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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Yeats Prophesied Our Times: "The Center Cannot Hold"

When I was a kid one of my favorite playground rides was the merry-go-round. It was exciting to have someone turn it faster and faster and what a challenge not to fly off. I suppose that's why they've mostly disappeared from the landscape -- too dangerous for the snowflake generation.

I think those merry-go-rounds are a perfect metaphor for our disintegrating world. As the chaos swirls around faster and faster, "the center cannot hold."  Yesterday's Virginia elections illustrated that. Everyone I voted for lost. Why? Because the majority of voters chose self-interest over the common good, I suppose. Virginia's unions want more money with less work. The liberals want more license with fewer responsibilities. The Trump-haters hate all Republicans and want them and their supporters punished. Democrats think big government is the savior of the world and want leaders who will feed them, coddle them, protect them by snatching all the guns, and give them "free" i-phones, housing, college, etc. The feminists want baby-killing unhampered by any laws including those that protect mothers from money-hungry butchers. You get the picture.

Well...what can one say except to remember that it's all happened before. The chosen people rebelled against God and were abandoned to wicked rulers and outside invaders. Until the second coming of the Lord, we are seeing the continuous, unrelenting second coming of evil.

So I give you Yeats' poem this morning with my commentary in red, but with a word of hope from the prophet Amos at the end. Amos warned the Israelites of tremendous calamity for their disobedience to God, but ended his book with the promise of God's continued fidelity. Men fail us; God never fails. 

Keep in mind as you read the poem that Yeats wrote this shortly after WW I, the "war to end all wars." The horrors of the mustard gas, the endless mud, the bodies piled on bodies in the No Man's Land on the Western Front were still fresh in the minds of a shell-shocked world. Also, Yeats' cynicism is understandable since he abandoned his Protestant upbringing substituting a fascination with mysticism and the occult for Christian belief. How depressing is that?

We too are in the midst of a shell-shocked world that has seen the collapse of Western Civilization taking place before our eyes in a single generation! The only difference is that many blind ones among us call the collapse "progress." 

The Second Coming

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
A falconer and his hooded bird of prey.
In a supposed escape from his master's voice.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
And flies with a false sense of freedom.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
When man chooses chaos over God..
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
ISIS, Las Vegas, Charlottesville, Ferguson, ....
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
In their own blood in our abortuaries.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Many princes of the Church lead their flocks without conviction and make them worse than themselves.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Desert birds do God's will unlike rebellious man!
No wonder they are indignant at the false
god of the world who wars with nature's God.
But will we wake up?
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
Will it be the second coming of Christ or man? 
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
The spirit of the world who is the devil!
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
The false god arises.
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Despite the coming of Christ, many stony-hearted souls sleep. 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
Perhaps the cradle of the beast in Rosemary's Baby. 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Are we living in the hour of the anti-Christ?

Despite the chaos in the world and the desperate situation that appears to afflict us, we must never ever abandon hope. Remember where the sign "Abandon hope all ye who enter here!" appeared in Dante's Inferno -- it was over the entryway to hell. Sometimes our world may appear to be "hell on earth," but it isn't. Our world and all that's in it belong to the One who made it. 

So cling to the knowledge that we serve a good God who loves us. Amos, after an unrelentingly dismal prophesy against Israel and the punishment (He was driven out by the king because of it.), assures the people of God's love. It's a message of great hope for us as well as them:
Yes, days are coming, says the Lord,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the vintager, him who sows the seed;
The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it.
I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel;
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,
Plant vineyards and drink wine, set up gardens and eat the fruits.
I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked
From the land I have given them say I, the Lord your God.
"Pray, hope, and don't worry!" Padre Pio


~ M. Catt said...
Great minds think alike.

phil dunton said...

Gillespie lost because he thumbed his nose at Trump. He’s just another neocon Republican....a very weak candidate, Actually, the Republican Party in Virginia has never recovered from Gov. Mc Donald’s wife and all her antics. More depressing was Bob Marshal’s loss to a transgender.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Last night that quote just kept running through my head. I expect the mass violence next. So far we're seen it sporadically, but this kind of evil always ends up in blood as history shows. WW I was preceded by the moral corruption of the gay 90s. The French Revolution and genocide in the Vendee was preceded by the immoral ideas promoted during the "enlightenment" by the French intelligentsia like de Sade, Rousseau, Voltaire, and others. (Rousseau is certainly a man for our day with his follow your own conscience philosophy no matter what it justifies.) The sexual decadence of the Weimar Republic preceded Hitler's rise and the ensuing holocaust. We all need to pray hard.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I agree, Phil. Bob Marshall has well been called the "conscience of the General Assembly." He will be greatly missed. And God help the district that threw him out for a perverted heavy metal rocker who can't tell the difference between girls and boys.

Robert Klaus said...

Gillespie was reasonable, but totally a Republican insider, with only a politically-expedient conservative veneer. There would have been many disappointments. An active political friend of mine looked at the Primary and remarked that Gillespie won by beating Corey Stewart in NoVa, mostly Fairfax and Arlington only; I rejoined that that observation portended his defeat to any Democrat, because no Republican will ever win the NoVa Swamp again. Rush said it well yesterday (11/8): Trump's campaign principles did not lose today in VA; they were not on the ballot. I think Northam will be less actively corrosive than McAwful, but leadership for this term is still looking left. The worst part is his coat-tails. I really liked Jill Vogel for Lt Gov; she was eloquent explaining why conservative answers were the right solution. And I wanted ANYONE to beat Mark Herring: his first act as the State's lawyer was to file an amicus brief against the duly-approved legislation of the State who was paying his and his staff's salaries, and it only took him a few months to come up with reneging on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity to curtail weapon access to his constituents. And losing Bob Marshall to a creature with a y-chromosome in every cell in his body but thinks his mental yearnings over-rule that fact: Yikes! These are starting to look more like end times.

Chriss Rainey said...

Your comment makes me wonder how much crossover D voters in the primary had influence over the eventual R candidate for gov. Would Booker have won? Would he have inspired Trump people? If this is so, then we might see new reasons to restrict who can vote in primaries in our state.

It should be known and understood that while primaries can and often are held on the same day, they are in fact separate elections.

Only those registered as R should be allowed a Republican ballot. No person should vote only to sabbotage an election.

Chriss Rainey said...

I correct myself. I meant to say Corey Stuart. Not Booker

Chriss Rainey said...

I want to add this. People who crossover vote think they are being clever, playing a strategy to win, but what they practice is deceit.

Anyone who justifies this is lying even to their own self. People of real integrity should not engage in this "tactic." Let yor yes mean ye and your no mean no.

Chriss Rainey said...

Mary Ann, I think this is one of your most brilliant posts. Thank you.