The Martians are coming!

The newest reveal of the cryptocrats that rule over us is that UFO’s are real after all. The turnaround is dazzling for its rapidity. Five years ago, UFO believers were mocked by all quarters as tin-foil hatted loony-tunes. Now, it is the Pentagon solemnly “admitting” sightings, the jewish press is already fully on board, and the reactionary press can only wail, “why didn’t you tell us earlier?”

It behooves Christians to think through the origin and tendency of this emerging narrative so that we are not blindsided like we were with the Big C hoax. It is obvious that our rulers are pulling out all the stops, not worrying about credulity in the slightest, having already proven with the Big C that masses of people will believe literally anything.

Here I will try to lay out all the options for what the UFOs are, to aid the church in starting her reflection. Among other benefits, it turns out that some insights for our apologetics can be teased out if our reflection begins from calm, not panic.

First as to the what: the UFOs are either (1) nothing at all, or they are (2) terrestrial flying objects, or they are (3) extra-terrestrial. If extra-terrestrial, they are either (3a) natural (other creatures like us) or (3b) super-natural (e.g. angels or demons). I believe these options span all the logical possibilities.

1. I myself believe they are nothing at all, that is, any “sightings” that are not just (a) outright lies are (b) epiphenomena causes by ordinary causality of light refraction and atmospherics, that kind of thing. 

2. But it also can’t be ruled out that other nations, or ours, have secret aircraft that are not yet officially “identified” by us, hence “unidentified flying objects,” and the Pentagon could simply be doing a wink-wink nod-nod without actually lying, for some political agenda not yet revealed. 

3. It is the categories of extra-terrestrial reality that is of course the most interesting. 

a. Extra-terrestrial but natural. 

Let’s rule out things like space debris as belonging more properly under (1). The crux here is some kind of intentional, or intelligent phenomenon.

A couple decades ago I heard a pretty compelling argument against other intelligent life in the universe making contact with us. The nub of his argument was that the vast time-scales both needed and, on his assumption, available for such an occurrence, compared to the comparatively short history of our own intelligent existence, means the probably of aliens achieving the necessary technology just in time for contact during our small time slice is so small as to approach zero. In other words, if it could happen, it already would have happened. The idea that the contact would happen for the first time just when we have the sophistication needed to receive it is too coincidental to be credible. [note 1]

He was coming from an evolutionary standpoint. The popular secular imagination, the stuff of Star Trek and other fantasies, sees no problem with aliens, and envisages them to either be 

  • good — interfering with us to prevent us from killing ourselves
  • neutral — white-cloaked scientists pursuing knowledge for its own sake
  • evil — willing to wreak havoc on us for their own purposes.

Note that all of these options rest on a godless, anti-Christian assumption as to the nature of reality and ethics. It assumes that ethics are derived from reason, and thus we could reason with (or at least, about) the aliens, perhaps come to understand their “point of view,” understand what motivates them rationally in terms of their shared naturalistic ethic. But on the contrary, we know that if there are other creatures, they are creatures of the same living and true God as we, though He might have revealed himself with a different name of course.  Their Creator has the same attributes of justice, goodness, and truth as ours, being in fact the Same. Thus, they are either fallen or unfallen in respect to the fundamentally same Law, a law based not on reason but on the character of the Creator. Even though the law given in Eden was positive, the point is it was positively given by a Person, the same Person the aliens would have to deal with. So the aliens would be either fallen or unfallen with respect to the same personal law-giver we have to deal with. 

If unfallen, C. S. Lewis rightly frets that the damage of the encounter is likely entirely to be us inflicting damage on the aliens. Far from being like a conference of scientists, the contact with us could be more like Eve’s contact with the serpent, to their detriment.

If the redeemed on our side got in contact with the unfallen aliens, there might be some basis for fellowship. However, it seems like it would be a rather thin fellowship, because our stories are so different. Wittgenstein said if a lion could speak we still wouldn’t understand him. If the aliens were like hobbits, there would be overlap: but what reason should we have to expect that kind of thing? The probability is against it.

If the aliens are fallen and unredeemed, then they are basically like demons, though natural to our universe. In that case, they might easily be feigners of godlessness as the “reasonable” default position, even as our own new atheists make themselves out to be. Worst of all would be if they were not aggressive, but the nicest people you have ever met, yet utterly godless. I have relatives like that. They would furrow their brows and feign ignorance when the subject of God came up, and want to change the subject back to technology as soon as possible. It is actually this anti-climactic scenario that would cause the greatest distress to the church. However, we need to remember that it would be no more surprising to find such a posture in a fallen race of aliens than it is amongst the human reprobate. 

In discussions with them, there would be temptation to “witness” to them using Thomistic-style proofs. “Can’t you see that nothing comes from nothing, and yet you exist?” Note that the van-tillian revelational apologetic would not exactly apply. Indeed, this thought-experiment reveals that there is an empirical aspect to vantillianism, in that it is not merely the form of revelation that is necessary, but that revelation has actually been given; and the givenness of revelation is organically bound up with who we are and what our world is like. Since that does not apply to the aliens’ world, we are stuck, it seems, with the fallacious Thomistic arguments vis-a-vis the aliens. However, we need to remember that there is no promise and thus no objective hope that the fallen unredeemed aliens could be rescued. In other words, just when our apologetic falls short, it also has nothing to connect with anyhow.

(As a side-note, does not this thought experiment bring home with increased vividness the absurdity of a Christless, deistic type of apologetic and prolegomena? One can just picture Aquinas reasoning with an alien at the village pub, in order to persuade him to…. what?)

The least possible seems to be aliens that are fallen and redeemed. This is because of the hypothetical necessity of the atonement by the incarnation and death of the Son of God, which certainly seems like something that could not be repeated. I am, of course, presupposing Anselm here. We should, I believe, hold back from declaring it absolutely impossible, because of the mysterious nature of how the finite and infinite interact. We have glimpses of how they interact from our Revelation, but we must withhold final judgment as to whether this exhausts the interaction. Is it possible that the Son could re-enter the universe at a different space and time nexus and be incarnated there, and suffer and die, separately from our story? It makes me tremble to think about it. I don’t think this would be possible without Nestorianism being true, for the two Redeemers according to the flesh could (and indeed, would) meet, and what would this mean? What would the I-thou encounter consist of? From this consideration alone, it seems so unlikely that another race would be fallen and redeemed as to approach zero. If it were the case, we would at the very least have to correct our theology in a Nestorian direction.

So it seems like extra-terrestrial but non-supernatural aliens would either be natural demons that would von Haus aus be as hostile to the Church as ordinary demons, or would be Innocents that would be better off not having contact with our ungodly rulers.

The fact that our race is a mixture of the Redeemed and the Unredeemed is what makes it so both possibilities are fraught with danger.

b. Extra-terrestrial and supernatural

Imagine that the Pentagon announces they have established contact, and a spaceship is going to descend on the Fourth of July to a great reception and banquet to be organized by them. And sure enough, a shining spaceship descends on the appointed day, a ramp goes down, and a shiny apparition descends!

The Apparition announces (perhaps through a computer linguistics translator) a new world order of peace, and a new universal religion. Of course he does not say, “I am Satan.” His appeal has a great deal of plausibility, having elements to appeal to nominal religionists of all stripes. 

I actually think this option is the most likely of all the options, if (1) or (2) are not the case.

It’s all in C. S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. It would make Lewis’ nightmare almost literally prophetic: the Microbes (Corona) and then the Macrobes (the UFOs).

Conclusion

If the official claims of UFOs are based on aircraft from other nations, or ours, or nothing all, in any case, it means our Rulers are up to no good. Whether the goal is additional funding, or submission to a world authority, or some other nefarious goal, we will find out soon enough I suppose.

Perhaps Christians feel anxiety about case (3) above all. But is there anything that an alien, whether natural or not, could tell us, that should make us deny even one point of our holy faith?  An examination of all the logical possibilities indicates that only the very unlikely case of fallen and redeemed natural aliens would provide any cause for modification, and even that correction would be comparatively small. Every other possibility would either be in the nature of a different, autonomous story, or intentional propaganda with malice aforethought, which should be resisted. Even an angel of light, Paul said.

If it is directly satanic, it raises the question of whether our rulers are consciously aware of this or if they have summoned something bigger than even they fully reckoned with. In Lewis, the oligarchs knew they were dabbling with “macrobes,” but their theory was less than the reality they unleashed. Filostrato was amazed that the Head kept on speaking after his tubing was removed.

We can already envisage the evangelicals working out an evangelism program, and the Two Kingdomites making the necessary additional compromises, and the pietists in our own pulpits bobbing and weaving to make the Christian life even more irrelevant. Contrary to all of them, let us be Christian men that assess the signs soberly, and prepare to act with courage, by God’s grace.

Notes

1. There is of course a literature claiming long-term extra-terrestrial intervention to explain things like the pyramids and such; hence, not “just in time” for our technology. However, I deem this hypothesis highly improbable, among other reasons, because of the paucity of such interventions, even though there have been many occasions when such interventions could have been very useful to us or them.

Reassessing C. S. Lewis

The ghost of C. S. Lewis has haunted me much of my life, so much so that only relatively recently — to paraphrase Sartre, but by the grace of God –, have I been able to go down into the cellar, grab the ghost by the scruff of its neck, and throw it out. A. N. Wilson’s biography has been the final stage of the exorcism. I wish to use that book — here, dealing only with chapter one — as a broad outline for reviewing Lewis’ life and works, to try to put them into a better frame, a better context than the one that dominated my thinking for so long.

Partly, this is because I have seen many others submit to the same siren song. Indeed, it is almost impossible for a Christian with both philosophical and literary propensities not to do so. In Lewis he finds a defender of orthodox Christianity — or so it seems at first blush — presenting Orthodoxy with an intimate, confiding tone, a certain cheer, and above all, an endlessly fecund ability to illustrate with apt quotations from world literature. This contrasts markedly with the typical Christian’s own experience of orthodoxy presented by preachers with a supercilious tone, a stridency, and nought but Bible proof-texts. 

The tonal issues aside, Lewis’ wielding of apt citations from world literature is indeed astonishing. It spans all nations having a literature. In respect to our own Western literature, his at-hand, effortless knowledge seems to be unplumbable over a period spanning well over two millennia. “I wish I could do that,” I caught myself thinking. How many abortive careers of English or Comparative Lit. have been launched from this velleity cannot be guessed. Worse yet, however, are the dozen rabbit trails that others have pursued, boning up on this or that epoch of literature, even in despite of their main career.  We start dropping authoritative pronouncements, based on nothing but having read it in Lewis. “The Medievals didn’t believe in a flat earth, you know.” There is, in short, something about Lewis’ approach that almost everyone finds attractive at first, and many to their own disadvantage.

Distinguo. A real awakening of a love for poetry or epic would be helping a man to become more human. Doubtless, this is a part of the effect of the Lewis narcotic. A narcotic that deadens a bit of modern decayed flesh, helping one regain his deeper manhood. But there is a second kind of narcotic ecstasy which we might dub second order — a love, not of the poetry, but of the love of poetry. Being in love with being in love (e.g., rather than with a woman) is a pathology that can be applied to literature just as much. 

Combining this distinction with the general view of calling, we can say that I am not wanting to disparage any reawakened humanity here, but only wish to exorcise the dilettantism that distracts a man from his true calling, and the second-order appropriation of literature which is at bottom nought but priggish pride.

All of that by way of basic motivation. The parallel stream of criticism must deal with the content of Lewis’ opus. And it turns out, this content leaves a great deal to be desired from the Christian point of view. To anticipate a later theme, it should have raised red flags everywhere when, in the introduction to his Mere Christianity, Lewis admits that it was a Methodist that faulted him for weakness on Justification by Faith, and a Romanist on vicarious atonement. Chuckle chuckle. What should have induced him to put his manuscript to the flames, instead is taken up in Lewis’ boundless merriment as proof (somehow) of his catholicity! In addition, both the suppression of these key themes, and Lewis’ profession of ignorance point to serious character issues, I submit. Indeed, there is a problem with honesty that runs like a dark vein through Lewis’ whole life, and one we must come to terms with. The invariable accompaniment to most of his books of a large picture of Lewis grinning impishly at us, either from his writing desk or through a cloud of smoke, doubtless aids the illusion. But it is long since time to blow some of the smoke away.

It is necessary to survey Lewis’ life from a very young age in order to understand how certain deeply troubling aspects of his soul came about. This raises a methodological question: what are the real facts important to our narrative? Indeed, there are three “narratives” that need to be kept distinct in respect to any man’s childhood: (1) the actual state of affairs; (2) the child’s subjective appropriation of those states of affairs; and (3) the adult’s retrospective reinterpretation of the same states of affairs. The wonderful thing is that there is hardly any sequence of childhood facts under (1) and (2), let them be as nasty and twisted as you want, that could not be sublimated into a great story. An abusive childhood can indeed be overcome. 

But all-important is narrative (3), the grownup’s retrospective. There are two limiting cases by which this can manifest itself: There is the case of George MacDonald, whose childhood — specifically and notably, his relation to his father — was wonderful in every discernible way. There is, at the other extreme, the crabbed, disrupted and disruptive child — think Eustace –, who, mirabile dictu, eventually comes to reinterpret his entire early world by inversion of how he interpreted it originally — to realize, for example, that the “nasty ogre of a father” was, at worst, exactly the father most suitably matched, in the providence of God,  to what he needed; and at best, actually a good man, the opposite of what he once thought. Of course, the story for many will be a mixture of these two limiting cases.

Now (1) and (2) without (3) might be interesting to a certain kind of biography, especially when the goal is to show how the stamp of greatness was present from an early age. “The child is father to the man,” the Greeks said. Think of the legends of George Washington’s childhood, or Herodotus’ treatment of Cyrus the boy. In this study of Lewis, in contrast, I will almost always be interested in (1) and (2) only as reflected in (3). We have (3) most notably in his 1955 book, Surprised by Joy.  SBJ is thus itself an event in the life of Lewis occurring well into middle age. I will self-consciously interact with that work even while telling the story of his life as a young boy, because it is the retrospective product of Lewis the man that is the only thing we are after.

In short, this is not so much about Lewis’ childhood as the middle-aged Lewis’ reflection on his own childhood.

I mentioned George MacDonald’s relationship to his father, and in contrast, the first thing that pops out in Wilson’s biography is Lewis’ life-long scorn for his father. Likewise, the first thing one has to observe about SBJ is its vicious treatment of his father. A supercilious hostility toward his father undoubtedly began in early childhood, and scarcely abated throughout his life.

What makes this fact particularly painful is that any objective reading of the facts of the case indicates that Lewis had one of the greatest fathers imaginable, and moreover, one even whose eccentricities were so suited to Jack’s needs as to only make sense in view of a Divine craftsman who works all things out in infinite wisdom. Albert Lewis was hard-working, successful, funny, devoted, smart, and pious. He wept openly when taking leave of the boys for school at the Belfast quays. But here is how Jack the adult describes him:

When he opened his mouth to reprove us he no doubt intended a short well-chosen appeal to our common sense and conscience. But alas, he had been a public speaker long before he became a father. He had for many years been a public prosecutor. Words came to him and intoxicated him as they came. What actually happened was that a small boy who had walked on damp grass in his slippers or left a bathroom in a pickle found himself attacked with something like Cicero on Catiline, or Burke on Warren Hastings; simile piled on simile, rhetorical question on rhetorical question, the flash of an orator’s eye and the thunder cloud of an orator’s brow, the gestures, the cadences and the pauses. (SBJ 38)

We can be quite sure that if the offense was “leaving the bathroom in a pickle,” this was something more culpable than Jack is making out. Compare Jack’s dismissive attitude toward his offense with Augustine’s in regard to stealing pears. Indeed, the proof that this is so tumbles willy-nilly out of his own mouth as he continues the narration:

The pauses might be the chief danger. One was so long that my brother, quite innocently supposing the denunciation to have ended, humbly took up his book and resumed his reading; a gesture which my father (who had after all only made a rhetorical miscalculation of about a second and a half) not unnaturally took for “cool, premeditated insolence.”

Though Lewis concedes “not unnaturally,” it is obvious that that is not his burden. Whether Warnie’s act was premeditated, it was certainly cool and insolent — not “humble” — for a boy to listen to his father’s philippic, and neither apologize nor defend, but simply pick up a book and start reading. What these boys needed was a good thrashing. It is along that direction alone — too indulgent — that the father’s discipline can be criticized. But a vicious literary allusion has popped into Lewis the boy/man’s mind, so he continues:

The ludicrous disproportion between such harangues and their occasions puts me in mind of the advocate in Martial who thunders about all the villains of Roman history while meantime lis est de tribus capellis

This case, I beg the court to note,
Concerns a trespass by a goat

Common sense and internal evidence suggests that the narrative of the father’s declamation is exaggerated — Jack is obviously enjoying this opportunity to pile on some literary references. (Indeed, doing the very thing he accuses his father of.) What is most troubling about the narrative is a side-effect of the total lack of humility, shame, or repentance as the middle-aged man looks back on his childhood antics. None of the attacks on his father are necessary to the stated purpose of the biography — to explain his theory of “joy” in connection with his conversion. What we have instead is the 56-year-old still-a-boy glancing up at us boy-readers with a wink and a twinkle in the eye, as if to whisper, “It’s really bad, isn’t it?” Winston Churchill played the same game in his book Roving Commission. Insightfully (though not in connection with this particular incident), Wilson mentions that about this time Lewis saw the play Peter Pan:

It is one of the Grand Conspicuous Omissions in Lewis’s autobiography that he says nothing about this experience which, to judge from the Lewis Papers, was momentous. For there was no children’s story more apposite to his life than that of the little boy who could not grow up…  (26)

I am not latching onto the trivial hypothesis that Lewis “refused to grow up, to become a man.” No, the theme I am suggesting is more in the nature of a warped dishonesty. It is a willingness to use others as objects to drag through the mud in order to bring the spotlight to some feature of oneself — even, a rather trivial feature of oneself. 

Seeing Peter Pan happened just after the time Jack spent at Wynyard, a school headed by Rev. Capron, eighteen months that parlays into one tenth of the autobiography under the title “Concentration Camp.” The section includes more sly Peter-Pan-like winking and tittering about how awful “Oldie” the headmaster was. Despite the trashing, it turns out Jack was something of a teacher’s pet — “a position which I swear I never sought” he quickly reassures us boys, lest we should suspect he might have broken the Boyhood Code (SBJ 26). He makes up for this on the next page by taking Peter Pan kitsch to yet a new level — the faux-scholarly footnote documenting Oldie’s sin: [fn #1: “this punishment was for a mistake in a geometrical proof”]. Tearing down other authority figures is in the same genre as doing so to one’s father, according to our catechism, and once it becomes clear what Jack is doing, it becomes quite tiresome. I therefore skip rehearsing it further here. 

However, there are two other themes in this chapter that we must also keep our eye on that have important beginnings in this epoch.

First, in this period, he claims to have adopted real, genuine Christianity for the first time, being taught doctrines by the high Anglo-Catholic men “who obviously believed them” “as distinct from general ‘uplift’” (33). But the implication that his religious training in Belfast could be characterized as “general uplift” is either an errant lie or an egregious example of self-deception. It will be worth dwelling on this a moment. 

We first recall his nurse Lizzie Endicott from the peasant class that taught him to avoid the “dirty wee popes” in the mud puddles. Not profound religion, but certainly heart-felt, and certainly not “general uplift.” Then there was his Presbyterian governess Miss Harper. “A theological lecture interspersed between the sums was one of his first intimations there was Another World in which Christians were supposed to believe. He preferred the other world of his own invention.” (Wilson, 16). There was the presence of his grandfather Lewis, “who wandered about the corridors of Little Lea muttering psalms” (Wilson 24). There was the deep piety of his father, which I will document d.v. a bit more another time. Finally, we have the proof that Lewis’ training was not “general uplift” from a letter Wilson dug up written by Jack himself at this very time! The 56-year-old that wrote such a glowing account of the Anglo-Catholic service evidently forgot what the 10-year-old had written:

In this abominable place of Romish hypocrites and English liars, the people cross themselves, bow to the Lord’s table (which they have the vanity to call an altar) and pray to the Virgin. (24)

Oops. It can be dangerous writing things down and then forgetting about them.

As I have long suspected, the above letter is proof positive that his protest in later writings of not knowing the Reformed perspective is fake. It is dissimulation. The “more genuine Christianity” he discovered here is described as prayer, Bible, and conscience. (SBJ 34). There is no mention of repentance — conscience, after all, can simply refer to the inner resolution to do good –, nor of a sense of sin, nor of the satisfaction of Christ. Yet Lewis the 56-year-old identifies this as “real, genuine Christianity,” in contrast to the heart-felt piety of many around him as a boy in Belfast, which he dismisses as advocating mere uplift.

The second ominous theme that starts to develop in this chapter is already hinted at when he says (SBJ 27) “everyone talks of sadism nowadays”. They do? we ask. He mentions the things he liked in literature at this period: “sandals, temples, togas, slaves, emperors, galleys, amphitheaters; the attraction, as I now see, was erotic, and erotic in rather a morbid way” (SBJ 35). Wait… the attraction was what again?! and in what way?! That he identifies this list of literary props with morbid eroticism at all is certainly troubling; that this is the second major theme of this period of his life, along with adopting for the first time “genuine Christianity” is baffling as well.

Moreover, his breezy adoption of a quasi-Freudian outlook is troubling. As a Christian, he should have attacked that pseudo-science, as he had just begun to do eight years earlier in the voice of Bill Hingest (p. 36). Instead, he plants sly memes inviting the reader to take Lewis on as a patient. “You will remember,” he says, “that I had already learned to fear and hate emotion; here was a fresh reason to do so” (SBJ 33). But fear and hate can themselves be modeled as emotions. So he was emoting against emotions, but doing so in second-order reflection. A genuine emotion isn’t observed, it is felt, it is the manner of expression. As soon as I say, “I am angry,” I am not angry in an honest way any more. I am observing someone — me — that is angry. Imagine Wotan, while chasing down Brunnhilde after her disobedience, saying “this is good; I’m really in touch with my emotions now.” Why would a grown man say of his childhood, “I should have welcomed and loved emotions.” What is it that he missed? A passive aesthetic experience? Failing to maximize the inner experience? But would he not then have missed the experience of hating and fearing emotions?

Moreover, if there is anything to psychoanalysis, it should certainly not be performed on oneself. That would assume without warrant that the mesh were superficial, easily transcended the moment notebook and pencil were picked up. Lewis talks like a superficial man here, as though a deep warpage of the soul is the stuff for beer-hall banter, to which anonymous bystanders can also be invited to contribute. There is something narcissistic and precious about this move to self-psycho-analysis which, if not precisely dishonest, is at least inauthentic.

In a nutshell, there we have Wynyard, arguably the turning point of his life, when he embraced a Christless Christianity and “morbid eroticism.” He learns to slander, and bend and suppress the truth. He even refers to Wynyard as Belsen (23)— if he must use such a macabre slander, wouldn’t humility suggest using an analogy to the British concentration camps? For the British invented the practice fifty years earlier, in South Africa. Wilson notices some of the troubling themes, and digs a little. But much more should be done in studying this fateful year. The shock of coming to a strange land with strange accents, smells and bells immediately following the death of his mother seems to have changed Lewis permanently. He himself seems to have sensed it, by dwelling so long on a relatively short period of time, and turning the hapless Rev. Capron into such an ogre. But he doesn’t seem able to untangle the deep self-deception of his own heart and mind. That is the fearsome thing about self-deception.

The trashing of his father and other authority figures, even counter to evident facts, the beer hall psychoanalysis, the dishonesty, the morbid eroticism, and the self-deceptions surrounding his own religious development, are troubling indeed. Biographers are going to have to keep digging. Surprised by Joy was written three years after he met Joy Davidman in person, and his succumbing to her flatteries suggests that that relationship should be looked into as part of the cause of that hideous defection. But whatever the influences, he must be held accountable for his own behavior.

The greatness of his fiction does survive the man, however.

More later.

OPC elders propose replacing Mt. 18 with public hectoring

There is a blog in which one Aimee Byrd successfully summons a posse of OPC cavalry to round up and arrest some boys that allegedly said some mean things about her on a private Facebook chat group. Apparently there was a spy that took a bunch of screenshots of the mean things and broadcast them. Now Miss Aimee is on the warpath and wants people to lose their jobs and/or be ecclesiastically disciplined. My interest is piqued especially because I have written on the inner genius and beauty of what we call “Matthew 18” and observe here this principle yet again being honored in the breach. It is important because of the many men that have deputized themselves to be part of the posse, including a number of names that are well-known in the OPC.

Having scanned a number of the screen-shots from the offending chat room, I can say, on the one hand, that a few things were said that would not have been heard at Robert E. Lee’s mess table. There, according to Dabney, no word was ever heard that would make a lady blush or a parson furrow his brow. On the other hand, we are living in an age that is decidedly rejecting the mores of that age, symbolized by the monuments to that great man being torn down all around us, with active complicity of our rulers, and passive complicity of not a few even in the orthodox church. In particular, the passing of the last remnants of that age is exemplified ironically enough by an Amazonian warriorette leading the charge and being at the center of the fray. There can be no masculine space, even a secret one. She seems to be saying, “how dare they ask if I can cook a good roast beef? I have written five books. Five, I tell you! The latest is being published by Zondervan! How dare they!” But if you want the age of gentility, you have to take it all, not just the parts you like.

This taut-lipped quiet fury is typical of a dying Puritan culture that has lost its humor and is about to lose its faith. Florence King lamented the phenomenon even in the secular realm. Let a Southerner patiently explain to the New England transplant the difference between white trash and “common,” and there was sure to be a letter to the editor earnestly exhorting that “we need to be careful to” and so on. The new canard of the ecclesiastical Soft Left is some point about “denial of the image of God.” As if telling some knee-slapper about a nigger passing the watermelon patch or a honky at the hoe-down has aught to do with some long-faced theological locus.

Let’s start by analyzing what should have happened if the “victim” of the cracks were a man. I can only think of three possible responses.

  1. He could say, “it’s just a private chat room. If they had courage, they would take their criticisms public. Let the dead bury the dead.” Or better yet, cover it in love, and humor.
  2. Or, he could follow Matt. 18, admonishing them to be more temperate, urging them to withdraw their comments and correct their ways, keeping the matter private until all means were exhausted. The “one or two” others brought in if necessary would also exhort with rigorous privacy being honored.
  3. Or, he could challenge them to a duel.

(1) would surely be the thing. Little was said that was out of bounds in a private setting. Most if not all was an expression of true concern about heresy in the church, mixed with some rough and tumble cracks that men must be permitted to indulge from time to time. Indeed, I daresay the majority of the comments would have been permitted even at Robert E. Lee’s table. If you can’t take the heat, get back in the kitchen. And remember that the screenshots were lice-picked to exhibit the most offensive things. (2) is of course our duty, if the matter just can’t be let go of. Dabney says that (3) is contrary to the law of God, but Alexander Hamilton Stevens argued that the duel was the way that a physically weaker man could equalize the playing field. I think Dr. Johnson would have sided with Stevens. It must be conceded that there was doubtless a great deal more courtesy and temperate language in a culture where the duel loomed as an ever-present possibility. Dabney worried that the practice gave license to bullies to do murder, but I think it also tended to prevent tempests in a teapot from boiling over. The bluff would be called. Naturally, we can’t expect Miss Aimee to challenge to a duel — female empowerment has its limits, I think all will concede — , but what about her husband, Mr. Aimee? Where is he in all this? Andrew Jackson challenged to dozens of duals to protect his ladies’ honor, and we carved his face on Mount Rushmore!

In any case, the one thing that would not be permitted would be to “dox” the whole group, to betray their confidentiality, to stab them in the back, to plant poison, hoping, passively, that the whole lot of them would be “dealt with” by ecclesiastical authorities, or — for those not holding church office — to be fired by their employers.

All of the quoting of Westminster Catechism and Webster and Bible verses do not change the fact that that is what it is.

The doxing of innocent bystanders along with the offenders has already been pointed out in the comments, and even that odious practice is defended by Miss Aimee. However, it has not been sufficiently emphasized that the doxing even of the “offenders” is evil. The leaking of the information by the secret informant — the biblical term is talebearer — and its publication is the one act in all of this that is truly villainous. Such an act shows neither loyalty nor a desire for reform. Well do the Proverbs speak to this.

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. (Prov. 26:20-22)

Note that the censure of talebearing is not that there is no tale to tell. It is not that the tale is false — that would be lying, or slander. The wickedness of the talebearer has to do with the inner disposition and intent. It is to destroy, not to heal. The craft and guile of the talebearer is to claim, perhaps even in the honesty of self-deception, just the opposite. But his claim is belied ex opere operatum by the nature of the bad method.

The fact that you can be fired for saying something unapproved is one of the hideous perversions of our current society. It is bad enough that corporations think this is any of their business. Worse, there is not even a hearing, or a chance to defend yourself. You probably won’t even be told why you were let go. It is the American capitalist version of the Soviet labor camp system — except that the Soviets had enough shame to at least give you the appearance of a hearing. It was a sham, but even they had enough residual memory of justice to want to give the appearance. 

The irksome situation we find ourselves in is that ever more people claiming to be Christians have accepted this “system,” and use it. It is far worse than a violation of the Apostle’s admonition,

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? (I Cor 6:7). 

It is worse because it is not even “going to law” one with another, but cynically leveraging a system that is utterly lawless, and not even bearing the semblance of lawfulness. Would that they would “go to law with one another.”

The behavior of Miss Aimee’s signatories is disgusting even apart from ratifying the doxing. Not a word is breathed about the talebearer. It is simply now a “public revelation” as if by magic. Actions are declared publicly to be sinful without any investigation or query, let alone a vote. But facts don’t speak for themselves: you couldn’t do this in justice if the screenshot were a picture of a bloody knife. In fact, it is hard to imagine any brute fact that would eo ipso be proof of sin or of a crime, obviating the need for cross-examination. Yet somehow, WLC requires them to belly-ache in public rather than even now conceal the matter.

It is an ungodly exhibitionism and virtue-signalling. They reassure their victims that the missile “does not constitute formal charges.” I guess that’s supposed to be a relief?

Which is worse, to have charges brought, or to be publicly pilloried without the slightest effort at fact-finding or cross-examination?

Would any of these men want to be on trial with a jury composed of their co-signatories?

What is upsetting is, not that Miss Aimee, while slyly pouring fuel on the fire, is saying, “y’all gonna hafta fight this one out — I’m just a girl” while twirling her blond locks. That is what it is. No, what is upsetting is that all of these men, some reputed to be pillars, are piling in to her lynch team in wholesale despite of our Lord’s teaching, and even of what we could deduce from natural law. For the principle beneath Matthew 18 can largely be recognized by natural reason.

Brief Intermission: Tribute to Greg Bahnsen

A brief side-bar is needed in this autobiographical sketch of life-changing books. Spanning the interval 1983-1993, no single book stands out, but that was the period of my association with my dear friend and mentor Greg Bahnsen. Though I am avoiding mentioning names in this bookish auto-biography, his needs to be mentioned as the greatest single personal influence on my life in adulthood.

In view of that, it will perhaps be thought odd that I do not count any of his books as life-changing. Indeed, I found many of his books pedantic, even annoying. We had opposite tendencies at the aesthetic level. It is hard for me to imagine anyone becoming a Theonomist through reading Theonomy or its sequels. Then again, he may have felt the same way. Theonomy was actually a comparatively small part of his life, less in fact (by way of negation) than for many of his vitriolic opponents.

One of his teachings that drove deeply into my soul was the ramified implications of Matt. 18. Beyond the obvious three-fold “method” taught there for correcting offenses, Greg taught that even if you have a legitimate grievance, if the way you got to this point was via gossip, slander, tale-bearing, or prevarication, then you had to first go back and fix those errors before “continuing.” The putative grievance had to be left on the table until those errors were dealt with properly. Often, it turned out that the grievance all but vanished by the time those steps were taken — or at least, could be covered in love. What this taught me was that Matt. 18 is not some bureaucratic “manual of discipline,” but something much deeper: an insight into what it means to be human, and to be a human with integrity. The requirements of privacy and caution are not just little nuisances, but go to the heart of the matter. I have continued to develop this theme and hope to write on it anon.

Twice I turned against him. Both times, God gave me the heart to seek reconciliation, and Greg was gracious in a way that was itself life-changing. When I came to him the second time, I was moved to the core by his statement that the whole purpose of his ministry for the previous ten years may well have been, in God’s providence, just to set the stage for that moment. And afterwards, my offenses were never mentioned or remembered.

I will not try to summarize all the many ways he changed my life. That has come out before and will continue to do so. In summary, I will simply say he was a man of a great heart. Indeed, in the divine comedy, the literal heart ailment that killed him well before the age of 50 can be taken as a metaphor for his life. Like our Lord, he can be said to have died of a broken heart.