Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time Without The Timeless

Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid* apathy with no concentration /

Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—

-TS Eliot, The Four Quartets

Once a person or culture rejects any belief in the transcendent and the eternal and all that remains is the material, all that’s left is despair or its weakling twin sister, boredom. If there is no eternal Creator and Father of us all, no timeless moments within time, then there is no transcendent purpose or meaning to life and history. All we have, then, as the French philosopher Camus saw, is absurdity and despair. “The only serious question in life,” he said, “is whether to kill yourself or not.” Not having the courage of their convictions to embrace the reality of what it means to be locked within a world without the eternal God, Americans, by-and-large, have opted to embrace the weakling twin sister.

Having made such a choice, however, theirs is not simply a meaningless life of boredom where each person daily seeks to be “Distracted from distraction by distraction.” No: having chosen to reject the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, they are also now subjected to the tyranny of false-gods. After all, as Eliot said in 1939, “If you will not have God, (and He is a jealous God), pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.”

Civil Government Demanding an anti-God and anti-humane conformity for the sake of an “equality” that never has and never will exist, and justifying its tyranny of centralized powers on the grounds of “efficiency” and “progress,” our Leviathan-like government strangles to death all diversity, variety, and individual freedom. Boredom is now a legislated societal norm.  

Education Statist education supports this boring conformity with an unrelenting war against excellence. Rejecting books that exalt transcendent Goodness, Beauty and Truth, it replaces them with dull and boring reading material written for the lowest common denominator, as well as with books that covertly or overtly exhort us to conform to the dictates of the State. Augmenting this war against the transcendent and excellent, students are taught that no person or culture is allowed to stand out due to singular achievements: all are to be given awards for merely participating.

Work Businesses, seeking higher and higher degrees of efficiency for the sake of higher and higher profit margins, treat people as cogs in a wheel. Not seeing each person as being created by God in the image of God and for God, there is no such thing as human dignity, only so many objects to be shuffled around the Monopoly game-board for the sake of the almighty dollar. Having accepted the lie of time without the timeless, the cogs embrace their fate and go through their days in dreariness.

Individuals Rejecting their status as being made a little lower than the angels and placed in a world enchanted with God’s presence, the only course left to the unbelieving blind is being subjected to the machinations of the Great Herdsman of our culture and the diversions of the vacuous fads and fashions of the meaningless moment. Of course, anarchy (aka, cultural suicide) is another option, but that’s a post for another day.

Is it any wonder that so many of us seek to be “Distracted from distraction by distraction”? No longer seeking to apprehend “The point of intersection of the timeless with time,” or the eternal guiding and defining the temporal, we become inanimate objects ruled over by the whims of others and a heartless fate. Time without the timeless filled with tyrants who control our times and, as Eliot wrote in his Four Quartets, a pointless “rising and falling. / Eating and drinking. Dung and death.”

*  Tumid: Swollen; distended.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Learning From the Dead

Though he died, he still speaks.
- Hebrews 11.4

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
- GK Chesterton

Very early in life, we learn to learn from our mistakes. We intuitively know that it is in our best self-interest to pay attention to what brings health, fulfillment, and success, and what doesn’t. However, as life is short and our bank of experiences limited, the wiser among us also realize the importance of learning from the experiences of others, which includes the dead.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad decided to see if he could expand my choice of reading materials from Green Lantern and Superman comic books to something a bit more substantive. Toward this end, he would listen for whomever I seemed to admire and then leave a short biography of the person on my bed. It worked. I loved reading about Albert Einstein, Mickey Mantle, Madam Curie, and George Washington. While unaware of it at the time, this was a crucial aspect of my development, as I was learning about what was required of me to be successful in life, not just regarding the honing of skill-sets, but also the importance of character. I was learning, albeit unconsciously, from the lives of others.

It was during my senior year of high school, in my Honors American Prose and Literature class, that my unconscious learning from others became conscious. (Thank you, Mrs. Cogar!) Now, it wasn’t only biographies on the living and the dead who were teaching and inspiring me, but, also, fictitious characters and stories. The stories of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorn, Edgar Alan Poe, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Conner didn’t simply entertain me, they were teaching me about human nature, ethics, wisdom, and the quest for redemption.

Wisdom From Across the Ages
Whether it is the right ordering of the soul and our lives, or the right ordering of society, for century after century the wise have always sought out a body of literature that contains ideas and ideals that have been tried and found true regarding First Principles and Permanent Things: classics where “time and timelessness intersect.” (TS Eliot) This body of literature includes fantasy, fiction, poetry, biography, history, classical philosophy and Christian theology. Western Civilization grew out of such a particular bank of wisdom that guided our ancestors in their quest to discover and pass on to future generations the ultimate values and virtues of a prosperous and harmonious society.

(Today, most people in the US are clueless, or worse, uninterested, regarding the books that were seminal in the development of Western Civilization and the founding of our nation. This helps explain much of the loss of faith, humanity, vision, identity, purpose, and the demise of all that made us a civil society that we are presently experiencing.)

As we seek to order our lives and our culture, wondering where the path of wisdom and truth lies, relying solely on our own wits and intelligence will leave us wandering down corridor after corridor of confusion and dismay. God’s wisdom, which has been providentially revealed over the ages, calls to us offering knowledge and understanding. Only the naive or foolish will ignore the offer.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


If I am not better than other men, at least I am different.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is the “Age of Me,” where being bizarre and boisterous, uneducated and undisciplined, passes for individuality.  Members of this cult worship at the altar of self where the individual’s feelings and momentary impulses are the measure of all things. Consequently, customs and traditions are thought to be ridiculous and the code of morality upon which western civilization was established is seen as hilariously ludicrous. In the Age of Me all that matters is the individual’s instincts, rendering him more like an animal than a human created in the image of God.

It seems to me that, as a majority of people think only in terms of “being myself,” few then are asking what it means to be a human or, more specifically, to be humane.  Up until around 100 years ago, one of the chief ends of education was to facilitate the shaping of souls by introducing students to the “permanent things” regarding what it means to be genuinely human, via art, history, literature, philosophy, and even theology. However -

Today it is believed that there aren’t any permanent things, no norms of human nature and behavior, only my unique experiences and sentiments. From such uniqueness, the me-ist then develops his own personalized code of morality that, at any moment, can morph into any shape he wishes. Subsequently, yesterday’s decadence can become today’s decency with a single flash of thought or feeling. Of course, to maintain this mindset, he must reject a religious view of life or, at least, a religion that adheres to permanent things: you know, things like The 7 Cardinal Virtues or The 7 Deadly Sins.

Jettisoning a religious view of life, which includes a transcendent moral order, me-ists scurry around doing whatever is right in their own eyes. Feeling that they are expressing and asserting their individuality, they seek no guidance from the cumulative wisdom of the past and sense no obligation regarding the inheritance they are leaving future generations. There is only me and now. Tragically, such anarchical individualism leads to the destruction of souls and the disintegration of society.

Seeking to be different for difference’s sake creates psychological abnormalities, not health and wholeness. Furthermore, seeking to be “me” is not the same thing as seeking to become the individual human God created me to become. The first leads to chaos and emptiness: only the latter leads to becoming genuinely human.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016