I have been aware of and thinking about the gate for over fifty years now, more or less constantly as I go about my daily routines, the gate beyond which I can not see or understand.
All around me life goes on, banal and dramatic, indifferent and caring, hateful and loving as circumstances and moods take us.
It, daily life, appears to be self centered for the most part, although that perception might just be the lens through which I see the society around me, my self centeredness projected onto the screen of existence. More grist for the penitential mill, my ongoing failure to “Love one another” as God has loved me. Sigh, to paraphrase Dore, “Just keep Trying…”.
And all life around me seems to work hard at ignoring the gate, acting and reacting as though the gate in fact does not exist at all, that the here and now is all there is, that pleasure, gratification, license and indulgence are the only objectives, the only goals, absent anything but the material “here & now”.
But it seems (to me) the gate is THE most obvious artifact in the entire universe, the single most obvious event which no one escapes no matter what their beliefs, no matter their state in life, it all winds down to dust.
As Roy Batty says: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. … All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” Indeed … time to die … soon … we are all replicants, running out the clock, done in the blink of an eye.
So what does matter? Unless one is living in Paris these days, the majority, the masses, seem more or less content with their modern comforts, pleasures, social media, belonging to the “What, me worry?” clique of “low-information” consumers, and in general quite happy with their daily existence. Am I the only living human being currently reflecting upon the end of human life? I would bet not, and some of those who are reflecting even write about it in their version of this blog.
First Things & Last Things. A woman lights a candle on the grave of her relative before praying at a cemetery during the observance of All Souls Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
One good example can be found at The American Sun in which Mr. Greenhorn convincingly rejects the currently popular fantasy (held by some conservative pundits) that we can role back the clock to a time before separation of Church and State became the de facto modus operandi. Many of the ideas in the remainder of this post I found in the link at American Sun. Mr. Greenhorn has an articulate and refreshingly new view of reality and the plausibility of rolling back the clock to a better time.
The goal of this roll-back being to thereby refocus concerns on First Things, refocus concerns on the end of human life, because man’s temporal end is subordinate to his eternal end, and the obvious corollary that therefore temporal power must be subordinated to spiritual power.
This roll-back exercise might, from my point of view, reasonably involve a return to something resembling the political and economic world of the 1400’s, the mechanics of this would involve a kind of cross between Dr. Who and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
There are some modern examples of what this might look like, for example Iran and what used to be Iraq, but I see this model as a non-starter for the majority of folks on the planet, at least amongst those of a Western persuasion.
In the meantime … what of the discontented, those who are noticeably unhappy with the moral and economic status quo? Yes, what about us? Well, it seems that in reality there is no “us”. Some of “us” choose to dither, complain, wail and gnash their teeth, but never reach any conclusion.
“We” remain chronically dissatisfied and unhappy with whatever is fashionably top of the pond, the latest PC curdled and agglomerating deviance and corruption, and spend our leisure time articulating our discontent and pointing out what is wrong with the current status quo, a kind of negative virtue signalling to re-enforce our imagined moral superiority.
Others mourn the loss of a humanity in the general, that probably never existed in the particular, and along with that Unicorn they mourn the loss of “everything” that made up “human civilization”, holding a perpetual wake for a “Prince on The White Horse” who never really existed.
They have forgotten that funeral services are not for the benefit of the dead, That person(s) and their immortal soul are forever beyond our praise or condemnation. Rather a funeral service is for the living, who should know that before long they will follow the honored dead into a cold dark grave, and from that fact take motivation towards preparing for eternity. Railing against those who deny an afterlife, deny eternity, is an utter waste of the most precious gift we have been given – time.
Carlos Schwabe, Elysian Fields, 1903
Still others descend into a mordant fantasy referred to by Mr. Greenhorn, above, that somehow by dint of huge spiritual and physical effort we can role back the clock to an Elysian time in the past when everything was “better, before the (insert enemy of choice here) took over and destroyed everything that matters“.
This last group are at least active in their never ending efforts to motivate the rest of us to “get off our collective butts and do something about it” … “something” being whatever their particular prescription of the day happens to be. Many of these fall into the category which we once upon a time, in the military, lovingly referred to as “Active Stupid”.
I rather expect that the above categories encompass the majority of those who are not entranced with our modern existence. And then there are the remnant … we who don’t fall into any of those broad categories, those generalizations which are so easy to embrace because they never include us. We are left with duty, discipline, courage, and sacrifice.
We are faced with trying to understand our reality, the “parameters of our material existence” within the context of a greater “spiritual existence” running on past the end of life into eternity, and that greater spiritual existence necessarily includes the idea, the perception of GOD as an entity. And, as understanding develops (if it does) we are tasked with searching for answers about “what constitutes right living?”, and “how does one know when one is following the right path?”
One is really asking oneself “How do I know with certainty what is the will of God?” Understanding the perfection of love, the “Agape”, that is “love of another besides myself” consists in striving towards the perfect conformity of my will with the divine will (the Manufacturer’s Instructions), and, more specifically, doing so within the context of my real day to day life, my “station” in life, rather than some “If Only” fantasy where I am trying to force others to conform to my idea of what is right.
I think the “mission” is sitting right in front of our face and residing in our soul if we are honest with ourselves. It is expressed simply, in a concrete and detailed way, in the duties of my state and the various circumstances of my life. The “duties of my state” determine particularly how I must act on a daily basis so as to be always in conformity with the divine will.
GOD gave us “free will”, and by virtue of that free will we are indeed free to deviate from the manufacturer’s instructions and “Do it our way”. But we are also just as free to learn from our choices and the results of those choices, if we accept responsibility for those results, and perhaps to repent and turn again to the narrow path.
For us, the future(s) cannot be known except in a metaphysical sense, but I believe that no single future is immutable. For “beings outside time” all futures can/could be equally known in the eternal now.
At least that is what I think, unrestrained by the current academic and theological status quo, and feeling no “ownership” of the “models” of reality currently in vogue.
These models seem to be tending more and more towards excluding GOD, the loving creator of all, and replacing it with a sort of “all dogs go to heaven, god my buddy” reality, or even a “no god at all” model. The problem with those views, IMHO, is that the path derived from those views has NO future at all. Any path which does not include GOD and eternity ends in the grave.
So, absent belief in GOD, why should Joe Citizen consent to be subservient to Nature and Natural Law, or to the will of god unless Joe first believes that Natural Law and the will of god is something he should give a Rat’s Derriere about?
Joe Citizen is not likely to give up all his convenience, gratification and “Freedom” without he first comes to believe that there is a higher good which matters more than his physical and mental gratification. The proof of this is the inexorable “democratic” trend towards ever more socialistic bread and circuses and less and less true freedom.
Why would someone who thinks they can overturn a presidential election, choose to give up their smart phones and social lifestyle choices?
There is no sign in our current society that Joe Citizen has any desire to give up, or even slow the convenience and power rendered by the last 50 years of staggering technical advances.
Jordan Peterson remarks about the demise of many “careers” which same technical advances will soon make superfluous and crush what little is left of Joe’s imagined autonomy. For this reason, any attempt to reform Liberal Progressive society is doomed … a colossal “Failure to Launch”.
To even have a chance, first, the popular belief that technical advance is natural and desirable must be overturned. Liberal Progressivism can only be derailed if modern man suddenly becomes content to be relatively weak, and powerless. The “Man in the Street” must voluntarily reject comfort and power if Material Naturalism is to be halted. In the modern era, the last 200 years or so, man has never done this.
So the Fantasy players, those “Roll the Clock Back” folks are faced with having to implement their “solutions” by fiat, in the same way and with the same mechanisms as used by the current societal systems of coercion which they are trying to replace. And of course the effect of these laws would be to fill Joe Citizen’s heart with anger and resentment at the state and perhaps even at God Himself, as we see in our current polite society.
Other “Greats” before us have had things to say about these sort of questions:
Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,
Marcus Aurelius reflects on Duty: Our duty is to “Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.
On Virtue: But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him,
On Suffering, : For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.
We must focus on going forward in duty by virtue regardless of the consequences and violence we might suffer whenever the all too human tendency to refuse co-operation, to insist on doing things our own way, to work against each other and to experience the suffering inherent in human relations whenever the reality of selfishness and self worship impact the smooth exchanges of daily relations.
Reconquista – Moors Surrender Granada, 1492
I’m old enough to remember a time when the Catholic Church was not in a state of decline and disgrace. I was born before the Second Vatican Council, I grew up and served in the old traditional Latin Mass universe, and was blessed by a glimpse of that world where Truth was certain, handed down and defended for 2000 years.
The saddest fact about our current crop of reformers, both political and theological, is that they have many provocative ideas about improving the state, but they have nothing to say as to how to detach the Roman Catholic Church from her attachment to the modernist heretical factions and forces which have so damaged and destroyed her since Vatican II.
It is in the Church where the true natures of God and man reside, and which we must return to if we are to rebuild our smashed civilization and self loving souls. There will be no anti-modernist Reconquista until our forces know they have a home base, a home fortress, that no matter what the cost, will not open its gates to the enemy, that is not commanded by agents of the enemy.
For sixty years, the men in the Vatican have tied the Church’s earthly fortunes to the modernist zeitgeist, the modernist heresy, and gained nothing but misery, scandal, and squalor in return. If the leaders of the Church cannot understand the beauty of conforming themselves to God’s will, there is little hope for anyone outside the Church. As a minimum first baby step, the Roman Curia, the Cardinals and the Bishops, need to make themselves, or be made by others, Catholic again, before any part of the secular state can follow them up that new path.
So the focus has to be not on changing the world, but rather on changing my soul, building Divine Intimacy in that internal secret place where I can work fruitfully towards conforming myself to GOD’s will. When I have sufficiently detached from self-worship, and the things of this world, creatures and stuff as ends in themselves, then perhaps GOD will assign me another mission, but until then I must clean my own stable.
It may feel small and insignificant but it takes uncommon virtue to fulfill all one’s duties without carelessness, negligence, or laziness, to avoid the pitfall of giving everything a “lick and a promise” or just going through the motions in order to “get it done”. It takes uncommon virtue to put the effort into attention, piety, and spiritual fervor, to pay attention to the details, for the whole combination of ordinary duties which make up my daily life.
The details matter. I must not be discouraged by failure, either resulting from outside forces or from my own failure of attention or lack of competence – my mistakes and forgetfulness and so on and so forth. Always acknowledge faults and failures, take ownership of them and begin again with renewed commitment. Refrain from “killing the messenger”.
What else is there to say about “duty”? It seems something of a truism that in our great self-regard we find it easier and more attractive to identify the duties of others than our own, and inversely, there will always be a plenitude of folks more than willing to tell us what our duty may be should we find ourselves momentarily unfocused and apparently idle.