The Campion Option

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Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

Andrew Haines writes over at Ethika Politika concerning the charge of how the Benedict Option assisted in the nomination of Donald Trump.  The debate back and forth over at EP is worth reading, though the actual efficacy of the so-called Benedict Option is barely up for debate… as few people seem to be observing the idea in actual practice.

Haines is of course correct against the critics of the Benedict Option in one salutary regard: the idea that it should produce some sort of instantaneous effect on culture is, perhaps, the very problem that the Benedict Option is seeking to address — culture isn’t something you pop in a microwave.  It takes time.

This having been said, even in an era of recusancy, it has never been the particular calling of Catholics to withdraw from public life.  Perhaps more than anything else about the hard vs. soft Benedict Options, this is the one aspect that strikes me as the most peculiar, the most deleterious, the most harmful.

St. Edmund Campion was a Jesuit priest and martyr during the English Reformation, one who defied the Anglican priest hunters in an era hostile to religious freedom.  Campion was eventually drawn and quartered for his activities, but his salutary gift to future generations would have to be the now-famous Campion’s Brag.

In an era far more hostile to the Catholic faith than our own, Campion’s solution was not to retract, but to engage:

My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.

The Benedict Option is safe; the Campion Option is bold.  The former is made for monks; the latter made for men.

Naturally, neither option is mutually exclusive.  The calls for Catholic identity in a world growing increasingly hostile to sacred religion in favor of secular religions remains true.

And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

The rise of authoritarians in a world lacking all connection to Truth is a grave concern in the modern age.  While it is premature to blame the Benedict Option, it is growing increasingly clear that withdrawing from the public square is no option at all.  Something to bear in mind as the seeds of the New Evangelization begin to take root.

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Steel Magnificat: What Happened To The Pro-Life Movement?

I am not instantly familiar with Mary Pezzulo’s writing over at Steel Magnificat, but this seems to be making the rounds on social media.  To wit:

For the record: I’m pro-life, and I denounce the misogynistic and hypocritical loons. I denounce Priests for Life for their ludicrous fawning over whoever the Republicans have churned out for a presidential candidate, no matter how obviously they’re lying about abortion and no matter what other mortal sins they publicly support. Steel Magnificat is not going to endorse any presidential candidate, because no candidate who stands a chance at the White House this year is consistently pro-life. I’m not saying don’t vote, I’m saying don’t get played; don’t make your decision based on lip service to abortion and don’t claim that falling in line behind a Republican will magically change anything. I denounce the Quiverfull movement for its disrespect for women and advocating of child abuse. I denounce everyone, Republican and Democrat, who thinks that killing American children through abortion is evil but killing civilians through drone strikes is okay.

It continues.  The call is an angry one, as the author admits.  Such sentiment is of course on substance correct, and perhaps even admirable… if the call hadn’t been wrapped up in the very judgment Pezzulo sought to denounce over and over again.  Sadly, Pezzulo embraced the very form she sought to condemn.

That is a tragedy.

Of course, there is no end to the litany of problems the pro-life movement has.  Utterly parochial, in many instances self-serving, with incredibly high stakes and a great deal of personal investment in the cause resulting in bruised feelings that take many months if not years to heal if treated improperly.

Yes, the pro-life movement has its hucksters and moneymakers.  Yes, there are those who are pro-life right up until a child is born, then abandon those values in every other aspect.

…and yet?  You will find some of the most selfless and noble and decent human beings on the planet embedded in the movement.

…and yet?  A true commitment to the pro-life ethic will treat those who are not “whole life” with the same sort of care and respect for souls that we would treat anyone else: a scared mother, a preborn child, the wounded and the abused.

Rather than focus on the “what ifs” and bad actors, Catholics (and pro-lifers in general) are far better served focusing on the good actors and encouraging their work.  Better still, one should take $10/mo and donate it straight away to your favorite pro-life charity or pregnancy resource center.

More than anything else, if the pro-life generation is truly in the ascendancy, then that rising generation deserves our support even if it may be abused from time to time, not our denunciation (even if heartfelt).

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Your Fifty-Six Minutes of Civilization

Brought to you by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, Op. 36:

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Mosley: An Answer to the Call for the Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything

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.

 

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USCCB: Go Ahead… THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY!!!

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Color me just the slightest bit confused on the new USCCB Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship guidelines:

36. When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

Of course, the first choice certainly holds more merit — that being recusancy, something with a long tradition in the history of Catholicism (primarily in Tudor England, but seen elsewhere in Ireland, Sweden, and Germany).  In short, sometimes the only moral option is not to choose… basic lifeboat ethics, as it were.

Then again, there is a fourth choice.  Vote third party, specifically the “libertarian option” which would certainly satisfy very few who prefer that government do something — anything — about our moral and social ills.  Libertarianism being defined as the grand conspiracy to take over the government and then leave you alone?  Would certainly be the form of governance that would give the greatest possible liberty to the Church…

This naturally raises the question as to whether an amoral government is preferable to an immoral government.  I’m sure St. Thomas Aquinas has all sorts of great stuff to say about this in the Summa Theologicae (HINT: he does), but suffice to say, given a choice between two evils?  The advancement of either evil seems a tad bit out of place… and the explanation on the latter seems to take a great deal away from the much simpler and far more moral choice of the former.

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Your Ninety-Nine Minutes of Civilization: Telemann’s Tafelmusik

That’s right. All of it.

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Your Twenty Nine Minutes of Civilization: Telemann’s Suite in A Minor

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Your Four Minutes of Civilization: Vide Cor Meum

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While We Were Arguing Over Loyalty Oaths…

…the entire government of Virginia was in Williamsburg, hearing a talk from William & Mary’s president.  From the Daily Press:

[T]rue leaders, he said, will make every effort to compromise and put matters of principle before their own preference, helping to close gaps between opposing views.

As lawmakers try to develop compromise, Reveley said, it’s important to know they are setting an example as representatives of a state that has “been there and done that” for centuries.

But do it all with a sense of humility, he warned.

“Of course, it is important we do all of this in a non-jackasslike way,” Reveley said, which was met with laughter and applause.

Of course, when one has friends on both sides of the aisle on RPV State Central Committee, one is particularly at pains to criticize either side.  Yet some small part of me wishes that SCC was in Williamsburg this past weekend.

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The Ghost of William F. Buckley Lives

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Amazing how the writings of William F. Buckley almost speak from the grave?  This, from an article written for Cigar Aficianado in 2002:

Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.

Ouch.

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