Saving the Planet…

I have been around for a few years and have seen generations of opinions worried about the future of the planet. I am one of them, but try to keep a balanced view of things between the delirium of people dancing round pink boats in central London, gluing themselves to everything that doesn’t move, on one hand, and American conservatism on the other.

From the evidence of credible things I read, I would be more concerned about the quantity of plastic in the sea and discarded in nature than the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plastic is getting into the food chain, and into us as we eat fish and seafood. There are plenty of scientific articles here and there about the atmosphere. I don’t know which ones are influenced by ideology or capitalist greed. Really, only the scientists with access to the raw data would see things more or less objectively.

Global warming is caused not only by the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but also quantities of methane escaping from the earth’s crust. There are also the devastating effects of volcanos, like the one in Indonesia that caused the year without a summer in 1816. There are also sunspot cycles and the changing distance between the earth in its orbit around the sun. From samples taken from the ground, scientists have been able to detect the warm and cold periods in history over timescales of thousands of years. The rhythm seems to be quite constant including our present warm period.

As far as I can see, the pollution our industries are putting into the atmosphere is truly worrying. Still, progress has been made since the days of the London smog of the nineteenth century. Cars put out all sorts of nasty gases, and I know that I contribute through driving one of them. There is no public transport where I live! We are driven by the need to live and work, go about our daily lives and try to do our best to reduce the “footprint”. If I find plastic in the sea when out in the boat, I collect it, put it into a bag and into a dustbin when I get ashore. Such a gesture is pissing in the ocean when considering the “continent” floating in the Pacific Ocean and similar ones in other oceans! There’s plenty to worry about, and I am glad there are people dedicated to seeking technological solutions to clean up the plastic and reduce the crap getting into the atmosphere.

The buzz personality presently is the Swedish adolescent girl Greta Thunberg. She has had the courage to brave the Atlantic Ocean by sail, which must be a terrifying experience. On the other hand, she is trying to construct a kind of “eschatology” from our concerns about the earth’s atmosphere and seas. It becomes emotional and even sectarian, irrational and obscurantist. The solution to the crisis? The Luddites already declared war against technology, but it was more an issue of work and livelihood than the environment. If I were not using a computer to write this piece, I would be writing it on paper in candlelight, but there would remain the problem of publication. That is only a small example.

Some highlight the pseudo-religious dimension of the contemporary ecological movement. We were already banging the drum in the 1960’s and doomsday was supposed to be upon us in the 1980’s or whenever. As conservatism and populism are getting their own back after decades of left wing “politically correct” dogma, the counter reaction is already starting and it all rather reminds me of the time when I was a little sheltered child in the north of England, when there were army tanks in the streets of Paris. This is why I give no credence either to the ultra-masculine Right.

If the environmentalists of Extinction Rebellion and others are following some kind of pagan religion, it doesn’t trouble me. I grew up with nature and spent hours alone in the garden contemplating the earth, plants, insects and birds. I have always had the idea of God inhabiting his creation as the consciousness or λόγος of matter. I later learned to distinguish panentheism from pantheism. Perhaps some of our American hard-liners would like to see rows of garrotted bodies of heathens and heretics – all for the glory of God – but I would not. I call for moderation and the use of reason in our love for the Book of Nature. What I find most odd is the idea of a causal relationship between pollution of the environment and the old order of family, tradition and nation. The alternative is resuming a pre-technological way of life or killing most of the world’s population. Perhaps they don’t even think as far as that.

There is a point about all this. The culture of Judeo-Christianity made it possible for humans to place ourselves over the rest of nature to exploit it. That seems obvious, because we have to kill and eat living organisms to live, but non-Jews and non-Christians have to eat too! Plants suffer too, not just animals being slaughtered. That has always been a fact of life, but we can make efforts in the direction of reasonable farming and giving animals a humane and comfortable life until the day they have to die to give us food. It is known that some people converted to veganism had to resume eating meat for the sake of their health. Humans are omnivores and need animal protein in our diet. Indeed, there is something to be said for the ketogenic diet (more fat than carbohydrates and sugar) for some people with health conditions. Killing to eat is a fact of life, though we are called to keep the animals in humane conditions and kill them without suffering.

There is definitely a tendency to return to paganism as people react against the toxic masculinity of the Right. Many buzz-buttons have been pressed about seminarians being asked to address prayers to plants. Perhaps it seems silly, but we can experience an ecstatic love for the world around us. Just be alone in the middle of a forest and soak in the smells of earth, vegetation and every other sensation. Not all of us will admit the pleasure and fulfilment of such an experience, but I will. Trees are not gods, but God is present in them!

What we experience profoundly is not the same thing as trying to impose restrictions on others, demanding sacrifices without offering any alternative. I live in a village and we have no public transport. I drive a car. Distances are a little too much for relying on a bicycle. I would be criticised for using animals like horses, because they fart and emit methane! For the fanatics, it isn’t sufficient to reduce pollution. It has to be eliminated. But, it cannot be eliminated without killing the world’s human population. Even there, the means of committing the genocide: disease, gas, bullets, etc. would cause pollution. Then there are the millions of bodies to bury or burn. If I keep thinking about this, I will have to go to the bathroom and vomit! Their position is absurd, but we must not go to the other extreme.

I am not going to put Greta Thunberg in the pillory. I have avoided listening to her, so I should refrain from judging. What I do observe is her appeal to emotion. She has some of the Byronian Romanticism in her as she forecasts Byron’s apocalyptic vision of a devastated word with sails hanging on the spars of boats with no wind to move them, dead animals and leafless trees. She has sailed the sea, and that shows her courage. Is there much thought behind her immature discourse? That is a good question.

Progress is being made whilst maintaining human interests. London is no longer under a veil of smog because households may no longer burn coal and restrictions are placed on polluting vehicles in the Low Emission Zone. Such things are necessary. We either use public transport or pay a special toll for driving in the restricted area unless we have a modern vehicle than emits less pollution. That is fair, and we need to adapt our lives. I am lucky not to live in a city, and the filthy stuff my car pumps out of its exhaust pipe is more diluted in the atmosphere than the same coming from thousands of vehicles in a city. It is good that manufacturers are making the effort to produce cleaner vehicles. To give up the need for transport, we would have to return to a pre-modern life style. That requires the acquisition of a lot of skills we no longer have – and we would still be polluting to a certain extent. The animals also pollute by farting! What we can do is balance the carbon dioxide and hydro-carbon gases produced by animals and the same gas absorbed by sufficient quantities of vegetation. So, more trees, and I love trees. My own garden is a garden of trees more than anything else!

We ordinary people need to inform each other about the most objective scientific data so that we can consider it all rationally. Climate and extreme weather exist, but I don’t believe that the problem is entirely caused by humans. We have solar cycles, the temperature of the sea and physical effects of energy transfer. All that works on the atmosphere as it does in the sea. We can begin by learning what we can about the science and technical aspects. Everything we suffer from hot summers, flooding, high winds, torrential rain and cold weather has a precedent. Everything I see or experience today was present in the world in the 1960’s, more than fifty years ago, when I was a little child. We had freezing winters like in 1963 and warmer years. I don’t believe it is any worse now than it was then.

As I say, I am more worried about plastic in the sea than the atmosphere and the weather. As I write, people are dedicating themselves to stopping the pollution and cleaning up what is already in the sea – as best as possible. I don’t see evidence for a “climate emergency” even if we get very bad weather at times. No one likes to get his house flooded or lose a loved one to a river than has burst its banks. There has been catastrophic weather before man ever put any carbon dioxide into the air beyond a fire in his house for cooking and heating.

The “zero CO2 targets” are political claptrap. They cannot reduce all emissions without killing nearlty all the human population. There are plenty of conspiracy theorists who forecast our being put into a Logan’s Run type scenario of glass bubble cities and compulsory euthanasia at the age of thirty. One is Agenda 21, which would involve massive genocide and placing almost all land out of bounds for humans, made to live in micro apartments in mega cities. Ironically, such conspiracy theories are spread by anti-environmentalist right-wingers.

Another thing to think about. If what the über-environmentalists say is true, that there is an emergency and we have to stop producing carbon dioxide completely within ten or twelve years, then it is already too late. Who are we to think we have control over the planet and its weather? Why bother if we are going to die anyway? If the planet needs to be saved, we are not the ones to be able to do that.

I identify with the Romantic world view, which involves an intense love of nature. It also means that I want to go from a rational and scientific position towards my experience with nature. The rational part of me refuses the present apocalyticism of the fanatics and their desire to punish humanity. The Romantic part of me seeks to want to preserve nature, or at least avoid harming it for the sake of human profit. We are responsible for our world and we are stewards. There are many things we can do: be as clean as possible, sort our rubbish so that as much of it as possible can be recycled, keep plastic away from nature and above all the sea, use our means of transport sensibly and economically, buy our food from local farms rather than supermarkets whenever possible. Most industry in the western world is now bound to control emissions and clean the stuff belching out of chimneys. Russia and China are problems, because they still don’t care how much they pollute. Perhaps little Greta could sail there, though I wouldn’t recommend it for her sake.

There’s no simple solution, but we can just do our bit each one of us, keep our heads cool and above all be rational.

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What Now?

The subject of my previous posting was of no surprise. I have followed this Scheißfest over the past year, and have experienced the propaganda coming from both the hard-line right and the liberal or hard left. Since the election, the ideological battle is over. Corbyn’s Left is now dead, as is the trajectory towards some twenty-first century version of Nazism. The word to look out for now is realism, pragmatic realism. What will come under this notion escapes my limits of political or economic knowledge.

Johnson’s coup was very clever, and we never imagined it to be possible. It was about passing himself off for a bumbling and blustering fool, a liar and a scoundrel. He may well be a despicable personality, but he has rid the political world of Corbyn’s “soviet” dinosaur and there is a chance that the ERG will find itself on the same scrap heap as the Northern Irish Unionists.

I have discussed politics quite a lot on this blog, but I am not really a political animal. I have never had any contact with that world of playing games, manipulation and role-playing. I have been, and still am concerned for the ideal of Europe, even if the present European Union comes far short of enshrining that ideal. For me, the ideal should be far beyond money and politics. First of all, Europe is called to uphold the Christian ideal of morality and spirituality, and then show openness to an interplay between different cultures and other religions existing peacefully alongside the ambient Christianity. It is my dream, as it was for Novalis as he wrote Christenheit oder Europa. Europe was never entirely Christian, because Christianity is not political absolutism but a freely embraced life of faith, prayer and compassion for fellow human beings, especially the weak and downtrodden.

The change in the UK is as sudden as it is radical. Some were able to anticipate this from a wide and detached view. As late as last Thursday, I wondered if it would be best for there to be a hung Parliament, another five years of the same and a political collapse leading to something completely new. Now something can happen and bring resolution in some way.

I am not a political activist, but a thinker. I very often miss the point but I think we need to be concerned more for the spiritual and cultural dimension. Already M. Macron is expressing his desire for a special relationship with the UK even after leaving the EU. “À nos amis Britanniques : vous avez entériné le Brexit, mais vous ne quittez pas l’Europe. Vous restez à nos côtés, et nous restons aux vôtres“. Here is the important distinction that shows the European ideal as something that transcends the present institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg.

There will be a Brexit, hopefully with a coherent and credible deal as was worked out by Theresa May and reworked since then. The movement against Brexit is now dead, at least in terms of political activism. The idea needs now to turn to the highest cosmopolitan ideal of Europe. I am now optimistic that Mr Johnson no longer has to compromise with far-right fanatics, but rather that he will have the freedom to sort out something that works for the benefit of both the UK and the EU. Time will tell.

What do some of us want? We need to have a positive vision. It is not enough to be fearful of the prospect of a totalitarian dystopia. We need to analyse and rethink our desires for the same liberties as were fought for in the early nineteenth century: the separation and secular and religious powers, the freedom of conscience and expression, diversity of cultural values observing the laws in place, many other issues. These questions need to be thought out and expressed with nobility of spirit and intelligence, not as “hot button” emotional triggers like gender, feminism, homosexual sub-culture, irrational and angry ideas about climate change and ecology and so forth. All these issues need to be discussed, but rationally and away from the slogans and drumbeats of activists.

As it was two hundred years ago, we need to return to rationalism and the need for rigorous thought – but at the same time leave full scope for the human experience of imagination and desire. I am concerned about a possible regression into a culture of “post truth”, irrationalism, blame games, “us and them” and a sub-bestial future of humanity. We need to be new Romantics, living to the full, experiencing and expressing it all in the way each of us does best. There is no limit to the imagination, no laws or restrictions!

The European aspiration must become something new, cultural and spiritual, far beyond markets, trade and money. It needs to be a harbinger of hope and change, not the stick-in-the-mud status quo that fearfully resists change.

Many of us English will continue to live in Europe, as circumstances have dictated for me, reinforced by ideals. Some will acquire the nationality of where they live to overcome the rupture between the UK and the EU. The process is difficult and long, because we have to deal with bureaucracy and process. Those of us who live in other countries have enriched our experience as would never have happened had we remained in England and our familiar surroundings.

I hope and believe that my country of origin will go forward in an entirely new way and that the dire forecasts of narrow parochialism will dissipate as the view of the world goes far beyond Europe. Certainly the UK will be closer to the USA, even in a future post-Trump climate, closer to Australia, New Zealand and some of the former colonies. The balance has tipped over and the country will go into the unknown, perhaps into that Ungrund from which comes light and grace.

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Election Day

Over the years, as evidenced by some postings on this blog, I have lacked a sufficiently critical mind about things like the “people”, the “elite, Trump promising to “clean the swamp” when he got elected, and now the Brexit question in a wider constitutional context.

Fake news and propaganda have blighted our world for quite some time. The Nazis were masters at it. The art was perfected by Josef Göbbels. What can we believe? What is truth? Is there a distinction between “acceptable” political lying and what is “unacceptable”. Do we live in a post-truth era, post-human, post-rational, the outer circle of Orwell’s dystopia?

I won’t be voting, myself, because the law excluding people who have lived outside the UK for more than fifteen years applies to me. My compatriots are today caught between Scylla and Charybdis, between increasingly radicalised positions. Even if we read both the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, we are none the wiser, not even when we look for “alternative” news on the internet.

Obviously, what will happen this evening when the results are announced will be outside our control. Whether we live in the UK or in another country, our choices will be fundamental. There will be limits beyond which the new regime will have to be resisted and denounced. Perhaps after a time, resistance will be punished by the way dictators in history usually did it with secret police forces and their torture chambers. Some may have to go into exile in another country and ask for political asylum. Most will knuckle down and go along with everything, just getting on with daily life. It all happened before, and can happen again.

Why does the choice have to be between the cholera and the plague? There is certainly a reason, a message. The entire system is going to get a real shake-up, as is happening here in France and many other countries. Perhaps we can hole up and “get by”. Maybe, a dark future awaits us. People of my generation, the “Baby Boomers” have been lucky. We were born after World War II and we have had no wars or tyrannies in western Europe since then. Now, as we get older, the certitudes we have enjoyed are slipping away and we find ourselves at the doorstep of change.

Never mind the appearances or the memes on the internet! We need to try to understand things philosophically and rationally. This is the way we can resist the post-truth dystopia. We have ourselves to rely on – and God. No one else. If we are capable of reading and comparing things with historical precedent by way of analogy, then it is our duty to resist by writing and criticising as facts become clearer.

This could be a dark day in British history as we choose between what the Tories now represent and Corbyn’s rehash of the old Communism from the 1970’s.

Vote wisely!

* * *

Now that it is known that the Conservatives have won with a big majority, it may turn out to be a blessing that the Labour Party under the far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn did not win. The Tory victory is rid of Corbyn, and the Government will no longer have to negotiate with ERG or the DUP. If this is true, it would make it possible to bring out a coherent and sensible Brexit plan – or a new negotiation with Brussels with less rigid “red line” limits. My optimism returns.

The election gives a clear majority to the Tories, warts and all, and shows the profound popular distaste for Communism or other forms of the extreme Left. For myself, I remain a Monarchist and favour a system where talented people of merit should not be penalised simply for that reason. There will never be equality, but there can be more compassion and care for the disadvantaged and refugees. If there can be a system that encourages initiative, conscientious work, talent and a will to manage with as little state help as possible – and take more tax from the excessively rich, we may get closer to a just society. These were the values in which I was brought up: put in more than what we expect to take out, yet help those who need it when they really cannot manage on their own through no fault of their own.

I wonder if the Brexit issue is changing. Boris Johnson once expressed an opinion for remaining in the EU, as did Mrs May. Both had to deal with the extreme Right in the form of the ERG and the fanatical Northern Irish unionists. If the pressure is off, this would change the game and give a better basis for a trading relationship with the EU even if some kind of Brexit has to take place.

What is going to be important now is for British politics to be seen to be honest, noble and concerned for the common good of all. The Johnson Government must put away the temptation to lie, deceive and show contempt. I love my country, even though I have also acquired French nationality. Without nobility of spirit, our country can only slide down all the way to evil and darkness.

I hope our compatriots will focus on helping the poor and vulnerable and maintaining citizens’ rights – both EU people in the UK and British people in Europe like myself. It would be a calamity for the NHS to be replaced by an unaffordable American-style health system. For people to be productive and work for their living, they need opportunities, honest employers who pay a just wage and job security. Ultra-capitalists can’t have it both ways! Many thinkers in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and other churches have for a long time been concerned for social justice and a fair and Christian society. There is a happy medium between the billionaire kleptocracy and the Marxist Communism of Corbyn. Workers should be able to own the means of production (Distributism).

The Government must be accountable to the people, the law and Parliament. If it is not, the ingredients will be in place for a situation that has many precedents in history. People must come before private ambitions of politicians. This will be my prayer during this Advent and in the new year 2020.

There, I have expressed my insignificant opinion as a Christian priest, respectful of this Government that has received a legitimate mandate from the General Election. May God manifest his mercy and call for peace and justice in this dark and sinful world.

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The Organ sings again

We are almost at the anniversary of when I went to London with a large van to bring another organ to France. In late January of this year, I wrote the melancholy A New Purpose after the main article on this subject New Unity. I had many reflections to express about that very original church community that seems to have gone beyond Unitarianism to atheism. Perhaps they want a new notion of the Transcendent outside the stereotypes of religions. Anyway, it is not my purpose to make any judgement.

Once the organ arrived at Vermenton, a small town near Auxerre in the Burgundy region, the problems began. The organ had to lie in pieces in the church for a whole year. An elderly man in the congregation, ignorant and stupid, was violently opposed to the organ project at Vermenton in spite of having kept his mouth shut at the parish council meeting that approved it. The priests who look after the parish had to jump through hoops to get the various authorisations from historical monument and diocesan authorities.

When I finally met this cantankerous man, he told me I was buying an organ in very poor condition, I was being conned like buying a second-hand car. I was not the person who dismantled or transported the organ and that it was going to be reassembled by a priest of the community with no experience of organ building. He knew all this from infallible Google along with some other juicy titbits about myself to get the diocese to hold me away with a barge pole!

He was gobsmacked when I related the facts to him. I was the “horse’s mouth” rather than the bits and pieces he was finding on the internet. Some officials from the diocese came and visited me, and they were most kind and pleasant. I explained that I was indeed working on an old organ, but there is nothing that cannot be repaired – quite unlike a worn-out car engine.

Now the gentleman is attributing the success of the project to himself! The hypocrisy oozes out from this modern-day Tartuffe, the perfect apologia for the need to find a new notion of God and our desire for the Transcendent.

A platform had to be built for the organ, and it was botched. It needed to be corrected in terms of the level. The carpenters came on the Monday, and I told them they had a choice: dismantle and redo their work or superimpose a perfectly level platform to the dimensions I specified and in exactly the right position. They worked whilst I set up my field workshop.

I brought the organ to playing condition about the middle of last week. The pedal bourdon still needs work because the lead pneumatic tubes of the action are in appalling condition. I will replace them with plastic tubes, which will make everything so much easier to install. I’ll do that job in January. In the meantime, the stops on the great and swell are working, as are the manual to pedal couplers. The organ is tuned and can be used for Christmas.

In spite of the report that this organ is without any real tonal distinction, I found the sound in the church of Vermenton to be “sweet” and full of character. The fifteenth on the great is the only upperwork, but the voicing is bright. I made no modifications of any kind. I simply cleaned the pipes with compressed air to get the London dust out! I am strongly of the conviction that an existing organ must be respected, not changed to make it into something else as was often done from the 1960’s. Indeed, the organ of York Minster is being almost restored to its 1931 state by Harrison & Harrison of Durham in the tradition of the great English cathedral organ. This little Victorian instrument is a part of the history of the organ builder’s craft. After all, I have no compunction about playing Bach on the piano!

After a series of problems and challenges, this little instrument seemed to console my efforts and pains as it sang into the reverberant acoustics of the church and accompanied my lone voice as I sang the Gloria Patri to a Gregorian tone. My perseverance paid off…


Open Diapason                            8
Stop Diapason Bass                    8
Claribel Flute                               8
Viol d’Amour                               8
Principal                                       4
Fifteenth                                       2

Lieblich Gedeckt                         8
Gamba                                          8
Voix Céleste                                 8
Flute                                              4

Bourdon                                      16

Swell to Great
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

Here are some photos:

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Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

As I sat through the ceremony of reception today at the Préfecture of Rouen of myself and about fifty other new French citizens, I listened to the recorded propaganda message with the ears of a philosopher. The essential theme was the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – and Laïcité, the last meaning freedom for all religions or none, and the absolute autonomy of the State in relation to any religious body – including Islam. My wife and I wondered how much of this message would be understood by most of the people originating in the former French colonies in Africa and the Sahara.

These notions come from the Revolution of 1789. My own take is much more mitigated than that of French monarchists and traditionalists. Something had to crack even if Louis XVI was trying to reform the institutions for the sake of the poor. When Marie-Antoinette suggested that those who had no bread could eat cake (brioche), she was not being sarcastic or out of touch. There was cake available at the local bakery.

Very frequently in history, a good idea is taken over by evil men. A prime example is Christianity itself, to the extent that Christ’s actual teachings and the spirit in which he meant them are almost unknown today. As Oscar Wilde said as he languished in prison:

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true IMITATIO CHRISTI, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose.

The spirit of a great idea is all too quickly lost and replaced by its antithesis by the use of the same words. As it was with the coming of Christ, so it was with the notion of human rights and the blueprint of modern democracy. In the beginning of the revolutionary era, Wordsworth wrote:

Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress—to assist the work
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of paradise itself )
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The playfellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,—who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;—they, too, who, of gentle mood,
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more wild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;—
Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their heart’s desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,—the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all!

Novalis was another contemporary, though he lived far away in Saxony. He sympathised with the ideals of the Revolution and its trio of words which could mean the noblest of ideals or a way to bring about the Terror of Robespierre. No, in today’s recorded propaganda message, there was no mention of the tumbrils from the Conciergerie to the guillotine, the dogs lapping up the blood, the rotting corpses and severed heads awaiting burial at the Picpus cemetery. There was not a word about the tyranny of the Jacobins. The totalitarianism of the Jacobins was over in 1794, but leaving a legacy of bitterness that continues to our days. Eventually, Napoleon entered into a concordat with the Church in 1801, opening the way to a regeneration of the Church, but also of the bourgeoisie. Bonaparte enshrined the principles of the Revolution into French constitutional law. The nineteenth century in France was dreadfully unstable with the symbolic years of 1830 and 1848. Europe was on fire, as were the unifying Italian and German states. The continuous state of instability only really came to an end in 1945 and with the building up of the United Nations and the European Union.

Do we reject the revolutionary ideas as rotten to the core, or give them a more human meaning? I have known many in traditionalist Catholic circles who wanted to restore the monarchy in France. Who? The Duke of Anjou who lives in Spain or the Count of Paris, allegedly tainted by associations with Freemasonry. Monarchism in France is a little bit more serious than the alternative popes I have been writing about, but I see no future in it. Leo XIII and Pius XI encouraged French Catholics to accept the French Republic and contribute to its ideals in a Christian way. This was my reflection as I was called to receive my letter from President Macron with some beautifully presented texts.

How did Novalis cope with the new ideas coming from France in his time? The ideals of liberté, egalité and fraternité were too high for the men implementing them. As Wordsworth had found, the result was death, bondage, inequality and enmity – quite the opposite. Novalis saw the principle of the Enlightenment at the basis of the Revolution, but an idea of human reason that fails to take historical reality into account. This very day, I ask myself what the young Muslim from Tunisia or Algeria sitting a couple of seats away from me would understand by these words. The man hosting the ceremony exhorted us to integrate into French culture and be fluent in the language. I have always done my best through respect to my hosts, but differences in culture are difficult to overcome. My own cultural difference is minimal, far less than the Algerian or the Tunisian worker. These noble ideals can only come through education and Bildung.

The challenge needs to be taken up by each of us in our villages, homes, jobs and circles of friends. I believe that these ideals can be sublimated into something great, and this was my mind as I accepted the gift of citizenship from the French Republic. Its political problems are no less serious than in England. Ultra right-wing nationalism is springing up all over the world, and it can happen here too. Macron may not win the next presidential election. The traditional moderate left and right wing parties have no more credibility, any more than the extreme left of Mélenchon, a sort of “French Corbyn”. I don’t know what life would be like under Mme Le Pen. A new crisis is mounting and its future result is quite unpredictable.

I lived in France for many years without bothering about nationality, because the European Union upholds freedom of movement, including the right to live and work in another European country. When the Brexit issue came up, English people living in European countries had to take things more seriously. In my turn, I applied for a residence permit and citizenship by marriage to a French woman. The long bureaucratic process is complete and I only await my Carte Nationale d’Identité and passport. I will vote in the various elections and take my tiny part.

I said to our host at the ceremony: “Merci. J’ai beaucoup appris de votre beau pays“. Indeed, it is a beautiful and extremely diverse country, both in terms of nature and human culture. Let us start with this enchanted beauty and build on it to bring about God’s Kingdom and a land of hope, freedom and pursuit of happiness.

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Sarum Calendar 2020

The Sarum Calendar for 2020 has been added to Dr William Renwick’s More Documents page. You can download it from there. It begins from 1st January, so if you need the current Advent, you need the final month of 2019. It is in English and follows the Gregorian calendar.

I warmly recommend the rest of this valuable site which is completing the resources we have for the Use of Sarum and its chant.

In case you find the site inaccessible for any reason, here are the links:

Kalendar 2019
Kalendar 2020

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Abusus non tollit usum

There is a story, perhaps untrue, about a public building that had all its fire extinguishers removed because it was esteemed that few people knew how to use them properly. It’s obviously better for the building to burn down and a lot of people to die than take the risk of the fire extinguishers being improperly used! Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. What is even more alarming is that this principle is also applied in philosophy and besmirching by association.

I was truly shocked today on reading The Aryan Christ – Jung, Hitler And Today’s Postmodernist Insanity. This article, in my opinion, resumes a stereotype by which German Romanticism and Jung’s psychoanalytic theories had much in common with Hitler’s occultism and cranky ideology. Traced back far enough, all these currents of philosophy were little more than “proto-Nazism” and therefore to be dismissed as post-modernism. That’s quite a mouthful. On reading this article, I searched for signs of where all this was coming from through the author Aeneas Georg. Searching for the name reveals his tendencies as an American conservative, perhaps alt-right complete with conspiracy theories about the Rockefeller family and the Illuminati among others. One thing Georg does not mention is that Jung expressed himself about Hitler.

Jung saw Hitler as the “mouthpiece of the collective Shadow of the German people”. He was often criticised for not damning the Nazi movement, but there was a reason. He made distinctions between the cultures of western Europeans, eastern Europeans and Jewish people. The most “anti-Semitic” of Jung’s ideas was that Jewish people were more differentiated in their culture than other Europeans. He considered Hitler as a psychopath without any personality of his own. The 2003 film Hitler: The Rise of Evil shows the young Adolph as having no ideas of his own but copying those of others. Jung saw things like nationalism as discredited by World War II and the Nazi genocides, but not in themselves Nazi. Jung tended to make stereotypes of various categories of humans and national characteristics. We still do to this day when portraying English city workers in London, the Frenchman wearing a marinière and a beret, and sporting a moustache and Italians as gesticulating and stuffing their mouths with pasta. We are more careful what we say about Jewish people these days, though I remember other boys at school saying dreadful things about them – in the early 1970’s! Much of Jung’s moderate stereotyping is still to be found.

From questions of race, German Romanticism is blamed for everything. That is a travesty, for I see nothing in common between men like Kant, Göthe or Novalis and the Nazis! The Romantics were profoundly humanist and concerned for man’s good, not domination. Linking completely different movements like Romanticism, Jung, Post-modernism and Nazism is not serious. Maybe some ideas were analogies of each other, but they were not from the same species. A human being and a tree are both biological organisms, are both living, but they are not “responsible” for each others’ characteristics.

Perhaps the two different “species” are associated by the soil that nurtured them – the Germanic world of the late nineteenth century. As I write this posting, I am listening to Wagner’s Parsifal. I am a confirmed Germanophile and feel very close to that country’s Romantic and Idealist movements – but that does not make me anything like the black curse that fell upon that country from 1933 until its defeat in 1945. I am convinced that without Romanticism, the black curse would have come in the form of ultra-rationalism and materialism to the exclusion of anything else. As I have mentioned elsewhere, there is much confusion between Nietzsche’s notion of the Übermensch and the caricature given by the club-footed Untermensch Göbbels and his dark-haired master claiming to be Aryans. That said, Nietzsche is not mentioned in this article.

Germany in the 1890’s and 1900’s was said to be wanting to replace Christianity with folk paganism. Is there anything unique about Germany, when France was viciously anti-clerical at the time, as was Italy? I see nothing about Germany that is more anti-Christian than England, for example, with the growth of a new tendency of hard atheism. Darwin was English, not German. I would say that Germany did not make Hitler, but Hitler distorted the mythology to bring his people to subjection according to his own terms disguised as the old folk traditions.

German Romanticism may have referred to folk traditions, but most of the contemporaries of Göthe and Novalis were Christians, even if they had a critical attitude towards their faith. Novalis was one of the very few to promote cosmopolitanism over nationalism. Nationalism at the time was springing up all over Europe, especially in the Latin countries!

For Jung, I have not read enough about his life to affirm or deny the accusations of his moral turpitude, especially sleeping with his patients. Perhaps it did some of them some good when their problem was related to sexual repression! The idea is represented in a number of sources available on the internet. It does not represent an ideal of professional integrity according to our standards or those of any medical professional body. Jung’s moral turpitude does not necessarily discredit his work, research and writings. Jung’s gnosis and exposure to unorthodox practices would seem to have been detrimental to his mind, reminding me a little of Nietzsche’s downward plunge into the abyss.

I have become quite sceptical of psychiatry after my own journey of enquiry into Aspergers autism. My own observation was that it too clinical and appeases the materialistic notion of the human soul. We need to see spiritual and mental conditions in a more philosophical light, especially considering man’s spiritual mind over his material brain and nervous system. Jung represented a stage in my own life and decision to part company with the rigid matrix of traditionalist Roman Catholicism. I never went along entirely with all his theories, but some themes like individuation, the reconciliation of light and what Böhme would call the Ungrund, among many others, appealed to me. That did not lead me to anything like neo-Nazism! I do think that psychoanalysis can be dangerous, because a person can only confront his own truth to a given extent.

Having elevated himself to the level of God after his self-acclaimed initiation into the ‘mysteries’ in 1913, sanctity became for Jung a repressive Christian value that stifled the archaic and creative energies of the universe. In adopting Gross’ belief system, Jung was able to absolve himself of any responsibility for the hurt and misery that he caused to those around him.

What is this supposed to mean? What is sanctity? Some will answer that it is conformity to the matrix of rigid religious ideology. For me, it begins with self-knowledge and acceptance leading to a greater empathy for other human beings and love, and in turn for God. As for Jung’s “German spirituality”, does not the Church work with the culture of indigenous populations like in China and South America? Some make much ado about the recent use of a figure of a pregnant woman called Pacamama in Rome. Where did Christmas come from? From the pagan Roman cult of Sol Invictus. I have no issue with Pacamama, because this pagan fertility goddess of the Incas in this new context becomes an archetype of the Blessed Virgin Mary as pagans become Christians. Jung was very strong on archetypes – as were the Fathers of the Church. The Church has always used pagan symbols to convey the Gospel message of Christ.

Saying that Jung attracted many members of the medical profession and patients is akin to Hitler drawing in the crowds would be as logical to say that football matches in England are Nazi rallies. Maybe some of the yobbos and hooligans are despicable people, but the idea is absurd.

Certainly had Hitler never been born, or had he become a successful artist, history since the early twentieth century would not have been the same. In his case, I often wonder what would have happened in Europe since 1919. The League of Nations was never very strong as a peacemaking endeavour. Perhaps, eventually, Germany would have been allowed its autonomy after having paid the crippling reparations demanded by Clemenceau in particular. Would someone else have been able to galvanise the mass of bad feeling, bitterness and suffering in Germany after the 1929 Wall Street crash? I am no expert in alternative history.

Jung seems not to have been a perfect man, not by any means, but his work has endured, where Hitler’s has been reprimanded and banished from our world. Jung sought to heal the sick of mind. Hitler wanted to dominate and conquer, letting no moral consideration get in his way. I cannot think of two more different men.

If we look at them from a distance, the movements started by Jung and Hitler close to a hundred years ago were, at the outset, completely opposite to each other, yet both sought to destroy the existing order to bring about their version of a utopian paradise, essentially material in nature.

Nonsense! At least for Jung. He was no materialist or utopian. Then, as smoothly as snake oil:

Today, that same ideology is seen in the vocal offspring’s of Jungian thought and the ideology of postmodernists and ‘social justice warriors’ everywhere.

He now starts to mix everything together in his big pot. There may be some philosophical roots in today’s fanatical left-wing ideologies that had their roots in the past, but the comparison is crude. I see no comparison between the Nazis of the 1930’s and the mobs of young anti-Trump people on American university campuses.

How would I conclude? A little knowledge without profound interpretation is a dangerous thing. This article is underpinned with fallacy after fallacy. I especially discern an attempt to exonerate the alt-right tendency in America from association with the Nazism of the past by linking the latter with Romanticism, Jung and 1960’s anarchism.

Abusus non tollit usum. Even if something is not entirely pure and exuding the odour of sanctity, it is not necessarily all wrong. Perhaps some might say the same of Hitler, an idea which brings revulsion to the civilised person. To have some esteem for Jung does not cause disgust, even if there are better theories today with the progress of science. Some of the Romantics were atheists, but they tended to be English, not German.

Clearly, we all have more work to do to come up with something credible.

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