The Epitaph and The Pit

Young Fogey has written Almost our epitaph here: the true cost of the Catholic abuse scandal.

By way of digression, he has also been writing about speech in More Anglophilia, from the past? The mid-Atlantic accent and My accent. I would say tongue-in-cheek that it is an American version of my Speech and Pronunciation – British “received pronunciation”. That is another subject from what I really want to comment about today.

John’s article centres on the sex abuse scandal and the Archdiocese of Boston in particular. This discussion seems to be sparked off by the closure and sale of Holy Trinity Church in Boston, something of a nineteenth-century monstrosity in my view, but an iconic building. I often wonder if its fate should resemble that of Hitler’s house at Berchtesgarten, turned into a restaurant or demolished like the homes of executed serial killers. Maybe such angry thinking is unjustified, and I need to take a more detached attitude, namely – it’s not my problem.

What caused the extent of priests engaging in pedophilia and sexual abuse of other vulnerable persons? It is too easy to blame it on celibacy as an institutional requirement. That is until we discover the extent of the same kind of rot in the BBC, the British Government and, more recently, in local town councils in northern England. I am not even sure that this has anything to do with with post-war liberalism and the 1960’s and the “liberation” of sex. I am no expert, but I suspect it has something to do with authority and power over large numbers of people.

I also notice it happening in non English-speaking countries, and the perpetrators belonging to unaccountable elites. I may be over-simplifying, but there seem to be three purposes or motivations for sexual activity – procreation and physical pleasure. The third consideration would be power and domination. A victor conquers a country or a town, and the first thing they do is rape the women among other atrocities. The Americans (and, yes, the British) were no better in Normandy and Paris in 1944 than the Russians in East Germany, or the Nazis as they marched into Poland in 1939. To the victors go the spoils of war. Raping a person means destroying that person for the sake of total domination. This is a characteristic of the alpha male and the psychopath who has no moral conscience or empathy for others. The sheer evil of it knocks most decent folk backwards, especially when such beasts become priests and hide behind a façade of pastoral care and compassion.

Do sexual abuse and rape occur in smaller societies like Indian tribes and modern communities of less than about a hundred people? Perhaps readers could comment with information and intuitions in their possession. Of course, the same things do happen in authoritarian cults, whether in “recognised” churches like the Legionaries of Christ or some of the more “autonomous” communities.

We have to be able to question authority and empower ourselves through knowledge. One news site I find interesting is Signs of the Times News, even if some of their postings are wildly conspiracy theorist, anti-Semitic (or justifiably critical of Zionism – what people do and not what they are) or lacking in common sense. I have been studying intentional communities and some of the reasons behind them. It seems to be a discipline within the generic category of sociology or anthropology. We humans are hard-wired for a way of life, even if we are to an extent adaptable to other ways of life like the State, the city and the isolated family. Another idea comes in, provoked by our disillusionment with authority and the “real” world, The Pit as some call it, that of Sociocracy as a means of running a small community. It seems to be a cogent alternative to complete anarchy which tends to leave the community to the mercy of the most powerful alpha male of psychopathic tendencies. In the absence of law, it is the terror of tyranny – as in the first years of the French Republic!

I would like to explore some of those communities and discern whether there is a new medium for human life and maybe an application of Gospel principles of love, forgiveness and toleration. Could sacramental Catholicism find in this a medium for regeneration as in the early medieval tribes of Europe? But, go into a modern eco-village with traditional missionary methods, and the person responsible for such silliness would be told to leave the premises in short order! These communities, which I thought had died with the Hippies, are thriving and firing imaginations.

I couldn’t imagine men getting away with raping children in such a situation!

For further reading and perhaps a discussion in the com-box, I suggest:

It might seem shocking to most of us used to city living and the consumer society (a world in which Christianity dies), or even in the country but still dependent on employment and money in a world that doesn’t know us and which we don’t know as human beings. The human cost and adaption skills for someone thinking of going that way would be tremendous. Monasteries only go part of the way, and they depend on total authority / obedience and the surrender of personality. With my “Goliard” way, and with experience of community and outdoor life, it is all extremely thought-provoking.

Affaire à suivre…

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Sincerely Searching Priest

This would have escaped me if I hadn’t been looking at my statistics page and the sites that link here. There is a very “extreme left” forum based in Australia by the name of Catholica, which seems for the most part to argue from the point of view of the crisis caused by sex-abusing priests and the response of the Australian authorities. The line embraced by some on this forum is deconstructionist – reduce Christianity to a purely moral and ethical message without any sacramental or mystical content. It seems like something from the late nineteenth century (eg: Harnack and Bultmann closer to our own times) against which the Modernists like Tyrrell and Von Hügel sought to develop a new system of apologetics.

All the same, there are some interesting views and I remember how they commented on Archbishop Hepworth’s accusation of certain Roman Catholic priests for having sexually abused him many years ago.

There is someone called SMK, whom I suspect is a highly sympathetic person who comments on this blog. He writes in a thread concerning Cardinal Pell:

At a blogsite by a sincerely searching priest [ http://sarumuse.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/john-beeler-off-the-deep-end/#comment-11259 ] who has travelled and continues to travel the path of existential oneness before the mystery of God, he puts it this way:

“The search for the “true church” <>.

I have a lot of respect for the humanity and insightfulness through human experience, one not dissimilar – in at least some respects – to my own, of the author, Father Chadwick. I don’t want my encomium to embarrass him : he would no doubt have different beliefs in significant respects from me).

<…>

There is a brief reply by Ian Fraser:

Thank you, SMK, for giving us the reference to this blogsite. I, for one, was unaware of it, and your excerpt alone is sufficient indicator of the quality of content to be found there.

SMK replies:

Thanks, Ian. Discovering Father Chadwick was a breath of fresh air. He seeks to preserve a sense of continuity with the religious symbolism that makes sense to him and has formed his life and values but sees the pitfalls of dogmatism and the horrors of the turf wars of religious zealotry and tries to encourage those who would just like to pray and worship in peace.

I am persuaded that at the heart of much religiosity is not so much intellectual conviction but aesthetics and instincts about harmony and balance. We import these notions through the media of sound and sense and colour. We can unlearn and re-learn but as we grow older it becomes harder as we become less plastic: this is why what happens to children and the young has such moral and psychological significance, for good or ill.

He goes on to describe his own experience with ideologies and fanaticisms. It is not difficult to understand someone going so far down a path that the end of the road is reached and the fallacies appear in the light of day. We can just burn ourselves out and discover that all that is left is what Evelyn Waugh called “a handful of dust”. All is vanity, as the Wisdom texts of the Old Testament say. Can innocence be regained when the apple has been bitten? I think it can be, but by untrodden paths. Perhaps charm and beauty have been our undoing, but they alone confer meaning to our pilgrimage.

Is there anything left? Any real cause to work for, for the future of mankind and the natural world? This is what we live for in preparation for the paradise that lies beyond our bodily death. That is the way of the artist, the composer, the lone traveller and those who work to conserve our planet and what little has not been destroyed or poisoned by man and his lust for money and power. Hope is whittled away, but there must remain something…

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The Thick Façade of Civilization

I have just discovered this wonderful article:

It comes as no surprise to find out that the author is a man of the sea and sails a yacht. Bernard Moitessier anchored his boat in French Polynesia and only returned to France to die.

I will be reading more of Ray Jason’s writings.

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Emerging Totalitarianism?

This seems to be a balanced article – Orwell, Huxley and the Emerging Totalitarianism. It is a subject that preoccupies me. I have read both 1984 and Brave New World, and have read William Shirer’s monumental The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany. I have a profound sense of foreboding about the world we live in, and a feeling that things just won’t carry on in the same way. I know zilch about economics, but I do know that what passes for money these days is no longer value, but debt. National debts run into the kind of figures that we just cannot comprehend – something like the number of matchsticks needed to build a structure as big as a skyscraper or a modern aircraft carrier. Something is going to crack.

We see the threats in front of us: big money and complicit governments, Islamic organisations like ISIS capable of taking over whole countries and making them into a living hell. The term borrowed from Orwell – political correctness – is now used in mainstream commentaries by the press and people who notice the ever-increasing curbs on free speech. I am careful what I say on this blog, making a careful distinction between what people are and what they do.

I understood much more about the psychological dimension, apart from the habitual historic approach, when I read Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. This book is difficult to follow, and I have no way of discerning how much of it is quackery or pseudo science. The theme of psychopathy is cogent, if it is not seen as removing the subject’s moral responsibility in evil acts. A bunch of bad eggs, like the Nazi war criminals (including those who committed suicide and avoided judgement), were capable of poisoning an entire country and much of the European continent. We seem more or less to have the mechanism of a totalitarian hell. Hitler and Nazism were not alone. There was also Stalin’s Soviet Union, and many other dictators since then. In earlier times, it was men of the Church and the Aristocracy who were doing then what ISIS is doing now in Iraq and Syria: killing, enslaving and exploiting.

Are we also going to get it in the neck in our “democratic” countries, in the USA, England, Europe, Australia and many other places? We have had a cushy ride since 1945, and I wasn’t born then. I’m a baby boomer and had an easy time, and if there was another war and a call-up, I’m probably old enough to get put in the Reserves, Dad’s Army or something of the sort! I probably wouldn’t even have to cut my hair! That would be on the assumption that we are citizens of the country in the right and not belonging to the Axis of Evil. In the current situation with Russia and the Ukraine, I begin to feel about my native country as a German would have in the 1930’s. It’s all about big money and the west’s staggering burden of debt. Drug addicts get desperate when they don’t get their fix!

On the other hand, many prophecies of doom have failed and continue to attract derision and scoffing. I try to get information from “alternative” as well as “mainstream” sources, and I know no better because I have an innate mistrust in everything. The way things are going, I begin to draw inspiration from Bernard Moitessier and the freedom of the sea. Orwell and Huxley were not prophets. They simply observed their own times and extrapolated into the future. If it goes on the way it is doing, the result will be… The same process has been going on at least since the mid eighteenth century with the Industrial Revolution and the Machine. We may loath machines, but we use them. The system is a part of us all. Tyranny has been around since the dawn of history, and the Church was once as bad as the bankers, big businessmen and politicians rolled into one. Atrocities in Spain in the fifteenth century were no different from their counterparts in Iraq today. We secular and democratic moderns are merely looking at the stark reality of our own middle ages and our human bestiality.

Should humanity cease? God seems not to have reached such a decision. The nuclear holocaust we feared in the 1960’s and 70’s didn’t happen. No significant meteorite has ever hit the earth at least since the era of the dinosaurs. Hitler was beaten in 1945 and Soviet Communism collapsed in 1989. Anything collapses in time, as did the Church and the French Aristocracy. Many of us look forward to the collapse of capitalism and the possibility of a new beginning, painful as that would be to our way of life. Most of us would not be able to adapt to returning to eighteenth-century technology and farming! History teaches us about the plagues, wars and revolutions that separated the conventionally named eras.

If our world goes totalitarian, we will not have long to suffer. We internet users, intellectuals and thinking folk would be the first to be picked up and promptly bumped off. There would be no resistance, given the technology they have (and even what is accessible to most of us with computers, cell phones, etc.). We are deluded if we think we can escape.

Perhaps we can break out now, sell our homes and run away. There used to be places to go. Perhaps there still might be. We would still be confronted with ourselves and be seeking meaning to life. People in other parts of the world don’t want the people who once colonised them. We are left with the idea that we are better off where we are rather than elsewhere. We remain dissatisfied and break our hearts searching for meaning. God shows little inclination to change things.

If totalitarianism comes, whether it is the big money bunch or those who would have us return to the days of the Spanish Inquisition (with the boot on the other foot), there won’t be much we can do about it. That is where we thank God for the finiteness of our terrestrial existence and that something better awaits us elsewhere after “weeping and wailing in this valley of tears“.

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The Blood of the Martyrs

Here is a passionate article from a Continuing Anglican source: Aussie Military Strategist: We’ll Fight Radical Islam for 100 Years. The Australian news article itself is behind a paywall, butAuthor Capellane gives the gist of it.

Indeed our natural passions would call for all-out war against the barbarians of ISIS using modern technology and everything they used to do in Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden and others. I read in certain places the crazy thesis of complicity between the Americans and radical Muslims. Is the idea so insane? For the reader to inform himself and try to get an idea. Is the calvary of Irak and Syria the future of Europe and then the mighty USA?

When we see whole Christian communities exiled in rags, raped, martyred, force-converted to Islam and decimated, the rage boils and our feeling of empathy puts us in the position of Churchill as he took over from the appeaser Chamberlain and faced Hitler. We are confronted once again with pure evil that can leave no one indifferent. We may have to fight them on the beaches and hold together as our parents and grandparents did in World War II.

With whose army? That is the question. This should be a matter for the UN and perhaps an occasion for the USA and the EU to make our peace with Russia and Putin. The rag-heads are the real enemy, not Russia – but of course the enemy is among us too with our crumbling financial debt-ridden empires. I read things, I have suspicions, but I know nothing for sure.

Such is the barbarity that many Muslims are converting to Christianity. The great renewal of Christianity may come from there. It is a seed of hope in our dark times.

Who will take the decision to take the courageous leap like Churchill? They are coming into our countries like a poisoned leaven. I know very little about Islam, but I do know that there are peaceful and devout Muslims who are open-minded and modern in their acceptance of religious tolerance. Those who commit atrocities should have to pay for them with their lives as happened to the Nazi war criminals. It may indeed take a hundred years, but if we do not fight, we will come under their jackboot and they will put us to the sword and send us to their concentration camps.

Our enemy is within ourselves, and we suffer from the corruption and complacency of “political correctness” of our political establishments. As always, I speak up, not against what people are (race, religion, cultural background, etc.), but against what they do when they stamp out every principle of God and man, every respect of humanity.

May our governments and armed forces use modern technology to blow those barbarians to pieces in their bunkers with the least possible loss of life to our own servicemen! Let ISIS be killed by machines and computers as they deserve and the survivors executed on the gallows!

I am not an advocate of “muscular Christianity” as my readers know. I approach my faith through beauty and love, through the way of the Romantics. But here, enough is enough, and I ask myself whether I would have the courage to sacrifice my own life. Indeed, if love has no place in this world, I would rather be gone and elsewhere, my death having given meaning where my life did not.

Indeed, Christ said (John 12):

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

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Bits & Bobs

I have just learned of the death of Fr Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, the mysterious Rosminian priest who said the old Mass at St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place. He has just died in Rome at the age of 99 years. I went to confession to him a couple of times in c. 1981-82, a most odd experience! I never knew what to make of him.

John Beeler pays homage to my Orthodox Blow-Out Department, “one of the best information clearinghouses on Eastern Orthodoxy for Westerners, completely free of Orthodox spin. Anybody considering converting should read it“.

I am very clear that I don’t encourage conversion to anything, not even natural gas. Some feel that I betray my Christian duty by not proselytising. We live in the midst of a world that is neither Christian nor anti-Christian, just itself. Christianity has done itself too much damage through human sin and stupidity, for which the price has to be paid. We can only carry on in this spirit of compunction as subtle signs of contradiction, constantly on the verge of dismissing it all wholesale as irrational bosh. Yet the tweak on the thread (cf. Chesterton and Evelyn Waugh) is always there, reminding us that God is above human sottise and legalism.

I generally leave the Blowout Department to its own devices. It was designed to take the polemics away from other posts for which on-topic comments would be preferred. I enjoy letting people have access to a site that is uncensored and cannot be censored by those with vested interests.

We seem to be leaving the August doldrums as more people return to their homes from their holidays. We returned to wet and windy weather from the highly unstable climate of Brittany (Il fait beau tous les jours, plusieurs fois par jour – It’s good weather every day, several times a day). They say that in England the summer is definitely over and the leaves on the trees will start changing and falling in September. Who knows? We can still get an Indian summer. Yet we might be facing a bitter winter! I’m still counting on taking the boat out to sea a few times before wintering.

We are in the Octave of the Assumption, and the Sarum Missal offers us sequences for each day of the Octave. Indeed, medieval English people had devotion to the Mother of God as did folk over here, especially in Brittany and Normandy. Through her we find our innocence and freshness, rest from the burden of our sins and worries. If most of what used to be good folk religion is gone, devotion to Our Lady remains in the churches and sanctuaries. It is a glimmer of light in the desolation of abandoned churches and the extermination of the Faith by Islam in the Middle-East. Ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.

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The Sea off Brittany

Nothing is more Breton than seafaring, whether it is “messing about in boats” or risking your life in a storm to earn your living as a fisherman. This is the sea at its most placid and pleasurable for a dinghy sailor.

Here is my boat, familiar to those who look at this blog. I flew the Banner of St George and the little flag we were given at the Route du Sable. I actually met a few sailors from that event!

sophiaI did not photograph my first outing, which was to the Glénans Archipelago where I had done a sailing course back in 2009. I sailed 9 nautical miles each way, two and a half hours to get there and four back in a rather disappointing wind. The navigation was simple, by hand bearing compass and dead reckoning.

The following outings were less ambitious. There were some lovely inland waters around Loctudy.

ansesThis one looks to the other side of the port of Loctudy.

port-loctudyLooking across the bay of Benoudet towards the point of Beg Meil.

beg-meil-from-boatBeg Meil has a special meaning for me, since my first time there and in France was in August 1966 with my family. The granite and silica sand on the beach is white and the water is transparent.

beg-meilWe treated ourselves to a trip to the Glénans on an old lug rig, on which we could help with manoeuvres. The skipper was a laid-back young long-haired fellow called Pierre, and he and I sympathised with each other. There was very little wind that day. We motored on the starboard tack and tried to sail on a port tack, but little progress was made. We furled the sails and continued under power.

old-lug-rigThere was the vessel at anchor (to the left of the modern yacht) as we were taken off by rubber dinghy.

anchoredWe spent a couple of hours on the Ile Saint-Nicolas, which we shared with other noisy tourists. There was none of the peace I experienced on Drennec (taken from Saint Nicolas). Still, I had sailed there a couple of days before, not what most tourists do! We were taken back to the mainland by motor launch.

drenecThis final one is of our beach at Loctudy, at low tide and a good number of boats on the water. The weather most of the time was mediocre, and there is a saying in Brittany. The weather is fair every day, several times a day!

loctudy-beach

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