Committing Suicide in the War of All Against All
“Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served the Zeitgeist,
He would not in my age have left me naked to mine enemies.”
I. An Addendum
A commentator on my recent letter regarding the Roman Forum and the pandaemonium now diabolically disorienting almost every nook and cranny of our Global Fatherland wondered whether it might not be more accurate to categorize the planetary imprisonment as a Thomas Hobbes-down rather than a John Locke-down. He definitely has a point with respect to the roots and the historical chronology of the problem, but not in terms of marketing what is indeed at base a Hobbesian weapon of mass destruction. Here, Locke beats the author of Leviathan as an arms dealer hands-down.
Still, the point is well taken, and serves the purpose of addressing something weighing heavily on my mind: the need for a brief, three-fold and admittedly somewhat disjointed addendum to my initial words on the Hospital of Earthly Delights that the Medico-Moonshine Complex has brought into being with a panache that Hieronymus Bosch could never have matched. This tripartite addendum concerns 1) the War of All Against All in and of itself; 2) the appropriateness of our chaplain, Fr. Richard Munkelt, baptizing that conflict in its current manifestation with Johnny Pluralist’s name; and, 3) the utterly astounding fact that the Church has decided to “do herself in” just when there is an elegant sufficiency of external warriors ready to administer the coup de grace more honorably.
II. The War of All Against All
We have now passed May 8th, so allow me to begin this addendum with reference to the First World War and the aspect of that conflict that most horrified the average soldier in the trenches: the use of poison gas. Warfare of this kind bothered soldiers more than anything else because it startled them into realizing that the air---the very stuff of life itself---could unexpectedly turn against them. What more dreadful tool could be imagined to convince a man of the truth of Hobbes’ claim that we are all doomed to struggle in a nasty and brutish environment than the mobilization of the atmosphere of a lovely spring day in Flanders Fields to serve as the means for taking his breath away and dying as a solitary, suffering animal? Eureka! The Medico-Moonshine Complex discovered another, even more deadly weapon, through its appeal to an omnipresent, hidden, viral enemy, creeping in unseen from all angles. This leaves each of us totally to his own devices in the most complete way imaginable, since literally everything and everyone---from the cat, to the book on loan from the local library, to my neighbor. and to my own newborn baby boy or girl---has been enlisted into the enemy army!
Here lies the greatest of the evils that the purveyors of the never-ending dread have perpetrated: the belief in an adversary so ubiquitous that it can seduce even my little finger into entering the ranks of the foe by allowing it to scratch my latest itch. Hobbes must be turning over in his grave for not having seen just how bad things really were. And there is nowhere that anyone can turn for protection, as the permutations on the virus at loose are touted as being absolutely infinite in variety. We might just as well line up to get poked and poked again and again until the end of time. In fact, what else would there be to do under the eternal recurring lockdown anyway?
III. Why a John Locke-down?
Hobbes was so deliciously straightforward in his secularized Protestant depiction of the consequences of a belief in the total depravity of existence that pretty much everyone with a functioning mind and half living soul wanted to run away from the tableau he paints. What was needed was a “Hobbes for sissies”. That is where John Locke came to the rescue. How? Because Locke, at rock bottom, believes the same thing that the author of the Leviathan does---namely, once again, that we are all of us at war with one another on an atomistic and materialist battlefield. However, Johnny then goes on to tell us how we can actually avoid the enemies encircling us and survive the debacle. We can do so by “privatizing” our lives; by building our own cozy individual castles and guaranteeing their supply channels so as to provide us with our favorite goodies. This preaching of the Good News of assured individual salvation in the midst of a general, depraved, social conflagration cannot help but seduce our “inner sissy”.
What all this then translates into in the current situation is the John Locke-down. We avoid the Hobbesian hell outside---nature and the rest of the human race ---and stock up with pet creature comforts that we can happily nibble at next to the television, the computer, and even, as it turns out, the Significant Others that Dr. Fauci has admitted he will allow us to sneak into the castle as all else goes to rack and ruin in the crumbling outside Hospital of Earthly Delights. Alas, this, the message of the Moderate Enlightenment, which works by seducing the selfish, materialist individual into believing that he can come through the social Killing Fields on his own always ends by delivering its misled victims to their fate, teaching them in the end that no man is an island. John Locke’s Liberalism always gives way to Hobbes’ more logical universe of total depravity in any number of Radical Enlightenment scenarios, assuring the reign of Leviathan. And the jungle animals of the current lockdown will emerge from their anti-viral hideouts to take off their masks in a world with a devastated spiritual, cultural, and economic life, whose dictatorial elite will give them nothing other to do but march into the clinic for the next of their unending injections, demanding payment through the nose for them to boot.
IV. Why Wait for the Enemy to Get Me When I Can Do Myself In?
Anyone reading this addendum on any site that it might appear will most likely agree with me that the Church, by this point, has been gaining expertise in committing suicide for over more than half a century. Why? This is because the majority of her clergy and laity have decided that in a war between the Trinity and the “Spirit of the Times”---the Zeitgeist--- it is the Zeitgeist that must win. To be quite fair, those clerics and laymen who have not adopted this position out of downright hostility to the Truth have done so due to their conviction that the Zeitgeist is the voice of God. Be that as it may, they have followed a Spirit of the Times that has been guided by the anti-Christian, naturalist Enlightenment down to its final, hedonistic, consumerist, egotistical, willful conclusions.
As one outraged cleric, eyes wide-open, remarked to me just recently, the administration of the coup de grace to the body of the Church at the hands of its own hierarchy is now pretty much inevitable. For if that hierarchy tried at this point seriously to resist the Zeitgeist and denounce the anti-Catholicism of the whole Establishment openly---especially the role of self-proclaimed believers helping to destroy the final remnants of the Christian vision militating within it---its political henchmen could demand a truly thoroughgoing accounting---financially and morally---of dioceses and parishes that have not yet fully felt the long arm of the State upon them. For the two swords have long been cooperating to cover up one another’s sins.
V. A Final Hope
Before I pass by the closed doors of my parish Church---another victim of a hierarchy that has served the Zeitgeist more than it has served its God---to return to my apartment, allow me to express my hope, once again, that this time of John Locke-down will serve to awaken enough Soldiers for Christ--- episcopal, clerical, and lay--- to arise and win back our birthright. If we can be so aroused in sufficient number and commitment, we may be able to awaken some of our non-believing neighbors who are spiritually, culturally, and economically perishing as well. And perhaps we can make an initial stab at this by asking them to calm their fears of viral destruction by meditating upon the following passage from C.S. Lewis, engaged in a similar project, but with respect to his contemporaries’ terror regarding imminent atomic obliteration:
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.” In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty. This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.
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