The Cathedral is real. Oh so very real.
This is true both at home and abroad. Today I experienced it at home, and read about it abroad.
First, at home. This morning I received a call from my priest asking me to drop by his office to “talk about some things.” When I arrived, he closed his study door and asked, “So, how are you?”
“Why do you ask?” I replied.
“I’m concerned about you,” he answered,
“Why?” I replied.
“Something you posted on Facebook, among other things.”
“What, specifically?” I asked.
“The thing where you said that politics don’t belong in the church. What’s up with that?” he asked.
“In my opinion, the church is in decline because it is no longer proclaiming its message in the world. Instead, it is importing worldly politics into the church. That’s bass ackwards. Religion isn’t in decline; Islam is on the ascendancy pretty much everywhere. But the church is in decline. That has never before happened in history. I find it very interesting that it is happening here and now,” I said.
“The Gospels are inherently political,” he said. “If the church hadn’t taken a stance on Abolition, it would have been complicit in injustice.”
[Note to non-Americans: Abolition was a movement in the mid 19th century in the United States to abolish slavery.]
At that point I thought to myself, that is an historical reference from a century and a half ago. It has nothing to do with anything. But in any event, to talk about what could have been is to engage in counterfactual speculation. A futility, surely. But I kept that thought to myself.
I feel like I was being warned. Not unlike a minor intellectual in the Brezhnev era, who was indirectly cautioned by an earnest, caring colleague who had benefitted from the system, however hypocritically.
Lest I be misunderstood, the tragedy of this encounter is that this priest has been a wise teacher in many aspects of my life. He was motivated by the wisdom of his experience to warn me that I’m pushing against the boundaries of Thought Crime, even though he truly believes in the Progressive Narrative. He’s concerned for my well being, and for that I thank him.
In other words, his intuition tells him that I am in danger. I agree, although from a different angle.
As I see it: Progressivism is Leftism. Leftism is raw, unprincipled, nihilistic power which seeks to destroy everything. Thus Leftism seeks to destroy me. Therefore, Progressivism is Satan.
Second, abroad. The international court in Cambodia is trying men of advanced age (that in itself is an outrage in Asia, where the elderly are revered per se) for complex events that took place 40 years ago. Note that not one of the highest Democratic Kampuchea former leadership has been charged with the murder of any specific named person. In a country where millions died– and where countless numbers of people were without any doubt murdered- these facts alone invite serious contemplation.
It also causes me to wonder why the Cathedral demands that we think about “Democratic Kampuchea” in specific ways.
There is no doubt that many people were killed in Democratic Kampuchea. You can travel there and see myriads of bones (unlike anywhere around Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec, where relatively few human remains have ever been found). Pol Pot seems to me to have been of a piece with Stalin. As a monarchist, I’m certainly not defending him or the “Khmers Rouges,” a term they did not apply to themselves.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice that the trial of former Democratic Kampuchea officials, which has been dragging on for more than a decade (and in another century), is a project of Yale
Seminary University (note on the home page of the trial website, the photo showing a Negress in judicial garb. A farce, surely.). The so-called “expert witnesses” are Anglosphere academics and journalists. Elizabeth Becker is an exception to the rule: she at least visited Democratic Kampuchea for a few days prior to its collapse. The bulk of the (foreign) so-called “experts” on Democratic Kampuchea never travelled to Democratic Kampuchea, ever. Therefore, none of them is competent. And yet their statements and scribblings are granted judicial notice in an “international” trial several generations later.
This is reminiscent of two legal travesties from the first half of the 20th century: the trials under Stalin during the purges of the 1930s (where he used the courts to try to force theory into practice) and the Nuremberg Tribunals in Occupied Germany where he (and the US, UK, and France) did the same thing. I can’t help but notice a common element between those two: Andrey Vyshinsky.
The Cathedral in Cambodia is attempting to enforce History. In so doing, it relies on self-authenticating “experts” as witnesses, specifically mass media (journalists) and rent-seeker academics (professors). Communism always operates that way, doesn’t it?
I could post on Facebook that geology has no place in the church. For that, I would never be summoned into my priest’s study and warned off the topic, because such a thing is obvious nonsense, and it doesn’t matter.
But because I was summoned into my priest’s study about something I wrote that was serious and sincere, I can only conclude that I’m definitely onto something very real.
And very, very dangerous.