Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves---Revisited

An Ancient Chinese Reproach to Modern Assassins of the Past

“The First Emperor’s tomb was an image of the world created and maintained by bronze---the force of arms---whereas Sima Qian’s Shiji offered an alternative depiction of the world, inscribed on bamboo slips and regulated by scholarship and morality….If Sima’s creation could not match the First Emperor’s in political power, it far surpassed it in influence, and eventually the famous mausoleum was known and understood by the place it held in Sima Qian’s all encompassing bamboo-world.”---Grant Hardy, in John Keay’s A History of China (Basic Books, 2009), p. 109.

All roads lead Catholics to Rome, even if across the ancient Silk Road westwards from far away Cathay. And my thoughts this week did turn to Rome---the Rome that was raised to a new level of supernatural significance due to the importance of the Catholic Church---precisely while preparing a lecture for a class in Chinese History at my university.

The lecture in question dealt with Shi Huangdi (221-210 B.C.), the first emperor, whose Qin Dynasty proved to be the shortest in Chinese History (221-207 B.C.), surviving its founder by a mere three years. This Dynasty was guided by the political philosophy known as legalism. Insisting upon the principle that material issues are the only things that really count in life, legalism basically taught that material might determines legal right. Therefore, whatever the physically powerful emperor “willed” was the law.

Qin legalists like Li Si (280-208 B.C.) and Han Fei Tzu (280-233 B.C.) were so committed to keeping men’s minds focused perpetually upon what “the law” identified as being “practical” and preventing them from discussing the True, the Good, and the Beautiful that they worked successfully to ban the consultation of all non-utilitarian books and to punish severely those who wrote and read them. Some philosophers were even buried alive for the unpardonable crime of wasting time in rational thought and praising those who bravely put its conclusions into practice in the past.

Therefore in the state of an enlightened ruler there are no books written on bamboo strips; law supplies the only instruction. There are no sermons on the former kings: the officials serve as the only teachers….When the people of such a state speak, they say nothing in contradiction of the law; when they act, it is so as to be useful; and when they perform brave deeds, they do so in the army (Han Fei in Keay, p. 96).

I request {then} that all writings, the {Book of} Odes, Documents and the sayings of the hundred schools of philosophy be discarded and done away with. Anyone who has failed to discard such books within thirty days…shall be subjected to tattooing and condemned to ‘wall dawn’ {i.e., hard} labor. The {only} books to be exempted are those on medicine, divination, agriculture and forestry. (Li Si, in Keay, pp. 96-97).

The all-encompassing character of the pragmatic, materialist, a-moral Qin legalist vision was “holistically” represented by Shi Huangdi’s tomb: a massive city recreating the entire cosmos as a parallel universe allowing the emperor to orient himself properly at his entry into the next life. Its macabre interior was populated by everything from the bodies of slaughtered concubines to the famous army of 10,000 terracotta military figures to painted depictions of the very geography of the cosmos as a whole.

{Workers} dug down to the third layer of underground springs and poured in bronze to make the outer coffin. Replicas of palaces, scenic towers, and the hundred officials, as well as rare utensils and wondrous objects, were brought to fill the tomb. Craftsmen were ordered to set up crossbows and arrows, rigged so that they would immediately shoot down anyone attempting to break in. Mercury was used to fashion imitations of the hundred rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangzi, and the seas, constructed in such a way that they seemed to flow. Above were representations of all the heavenly bodies, below, the features of the earth. Whale oil was used for lamps, which were calculated to burn for a long time without going out. (Keay, p. 104)

Happily for the human mind and spirit, such totalitarian, reductionist excess could not ultimately bury alive all thought regarding what the true cosmos was like and what was substantively practical in the long haul. Grant Hardy’s comments, cited immediately below the title to the present article, relate that extraordinary and heartening fact. Thankfully, our ultimate appreciation of the Qin, Shi Huangdi, and their willful, materialist, legalist Empire, along with our overwhelmingly negative judgment of its brutal standard operating procedures and savage judicial punishments, do not come from hyperactive imperial propagandists and slave drivers. Instead, they emerge from the critical pen of a professional historian; a scholar who studied his nation’s past under the influence of Chinese thinkers who were eager to understand the eternal laws underlying nature and who could see the danger of their irreverent violation at the hands of arrogant anti-intellectuals satisfied that fluctuating might makes right.

Sima Qian (c. 145-c. 86 B.C.), whose massive Shiji, or Records of the Grand Historian, written down in all their “impractical” glory on slips of bamboo, cover the entirety of Chinese History from its beginnings to his own day. We interpret the Qin through him. Ravage the present and the past as much as the first Chinese dynasty did, it was a “powerless” man with the vision of a broad moral order that judged its momentarily invincible, but ultimately meaningless and brutally inhuman message for posterity.

Still, it is chilling to contemplate what we would think about the first emperor and his realm if we knew nothing of Sima Qian’s work. After all, the material world is impressive, and Shi Huangdi’s tomb and its contents are extraordinary enough potentially to overwhelm an observer from any age that contemplates them. Their impact on the men of an era like our own, which passes judgment on everything on the basis of just how much it can materially “shock and awe” is mindboggling. Without the Shiji to shame our contemporaries into a more nuanced public confession of the proper hierarchy of values and the nasty Qin assault upon it, they would undoubtedly adore the material riches and power on display before them.

This Chinese tendency to praise the victory of the meditative and the moral over the materially overwhelming and amoral is, of course, deeply inspiring in its own right, as the first great wave of Catholic missionaries of the 1500’s and 1600’s also recognized. Nevertheless, since all roads do lead us to our contemporary Roman Catholic concerns, my lecture on Siam Qian and the Qin Dynasty ultimately sent my mind on a depressing journey westward. It caused me to think back to an article that I wrote for The Remnant many years ago entitled Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves---a piece that is still available on the web (jcrao.freeshell.org). It did so because I realized that that essay’s main thesis underlined a tragic truth of continuing import: the reality of that contemporary Catholic surrender to a willful, materialist legalism assassinating the past to which the ancient Chinese lesson serves as an eternal rational reproach.

Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves pointed out that we believers, who possess “Sima Qian-like” writings that fully explain our broad vision, its unrivalled historical splendor, and the horrible a-moral and immoral errors of its enemies in brilliant abundance from the beginnings of Christian History to the present, regularly obey the orders of willful men who command us to toss them all gleefully into the waste bin. These assassins of the past are neo-Catholics. Just like those advisors of the Qin who prohibited the reading of philosophical and historical books in the name of the law, neo-Catholics condemn as “disloyal believers” all those who actually dare to consult the full ecclesiastical record to the detriment of what they declare to be the untouchable dictates of the “lawful authorities”.

Sad to say, our current assassins of the past---unlike their Chinese forbears---have triumphed for a longer period of time. The consequence has been that our whole Tradition has indeed been “buried alive”. To add insult to injury, these neo-Catholic gravediggers brazenly claim that the corpse they have smothered is actually still alive and kicking…but only to be seen and appreciated “holistically” through fixing one’s eyes on the modern equivalent of Shi Huangdi’s microcosmic tomb. Let us run through the whole miserable story as briefly but as systematically as possible.

1. Our “Sima Qian material”:

We possess our own vast Records of the Grand Historian in the documentation provided by the fullness of the Catholic Tradition. These Records come down to us in a myriad of forms: Sacred Scripture; the decrees of all the Councils and the whole teaching of the Papacy, with due distinction made between their unchanging doctrinal claims and their passing and potentially erroneous comments on contemporary matters, ecclesiastical and secular; the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors that aid us mightily in making such a distinction properly; and, finally, the conglomerate of lessons offered by the successes and failures of men and women throughout the entirety of Church History. We have no right willfully to abbreviate or to shred this record entirely to fit our own pet passions---which are themselves generally pathetic reflections of the dominant, passing fashions of our own time and place. Truncating the past is an insult to Christ in His Mystical Body, as well as to the intrinsic value of each and every human person with a distinct role of eternal significance to play in the service of God.

Our own Catholic equivalent of the Records of the Grand Historian recount for us the incomparable and true story of the God Man, whose Incarnation, while confirming the innate value of all things natural, also revealed the crucial need to purge the evils manifested in them through sin so as to achieve their glorious transformation in Christ. These vast Records relate to us just how fraught with difficulty, opposition, and sinful or simply erroneous behavior this glorious enterprise of acceptance, correction, and transformation has always been. Perhaps most importantly with respect to the topic under consideration at the moment, they also indicate to us just how many obstacles the sin and errors of Catholic clergy and laity, from popes to the men and women in the pews, have placed in the path of “restoring all things in Christ”.

2. Willful Neo-Catholic Assassination of the Past

Let us begin by noting that the terrible counterpoint to the splendor of the one truly different, corrective, transforming event of history---the Incarnation---is the drab, reductionist, but strangely effective character of the opposition to the full flowering of the Christian life. The contrast of the frustrating defeats regularly experienced by those promoting the brilliance of Christian civilization with the exasperating successes of the standard bearers of its drab cultural opposition, is the main theme of my recent book, Black Legends and the Light of the World.

Black Legends recounts the tale of the absolutely furious rejection of any and all attempts, rational as well as supernatural, to step back from and judge the “business as usual” approach to the life of “nature as is” that characterizes history from classical Greek times to our own day. It shows that powerful men and women who rage at any rational or faith-based criticism of immediate surface material perceptions of what is “practical” have repeatedly worked against Christians committed to deeper thought and judgment of the world around them.

They have done so in two related ways. One is by concocting “black legends” that spread lies regarding the nature and impact of the “offensive” Christian critique of the status quo. The other, rising to the fore when it is clear that Christianity cannot be completely silenced, is to invent “nice stories” to co-opt and emasculate the corrective, transforming influence of the Incarnation. These “nice stories” are ultimately designed to ensure the victory of whatever the will of the strongest, reigning, materialist-minded power might be---and to equate that victory with the triumph of the Christian message and its “law” themselves.

Not only is a “nice story” of this kind concocted to render a world-changing religion absolutely impotent to affect “business as usual”, thereby guaranteeing the continued dominance of the worshippers of sin-bound “nature as is”. It is also employed to stigmatize any and all reference to sources that contradict its unjustified misappropriation of the Faith as an intrinsically anti-Christian enterprise. Proponents of the “nice story” then call upon the men responsible for the enforcement of “Christian law”---namely, precisely those willful forces that have arbitrarily appropriated the definition of what is and is not “Christian---loyally to do their duty. Hence, the “will” of the Sacred Emperor, or the Most Christian King, or The Divine People becomes “the message of Christ”, and any attempt to judge that message through consultation of those vast Catholic Records transmitting the fullness of the Christian vision becomes a blasphemous assault on God and the peaceful survival of the believing community.

Modern neo-Catholics accomplish this emasculation of the message of the Incarnation on behalf of the “business as usual” forces of sin-bound “nature as is” through their own particular “nice story”. This involves an appeal to legal willfulness of peculiarly labyrinthine complexity. In order to grasp the fullness of the fraud involved, one has to play a game of “Follow the Will” through layer after layer of arbitrary willfulness to the ultimate source that actually defines, in practice, what the Christian Faith and its implementation are permitted to mean in 2014. The game of “Follow the Will” thus amounts to the wearisome peeling of mask after mask off the face of a pathological liar or hopeless schizophrenic.

Everything begins with the “nice story” of the omnipotent lawgiving pope whose every waking thought and action is declared consubstantial with the Faith and the good of the faithful. Such a transfiguration of the sublime role of the successor of Peter into that of Il Supremo no more enhances the truth about the Papacy than making an act of faith in a divine Tetrarchy would somehow more firmly enhance the truth that God can be one and many at the same time than belief in a mere Trinity. The vision of pope as Il Supremo is false---pure and simple. And being false, it is an offense to Christ that cannot help but injure real papal authority in the process.

Yes, it is unfortunately true that a number of nineteenth century Catholics who probably would be in the Traditionalist camp today did aid in the formulation of this erroneous vision. But let us note, in their defense, that such men and women went down their false pathway precisely because they knew that they had the unqualified support of the contemporary Papacy in freeing the Church from an already dominant naturalist and secularist environment preventing transformation in Christ in its own right. They simply had no practical experience in their time of popes who would do anything other than fight vigorously for Christian civilization, and they found it difficult to conceive that any such pontiffs could ever emerge. Their hero worship, false though it was, was another of those all too human errors that a full consultation of the Catholic Records of the Grand Historian would have rendered vivid to them---and taught them to avoid.

Cooler heads at the time---those of people who had read those Records of the Grand Historian that we call the full Catholic Tradition--- warned strongly against the Il Supremo temptation. One of these calming spirits, Victor Auguste Cardinal Deschamps (1810-1883), Archbishop of Mâlines, a man who figured among the most important proponents of the definition of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility at First Vatican Council, provided an explanation of its import afterwards that contemporary supporters of the Il Supremo concept would have to command all Catholics to consign to the book burning flames. He was not alone. Vatican One as a whole knew that it had to deal with the problems of a number of popes like Honorius (625-638), who frivolously dismissed orthodox warnings of the dangers of the Monothelite Heresy as “the croaking of frogs”---a “croaking” his more theologically alert successors thankfully soon enthusiastically imitated.

Every historian familiar with the committee of cardinals called upon by Pope Paul III (1534-1549) to explain just how the Reformation happened knows that it blamed the entire outburst first and foremost on generations of late medieval acts of papal madness---backed by canonists who exalted Il Supremo’s will to the point that they claimed that he could abolish Sacred Scripture itself with the flick of a wrist. The same historians are aware that Julius II (1503-1513) was so contemptuous of a predecessor, Alexander VI (1492-1503)---whom he, while Cardinal, regularly and happily disobeyed--- that he could not even bring himself to sleep in the same room as the dead, simoniac pontiff. And, once again, every student of the ecclesiastical past can attest that there have been all too many popes like Benedict IX---pontiff on three separate criminal occasions in the 1000’s, and characterized by the Catholic Encyclopedia as “a disgrace to the Chair of Peter”. They can confirm the fact that saints ranging from Peter Damian to Bridget of Sweden openly chastised such pontiffs while they reigned, and without feeling the slightest fear of being drummed out of the Body of Christ for daring to speak the truth.

Only neo-Catholic legalists, transported back in time, would have felt called upon to praise as geniuses bad reigning popes whose deaths, resignations, or depositions were greeted by saintly men and women of the day with holy whoops of Catholic joy. They alone, in our own era, are determined to place a gauleiter with a fiery sword before the doors of the libraries and inside the browsers of the computers of faithful eager to consult our Catholic Records of the Grand Historian to know what might be good or bad in a current papal Führer’s thought and action. They alone seek to block knowledge of the essential truth that the Church has never equated the legitimacy of a pontiff with his impeccability in mind and behavior as Duce.

More tragic still is the fact that many (perhaps most) of these book burning storm troopers actually believe that it is the free will of the “unerringly wise pope” that is responsible for the day-to-day governance of the Church. But nothing could be further from the truth! The nightmarish reality is first of all due to the jamming between the papal “will” and the daily governance of the Church the “will” of the “theological experts” who knowingly took control of Vatican Two and then claimed the right to interpret the “spirit of the Council” after it came to a conclusion. For them, the “will of the pope” was something that could only be treated seriously if it were in union with the “will of modernity”---itself defined as the “will of the Holy Spirit” in our own time and place. And that “will of the Holy Spirit”, in turn, was said to demand reconciliation with the vibes of the Zeitgeist as they defined it.

Alas, this complicated Megawill of popes, modernity, and Holy Spirit found itself swiftly crumbling into many pieces in the hands of differing but equally infallible theological experts. Some of their number---the honest ones---broke openly with the expressed papal will when it didn’t go down the direction of the will of modernity and the will of the Holy Spirit as they commanded that will to be understood. Others---the neo-Catholics par excellence---stayed within the confines of the Church even when their particular wills and those of reigning pontiffs diverged. They achieved this feat by continuing to define the legal, papal will according to the arbitrary spin that they wished to put upon it…and then pronouncing it unquestionable and unalterable.

The possible permutations on doctrine and practice permitted by an unquestionable, unalterable “papal will”---capable of shooting off in as many directions as a fireworks display---combined together with interpretations of what the will of such a Leader “really meant”---offered by conflicting “experts” possessing their own arbitrary but Zeitgeist-backed pipelines to the Holy Spirit---are theoretically endless. In practice, however, all of the many permutations of “nice expert stories” regarding the Faith possess a basic unity. They gain this basic unity by means of the general agreement reached by the main strains of modernist thinking in the Church by the time of Vatican Council that the voice of the Holy Spirit in our day undoubtedly passed through those forces that possessed an overwhelming “vital energy”. Such forces displayed their power through success in winning converts, imposing their fiat, and silencing their opposition. This included the opposition coming from popes who could really only be considered omnipotent when they behaved themselves and submitted to the will of the strongest “energy”.

Now the greatest vital energy yielding the clearest success in winning converts to its cause, thereby demonstrating the deepest understanding of the will of the Holy Spirit by means of which papal desires defining unquestionable Christian “law” could be most perfectly explained (whew!) came from the American Pluralist system. This system not only dazzled everyone after the Second World War with its material and military splendor. It also rid itself of its chief competitor with the demise of the decidedly unenergetic Soviet Communist system, which fizzled ingloriously into impotence after 1989. Moreover, American Pluralism doubled its legitimacy as the voice of the Spirit by proclaiming its commitment to allowing “freedom” for every subsidiary expression of vital energy to make its message known and see it flourish as well. What better proof of the presence of the Paraclete! The winner in the energy game shared its victory with everyone else!

Still, the neo-Catholics who became the standard bearers of the victor “inside” the Church were obliged to teach the faithful that responding to American Pluralism’s “will” mandated obedience to yet another arbitrary but infallible guide to understanding the final meaning of the Christian message: the “will” of those Founding Fathers responsible for the creation of the system in the first place. The neo-Catholic Defenders of the victorious Pluralist Faith were thereby called open to reinterpret, rewrite, or toss into the doctrine-and-practice-shredder every Christian document, every conciliar and papal statement, and every contribution of every Christian saint and civilization builder that might be questioned by the slightest whisper of a Founder Objection. For no thought could be identified as a proper “Catholic thought” that was not either first in the minds of the Founders or only rendered cogent when they set about applying their unparalleled genius to its proper exegesis.

One last step and we will have reached the end of the “Follow the Will” game. The will of the Founders clearly requires obedience to that principle of religious liberty that their master, John Locke, defines as the central truth of the Christian Faith. Founder will also obviously demands a general respect for “freedom” for the expression of all “vital energies”, whatever the Christian past might have said about them. But conservative neo-Catholics make reference to the right lobe of Founder Wisdom to press for slavish acceptance of “freedom” for one type of vital energy that translates into support for individual economic oppression and the need to use American military might to make the world safe for chain stores and the State of Israel. Liberal neo-Catholics divinize the left lobe of Founder Wisdom on behalf of natural rights that turn the Gospels into an ever-innovative font of arguments for a freedom to change gender, contract a gay marriage, and abort one’s offspring, however dubiously procreated.

Such division may cause some Angst to those fearful of never reaching a final understanding of exactly what the papal will that lays down unquestionable Christian Law really means. Le them be not afraid! Remember that both right wing and left wing neo-Catholic American Pluralism make reference to exactly the same commitment to religious impotence and the Founder “freedom loving” spirit. It is only willful commitment to one expression of freedom as opposed to another that prevents the lot of them from seeing that they are all in the same camp and ultimately agree. For how can the rightist oppose perversion if it is individually profitable? And how can the leftist oppose individual profit hunting, no matter how many age old cultures are destroyed in the process, when the task of freeing personal passion requires the authority-and-tradition shattering labors of the powerful individual capitalist as well?

Together, their two front war against the perennial Christian Tradition and all of its real authorities effectively corrects and transforms the teaching of the Incarnation out of existence no matter which materialist freedom is said to be backed by the unalterable Dictatus Papae. No matter which of the ultimate “wills to power” interpreting the Founders and their key to Christian Law has the final word, Christianity is always shown to be nothing other than a private clubhouse phenomenon obedient to an Iron Law of Separation of Thought and Action. Inside the clubhouse one can worship God through anything from Kung Fu to Latin Masses. Outside those clubhouse doors, whichever “leftist” of “rightist” materialist Diktat that is supported by the greatest physical strength in appealing to Founder Freedom and the constitutional guarantees protecting it will rule the roost and define what the Christian message can and cannot say. From our standpoint, the result is the same.

O Christ, where is thy sting? O Catholicism, where is thy victory? Li Si’s and Hang Fei Tzu’s eyes would have bugged out in admiration at the achievement. And Leni Riefenstahl would have had to confess that she missed her mark with her Triumph of the Will. The “nice story” of Founders who so adore religions and freedom that they just cannot get enough of them to tolerate and to exercise, has allowed the will of neo-Catholic American Pluralists---presented as the will of the Church---to triumph in a way that makes the reach of the will of a Hitler look pathetically amateurish in contrast.

3. Our Neo-Catholic Shi Huangdi Tomb

If the Christian “law” is indeed to be explained by neo-Catholic American pluralists interpreting a “papal will” that is ultimately subordinate to arbitrary liberal or conservative exegesis of the whims of the Founders, where would we go to find a “holistic” depiction of the “face” of Catholic Christendom; to find the height of Catholic civilization? Certainly not to our own Sima Qian-like Records! We have seen that these Records must be altered or buried alive to fit the contours of willful Founder friendly “Christianity”. To paraphrase the words of the narrator of one of the first films that I saw concerning Nazi Germany---as the cameras zoomed in on totally bombed out cities---“if you want to know the outcome, look around you”. If you want to look straight into the eye of a real Christian civilization at its most sublime as the victorious neo-Catholic interpreter of papal will conceives it, then you must look at the face of pluralist America.

Oh there is no denying that what one sees in looking at pluralist America and its worldwide Empire is “impressive”. But it is impressive in exactly the same way that Shi Huangdi’s tomb is impressive: as an arrogant, “holistic” parallel universe, awesome in the unrepentant brazenness of its materialism. This global, hedonist, market driven cosmos is indeed impressive in its demonstration of the overwhelming strength and energy of pure matter on the warpath at every moment of every day in its drive to shrivel and then break the spirit of every noble human person and culture. It is impressive in its relentless sophist efforts to destroy any and all supernatural point of reference that might be utilized to fight and judge its demand for public submission of every higher aspiration to the “business as usual” demands of physical and quantitative “nature as is”. One’s jaw drops in amazement while contemplating its victorious replacement of a direct assault on God with a program of reducing religion to an inoffensive party implement; one that fulfills its public “spiritual” mission by providing “churchy” arguments for making the world safe for an ever greater use of individual “freedom”---whether for the purpose of production, consumption, conquest, or endless permutations on sexual experiences being merely a matter of personal taste or macabre “vocation”.

Despite certain centers of resistance to the worship of this parallel pluralist universe, there is no doubt that the world as a whole is and continues to be overwhelmingly impressed by its display of raw material power and the rewards and punishments coming along with it. This is true of the Papacy as well, which has shown a remarkable willingness to “behave itself” and speak in a way that certainly gives the impression that its will and the will of American Pluralism are indeed in union with one another. Once Pope Francis decided that “drastic” reform of the Curia mandated hiring big time American publicity firms that could themselves never be expected to conceive a thought that was not rooted in Founder principles of religious liberty, religion as Clubhouse Phenomenon, and materialist pluralist freedoms both economic and sexual, continued papal worship at the shrine of this parallel universe was confirmed anew.

More than this, however, it has become painfully clear to me over the past year that the priesthood focusing the eyes of the men and women conscripted to ensure the global worship of the cult of the parallel pluralist universe has been renewed. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, the “torch has been handed on to a new generation”. Vocations to the consortium of neo-Catholic Defenders of the Pluralist Faith are booming. The George Weigels, Michael Novaks, Fr. Siricos, and their compatriots further leftwards can now all go to Boca Raton, play golf, shop at the mall, hedge the Market, and leave the high minded defense of the “nice story” linking Christ, pope, the Founders and their conservative and liberal ayatollahs to a fresh wave of enthusiastic storm troopers.

Happily for the Old Guard, the new generation has also well digested its guidelines for keeping the eyes of Catholics turned away from examination of the historical Catholic Records. These new assassins of the past know the formula by heart: ignore entirely the critics of American pluralism; rehash the same arguments over and over again as though they had not been heard ad infinitum beforehand; always and everywhere associate obedience to “worldwide materialism with a religious cherry on the top” as loyalty to the will of Catholic leaders who cannot even recognize that they themselves do not know how to describe the nature of a Christian civilization; if push comes to shove, condemn anyone eager to open the entire book of the past as hopelessly “impractical” or as a “divisive” (and potentially terrorist) enemy of order and freedom. And horror of horrors, this new generation of assassins is winning further recruits among Catholic apologists in circles that I never would have imagined would fall prey to the charms of mindlessness.

But impressive on the purely “fleshly” level as the American pluralist parallel universe is, it is still, after all, the Twilight Zone; a mockery of the true cosmos. Looking to pluralist America to try to understand the meaning and fruition of Catholic civilization is like looking for St. Francis of Assisi in Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Only consultation of the full Catholic Records can tell us what the Catholic “law” entails, what the papal will ought to be (which is all that really counts) and what the face of a civilization fulfilling the message of the Incarnation must honestly look like. Yes, the spell cast by this false, parallel universe has lasted longer than the three years after the First Emperor’s microcosmic tomb was completed. Nevertheless, those with the courage to open the book of the past will see that all the evidence indicates that its days are numbered, and that many of us alive in 2014 will live to see its ultimate collapse.

3. Why the Chinese Point of Reference?

I have repeatedly indicated that I feel little hope in trying to convince the willful, neo-Catholic, American pluralist legalists that dominate contemporary Church affairs of the error of their ways. Some are resolutely dishonest in their refusal to debate the question of that which comes first: either their will or that of the entire record of the Catholic past. Others are simply mentally ill. They are victims of a deeply seated schizophrenia that makes them think that they can be the friends of the Catholic vision and its gravediggers at one and the same time. Answering them is not the role of the historian; it is the role of a psychiatrist and the proper medication he prescribes. What is of deep concern to me here is the slippage of faithful apologists and sane men into their ranks, fearful as they seem to be that failure to follow the neo-Catholic pathway actually does mean disloyalty to Rome. Such good people must be made to see that the “Rome” to which they feel obliged to pledge a blind loyalty is a Rome that either cannot bring itself to fight the misinterpretation of its own “will” or a Rome that consciously or unconsciously has come to accept that “misinterpretation” itself, giving it a macabre legitimacy---perhaps out of the conviction that is due to bewitchment by the Zeitgeist; perhaps out of theological ignorance; perhaps out of simple human fear of the power of the American Pluralist Empire and the perils of thwarting its fiat.

Just when I had become weary of offering yet another defense of the Catholic past against its modern gravediggers in the usual manner, Sima Qian and the Qin Dynasty came along to provide an exotic means of giving flesh to the perennial argument. And the analogies of his task and ours ultimately do seem so apt! Moreover, the poignancy of his fate and his reasons for accepting it also seemed valuable in giving Traditionalist Catholics courage to continue our fight against the modern willful assassins of the past, whatever the cost.

Sima Qian ran afoul of the “law” in his own day in a particular fight for justice for a man requesting his help in a case before the emperor. The authorities were offended by his raising his voice and ordered him to commit suicide. He refused to do so, and received the alternative punishment: castration. He took the path that he did, as he himself tells us, because his life’s work was not yet done. The Records of the Grand Historian had to be completed. The proponents of “law” as “imposition of will power” wanted “‘to make the common people ignorant and to see to it that no one in the empire used the past to criticize the present’” (Keay, p. 97). He had to defeat them, whatever the personal cost to be paid.

If even the lowest slave and scullion maid can bear to commit suicide, why should not one like myself be able to do what has to be done? But the reason I have not refused to bear these ills and have continued to live, dwelling in vileness and disgrace without taking my leave, is that I grieve that I have things in my heart which I have not been able to express fully, and I am shamed to think that after I am gone my writings will not be known to posterity. Too numerous to record are the men of ancient times who were rich and noble and whose names have yet vanished away. It is only those who were masterful and sure, the truly extraordinary men, who are still remembered. ... I too have ventured not to be modest but have entrusted myself to my useless writings. I have gathered up and brought together the old traditions of the world which were scattered and lost. I have examined the deeds and events of the past and investigated the principles behind their success and failure, their rise and decay, in one hundred and thirty chapters. I wished to examine into all that concerns heaven and man, to penetrate the changes of the past and present, completing all as the work of one family. But before I had finished my rough manuscript, I met with this calamity. It is because I regretted that it had not been completed that I submitted to the extreme penalty without rancor. When I have truly completed this work, I shall deposit it in the Famous Mountain. If it may be handed down to men who will appreciate it, and penetrate to the villages and great cities, then though I should suffer a thousand mutilations, what regret should I have?

(Burton Watson, Ssu Ma Ch'ien Grand Historian Of China. Columbia University Press (1958), pp. 57–67.

Our neo-Catholic American pluralist legalists would love for us to commit religious and cultural suicide in obedience to a “papal will” which is not always in accord with the perennial will of the Church; a “papal will” which, willy-nilly, seems to work today more in line with the ideas of John Locke, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ludwig von Mises, George F. Babbitt, and Pussy Riot. We cannot do so. Even if it means our being reduced to momentary public impotence, ecclesiastical and secular, we must struggle on for the revival of knowledge of the whole Catholic past and the defeat of the willful. And just as the first emperor’s tomb failed to bedazzle posterity due its ultimate judgment at the hands of a higher order whose memory was preserved by the “impractical” work of that pagan servant of truth, Sima Qian, our dazzling parallel pluralist universe will one day be shown for what it really is---the Twilight Zone---due to our own contemporary labors in the wilderness. The Catholic Records will one day be reopened in all their fullness and the assassins of the past will be driven from the temple.

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