the Overlook Hotel is a masterpiece of design. It looks very much like a real hotel, but something about the way it’s shot and the ambiance conveys a strong sense of isolation, of that particular, specific feeling of being alone in a place meant for crowds.

The performances are great all around. Danny Lloyd, who plays little Danny is a stand-out in the ranks of creepy children in horror films. Shelly Duvall has to do a lot of the heavy lifting, and props to her for pulling off the terrified wife role so effectively. I also really liked Scatman Cruthers as the kindly chef who shares Danny’s gift and tries his best to help them (his exit was kind of annoying, though: all that work and time to get him there, and he’s just bumped out of the movie). The smaller roles were excellently cast as well: particularly Barry Nelson as the hotel owner, trying to put the best possible spin on “one of your predecessors went nuts and murdered his family” so as not to scare off a potential employee, and Joe Turkel as Lloyd the bartender, who manages to be one of the most unsettling things in the hotel with nothing but a piercing smile (who was also Dr. Tyrell from Blade Runner: dang, that’s a resume right there).

(There is one big exception to the cast, which we will get to. Though you’ve probably already notice who I’ve left out)

The scares were nicely done for the most part. I thought some of them dragged on for too long (the nude woman in the bath for instance could have stood to have been tightened up a bit: come on, movie, we know something’s going to happen here). And I really liked the creeping sense of uncertainty of just what the hotel wants and what really is happening here. That famous final shot, coupled with some earlier lines, leaves us feeling we’ve touched the edge of a world of rules that we don’t understand, which is what many good horror films aim to achieve (definite Lovecraft influence there, as he was the master of this effect).

Speaking of influences, I saw quite a bit of DNA from Robert Wise’s The Haunting, especially the creative camera work and the specific scare of having a crucial door which had previously been locked suddenly be found open. Actually, upon reflection, the film is more or less the same story as The Haunting, only with a family and ax-murder angle and more heavy-handed manifestations. This is not a bad thing at all; most stories are variations on older ones. Just so long as you do something creative or interesting with it, and I’d say this one does.

The biggest liability to the film is definitely Jack Nicholson. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great actor and he’s extremely entertaining here. But that’s kind of the problem; he’s more entertaining than scary. When he goes nuts, I couldn’t help laughing because it’s Jack Nicholson gnawing at the scenery like a sugar addict set loose in Willy Wonka’s factory, bugging his eyes, arching those famous eyebrows of his, and twisting his face like rubber. Take the scene where he’s talking to his son (a genuinely uncomfortable scene, admittedly). When he says, “I would never hurt you,” I just laughed because he says it in the most insane, non-reassuring way imaginable. It wouldn’t have been out of place in a cartoon.  

Who would believe this guy could become an ax murderer?

That, and he’s too obviously crazy from the get go. If I’m supposed to be disturbed and shocked by a normal family man dissolving into an axe-wielding psychopath, he can’t start off looking like an axe-wielding psychopath. Nicholson’s many things, but he’s not the everyman. Intentional or not, he comes across like a nutjob from almost the moment we meet him (about a half-hour in I commented “this is basically ‘I Married the Joker’”).

I also didn’t care much for the roller-coaster of scares in the climax, with Wendy running around the hotel and encountering different ghosts. Throwing weird stuff at her like a guy in a bear costume giving a blow-job to a butler feels way too desperate and…well, just random. Like they collected a lot of different weird ideas and just pulled a few out of the hat. Not like, say, the Shape’s surreal tableau of jack-o-lanterns, a tombstone, and the body of one of its victims at the end of Halloween, which was atmospheric as hell while tying in with the opening and giving disturbing hints at the inner workings of its mind. This just feels like they were trying to be shocking for shock’s sake.

Actually, that’s another problem; the manifestations throughout the film are too random. They actually remind me of the scares in House on Haunted Hill: that sense of just throwing anything at the screen in the hopes of getting a reaction. They seem to me to lack any kind of thematic through line, or to have any real depth to them. They could have had with a few small tweaks, but they don’t (I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how much this applies there as well). Like, the bear-costume bit could have been ten times as effective if, say, Danny had carried a teddy bear around with him or been particularly attached to such a toy. That would have linked it to the rest of the story, would have been a scare with some real bite to it, instead of just a “what the heck?” moment. Likewise the woman in the bath would have worked better if we’d established that Jack and his wife were no longer being intimate (playing on the idea of isolation and confinement), but nothing suggested that to me. Wendy is warm and affectionate to Jack, if a bit of a frumpy nag, and the friction comes primarily from his end.  

The best scares are simply the sense of isolation and cold created by the visual style: the crushing sense of loneliness, of boredom, of confinement. The film excels at this, and I think it’s the best thing about it.  

Overall, I’d call The Shining a good horror movie, but not a great one. The directing and acting are exemplary, it’s amazingly atmospheric, and it’s highly entertaining, but a lot of the scares are pretty shallow upon reflection and it’s handicapped by a tremendous miscasting in the lead role. But whatever its flaws, it’s definitely one that needs to be seen by anyone who enjoys horror films or wants to understand the horror genre.

Never going to be a favorite, but clearly canon status.  

RIP Sir Sean Connery

This is a big one, and a long time coming. Sir Sean Connery, the definitive James Bond and elder statesman actor for a generation has gone to his reward at the age of 90.

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“Goodbye, Mr. Bond”

Sir Sean was an interesting figure on screen: one of the old school of actors who came from a working class background, serving as a truck driver and labourer among other things (his father was a factory hand and his brother was plasterer), though he also dabbled in bodybuilding and modeling. When he turned to acting (choosing it over a football career), he had a fair number of roles in low-budget or made-for-TV movies (which were just getting started at the time), as well as a lead role in Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People. It was this film, of all things, that brought him to the attention of Cubby Broccoli when he was casting an adaptation of Dr. No.

Ian Flemming wasn’t crazy about the rough Scotsman at first. Bond is an aristocrat, and Sir Sean had no knowledge whatsoever of the high-class, sophisticated world that Bond was supposed to inhabit. He had to have a crash course in fine wines, tailored clothes, and all the rest of it. It paid off, and Sir Sean conveyed the absolute perfect combination of sophistication and brutality that has come to define Bond: a man you can absolutely believe would be equally at home trading witty barbs in a high class casino and trouncing thugs in the alley behind it. Flemming warmed up to Sir Sean’s portrayal so much that he re-wrote Bond’s backstory to make him Scottish.

Sir Sean attempted to leave the role more than once, being tired of it and especially the enormous publicity that went with it, as well as not wanting to be typecast. After finally escaping the franchise, he began to reinvent himself as a powerhouse actor, serving under Alfred Hitchcock in Marnie and John Houston in The Man Who Would Be King (acting opposite the equally great Michael Caine in an adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling story, and frankly those four names alone tell you it’s going to be great), being one of a dozen stars participating in Murder on the Orient Express, and playing the Arab chief Raisull in The Wind and the Lion.

I remember him mostly, from my own childhood, as one of the great elder statesmen actors: as Indiana Jones’ father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as Draco the dragon in Dragonheart, defecting Soviet sub captain Ramius in The Hunt for Red October, and as the aging British secret agent John Mason (who is basically Bond in all but name) in The Rock. He won the Academy Award for The Untouchables, back when that still actually meant something. In any case, it was only a confirmation of what everyone already knew: Sir Sean was one of the top actors of his generation, with an unforgettable voice and manner (he’s one of the most imitated actors in history). He could be incredibly tender or incredible brutal, often in the same film. Or he could become a grumpy old professor, or a reclusive writer. Whatever role demanded character, strength, and integrity.

That, I think, is what came across most on screen: Sir Sean was a man. When he was tender and romantic, or even when he was doddering and comic, he always had that edge of iron masculinity that made him riveting to watch.

By all accounts he was a consummate gentleman on set and well-liked by his peers. Some of my own favorite stories about him tell of how he would go out of his way to look after the other actors, such as when he took it upon himself to check on Japanese actress Mie Hama (who, like him, came from a working class background and was blindsided by the experience of making a Bond film) every day they were shooting together on You Only Live Twice to make sure she was bearing it up.

His final role was in the unfortunately abysmal League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film that, like the Mario Brothers movie, I have a soft spot for despite its horrible quality. It’s a film marked by a collection of very talented actors doing their best with awful script. That said, Sir Sean’s performance as an aging Allan Quatermain showcases all his usual power and skill, and his final words are strikingly appropriate epitaph upon his illustrious career:

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“May this new century be yours, son. As the old one was mine.”

Eternal rest grant unto him, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace

Sunday Thoughts: Love and Unique Creation

In the beginning, God made all things and made them good. He made each thing to be itself and not another, to occupy its own particular place in creation and to reflect its own small portion of His infinity.

God loves everything that is because it is what it is. I believe it was Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand who said that to love something is to see it through God’s eyes: to perceive the particular individual nature that God has given it. Chesterton expressed this same insight in his comic novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill:

“What could have happened to the world if Notting Hill had never been?”

The other voice replied: “The same that would have happened to the world and all the starry systems if an apple-tree grew six apples instead of seven; something would have been eternally lost. There has never been anything in the world absolutely like Notting Hill. There will never be anything quite like it to the crack of doom. I cannot believe anything but that God loved it as He must surely love anything that is itself and unreplaceable. But even for that I do not care. If God, with all His thunders, hated it, I loved it.”

Incidentally, I think one of the reasons God permits evil is that a being that has rebelled and been reconciled is a different thing than one that has never rebelled. A creature that knows it is possible to fall, and yet stands is different from one that has no idea that it is possible to do wrong at all. That particular kind of existence requires that there be those who will not be reconciled, rebels who remain rebels to the end. It requires, at least, that there be such a thing as rebellion, if only that there may also be such a thing as reconciliation.

Now, in the Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas says something almost in passing that I think is extraordinarily profound:

“For the more completely we see how a thing differs from others, the more perfectly we know it, since each thing has in itself its own being distinct from all other things.”

Each thing is itself, unique, and irreplaceable, and the more we understand how it is different, the more we see it as other, the more perfectly we understand it.

This is, I think, is the core of the Catholic view of creation: not just that creation is good, but that each created thing is good in its own nature, because it is what it is. The more perfectly it embodies that ‘being’, that idea of it in the mind of God, the better that thing is. A good thing (whatever it is) is good to the extent that it is most peculiarly itself, most perfectly the reflection of that particular idea of God’s. That is why (for instance) patriotism is a Christian virtue and one reason why love is so important: to love something, as Dr. Von Hildebrand says, is to see it as God does and to have an inclination of the idea of that thing in its uniqueness. To love something, properly loving it for its own sake, is to enter in part into the life of God.

Thought of the Day

The biggest mistake Conservatives make in dealing with Liberalism in all its forms lies in treating it as an intellectual problem. We take them at their word that their views are simply an exercise of reason. A philosophy, grounded in the intellect and subject to rational investigation.

It isn’t. It’s a religion. A religion that, as part of its belief system, claims to be the result of pure reason and science. What we are experiencing and have been experiencing for the past few centuries is not a crisis of philosophy but of mythology.

The other side keeps winning because, at least on some level, they understand this. We keep losing because we keep trying to play the game they say they are playing rather than the one they are actually playing.