With a Rebel Yell. Excerpts:
The fate of Highlights is a very small occurrence in this great big world, but it’s a telling thing. It is insane that even Highlights For Children gets bullied into this, and that the editors would capitulate so quickly. This revolution won’t leave anybody alone. If you think you’re going to get away without having to fight, you’re dreaming. They will not leave you alone. There is no neutral ground. You must affirm.
If you do not intend to capitulate, you had better prepare to be hated, and you had better learn to regard that hatred as a blessing. Or you’re not going to make it. . . .
At some point, people, you just have to quit caring what others think, and do what you know is right, regardless of the consequences. There is a lot of strength in just not giving a rip anymore. Over the weekend, I read an advance copy of Anthony Esolen’s forthcoming (Jan 2017) book Out Of The Ashes: A Layman’s Guide to Rebuilding Our Culture. It’s a full-throated, big-hearted call to arms, both uncompromising and irresistible. This book is the St. Crispin’s Day speech of the Benedict Option. Look at these excerpts from the introduction:
Let’s get straight to the point. We no longer live in a culturally Christian state. We do not live in a robust pagan state, such as Rome was during the Pax Romana. We live in a sickly sub-pagan state, or metastate, a monstrous thing, all-meddlesome, all-ambitious. The natural virtues are scorned. Temperance is for prigs, prudence for sticks in the mud who worry about people who don’t yet exist. A man who fathers six children upon three women and now wants to turn himself into a “woman” attracted to other women—he is praised for his courage. Justice means that a handful of narrowly educated and egotistical judges get to overturn human culture and biology, at their caprice.
We are not in partibus infidelibus. We are in partibus insanibus.
What shall we do now? The answer is both daunting and liberating. We do everything. That doesn’t mean that I do everything, or that you do everything. Suppose you find yourself in a bombed out city. There are all kinds of things to do, and all of them have to be done. Some needs are more pressing than others, and some things can be done only after other things are in order. But everywhere you turn, there’s work to do. You have to find clean water. You have to find food. You have to tend to the wounded and bury the dead. You have to erect shelters. You have to see which of the few buildings left standing are actually safe. You have to demolish those that are ruined beyond repair. You have to organize work teams. Someone has to prepare the meals. Someone has to keep the children out of trouble. In such a situation, it’s almost absurd to ask whether it’s more important to build a latrine than to gather together some undamaged books. All of it has to be done. So you do what you can do—the work that is ready to your hand.
Recover the human things.
You remember them? The things that human beings used to do. They are not to be underestimated. Let’s not pretend here. We’ve all lost a great deal of what once made up whatever sweetness that human life had to offer. People used to dress becomingly, play cards, talk to others, take long walks, sing songs, play ball, grow peas and beans, strum on the guitar, drop in on friends, and have friends to drop in on. Boys used to ask girls to do innocent things with them, like go bowling, or attend a concert, or dance. There’s an idea—learn how to dance again. The world, besides being quite mad, is now an unspeakably drab, tawdry, and lonely place. Build outposts of normality. It will take time. Begin.
Pray like the pilgrim you are.
That goes without saying. If you pray for ten minutes a day, pray for fifteen. But pray with a clearer aim. Remember that you are going somewhere. Its name, in one sense, is the grave. The whole world is in mad denial of that plain fact. It turns to the garish and obscene, lest it have to consider the quiet grassy mound and the stone with a few words on it. Be different. You are on the way. Take heart, and don the hat of the pilgrim. Do not be like those who have no hope. Jesus has gone before us to prepare a place. Will you have to repent of having sometimes gotten on the carousel of the world? Repent of it then. Begin.
It does, after all. Let no one say to you, “What difference does it make if you sing beautiful hymns at Mass?” That’s the way the world thinks. For the world, despite all its pretense of love for every individual, considers men to be mere stuff, an accumulation or amalgamation. Do not believe it. The next person you greet may be on the verge of sainthood or damnation. Every moral choice we make repeats the drama of Eden. No one can do everything. Everyone can do something. Begin.
I encourage you to pre-order Out Of the Ashes, along with Archbishop Chaput’s book Stranger in a Strange Land, out in February. It follows the same themes. And don’t forget The Benedict Option, coming out in March. Something big is happening now. A band of brothers and sisters are saying, “Enough! No more. We are not going to shore up this corrupt and decadent imperium any longer. We are going to live as free and upright men and women, and we don’t give a damn what you think of us.”. . . .
. . . Who knows what form civil disobedience will take in the future. For now, it requires a conscious, deliberate, and progressive secession from the imperium, a defection in place, a refusal to cooperate with its aims.