Thursday, March 2, 2023

Stopping the Flood

There is a theme running through many intellectuals and wanna-be intellectuals – those who at least see that without Christian values and culture the West is headed to some version of hell.  It’s something like: good religion is important for other people and society, but I don’t need to really believe it.  Anyway, I am too smart for that.

People like this really don’t get the reality that to get (or keep) the society they think they want they will have to quit standing on the sidelines, merely cheering on those who have placed themselves in the game.  It is as if they are saying, “It’s important that people dumber than me believe Christianity to be true, such that I can get the society I want.”

Jordan Peterson offers a version of this: “I act as if it’s true.” This rings equally hollow…and shallow.  Nothing was built or changed by playing games of pretend.  Very few people die for make-believe.  Well, maybe other than Peterson.  He may be the exception that proves the rule, given that his “acting as if it’s true” nearly cost him his life.   (And here, I am assuming he is acting – as opposed to hiding his conversion.  A reasonably safe assumption.)

Some people look at our current state and pine: it kind of worked even just a few decades ago – this “acting as if it’s true” stuff, this hoping that enough dumb people believed – such that society held together.  In other words, we didn’t need to overtly hold to Christian truth and, see, we were doing just fine!  On the one hand, yes.  On the other hand, the cards were dealt well before Obama became president and well before the pill.

We cannot really say "it worked" until just the last couple of decades.  The twentieth century was a catastrophe for the West, all the way around.  Communism was born in the West, as was Naziism, as was critical theory, as whatever it is that you want to say about the monstrosity of the American state, etc. 

Jacques Barzun describes World War One as the suicide of the West.  Now, no one wakes up one day going from well-adjusted to suicide.  The collective “West” didn’t do this either.  The motive power behind the depression and aimlessness was in place well before the suicide occurred.

So, then.  What was it that drove the West to this suicide?  Solzhenitsyn suggested that the reason the West fell into WWI was that men have forgotten God.  It is the best explanation for that otherwise unexplainable war that I have heard. 

When did men forget God?  This can be found in the Enlightenment.  The roots of the suicide of the West can be found here, when men forgot God.  Sure, in different parts of the West God lived on in the fumes of memory longer than in others.  But even early on, He was pushed out of polite society, to be kept in the attic bedroom like some crazy uncle.

Some will say it was earlier than the Enlightenment.  It was the Renaissance, or the Reformation, or the Great Schism.  Or, later: It was Marx, or Gramsci, or Marcuse.  But, in the former, there was still God.  And in the latter, there was not God.  It was in the Enlightenment that men forgot God.

What does this mean for us individually?  I believe that this picture that I painted (or some other such version of our historical reality) should make clear that we, individually, are impotent to fight against this massive flood.  The current is much too strong.

Many are trying to work this out, finding a way to bring more people into the fight – mindfulness practices, Neo-Platonism, Buddhism, a religion that is not a religion, estuaries.  There are problems with each.  In some cases, these foundations built nothing like the freedoms and wealth that the West has enjoyed.  In others, critical mass will never form.  None of these will build the foundation necessary for stopping the floodwaters we are facing.  Yet, an institution is needed.

I see two possibilities for just such an institution: the university, or the Church.  I toss out the university – besides being too far gone, there is no true, foundational, narrative behind these – no story by which to bind.  In any case, the universities were built on a foundation the Church set.  The Church came first, as it had to.

The only institution large enough to stop this flood will be the Church.  It has a history of doing just this.  It has a history of developing and sustaining ideas around liberty.  Through the Church, we individually gain the means by which to withstand the flood.  And for the society it is only through the Church that the flood will be held back. 


Once held back, the floodwaters will even reverse.  After all, in the face of the storm Jesus didn't merely bring a larger boat - He stopped the storm.


Of course, there is a place for the university.  It is a place that the Church – especially and specifically the Catholic branch of the Church – abandoned, and has since even fought against: natural law.  I get it – true Christian faith isn’t for everyone.  But the teaching and understanding of natural law ethics is – well, at least if we want to regain some form of liberty.

And this is where the university – and, by tradition and scholarship, this means Catholic universities – can play a role.

College applicants are abandoning the so-called elite universities.  Places like Hillsdale College are seeing a record number of applicants, as many are fleeing from the nonsense found in most other universities – and as these same universities are abandoning the most capable students in favor of woke admission practices. 

Imagine the same for Catholic Universities as is happening at places like Hillsdale if these universities would do the one higher-education task for which this tradition is best suited: that is, to teach natural law.


  1. Religious shells can't do anything. Paul talks about men that are:
    "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. "

    Christianity without supernatural faith is dead and worthless. Now if enough people in a society truly believe it will preserve the culture. Some who don't believe will act in accordance with the Bible's moral teaching because the church has an influential role in society.

    I think a non-biblical natural law can be taught to non-believers but it will have to be within a society that is highly influenced by Christian intellectuals. To do that you would have to build a natural law through biblical and anthropological observation. But then remove the Bible references for some of natural law's points. John Locke tried to do this I think, so it is not an easy task.

  2. I totally agree with you about the Church coming first before universities. The Church built the West, but to some extent it became a victim of its own success. It fostered a prosperous population which largely escaped the model of ancient despotism, which hung on in the East, and saw extreme technological advancements and improvements in quality of life which made it easier to forget God.

    As a practicing Roman Catholic, I don't put much faith in Catholic institutions right now. The tide has turned too heavily in favor of the liberal infiltrators. The flood has made its way in through the front door, and now we struggle against its currents even in the pews. I do put faith in the remnant of traditional Catholics who are still a sizeable and strong component of the Church. We will prevail, but it may take generations before the institutions again reflect genuine Catholic teachings. It will be interesting to see if the dominant liberal hierarchy will force a split of Catholics by excommunicating SSPX or Archbishop Vigano or by banning the Latin Mass. But that would be too much like open war, which is not as successful a strategy as relatively benign infiltration that slowly pushes the Church deeper into the modern swiftly moving torrent. But the Western Church was founded upon a rock, and the task is not so easy. All their gains could be erased by a single good pope.

    As to Peterson and other intellectuals who see the solution from a planner's perspective but cannot embrace it personally, it is a tragedy. For me to regain my faith took an act of humility. It took an acceptance that miracles can and do happen, that I don't know everything that is or isn't possible, and that I am not smarter than people like Chesterton, Tolkien, Lewis, or Aquinas. Maybe true humility is just beyond some of these folks. I also began to realize just how stupid some modern smart people could be in areas outside their particular area of intense focus (like Einstein being a socialist and Ford a fascist).

    Sadly, I feel that the vanguard of libertarian thought, Hans Hoppe, fits into this category of intellectual (not the stupid one), although he is certainly the one with the least ancillary errors other than his personal rejection, as far as I'm aware, of Christ. I pray for him to convert, and maybe one day he will. I think I remember Lew talking about Murray being close to conversion before his death. Hopefully he did at the last. And I hope it doesn't take Hoppe that long to do the same.

  3. "I'm too smart for God."
    "Thinking themselves wise they became fools."

    1. It would help tremendously if people would learn to discern The Seventh Day from the First Day of the Work Week

  4. "Jordan Peterson offers a version of this: “I act as if it’s true.” This rings equally hollow…and shallow. Nothing was built or changed by playing games of pretend."

    Consider if you will that Trannies have pretended and changed a lot in society. But you are correct in the attitude of many securalists.
    It seems to me that Kierkegaard's "passion" may be a way forward and faith is a pretending without evidence.

  5. I disagree. Right out of the box, in your second paragraph, you are just plain wrong. Loads of people are quite willing to die, even horribly, for all sorts of nonsense, arguably much less valuable than the Christian religion and its ethical framework. That fantasy, demonstrably false, that only "true Christians" can martyr themselves for an idea is one of the reasons so few are ascribing actual credibility to it. Always with the blood sacrifice with you "traditionalists." The point of Christianity was to do away with the old rites of blood sacrifice. Tsk. It is not that the Christian religion posits a god too divine and mysterious to believe; it is that the Christian religion looks entirely too much like the all too human practice of fantastic myth-making and story-telling. It is not God in whom I do not believe; it is the people who invented him who are not convincing. I've seen no evidence of "God," and most of the people who claim to believe in him do not convince me that they've really seen any such evidence, either.

    1. Count

      You amaze, both with your counting skills and logic skills. It is in the third paragraph, not second, where I write: "Nothing was built or changed by playing games of pretend. Very few people die for make-believe."

      I did not write that they are not willing to die for nonsense. That would seem somewhat nonsensical. I believe that people who are willing to die for a cause are absolutely not playing a game of pretend, although they might be dying for nonsense.

      Sorry, can't get past about two lines of this.

    2. Montecristo,

      "It is not God in whom I do not believe;..."

      This is a double negative and anyone who is capable of simple mathematics and logic can reason out that this becomes a positive. "It is God in whom I do believe." You have seen no evidence of "God", but claim to believe. All this means is that you have adopted a system of belief IN God without any evidentiary base, simply on faith that God exists.

      You can claim that I am twisting your words, but you are the one who put them out there for the entire world to see. I do not know what you meant, I only know what you said.

    3. OK. I started typing before I counted paragraphs. You are entirely right about something: that was the third paragraph and not the second.

      My point was that many believers want to make a case that their religion must be "real" because so many are willing to die for it. I'm pointing out that this is not a good argument to make because people are willing to die for all sorts of stuff and yes, they may be serious, but they may also still playing pretend. You're offering a false dichotomy. People can also pretend and look like they are dying for something they are pretending but the reality is that they are actually dying for something deeper, which they may not understand consciously themselves, like tribal identity. To boil it down:
      1. A person may claim to be a Zoroastrian.
      2. The person may not really believe in Zoroastrianism.
      3. The person may claim to be dying for Zoroastrianism but in reality they are not; they are actually "dying for their religion" because they cannot stand the thought of being perceived as someone who does not really believe or would not die for their religion. In other words, because they value and want to protect their tribal identification, whether they believe or not. The only thing that can be definitely said about people who die trying to advance some end is that they are serious about something. That something may not be the thing they claim that it is. If you look at the behavior of the 9/11 terrorists you find that their behaviors were not all that compliant with someone who takes Islam seriously. It must be said that they certainly were serious about something, but we have fair evidence to doubt that it was actually their Muslim faith for which they were dying. Apparent martyrdom, in and of itself is not sufficient evidence to substantiate a claim of devotion. People can be full of hidden and ulterior motives.

  6. Please. Stop blaming the atheists. You can get your fingers out of my face and go fish for the plank in your own eye. Here's the truth: it is estimated that a mere 20% of those on the side of the "Wokeness" morality mania are "true believers," and the rest of the left and the bulk of our society are dragged along and suffer their nonsense and find it difficult to dislodge in the culture. Twenty percent. If a mere twenty percent of Christians actually believed what they claim, or took it seriously, Western society would be composed of Christian nations again. I don't think that's ever going to happen, anymore than I expect the belief in Thor or Zeus to become predominant in the culture again. None of those belief systems are going to muster that necessary 20 percent, and that's why many adherents are flailing around, wondering why they cannot influence the culture at large. That's a damning indictment. The very evidence of the collapse of Christian culture is indicative of the fact that Christianity can't even muster that 20 percent, that is, among their own flock. It is not the non-believers and atheists who are their problem, and kvetching about them will not do a thing for you or your side.

    As for your other assertion, that people "forgot God," that is also self-serving nonsense. People didn't "forget God," as if in a moment of absent-mindedness; they just stopped believing in him. Why? Because the Christian mythology no longer has the explanatory power it once did. I believe Nietzsche was the one who noted that, even the devout Christian, when confronted by a child spewing gibberish and and acting out depraved, grotesque, or violent impulses, calls the psychiatrist first, not the exorcist.

    Finally, if you are going to teach Natural Law philosophy, then you need to start on the right intellectual foot. Stop seeing "liberty" as something that is granted, lost, "provided" by the culture, or more fundamentally, something that is absent or present based on belief. You've already conceded the argument if you start there. Liberty is what we ARE, by our nature, whether it is recognized and acknowledged or not, whether it is infringed or protected in our governance models, whether it is revered or disparaged by any particular individuals or collection of same. We are born free and we are free. We do not "deserve" liberty; we have it, including all of the power and responsibility that entails. If we want to stop messing up society, we need to stop speaking as if liberty is just some whim to which some sufficient majority subscribe that gives it substance in the culture. THAT is why the culture is failing. Look at your own words, Physician, and heal thyself. Suggesting that human liberty is a mere social arrangement, or a traditional convention, or a whimsical conceit in which some indulge, is right up there with the idea that there 57 genders or that sex is merely a narrative. It isn't the atheists, or the liberals, or the "secular humanists" who are the problem; it is the so-called "Conservative Christians" who have shot themselves in the foot. Oddly enough, I think the wound is mortal.

    1. ^ The thinking that led to led to World War, boom/bust
      cycles, Communism, and 1000000 genders. Congratulations on your destruction.

    2. The world wars were instigated mostly by nominal Christians who exhorted people to join them in "a fine moral adventure" or a quest for "The New Jerusalem." Likewise, boom/bust fiat currency and the welfare state were the misbegotten brain children of nominal Christians who believed that government force was a sufficient and better substitute for personal charity and individual social responsibility. in other words, they believed that political government, of itself, was more effective than personal conscience. Blasphemous. Look in the Christian Bible: it isn't the refreshingly ice-cold non-believers who disappoint Jesus the most; it is those "neither hot nor cold," lukewarm Christians who do.

    3. Montecristo: I too struggled with what I viewed as "lack of Power" in the Christian message.I spent years claiming that THAT power has long since vanished, just as you claim. Thing is, in asking God to show us power first, we have the paradigm backwards. We have to Believe God first, then we see the power. God said all he needed to say as Christ lay on the Cross for our sins, the days of the Old Testament ceased on that day. The early apostles had such faith since they walked with Christ Himself. Sadly today, this order of events has been lost in main society, but it lives in the churches. Fact is "man loves the creature rather than the Creator" and the Creator is not going to bless that with His power. I hope you 1 day find this power - Amen!

    4. I think the wound is mortal too. Praise logic and reason.

    5. American Progressivism was a secular version of postmillennial pietism. It was Progressives who created the Fed. If you look even at the "Christians" in the Progressive movement they were theologically liberal which means they denied all the super natural parts of the Bible. They didn't believe in the virgin birth and divinity of Christ, etc. Some were nominal Christians who had rejected foundational Christian doctrine. The other were atheist materialists who worshipped democracy. Richard Ealy a prominent Progressive called the state god on earth and more divine in nature than the church. That is idol worship not Christianity.

      Early American Progressives were educated in German universities which had already rejected Christ. European intellectuals/elites more or less rejected Christianity publicly for atheism in 1755 because of the earthquake in Lisbon.

  7. A peaceful cooperative society requires cooperation of all members. Christianity not only instilled a code of morality and behavior favorable to a functioning society but they convince members that their thoughts and deeds are being constantly watched and judged. While I don't even believe Jesus was a real historical figure I do appreciated that Christians who do, don't steal my stuff and take pride in being trustworthy. The US is falling into chaos because atheist hedonism creates psychopaths with no personal honor or restraints. I don't know how we put that genie back in the bottle without total AI Orwellian surveillance or some biotech I can't imagine.

    1. You are prime evidence of the belief-in-name-only phenomenon I am discussing with the author. Your insistence that atheists cannot be moral because they have no fear of an omniscient deity watching them is a belief in surveillance, not divine love. Want to know what REAL belief looks like? I read a believer once who claimed that the moral atheist is not only possible, but that the existence of same was evidence that divine design transcended individual belief. In other words, divine law is so overwhelmingly prevalent and fundamental in existence that it was obvious even to honest truth seekers whether they believed in God as its origin or not. Now THAT is someone who has some conviction that there is a divine plan. How many Christians think like that these days? My observation: not many. They say they believe. They may even want to believe. They just don't act like they have any conviction or confidence in what they believe. Many of them believe in what I call The Efficacy of Evil Fallacy. They believe that good is right but that evil is actually more efficacious, and powerful, at least on Earth. That is a sure-fire recipe for losing a faith-based argument.

    2. Atheists can be moral because God created humans with a moral intuition called conscience and a rational ability to understand natural law.

  8. I would suggest that Nihilism and other late 19th century crap put to nails in Western Christianity begun in the the Enlightenment. It provided the foundation for all 20th-21st century politics and culture. Only Eastern Christianity in it's fullness (hard to find) is an antidote for the soul. A Christianity the Greeks have largely abandoned.
    Still alive in the Slavonic Churches and monasteries and to a lesser degree in those of the near east.