Exhausted

This is a comment I offered on a website I frequent called “Front Porch Republic” which seeks to be a meeting place of like-minded folks who largely call themselves conservative or some more or less precise term.

So we have seen an exhausted thread here which represents the exhausted FPR, a mere symptom of the exhausted conservative movement (or at least I am exhausted and so all the light that passes through my eyes is colored so).

By exhausted, I do not mean without vibration; there is still momentum, movement, agitation, excitation, but there is no light from the heat, no illumination of a path forward, no cohesion. And this is as it should be, in fact, it must be.

For conservatism isn’t. It cannot be. You cannot have a coordinating movement of persons from different communities; especially those so fluid as to require a base democratization, a pandering to those who have free association available to them as a weapon, and a distortion of the social contract which can only come about by a man believing he has no debts if he is not paying usury.

It is the truth that Fusionism is a lie and a repulsive lie at that. It was fabricated out of what was believed to be a political necessity, and existential threat to both man and state that was represented by militant, totalitarian communism. But that is only the beginning, for other words used in FPR are also lies. Christianity is one of them.

As fond as I am of the Roman Church, there are those who could articulate with subtly I cannot (and possibly without offense) why my Orthodox brethren and that body remain divided. Certainly each Protestant in this forum has heard at least one sermon in their lifetime on such a topic, even in the most adoring forms of insipid Anglican Romantic cucumber circles.

Moreover, though some of you also work, as I do, in what is called “Higher Education” this too is a lie. My institution’s mission statement, while not presupposing the inferiority of your institution in any explicit way, necessarily stands in opposition to many of the institutions represented here.

I live in a marginally above standard community, economically and aesthetically, which has no center whatsoever. Not only can it not defend itself against the loss of its nature, it whores out what little germination of community can be found to those who would only sleep within the confines of its borders; preferring to work, Church, shop and perform other acts of life far out of its memory.

The only thing I can admit is that I see no hope of anything better except for each to share in correspondence, as was the tradition in a more civilized age, between one another the essential matters of necessary research into the essential and diverse natures of human community and foster it where and as we can as all men hope toward God’s salvation.

We are not, nor should we see ourselves as, prophets of a better age. Even as the golden headed Nebuchadnezzar himself was only a king, his state built by conquering blood, upon brutal slavery and maintained by the subjugation of God’s people.

We are rather poets, who having (I hope) fasted and prayed, scrawl out some meaning in words, some code that can be passed among the faithful whom we neither know nor know of. This will bear the fruit that all poetry does, reflecting the reader upon themselves, convicting the soul.

We are not right, nor righteous. We are fell creatures of this age. But that which we are, we are. This is why the conservative movement went wrong, because it is no movement at all, but a voice crying out, make straight the path! I do not know the way, though I have witnessed what seems to me to be the way in the lives of men and women I might dare call holy or good.

I don’t think to speak of myself, but of those who seem to see clearer than I do–here and elsewhere.

I have no interest in political machinations. In the success or failure of tyrants who would rule in my name as opposed to ruling in the name of my enemies. I would have no enemies, though I am sure this poem of a post will remind a few that they believe I am theirs.

For the totalitarian instinct is in the right, the left and all points between. And a man who refuses to join the glittering unholy army of self-ascribed righteousness is as much a foe as the ones they march to meet on the battlefield. In fact worse, for he appears to be an infection within the ranks themselves and a traitor to the cause.

Damnation to Brutus yes? Cassius still? And Judas yet in the maws of Hell’s coldest fiend. Would you but know the nature of such a condition you would not seek it for a single man, but open your heart to each man you chance upon to meet as we go about our plans to rule a world with rulers who cannot rule even themselves.

I am tempted even now to curse those who would seek to form an ideology, or movement, even within the ephemeral walls of this astral realm off bits and bytes; but rather, knowing their sin is also in my heart tenfold; I ask for God’s providence to guide us both and have mercy on our souls.

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5 thoughts on “Exhausted

  1. The closest thing to “good news” on these [supposedly] secular fronts is that there seems to be a growing number of “kindred spirits” amongst American Orthodox (and those who ought to be, and would be happier if they were, if they could just get over a few things) that the time has come to advocate not for a Political Party or even a Political Platform or even a Political Ideology, but rather that it is time to advocate for Real Communities. Advocate that it is strongly forged interpersonal relationships that creates a civilized society with an interest in justice, prosperity and culture.

    As more and more of our technologies decentralize to The Cloud, and as our business world follows suit, it might do to reflect that our residential world decentralized long before computer networks “taught” us the idea. What may be ideal for a computer network is Death for a society.

    We need to re-centralize, because it is not purity of ideology or fervent defense of same that will save us, but by forging LOVE between people.

  2. I can think of two persons, who are still subscribed to the system (in different ways) but have recently asked this serious question quite bluntly (Fr Oliver Herbel and Clark Carlton). Romanos Gorny seems to always have it in the back of his mind, and I’m sure there are many others who’ve spoken either publicly or privately among themselves. That right there is an otherwise very diverse group of Orthodox folks.

    The last time such changes in social structure were severe enough for like-minded people to consider artificial communities (they would only be artifice initially since repetition would be validation of tradition in this case) was in the late sixties and early seventies. Father Stephen Freeman, whom I respect, has some considerable experience in this area and from what I gather, it is unfortunately negative. But I also know he’s made it clear that even his own sub-urban “community” is only possible, not desirable (that is, no one lives in neighborhood-proximity to St Anne’s in Oak Ridge).

    But I hear whispering from all over. And over again.

    I don’t think a commune in the secular retrospective sense is possible. But perhaps some research could be done into what might constitute a critical mass of families that could imitate something more than a parish (as is currently realized by the liturgy and coffee clutch lifestyle) and less than a monastery (as is traditionally formed with monastic oaths and necessitates celibacy).

    What we think of as the parish is really not meaningful in Orthodox countries where the diocese is the center of community. Individual altars, buildings, meeting places are significant, but folks are largely (where the busy bodies haven’t uprooted this) fixed in their communities and attend “here” for prayers and “over there for liturgy” or go to the cathedral for feasts, etc.This is supported by existing structures of community both inside and outside the Church proper.

    We are not so fortunate and should not subscribe to some sort of naive idea that we will convert the masses sufficient to build such superstructures. The stronger the dose of humility about the current state of the administration in the Church and its future would assist this more than anything.

    The truth is Jim, though we hardly know one another, we belong to each other in Christ. This so-called “weak” ecclesiology of love, is all we have. Perhaps we should all go and reread Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together”, at least the first chapter, and dispense with our wish-dreams as to community and learn what real community is.

    I have an older post about this: Seven Bridges Road

  3. Fr. Andrew Stephen Dammick is another voice. If you don’t know his lectures or his blog, I recommend them very highly.

    On the one hand, I agree with your last paragraph, we cannot really hope to transform this country into a country of real communities. I’m not even sure we can hope to have real communities within the midst of this country. The infrastructure of the country itself is simply contrary to any kind of meaningful localism. And so perhaps my bond to you is more real, more deep, than anything I can hope to have with my “around the corner” neighbors who are either Western or of another faith or of no faith.

    But on the other hand, I do think it is very important that we help as many people as possible wake up to the reality that the way we all live is not community and that when we pretend that it is, we participate in a fraud — and a fraud with very severe consequences for the disenfranchised. To use a bad film analogy, it is a bit like The Matrix. Maybe this small crew in a small ship can’t really save humanity from the dominant, oppressive culture, but the act of waking up to the reality is in and of itself of value even if only a few manage it.

  4. Hasn’t this always been the way? Light the candle, leaven the bread, salt the meat, and live the life. In my mind the point of gathering together is like the coals, which cannot stay lit alone, but in community can bring heat to the whole house of the world.

    But I do not worry because I know that the sheep hear the Shepard’s voice, and that God is the only lover of man (and better than I do).

    As you say, perhaps the most critical step is to refuse to participate in the fraud. Resist anyway we can (doubly in what we do for every word we say).

  5. The further discussion going on in the previous comments is beyond my ken, but the original post I hope I understood and have come away at least sensing your meaning. The post itself, though written as prose, is punctuated, even loaded with, so much poetry that it might be presented visually in versical format. I have found sometimes that some of my originally prose compositions can be displayed as poems, to good effect, that is, to bring out the meaning better, and vice versa as well, poems written but printed out as prose. Sorry that this comment is only about literary structure, but I still want to leave it. The content is important. I just have nothing more to add. And yes, you’re right, I always have it in the back of my mind, but often not too far back.

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