Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pinkerton - Duty and Destiny

The Once & Future Christendom

From death of the West—to knights of the West

by James P. Pinkerton

The Call of Duty—and Destiny

In one of the great epics of Western literature, the hero, confronted by numerous and powerful enemies, temporarily gives in to weakness and self-pity. “I wish,” he sighs, “none of this had happened.” The hero’s wise adviser responds, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.” The old man continues, “There are other forces at work in this world … besides the will of evil.” Some events, he adds, are “meant” to be, “And that is an encouraging thought.”

Read entire article. Mark Gordon summarizes it well here.


Aramis said...

My dear Athos, you find these articles, and then throw them up to us; I ask what are we to do with them? Entire semesters at the university could be dedicated to such an article, especially if we could connect-the-dots with Bailie, Girard and mimetic theory. But alas, how foolish I am of even thinking that and of course, you could accuse me of smokin’ some of that weed-stuff of the Shire believing that we could connect-the-dots at one of ‘our’ universities’.

I love these kinds of articles, they stir in me all sorts of questions and hunger for the Real Transcendence. And I hope that Porthos chimes in here as well.

I have 2 comments focused on the following: "...Hilaire Belloc asserted, 'The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.' Indeed, during those many centuries, Europe enjoyed a pretty good run. Only in the last century—the century of atheists, psychiatrists, and National Socialists—has Europe’s survivability come into question. Today, the Christian author Os Guiness puts the issue plainly: 'A Europe cut off from its spiritual roots cannot survive.'"

My first comment comes in the form of the following questions. The second comment I will submit later.

A question here that I rarely see such authors answer is how could such a Faith, as Belloc describes here; a Europe so strong and vibrant with life in Christ(?), how could it succumb and eventually default to such heresy if it had such a Faith? Was it an attack from outside forces - from differing religious beliefs that cut it off from its spiritual roots and now it has had its 'Faith' nearly ousted right out of Europe? And if a Faith once had were to be recaptured by Europe, would it be from an “eternal return” once more propagated through human violence? Athos, I struggle with these questions, for I envision the fight for ‘this’ Faith is won by putting on the face of the Übermensch (the old self) – not the putting on the “new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator… but Christ is all and in all.” (Col 3:10-11)

The 'new self' is not a return to the Shire - to the old Europe and yet these authors and cultural alarmist seem to hold this very notion up as the hope for the future. But what about the following from the Hamerton-Kelly article as an explanation of what is happening? The article surmises that "Islam (is) in the throes of an advancing sacrificial crisis," and if read correctly, "this is the sign that the latter days of the present world are upon us." He concludes this line of reason with, "I mean simply that the present global order is in a process of deep transformation and the outcome is uncertain. The old order is collapsing and sacrifice can no longer stop the crisis of disorder or hold it up. The USA with all its military power, which I regard as a prime instance of good violence, cannot bring order in Iraq, which is a sign of this historical stage of advanced sacrificial failure, an apocalypse indeed."

It seems to me that what damages and distorts Christianity at the community/nation-state level is "the self" - our forever fallen tendencies to scratch the itch of the false transcendence which turns the community into crowds and leads us back into a state of the eternal return. The "self" and the state are so interwoven and only the conversion of the "self" can usher in the Kingdom, transforming the world.

Aramis said...

My dear Athos, my second comment on the following quote: "...Hilaire Belloc asserted, 'The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.' Indeed, during those many centuries, Europe enjoyed a pretty good run. Only in the last century—the century of atheists, psychiatrists, and National Socialists—has Europe’s survivability come into question. Today, the Christian author Os Guiness puts the issue plainly: 'A Europe cut off from its spiritual roots cannot survive.'"

One of the things I love about MT, yet I know the difficulty for the academic to weave the disciples together so as to get them to talk with one another; but look at this comment: “the century of atheists, psychiatrists, and National Socialists…”

This is one of those statements that could use a little unpacking. What was the religious fervor of those times and the state of the ‘self’? MT helps us see the connections.

Bailie, in his tape set, The Gift of Self, uses the following term, European intellectual mythomaniacs to describe the “thought” seeding Europe at the time. Nietzsche might have been the poster child for the times, but Carl Jung was the mad-scientist spewing fumes of mythology and a return to the old sacral system. Refer to Girard’s article Are the Gospels Mythical?.

From a site on Jung: Swiss psychiatrist, one of the founding fathers of modern depth psychology. Jung's most famous concept, the collective unconscious, has had a deep influence not only on psychology but also on philosophy and the arts… More than Freud, Jung has inspired the New Age movement with his interest in occultism, Eastern religions, the I Ching, and mythology.
"The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is "man" in a higher sense - he is "collective man," a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind." (from 'Psychology and Literature', 1930)

One of the things that seem so hard for us to see is the interconnectedness of significant cultural/religious events and the stability of the ‘self’ or personhood. What made Jung particularly dangerous is that he brought these things together in a twisted and anti-Christian concoction that has had devastating effects on Christianity and the Real Transcendence (and not only in Europe). And we are still, very much breathing the fumes from it – sadly, just look into any “Leadership” program; feel and taste the ever-lingering Nietzschean/Jungian concoction (we just won’t throw it in the volcano of Mt. Doom, there casting it down and destroying it once and for all). (Here is one such leadership site The Institute for Life-leadership and Coaching – read all the quotes from Jung that washes out or distorts solid Christian leadership principles.)

Athos said...

You honor me with very thoughtful comments, Aramis. Let me first say that I don't think Pinkerton is approaching his concept of his "Shire Strategy" from what I see as yet another attempt of an ubermensch consciously or unconsciously making a stab at the Eternal Return. I see him, and many others -- Gil included -- as trying to reawaken the gospel impetus to pull OUT of the mythic degenerativity which keeps from asking questions about the sacrificiality taking place.

Pinkerton very self-consciously points out Tolkien's Catholic awareness of human sin and corruptibility. But, he also lauds the need to take up a fight to defend what needs be defended; the Church calls this "legitimate defense." Else, think for a moment, how Hitler and the Reich would be analyzed and dealt with. Here I diverge with Hamerton-Kelly. He, IMO, would see the Third Reich as "in the throes of an advancing sacrificial crisis" due to the sheer numbers of its victims. Would it have been better to sit on our hands, and not take part in the Normandy landings? Tolkien never abjured war for such a cause. Should Catholics informed by mimetic theory?

Secondly, being paralyzed into inaction due to "the interconnectedness of significant cultural/religious events and the stability of the 'self' or personhood may not be the faithful thing. Nor is it Herr Dr Jung's analytical psychology that unravels this twisted and convoluted tangle. I was caught it his web long enough and know it fairly well (I'm not saying you think he was right!).

The long and short of it is this: I sense a humility in Pinkerton's approach -- a sense of the radical problem of the universality of Original Sin -- that is a better thing to consider than either the leftist, multiculturalist drivel that colludes with the primitive sacred at the very heart of the Islamic fascist message of the "strong horse" (until the latter does away with the former with violent "righteousness"). For, we see in them the two sides of the primitive sacred: the progressive death-dealing in pagan infanticide, idolatry, and polytheism; the rightist fascism in law-and-order rule "by the book" (the Koran).

Christianity deserves saving, not by hate, but by unifying through "political co-operation" (Pinkerton says" - the "Council of Elrond" - in order "with political skill, we can keep clashes from becoming larger wars."

I fear looking to MT and a docile Christianity without warriors is still a pipedream of those 60's types (I am among them) who say one thing, but want the police to come when we call, along with fire and rescue. In short, the "hierarchy" that may have elements of the sacred, but which the Church and her Gospel valorized and still IS valorizing.

Without legitimate defense, we are, as they say, "sitting ducks."

Porthos said...

Chime! (There, I chimed in.)

Seriously, though, I haven't had time to read the whole article or all your comments, so I'm not going to contribute until/unless I get through it all.

Athos said...

Of course, Pinkerton's "Shire strategy" begs the question of where the borders of the Shire are. This story, BTW, feel sinisterly like recent memories I have of the DC sniper who killed a shopper at Home Depot, loading her purchases into the car next to her husband, all of a Tuesday evening.

Porthos said...

All I can do is make unconnected points. I agree with Athos that the pure pacifism of MT (or some interpretations of MT) doesn't work, among other reasons because that kind of pacifism is hardly pure (well, leave that one for another day).

From our standpoint, of wanting to see the Judeo-Christian heritage and its Civilization endure, there seem to be three responses (rough and overlapping) to the global crisis:

1) Defensive (borders, immigration, resistance to both postmodern ennervation and sharia-like imposition, etc.)

2) Regenerative (personal and ongoing conversion, renewal of faith, family, demographics, morality, etc.)

3) Offensive (mission/evangelization, pre-emptive military engagement, globalization, promotion of secular democracy, etc.)

Responses that we choose, or even responses that must evolve whether we choose them or not, must be a mixture of the three, and they are not so easy to sort out.

Pinkerton and Mark are strong on number 1, imply number 2 (which is not quite in the scope of this article but a permanent concern of people like Mark, Gil and ourselves), and are at best highly ambivalent if not outright hostile on number 3 (it is the "neocon" strategy).

But number 3 is actually NOT just the neo-con strategy (missions/evangelization?) but a mix of the Great Imperative, Thomas Barnett type liberalism, neoconservatism, etc. Pre-emptive military engagement is ruled out by both Pinkerton and Mark, but unneccesarily and probably (in my view) unwisely. The idea behind preemption is not to bring on the "big one" but (and this is argued very explicitly by neocons) to avoid it. It may work, it may not, but there's no reason for me to think pulling up the drawbridges and making it a totally defensive war would be any more successful (I have various reasons to believe it would be less so).

Whether the Great Imperative (mission/evangelization) is better achieved by drawing up the gates (and revitalizing the core) or streaming out of them is an interesting and open question.

As for forming alliances, I'm all for it. Note that the present alliances include demographically "non-Christian nations" (India, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Taiwan, Singapore--very crucial alliances). This makes the "let's rally to defend Christendom" call a tad problematic.

Porthos said...

It occurs to me that the Three Mass'keteers fall (though not without overlap) into the three categories above:

Athos (rather more emphatic on number 1),

Aramis (rather more emphatic on number 2),

Porthos (somewhat emphatic on number 3 though he covers his behind with endless caveats and conditionals).

Number 2 is what probably what unites us most. With numbers 1 and 3 we seem to diverge most.

So, it's Ath for 1 & all for 2 (& Por kind of sort of maybe for 3)!!!

That's a rousing call to arms if ever there was one, eh lads?

Athos said...

1) Defensive (borders, immigration, resistance to both postmodern ennervation and sharia-like imposition, etc.)

2) Regenerative (personal and ongoing conversion, renewal of faith, family, demographics, morality, etc.)

3) Offensive (mission/evangelization, pre-emptive military engagement, globalization, promotion of secular democracy, etc.)

Your schema above, Porthos, is a tad Procrustean, and -- well, hmm, Evangelism grouped with preemptive military engagement?!.

The discussion regarding Pinkerton's "Shire Strategy" in itself isn't making a claim to meeting all the criteria for Our Lord's Great Commission [Mtt 28,16ff], because of the perceived threat that calls for "legitimate defense." To pigeon hole thusly is making quite a false distinction of persons' priorities. But, then, I realize too that you are having a bit of fun here -- cutting up, playing the fool, in good Porthosean manner -- carrying the ball into left field and laughing at the players with their hands on their hips, seeing what the prankster will do next.

If you are not playing around thusly, my apologies.

Porthos said...

Um, I am being badly misread again, and my motives are being questioned again. The former I can deal with, the latter makes me really uncomfortable. I assume some of this is my fault, but I also think not all of it is. Please try to make more charitable assumptions.

When I write stuff like "kinda sorta maybe" this is my way of mocking my own indecisiveness or tendency to weight this against that and the other thing, not by any means a way of being a smart-aleck and mocking anybody else. I hope people who know me, at least, recognize this.

Let me go back and try again. Pinkerton is essentially an isolationist, hence my observation that his strategy is primarily defensive is perfectly just, I think. (His use of Buchanan kind of proves my point, I think.) [Side issues: Buchanan would not much like Pinkerton's defense of Israel, and I think it's primarily Mexicans rather than Muslims Buchanan wants to protect us from immigration-wise. {By the way, do we defend Christendom by keeping out Catholic hispanics?}]

Anyway, the three categories are clusters of "types of response," not groups of equivalent things. Hence, the pairings of unlikely elements. Pre-emptive military engagement is not at all the same thing as missions/evangelization (or for that matter globalization, or the promotion of secular democracy)--obviously. HOWEVER, everything in that "defensive" category is pretty much implicitly downplayed, if not ruled out, in Pinkerton's strategy, and each one points up some weaknesses in that strategy, I think. Pre-emption: by distancing himself from that, Pinkerton's rousing call to arms becomes something of a rousing call to tactical retreat. Missions/Evangelization: not mentioned by Pinkerton, but missions/evangelization might suffer in a drawbridge-up type world--so defending "Christendom" might not be equivalent to advancing Christianity. (A perfectly valid point, I think, which I left open for discussion but did not elaborate on.) Globalization: not saying it's good or bad (probably both) but it's certainly very real, and I don't know where it fits into Pinkerton's thesis. Promotion of secular democracy: I assume that Pinkerton, if not against it, is not much for it (another neo-con thing).

In other words, Pinkerton is pretty much saying, "Allright, you frenzied Muslim hordes can have your Caliphate (borders to be determined) but we're drawing up the drawbridges and strengthening our defenses, and choosing alliances with other Christian strongholds about the world."

I could go on about why I don't think that's a completely great response, but I'll watch how the discussion goes first--and assess the burn risk!

Porthos said...

HOWEVER, everything in that "defensive" category is pretty much implicitly downplayed
"defensive" should be "offensive"

Aramis said...

Quite the list here, Porthos.

1) Defensive (borders, immigration, resistance to both postmodern enervation and sharia-like imposition, etc.)

2) Regenerative (personal and ongoing conversion, renewal of faith, family, demographics, morality, etc.)

3) Offensive (mission/evangelization, pre-emptive military engagement, globalization, promotion of secular democracy, etc.)

Can't argue with you. My 2 cents worth is ... neither flight nor fight, but by a 3rd way... prayer - the Real Transcendence (regenerative). If mimesis is the force behind the human condition, as Girard spells out, the only way through #1 and #3 is the Mystery of prayer (#2). The saving of us (we presumably agree of our fallen condition) comes (one-interdividual-at-a-time) through the conversion of the old self, steeped in pagan vestiges, into a new being brought into existence by the Trinitarian Source standing outside our mimetic entanglements of this world (which includes the Shire).

I am NOT a pacifist, having thrown out all my ‘make love not war’ bumper stickers years ago, and I do not go around advocating sticking flowers into the ends of rifles. But the disturbing visions I have in advocating the picking up rifles to kill (so as not to be killed) is very hauntingly like that which turns one into real evil, even if just for the time it takes to pull the trigger. My vision struggles with seeing people, who if not ontologically grounded, having only a wafer thin density of the Real Transcendent, then their recovery to a sane and civil human may take consider time (or not at all if their density is consumed with the itch of the false transcendent). Killing is the result of war and the killing of life can never be good.

The Gospel is deconstructing our justifying myths, but we are not keeping pace by living the Gospel. It is my feeling that complacency, like we have experienced it in these past couple decades, has led inevitably back to the killing fields, or in other words, the eternal return.

There is a direct link between our faith as interdividual selves and the Faith of a society/culture. From “The Gift of Self” tape series by Bailie: Satinover’s paper Jungians and Gnostics where he quotes Jung, who advocated the return of pagan vestiges: “As the Christian view of the world loses its authority, the more menacingly will the "blonde beast" be heard prowling about in its underground prison, ready at any moment to burst out with devastating consequences. When this happens in the individual it brings about a psychological revolution, but it can also take a social form.”

Jung, full of himself as a Christ figure, talks of a “blond beast”, but we today can go out and hook-up with (or more likely we have allowed ourselves through imitation of a complacency of faith to accept) various beasts of any persuasion or ethnicity, but the result is still the return of the pagan revival. What is described here is the interconnectedness of the old self and the social/cultural arena.

And Bailie points out that the Nazi death camps where not carried out by “those people” out there, but intellectual Europeans. Now remember, Europe, as Belloc wrote, 'The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.' So the trouble in this world where something new and something old is coming into focus or going out of focus is with us. It is our own nostalgia, romanticism and complacency with the old self trapped in desires (the compulsive preoccupation with the others that inevitably lead to the pagan resurgence) that is the real problem. It is not other peoples’ religions – it is what we do with or most likely don’t do the faith passed on to us. It is not ‘if’, but when our interdividual faith weakens we socially/culturally invite the “blond beast” back (be it within or outside the borders) and then we must shoulder the rifle once again, as if we wanted to all along, and “defend” the Shire – defend, through a complacency of our Faith, we allowed our nation-state to revert back into pagan vestiges.

By the way, if I recall correctly, Frodo Baggins could not and did not retire to the Shire even though he tried. I think there is much to this point. We all romanticize retiring to (or defending) a “state” (as if frozen in time) which is actually fading out of focus, whether it be a nation-state or the old self – when in fact we are “called out” – to come alive – to be a member of the new creation – a new being with The Creator co-creating the Kingdom here and now.

I do not deny the importance of defending the Faith and I want to hold up models who, by pointing to and living their YES to the One True Source, live out their lives as prayer. Being Prayer in this world is the Franciscan charisma and I guess I surrender to that mystery.

So it is as you say, we 3 Mass'keteers - all 4 1 & 1 4 all.

Athos said...

Not casting aspersions, Porthos, for your kinda-sorta-maybes, nor accusing of mockery.

Your last analysis made a great deal of sense to me, and, it seems to me that our casting about is a prime indicator of the way the West that still sees itself as the West (as opposed to the vacuous postmodern nihilistic sorts who find their raison d'etre in their plumbing and pan-physical attractions) is still very Christ-haunted. The looming shadow of barbarians at (and within) the gates -- I know, I know, not all ******* are terrorists, etc. -- are way back there in terms of being influenced by the Gospel and the Spirit. Demographically alone we see the enormity of differences of priorities, and in this area alone, not counting others, the West's populace stands in a defensive posture, unless we don't care about the values that Aramis describes ("prayer - the Real Transcendence (regenerative)") that I-fascist imams don't give a rat's tail about.

We flail about filling page upon page, post upon post about ways to revive flagging devotion to Our Lord and his Church, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, but the Sacred hoard that does not quail at using the scimitar for "holy" purposes seems to grow even as we speak and write, write, write.

Athos said...

Interestingly, Mark Steyn posted Pinkerton's piece.