Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal; grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Five Quick Takes

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I have an announcement: Mudblood Catholic is moving! I was recently picked up by a blogging platform, and I’ll be relocating accordingly. I’m not sure yet of the exact date, but I believe it should be some time next month. I’ll keep you informed about the details!

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Speaking of movement, I’ve been drifting away from anarchism lately. Less for practical reasons—I always knew anarchism was impractical (even if it isn’t nearly as impractical as people suppose)—than because it’s hard to maintain simultaneously that men should govern themselves, and also that the state, i.e. the structure which most men at most times and in most places have recognized as a legitimate governing power, is intrinsically illegitimate. How can their political choices be genuine, with the sole exception of that one? The system may be salvageable: I don’t rule out a possible return to my anarchist convictions. But even in anarchism, I accepted that there would have to be some sort of compromise with the state, since it clearly isn’t going anywhere right this second.

So yeah, after my first time voting for a President eleven years ago, I’m probably gonna vote for the second time in 2020. Feels a little odd.

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I’ve been feeling the bite of singleness a lot more in 2019 than in previous years. Singleness, not loneliness; I’ve often felt that, and if anything it’s troubled me somewhat less this year than before. But that’s only one of the trials of being single. The workload of just being alive is hard to handle by yourself. A couple, or a commune, can divide among themselves the responsibilities of earning a living, cleaning, cooking, budgeting, making social arrangements, and the like. When you’re single, either you do those things for yourself or they do not get done.

This is one of the principal things that many straight Christians who take a traditional view of sexual ethics forget, or neglect. I rather suspect it’s also one of the things that tends to move many Christians to progressivist views on sexuality; a subconscious conviction that God wouldn’t impose a burden like that on people (and indeed, it is not he but our society’s determination to identify intimacy with sexuality that imposed this burden).

I am open to dating: I don’t consider a relationship as such in the least contrary to my beliefs, because finding an intimate relationship through dating doesn’t have to be sexual (though I certainly make no claim to be a good boy whether dating or not). But, I’m not dating anyone now. And I’m a little stumped; as so often.

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My antifa posts are really taking the energy out of me, so don’t expect them to get any more regular. There’s only so much white supremacism I can stand to wade through in a given month.

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I’ve been reflecting a little of late on social media. It’s commonly accepted that it’s an echo chamber, that it gives anger and hatred a place to flourish, that it aids the spread of misinformation, that people are crueller online than they’d ever be in real life, and so forth. All of that’s true, and I don’t know that I have a good solution to any of it.

All the same, and while I do have to be thoughtful and restrain my desire to reply a lot of the time, when I think about Facebook or Twitter, I have to say: they’re delightful! Not 100% of the time, but by and large. I know so many sweet, smart, funny, caring, devout people that I’d never have heard of except thanks to Twitter. The number of brilliant jokes and adorable animals in my Facebook feed far outweighs the impact of most of the online nastiness I come across, and it’s nearly all stuff I’d never have come across except thanks to social media. We spend a lot of time lamenting the divisiveness and ragesturbation of American media, and well we should; but one of the ways we can counteract that darkness is by seeing the good that’s there and enjoying it.

And if that makes me basic, consider: perhaps basic will save the world. It’d fit right in with meek and poor in spirit.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Antifascism 102: A Primer on White Nationist Ideologies

Not every German who bought a copy of Mein Kampf necessarily read it. I have heard many a Nazi stalwart complain that it was hard going and not a few admit—in private—that they were never able to get to the end of its 782 turgid pages. But it might be argued that had more non-Nazi Germans read it before 1933 and had the foreign statesmen of the world perused it carefully while there was still time, both Germany and the world might have been saved from catastrophe. For whatever other accusations can be made against Adolf Hitler, no one can accuse him of not putting down in writing exactly the kind of Germany he intended to make if he ever came to power and the kind of world he meant to create by armed German conquest.

—William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
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CW: White ethnonationalist/neo-Nazi ideology and language.

Why am I pestering you to understand dog-whistles, though? Is white nationalism really a threat to human lives and American society? Isn’t it mostly just a bunch of manchildren raised on Call of Duty and high-fructose corn syrup, manchildren who’ve now moved on to acting out Fight Club fantasies, getting tattoos to be edgy, and trolling libtards (who, let’s be honest, kinda deserve a little trolling) with Pepe the Frog memes?

Well … no. That is, yes, there are plenty of young men in white nationalist movements who are exactly like that; and while damagingly misguided, at heart they may be as comparatively harmless as the heteroflexible stoner dude who has tortured internal monologues about whether his veganism culturally appropriates Japanese Buddhism [1] and considers Donnie Darko the most tragically neglected masterpiece of the whole of cinema. The salient difference between the latter and his white nationalist counterpart is, stoner dude is unlikely to hurt anybody.

But I digress. Yes, there are relatively innocent young men who’ve been taken in by this stuff, and whose primary problems are immaturity and a lack of good information. Whether they form a majority of white nationalists, I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter. The destruction wrought by this ideology is going to be governed by the movement’s leaders and the ideology they enact—not by the individual guilt or innocence of its foot soldiers. And those leaders, and that ideology, are horrifying.

A key element of this ideology is the ideal of ‘ethnic replacement,’ or (in less sanitized language) ‘white genocide.’ This rests on the idea that white people of European descent do or should constitute a single ethnic group [1] or united racial or cultural identity [1], and that immigration from majority non-white regions like South America to majority white regions like the US or Western Europe poses a threat to that ethnic group. This is less out of a fear of immediate violence from brown people, though there’s fearmongering on that front as well, than out of the additional premise that non-white people will outbreed whites and dilute white ethnicity through intermarriage, and in the long run will oppress, exclude, or even expel white people and white culture—not only from political and social ascendancy in these ‘indigenously’ white homelands, but even from living there. In the words of Alex Kurtagić, who wrote a dishonest and disgusting essay titled The Great Erasure for the white supremacist National Policy Institute (headed by the infamous Richard Spencer):
Much of the debate on the decline of Whites in their traditional homelands centers on “immigration,” and specifically the continuing arrival in the West of large numbers of colored “immigrants” from the poorest regions of the world. Some critics of “immigration” feel the term is euphemistic and prefer to label the phenomenon “invasion.” Guillaume Faye [a French alt-right journalist] calls it “colonization.” … The term is not entirely inadequate, for modern “immigration” in the West involves exogenous strangers colonizing Western polities. …  
Critics of “immigration” in the West have noticed its unprecedented scale, its permanent character, and the non-assimilation/non-assimilability of Third World “immigrants.” Among the characteristics of settler colonialism is that settlers come to stay and do not appeal to the established indigenous sovereignty, but rather deny it and seek to remove it in order to replace it with a reproduction of their own society. … The process of doing so is non-violent, following a legal sequence comprising: appeal to the indigenous authority (for recognition and admission as permanent minorities, and eventually citizens; co-option of indigenous structures (lobbying for concessions, multiculturalism); subversion from without (lobbying for anti-racist legislation); and indigenization (becoming legislators, subversion from within). At the same time, the process coexists with violence, whereby the indigenous are physically attacked or subject to predations (typically muggings, robberies, racially motivated beatings, and rape), or else morally attacked (typically accusations of prejudice and “racism,” and/or “racism” hoaxes).
Yeah, nothing says “minority accusations of racism are just a hoax” like “immigrants are plotting to take over our country, and having someone who’s not a white people hold public office is part of their scheme.” Note that South Americans descended from Spanish and Portuguese colonizers for some reason don’t qualify as “White,” despite being about as European as Americans and Canadians are both culturally and historically. Note, too, that “White people” are not only treated as though they constituted a more or less unified ethnicity, which isn’t true at all, but explicitly as the indigenous inhabitants of the United States. I won’t inflict any more of Kurtagić’s repulsive drivel on you; and I’m also not linking to NPI’s website, because I am not giving neo-Nazis web traffic, but I have screenshots from the essay if anyone wants my receipts (or if they take they essay down at some later point for PR reasons).

This theory—that white (sorry, “White”) people not only form a coherent ethno-cultural group [1] which is being colonized by brown people who are going to do to us what we did to the indigenous inhabitants of North America—comes with the political program of establishing a ‘white homeland,’ an ethnostate to protect whites from being overrun or diluted by other ethnicities. [2] This conspiracy against whites is typically attributed to Marxists, Jews, and Marxist Jews, though the anti-Semitism is optional in some versions of white nationalism, which … yay? With or without the anti-Marxist and anti-Semitic tie-ins, though, the political program boils down to one fairly simple goal, approached through incremental and indirect means: ethnic cleansing.

Because really, you can’t have an ‘ethnostate’ except by conducting a purge first. Even in the ancient world, whose means of communication and transport were so much slower and more limited than our own: every society dealt with ethnic and cultural minorities in one way or another, because ethnic and cultural minorities exist in every society and the idea that there ever was a polity where they didn’t is utter fantasy. Classical Athens had its metics, Rome was a famous melting pot, the Mar Thoma Christians of India were there centuries before the Jesuits, the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt, and the Torah itself makes extensive provision for migrants and resident aliens, all derived from a single principle:
For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. —Deuteronomy 10.17-19
Nor (not to say that any migrant needs to prove their ‘usefulness’ to enjoy human dignity and rights) did the Israelites start out as very profitable strangers, when they first immigrated to Egypt. They were brought in at the behest of a gifted relative, who was himself originally taken to Egypt by human traffickers, and who had since ascended to a prestigious public office. 

The only way to achieve the goal of a white ethnostate is through ethnic cleansing; something white nationalists like Spencer are vague about in public statements, except to say that they advocate a ‘peaceful’ version of it. And I’m prepared to acknowledge that it may be less horrifically evil to forcibly uproot and expel a person from their home for the crime of being brown, than it is to judicially enslave or murder them for the crime of being brown. But I am not prepared to be impressed by the moral difference. I oppose the mere ‘peaceful’ ethnic cleansing advocate with the same conviction as I oppose the white nationalist terrorist and butcher. And these ideologies, these movements, are not harmless juvenility, however harmlessly juvenile many of the people who’ve been taken in by them may be. They are a nightmare in the making.

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[1]Hint: no.
[2]‘Fun’ fact: the state of Oregon was admitted to the Union as a free state rather than a slave state … and also had a ‘whites only’ clause in its original constitution forbidding black people to live there and expelling all blacks who already did, so that the whole slavery-vs-abolition thing could be consistently ignored. Opposition to slavery and opposition to racism were two different things in the nineteenth century, and still are—something that makes a little more sense out of the historical trajectory of the Republican Party, and something that, if all goes well for fascism (God spare us!), we may be confronted with on a more immediate level once again in the future.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Meditations for Holy Week 2019

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Palm Sunday
(Mark 11.1-11, John 12.9-33)

At my first communion I went up to the communion rail at the Sanctus bell instead of the Domine, non sum dignus, and had to kneel there all alone through the consecration, through the Pater Noster, through the Agnus Dei—and I had thought I knew the Mass so well!

I loved the Church for Christ made visible. Not for itself, because it was so often a scandal to me. Romano Guardini said the Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from his Cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.

—Venerable Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

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Fig Monday
(Mark 11.12-27, John 2.13-22)

What then of all the great tradition, the freeing of slaves at the Exodus, the determination of the prophets, the long effort against the monstrous impiety of Cain? The answer is obvious; all that is assumed as a mere preliminary. The rich, while they remain rich, are practically incapable of salvation, at which all the Apostles were exceedingly astonished. But if riches are not supposed to be confined to money, the astonishment becomes more general. There are many who feel that while God might damn Rothschild he could hardly damn Rembrandt. Are the riches of Catullus and Carnegie so unequal, though so different? Sooner or later, nearly everyone is surprised at some kind of rich man being damned. The Divine Thing, for once, was tender to us; he restored a faint hope: ‘with God all things are possible.’ But the preliminary step is always assumed: ‘sell all that thou hast and give to the poor’—and then we will talk. Then we will talk of that other thing without which even giving to the poor is useless, the thing for which at another time the precious ointment was reserved from the poor, the thing that is necessary to correct and qualify even good deeds. Even love is not enough unless it is love of a particular kind. Long afterwards St Paul caught up the dreadful cry: ‘though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.’ It is not surprising that Messias saw the possibility of an infinitely greater knowledge of evil existing through him than had been before: ‘blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended at me.’

—Charles Williams, He Came Down From Heaven

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Temple Tuesday
(Matthew 21.23-24.2)

The priest said, ‘Those laws were made for man. The Church doesn’t expect … if you can’t fast, you must eat, that’s all.’ The old woman prattled on and on, while the penitents stirred restlessly in the next stall and the horse whinnied, prattled of days of abstinence broken, of evening prayers curtailed. Suddenly, without warning, with an odd sense of homesickness, he thought of the hostages in the prison yard, waiting at the water-tap, not looking at him—the suffering and the endurance which went on everywhere the other side of the mountains. He interrupted the woman savagely, ‘Why don’t you confess properly to me? I’m not interested in your fish supply or in how sleepy you are at night … remember your real sins.’

‘But I’m a good woman, father,’ she squeaked at him with astonishment.

‘Then what are you doing here, keeping away the bad people?’ He said, ‘Have you any love for anyone but yourself?’

‘I love God, father,’ she said haughtily. He took a quick look at her in the light of the candle burning on the floor—the hard old raisin eyes under the black shawl—another of the pious—like himself.

‘How do you know? Loving God isn’t any different from loving a man—or a child. It’s wanting to be with Him, to be near Him.’ He made a hopeless gesture with his hands. ‘It’s wanting to protect Him from yourself.’

—Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

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Spy Wednesday
(Matthew 26.6-16, Luke 22.1-6)

Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.
One evening I seated Beauty on my knees. And I found her bitter. And I cursed her.
I armed myself against justice.
I fled. O Witches, O Misery, O Hate, to you has my treasure been entrusted!
I contrived to purge my mind of all human hope. On all joy, to strangle it, I pounced with the stealth of a wild beast.

—Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell (trans. Louise Varèse)

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Maundy Thursday
(Luke 22.7-34, John 13.1-35)

What is belief really? It is a human way of taking up a stand in the totality of reality, a way that cannot be reduced to knowledge and is incommensurable with knowledge; it is the bestowal of meaning without which the totality of man would remain homeless, on which man’s calculations and actions are based, and without which in the last resort he could not calculate and act, because he can only do this in the context of a meaning that bears him up. For in fact man does not live on the bread of practicability alone; he lives as man and, precisely in the intrinsically human part of his being, on the word, on love, on meaning. Without the word, without meaning, without love, he falls into the situation of no longer being able to live, even when earthly comfort is present in abundance.

… Christian faith is more than the option in favor of a spiritual ground to the world; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in you.’ It is the encounter with the man Jesus, and in this encounter it experiences the meaning of the world as a person. In Jesus’ life from the Father, in the immediacy and intensity of his converse with him in prayer, and, indeed, face to face, he is God’s witness, through whom the intangible has become tangible, the distant has drawn near. He is the presence of the eternal itself in this world. Christian faith lives on the discover that not only is there such a thing as objective meaning but that this meaning knows me and loves me.

—Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity

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Good Friday
(Mark 14.32-15.41, John 18.1-19.37)

Sonne of God heare us, and since thou
By taking our blood, owest it us againe,
Gaine to thy self, or us allow;
And let not both us and thy selfe be slaine;
O Lambe of God, which took’st our sinne
Which could not stick to thee,
O let it not return to us againe,
But Patient and Physition being free,
As sinne is nothing, let it no where be.

—John Donne, The Litanie

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Holy Saturday
(Matthew 27.57-66)

The end of love is that the heart is still
As the rose no wind distresses, still as light
On the unmoved grass, or as the hummingbird
Poised the pure moment by an act of will.
Death may be like this, but here before night
Sends us to sleep murmuring a drowsy word
Of prayer, affection, or the idle flight
Of fancy, let us praise the rose and light.

—Dunstan Thompson, The Moment of the Rose

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Easter Sunday
(Luke 24.1-43, John 20.1-23)

Here we had a man of Divine character walking and talking among us—and what did we find to do with him? The common people, indeed, ‘heard Him gladly,’ but our leading authorities in Church and State considered that He talked too much and uttered too many disconcerting truths. So we bribed one of His friends to hand Him over quietly to the police, and we tried Him on a rather vague charge of creating a disturbance, and had Him publicly flogged and hanged on the common gallows, ‘thanking God we were rid of a knave.’ All this was not very creditable to us, even if He was (as many people thought and think) only a harmless crazy preacher. But if the Church is right about Him, it was more discreditable still; for the man we hanged was God Almighty.

So that is the outline of the official story—the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when He submitted to the conditions He had laid down and became a man like the men He had made, and the men He had made broke Him and killed Him. This is the dogma we find so dull—this terrifying drama of God is the victim and the hero.

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites; He went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as ‘a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber’; He cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people’s pigs and property; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, He displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and He retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb. He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either.

‘And the third day He rose again’: what are we to make of that? One thing is certain: if He was God and nothing else, His immortality means nothing to us; if He was man and no more, His death is no more important than yours or mine. But if He really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too; and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, man rose too, because they were one and the same person. In any case, those who saw the risen Christ remained persuaded that life was worth living and death a triviality.

That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. Any journalist, hearing it for the first time, would recognize it as News; those who did hear it for the first time actually called it News, and good news at that; though we are apt to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational.

—Dorothy L. Sayers, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged

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