Christ stilling the waves

The Trumpeteer

Chapter 4

Quite whether the people who lived before the Flood were as scientifically advanced as we are, is hard to know. The incredible destruction that seems to have been wreaked on the World would, one presumes, well nigh obliterate everything. Writers of, what might be described as, elevated science fiction would come up with fascinating theories, but most of them do not hold water. The problem is never science, but what one must describe as being Man's almost demonic curiousity, which shows itself in Eve's desire for knowledge and to be like God. In Arnold Lunn's classic apologia for Catholicism "Now I see" he quotes Professor Whitehead on science, it is as apt today as it was, when Lunn quoted it in 1933.

"The Reformation and the scientific movement", writes Professor Whitehead, "were two aspects of the historical revolt which was the dominating intellectual movement of the later Renaissance. And to this day", adds Professor Whitehead, "science has remained an anti-intellectualist movement based on naive faith."
And that is precisely why Malthus with his utterly unproven theories about populations explosions could have had such an impact on Darwin's erroneous theory regarding the survival of the fittest. Darwin had placed his trust in a Anglican Clergyman, who had obviously begun to lose his Faith. Putting faith in faithlessness is a very dangerous occupation, especially when it leads to the theory of Evolution.

So in The Apostles Creed, that impregnable defence of the Christian Faith, we say "I believe in God the Father Almighty", and those of us who really do believe, have to be very careful that the lureof power does not cause us to become, in our own way, almighty. Thus the husband exercising absolute power over his wife and children, something almost impossible for most Westerners to comprehend, but very easy in certain societies in the World, in particular in the Islamic World, or Pol Pot a modern symbol of Satan rules his people with a contempt that makes the mythical Sauron in Lord of the Rings almost pleasant. The worrying thing is that Pol Pot would never have seen the light of day if the Americans hadn't been bombing the peace loving Cambodians to smithereens so as to frighten the Vietnamese. Moving back to the familial domain from the nationa, we can think of that horrifying case of the Austrian father who kept his daughter shut up in a sort of bunker for years, as he sexually abused her, and we know that this absolute use of power is not dead. Sadly we have to ask why did the mother not put two and two together to work out what her husband was doing in the bunker, but then what were the West doing, allowing the Cambodians to be annihilated by their dreadful ruler, who had once been a Buddhist monk, and then learnt his left wing politics in Left wing Parisian cafe society? Stalin's Russia was conceived by a man who had once been training for the priesthood, and we have to ask why did Stalin ended up being one of the most terrible dicatators in history. He and Pol Pot were obviously at one time religious and sincere. These terrifying idealogues are more worrying than the mad racial fantasies of an Adolf Hitler, who was not as relgious as the other two tyrants, but he was an altar server and in the Church, choir if my memory serves me correctly. One of the redeeming qualities of both Hitler and Mussolini, is that they looked back into the past, but drew the wrong conclusions. What Communism does is to re-invent history, firstly by stating that the World was not created, and then to say everything evolves. However if everything evolves so, very worryingly, does morality. Marx looks at history, disregards culture, which comes out of Man's archetypal religious sense, and sees everyting as class warfare and dialectical materialism, forgetting that the world up until the Industrial revolution did not have the concept of a working class. Such an idea would have been anathema to the medieval guilds. Marx, hidebound by an innate Jewish Messianism, was determined to rebuild the World without reference to God. Very oddly he must have had some religious sense or he would not have written a poem to Lucifer. It causes grave concern to note that Saul Arlinsky, Barak Obama's mentor, and also Hilary Clinton's, said that his hero was Lucifer. The problem of the misuse of power then becomes wholly explicable.

Most Men, and I mean men as opposed to women, will create the world according to their desires and those desires, like Satan's, demand that Christ bow down and worship them. In practice this means that the Church must do what they say it must do. The Church however is the Mystical Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ and can do no other than serve Him who is both Almighty and All loving. Constantly these great tyrants, and ideologues want to be like God, and then a madness overtakes them, and they think that they are God. I do not know how Mao died, but we know how Hitler died shooting Eva Braun and himself as he listened to Gotterdamerung,and Stalin according to his daughter had a terrible death; " For the last twelve hours the lack of oxygen became acute. His face and lips blackened as he suffered slow strangulation. The death agony was terrible. He literally choked to death as we watched. At what seemed to be the very last moment, he opened his eyes and cast a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry, and full of fear of death.." Hitler, not a man imbued with the horrifying utilitarianism of Soviet Communism, but whose concentration camps were to have the same economic strategies as the Gulags, would have been horrified to realize that he,like Wotan, had chosen power over love and so had wrought his own destruction, unlike Brunnhilde, who chose love and sacrifice over power and so redeemed the World. In his book The Face of God Roger Scruton comments in a wonderful manner on Wagner's genius in depicting in The Ring of the Nibelung's primordial truths. In the following extract from the book Scruton displays superb insight into the problem of power devoid of love.

When Wagner set out to write The Ring of the Niebelung he was not a Christian, but an agnostic, heavily influenced by Feurbach's projectionist account of religion and Christianity in particular. But he asked himself an interesting question that Feurbach had ignored, which is this. Suppose the gods are our own invention, made in our own image, infused with our own passions like the gods in Homer, but with the additional attribute of ensuring the maintenance of law and order here below. What would those gods need in order to be truly objects of love? Wagner depicts the attempt of Wotan, king of the gods and lord of the world, to achieve the kind of serenity that comes from absolute control of the universe --- a universe that preceded his own rise to power, and which obeys its own inscrutable, and primeval laws. He shows that Wotan cannot do this without defying the moral law, and that his status as guardian of law and order is a sham. He is not evil, but he lacks something that is necessary to achieve true virtue. Meanwhile, in his attempt to retain the power that he has unjustly acquired, he creates a race of earthly beings who will have the freedom that he himself no longer possesses and who, guided but not compelled by him will undo the mischief that he had set in motion by wanting to be the supreme ruler of the world.

The human world that he has created is portrayed in Die Walkure, as a world of struggle and resentment. But it contains two precious attributes that Wotan himself does not possess, though he has a kind of polished veneer that subsititues for them --- the attributes of freedom and love. The freedom of the human being, as Siegmund and Sieglinde exemplify it, is the freedom to defy laws, fate, death itself, for the sake of another --- their freedom to make a gift of oneself. And this freedom is possible only where there is also suffering, otherwise the gift is costless, and not genuine sacrifice. Self and sake become one in the moment of sacrifice.

In the second act of Walkure we encounter this process of sacrifical gift played out in the character of Siegmund, and in the great stichomythic dialogue between Siegmund and Brunnhilde we see a free mortal, accepting death and suffering out of love for another, confronting a cold-hearted immortal, and awakening in her the sense of what she lacks.

Siegmund's need enters the soul of Brunnhhilde and her facade of divine implacability cracks. He forces her to account for herself and in doing so she confronts him I to I, and so falls into the human world of love and suffering. As her divine facade crumbles, a face apppears, and it is a face ready for love and destined for sacrifice. In the third act Brunnhilde prepares herself for the trials of mortality. She thows in her lot with the world of human love. But she will suffer as humans suffer, being used and discarded by the peson to whom she has made a gift of her entire self.

The third act of Walkure is a profound philsophical reflection on the idea of of incarnation, suggesting that the things that we truly value, and which are for us the avenue to meaning, are intimately connected with suffering,and the ability --- definitve of our humanity --- to accept suffering for the sake of love. Wagner's later works, notably Tristan and Parsifal, take this theme further. But the denouemnt of the Ring already depends on the idea that the gods achieve redemption only through accepting the condition of mortality, since only this renders them capable of sacrifice and the love of which sacifice is the proof. In accepting this they too learn suffering. And through this suffering a god acquires the ability to make a gift of himself, by renouncing life (and therefore immortality).

The Ring can be understood as an attempt to show, through artistic rather than intellectual means, the deep connection between freedom and suffering. It is in terms of this connection that we understand the highest form of love --- the love in which giving is total. If God is to enjoy that love, and the redemption that is innate within it, the implication is, then he too must be incarnate in mortal form. Love belongs to the human condition, and God becomes a complete object of love by accepting that condition as his own.

Although, as I remarked, Wagner's plot was conceived against the background of Feurbach's projectionist account of religious belief, it contains an important moral for believers too. It attempts to show at the deepest emotional level, that all that we truly esteem, love included, depends in the end on suffering, and on our freedom to accept suffering for another's sake. This idea is contained in the motive that occurs twice, once in Sieglinde's thanks for Brunnhilde's barely guessed-at sacrifice, and once at the end of the whole cycle, as the waters of the Rhine settle over the wreckage and nature is restored. Suffering is made available to God himself by the act of incarnation, and it is the way --- perhaps the sole way - in which he can show that he loves us with a humanly intelligible love, by suffering for our sakes. How to incorporate that thought into a cogent theology of creation is of course a difficult matter --- but in itself it is a perfectly cogent thought, and fundamental to the Christian understanding of our relation to God.

Power devoid of love becomes possessiveness, then it progresses to domination, and ends in destruction first of the victim and finally ends in the destruction of oneself, a spiritual death and with death that destruction will be complete and will render the soul into the everlasting fires of Hell. Societies can also spiritually destroy themselves, but thankfully many individuals in such societies can be saved. The reason that Totalitarianism can flourish with such terrifying consequences is that people will not choose love over power, and by this I mean that they will suffer dictators and tyrants, if it means they can stay alive and worse still they will tolerate tyranny if they remain modestly comfortable in such a closed and dangerous society. Man however was created by Love and in Love, and for Love, and anything less is not worthy of Man.

In a superb recent article in thenewamerican.com by Alex Newman called Christian Massacres we are faced with the perplexing situation of U.S.foreign policy destabilizing so many Moslem countries, ruled by dictators who protected Christians, and thus handing them over to Islamic zealots who torture them and kill them. The litany of these countries we know well Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, but more worringly America is happy to give countries that persecute Christians vast amounts of money. For the last ten years Pakistan has received well over $20 billion which comes from the pockets of American tax payers. Newman in his remarkable article shows classic restraint and simply chronicles the damnable duplicity of the American Governments (Here there is no Elijah or John the Baptist; would that there were, for that is what our depraved and desperate world needs so that it will fall on its knees and accept Christ as its Lord and Master, its God and King). Here is what he has to say:

After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lvies were sacrificed by the U.S. government over the last decade intervening in the Middle East --- the birthplace of Jesus Christ and Christianity --- Christian communities are facing unprecedented stuggles across most of the region. More than a few analysts have even called the systematic and growing persecution of Christians throughout much of the Muslim world an ongoing example of genocide.

"Conditions for genocide against non-Muslim communities exist in varying degrees throughout the region stretching from Pakistan to Morocco. The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is expecailly acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Iran and Pakistan," explained Dr. John Eibner of the non-profit making human-rights group Christian Solidarity International. "Millions of lives and the future of a religiously pluralistic civilization int ehMiddle East are at stake".

According to some estimates, more than 150,000 Christians are murdered every year for their faith around the world. The vast majority of those --- over three-fourths --- are Isalmic-dominated nations. And in many cases, U.S. taxpayers are either subsidizing the slaughter by distributing billions to oppressive regimes, or worse, helping to create the conditions that allow the persecution to happen in the first place.

Newman goes on to quote a Glen Clancy, and Orthodox Christian, and polictical science expert, who weeks before the Americans invaded Iraq had this to say:

"This may come as a shock ot many Americans, whose image of Sadam has been framed by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, but the prevalent fear mang Assyrians [Christians], both in Iraq and abroad, is that what comes next after an American invasion will be worse...Should the Assyrians be so concerned about being liberated by U.S. military power? If history is sour guide, they shouldn't be afraid. They should be terrified."

Then suddenly in the article a veil is lifted, when Newman is quoting Art Thompson the CEO of The John Birch Society:

"Our government's policies in the Middle East are a reflection of our government's policies at home. The war on Christianity in public life here at home in the schools and courthouses is manifested in the Middle East with the destruction of Christianity in the nations where have been interfering," said CEO Art Thompson of The John Birch Society, citing Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and other nations. But the continuing destruction of Christians and Christian culture is often impelled by forces beyond a particular administration, evey beyond the U.S. government.
  
Art Thompson then pinpoints these forces which are impelling the U.S. Oddly, given the U.S. governments' horror of socialism, it would appeat that it is precisely socialism which is behind the U.S. foreign policy. Thompson says quite simply: "The Rise of Militant Islam is nothing more than the rise of socialism under a different title." President Obama at present is determined to dominate the Catholic Church in America, much as Henry VIII succeded in doing in 16th century England. It is nothing new. It is the same problem that Wotan suffers from in the Ring. He is not utlimately in control. It is God who in Jesus Christ is control, because at the end of the day sacrificial love will always trump the Satanic misuse of power. Power, true power which is the ability to use authority wisely, pours from the wounded side of Christ, the God Man, who on the Cross redeemed the World. His offer of salvation is there for the great power brokers of the world. If they stop their wars, if they stop building indescribably hellish weapons, if they stop trying to create a "Brave New World", and if they lay down their ambitions and arms at the foot of their crucified saviour, they will have peace. If not they will change the World into one enormous battefield and charnel house, from which few of the human race will emerge alive.

The simple question to these warmongers is this: "Will you drink from the cup of sacrificial love and truly live, or will you wield unbridled power and die an endless death?

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