America’s original sin

was rebellion against her rightful monarch, obviously!

Owning slaves, by contrast, is not intrinsically immoral.

Most nations have sinful beginnings, truth be told, but these don’t cast the same “original” shadow over the future if they are repented, forgotten, or overlooked.  Not the sin itself, but its rationalization is what killed the soul.  America embraced its rebellion and now can never stop rebelling.

When the present contests the past: the death penalty

David Bentley Hart has an attack on Feser & Bessette’s defense of the death penalty.  His main argument is that the death penalty is un-Christian because, basically, Jesus has already taken the sins of the world upon Himself.  I remember making the same argument as a teenager.  The problem, of course, is that this isn’t an argument against the death penalty; it’s an argument against punishment of any kind.  Catholic orthodoxy, once again, has chosen to endorse common sense rather than the cleanest theological argument.

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What does the catechism tell us to expect?

The Church’s ultimate trial

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578

677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.580 God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.581

Postscript on the interview

Having spent way more time than I could really afford on this series–but carried on by an odd compulsion to get it off my chest (it has been on my mind for months)–what was my imaginary interview meant to accomplish?

It is not an actual prediction of the future.  I do not expect some of the things I wrote about to ever actually happen.  That Western intellectuals would throw themselves into mathematics for solace is more a projection of my own personality than a realistic scenario.  Most of all, I don’t believe any pope would ever do something so stupid as to explicitly abolish holy orders.  It would be like Pope Francis announcing that the sedevacantists are right.  Even if Francis were a communist and an atheist to boot, that would just be shooting himself in the foot and putting himself and his supporters out of work.  Heresy and abuse or invalidation of the sacraments are real dangers, but nobody would be that obvious about it.

For a long time, I’ve been fighting a terrible sense of hopelessness, a sense that the Left has basically won the field everywhere and can now do as they please.  In Catholic circles, there is a lot of anxiety over doctrine, a sense of being held hostage by an unsympathetic hierarchy.  “If they did X, it would all be over.  But Jesus would never allow that to happen.  Right?  Right?”  Among the Alternative Right, one often hears things to the effect that if Europe flips to majority African/Arab, it’s all over.  Our rulers are in a position to make it be all over–whatever that means–in our lifetimes.

So I imagined to myself, suppose the Left is able to get its way on all fronts.  Can I imagine life going on?  A few commenters noticed that my scenarios are actually hopeful.  Yes, the Left could do everything we’re afraid they’ll do and even some other awful stuff on top of it, and it wouldn’t be the end.  Christianity (even of a recognizably Catholic sort) and Western civilization could continue in small pockets.  Given the large numbers involved, the logic of natural selection, and the inherent inefficiencies of irresponsible rule, our numbers would very likely bottom out above zero.

For me, the most important part was part 3.  Considering the West as a people, it’s very hard not to be discouraged.  Even if a remnant survives, the prospect of just surviving among a hostile majority is not a pleasant to imagine.  How sad these people would be when they compare their wretchedness to their past glory.  But if the West really is an unfinished project, then our real days of glory may be ahead of us rather than behind us, even if our numbers are small and we have no countries of our own.  It’s something that people like me can try to contribute to already, both at the Orthosphere and my day job.  Some Jews have said that anti-semitism is driven by envy, and in my case this is certainly true.  I love the idea of my people being able to sway the majority culture by our sheer brilliance.  I can imagine a scenario where Christians become the Jews of the future, but only if we first suffer something like the catastrophes the Jews overcame in the past.

I do hope to stir up conversations by these posts.  By making fiction rather than prediction, I have deliberately avoided committing myself.  Commenters who say that such and such I wrote was impossibly bad, or overly optimistic, or even just unnecessarily offensive all make good points.

Everybody’s different, but I’ve drawn considerable solace from imagining these awful scenarios.  They make everything seem a little less fragile.

Interview with a historian V: natural selection

You’ve heard of Charles Darwin, I assume?

Yes, his theory of evolution helped undermine Christianity in the 19th century.

I’m afraid there are other implications.  The 21st century saw one of them, when on top of all their other problems, antibiotics stopped working.  That you have something that kills 99.999% of all bacteria is great, at first, but ultimately it just gives that 0.0001% the adaptive edge it needs.  Nature is an arms race that never ends.  Similar things can happen in the human world.  Several historians have noted that Christendom engineered its own destruction by persecuting the Jews but not completely destroying them.  When Emancipation came, the West had engineered a people superior in intelligence, aggressiveness, and intra-ethnic cooperation.  The majority were simply no match for their creation.  I fear that we have committed a similar folly.

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Interview with a historian IV: the coming of black rule

I have been thinking about your research.  It really puts the 23rd century in a new light.  I mean, take the Proclamation of 2213.  “Today, the era of white supremacy is over.  Social justice has been achieved.  No longer do the colored peoples of the world need to fear the white man’s depredations.  No more the constant burden of finding and fighting and reporting white hatred.  Today, the first day of black rule, humanity has triumphed.”  We’re always taught to imagine colored peoples overcome with relief at those words, but in light of what you’ve said, they take on a different meaning.

You’re right.  What the army’s coup overthrew was certainly not white supremacy.

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Interview with a historian III: the West and its great unfinished project

The 21st century was a destructive time in many ways, as you’ve related.  Still, could we say that this destructiveness ultimately served some purpose?  If you are right about power relationships in the 21st century, then it was sometime in this century that white supremacy was finally repudiated, and not in the 23rd century with the formal establishment of black rule.  That’s really a tremendous thing.  For thousands of years, the West had been preying on and oppressing the other peoples of the Earth.  Now that was finally ended.

Quite so, and the repudiation of the West ended up setting the stage for new cultural creativity.  True, there were no great works of art or scientific discoveries in the 21st  and 22nd centuries, but I like to compare these times to the European Dark Ages, which were a time of culture creation rather than cultural flowering; the latter can only come after the former.  The 22nd century was a time of great ferment in African culture, as blacks were forced to come to terms with themselves as active agents, to craft historical narratives other than their passive oppression by whites.  In the 23rd century, this would spread to the black colonies of Europe and America, to everyone’s benefit.  The 21st century, on the other hand, was the time of the crisis of Western identity.

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