ADVENT IS UPON US

A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of year for a journey:

The way steep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.’

T.S. Eliot

Journey of the Magi

Our journey begins again today, this 28th day of November, 2021.

Everybody knows, even those of us who have lived most unadventurously what it is to plod on for miles, it seems, eagerly straining your eyes towards the lights that, somehow, mean home. How difficult it is, when you are doing that to judge distances! In pitch darkness, it might be a couple of miles to your destination, it might be a few hundred yards. So it was, I think with the Hebrew prophets, as they looked forward to the redemption of their people. They could not have told you, within a hundred years, within five hundred years, when it was the deliverance would come.

Msgr. Ronald Knox

Sermon on Advent

BORDERLINE SLEIGH RIDE

Thanksgiving is past. We must give thanks for life. We must go on praying for our divided nation. We will be glancing at our investment sheets and bank accounts as, once again, millions of us prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior after the four weeks of the penitential Advent season whcih, of course, always seems anything but penitential amid the orgiastic holiday hype.

But, of course, who of us does not dream of boarding that chimerical one-horse sleigh and “dashing through the snow” down some moon-lit trail of glistening tree-tops? Or, with Burl Ives, of having a “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.

Of course, we know we have to pay for it– which leads us, entirely against our wishes, to vexed thoughts of the economic situation awaiting us, this year especially, at the end of that visionary moon-lit trail….

It could be fairly said that Presidents have less control over the economy than we might believe, or that political partisans would have us believe. But even the liberal New York Times has conceded that the current Presidency is an exception to the rule. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have made specific policy decisions that have led to dangerously rising inflation.

The Administration “went big” with the stimulus passed by that Democrat-dominated Congress last March. It contained $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief on top of a separate $900 billion package that passed three months earlier. That sent an extra $2.8 trillion in federal money circulating through the economy while, according to the Times and what they call “mainstream analysts”, economic activity was trending only a few hundred billion dollars a year short of good health. This would seem to have sent too much money chasing too few goods — the standard definition of the causes of inflation. That would be too much government spending chasing too few goods. Perhaps, one might argue, that that spending served to replace lost income from people not working, voluntarily or otherwise. Perhaps, just perhaps, it went into savings.

This would seem to be, to an non-economically savvy mind such as mine, an economy feverishly teetering on the border between rampant inflation and the above-referenced economic “good health,” and due primarily to the actions of the President elected this time last year.

About the same time last spring that the Times and those analysts were taking the temperature of the national economy, President Biden offered up his so-called “American Jobs Plan” billed as an infrastructure initiative. Of course it was stuffed with things that did little for either creating jobs or building infrastructure. It reportedly raised corporate tax rates back above that of most developing countries, slowing wage growth, in all likelihood. Right?

Doesn’t sound great.

That was last spring. Now the Administration has put before us the so-called Build Back Better plan. Say those words slowly, ‘trippingly ‘or the tongue,’ as Nabokov might say, then, upon examining its “wish list” of social spending, repeat after me, keeping a straight face:

Built…Back…Better…

ha!…ha!…ha!….

Then, consider something else that hasn’t gotten better and which was just reaching “critical mass” about the time starry-eyed President Joe and the Democrats were preparing to serve up this holiday pie. I refer to illegal immigration and the fact that, as of last March, illegal border crossings were setting records, including a record number of unaccompanied children (18,800 versus 11,000 in May, 2019, the previous high under President Trump.)

It continues to get worse. And it’s costing us.

The border we’re crossing as a nation careening down that moon-lit trail is the one separating reason from unreason. Or tragedy from farce.

But, buckle up. It’s nearly Christmastime. We’ll climb aboard our sleighs and go “laughing all the way.”

Jingle…Jingle….

RELIGION IN CHINA

How horrible is China’s persecution of religious peoples and other dissenters? Ask any member of the Falun Gong sect, the Chinese Muslim Uyghurs or any Christian church, including the Chinese Catholic Church.

One Christian recently spoke out:

Li Yuese is a member of a house church in Sichuan, a province in southwest China. After being picked up in a raid in 2018 and serving a period of “criminal detention”, he says he was held for ten months in a windowless basement “transformation” center without ventilation, according to an interview he gave recently to Radio Free Asia. He says he was beaten, verbally abused and subject to other forms of mental torture while receiving only two meals a day without any time outside. He said he took to bashing his head against the wall because death seemed preferable to life in his darkness.

This is how you come between people and their God in an aggressively anti-religious country that brooks no interference with its power.

These “transformation centers” are run by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front work Department. It is in the business of brain washing Christians. Priests have been known to disappear for five to ten years at a stretch.

This is the government with which my pope and his Vatican lieutenants have concluded — and this year renewed — an agreement that insists on permitting government-appointed, invalidly ordained bishops of the so-called Chinese Patriotic Church to assert their dubious influence and oversight, at the Communist government insistence, over church affairs, while validly ordained bishops and clergy of the faithful underground Catholic still loyal to Rome, having endured generations of torture, imprisonment and persecution for resisting Communist control, have now been left naked to their determined enemy.

The Vatican has offered no reasonable explanation for this reversal of the prior policy of uncompromising, undiluted support for long-suffering underground Chinese Catholics. The reversal is baffling, inexplicable and cannot fail to demoralize faithful Catholics in that huge country.

That is a tragedy and a damn shame. What is this pope thinking?

THE CULTURE OF REPUDIATION

It was the late scholar Roger Scruton who identified the cultural upheaval through which we are suffering as the “culture of repudiation”. We must resist it with all our cultural might. It originated, as did — and does –so much that is poisoning our national life, among that ever expanding multitude who profess an evermore aggressive leftist-to-socialist ideology. Theirs is the spirit of revolution that throws out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. And that’s an overly gentle metaphor for what’s happening here.

Roger Kimball, editor of the journal, The New Criterion, writing in the November, 2021 issue, observes that “the curious, even hypocritical nature of this (culture of) repudiation is especially patent in the most privileged and affluent precincts of our culture, in the Ivy League writ large — all those institutions that, once upon a time, were devoted to perpetuating our civilization but which now, marinated it too much money, spend their time and seemingly bottomless animus deploring everything about America and the civilization that fed it.”

And, of course, to their mind, what fed this civilization was essentially racist. Their answer is — more racism, in the guise of anti-racism.

Columbus, Cortez and other Europeans were, upon occasion, guilty of savagery and racism. I don’t doubt that. Of course, I don’t know this for a fact, but I have been instructed thus by historians I trust. Those historians are honest about that. The leftist historians, of course, make a point of ignoring the occasional savagery and barbarism that reined among the natives the Europeans encountered. To do otherwise, Kimball and others have noted, would render the Left’s moral outrage ludicrous. Rousseau’s Noble Savage was never entirely noble.

But Kimball suggests that those savages who suffered at European hands are mere props for the writers and activists. “The real focus of their energy,” he submits,” is against America and the European civilization that embodies it.”

Fed it, embodied it….

Kimball goes on to point out the irony — and hypocrisy — feeding and embodied in the Left’s position. To do so, he cites historian Keith Windschuttle who in his book, The Killing of History, says of the Leftist ideologues, “they themselves…bear all the characteristics of the Eurocentrism they condemn in Columbus (and) Cortez.”

How so?

Well, for them, Kimball opines, ” repudiating Columbus( et, al.) is merely a pretext for a larger repudiation of the culture that supports and flatters them. It is as disingenuous as it is repulsive. But it seems quite clear that the attacks will not end until their plump sources of support begin to be loaded onto the hecatombs of their juvenile and malicious fury.”

Ole Roger, for my tastes, is being a bit too oblique here, especially in his resort to that most obscure of words (plural form), “hecatombs”. It refers to the large-scale sacrifices to the gods favored by the ancient Greeks, such as the propitiatory slaughter of 100 cattle at one time. Is he suggesting that the now universally liberal-to-woke institutions of higher education, i.e. the Ivy League, Stanford, the Seven Sisters, etc.,etc., that currently feed (and embody) all this political correctness and “wokeness” will themselves be sacrificed –ruined, slaughtered, burned, destroyed, devoured – to propitiate those gods who demand, among many other destructive things, selective, revisionists readings of history?

And is he suggesting that only when all our valued cultural institutions– universities, libraries, museums, churches — lie in ashes or been transformed to resemble the dreary, repressed, state-controlled institutions of a socialist dystopia will the activists be satisfied?

Sounds about right to me. And that will give us much to mourn. For soon thereafter, all of American civilization and our liberties will lie in ashes as well.

And let’s face it — those false gods worshiped by the hordes of rampaging cultural hedgehogs among us will never be satisfied.

Perhaps this is the true global warming, the fire that will never be consumed, hell on earth.

Deliver us, O Lord!