I have had some careful defusing to do over the past day, regarding the article Europeans are frightened in The Anti-Gnostic blog. The person running this blog is spiritually of Episcopalian origins. He is now an Orthodox Christian and tells me that he is interested in western rites including Sarum. Some extremely offensive comments crept onto this article, and Anti-Gnostic had the kindness to remove them. I corresponded with him, explaining certain things that are not appropriately written in public, and we seem to have arrived at an understanding. It goes to show that nearly all conflicts are solved by dialogue and communication. It suffices to explain things and be aware of each other as human beings.
I also wrote to the commenter who wrote so offensively, someone who has been writing on this blog, but I have received no reply, and I withhold the expression in question. There are still many comments from this person in this blog, using the same e-mail address but under two different pseudonyms. According to information he himself gives in his comments, he converted to Orthodoxy from his Roman Catholic origins and became very disappointed. He was ordained a priest, but it is unclear whether he was ordained in a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction or by an independent bishop. The change of pseudonym seems to suggest that he no longer exercises the priesthood. We all live with our ghosts and we all have work to do on ourselves. In closing my e-mail to him, I wrote “I truly pray for God’s peace to descend on you that your heart may be changed“.
My statistics page tells me that those who read my blog are very diverse and numerous, living in many different countries and continents. Most of my commenters are concerned, as I am, to understand things rationally or at least in a spiritual way faced with reality that is beyond human reason. It is too easy to become aggressive and to want to put on a hyper-masculine shell – Go get ’em, boys – as if this world were some kind of wooded land in the south or west of the United States in the nineteenth century. The forces of the modern world cannot be confronted with a blunderbuss and a pistol!
I was quite shaken by the aggressive comments on the postings I deleted and then resumed in my posting of yesterday. We are living in a world of confusion and fear. We are all afraid as my grandparents were back in the summer of 1939. Our lives are about to be changed by one threat or another. It is obvious that nothing can continue as it is. The present financial and political establishment may collapse in a very short time, as did Chamberlain in 1939. Appeasement was over. Darkness was poised to come over the world, and it was stopped. I often marvel at the way we were threatened by annihilation during the Cold War, but the worst never happened. I had nightmares as a child about the nuclear holocaust. Again we are threatened by technological totalitarianism like Orwell predicted in his novel of 1948, and now by radicalised Islam and terror. Nationalist politics may seem to be the solution, but we can ask whether they are equipped in terms of statecraft, diplomacy and an understanding of the big picture. I see no solution, except that we were spared the darkness of the Gestapo and the SS, and we were spared from being vaporised in a mushroom cloud or a lingering death from radiation poisoning. I see God’s hand in all that.
The Gospel exhorts us not to worry about the future, but to live day by day. Perhaps Islam will prevail, and stimulate us Christians to be more authentic in our faith, more so than in the present soul-destroying consumer-capitalist-democratic world. We should be careful about what we think we want, because we might just get it and in a way we least expected. This is the root of my apparently glass-licking attitude. I have been in France since the Mitterrand days, and have observed the political climate here, with the rise of the Front National. I would cringe each time Jean-Marie Le Pen would express things the political establishment and media would interpret as apologiae for crimes against humanity or holocaust denying. This kind of thing has put a lot of people off the nationalist path. We are just little people. We may have our opinions and convictions, but we just can’t express ourselves just in any way. We have to weigh things up, organise our minds and priorities, and assume the consequences.
As Christians, we do well to see things sub specie aeternitatis, in the same way as we look at history. We are called upon as Christians to another level of life through prayer and doing to others as we would have done to ourselves. Many political polemicists have forgotten this. We have the message of The Mission: one priest faces the enemy with the Blessed Sacrament, the other with weapons of war. They both get killed. To the resigned attitude saying “We must work in the world; the world is thus”, Cardinal Altamirando gives his epitaph – “No, thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”.
Is this a call to do nothing and give up? No, because there are many things that can be done, notably missionary work among Muslims as some priests are doing now in the cities right here. Many of those people, who already fled their countries, may well convert to Christianity as the pressure of violence increases. Are we ready to welcome such people, or are we going to continue to call them “rag-heads” or whatever? We can also increase our knowledge of Islam. We must know the enemy and understand why the fundamentalist and violent elements emerged at different points of history. These are things we can do, and no law or authority forbids them. There is no limit to the imagination, or even of human and Christian kindness.