Fascinating piece from David Russell Mosley from across the pond regarding the recapturing of Catholic culture in a hostile world as a response to the essay from Michael Martin:
In the end of his essay Martin issues a call to “poets, artists, scientists, adventurers, teachers, communitarians, distributists, scholars, and visionaries who hanker for something more living in Catholic culture.” He does not desire mere theory, men and women sitting in a room talking about how great it would be if. However, it should be obvious that Martin is not against the study of these issues in order to better inhabit these ideas and live this reality. Rather, Martin wants us to act as we talk. Theoretike and Practike must be united. Some may be Marthas and others Marys, but we need both and we need most of all those who are willing to live the hard life being both at once.
There’s a wisdom to this, and it is one that is difficult to live much less inspire in others in a post-modern world.
Yet the response to the call doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter approach. Monastic virtues can be applied in the city; distributist virtues can be applied in the countryside. While it has been remarked that Catholicism and Catholicity seem to thrive in town settings (an agrarian society centered around a parish), there is a call to being — and a call from Being — that speaks to humanity and is clouded by the swarm we have created around ourselves.
Martin’s essay is brief, if not a tad bit dense for the layman. It’s worth plowing through every word. One notable quotation is from a poem entitled “The Heavenly Country” (which sadly, is not available to the public):
Once I thought it was the place my father brought me and my mother to, between the rivers up north. The near river was full of white stones bleached in the sun, and the banks on the far side were red clay. At night it was almost cold, so we slept with blankets or walked out in sweaters early morning to see deer or whatever else might reveal itself to us. That it is a matter of It willing to reveal to Us I have never doubted.
The observation — “a matter of It willing to reveal to Us” — is a remarkable one. Martin observes:
My late colleague, Stratford Caldecott, devoted much of his career to exploring a remedy for this poison. For him, as for me, this remedy can only be realized through an education attentive to the Glory of the World; that is, an education that simultaneously speaks the languages of rationality, theology, and poetry: in every sense of the word a truly Catholic language. This is a Catholicism hinted at in the Wisdom literature, literally fleshed out in the New Testament, and—following the collapse of traditional metaphysics in a postmodern, post-capitalistic, post-Christian, and (increasingly) post-human cultural milieu—a Catholicism that offers a much-needed corrective to the bastardization of ontology, the technological and ideological colonization of the human person, and the ascendance of postmodern nominalism so prevalent at our own cultural moment.
“Renewal starts from the soil, not from the air,” Martin writes. This is true, and if the future is an agrarian one (and agrarianism contra the neo-reactionaries and Alt-Right set), then perhaps we are on the verge of a black-green phenomenon rather than the artificial left-right/blue-red division we see in today’s politics?
One also begs the question as to whether Catholicism is incompatible with the “black” end of this equation — technology (black for the stars) vs. agriculture (green for the earth). Certainly Romano Guardini and Pope Francis would argue the latter… but having not come to grips with the essence of the neo-reactionary or Alt-Right set, I have no answers… just questions.