Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Next America?

Today, as I try to put into perspective where our country is going and if there is some way that I can disembark, I am reading again two passages that I have been pondering for the last week.

(Actually, maybe the problem I need to solve is "How can I avoid being forced to board this runaway train?")

I am, as ever, grateful for good books. I realize how lost I would be without their "conversation". I do not crave the news that comes from the mainstream media; I crave understanding, and that seems to be anathema to them, whether it is so-called "conservative" talk radio or "liberal" MSNBC. I gain nothing but frustration from their programs, in which the reporters hardly let their guests complete a sentence, much less express a coherent thought, whereas a really good book may, in the piercing light of some truth revealed, bring tears to my eyes, a contraction to my heart, a fervent "Yes!" from the depths of my soul.

I need that kind of inspiration right now. I feel tired and empty, drained. I need to pray but can't, except a feeble, "O Lord, make haste. . ."

Here is the first passage I have been studying:

"Our Lord explains in the Parable of the Sower that the seed of his love will only grow in a certain soil--and that is the soil of Christian Culture, which is the work of music in the wide sense, including as well as tunes that are sung, art, literature, games, architecture--all so many instruments in the orchestra which plays day and night the music of lovers; and if it is disordered, then the love of Christ will not grow. It is an obvious matter of fact that here in the United States now, the Devil has seized these instruments to play a danse macabre, a dance of death, especially through what we call the "media", the television, radio, record, book, magazine and newspaper industries. The restoration of culture, spiritually, morally, physically, demands the cultivation of the soil in which the love of Christ can grow, and that means we must, as they say, rethink priorities."--John Senior, The Restoration of Christian Culture

The next passage is from an old, secular English literature textbook that we are using this year that I picked up at a thrift store for $1 years ago.

"Although our present-day civilization has grown directly out of medieval civilization, life in the Middle Ages was far different from what we know today. To begin with, medieval society had a secure foundation and framework of religion. Everyone was a son or daughter of the Church and on his way to Heaven or Hell. Fierce and powerful rulers could sometimes be seen walking barefoot to do penance for their sins. Everybody, from the highest to the lowest, was conscious of being on trial here on earth. Of course people misbehaved then as people did before and have done since, but then they knew that they were misbehaving and that they were miserable sinners. This world to them was like a transparency through which gleamed the fire of Hell or the bright blue of Heaven.

"The Church was responsible for the spiritual life of all Christendom, linking together all the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, and free cities of western and central Europe. In Latin it had a language common to all educated people. Its chief scholars and philosophers, like the famous Thomas Aquinas, moved freely from university to university and from country to country. Its abbeys and monasteries were not only the chief centers of learning and the arts in the period before the establishment of the univresities of Oxford and Cambridge in the thirteenth century, but, as economically self-sufficient units, they were also often immense farms, places where all manner of handicrafts were taught and practiced. In addition, monasteries also fed the poor and served as hotels for travelers. The great Gothic cathedrals, those impressive and noble creations of men's minds and hands, were built during this period. England has some of the finest specimens of these astonishing buildings, which are poetry and music in stone.

"The greatest single achievement of the Middle Ages was the idea of the commonwealth of Christendom, a kind of spiritual and cultural empire uniting men of different nationalities, but speaking many different languages and enjoying many different regional ways of life. In our own day science and invention have given us things that would have seemed to the medieval mind like so many strange miracles and the marvels of sorcerers. However, we have not yet achieved our own equivalent of the commonwealth of Christendom, a whole society, a civilzation and a common culture, united under God." J. B. Priestly, Adventures in English Literature, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

No, we clearly "have not yet achieved our own equivalent of the commonwealth of Christendom" because we do not desire to cultivate "the soil in which the love of Christ can grow."

We prefer mud, and we must wallow in it.

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