Strength, Weakness, Meekness

Patrick Richardson pens a spirited defense of manhood in an article well worth reading:

I agree with what he says but say he does not say enough. Feminism is not merely the enemy of masculinity but also the foe femininity, because it is the foe of romance. Mr. Richardson is right to regret the loss of chivalry, but he does not say where it is to be found and regained.

There is only one place chivalry can be found: in the Cathedral, whence it came in times gone by. Anyone who looks into the matter will soon discover that one cannot have chivalry without Christianity just as one cannot have Romance without Rome.

All pagan societies worship and revere strength.

And, by all means, let us include among the worshipers of raw strength those postchristians like Karl Marx who borrow Christian ideals without the only metaphysical foundations which can possibly make sense of them.

That is why the question of ‘STRONG female characters’ is so strong in the minds of the new pagans. That is why all this jabber from Left and Right about ’empowerment’. Feminists despise femininity because they think it makes them look weak.

Anyone who reveres strength despises weakness.

I say Christianity is unique because not even the other monotheistic religion, Judaism, nor the monotheistic heresies, Deism, Gnosticism and Mohammedanism, have the monotheistic God in a position of weakness, born in a stable and dying on a cross. Only we saw our God humiliated. Hence only we have a logical reason to revere and respect the humble.

There are only so many civilizations on Earth: the Mesoamerican was wiped out by the Spanish, and exists only as a topic for archeologists; the Babylonians likewise. The living civilizations whose influences reach to roots outside Christendom include the Near-Eastern, the Indian, the Chinese. Are any of them concerned for the weak? Are any of them taken with the romance of weakness called chivalry?

As much as I admire Judaism, and as much as I despise Mohammedanism, honesty requires us to admit both religions have a very strong tradition of alms-giving to the poor. Is this a romantic chivalry and respect for the weak? To me, seeing with the eye of an outsider, both religions seem to be legalistic. Their God never dirtied Himself by incarnating, never passed through the birth canal of a mere woman, never wandered, never went thirsty, never had nails driven into his hands, never cried out wondering why God had abandoned him. No one doubts that the lonely God of the Old Testament and the Koran is compassionate and merciful, and demands his slaves and manservants to be merciful as well, but the element of mystical romance seems absent. Certainly the romance of monogamy is absent.

To the degree that India retains her British legal and cultural heritage, we are seeing Christian chivalry and concern for the weak and humble reflected from a foreign mirror.

To the degree that India retains her religiously-sanctioned caste system, this is not so.

No other culture explicitly and expressly ties a man’s class in life to his spiritual merit, or makes the idea of a humbly born saint impossible.

The untouchables, for example, are being punished due to sins in past lives, and are relegated to their low station by the justice of Karma. There is simply no culture on Earth less chivalrous, less willing and able to see the weak and humble as sacred.

Hermits and ascetics certainly exist in the Hindu worldview, and are holy men, but there are high caste individuals undergoing a discipline of privation.

My knowledge of Hinduism is quite limited, but I cannot recall any figures like Joan of Arc or Saint Peter, peasants chosen by heaven for high work, anywhere in the Hindu pantheon. Buddha was a prince, not a man born in a stinking stable.

As for the Chinese, Mao made a bold attempt to exterminate Confucian thinking and replace it with the philosophy of the postchristian secular heresy called Marxism, which does indeed express concern for the poor, but only because the forces of evolution decree that they are strong and will overthrow the evil but weak capitalist oppressors.

The Chinese worship strength, and charity is alien to them. My daughter was raised to believe there is no reason to preserve unwanted babies.

When I was in China, the tourguide saw me stop to give alms to beggars. He watched in wonder, and asked me why I was ‘tipping’ the beggars.

I told him our god walks the earth in disguise dressed as a beggar and any man who does not give alms with both hands is stricken with a curse and flung screaming into a lake of fire.

One might think that an odd reason to give alms, or even an impure or superstitious reason, but no one can say it is a prosaic reason. To see god in a beggar’s careworn and quotidian face is the very soul of romance.

Romance? Let me say something of the wild poetry that now rules my life.

I have a charm chalked on my front door to call a blessing down from wide heaven, and carry a rosary like a deadly weapon in my pocket, and hang the medallion of Saint Justin, patron of philosophers, whose name I take as my True Name, atop my computer monitor where he can stare at me.

Two angels follow me unseen as I walk, and I live in a world of exorcists and barefoot friars, muses and prophets, healers who lay on hands, mighty spiritual warriors hidden in crippled bodies, and fallen angels made of pure malicious
spirit obeying their damned and darkened Sultan from his darkest throne in hell. And I live in a world where a holy child was born beneath a magic star secretly as king, and the animals knelt and prayed. And from that dread king that small child will save us.

You might think my world inane, or insane, or uncouth, or false, but by the beard of Saint Nicholas, by the Breastplate of St. Patrick, and by the severed head of Saint Valentine, no one can say it is not romantic.

My life these days is a storybook story: if there were more romance in it, it be enough to choke Jonah’s Whale.