fiction


I saw a report a few years ago, I think from the Lepanto Institute, about a former ‘Satanic high priest’ called Zachary King who had become a Catholic, and who reported having conducted sacrifices in abortion clinics, even involving cannibalism on one occasion. I reserved judgment about it at the time; since these ‘clinics’ are strongholds of the enemy, it wouldn’t be surprising if open witchcraft broke out inside them from time to time.

Recently I listened to a long talk that Zachary King gave at a Catholic church in the USA. He is not a credible speaker. He claims that after having been involved in a coven from the age of 13, he entered the ‘world church of Satan’ when he went to college. He says that this organisation is plotting world domination, and that he rose to be one of the highest members of it; a high wizard, no less. He also states that he was the most successful high wizard in the world, having a success rate of 92%.

Despite his eminent status in the society for world domination, High Wizard King was given the relatively humdrum task of attacking Baptist churches in the United States. His method of carrying out his mission was to infiltrate their soft furnishings’ committee (I am not making this up.) He would show up at a church and impress their pastor with his vast wealth, having 14 smart cars in his garage, and from there it was but a small step to the coveted place on the choir robes or church carpet commission. Then he would subtly turn the members of the committee against each other by spreading false reports of what they had said about each other. A moment would come when the committee would burst apart; and since, as everyone knows, a Baptist church stands or falls by its soft furnishing committee, the church itself would split, with 51% of the members going away, and 49% remaining – or it may have been the 51% who remained: anyone it was always the same proportion, which seems curious. He said repeatedly that he had carried out this operation 120 times.

I do not know how long it takes to infiltrate a Baptist soft furnishing committee. I would expect that a pastor wouldn’t invite a new member of his congregation onto a committee until he had known him for at least a year. But it may be that the world of Baptist fabric and haberdashery is a volatile one. Suppose, then, that the High Wizard had been voted or co-opted onto the committee after only 3 months of moving to a new church. To destroy it by cunning gossip (did he get the connection between diabolism and gossip from some early sermons of the present pope, I wonder?) would surely take at least 6 months – but let us say just 3. That would make a total of 6 months from his arrival at the church to its explosion. Doing this 120 times would require 60 years; except that to cover his tracks, he only destroyed every other Baptist church that he went to, always spending long enough between his acts of sabotage at another church to allay suspicions. So he must have required about 120 years to do his work. He was about 40 when he supposedly converted to the Catholic faith.

There are other features of the talk which are also incredible. He alleges that his conversion came when he was visited by an elderly Catholic lady in the jewellery store which he managed (does a High Wizard with 14 smart cars and an enormous house work in a shopping mall?), who told him all about his past life, and then challenged him to accept a miraculous medal. When she put the medal into his hand, nothing happened, but as soon as he closed his hand over it, the store disappeared and he had a vision of our Lady who took him by the arm and turned him round to show him Christ. This sounds like something from Medjugorje. Several people from the woman’s parish started calling her on her cell phone about the High Wizard because ‘the Spirit’ had told them to. Then he went to Mass and could see our Lord at the consecration every time and was surprised that other people couldn’t.

The whole talk is delivered in a calm, initially convincing, but ultimately banal manner. It is full of tropes designed to impress pious Catholics, such as the devil being like a barking dog chained up and how sad it is that more people don’t go to exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, while also playing on a merely human tendency to think of one’s ‘opponents’, in this case Baptists, as more ridiculous than they are: at one point he says that he not longer challenges people to say whether the bible makes a distinction between white magic and black magic, because some Protestants would produce such a distinction from their bible.

His web-site is similarly specious. The ‘Links and Resources’ section on the home page advertises four sites: two of them are to the FSSP and to Courage, neither of which things has anything to do with theme of the web-site, but both of which would tend to reassure the casual visitor. The section marked ‘References’ proudly boasts: ‘I have 4 reference letters from priests, including a Bishop’s Letter, that I will gladly make available upon request.‘ The name of the bishop is not mentioned, nor is any of it quoted, nor is any explanation given of why it is not made publicly available. A lists of interviews is offered, but most of them either have no link or a broken link.

I do not know if Mr King’s main aim is to make money, to have fun, or even eventually to reveal the hoax so as to discredit Catholics. In any case, don’t go there.

Prime_Jedi[This is full of spoilers for The Last Jedi]

I walked out of the Last Jedi a bit bewildered. There are some excellent scenes in it. I actually quite like the disillusioned Luke idea. The Snoke death scene is great (except if it turns out in Episode IX that he has no interesting back-story). Talking of which, the Rey-is-just-a-complete-random decision is also quite courageous and, in a way, interesting. Many ideas unfortunately are just terrible. The comic elements on Ahch-To deflate the significance of the entire sequence rather than making it seem real (as with Yoda in Episode V). In fact, Luke’s faliure to realise who Yoda is and the Master’s eccentricities in The Empire Strikes Back are genuinely funny but very Arthurian in tone so they work brilliantly. The roasting of the Porgs, the mocking of the nuns and the blue milk sequence on Ahch-To are just unpleasant. While, as I said, I think the idea of Luke realising there was an essential misconception behind the Jedi is quite good, the concept is badly underplayed. We don’t learn what this problem was or its true significance and, with the general bathos of Ahch-To, the whole journey of Episode VII ends up seeming as if it was a waste of time. Although the final confrontation between Kylo and Luke is quite good the stakes feel too weak. Why do these few survivors matter? Rey seems to be the only really important person and she is already safe. I suppose this is worsened by the fact that we know Leia will not be in the next film anyway. Perhaps if we thought Episode IX would be all about her the emotional impact would be greater. I’m afraid that from the Leia = Mary Poppins scene onwards the space pursuit, mutiny and Canto Bight story lines are incoherent, clunky and cringeworthily preachy.

In summary The Last Jedi is a failure with one or two good scenes. This is sad as I like the character of Rey and Kylo Ren improves in this film. I don’t want the sequel trilogy to fail. I thought The Force Awakens was weakest when it seemed like a remake of Episode IV and best when it concentrated on the new characters. J. J. Abrams now has an Episode IX to film with none of the original three protagonists (unless Luke isn’t really dead). If Luke appears as a force ghost that shouldn’t be too big a problem as Mark Hamill has been the best actor out of the original three in the sequel trilogy so far. J. J. Abrams needs to fix Episode VIII by making meaningful things which Rian Johnson has left banal. I don’t know what to do with Rose and Finn. They can’t be just dropped but perhaps some sort of sub-plot ending in heroic self sacrifice that exposes the stupidity of Rose’s obstruction of Finn’s attempt in this film might be in order. Poe Dameron needs to emerge as the leader of the Resistance to make up for the stupidity of his ritual humiliation in The Last Jedi. Something has to be snuck in to explain why hyperspace cannot in general be weaponised (and thus why no one had attempted this very obvious tactic before).

Most important of all the reason the Jedi went wrong needs to be explained. Star Wars – Rebels has already reintroduced the Bendu from the Legends chronology and he has referred to the ‘Ashla and Bogan’ as the two sides of the Force (which in the old canon were the two moons of the Je’daii homeworld of Tython which symbolised the two sides of the Force). In the teaser trailer Luke told (presumably) Rey that ‘the Balance’ is ‘so much bigger’ than either the Light or the Dark Side of the Force but this was cut from the film. My suggestion is this: The idea from the Legends chronology should be revived that the original Je’daii (the predecessor order of the Jedi) pursued the Balance between the Light and Dark Sides not the Light alone. The idea in the Legends chronology was that some of the original Je’daii turned exclusively to the Dark Side and the rest were so appalled that, when the devastating civil war this caused came to an end, the remainder decided to embrace only the Light.

Yoda tells us “Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they” but anger, fear and aggression are not evil. They are passions, one end of a continuum in the centre of which lies a mean in which virtue is found. The idea that anger, fear and aggression are mala in se is the central error of Stoicism. Perhaps therefore the Je’daii were Peripatetics who understood this. The first Dark Side users were Sophists who believed in succumbing to and indulging the passions to which we are most inclined and employing reason as the passions’ slave. The Jedi were Stoics, so shocked by the corruption of those who turned to the Dark Side that they either convinced themselves that our leading passions are evil in themselves or that it is best to devote oneself to the contrary inclinations because balance is too prone to give way to the domination of the Dark Side.

My suggestion is that the Prime Jedi – the founder of the Jedi order wrongly thought to have died tens of thousands of years ago (a mosaic of whom appears in The Last Jedi) – should be revealed to be Snoke. It should turn out that the leader of the original Dark Side devotees who triggered the civil war that rendered Tython uninhabitable was consumed by the Dark Side not because he sought it, but because he sought to embrace the Light Side alone and the reaction of his nature corrupted him entirely and led him to the Dark Side. When he realised that his revolt would fail and, while his war would destroy Tython, the Je’daii would prevail, he instructed his most talented pupil (Snoke) who had already long previously infiltrated the Je’daii, but at too junior a level to change the course of the war, to persuade the victorious Je’daii that the Dark Side must be abandoned forever. Snoke’s master realised that however good the Light Side Stoic method might be it could not suppress the tendency of some Light Side users to react and turn to the Dark Side. This would ensure, so long as the reformed order never realised their mistake, a steady flow of Jedi turning to the Dark Side and replenishing the ranks of the Sophists despite their seeming annihilation at the end of the war.

This would be the fatal error of the Jedi which Luke has half realised and which Snoke foresees Leia will discern in the ancient Je’daii texts if she ever sees them (hence the importance of killing her before she meets Rey). Snoke emerged from his millennia of concealment when Luke founded the new Jedi Academy because he feared that Luke would be the chosen one who would discern the original error of the Jedi and restore balance to the Force thus he needed to destroy him. In fact, Rey and not Anakin or Luke is the chosen one who engages with the Dark Side with no temptation to be dominated by it. She shows anger without wrath, desire without lust. Dark Side devotees are thrown up by the Force only because no one exists in whom the balance is maintained. Anakin brought balance to the Force by reducing the number of Force users to four: two Jedi and two Sith. The reason the Jedi were celibate (despite the transmission of the Force harnessing midichlorians by descent) was that the Jedi had discovered the children of exclusive Light Side Force users were far more prone to turn to the Dark Side. Rey will bring balance to the Force by achieving it in herself and her disciples. How this message should be elaborated in narrative terms I am as yet unsure…

What we have said already makes it further clear that a poet’s object is not to tell what actually happened but what could and would happen either probably or inevitably. The difference between a historian and a poet is not that one writes in prose and the other in verse — indeed the writings of Herodotus could be put into verse and yet would still be a kind of history, whether written in metre or not. The real difference is this, that one tells what happened and the other what might happen. For this reason poetry is something more philosophical and worthwhile than history (διὸ καὶ φιλοσοφώτερον καὶ σπουδαιότερον ποίησις ἱστορίας ἐστίν) because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts (Poetics, 1451).

Thule_carta_marina_Olaus_Magnus

Alyoshenka (appropriately enough) bought me The Brothers Karamazov a while ago. I am not very good at novels. Napoleon once said novels are for women while history is for men. Usually therefore, I have to find some long journey devoid of internet access and make sure I only have the novel with me and so have to read it. Ideally this then provides me with sufficient momentum to finish the thing when I get back. I was making a transatlantic flight a few weeks ago and I had ordered the most negative revisionist history of the American Revolution I could find to read on the way over. Alas! It did not arrive in time so, as it was at the top of the pile, I took The Brothers Karamazov instead. To be more specific, I took The Karamazov Brothers translated by Ignat Avsey for Oxford World’s Classics. Knowing no Russian I have no idea if this is a good translation, it certainly reads nicely. OUP is usually seen as a rather respectable publisher. I don’t know anything about Mr Avesy but I am pretty sure he is a theosophist. He not only translated the text he also provided the notes. I was already very suspicious when… on page 82 …in the course of an attack on the Church and an encomium of ‘Orthodoxy’ Fr Paisy (a minor character in the novel) remarks “The star will shine forth from the East”. There then follows a lengthy endnote by Mr Avesy. After correctly identifying Fr Paisy’s words as an allusion to Matthew 2:2 Avesy goes on to explain:

“It has been said that the current of culture arises in the East and moves West, eventually dying in the Americas. [fairy nuff] Thus Rudolf Steiner [uh-oh…]  claimed that, on the death of the Atlantean age and civilization [come again?], the Arians, under the leadership of Manu [wow], migrated to India, forming the pre-Vedic Indian culture. When that culture itself became decadent, a new culture was founded in Persia by Zoroaster or Zarathustra (the name means ‘Morning Star’ [how reassuring]). That culture was, in its turn, succeeded by the cultures of the Middle East, particularly those of Egypt and Babylonia. Following the decline of those cultures, the cultures of Greece and then Rome arose. Since the fifteenth century AD the Northern European or Germanic/Anglo-Saxon culture has emerged the culture which is still dominant today [thank you Mr Himmler!].”

Remember this the OUP edition of the greatest Russian novel. This is full-on National Socialist mumbo jumbo delivered as sober fact. Avesy then mentions that some Russians think that when the Californians have finished with Western Civ. it might get round to being their turn before giving us some references:

“See Rudolf Steiner, Occult Science and Lectures upon the Apocalypse; the several works of Valentin Tomberg (privately printed in Riga, 1936-9 repr. by Candeur Manuscripts, Spring Valley, New York, 1977-9); Maria Schindler, Europe a Cosmic Picture (New Knowledge Books, Horsham, Sussex, 1975-6) …”

Rudolf Steiner is, of course, a famous purveyor of mumbo jumbo but Valentin Tomberg has a special interest as the occultist for whose Introduction to the Tarot Hans Urs Von Balthasar wrote his sinister forward. In the light of this connection I would dearly love to know if the Maria Schindler cited here has any connection to the Schindler dynasty of creepy Balthasarians. Given the ease with which Balthasar and his followers have managed to infiltrate allegedly respectable Catholic theological circles I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at a spot of kindred occultism in the endnotes of an Oxford World’s Classics volume.

So! Occultism and Nazism with Balthasarian connections – a long haul flight well spent methinks…

The best part of finishing a Dickens’ novel – courtesy, perhaps, of the good people at librivox.org – is that one can find out what Chesterton had to say about it.

A shame they never met; it would have been quite possible, if Dickens had lived to a good old age rather than dying in 1870 at 58.

The names of the 4 children were surely not chosen at random. Peter is a natural choice for the chief vicegerent of Aslan/Christ, as is Lucy for the youngest child who yet enlightens the others about the existence of Narnia (before the 16th century reform of the calendar, St Lucy’s day was the shortest, while her name, of course, means light).

Why is Susan chosen for the one who is eventually excluded? Because Susannah was excluded from the Protestant canon? I wouldn’t put it past him!

That leaves Edmund. I have no clear idea why this was chosen. To English ears the name has a chivalric sound. Possibly it was intended to suggest the insufficiency of natural virtue.

 

 

 

In my quest for intellectually unchallenging reading matter, suitable for flushing one’s brain after a whole day’s thinking, I recently came upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. For a science fiction novel (or probably for any modern novel), there was pleasingly little of sex and violence to mar my enjoyment of the plots, even though, ideologically, the books are of cause utterly unsound. I was quite amused by the author’s early 1940s enthusiasm about nuclear energy and faith in sociology. In the story, a central role is played by the science of psychohistory, defined by Wikipedia (is there any pop culture item without a Wikipedia entry?) as “a fictional science i[…] which combines history, sociology, etc., and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people”. The founder of this science uses it to predict with statistical probabilities the course of history and the incidence of crucial crises for a foundation established at the fringe of the galaxy over a course of 1000 years.

A helpful plot device, but somewhat risible, I thought. Something that people are actually trying to develop, according to Nature.

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