Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Postcard, A Retreat, and Nietzsche's Man

I am back now from my all-too brief retreat at Holy Cross Abbey. Brief, but not without great benefit: Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Holy Eucharist on Saturday with Lauds, thirty minutes of Adoration before the Tabernacle (a plenary indulgence), and lots of silence, walking, and reading.

A book I am finding truly insightful for our times of tumult is Lucy Bennett's A Postcard from the Volcano – A Novel of Pre-War Germany. Historical fiction, yes, but historical fiction that shines a bright light on themes and structures of our own tectonic cultural fractures and violence.

Here is a choice tidbit from the protagonist's, Max's, grandfather: "It is good to be young, and capable of understanding that it's the hopes that need changing" (emphases added). Yeah, right.

An intuition from the Abbey Guesthouse: Nietzsche gave the West a double-barrel dose of his ennervating madness: (a) he described and affirmed a kind of man who accepted the 'eternal return' of the Dionysiac - vain, shame-based, vengeful, proud, bestial - while rejecting the Crucified One's way of forgiveness, mercy, long-suffering, and charity; and (b) that man whom he told Europe to imitate has strode menacingly and violently in the flesh onto Europe's stage in the flesh and in great numbers: the Scimitar's exemplar.

Our hero, Nietzsche's man! How can we, liberal, progressive, multi-culturalist, enlightened peoples, not accept him with arms outspread?

Europe and the West in agreeing with Nietzsche, yet possessed by the unacknowledged Spirit of Christ's concern for the victim and non-violence, quail before this swarthy, proud, "natural man." Would Nietzsche be pleased, I wonder?

The only - the only - hope for Europe and the West is not some finely nuanced revivification of sacramentality (that may come later on); rather, it is a sweeping and wholehearted return to belief God and in Jesus Christ as the true Son of God, the Word made flesh (Jn 1,14), rejection of Dionysus, and metanoiac affirmation of Our Lord's Church here on earth.

Anyone willing to give me odds on that likelihood?

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