I have been discovering some new blogs. All blogs reflect the opinions of those running them. Mine does too. I could easily take offence at some of the comments concerning my person, but I take time to find out why I am of such interest to them. It is intriguing to be associated with the “liberal” tendency of the mainstream churches, and even with the lady who has recently been promoted to the episcopate of the Church of England. I am partially responsible on account of publishing a photo of myself in non-clerical dress (what I wore for sailing my boat in a gathering last summer) and a full head of hair.
I have already written posts on hyper-masculinity and my critical attitude of it. I have allowed myself to be influenced by some of the writings on psychoanalysis by Jung, and have discovered that our spiritual development comes in a large measure from reconciling opposites. There are some parallels with the notion of transfiguration of the lower by the higher. It is good for a man to have some feminine characteristics. I am not talking about people who have their bodies mutilated to look like a caricature of the opposite sex, or even acting “camp”, but assuming one’s own identity by assimilating the opposite and the other.
For some time now, I have studied a notion called psychological androgeny. I bring up this subject which generally has nothing to do with homosexuality or certain physical medical conditions like Kleinfelter’s Syndrome. It is not even a matter of the so-called gender theory that is often bandied about. It is a matter of our inner selves as men and women. My own experience is that of a male.
Most of us are brought up to be masculine, to climb trees, to be interested in cars and sports, and typically in competition. It’s exactly what they taught us in the English public schools, even when there were no abuses like excessive punishment or worse. We are brought up in a binary culture of male and female, at least in certain periods of history. At other times of history, small boys had the same long hair as girls and often dressed as girls. Only then did they move on towards a more masculine identity. Some of us escape the rigid stereotyping. I certainly did through my distaste for competitive sports and preferences for music, literature and “churchy” things. We had daily chapel, and one thing that made me join the choir was my distaste for the contempt most of my house-mates had for chapel services. Christianity for me spoke for what is fine and human, not brute force.
Some of us are more sensitive and are concerned to create and experience empathy for others. There are many human qualities that should be present in all of us, male and female alike: care for the weak and vulnerable, sensitivity, an ability to adjust our place in the group. If we are capable of adjusting our response to the complexities of the world and society, we would make the world a richer place. I have come to a stage in life when I don’t care what people say. I’m a man and do masculine things, just as I did as a boy. I also enjoy beauty and harmony, and I sew and cook reasonably well. I don’t think anything of it. I also love the quasi-infinity of the sea and nature. Admittedly, the long hair is a little provocative, but I know some very masculine guys (by way of a competitive nature and muscular physiques) who have long hair and also have wives and families. Most men in the LGBT world have short hair, sometimes very short. If a reader really wants to go into the question of long hair on men, he could consult this article. For me, the hair is a part of my masculinity and my human identity. I think John Wesley was no limp-wristed wimp in his time! I firmly reject the caricature of masculinity that developed in the twentieth century.
In the natural order, human instincts seem not to be very different from those of some non-human species. The dog is man’s best friend for a reason. Dog and man are similar in the social aspect and the hierarchy of dominance. The alpha gets his food and choice of a sexual partner before the others. It is the survival of the fittest, the strongest and the most competitive – the very thesis put forward by Darwin. This is the central idea of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Might is right. It is only by brute struggle that the strongest will prevail. Christ came to turn that system upside down. Strength is henceforth in weakness, the weakness of women, children, the sick and handicapped, those who are soft in the head. Christ said that those souls would inherit the Kingdom. The alpha man said that all those categories have to die in order for the pure and strong to live.
What I find interesting is that Christianity is perceived to be an obstacle to the conquest of the world by the like of Mussolini and the Nazis. Certain Christian ideas could be exploited, like the success of the Constantinian Church and the moral power it held over entire populations. The Church ceased to be Constantinian, since no state in the world supports a Christian theocracy, and has had to revert to the actual teachings of Christ. Such a religion is useless for waging war and killing without mercy!
Some of the blog comments I have been reading probably represent only a very marginal tendency in American society. The American idea is very complex. There are several contributing themes. The main one seems to be the adoption of an adapted form of the French Republic in reaction against British imperialism. Another is “melting pot” multiculturalism. Anyone is welcome in to escape the oppression and persecution he suffered in the old world, to work hard and be free in a society that is constitutionally neutral in religious and ideological terms. The American Civil War divided the country ideologically between the Yankees and the Confederates, the former aligning themselves with principles of democracy and modernity, and the latter remaining in a strongly authoritarian and segregationist ideology, something like English in the days of Empire. The blacks were useful when they were our property, and now they are free, we have to fight them and chase them away from our lives.
There is something very unhealthy about the hyper-masculinity, the private collections of guns and the “prepper” mentality. I have read some of those sites, and the idea of societal collapse seems plausible. We get taken over by Big Brother, annihilated by someone else’s atomic bombs. The whole financial and banking system goes down. Ebola or something even worse manufactured in a biological weapons lab becomes a pandemic. What do we do? There are some films about such scenarios, and they invariably illustrate the worst of predatory human nature. The guns are all about the haves in such a post-apocalyptic world protecting themselves against the have-nots. In actual fact, those who are speculating about what they would do in a post-apocalyptic world are doing it already in this world – exercising an absolute right to private property as the spoils of war and victory in the competitive struggle. It is a primary ideology based on hatred and fear.
There is a universal feeling that the world we know cannot continue forever. There are human threats and we are poisoning our planet for greed. We may soon arrive at a point where less than 1% of humanity owns more than 60% of the world’s resources. That obscene situation is opposed by various forms of socialism and nationalist socialism – and by the poorer populations of the world. When different groups compete for the same thing, that is the origin of war. Who do we want to see winning that war?
Some find it strange that I should be seen working for the preservation of Christian culture and spirituality, yet fail to see the need to combat encroaching Islamism by means of authoritarian politics. The alphas might be preparing for war, but they fail to identify the fact that humans are not designed for living in “mega societies” like the nation or the state, but in smaller entities in which they know each other. All the forces preparing to fight against terrorism and aggression coming from the Middle East are statist. The Front National here in France is just as statist as the various socialist and Gaullist tendencies. They might expel large numbers of illegal and non-naturalised immigrants from France but what good would come out of it all? I don’t see any scenario by which Islamism would get into mainstream politics or seriously challenge the present democratic ideology. The French as I know them are motivated by their own freedom. In this country, there are groups of traditionalist Catholic thugs who torch abortion clinics and cinemas showing blasphemous movies, but they are marginal. Most French go along with the mainstream and manage to live with it as best as they can.
I am a priest in spite of my many eccentricities. I am not an alpha, and have never been interested in competitive sports. I certainly look like a sissy with my long hair – I don’t care what they say! Life in this world is limited and our days are numbered. Why bother with old liturgical rites, music, literature and sailing a battered old boat? It is my life. My regret is that little or nothing will remain when I die. Perhaps I will have the will and strength to write a book or two and some music, but in a world that seems to be going to hell. It is difficult to be motivated. The key is obviously seeing things at a different level. The level of faith and knowledge we experience in this life is not all.
A part of our Christian way is to be concerned for this world and the people who live in it. We do need to read the signs of the times and keep an eye open. The smoke of satan, an expression used by Pope Paul VI when he saw noble ideas being made banal and venal in the Church, is an image that can describe anything that appears to be good but is made perverse. Christianity itself was twisted beyond recognition at some stage of its history, and the conflicts go right the way back to the beginning. There was no pristine golden age. Christians were knocking each other off from the beginning.
What makes us believe in Christianity? There is a central message of hope that no other idea has been able to bring. It is a message of hope for those who are not the strongest, the most aggressive or even the evil of this world. It is a message of love and the ability to embrace those whom the laws of evolution and natural struggle would eliminate. That is the Christianity that convinces me as which I wish to serve as a priest of Christ. It won’t win any wars, but it will receive God’s blessing.