Living in the Insane Asylum

I often criticize John C. Wright. I’m always worried I’m giving the wrong impression of John. I agree with him even now more often than I disagree, and we’re actually colleagues, if in a somewhat limited sense, behind the scenes (the lovely Mrs. Wright, on the other hand, has been an enormous boon to both myself and my sister and we are eternally grateful for her aid).

Reading John often gives me the impression that I’m being gaslighted; that somebody as intelligent and incredibly well-educated as him can be missing things so blindingly obvious to me surely means I’m missing something, right? And maybe I am, but ultimately I read several very intelligent people who all disagree with each other and need to come to my own conclusions.

This essay by John is  good example of both why I think he has a lot of interesting stuff to say and where I think he goes spectacularly wrong. I fully agree that white nationalism is a complete misfire and a mistake. And this:

What everyone thinks is “the White race” is nothing more or less than the ghost of an increasingly decayed and secular Protestantism trying to find a secular replacement for the spirit of the Catholic Church, which, before the Reformation, was the sole animating spirit of Western Europe.

…Sounds pretty spot on to me. I try to keep my blog particularly fairly neutral between the various Christian sects, but you don’t necessarily need to be Catholic to see this; replace the uppercase C in Catholic with a lowercase c and you get the same effect.

…But then he says things like this:

America, the first nation in history where all men were free to worship each man as his conscience saw fit, was the most Christian nation in history, despite having not a single pro-Christian law on any lawbooks. It was a Christian nation by custom and by culture, not by laws.

This strikes me as so spectacularly, unbelievably wrong as to be mind-boggling. America was founded by a group of people made up largely of deists and Freemasons; many Christians were at the Constitutional Convention, but the folks commonly cited as the Founding Fathers were almost exclusively of that persuasion. They were religious to a certain extent but didn’t care a jot about Christianity in particular. John Locke, the man whose philosophy had arguably the largest influence of all on the U.S. government, was a strident anti-Catholic.

And it is worth noting that up until John F. Kennedy being Catholic was seen as being, if not anti-American, something that should make people dangerously suspicious of your patriotism. After all, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out, America is a Church, so when you hold yourself to a Church that actually has an earthly leader and holds power in a physical, formal government, it starts to look an awful lot like you’re having faith in a whole ‘nother Church.

This conflict – ironically – between Church and state was a big issue with American Catholics for generations; the heresy was (and is) called Americanism. John F. Kennedy got around it by waiting for all the hubbub surrounding it to die down then promptly committing the heresy in as flagrant and public a way as possible while loudly proclaiming that was not, not, NOT what he was doing. It is actually quite similar to what happened with usury and sexual morality: The issue started off uncontroversial, slowly became contentious, lead to an explicit “just the facts” statement by the Church confirming the original teaching (in the case of Americanism, there were actually multiple encyclicals), and then with everything supposedly resolved the just the facts statement was promptly ignored.

And this nation, this nation founded by deists and freemasons based on the philosophy of a strident anti-Catholic and explicitly attempting to align itself with the principles of the anti-religious French revolution, I am apparently supposed to believe is the most Christian state since the middle ages because of *mumblemumbleumble* something with the first amendment.

I don’t get it.

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14 Responses to Living in the Insane Asylum

  1. John says:

    ”lead to an explicit “just the facts” statement by the Church confirming the original teaching ”

    So if I’m understanding you correctly, in the US:

    The Church basically just gave up on trying to convince other people about their beliefs, and just restated their beliefs like nobody is interested in a discussion in the first place.

    Right?

    • No, not at all; maybe I’m being unclear.

      There was a big rift growing in the Church. It has happened several times in Church history, of course, but I specifically referred to three:

      1) More widespread acceptance of Usury

      2) The Sexual Revolution, and everything that entailed (lots and lots of heresies)

      3) Americanism, and everything that entailed.

      All three times, as pressure mounted, Rome spoke.

      For usury, Pope Benedict XIV reaffirmed traditional Church teaching and declared usury gravely immoral: https://infogalactic.com/info/Vix_pervenit

      For the sexual revolution, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed traditional Church teaching and declared the “innovations” of the sexual revolution gravely immoral: https://infogalactic.com/info/Humanae_vitae

      And for Americanism, Pope Leo XII reaffirmed traditional Church teaching and declared the heresies cropping up in America gravely immoral: https://infogalactic.com/info/Testem_benevolentiae_nostrae

      http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_06011895_longinqua.html

      So the matter was supposedly settled; the teaching had been clarified and made perfectly clear. That was that, right?

      Well, no. After that people just ignored the teachings completely. And that was that. Not much you can do if people just won’t listen.

      • John says:

        ”After that people just ignored the teachings completely. And that was that. Not much you can do if people just won’t listen.”

        Now the question is:

        How do we make them listen?

        Or at least make society and individuals themselves at least a little bit more open minded and honest about these issues so that friendly conversation can be had?

        In other words, how do you think we can/should push the Overton Window up?

  2. Mike T says:

    And this nation, this nation founded by deists and freemasons based on the philosophy of a strident anti-Catholic and explicitly attempting to align itself with the principles of the anti-religious French revolution

    The First French Republic was founded well after our revolution and most of the founding fathers openly sided with Britain against France. Jefferson, as far as I know, is the only one who was a real pro-French partisan and that was part of why he became a severe pariah in his generation.

    • I never contested that. It nevertheless tried to ally itself with the principles of the French revolution, just with the typical liberal trick that THEIR liberalism wasn’t *real* liberalism.

      • Mike T says:

        The American revolution and United States predate the French Revolution and First French Republic. Our founding fathers largely rejected the French Revolution and sided with the British. The main reason a lot of Americans wanted to fight for the French was mainly out of simple hatred for the British over having to fight a war to regain the same legal rights that ordinary Englishmen in Europe took for granted.

      • You can repeat yourself if you want, but either way I already answered this response.

    • Hrodgar says:

      William Cobbett argued that the French Revolution was inspired by the American, which was in turn inspired by the “glorious” revolution of the 1680’s, which itself descended from the king-killing Roundhead revolt, which was a natural outgrowth and consequence of Henry VIII’s schism. Bit more polemical than we’re used to these days, and he sometimes overreaches a bit, but struck me as plausible, and, as he lived and died an Anglican, he was arguing against interest.

      Consider also the behavior of the various Protestant sects towards one another. Calvinists and Lutherans were not exactly fond of one another, and the Anglicans tussled with pretty nearly everybody at one point or another. But who would deny that the Calvinists were descended from Luther?

      P.S. I find it somewhat amusing that Henry VIII ended up more or less as a “right-liberal” of his own rebellion. He acted to restrain his own ministers at least as often as not, and several of them lost their heads for pushing to hard or too fast; in other words, he wanted a “tame liberalism.”

      • Mike T says:

        All Henry wanted was to plow through the ladies of the court and get an heir and a dozen spares. Apparently that was too much to ask of the Pope.

  3. Reading John often gives me the impression that I’m being gaslighted; that somebody as intelligent and incredibly well-educated as him can be missing things so blindingly obvious to me surely means I’m missing something, right?

    Of course you are! He’s missing something too! There is more data in Reality that any one single human mind can comprehend – we’re ALL missing something.

    Then, even if by some miracle two humans were operating under completely identical datasets, they would still have differing conclusions because of sort priority (which data is more important & pertinent than other).

    And that’s ok. Problems only arise when one concludes there’s no additional data to be provided by others.

  4. Cane Caldo says:

    For what’s worth (exactly what you paid for it) I don’t think either of those JCW quotes were correct. Can we know, for example, whether or not Britain was more or less Christian than the 13 colonies? Is this measured per person, or per county? I mean: What is the average Christian Midichlorian count of a Sussex Christian in comparison to that of a Virginian?

    Nor do I believe it is true that the Catholic Church was the “sole animating spirit of Western Europe”. That just wishful thinking.

    And White Race enthusiasts (if you will), particularly the more recent ones, weren’t searching for a replacement for any church, or community. 1) Their enemies are explicitly racist/identitarian, and they are of other races. That means a white person must either ally with other whites, or stand alone against the hordes. 2) The identitarian non-white hordes have decided that acting in a manner which could be perceived as white is by definition inimical, and traitorous. Some individual whites have noticed this, and prefer to be around people who don’t view European customs, manners, and a priori assumptions as intrinsically oppressive and evil.

    And this nation, this nation founded by deists and freemasons based on the philosophy of a strident anti-Catholic and explicitly attempting to align itself with the principles of the anti-religious French revolution, I am apparently supposed to believe is the most Christian state since the middle ages because of *mumblemumbleumble*

    After saying that we can’t know how Christian the US was in comparison to Britain, I do wonder exactly how Christian you believe Medieval states to have been. If we judge by the official statements of those states: Sure, Medieval states were more Christian than the US. If we judge by what individual Christians knew and believed then there’s a pretty strong argument that more US Christians were Christian–and more Christian–than the populations of those Medieval states. The Counter-Reformation happened. It really seems to have been the case that a great many priests didn’t speak Latin, didn’t know the Bible, didn’t know theology or apologetics… If they were Christian people at all, we’d have to say that Christian essentially meant “Went to church on three Sundays out of the year.”

    • Well, I can either give you my intelligent, well-written response to your points…

      …Or be more honest and say that honestly what you’re saying pretty much sounds equally plausible to me (hence my original comment wasn’t “Nailed it!” but “sounds pretty much spot on”).

      I’m not sure. John could have been wrong about his original point as well; at the very least I consider it far less obviously wrong and far more interesting. That America was somehow around its founding this super-Christian nation is something I just consider obviously and even self-evidently preposterous. The founding fathers themselves didn’t even believe it.

  5. Zippy says:

    When I read the Wright quotes in the OP, I couldn’t help but see the following:

    “the first nation in history where all men were free to worship each man”

    (qualified by “as his conscience sees fit”).

    In America all are free to worship Man (where “free” means “you risk social ostracism and even civil punishment if you don’t”).

    Don’t fret that “I must be being gaslighted” feeling. We live in the age of universal sociopathy, so the time to be worried is when you don’t feel that way.

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