Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Good Men

     “There are plagues, and there are victims, and it's the duty of good men not to join forces with the plagues.” – Albert Camus, The Plague

     Only one thing matters now. Ponder the quote above, the central insight from Albert Camus’s finest novel, before reading on.

     A couple of years back, a beloved, now-retired priest, Father Ed Kealey, told a story that put a great deal about the Catholic Church in America into proper perspective. It was about a gathering of American bishops and pastors to discuss the “controversy” of clerical pederasty, a scandal which had been steadily gathering force for some time. The accusations had been flying thick and fast. Some had already been proved. Others screamed from the front page of many a regional daily. More were surely coming.

     Rather than face the storm with courage, a determination to get to the truth, and a firm resolve to right whatever wrongs its priests might have committed, the Church in America had done what cowardly institutions do: It tried to “manage” the problem, mostly by shuffling accused priests from post to post, diocese to diocese, and (hopefully) out of the spotlight. The tactic had proved adequate, for a while, in muting the cries of the accusers. It had not, of course, brought justice to anyone genuinely abused.

     The convocation of which Father Ed spoke was just as pusillanimous, just as unwilling to face the storm and demand to know the truth, as the prelates before it. They treated the problem as “inappropriate behavior” on the part of the accused clerics. It disgusted Father Ed. And being a true priest of Christ, he stood up and gave the gathering both barrels.

     “Inappropriate behavior,” he said, is using the wrong fork at dinner; the sexual abuse of children is assault and rape. The Church should do the most vigorous, abasing penance for treating it so lightly and petition for divine guidance about how to cleanse such evil from the Catholic clergy, such that it might never, ever recur.

     Father Ed suffered for that jeremiad. The Diocese of Rockville Center made sure of it. I think he knew that that would be the consequence, as he’d already come under fire from the bishops for his involvement with Voice Of The Faithful. He took his stand anyway.

     Father Ed, you see, is a good man.

     Here’s another good man, this one drawn from my fiction:

     “What did you think of the movie?” Celeste pulled Louis’s arm against her and walked closely alongside him.
     He shrugged. “I’m not big on tearjerkers. It was pretty decent entertainment, but I have a feeling they distorted the facts of his life a bit.”
     “Whose? C. S. Lewis’s?”
     He nodded. “I have a hard time matching the character in the movie with the things he wrote.”
     “You’ve read his books?”
     “All of them.”
     He unlocked the passenger door of his pickup truck and helped her into it. Even with his assistance, her stiletto heels made it a challenge.
     When they were in motion, she asked, “Do you have any favorite hobbies?”
     “Hm? No, I read a lot, that’s about it.”
     “So, how do you pass the time when you’re not at work? Just reading?”
     He guided the truck through the gate of her townhouse complex, wheeled into a convenient parking place, and killed the engine. “Well, I do a few other things, but nothing you’d call exciting.”
     I’ve got to know before this gets any more serious.
     Trying to sound casual and failing completely, she said, “Any causes?”
     He turned and looked at her without speaking, then let himself out of the truck and went around to her side to help her out. She took his arm again as they began the walk to her door.
     “If you were to take Route 231 through the city, turn south onto Fullerton Boulevard, and stay on it for about half a mile, you’d come to a light industrial area. On the southern edge there’s a medical park, just a few one-story buildings that share a parking lot. Most Saturdays when the weather is good, you’d find me standing at the entrance with a sign that says ‘Pregnant? Please talk to me first.’”
     Katie was right.
     “Operation Rescue, Louis?”
     He shook his head as they mounted the short flight of concrete steps that stood before her door. “No, I don’t much care for that bunch. When they’re there, I’m not. This is just me, and sometimes another fellow who feels the way I do.”
     Instead of unlocking her door at once, she turned to face him. He stood with his hands clasped before him. She could read nothing from his face in the dim moonlight.
     “And how is that?”
     He looked down briefly. “That abortion is a horrible thing. That it should be a last resort, to save a mother’s life, not a first to spare her some inconvenience. That most women who have abortions wouldn’t, if they knew how they’d feel afterward.” He said it calmly, no strain apparent.
     “Are you a Catholic by any chance, Louis?”
     He stood a little straighter. “Not by chance, Celeste. By mature choice, and by the grace of God.”
     Something in the words flicked her on the raw. Scorn poured into her voice. “I see. And of course that ‘grace’ gives you the right to interfere in the mature choices of women you’ve never met?”
     His eyes flared wide. “I interfere in no one’s choices, Miss Holmgren. I force myself on no one. I present information and alternatives. Sometimes it seems as if the rest of society is practically shoving women into abortion clinics, rushing them in with no chance to check other options or think about what they’re doing. I don’t block the doors. I stand beside them with an offer of assistance. If that be interference, make the most of it.”
     He started away, then faced her again. “By the way, you might have the wrong idea about something else as well. I’m not opposed to abortion because I’m a Catholic. Being opposed to abortion is part of what qualifies me to be a Catholic. Give that a spin on your mental merry-go-round and see where it gets off. Thanks for your company this evening. I’ll see you at the office next week.”
     He strode off into the darkness before she could reclaim her voice.

     A good man doesn’t conceal his convictions because they might cost him a roll in the hay. Neither does he apologize for them to persons who dislike them. And he certainly doesn’t suffer to have them disparaged.

     People keep asking me why I pour so many hours and so much passion into writing fiction when I could be making $billions managing a hedge fund. The above should be sufficient explanation...though, given the remarkable obtuseness of Mankind, for some no explanation would suffice.

     Camus nailed it, Gentle Reader. Don’t join forces with the plagues. Don’t ally with any evil or destructive force against the innocents it seeks to despoil or destroy. Do that even once, and you’ve disqualified yourself from consideration as a good man.

     If you are a good man, it’s vital to know who isn’t, and to keep your hands clean of their filth. Ponder the following exercises in moral-ethical discrimination:

     First up: A few words on the Covington incident and on the conduct of certain conservative commentators in the wake of the initial reportage:

     The irony is that the Cuck faux-Right was unanimous in eagerly attacking these young men, when their response to their antagonists’ taunts and blatant, in-your-face incitement was exactly the kind of calm, measured, and mature tack the Cuck Right has always insisted on. Faced with extremely intense provocation from frothing, hate-filled lunatics—the vilest of verbal insults, physical aggression only just short of assault—the Covington Kids provided a living, breathing example of how to take that high road the Weak-Tea Right is always blubbering about.

     And just look what it got ’em from their putative allies.

     The despicable cuck response is revealing of a lot of things, sure, but they’re all things we already knew anyway. The important thing, the inspiring thing for me at least, is this: those kids stood their fucking ground, thereby proving themselves to be bigger, more manly men than the repulsive slimy things spewing and spitting and ranting at them in DC—to no effect at all, thanks to their poise and self-assurance. The kid serving as the smiling point man in the pics stiffened his spine the moment it hit him that these weren’t friendly, well intentioned kibitzers come to join in with their school-cheer session with good will looking to participate in the impromptu party. He squared his shoulders, stiffened a friendly smile into one of defiance, and looked a gang of hostile, jeering thugs right in the damned eye…and did not give a single fucking inch.

     This young man faced a mob of likely-violent Lefty troublemakers and didn’t show the least sign of backing down to them, maintaining control of the situation by maintaining control of himself. Via his own calm self-possession and confidence, he kept a situation from escalating into something that could easily have ended very badly indeed for him and his fellows. He left the field with honor and self-respect entirely intact. And he did all that with a grin on his face.

     Second in line: The Covington diocese leaped to castigate – nay, to condemn! — the Covington boys on the basis of the early reportage. Here’s the diocese’s response to the revelation of the full video record of the incident:

     Concerning the incident in Washington, D.C., between Covington Catholic students, Elder Nathan Phillips and Black Hebrew Israelites the independent, third-party investigation is planned to begin this week. This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.

     We pray that we may come to the truth and that this unfortunate situation may be resolved peacefully and amicably and ask others to join us in this prayer.

     We will have no further statements until the investigation is complete.

     Third and last for the morning: A statement from “native American elder” Nathan Phillips:

     “It’s not the right time,” Phillips told The Enquirer on Monday night. “I might consider it at some point. There’d have to be certain assurances in place, give and take, and understanding.”
     According to Phillips, “it’s not yet the time” because of the statement released by CovCath student Nick Sandmann....
     “He (Sandmann) needs to put out a different statement,” said Phillips, who has said he is a Vietnam Veteran. “I’m disappointed with his statement. He didn’t accept any responsibility. That lack of responsibility, I don’t accept it.”...
     “At first I wanted the teachers and chaperones to be reprimanded, some fired, for letting this happen,” Phillips said. “For the students, I was against any expulsions, but now I have to revisit."...
     “He (Sandmann) stole my narrative,” Phillips said. “From the time I hit that first beat of the drum until I hit the last beat, I was in prayer. Now all of a sudden, he’s the prayer guy and the passive one.”

     Which of the persons mentioned in the snippets above are good men?

     A lot of the blame for the initial reaction to the Covington incident has been larded onto “social media,” as if a Website could possibly have the power to force people to behave badly. This, to be blunt – and frankly, Gentle Reader, the time for extreme bluntness is upon us – is the purest horseshit. I don’t care whom I’m contradicting or offending in saying so, because there’s a principle involved:

Good men have strength of character.

     If you have it, nothing can make you cross the moral-ethical line. If you don’t, no excuse can make you anything but what you are: a coward and / or a villain.

     There are plagues. Some of them are mere aspects of nature, such as the plague that afflicts Oran in Camus’s magnificent novel of desperation and struggle. But some of them are people: wholly evil and destructive people whose conscious aim is to deceive, to corrupt, and to destroy. Many such persons occupy high posts in government. Others sit upon perches in the media. Still others number among our neighbors. I could name names. So could you.

     Between the good men and the plagues lies the Realm of the Uncommitted. Some of them simply don’t know what they really believe. Others play for time, to discover which way the crowd is going. Still others have no convictions and seek merely to avoid “controversy.”

     The imperative of our time is to discriminate: to know each man for what he is: a villain, uncommitted, or a good man. At least, that should be the aim of a good man. He must know whom he can trust and work with, who are the unreliables among us, and whom he must oppose with all his forces.

     Because only one thing matters now.


Michael Downing said...

I read the piece by Mike and pondered its significance shortly before checking out your site and finding this post. Both his post and yours are why I visit both your sites at least once a day. May God bless you both and keep you safe as we stand to face the coming storm.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

I wrote to the Covington Diocese to express my displeasure at their "rush to judgement" commentary, to demand an apology to the High School students, and mentioned to them that I hoped they had issued a similarly strong worded statement on the need to root out homosexuality from the Catholic priesthood, bishops, and seminaries.

Sadly, I do not expect a response from them.

As a converted Catholic of 12 years, it saddens me immensely to see the Catholic Church go the way of progressives, and not to uphold it's magnificent traditions as expressed in the catechisms and unbending Christian moral teachings.

Fight on, Frances.

There are many of us out here in fly-over country fighting as well.

May God continue to Bless you.