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Thursday, December 7, 2017

On Nihilism, the Press, and President Trump

The very hirelings of the press, whose trade it is to buoy up the spirits of the people. have uttered falsehoods so long, they have played off so many tricks, that their budget seems, at last, to be quite empty.  
                                                                                                    William Cobbett, 
                                                            English Journalist and Member of Parliament 1763-1835

The white horse is a prehistoric creation in Uffington.
At the last Chesterton book club meeting we were discussing The Ballad of the White Horse, G.K.'s epic poem about King Alfred the Great, a champion of Christendom who fought bravely to establish Christianity in England and built a bulwark against the nihilistic paganism of the Danish invaders.

After an interesting digression on nihilism and other Catholic writers who address it, like Flannery O'Connor, I came home with a bee in my bonnet to learn a little more about nihilism. There is no doubt in my mind that it is very much alive and apparently growing in the U.S. today, especially among the young, which is sad.

So I did a Google search and after three definition sites on nihilism ("the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. synonyms: skepticism · negativity · cynicism · pessimism · disbelief · unbelief · agnosticism · atheism) guess what came up in the news feed?

Really, I had to laugh. 

The next three sites were all "journalists" describing the nihilism of President Trump! Talk about hit pieces. One was from the Washington Post, one from MSNBC, and the third from the Asia Times. 

Think about it. Here is a man who has made Merry Christmas respectable again, one who challenges the elitist status quo, who stands for the protection of our borders and affirms Western culture, and who is naming very un-nihilistic people to his administration and the courts. And he is being described as a "nihilist" by liberals who are negative, cynical, pessimistic relativists many of whom reject "all religious and moral principles." I can't say they think life is "meaningless," but what gives it meaning to them (just ask Al Franken and Matt Lauer) is unbridled sex and pleasure and the rejection of immutable principles in favor of virtual reality like creating your own "gender." 

Icons of nihilism: Marley and Scrooge.
The mantra of the nihilists?
"Bah humbug!"
Well, as I said the other day, satire these days is difficult because we live in a world beyond satire where every day brings a new head-shaking "reality" in total opposition to the true, the good, and the beautiful. 

It's the nihilists who gave us Black Lives Matter with its hate and violence. It's nihilists who are tearing down statues of anyone who represents Western civilization and are rewriting and distorting history to eliminate Christianity (and the impact of those evil white males!). It's nihilists who spearhead the assault on life, who think killing a newborn baby who survived abortion is a civil right. They would sell their own mothers for money or power. 

One thing nihilists do exceptionally well is lie. Study history and the nihilistic champs like Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Thomas Cromwell, Rasputin, Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, and our own modern nihilists like Saul Alinsky and others of his ilk. Hitler had his Goebbels, a master of propaganda. Cromwell was Henry VIII's Goebbels. Alinsky created an entire Goebbels network through his Industrial Areas Foundation and turned lying and manipulation into a massive community organizing network for gaining power. As Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun."

My conclusion from all this is: If you want to understand what's happening today study history. One of the easiest ways is to read good, accurate historical novels. I'm reading The King's Achievement by Robert Hugh Benson at present. It's sad and horrifying. The title is ironic since it refers to Henry VIII's "achievement" of raping the monasteries and convents in the course of which he murdered many of the monks and priests and stripped the Church of its wealth. Primarily that consisted of land, buildings, livestock, relics, sacred vessels, vestments, etc. which were all at the service of the local people.

"To the convent portals came
All the blind and halt and lame,
All the beggars of the street,

For their daily dole of food."
Prior to Henry, the monasteries and religious houses were the greatest protectors of the poor and peasant class. The lands were unfenced and open for grazing use by the local farmers. The monasteries and convents were the soup kitchens and health clinics. The infamous poor houses exposed by Charles Dickens were unknown when religious houses served the people. They were centers, not only of worship, but of welfare and healing both physical and spiritual.

A protestant, William Cobbett, an 18th-19th c. pamphleteer, journalist, and member of Parliament, wrote an enlightening book called A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. It illustrates exactly how important the monasteries were to the people and the devastating impact of Henry's "achievement." The fact that it was written by a Protestant makes it particularly powerful. He certainly had no axe to grind!

As Hugh Benson's novel shows, however, many of the local people in their greed (like the wicked tenants in the parable of the vineyard) thought they would share in the stolen goodies. Short-sighted and manipulated by Cromwell's propaganda machine, which convinced many the monks were greedy, lazy, and immoral, they actually reveled in the destruction of the monasteries. We continue to see that today with those who cheer on the destruction of our Christian heritage and call it progress.

I'm glad I'm a Catholic, because no matter how bad it gets I know who's really in charge. There is no wrong that will go unrighted. There is no injustice that will go unpunished. There is no persecution or suffering in His name that will not be blessed with a crown of white or red martyrdom.

And besides, virtue is joyful; vice is boring. Our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord!

So rejoice and be glad and put up lots of cheerful decorations for the holidays (holy-days). Even during these penitential days in Advent the light shines and we see the Christmas star beckoning us to the feast days ahead.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God with us!

P.S. Here is one of the abbeys stolen by Henry VIII during the suppression of the monasteries.

"After the Suppression of the Monasteries, Henry VIII gave [Titchfield Abbey] to Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who transformed the buildings into a grand Tudor mansion called Place House." Henry's largesse to the nobles of Church property explains in many cases the apostasy of the rich in England. "Love of money is the root of all evils." It also explains to a large degree the reluctance to abandon heresy and return to the faith. Nobody wanted to give back their ill-gotten gains!


rohrbachs said...

Indeed that could also explain the motives of the Confederates too...reluctant to relinquish their ill-gotten "property".

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Here you go again....

An article in Chronicles recently discussed the error of explaining complicated issues by focusing in on one solitary part of the picture. You continually do that. And need I point out that most "Confederates" didn't have any "ill-gotten property" because the majority did NOT own slaves? The 1860 census showed that across the south only a quarter of white households owned slaves. And yet almost every family sent men (and boys) to war. What were they fighting for?

I'd also like to point out that most of the slaves were taken by black slavers in Africa and transferred to America. Recently, I read an article by a descendant of slaves who said he thanks God for slavery because if his ancestors hadn't come here as slaves, he'd still be in Africa.

God brings good out of bad situations -- even slavery. That doesn't mean slavery was right, but neither is demonizing the South.

Badcatholic said...

Amen. Pope Pius IX, Ora pro nobis.