Are There Any Men in Europe?

abuse_germanyJess’ choice yesterday to lead with Yeats’ Second Coming was in my view directly on point. I also agree with everything she said in the post. It does seem darker than the thirty’s do in retrospect, at least. For all the aberrations at Oxford then (“We resolve not to fight for King and Country”) and now (trying to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes, who in establishing his scholarships had more guts than almost anybody, in specifying that colour was to have no place in selecting winners). The left has always been racist, both here, and in Europe, witness the furor from the Democrats over TR having dinner with Booker T. Washington, or Wilson’s segregation of almost everything and the institution around that time of Jim Crow. Again we see those who refuse to study history, condemning

Of course the left has always been racist, witness the furor from the democrats over TR having dinner with Booker T. Washington, or Wilson segregation of almost anything and the institution around that time of Jim Crow. Again we see those who refuse to study history, condemning themselves or their children to reliving it.

A friend of ours, Francis Phillips, writing last week in the Catholic Herald, had something to say about the comparison as well.

[Speaking of a woman who recently died, who had come to Britain in 1939 as a refugee from Germany]

Everything about her life spoke to me of an age that is past: her loyalty to her German history as well as her patriotic love for her adopted country; her reserve, her independence and the quiet inner strength that her faith gave her.

It struck me that, despite the horrors of the war, she had come to adulthood and to England during a less complex time in our history: patriotism was not a suspect stance to hold; the concept of multiculturalism, once unthinkingly vaunted, now agonised over, had not been heard of; there was no migration crisis (the post-war refugee crisis was a European phenomenon) and global terror had not been invented.

With her death and the gradual decline in the numbers of the other wartime refugees to this country, we have lost both the quiet and dignified witness of their lives as well as the high regard they had for our country’s values. We hardly know what these values are any more. Paradoxically, the times seem darker now than in 1939.

It’s true, I think, they do. And while Jess’ points are very valid, there something else as well.

Are there any men left in Europe?

In you missed it, there was a row over the weekend between the Kremlin and Berlin, about a 13-year-old girl who disappeared for 30 hours and then claimed to have been held by ‘southern appearing aliens’, and sexually abused, not to say gang-raped. Somehow the story only got public by means of social media in the Russian émigré community. The authorities now say she recanted the story to ‘professionals’. Maybe so, it wouldn’t be the first time that a kid lied to stay out of trouble. But it’s troubling that Russia apparently doesn’t believe it, and that a good number of Americans don’t either.

Patterico had something to say about this (specifically New Years Eve) as well.

[A]t the risk of sounding old fashioned, and not jumping to any conclusions, note that I am simply chewing things over in my mind. Given that, as I read reports from Europe and the US about the horrible events that night, I am having trouble finding any mention of German men fighting back against the assailants. I did find this as yet unverified report from a doorman at a luxury hotel in the area. It speaks clearly to the horrific events and the utter terror these women experienced:

“Throughout the evening again and again women came to me and asked if they could just stand next to me so I could look after them. I still didn’t quite know what that was all about. They told me they were chased by these guys”.

The men who had chased the girls then attempted to attack again, but martial arts expert Jurevic was ready: “These guys that chased them, then they really tried to attack me. I’ll have to be honest, I beat them all up.

“I’ve never witnessed something like this, I always thought this stuff would be some sort of right wing propaganda. But it was real!”.

Aside from that, and the passing mention of two men who tried to protect their female companions and one’s daughter, I’m not seeing where German men came to the defense of the throngs of women being victimized that night. It’s strikes me as odd given that large numbers of women were forced to walk through gauntlets of Muslim males upon exiting the train station and elsewhere in the square:

When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group we met, which was made up only of foreign men … We walked through the group of men, there was a tunnel through them, we walked through … I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and hit them, they men didn’t stop. I was horrified and I think I was touched around 100 times over the 200 metres.”

Via: Where Were The German Men During The Cologne Attacks?

I may be old-fashioned here, or even a fish’s bicycle, but I was raised with that old Irish adage (even if I am Norwegian-American). “The first duty of the strong is to protect the weak“. That’s been true since, as John Ball had it, “Adam delved and Eve span”.  If it’s no longer true, then most likely our civilization is doomed, and we’ll see the denouement of Yeats poem.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
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
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Lacking conviction?

code pink on Iran

Neo and I have sometimes quoted Yeats’ lines from The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
This is because they seem as relevant to our times as they did to the 1930s. T.S. Eliot expressed it less pithily but with more exposition in his Idea of a Christian Society which was written around the time of the Munich Crisis of 1938. He, like many, was shaken by what had happened, and penitent and critical. But as he explained:

It was not…a criticism of the government, but a doubt of the validity of a civilization. We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us. Was our society, which had always been so assured of its superiority and rectitude, so confident of its unexamined premises, assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries, and had it any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends?

Those words are I think even more relevant now than they were then. Back in the 1930s our civilization retained many of its Christian characteristics, and its morality and standards were those of our Judeo-Christian heritage – we did, in short, as we found in 1940, have some ideas to pitch against those of the Nazis, as we would, for the long Cold War, against the Communists. But what have we now?

I’m struck and penitential about the way in which so many feminists are quiet about what has happened in Cologne and elsewhere – it is clear that for them fear of being called ‘racist’ outweighs the principles they claim to stand for. Their ideas are not held with as much conviction as those of ISIS sympathisers. But they are hardly alone. Our governments do, indeed, seem to care only for banks and profit and not for anything higher. It leaves us, literally, vulnerable against those who hate our civilization and all it stands, or stood for. The reason I singled out feminists a moment ago was that they at least know, passionately I thought, what they stand for, but it is easy to be passionate when faced with an ‘enemy’ which isn’t really that. Western men can be misogynistic, but that fades when compared to the attitude of many Muslims – but best not cross them because unlike Western men, they will turn round and harm you. Is it cowardice? Or is it just that they are not that passionate?

It sometimes seems as though the effort of staying alert for so long against the enemy of Communism has sapped us of our energy. Was it too much for too long? No doubt it would be nice if the world was a better place where we did not face real enemies, but those liberal pieties are not true, they are a delusion. Perhaps Eliot was right, and we do not have values which will stand when the wind blows? But so it seemed in the 30s – and when the moment came, so too did the man – Churchill. We shall have to hope there’s one in the wings.

The Lost Land

little-house-on-the-prairie-meir-ezrachiI can’t speak for you, but Jess touched a chord (several, actually) with me yesterday, both here. and with her post on AATW. She, like me, grew up in the country, and I suspect both of us feel somewhat out-of-place in town, even the quite small towns we live in. There exists in both of us a longing for the country, I think, away from the ‘Nosy Parkers’ of town life. But even more than that, I think we long for a simpler, better time when we had the time to listen to nature, and yes, to God. Her quote of Houseman is directly on point, for me.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

There’s a deep sadness in knowing we can never go there again, and I suspect it is compounded by the knowledge that those whom we knew so well, and formed us, are no longer there. The old saying that “you can never step twice in the same river” applies forcefully here. And the simple honest folks we grew up around, are passing quickly from the scene, and with them the world they built for us, leaving us alone to face the clamorous, dissonant world of today.

For me, I have that same sense of ‘hiraeth’ (yes, it’s a Welsh word, there is no English equivalent, really) not for Wales, specifically, lovely as it looks in pictures, but for the wide open spaces, for me the high plains of Wyoming tend to hold my thoughts. In many ways, they are not as beautiful as Jess’ Wales, but they have an austere beauty of their own. They also offer a powerful sense of independence. There is just something about knowing that your nearest neighbor is twenty or so miles away.

In A Lost Lady, Willa Cather wrote this:

He had seen the end of an era, the sunset of the pioneer. He had come upon it when already its glory was nearly spent. So in the buffalo times a traveller used to come upon the embers of a hunter’s fire on the prairies, after the hunter was up and gone; the coals would be trampled out, but the ground was warm, and the flattened grass where he had slept and where his pony had grazed, told the story.
This was the very end of the road-making West; the men who had put plains and mountains under the iron harness were old; some were poor, and even the successful ones were hunting for rest and a brief reprieve from death. It was already gone, that age; nothing could ever bring it back. The taste and smell and song of it, the visions those men had seen in the air and followed, — these he had caught in a kind of afterglow in their own faces, — and this would always be his.

In many ways, that seems to sum up how we are feeling about our country today.

Jess linked to an article called Dreaming in Welsh, I’m repeating that link because I think it provides a middle ground between Jess’ hiraeth and my longing as well as can be. Do read it, if you haven’t.

Land of Lost Content?

st-hywyns-churchyard-aberdaron-bay

As some of you know, I am fond of poetry. The older I get, the more I think it almost the only thing outside of my Bible that’s worth reading. Yesterday, whiling away time I should have been doing something else with, I told Neo that I was overcome with a sort of melancholy – we have a word for that sort of feeling in Welsh, we call it ‘hiraeth’, and there’s a good article here about it and the context in which we Welsh feel it. I was brought up in the English-speaking part of Wales by a German father, so my Welshness is one of geography and feeling rather than one of language. Those great, grey, wild skies, framing the mountains stirs something in my blood, some deep ancestral memory on my mother’s side, all the more poignant and powerful because I never knew her. That speaks to something the English poet, A.E. Houseman wrote in what is perhaps his most famous poem, A Shropshire Lad where he writes with melancholic longing:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

That captures it well. It has in it something of our primal deprivation of Eden, that sense we have of exile, mourning and weeping in a valley of tears which is not our real home – we have a feeling of dis-ease, of unease, of not belonging, of being out of place.

Much of our lives are spent in unconscious combat with that feeling, and sometimes, when we are not looking, it can break through our defences, and manifests itself in nostalgia for our childhood, or if that won’t give it to us, a lost golden age when things were better than they are now. For poets like Houseman or RS Thomas, these feelings were turned by the imagination into poetry which catches in distilled form a feeling which we find hard to describe, because there are moments when words will not convey what we have in our hearts. How can we speak of exile from Eden except with a catch in our throat?

One of my favourite poets, RS Thomas, a Welsh Anglican clergyman, wrote of this in his poetry, not least of the difficulty of the living in the present in Wales – and here’s a taste of his poetry – where he finishes by writing of ‘sick’ people’ worrying at the ‘carcase of an old song’. There’s a warning there of the sterile nature of too much nostalgia – we can inhabit a vanishing past, but it cannot nurture or feed us. We can only, as Thomas said, turn aside from these things and find life where it is truly to be found, which is where redemption is to be found – as in one man, Adam, all men fell, so in one man, Christ, will all rise again. Here’s a taste of that to finish with from Thomas:

 

 

Saturday Links

Well, I’m more or less recovered, but there is a mass of stuff I read (and archived for use) while I was ill. So how ’bout some links today to help you (and me) catch up?

Hillary Clinton & Double Standards on the Left

The Flint Water Scandal

The Tribal War with Islam

This refers to much the same thing I said yesterday.

Obama’s Middle Eastern policy is a bad replay of Woodrow Wilson’s post-WWI efforts (and we know how that ended)

What we really need to talk about after Cologne

Europe Braces Itself for Terrorism as Germany and Other Countries Experience Sexual Jihad Firsthand from Rapefugees

Are there really two popes?

Affirming Anglicanism

The one thing most people think they know about economics is wrong

Sell everything ahead of stock market crash, say RBS economists

Oil could crash to $10 a barrel, warn investment bank bears

Project Fear: how Cameron plans to scare us into staying in the EU

The Brexit vote: it’s neck and neck

Why farms die and should die

And finally, only marginally suitable for work, but an example of “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”.

How To Use A Thong

Well that cleans up some of my archives, and there’s something for nearly everyone there! :)

 

Tongued with fire

Little Gidding Church

Little Gidding Church

While Neo is recovering from whatever fell bacteria have felled him a bit this week, I said I’d do one for today to allow him more time to recover – but first, I am sure you will all join me in wishing him a speedy and full restoration to good health.

We’ve been doing a lot on politics this week, and much of it has been pretty gloomy in tone; that’s the thing about a conservative disposition, it means you don’t get to indulge in ‘happy think’ and delude yourself into confusing your wishes with reality. If we’re gloomy, it’s because there’s plenty about which to feel less than pleased. Partisans apart, I’m not seeing anyone over enthusiastic about the candidates for the Presidency. We’ve seen what has happened on the international stage when the World’s Sheriff decided he had better things to do, and that’s going to leave a legacy which may not be possible to clean up.

Those of us with religious faith are sometimes accused of going to our ‘imaginary friend’ for consolation, but that shows an incomprehension of what religion is about. Everyone of us takes on trust certain assumptions, every one of us tries to find a narrative that makes sense of this world. Science is only one mode by which we try to understand things, and it is not its province to answer the thing that puzzles us most – is there a purpose to our being here? If it is just to continue the gene pool, then whatever way we do that is the best life, and yet, in our era, we have tested to destruction the limits of hedonism  without finding in it a place where we can rest. Like St Augustine of Hippo, we too are restless; for the Christians among us we find rest in one place only – God.

That is easier experienced in transit than in permanency. In this fallen world our broken and marred selves interact in ways which might be designed at times to maximise pain as much as pleasure. We find it hard to hold on to the calm places. Across the last year I have spent a lot of time in those silences and found there a calmness that made me want to stay; but in me there is a restlessness which has made that impossible. But we can, perhaps, try to take those moments of transcendence with us into the wider world. My beloved TS Eliot caught something of that in Little Gidding here:

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

Reason and will can take us only so far, and that is never far enough for our soul – kneeling where prayer is valid can take us further – if we have the courage, or desperation, to entrust ourselves to it. In the end, the things which politics can deal with matter, but there are more things in heaven and earth than are contained in their philosophies.

 

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