The Tiger of Homosexuality

The Tiger of Homosexuality

The question of homosexuality in the modern age is both of great importance and of little importance. It is the strange paradox of assuming a symptom for the cause. The nature of the various reactions to it are, unsurprisingly, modeled by the phenomenon in question: namely, the application of erotic energy to the wrong target is the same way in which people—both who oppose homosexuality and those who revel in it—inappropriately direct their attention and passions towards the symptom rather than the cause. As with most things associated with the modern world, “homosexuality” has become so mired in dialectics and ideology that it is difficult to meditate upon the subject with any real clarity. To approach the subject with “eyes unclouded by hate” requires both calm and patience; it requires one to shed their previous, categorical expectations about the subject. One must approach it “primordially” and “essentially” rather than “politically” or “ideologically.” It is only then that a functional, reasonable, and charitable understanding of the subject and its causes can begin even if complete understanding would take much longer. I shall address my comments firstly to those who do not experience eroticized same sex attraction and, further down, to those who do—although both parts should be read by all potential readers.

Part I: Settings Things Straight

The great irony is that those who practice a rhetoric of hate towards their brothers and sisters are also guilty of sodomy. After all, the homosexual act produces no new life. It is a destructive force acting upon the soul and the body which apes the “spiritual intoxication” and the “procreative union” of higher living. Thus, he who professes to have all the faith in the world and yet does not love the homosexual man or woman is guilty of aping love while producing no new life within himself or the other. He is guilty of his own form of sodomy as he attempts to impose his will and power over others through the same kind of violation that mimics the insertion of one’s organs where they do not belong with no intention of creating, loving, or nurturing a new life that might come from such an encounter. How many “traditionalists” or “conservatives” do we know that simply use gay-bashing for pleasure rather than any real love for the people involved? Is this not the figure of sodomy?

The first step, therefore, if one professes to oppose homosexuality is to stop acting in a homosexual manner in their approach to the subject. One does not oppose the sterility of homosexuality with even more sterility as fundamentalists of any religion are prone to do nor does one oppose that sterility with promiscuity of “accepting what people do” in the modern concept. Instead, one opposes sterility through fecund virginity: through the model of Mary, full of Grace, who did not know a man. No manual or religious tract given out in the vestibules after Mass can replace this essential meditation.

Understanding one’s own actions in response to homosexuality also extends to the plane of the society. There is much fear and talk about the assault on marriage. However, it was not the homosexual who instigated the deterioration of families or marriage—he or she is merely the symptom of the failure of heterosexual couples to present marriage with any measure of sanctity or validity. The straight man and woman has done more to undermine traditional marriage than all the gay pride marches and states accepting same sex unions. How can traditional marriage be upheld when divorce rates are so high and the interior life of the family is so poor? If one meditates on the idea of the Holy Family and lives that ideal, do you think that homosexual “marriage” would enter the societal consciousness? No, if one maintained “traditional marriage” instead of giving in to bourgeois concepts of quantified, economic partnerships between a man and a woman, then society would intrinsically understand that “homosexual marriage” is not equivalent.

If heterosexual couples did not engage in fetishizing the sublime ecstasy of the spiritual union of the sexual act or create a sexualized culture around husband and wife (especially as the two are encouraged to use prophylactics), do you think that society would consider these actions equivalent to homosexual unions? No, the sad irony is that the sterile, modern, pornographic, contraceptive society has mass produced sterile families and relationships and this finds, as one of its expressions, the homosexual phenomenon. Therefore, if a “traditionalist” feels anger and compulsion to “fight” the assault on the family, his enemies are closer to his milieu than the hooligans waving pride flags.

Thus, if we have anything to “apologize” to homosexuals for, it is our own inability to provide example and courage in the face of a deteriorating society. It is for projecting our own sterility onto them and hating them for it. The problem, as always, is that men have become weak and unable to introspect. Therefore, the greatest apology we can give is to move to action: fix our marriages; practice chastity in our relations; practice charity in a fecund and virginal way; infuse the spirit into our material movements. Because, after all, what is one of the true essentials of the heterosexual union? It is the participation in God breathing spirit into matter. If man does not live his life constantly infusing spirit into matter; if he does not live his life sacramentally and ritually; if he does not live his life where meaning is impregnated into his material dealings, then is he not living the homosexual ideal of materialism only? Is he not living the homosexual life of sterility?

Part II: Riding the Tiger of Homosexuality

To you, dear homosexual reader, I want to express the same respect and compassion that Dante showed to his friend Brunetto Latini when he found him in the burning desert of the sodomites in Hell in Canto XV of the Inferno. In many ways, the sublime Poet truly understood the condition. The sterile fire descending in a parody of the way in which the Holy Spirit descends and gives life. The flames come down like rain as a meditation on the way in which that which was meant to give life and consolation is instead a burning fire that consumes and obscures the one damned to it.

Any person who experiences eroticized same sex attraction can recognize this and affirm it in himself: the burning compulsion that forces them to move from one person to another or from one excitement to another is the same way that the damned in the desert of the sodomites must continuously run spurred on as they are from the flames descending. Just as a desert is a symbol for sterility, so, too, is the homosexual relationship not just materially sterile in that it produces no offspring, but it often locks the sufferer into the same, old modes and insecurities. There is no new life that springs forth in him. The new life of a man or woman does not surface, only the young adult remains.

And yet most people don’t know of the next time that homosexuals appear in the Divine Comedy. In the final cornice of Purgatory leading to the Terrestrial Paradise, homosexuals are also running and also tortured by flames. Indeed, that entire ledge of the mountain of Purgatory is engulfed in fire. Here, those who are lustful run clockwise while those who are lustful towards the same sex run counterclockwise. Then suddenly, what happens when the two running groups meet each other? A kiss. A chaste kiss is exchanged between all the parties.i Dante’s great wisdom demonstrates again that any who wish to purge themselves of the sterility associated with homosexuality is not doomed to loneliness, negation, or any lack of intimacy. Indeed, if he learns to endure the fire of desire, much like his heterosexual counterparts, he is rewarded with true brotherhood. Although he or she is asked to walk a different (counterclockwise) path than the other lovers of the world, he or she is afforded the same opportunity to be satisfied with intimacy. He does so not by negating his desires, but finding the chaste fulfillment of them analogous though different (again, clockwise vs counterclockwise) vis a vis his heterosexual counterparts. He does not seek to leave the fire, but uses it to fuel his purgation upward.

But what about those homosexuals who insist that this would be a denial of their “identity” to ask them to live chastely? First, let us take a quick side note to address the objection that to ask homosexuals to deal with their issues is “unfair.” This particular question is, really, an extension of the objection of “why do bad things happen to good people?” and it transforms into “why must homosexuals be burdened with self-denial?” Some might even ask themselves “why was I born this way? If God made me this way, shouldn’t I engage in it?”

First, the call to virtue falls on every man. I made it clear in the first part that the burden of society’s problems with homosexuality rests primarily with those who do not experience it. The maintenance of “traditional marriage” is a responsibility which requires just as much spiritual maturity and work as asking a homosexual person to maintain their chastity. While people may be born homosexual or heterosexual (I do not deign to worry about such details), they are certainly not born chaste. Chastity must be practiced for any person. If, in this world, it seems as if heterosexuals have it “easier,” the problem is that, both in their interior lives presently, and in the next life, they live in Hell if they do not practice chastity. Their quality of life is just as sterile. Any authentic person can see just how debased is the life of the promiscuous playboy or the online pornographer.

The objection then becomes “but why do heterosexuals get to engage in sex and I can’t engage in homosexual gratification?” One answer is that most heterosexual sex is illegitimate anyway. Most don’t have the legitimacy to approach sexual gratification in a transcendent manner. Most sex is horizontal (literally and figuratively). Partners in heterosexual acts objectify and dehumanize each other with a stunning degree of frequency even among married couples.ii The problem is that many traditionalists are attempting to impose ideal standards on homosexuals without enforcing such standards on heterosexuals. These questions, however, are beginning to converge with meditations on what the sexual act should be and what it means—topics of which would be too extensive to deal with in a post such as this. Therefore, such questions about sex and physicality will have to wait for another time.

As for “why was I born this way?” it is a question many people of a traditional bearing ask themselves. Why were many people born in this debauched, modern world? Why do many of us feel alienated in an “epoch of dissolution?” Why are some of us born with deformities and some of us abused as children? The great mass of affliction is not unique to the homosexual experience. The question is not whether we can kill the tiger of homosexuality, but if we can ride the experience to a greater contemplation of the Divine. In other words, how can we change our wounds into that which allow us to bring about salvation? How can we accept the cross so that we may die with Christ? To be born a homosexual, like one born with a deformity, is a call to assume a path far greater than “normal” people. It is not a curse, but an invitation to rise higher.

I mentioned to my friend Adam when discussing deformity that my father, the chess master, when he knows he’ll be facing an inferior opponent, sometimes plays the game without his queen or rook or knight in order to provide himself a challenge. He not only learns more, but increases his skill and mastery. In fact, there are times when he plays blindfolded! I think of this when I imagine why it was that I was born into the modern world or why a homosexual might be born with same sex attraction (assuming that it is innate although one can easily look up resources stating the contrary). In essence, one possible way in which certain types of people (not all) can approach this “affliction” is to become a master. They can maintain virtue despite handicaps and, thus, become even greater than many saints of the past who did not have to deal with their unique, modern problems.

Finally, to the question of denying one’s identity, that is, indeed, a fundamental and important aspect of understanding homosexuality. Whether or not homosexuality is intrinsic to a person ontologically has always been rejected by traditional societies. Homosexuality prior to the Victorian era was considered an action—and actions never defined a person.iii Sodomy was seen as aberrant behaviour rather than a sign of an interior reality.

The problem of identity, however, is not unique to homosexuality. Plenty of young men and women, lacking initiation in the modern world and real, legitimate elders (not to mention parents), find themselves “lost” and unable to cope with who they think they are. The whole question of identity, therefore, is one of the larger issues which underpin homosexuality and has homosexuality as one of its symptoms. Unfortunately, there is not enough time or space to discuss the question of identity properly in this post, but it is important to take note of its role in this phenomenon.

I shall close this post with saying that the modern world often offers a false dichotomy between repression (sterility) and acceptance (promiscuity). This tendency towards Manicheanism of fighting between spirit (repressing material desires) and matter (indulging in material desires) is a defining quality of the modern era and should be resisted by all people of good will. All those who are courageously attempting to make themselves saints by enduring the fire of homosexuality and engaging in chaste and fulfilling lives, your scars will shine more beautifully in heaven than many others and, like those who fought on Saint Crispin’s day even though they were outnumbered five to one, your glorious adherence to virtue despite suffering the handicap of same sex attraction, will force all other shades to hold their manhoods cheap whilst you speak. Even then, I give you a word of consolation. It is possible to achieve the level of intimacy you desire without succumbing to the sexual act. It is possible to feel the companionship, closeness, vulnerability, and support you are looking for and there are still societies and people out there willing to offer such help.iv

i Purgatorio XXVI, 31-33.

ii I freely admit that I have no quantitative proof for such a claim as this except the prevalence and popularity of pornography. The reader will have to decide whether or not this bears true in his or her experience.

iii The Historian Michel Foucault made this observation in 1976

iv My good friend David Prosen has many resources on this topic so it would be helpful for anyone who wishes to know more about such a chaste lifestyle to investigate him.

A Mountain of Advice

A Mountain of Advice

A commentator who calls himself “Ignatius” left me a comment on my previous post which I aimed to respond to but it ended up being such a pleasant exercise that I decided to make it into a post outlining some of my views on sedevacantism as well as addressing his request for some advice.

Here is his comment:

James – English is not my first language so please forgive my writing.

I am a recent convert to the Faith. I received RCIA in a diocesean parish and did not have a very deep formation. Studying more about Vatican II, the recent call to not convert the Jews, the liberal heretical bishops and priests… supposedly there was no point in me converting because I could have just as easily been saved as an atheist.

This post has caused me to think very much, I have been considering joining the SSPX but now am rethinking things. Do you have any advice for me? Should I continue to attend NO Masses that are full of liturgical abuses and that teach Modernism? My faith is still weak and I am not sure what to do. I want to place Christ first and foremost and will never betray him.


Thank you so much for your comment. I have to say that your English isn’t bad at all. Welcome to the Faith! Know that your exoteric endeavours to join us are not in vain.

The first “advice” I’d like to give for you is to not stop striving to create a culture and society where liberalism and vice are eliminated. This first starts with living out virtue in ourselves. Most often, people misunderstand the way in which metanoia in the Church should take place. They expect the Church to baby them and treat them as infants by providing the necessary transformation in the individual for them. No, this is backwards. We first must adhere to virtue in our very person. It is only then that we can lead the people around us. And, after that, once we have led our community, it will affect the diocese, and, in turn, Christendom as a whole. In essence, the first piece of advice is to adhere to a life of virtue and not to expect the Church to change when you yourself still live a life of sin.

This is the law of microcosm and macrocosm. If we do not change ourselves in our bodies first, why do we have any legitimacy to criticize society and the Church when we do not have the will to change ourselves? That is what I expect for myself as I attempt all I can with great sincerity to work to eliminate my sinfulness. Some might accuse me of hypocrisy since I often talk about change in society happening first through leadership. Yes, this is true and this bears out in my analogy: For the body to improve, the heart must first act according to what the mind teaches. How many times have you known yourself to intellectually understand what is right and yet have not the heart to do it? This is the same with the present state of the Church. She knows what is true in her mind, but we, the heart, the Empire, have not yet moved to make it so in the rest of the body. Thus, leadership starts with ourselves. Be the leader you wish to see. Be the change you wish to affect.

Secondly, studying Vatican II should not be done in a vacuum. The study of scripture or even documents of the Church were never meant to be done without proper authority. The idea that any layman can interpret Church documents on his own and deem them heretical is antithetical to the hierarchical and authoritative modality of the Apostolic dimension of the Church. Christ intended the Church to be our organic interpreter and it is through her and her agents, no matter how flawed, that we receive an understanding of things like Vatican II. After all, no matter how sinful a priest, if he observes the proper rites, he may confect the Eucharist even if his hands have been stained with murder or pedophilia. Thus, if a true Catholic realizes that sacramentality is immune to sin, then why do Catholics contend that the Church’s authority is not immune to the “stink” of liberalism in her members?

Concerning Nostra Aetate, the call to respect the legitimate covenant of the Jews, is a nuanced subject which is more about affirming God’s integrity rather than any sign of “weakness.” It is difficult to explain the whole of Nostra Aetate in one sentence, but the point is that your interpretation of that document is not authoritative and if one listens to the magisterial teachings of the Church, one understands that the call to respect the integrity of God in His covenants is not at all a threat to the “truth” of the Catholic faith. If you truly wish to know more about how to read Nostra Aetate, then feel free to ask me for resources. I will probably ask my good friend Lawrence who has studied the document better than I have.

This brings us to the main point of my contention with those of the SSPX variety. Most of their spirituality (if it can even be called such a thing) is a spirituality of fear. It is a fear of heresy around every corner. They deny the mystical truth that “they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them,” (Mk. 16:18). The truly initiated Christian is able to hold fast to the eternal, unchanging truths of Catholic teaching while maintaining his external composure as the world seems to crumble around him. It is this ability to remain composed during long martyrdom that defines a Christian who ascends rather than one who retreats.

Have you ever wondered why it was that the Christian martyrs of the past were able to withstand boiling oil or hot coals? It is because they had inner peace, by God’s grace, in a time of persecution. Do you think God gave them anesthesia? No, they felt the totality of the pain just as you are asked now to endure the degeneracy of the Church. In the modern world, our time of persecution is now and whether or not we can keep Christ on our lips or say, like the Protestants, “the Holy Spirit made a mistake in choosing the Popes and leading the councils” will define whether or not we are martyrs or cowards; whether we are saints or apostates.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fatalistic about our role in the persecution of the Church. I want you to fight. I hope you fight. I want you to fight as much as you can. But tell me, Ignatius; if your mother has been held captive by ignoble men and forced into a degrading lifestyle, would you say “that is no mother of mine. I want a better woman to be my mother” or, rather, would you go rescue her? Do you expect your mother to wrestle the evil men herself or are you going to go there and do something? Do not expect the Church to fight your battles for you. Be a man and save her not from herself but those who are making it difficult for her to be herself!

Similarly, if you married a woman who had been abducted and maimed by evil men and she could no longer walk straight, would you abandon her for a younger woman? If you are a man of any worth, you would remain true to your marriage vows. SSPXers are oathbreakers. Yes, Many are well-meaning. Many want to rescue the Church in their hearts, but they do not know that their methods of abandoning her are akin to abandoning their crippled wife and having an affair with a statue. Notice that this is the inversion of the present state. The present state is the Church who still retains the authentic deposit of faith and a body which has no heart to nourish and protect that deposit while the sedevacantists are those who have plenty of heart but refuse the guidance of the Head. SSPXers are guilty of idolatry; they are guilty of idolizing the Church of the past instead of rescuing the Church of the present by reestablishing the Empire.

What you must avoid, dear Ignatius, is moral fetishism which is not only a stumbling block for SSPXers but also for new converts. Often, when one exoterically adheres to a new faith, the question of “right” and “wrong” becomes paramount. However, this is not the highest good for Christianity. For Christianity, the primary mode is not judgment, but love. When love is present, then judgment is restrained by mercy. After all, the Master told us to “go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners” (Mtt. 9:13).

This goes back to your concern that it makes no difference if you can attain salvation by being an Atheist. This is grossly misinterpreting the Vatican II documents. However, even without the proper interpretation of the documents, it is clear to see why this approach and mindset is mistaken. If one has the internal attitude of spiritual acedia and does not choose a path to follow, then of course one will not attain salvation. Anyone who thinks that they are “alright” as they are with their path of apathy and relativism, then they have lost the whole point. Anyone who sincerely ascends a path (and I don’t mean the petty bourgeois concept of “sincerity” that says “oh, if you just want it enough you’ll get it,” but rather the type of sincerity that includes being sacrificed on a cross—the aristocratic type of sincerity) will always enter through a legitimate doorway—he will always find the Church even if it is not the visible one. This is the meaning behind “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you” (Mtt 7:7). Furthermore, just because one professes Christ does not guarantee one’s salvation. After all, “not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mtt 7:21).

You should not mistake the doorway for the destination. You should not mistake the exoteric affiliation to the Church as the Church herself. The Church is much greater, grander, larger, more beautiful, and more awesome than the doorway she presents to the world. We should not begrudge our brothers and sisters who end up at the top of the mountain with us even though they came up a more unsure path because if they reached us here at the top, then they must have achieved it through God’s help and who are we to begrudge God for being generous? After all, didn’t the landowner go out late at night and called the late ones who had no work to tend his vineyard and yet paid them the same amount as those who have been there all day? (Mtt 20:1-16).

Are you going to be like the elder brother who resents his generous father for accepting your degenerate younger brother back into the fold? Notice how we remember him forevermore as being mistaken. Therefore, be not afraid! Those who follow false gods and false religions will find their ruin, and the Church affirms this. After all, “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” Yet, the boundary of that Church is not defined merely exoterically just as not all the saints in heaven are canonized.

The only tether we have is through obedience. This is not some modern concept of “inclusion.” The Church never “includes” anyone out of pity. For us, the journey of salvation is helped by the Church like a guide to a mountain climber. The guide shows us the sure and true way up although it may be very difficult. There are plenty stranded at the base both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Yet, God will not deny anyone who expresses such great love for Him that they climb the difficult parts of the mountain and succeed without the guide’s help. Sure, it would be foolish and if only they would believe our guide, but it is not impossible. No one who makes it to the top diminishes our adherence. We will have the greater seat since obedience is greater than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). No one who climbs to the top is guilty of apathy and hence why “true” atheists and not merely those who call themselves atheists because they have no words for their upward journey will never make it. Anyone who loves God so much as to climb the mountain and attain the summit deserves to be there. You both will suffer to achieve Calvary. You will achieve it through obedience. The other, will achieve it through rising above his religion to the mystical Church. Both of you will achieve it through God’s grace; and it is His to give to whomever is willing.

Lastly, I’d like to contend with the concept that may be pushed by sedevacantists that adhering to the present Church is “abetting” weakness. This is a horrible sadness. These would have been the same kind of people who would have abandoned Christ at the crucifixion because they would have thought him to be a weak god to let himself be crucified. Do not be mistaken. SSPXers are not courageous crusaders fighting liberalism; they are peddling power rather than real authority. They are selling shortcuts rather than true work. They are peddling fear rather than courage (because fear does indeed grant strength, but not of the same quality as that of courage). They are peddling betrayal rather than rescue. They are peddling moral fetishism rather than true spirituality. They are forcing a merely materialistic dimension of the Church instead of admitting that she is the gateway to something greater and beyond—to Christ. They deny Christ and wish for “Church” instead. This is not surprising. Tomberg tells us:

“The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by the intrinsic authority of the divine — by truth , beauty , and goodness — i.e. they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God.”i

Was God wrong to empty Himself in order to become powerless on the cross? Shall you be one of the SSPXers who jeer and say “if the Popes were any good, they’d save the Church by now” just like the men jeered at Jesus, “if he’s truly the Christ, then let him come down from the cross!” No, Ignatius, you must rethink your concepts of authority and power. You must let go of the Protestant and SSPX tendencies for control and moral fetishism. True religion, yes, has rules and regulations, but it is done so in the context of a human and divine family. It is not done so in a vacuum. If you want mindless rules, become a Muslim or a Protestant. If you want a religion that treats you like a human being, then remain true to the Faith of a God who so loved the world that He became powerless like us.

So does this mean that I’m asking you to join me in suffering through the Novus Ordo? No. I understand its ugliness and I have come to be at peace with it. It doesn’t mean I accept the ugliness of it, after all, even Jesus prayed for the cup to pass from Him (Mtt 26:39). No one enjoys and revels in fertilizer (it is literally manure), yet we use it to make crops rise towards heaven. Therefore, if you are not yet ready to “ride the tiger” of modern Catholicism, then do not. Find a “conservative” safe haven for yourself, but do not be fooled into choosing one that has no connection to the Head of Rome or merely teaches moral fetishism and peddles “powerful” Catholicism. Do not be fooled into accepting a false ark. If you do not like the smell of the tigers, go among the sheep. If you are not yet ready to bunk with the lions, go lay with the lambs. There is plenty of room in the Barque of Peter.

i Meditations on the Tarot, pp. 82.

Christianity is Dead

Christianity is Dead

I had a little conversation with Adam once and I had mentioned the following:

You know, over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the role of Christianity in the world and how to resolve it with my intrinsic understanding of eternal truths. I find that the figure is hidden in the mystery of the Crucifixion itself — and I’ve spoken about this to various friends of mine in my circle.

The way in which the Church degenerates and decays over the ages should not be surprising to Christians, but it is. That is because the body of Christ was always destined to die and decayi. The crucifixion is a microcosmii of the era in which “God is dead” because for three days, He was indeed dead; and the decay the Church is undergoing is the same as that of the body of Christ when it was nailed and entombed.

That is the secret and hidden meaning of the crucifixion: that it is happening in macrocosm today in the modern age. The modern age is the first act of the Easter Triduum and this is also why many of the apostles — being unable to understand this mystical death of the Catholic Church — have gone astray denying Christ thrice (as Saint Peter did; the first Pope). Only Saint John, the mystical apostle, the one whom Jesus loved, stayed to the end at the cross, loyal to the body that was dying.

This is the position I wish to emulate; to be the apostle who sees the decay of the Church but does not waver from the decay, because the rest of the exoteric religion still believes like Saint Peter does; e.g. “God forbid, Lord that you should go to Jerusalem and die.” Right now, the Church must go to Jerusalem and die because she is the body of Christ. And since the body of Christ underwent torture and crucifixion so must the Church. So when I see people jeer at the Church and tell her “Stop being so weak; change the world!” I also hear those words from the gospels, “If He is the chosen one, let Him come down from the cross.”

People do not understand that something utterly mystical is happening in the modern age. Just as the modern age is the darkest of all times, so was the crucifixion the darkest time. It is the time when God is dead.

I find this to be a great consolation when most Catholics around me are in a state of frenzied panic about the future of the Church. Like I mentioned, there are those who are presently disillusioned with how the Church is conducting herself in the modern age. Many have turned to schismatic sects in order to “restore” or “preserve” the Church from decay. If only they could recognize Christ who is asking them “quo vadis?” Many see such things as Vatican II as catastrophic wounds on the Church and abandon her as she is weakened by it. But did not Christ even showcase His wounds after His resurrection? Indeed, I find it interesting that many Catholics are so deathly afraid of death and its effects on the body. They often misunderstand “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail” (Matthew 16:18) as some mortal invincibility. However, Christ showed the world that invincibility from death does not mean avoiding it. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33). The Church’s immunity to the gates of Hades does not mean she will not suffer decay.

So does this mean we should abandon the Church to her fate? No. Not at all, but who is truly abandoning the Church? Surely it is not I who remains loyal to the unbroken succession despite all the moral decay in her ranks. Surely it is not I who adheres to all the councils even if they seem anti-traditional. Surely it was not Saint John who stood at the cross even while that beautiful body was nailed and became ugly. Yes, beauty became ugly on the cross. That same paradox is present in an infallible deposit of faith experiencing the decay of modernity. Yet so few can see this and so few saw this during Good Friday. It is no wonder that many so called “traditional” or “conservative” or “faithful” Catholics scoff at the ugliness of the modern Church and go so far as to disobey her. I am reminded of my one friend who ignores bishops’ decrees to stand during the Agnus Dei. Perhaps they had forgotten that “obedience is better than sacrifices” (1 Samuel 15:22). Sure, I am with them in decrying the ugliness of modern church buildings, lax practices, and appalling seminaries etc., but, like Saint John, I hope to endure that ugliness by looking at it rather than running. After all, it was to the Apostle who could endure such ugliness in the body of Christ that the guardianship of Mary was awarded. What greater honour could a Catholic receive?

Therefore, it is not the Church that must be saved, but ourselves. It is not that Christ should have remained eternally beautiful to us, but we who must see with the eyes of faith to accept the ugliness of Christ dying. It was not Christ who needed to come down from the cross, but we who, like the good thief, should have accepted ours.

In order to head off misunderstanding (as many heresy-sniffing, ossified “traditionalists” are wont to do), I must be clear that inaction is not the solution to the Church’s woes. My comments are merely to make the faithful aware that abandoning the Church in her modern death throes by arrogantly secluding themselves in “traditionalist” societies is an act similar to the apostles fleeing from Calvary. Even then, I don’t blame them since the gospels already made it clear that the apostles were rehabilitated later. Indeed, many moderns are not in the proper spiritual caste in order to endure the rigours of bearing witness to the ugliness of the Novus Ordo and participating in it. Either they blindly accept it as conforming to their bourgeois or prole tastes or, otherwise, they decry it and avoid it without accepting the opportunity to be ad calvariam. Indeed, to “ride the tiger” of modern Catholicism is very much the opposite of inactivity. For those who are unable to do such a thing, striving and working for the return of a more traditional society so that the Church may flourish is a noble and necessary task. This post was merely to point out that one should not place their faith in accomplishing that task, but in the majesty of Christ surviving even failure.

Thus, whether one fights or contemplates the ugliness, the path is to await the Resurrection and have absolute faith that just as Christ’s body was raised from the dead, so, too, will The Body of Christ being the Church (1 Corinthians 12:27) be raised.

i The idea of the body “decaying” is actually a mistake on my part as my good friend Lawrence points out in the comments. Though it does not change the overall message of the post considering it deals with the physical trauma afflicted unto the body, the distinction here is still important. I have kept the original text instead of editing it in order to maintain the integrity of my initial musings in conversation form despite refining it ex post facto.

ii It must be said that my usage of microcosm and macrocosm both here and in the following lines is meant only to be understood as temporal magnitude where the time of Christ is “smaller” than the eras of the Church. However, it is, upon retrospect, probably more appropriate to say that the crucifixion is the macrocosm and the history of the Church the microcosm in spiritual terms. Either way, the reader ought to be cautious with my wording here and understand my nuance lest more reductive elements misread my intentions.

Proud to be Useless

Proud to be Useless

I had a curious conversation with a friend of mine who had to walk on egg shells not to offend me. He was talking about the dignity of work and—knowing me to be “unemployed”—he made sure to make it clear that he was not looking down on me. This wasn’t the first time I had encountered both caution and condemnation for my “peculiar” lifestyle. Some of the more caustic remarks from other people include, “for those of us with full time jobs…” all the way to, “other people your age are already working hard.” Strangely, it was more as if other people rather than myself were the ones offended.

When I introduce myself to acquaintances as someone who spends most of his days eating, going to the gym, thinking, reading, writing, playing games, meeting friends or going to dinner parties to discuss existence, going to mass, and going on vacations, I am often asked if I don’t feel a sense of “shame” to be under the parents’ allowance. It didn’t matter to them that my thrifty lifestyle wasn’t a strain on their budgets, but more that they were comparing my activities to some “American ideal” of independence, hard work, financial security, and middle class living. “Comfort,” “security,” and “the good life,” was always the trinitarian formula being invoked in these kinds of questions to me as if my very presence was akin to some sinner that required one to cross themselves profusely in order to keep at bay. “Unemployed” might as well mean “unclean!” And yet, as with most modern ideas, this is a completely erroneous inversion.

I was happy to have heard the news recently that Roger Scruton would be knighted. Despite not being a British subject myself, I was greatly influenced by the BBC documentary that he had written about the necessity of Beauty. Interestingly, in 1998, he had also written an introduction to the German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper’s book Leisure – The Basis of Culture. In his introduction, as he reflected on Pieper’s words, he says:

For here, in a succinct yet learned argument, are all the reasons for thinking that the frenzied need to work, to plan, and to change things is nothing but idleness under other names—moral, intellectual, and emotional idleness. In order to defend itself from self-knowledge, this agitated idleness is busy smashing all the mirrors in the house.i

These words might seem to be completely alien to a modern audience and may seem like naive justifications for defying the omnipotent altar of Productivity. “Morality is just so that we can have a safe, productive society” or “you can be happy once you have a house and car,” might seem like common rebuffs if they weren’t so politely held behind the veil of genial condescension. How many times has my degree in literature been compared to the structural engineer who graduated from Stanford as if the latter would be so much more beneficial to mankind. Indeed, non-material pursuits are clearly secondary to the modern ethos—a “luxury” to be experienced after one has “paid their dues” to the workplace and society. It is a small allowance after one has completed their sacrifices in the name of the president, the CEO, and the Gross Domestic Product. In fact, one can easily imagine that the modern worker may concede the importance of such things as morality, intellect, and emotion, but would never condone sacrificing one’s whole existence to these pursuits. “I wouldn’t quit my day job,” is an expression which has become part of the modern lexicon.ii Scruton continues saying:

Leisure has had a bad press. For the puritan it is the source of vice; for the egalitarian a sign of privilege. The Marxist regards leisure as the unjust surplus, enjoyed by the few at the expense of the many. Nobody in a democracy is at ease with leisure, and almost every person, however little use he may have for his time, will say that he works hard for a living—curious expression, when the real thing to work for is dying.iii

Scruton points out the subtle image of inversion that has taken place in the modern, democratic world. This oxymoronic link between “working” and “living” is also demonstrated in the popularity of the expression “I live for the weekends” implying that one works hard for the moments of reprieve after the work week. It also has the curious implication of a “deadened” state when performing labour. However, I should be clear that working has its own dignity. St. John Paul II speaks in his encyclical Laborem Exercens that, “the Church finds in the very first pages of the Book of Genesis the source of her conviction that work is a fundamental dimension of human existence on earth […] Man has to subdue the earth and dominate it.”iv However, even here, he makes a distinction:

God’s fundamental and original intention with regard to man […] was not withdrawn or canceled out even when man, having broken the original covenant with God, heard the words: ‘In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread’ (Gen 3:19). These words refer to the sometimes heavy toil that from then onwards has accompanied human workv

In other words, there is a distinction between “toil” and “work” in the vocabulary St. John Paul II uses where “toil” is an effect of the fall while “work” was the original dignity associated with man’s labour in subjugating the earth. The question of whether or not work and toil can be distinguished in most modern professions is a tricky topic considering that it is often tied with the emotional concepts of the preservation of one’s livelihood and family with metaphysical concerns put aside. Evola had an interesting insight into this when he states how (with my emphases added):

As paradoxical as it may first appear in the context of those civilizations that largely employed the institution of slavery, it was work that characterized the condition of a slave, and not vice versa. In other words: when the activity in the lower strata of the social hierarchy was no longer supported by a spiritual meaning, and when instead of an “action” there was only “work,” then the material criterion was destined to take over and those activities related to matter and connected to the material needs of life were destined to appear as degrading and as unworthy of any free human being. Therefore “work” (ponos) came to be seen as something that only a slave would engage in, and it became almost a sentence; likewise, the only dharma possible for a slave was work […] Labor as ponos, an obscure effort strictly dictated by need, was the opposite of action, the former representing the material, heavy, dark pole, the latter the free pole of human possibilities detached from need. Free men and slaves, after all, represented the social crystallization of those two ways of performing an action—either according to matter, or ritually […] In such a world, speculative action, asceticism, contemplation (sometimes even “play” and war) characterized the pole of action vis-a-vis the servile pole of

What Evola refers to here as “work” or “ponos” can easily be understood as the same type of thing St. John Paul II refers to as “toil.” It is interesting to think of the idea of such “toil” associated with slavery as it also entered the world, according to St. John Paul II, during the age where man enslaved himself to sin. In these contexts, one can more easily see that the modern preference to associate the material benefits of “toil” as superior to the invisible benefits of leisure as an inversion of the traditional hierarchy of matter and spirit. Evola even goes so far as to say that:

Let us set aside the fact that Europeans reintroduced and maintained slavery up to the nineteenth century in their overseas colonies in such heinous forms as to be rarely found in the ancient world; what should be emphasized is that if there ever was a civilization of slaves on a grand scale, the one in which we are living is it. No traditional civilization ever saw such great masses of people condemned to perform shallow, impersonal, automatic jobs; in the contemporary slave system the counterparts of figures such as lords or enlightened rulers are nowhere to be found. This slavery is imposed subtly through the tyranny of the economic factor and through the absurd structures of a more or less collectivized society. And since the modern view of life in its materialism has taken away from the single individual any possibility of bestowing on his destiny a transfiguring element and seeing in it a sign and a symbol, contemporary “slavery” should therefore be reckoned as one of the gloomiest and most desperate kinds of all times.”vii

Modern jobs, therefore, can be seen as a degree worse than slavery whereas the original work that maintains the dignity which St. John Paul II refers to, can be more easily seen as the “active” principle of worldly domination—something which has its character in the pre-fall transcendence that gave all action a ritualistic dimension that bespoke of the origin of the sacraments as outward signs of internal super-realities. This is partly why we find such great dignity in the artisan or the simple cobbler who has honed his craft to the level of art. Unfortunately, to find that same resonance between form and essence in the material workplace of today is very rare pushed out as they are by the mechanized efficiency of lower-priced, mass-produced products or sensationally priced and empty designer brands. Paul Veyne also points out that:

“Since Marx and Proudhon, labour has been universally accepted as a positive social value and a philosophical concept. As a result, the ancients’ contempt for labour, their undisguised scorn for those who work with their hands, their exaltation of leisure as the sine qua non of a “liberal” life, the only life worthy of a man, shocks us deeply.”viii

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise to find so many individuals scandalized by my decision to enter a more contemplative lifestyle as it represents a judgment against what they might already perceive to be the “necessary toil” they must undertake to survive in a world of slave masters. Nonetheless, there are plenty of individuals who, even despite the worst conditions, find great fulfillment in the accomplishment of their “dharma” as Evola might put it. I have nothing against such individuals. Indeed, the present misunderstanding is the egalitarian idea that I must be like everyone else; that there can be no men living now who should be set aside for contemplative endeavors. Finally, modernity also says that there is no longer a value associated with such invisible tasks preoccupied as it is with “security,” “comfort,” and “the good life.”

It would be too much in this tiny post to go over Pieper’s masterpiece concerning leisure. Not only is it embedded with tidbits of erudition such as the origin of the word “school” literally being the Greek word for “leisure”ix indicating the pedagogical nature of contemplation, but it also has deeply profound insights into the seemingly “idle” activities of a leisurely lifestyle. He makes one such observation when he notes how “the act of eating by a human being is something different from that of the animal (even apart from the fact that the human realm includes the ‘meal,’ something thoroughly spiritual!).”x This elevation of the act of eating to “meal” is antithetical to the popular diets and fast, instagram concepts of food of the modern world—a world which is only accessed through “toiling” to acquire those items rather than contemplating a meal. Needless to say, one can find in the pages of Pieper ample defense for the importance of such a life to the soul of the free human person and for a human society to have culture of any value. And, in the end, that is what I have decided to be convicted about: I do not feel ashamed to live as free as I am able to at this time. Nor should anyone who has the benefit of parents who are willing to patronize their philosophical pursuits feel any compunction to give in to a modern society that has turned its back on the traditional hierarchy. While I begrudge no one for their exemplary dedication to their family and friends by working for their benefit, I work for the spiritual benefit of mankind by spending time thinking about and studying the soul of our human race.

That is not to say that I am unwilling to do what is necessary if my physical survival becomes an issue nor would I be adverse to finding employment that amplifies rather than suppresses my contemplative leanings, but, as I stated before, those instances are rare. Whatever writing, literature, or teaching is profitable these days is also, many times, an exercise in catering to the masses. Unlike the patronage system of the past where a whole estate of single individuals recognized the importance of materially maintaining thinkers, the modern world implicitly encourages entertainment and sensation out of its writers and philosophers making material survival dependent on a strata of society that has little appreciation for higher pursuits. Even scientists are many times “legitimized” only through the corollary that, somewhere down the line, their discoveries have material benefits.

When I was first explaining to my father, who is a certified Chess Master in the United States, of how I view my present lot in life, I told him that it was analogous to his penchant for using the Queen’s Gambit. In essence, it is a sacrifice of a material to gain situational advantage. After all, the point of chess is not to see how many pawns one can promote to Queens, but how elegantly one can checkmate the enemy King. For the uninitiated, to see the player sacrifice a piece so blatantly may seem like utter foolishness, but the opponents who have any respectable ability in the game are wary enough that to decline the gambit has become an orthodox response.

Lastly, to bring it back to Scruton, he once noted in his documentary that Oscar Wilde said that “all art is useless,” implying that art has a value greater than utility. My resistance to the modern world is rooted in this resistance to utility and aspiration for that which is higher. If I am to be branded as “useless,” I can be proud of that since I have no wish to be used by anyone else. I wish to be a free man.

iLeisure – The Basis of Culture, Josef Piper. Saint Augustine’s Press, 1998. pp. 13.

iiIt might also be interesting to investigate how these trends coincide with a massive decline in vocations to the so called “Religious Life” in Catholic circles.

iiiLeisure – The Basis of Culture, Josef Piper. Saint Augustine’s Press, 1998. pp. 13-14

ivLaborem Exercens §4

vLaborem Exercens §9

viRevolt Against the Modern World, Julius Evola, 107-108

viiIbid. 108

viiiA History of Private Life, vol. 1, From Pagan Rome to Byzantium, Paul Veyne, trans. Arthur Goldhammer, (Cambridge, Mass. 1987), 118-19.

ixLeisure – The Basis of Culture, Josef Piper. Saint Augustine’s Press, 1998. pp. 25

xIbid. pp. 111.

Waugh, Ecstasy, and Initiation

Waugh, Ecstasy, and Initiation

Academic reviews and recommendations sometimes fall into the category of the merely bourgeois clericism of the modern world. Therefore, I have transcribed my authentic feelings in language which, I feel, better affirms Waugh’s “higher,” “sacerdotal,” station.i

I have finished my reading of Brideshead Revisited. There was a moment near the end in particular just a few hours ago during the scene where Lord Marchmain gave his “sign” after the whole buildup of the drama that struck me like a lance through my heart. I was sitting there in awe at what I had just read. The careful construction of it was like having my eyes pass along the curves of an exquisite statue, but it was more than just the appreciation for the artistry of it. It was a coup de grace like the culmination of things; like a spiritual kind of consummation.

I was in ecstasy enough that I was holding onto my chair gasping silently, holding my breath, and holding back tears that were swelling behind my eyelids. There was a perfection to be observed in those words I had just read. It wasn’t some trick; it wasn’t some kind of tactical writing that was a flowery exhibition of craft. I felt like I had listened to a heavenly choir crescendo. My heart was moved several inches higher into my throat choking me, stopping me from speaking—for silence was the only viable way to affirm it. Silence was the only voice I could return since it was through the silence of the voice that I was reading that had lifted me and held my breath captive. Waugh imprisoned me and impaled me with such precision that my spirit was bleeding to death and being raised again three gestures later.

I had to take a break from reading at that point. The act of levitation strains my physical body to such an extent that I needed to pause my reading. Breathing the Aether burned my lungs so I needed to descend back to the world for a while. Waugh captured the impact so perfectly that, for a moment, I felt like I was born back into the superworld above of pure ideals. For a moment, I glimpsed the eternity beyond. I was able to suck in the fiery air of that new life before retreating back into the amniotic fluid of my waking self. I had to tell someone of this in the night of my reading like a prophet who returned from the grave. It is difficult to describe for someone who has not undergone the initiation of reading through the chapters of the novel and trained himself in the spirituality of literature. I feel like if only one could look into my eyes and see how temporarily blinded I am by the radiance of what I had just read that they could discern the importance of this vocation.

It was not even that the novel spoke to me on a personal level. I perceived no connection to my own “personal” life. Rather, it was something beyond me like I had touched the very fabric and soul of our species—our race as human beings. I was in touch with “superindividuality.” I felt in that moment of reading that I was suddenly more human than before. I had been blessed through the mediation of Waugh’s literary priesthood to receive this sacrament. After all, the good writer, like a priest, takes the base material of the world (his letters) and, through the proper rites and words, transubstantiates the base matter into something completely divine. This is why, to the uninitiated, just like the Sacrament may seem like it remains as simple bread, a novel like Brideshead Revisited may seem like “nice prose” or some eulogy for aristocracy. No, the initiated will see greater things. There was a sudden infusion of grace as if the dimensions of my heart were widened by degrees; like I had been washed away of my sins in this moment of catharsis. I participated in that sacrament. The tears which were forced from my eyes were the physical element of my literary baptism.

I had climbed a mountain when I started reading the novel and I had reached the summit. I had reached the place where everything that rose converged. The entire mountain existed to serve that point; all the rocks and cliffs and paths were all in humble vassalage to this culminating capstone of silver and gold—of electrum shining in the sun. And the sun was indeed there, unobscured, finally, at that height, from all of the clouds. Waugh had compressed the entirety of the cosmos into a space the size of a mustard seed. He is an artist, a real genius, and a gem of the English language.

iI may choose, at a later date, to expand on my thoughts on this matter. Namely, that the academic preoccupation of many so called “traditionalists” is merely the repetition of the same modality of their “progressive” counterparts. Much like the sad co-existence of “right” and “left” as artificial distinctions being that both occupy the horizontal dimension on a political level, so, too, have many so called “traditionalists” who subscribe to various philosophical ideals make no attempt to “rise” to the level appropriate to those ideals but merely remain at the mundane dialectical level of their agnostic colleagues. I do not present myself as counterexample to such a tendency as uninitiated as I am, but I at least hope that my attempts at crystallization is a step towards that harmony of art and action that resides in the higher castes. May God make me worthy of it, Deus Vult.

Regnum and Imperium With Thoughts from Guénon

Regnum and Imperium With Thoughts from Guénon


Relatively recently, I had posted a rather heat-of-the-moment comment response to Mark Citadel’s “An Open Letter to Pope Francis” where I laid out my amateur understanding of the feminine nature of the Church and why it should be protected rather than complained about. I had the distinct privilege of seeing that analogy critiqued by Testis Gratus in his “Ecclesia et Imperium.” While I had a short window of jovial conversation with him during a livestream, I also told him that I would affirm his critique with my thoughts on the problems he might have had with my analogy.

The first response I would like to make on his article is the question of superiority vs. inferiority. It might have been misconstrued that I was espousing the idea that the Church was the inferior organism to the Empire. However, this begs the question of what inferiority and superiority actually mean. Let me make myself clear first: the sacerdotal authority is always superior to the temporal power. This has been the supernatural truth for most traditional civilizations. Anything that upsets this order is to be considered anathema. Indeed, Guénon writes: “it is not that anyone has contested […] the fact that each of these two powers […] had its own purpose and its own domain; in the final analysis, the dispute usually bears only on the question of hierarchical relationships that should exist between them.”i The key idea here is, as Guénon points out, that each “had its own purpose and its own domain.”

Now, if we look back to Mark Citadel’s article which precipitated my response, one can clearly see in his list of “suggestions” to Pope Francis such items as: “demand that the United States and its allies cease the armament of Syrian rebels and bombardment of the Syrian government.” This is one example where I would say that domain and boundary between Regnum (The Kingdom of God) and Imperium (The Empire) might be violated with the Pope exercising temporal power (which it had in the past in the scandalous and modern idea of the Papal States). Clearly, this is not a question of superiority or inferiority, but a question of domain.ii To say that the Church is inferior because she should remain in her domain is to imply, by analogy, that the Kshatriya is inferior because he doesn’t micromanage corporations that the Vaishya take care of.

Again, Mark Citadel, in his article, spoke of various historical examples of invasions from Muslim nations such as the Turks in Constantinople with clear indications that the Popes of those days endorsed such defenses of Christendom. He calls for a more “masculine” Roman Catholicism to return with the implication in his letter that it should start with the Papacy. However, this “active,” and militant charism is a prerogative, traditionally, of the warrior caste and the aristocratic estate of the Middle Ages—not of the clergy. Indeed, this is true of most traditional civilizations. Again, going back to Guénon he writes:

The word ‘power’ can then be reserved for the temporal order to which it is better suited when taken in its strictest sense. In fact, the word ‘power’ almost inevitably evokes the idea of strength or force, and above all the idea of a material force, a force which manifests itself visibly and outwardly and affirms itself by use of external means, for such means indeed characterize the temporal power by definition. On the contrary, spiritual authority, interior in essence, is affirmed only by itself, independently of any sensible support, and operates as it were invisibly.iii

This distinction between “active” and “passive” in the material sphere is also what governs my view of the Church as feminine (notwithstanding the preponderance of literature that call to her as “Holy Mother” etc). Again, this demonstrates that it is not a matter of superiority or inferiority, but a matter of domain. The material world was the domain in which Mark Citadel was asking for action and was calling upon the Papacy to lead the way. Thus, if it is the material domain, we must admit that the active role should be taken up not by the priests, but by the warriors. Not by Holy Mother, but by the Emperor.

Let us address now the notion of Papal Supremacy and the letters of Innocent III. Testis cites the “sun and moon allegory” which I shall reproduce from Innocent III’s letter:

Just as the founder of the universe established two great lights in the firmament of heaven, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, so too He set two great dignities in the firmament of the universal church…, the greater one to rule the day, that is, souls, and the lesser to rule the night, that is, bodies. These dignities are the papal authority and the royal power…iv

One will notice immediately that this conflicts not a bit with my previous notes to Mark. Innocent here makes the distinction between the rulership of each domain being one of the soul and the other of the body. Thus, since my contention was Mark’s push for a more corporal militancy in the Papacy, it is clear to see that this is the “moon’s” domain in Innocent’s wording. The question of whether or not Popes can depose and excommunicate Emperors is not even a counterexample since such matters are strictly in the domain of the spirit where the Pope is supreme. Indeed, any talk of Papal Supremacy is to be taken in this light and provides no impediment for an understanding of the Empire being the masculine, material, and active form of Christianity in the material ecumene. Even the strongest words of Unam Sanctam cannot escape from this. Boniface VIII’s words read: “whence, if the earthly power go astray, it must be judged by the spiritual power.”v Thus, it says nothing about the “management” on a corporal plane by the spiritual authority, but speaks of the legitimacy to judge—and, naturally, the higher authority has the legitimacy to judge the lower. Papal Supremacy does not entail making the Pope CEO of every company and, as such, also does not make the Pope Emperor. Therefore, Supremacy is in no means an impediment to differentiation of domains. Guénon also makes this distinction clear when he notes how traditional civilizations have understood that, “spiritual power belongs ‘formally’ to the sacerdotal caste, whereas the temporal power belongs ’eminently’ to this same sacerdotal caste and ‘formally’ to the royal caste, just as according to Aristotle the superior ‘forms’ contains ’eminently’ the inferior ‘forms.’”vi Thus, there is no contradiction with understanding that the Superior contains the Inferior while still allowing the Inferior to maintain its dominion of its sphere.

It might be worth pointing out the paradoxical idea of a feminine figure being superior and yet wielding no power over the masculine inferior. Catholics such as Testis should have seen the example par excellence before his very eyes: the Virgin Mary. Testis would be the first to affirm Peter as the first Pope and yet, up until her dormition, the Virgin Mary was also present with the Apostles and authored no “teaching.” Testis would probably also acknowledge the superiority of Mary and our subjection to her as Queen of Heaven and yet recognize that she is not the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church. Thus, having a feminine superior has no contradiction in Catholic thought since there are no boundaries transgressed.

Back to the main points, however. Testis points out that many of my political ideas stem from Dante’s De Monarchia which is fair enough. He cites how the book itself was banned in the Council of Trent. Excellent, it should have been. Its presumption of initiatory rites being independent from the ecclesial authority was off the mark, but where the initiatory rite flows from was never the point of my response to the article nor is it a part of my political thoughts. In fact, in my initial response, while I make note of Dante’s stance on the matter of the proper domains of authority, I make no presumption to take all of De Monarchia as tenable (nor do I even mention it). While Testis makes it a point to mention that the Church and State were never so separated, I never made such a testament in my initial response either. Even in the analogy, separation was not “complete” as he puts it. When Testis says “A ruler is not a good ruler unless he acts according to Divine Law, which is given to man through God’s Church,” there is no contradiction with my statements at all. Again, it returns to the idea that it is legitimate for the superior to judge the inferior, but that this has no bearing on the domain of each. Regardless of all of this, De Monarchia still represents a pivotal and important work in understanding how politics should be. Guénon sings its praises when he says of its closing remarks that explain how the Emperor is charged with the guidance of souls to the “Terrestrial Paradise” while the Pontiff is charged with the guidance to the “Celestial Paradise”: “in its deliberate conciseness this passage from De Monarchia represents, as far as we know, the clearest and the most complete exposition of the constitution of Christendom and of the way in which the relationships between the two powers were to be envisioned therein.”vii Indeed, study of Dante receives even Papal endorsement when Pope Benedict XV wrote in his Encyclical In Praeclara Summorum:

Among the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast who have left undying fruits in literature and art especially, besides other fields of learning, and to whom civilization and religion are ever in debt, highest stands the name of Dante Alighieri […] And you, beloved children, whose lot it is to promote learning under the magisterium of the Church, continue as you are doing to love and tend the noble poet whom We do not hesitate to call the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea. The more profit you draw from study of him the higher will be your culture, irradiated by the splendours of truth, and the stronger and more spontaneous your devotion to the Catholic Faith.viii

His next paragraph deals with the passivity of Church in the model of husband and wife. My first point is that I make no narrow interpretation when making my analogy. Rather, the point was that of the Church being “feminine” hence why I also included the figure of Mother. I bring in the concept of “wife” as an analogy in how the Empire loves the Church to protect her. I would like to ask Testis if he, from now on, will refer to the Church as “Holy Father Church” if he is so adverse to the idea of calling her by her feminine nature. Or, worse yet, give her a neutral pronoun like most moderns are fond of doing to God. Furthermore, the idea of “complete subservience” to the point of “not pointing out sins” is a very specific example of the marriage relationship and too artificial to be normative. Such problems aside, let us not shy away from the concept of the Church being inferior to the Empire. The key here is to view the analogy in the context of the article: the material, temporal sphere of action. As stated already above, such an inferiority through gender role should not be seen as compromising the Church’s essential inner superiority in the same way that Stephen Hawking’s theoretical acumen is not tarnished in his inferiority to run a marathon. Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI’s theological superiority is not tarnished by his inability to decode quantum physics like Hawking. Guénon puts it nicely once again when he says, “the relationship between these two powers may be expressed by saying that the pope must keep for himself the golden key to the ‘Celestial Paradise’ and entrust to the emperor the silver key to the ‘Terrestrial Paradise.’”ix In fact, Guénon himself explicates that the masculine guide Virgil is the “temporal power” while the feminine guide Beatrice is the “spiritual authority” in Dante’s Commedia.x

As a side note, if one raises the objection that it is strange to have a “change of gender” depending on domain, this is actually not without precedent. Humanity, for example, regardless of the gender of the individual, takes on the role of “feminine” in relation to God since it is God who inseminates reality and quickens us with essence. A masculine man also takes on a “feminine” quality when in contemplation as he accepts the spiritual seed and allows it to grow into a new life within him. Thus, different domains may reorient the perspective one takes and the predominance of one aspect of a being. To say that there is no such thing as being able to carry both “masculine” and “feminine” in one’s self, that is also untrue as any understanding of the dot of yin in the yang and vice versa and its western equivalents will yield.

Next is Testis’s image of body and soul which is all well and good since it serves a complementary rather than contradictory image to what I was discussing. Thus, I find that there is nothing but accord here as I quote Testis himself: “In this sense, I agree with James. We cannot have a thriving Church without a State for it to flourish in. We much first solve our civil crisis or else the Church will continue to endure in its current form.” As for the masculine/feminine analogy being insufficient without nuance, this is true. Nuance is always necessary because that is the very nature of the richness of the interaction between masculinity and femininity. The call for a simplistic understanding of the masculine and feminine is, ultimately, a modern, and lazy idea. If one cannot suffer the crucible of wielding and understanding nuanced ideas, one can stay in the comfort of modern reductionism or religious, bourgeois moralism which seeks to reduce the complexity of faith to fundamental dogma. Testis’s fear that this will breed scandal and error is a fairly normal heresy-fearing Catholic response and I share it. Which is why my comment was directed not at the hoi polloi but those who have ears for nuance. The world misconstrues the worship of Mary as idolatry, yet we promulgate that doctrine anyway. I will not be afraid to promulgate the feminine Church and our duty as masculine men to protect her just because some proles might consider that carte blanche to subjugate the Church on matters of faith and morals. They can try and I will die fighting them.

iSpiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon, 7

iiThere is also a rather interesting meditation on the idea of Janus—which is often associated with the dual charge of Ecclesial and Civil authority –as also being the god of boundaries and hence why violation of boundaries would also be an offense against him.

iiiSpiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon, 16-17

viSpiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon, 23

viiSpiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon, 77

ixSpiritual Authority and Temporal Power, René Guénon, 73


Busy with Dante


I’ve been spending most of my writing energies on writing about Dante recently. I’ve taken up the ambitious and perhaps foolhardy project of putting down my various interpretations of the cantos. I’ve decided to share a tiny excerpt of something I’ve written about Canto I which was partly inspired by my reading of Guenon’s notes on the Commedia. This is, of course, a very rough draft. My editor friends constantly tell me that the point is to just keep writing and worry about fixing things later, so I’ve taken that to heart. Excerpt follows:

The context of Dante’s awakening in space and time is also important to note. He makes mention that it is “midway” through the journey of “our lives” rather than explicitly stating a number of years. While a seemingly minor detail, it can be understood in the light of the preference of proportion rather than discretion. Instead of having a discrete and countable number, Dante places his temporal location as a perfect half. In this tiny detail, Dante is signaling that his concept of time and history is not the historiographical, literal, or even scientific conceptions that might preoccupy historians or biographers, but places timing in the context of eternity. It is not at the service of precision, but of “meaning.” In other words, the actual age he assigns himself is not as important as the significance of the timing: the central point of his life. A “turning point” like this is reminiscent of the folk riddle of “how far can you walk into a forest,” with the answer being “halfway before you start moving out of it.” This theme of a “turning point” can also be reworded as “Axial” thinking or “Polar” thinking. This concept of centrality, polarity, and axis is yet another theme introduced in the very first few words of the poem as subtle as a diamond shimmering on a sunny ocean wave. The reinforcement and crystallization of this tiny seed that he plants will be made clear to the patient reader who continues on, but it is sufficient for now to demonstrate the density of planting Dante is accomplishing in the first few lines of his foundational earth.

This vegetable imagery can be taken further when one examines that it is a Dark Wood that Dante finds himself awake in. He could have chosen a desert or a wasteland to represent the area of being lost in the world, yet he chose a forest which obscures the light above. The obvious luminary reference aside, the choice of a specifically vegetable beginning can be understood, in one sense among many, to be an explanation of the nature of “error”—of being lost itself. Dante is demonstrating that the semi-conscious wanderings of man are not due to a complete desolation, but rather, as a state of disorder of what had been the gifts of life. By analogy, if one examines the various “seeds” of ideas that Dante has planted in his first few lines and follows these ideas as they grow throughout the cantos, one finds an ordered and ascending development. Standing in opposite would be ideas or movements that would grow without order, without poetry, or without control. As such, these ideas would grow analogous to a “dark wood” where there is no order or dominion placed. This is, probably, an intentional contrast to the initial charge to the first parent to tend to the Garden1 considering the various other parallels to Genesis. Thus, Dante’s original sin is surprisingly similar to that of Adam: the loss of “consciousness” that is perhaps allegorically depicted in the separation of Adam and Eve which allowed Eve to be seduced by the serpent. In other words: an abdication of the virtuous, higher, and dominating aspect of the human person and the allowance of the violation of boundaries much like the indiscriminate growth of an unchecked forest. Thus, not only does Dante demonstrate through his vegetable imagery the true nature of error as that which is “good” gone out of control, but that this inability for man to hold dominion and cultivate these chthonic ideas planted in his lower self lead to a kind of fall reminiscent of the “Original.”

1Genesis II, 15