Eucatastrophe

J.R.R. Tolkien, like most scholars of the ancient world, believed that the world will get worse and worse and has only ever gotten worse and worse. The idea that we can all put our minds together and accomplish world peace if we just wish hard enough and establish enough good faith councils was a ridiculous, irrational falsehood without a half-pence of evidence in the world.

By contrast, myths and fairy tales were on some foundational level true, for at least mythology tells some kind of allegory or reflection about humanity. I wrote a paper in college saying that myths are the only truth in the world and used the example of Hesiod. Tolkien would be horrified how we casually refer to something false or unrealistic as “just a myth.”

Yet the future will not be all bad. As things get inevitably worse, there’s a small glimmer of hope. There has to be something to make it a happy ending, even if it does nothing to diminish the terribleness of what the hero has gone through.

Tolkien called this eucatastrophe. Despite all the badness, there will be the good, which will be intimately tied into the relief from the bad. It’s not joy in the sense that you ride a roller coaster or even fall in love. It’s the joy in an unexpected salvation that could only have been providential. And if the salvation was providential, then it must have inevitable. It is as much the nature of the world to entropy as is it also for the nature of the world to provide a sudden deliverance at the darkest moment.

Tolkien wrote,

And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story – and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”

But before the good can save everything, there must be more bad. Why must there be more bad? Because that’s the nature of the world. It’s a natural law like gravity and patriarchy. Things fall apart.

Things get worse, because people are more comfortable with a culture without aspirations. If anything can be beautiful, then you don’t have to ever admit you’re in the wrong. You don’t have to try to do something you can fail at. You can just be comfortably mediocre.

*****

Radio music is horrendous because we reward mediocrity. Somewhere in a bar near you there is a country singer who writes beautiful songs about life with clever chord changes that cut to the heart. He will never get a record contract. Nobody wants him. He inspires aspiration. People want their music to tell them to be satisfied with being stagnant. I think Taylor Swift does a good job of giving people what they want.

The ugliness of pop music is foundationally a spiritual issue. God is the Source of beauty and order. The further our society gets away from God, the more ugliness and disorder are propped up as beauty and order. This is partly because we no longer are able to reflect the One who is the ultimate beauty and order.

Another similar reason is because actual beauty demands a standard. You have to try to be beautiful, and all beauty comes through suffering. We hate suffering, and we hate delayed gratification, and we hate anything that doesn’t let us be lazy. I think this is why hip-hop is so popular, because it’s so basic that anyone can create it. Flavor Flav should have been his generation’s Theolonius Monk.

A lot of protestants are appalled at just how bad Evangelical Christianity has gotten in the last fifty years. And while there will be some push back and some revival of old hymns and solid preaching, by and large protestantism is dead. There will be no end to soft rock worship music. There will be no hard teaching against divorce. There will be no third Great Awakening.

The Methodists are not about to actually follow John Wesley’s Method any more than the Presbyterians will keep the Scottish Covenants. The Anglicans never actually believed in anything. The Pentecostals and Charismatics are slaves to whatever demon masquerades as an angel of light. The Baptists and non-denominationals are just a service industry, glorified YMCAs that have a spurt of growth for five years until everyone moves on to the next trendy church.

Catholicism is the same way. The new mass isn’t going away, because it fits our culture of the lowest common denominator. People don’t want a high Latin mass that challenges them to be uncomfortable in the world. The new mass is about relativism. That’s become the dominating ideology of Western Christianity, even if not explicitly. Vatican II wasn’t an accident of history.

The homoeroticism in Catholicism will only continue to become more overt, even if it is never condoned. And perhaps the gays don’t want to be condoned, for there’s a certain perverse joy in being subversive. And it seems that the gay community, just in general, puts a lot of their identity in being persecuted and in keeping secrets from the general population. If half the cardinals are gay and most of the rest are gay sympathizers, it’s not likely they’re going to elect a strict moralist to be the next pope.

This progression to mediocrity in Western Christianity is because there is no ultimate standard by which to judge itself except what’s popular in the now. In protestantism this is the fatal flaw of sola scriptura, that exegesis reflects ideological trends, no matter how much they emphasize you should just read the Bible at face value. In Catholicism this is the concept of the development of doctrine, that what Augustine or Aquinas said does not apply to today’s Church. Catholicism cannot regress to pre-Vatican II, both because there is no mechanism to install the kind of leadership who would want it and because it is inherent in the nature of Catholicism to always progress and adapt.

As for the Orthodox, we’re more resistant to progressivism, but let’s not pretend the average Orthodox Christian isn’t a product of American secularism. Most Orthodox Christians vote for abortion and socialism. Mike Dukakis was a loyal Greek Orthodox Christian who, in a more sane century, would have been excommunicated for expanding abortion and marrying a non-Christian.

And there will never be one unified American Orthodox jurisdiction for the simple reason that nobody actually wants it, no matter what they may say otherwise. People want all the other parishes to look like theirs, but they aren’t actually interested in accommodating the tapestry of American Orthodox Christianity.

Extended communities blind to geography and pseudo-schismatic (but canonical) mission parishes founded in cities with an existing strong Orthodox Christian presence are the future of the Orthodox Church in this country. When we do get together to take a stand against the secular world, it manifests in token policy statements against racism and white supremacy. We’re cutting edge like that.

The sexual revolution will not be undone. There will be no awakening. People give various reasons about cooperating incentives and the left-right spectrum and birth control, but ultimately the sexual revolution will continue because people enjoy having sex. There’s not much more to it than that. There’s no Jewish conspiracy. People want to have sex in the now without concern for the future. I could cynically say something about female empowerment, but the men love it just as much. No one wants a family. No one wants intimacy.

Americans don’t worship money. They worship sex. Notice the uptick in hit songs that compare sex to church, prayer, salvation or the Holy Spirit. We’ll make any sacrifice for Christ except this one thing, and even then we don’t want sex for the right reasons. We don’t want sex so that we can build a family. We want sex because it feels good. Despite how much we idolize the orgasm, we still cannot maintain a birth rate. And there is nothing Donald Trump can do to fix it.

Jesus would have given a very different message to the rich young ruler had they lived today.

White demographic decline will not slow down, because whites are demoralized. We can elect a hundred Trumps, but like the panda we just will not reproduce. Even if we had zero immigration, a culture of self-absorbed hedonists without a notion of a broader vision for a broader tribe beyond just civic unity will not individually and voluntarily sacrifice for the greater good. Anything that looks like long-term planning in the political world is just concerned with the results before the next election.

We don’t believe in anything, and therefore we have no need for long-term planning. Any notion of the afterlife is just a comfort blanket, not something that is supposed to guide every choice you make. In our hearts we believe that there will be nothing left when we are gone. What does race and culture matter if death is merely the cessation of biological function?

Our morality consists in drawing lines of what you are not supposed to do and then encouraging anything else that doesn’t cross a line. This is fundamentally an atheistic morality, but most Christians hold to it. Americans have a strong affinity for the notion of rights, the ability to do whatever one wants. This is a minimalist morality. It doesn’t tell you how you should live life — only how you should not live it.

****

The fight for the restoration of our culture is a fight worth having, but it is a vain fight. We will lose, though not without our integrity. At the least we can say that we took our stand on the battlefield instead of accepting slavery. There is dignity to the loser who fought to his last breath, even if he does not survive like the one who meekly submitted to whatever he was coerced into. The former is admired and the latter only scorned.

Christianity will not become fearless again. The radio will not play better songs. Schools will not become more rigorous. The sexual revolution will not reverse. The television will not become uninvented. All we will have is more hope-crushing entropy.

People say, “Will the government persecute conservative Christians?”, but today’s conservative is the moderate of sixty years ago. The Christianity of Thomas Jackson is long dead. Fundamentalist protestantism in the likes of Steve Anderson is just a cheap, reactionary parody focused on token external morality. There are no conservative Christians to persecute.

But gladly that cross will I bear.

Tolkein’s ultimate eucatastrophe, obviously, can only be the second coming of Christ. And we see that the world was in this same philosophical position when He came the first time as it is in now. And so I believe that He is coming soon. And then every bad thing and every worry today will seem like the silliest, most trivial memory, like a child who is worried about his fingers pruning in the bathtub.

If you don’t know what to live for in a world where the women have hearts of stone and the men have hearts of a pigeon, where ugliness is called beauty and virtue is pathologized, where something as banal as television has become the new religion so that it’s blasphemy to dare suggest that Harry Potter isn’t well-written and apostasy to have not seen Deadpool, in this world that we have so unfortunately come to inhabit where you must squint to find anything truly worth living and dying for, live and die for the Second Coming.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

4 thoughts on “Eucatastrophe

  1. For all the bad things Americans say about the Russians and Germans, would it not be interesting if it turned out that the Russians and Germans, of all people, ended up being America’s salvation? People may ridicule me for saying that. For, they usually associate those two countries with the most evil of evils, namely Communism and Nazism respectively. All this carrying on about Joseph Stalin, and to a greater extent, Adolf Hitler!

    Personally, I suspect that the true reason Americans hate Russians and Germans, is not so much due to the genocidal extermination policies of the Soviets and Nazis respectively, but for other reasons. Americans are envious of Russian and German culture, and what the Russians and Germans used to produce, in terms of art, science, and music. Sure, they wax about how morally angered they are about the Gulags and Death Camps. Most of what passes for art, these days, is trash!

    And besides, I am always surprised others do not express resentment towards The State of Israel. Of course, there is hardly even that much hatred of Muslims expressed either. Not to my knowledge at any rate. I suppose, it is easier for Americans, White Americans, to denigrate and vilify their White brothers and sisters in Russia an Germany than to ever utter what could be construed as either “anti-Semitic” or “Islamophobic.” Besides, what you say about Gays, delighting in being subversive, is also true of Muslims as well.

    God Bless you, Blair Naso

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  2. I thought you’d lost your humor, but then got to the panda comment. 🙂

    “People want all the other parishes to look like theirs[.]” Oof. The truth hurts. That’s because we are all much more nostalgic than we care to admit. We are also sold an oversimplified idea that services look the same everywhere.

    I think there is a disconnect in cradle Orthodox people’s private beliefs and political beliefs. In this case, distinguishing between cradles and converts is useful. At least, that’s how I used to be. Acquaintances of mine speak of shutting off their brains when they get to church. It’s such a foreign idea now. Either the faith guides how you live, or it doesn’t.

    Beautiful conclusion, friend.

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