Eliot's “Hollow Men” closes,
“This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Seeing the trends today, with the “Progressives” having their way in Church and in Government while people who know better stand and stare. If previous generations had seen such abuses there would have been blood in the streets, or at least the key players in these coups would have been locked out of the game rather permanently. Everyone sees, but nobody notices. Everyone knows, but nobody cares. Eliot's poem was called, “The Hollow Men.” Calls us to a later work, an essay by C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests,” in which he pointed out the current trend in education to rob schoolchildren of the ability or desire to feel, to give any credibility to their hearts, to their for any sense of beauty beyond what can be measured and dissected in a sterile laboratory.
Now, a generation later, we see all the things we hold dear, or would hold dear if we could hold dear, stripped away from our paralyzed grasp as we stand by and say, “Oh, what a shame,” or rationalise it away as “one more sign of the Last Days!” We have been seeing such signs since the birth of the Church. Diocletian's persecutions were seen as a fulfillment. So was the great darkness that covered the Earth in the mid-6th Century. Also the great plagues, the Saracen invasions, the Reformation wars in Europe, the great World War, the European Union, and the coming world currency. All these are warnings: signs that Christ is indeed coming back. If we sit back and watch for it, then how are we not like the “slothful and wicked servant” in the parable whom his master cast into the outer darkness for knowing his master was coming, and yet did not prepare?
We must- not can, might, could or should consider- we must go in by where we got out. We must rediscover the things we are lacking, the things of the heart. It is not enough to agitate and militate over issues, threats, or even atrocities. Attempts to do this, even over the past five hundred years, have all in the end only made things worse. Anger has its uses, and they are all short-term. So with pride, and even loyalties to family, tribe, or nation. What fuels and supports these emotions is just the ethos we are now lacking, not only as Easterners or Westerners, Americans, Bosnians, Chileans, or Deutschlanders. And it is the ethos we must reclaim.
A young lady, very dear to me, was born with a severe disability which left her with real damage to parts of her brain. People would “compensate” by telling her how clever she was. As a result, she was crippled farther by believing what she was told, but still could not add or subtract. Once she accepted that the polite noises did not define her reality she was better equipped to deal with life as she was best able. I grew up in the USA, and have seen in the US a certain trend in education. Reports from other countries, in Canada, Europe, and Asia show the same thing. Knowledge levels are falling, but “self-esteem,” based in group identity, is skyrocketing. “You're so smart” has replaced “Good job!” in the students' experience.
As with self-assessment, so with assessment of the world around them. Literature, which forms a vast part of the students' understanding of the world outside the classroom, is carefully selected to support an ideology. The 20th century writers tend to have histories either as fighting for the communists in the Spanish “Civil War,” or Communist or Workers' Party credentials. Poetry is largely from the Romantics and Transcendentalists, and if a Christian writer is included it is generally to provide fodder for “critical thinking” exercises, that is, seeing the world through the blinders provided. Music or art appreciation, or history generally, is either limited to the past fifty years or presented as mere dates and names, with not a glance at motivations, effects, or personalities involved: at what has developed our world and world-view!
What I call for, what we so desperately need in the “free world” or the world at-large, is not easy, or all that simple. It may not even be possible, but it is worth every effort. It is revolutionary in the deepest sense of the word. I will not even try to describe the conditions our grandchildren will face without these measures, because the particulars are not nearly as important as simply seeing the trends and acting accordingly. We must, by all means,
I. Begin by committing our lives to God, in Christ, for His guidance in all things.
1.Search out the “sources” of what life in Christ entails. The earlier the better.
2.Begin to live what we discover.
II. Search out the literature left out of the textbooks. Surely Milton and Danté weren't the only poets to believe in Christ! Are pride of place and resentment of the rich really the driving themes of human existence? Or is the “raw material” of the human person so much more “authentic” than what that person can make of him/her self?
III. Learn History! Not just, “Who did what to who and when,” but “Why?” So many millions of lives have been lost simply from people not knowing the issues behind the conflicts they have been drawn into; so many are enemies today from not knowing the others' backgrounds.
1.Learn about art: What made the Dutch Masters depict reality as they did? Why were the old icons painted in such a way? How did the different schools and trends relate to the thinking of their day?
2.Learn philosophy: How did the prevailing beliefs- the various trends of humanism, nominalism, existentialism- influence the art, literature, politics, of that day? Were those philosophies ultimately based on sound bases or prejudice?
IV. In all things, think critically! Not based on the latest, politically correct, trends of thinking, but from the truths we are learning as we continue in Step I. Not just asking how we as members of our “modern” society should see things, but how would these things square with the revealed truths of Christianity? With the Person of Christ Himself, Who is Truth?
V. Finally, make all these things not merely individual pursuits, or allow them to become mere hobbies or side interests, but all parts of one main pursuit: and not as individuals, but involving as many people as possible, and going as very far as possible. And in all things, calling out to God for His forgiveness, His cleansing and renewing of our minds, and His guidance!