Category Archives: Human Accomplishment

SOUTHERN GIRL ON FIRE: Introducing Rebecca Dillingham, AKA Dissident Mama

Christianity, Cultural Marxism, Gender, Human Accomplishment, Morality, Music, Old Right, Paleoconservatism, Pseudo-history, The South

Young Rebecca Dillingham, aka Dissident Mama, calls me her mentor. In a two-part interview, Rebecca also says her mentor is “rational, but on fire.” Well, let me tell you something:

This girl is on fire, to quote wonderful Alicia Keys (play her; ignore the terrible backing band).
And by “this girl,” her mentor means Rebecca.

At no time have I been prouder of the “mentor” designation than on reading Rebecca’s Monasteries, monks, & monuments – part 1.” The disquisition is scholarly, rational, contemplative—plaintive, too—polite, and pure in its patriotism, faith and fine penmanship.

I don’t need to agree with everything Rebecca writes—she’s paleoconserative, I’m uncompromisingly paleolibertarian—to reiterate how proud I am of her natural-born fierceness (you can’t fake passion), prose, her courage, and, above all, the sheer goodness of the girl.

Unimpressive by comparison is the monseigneur’s response to Rebecca, in “Monasteries, monks, & monuments – part 2.” Posted by Dissident Mama (Tuesday, October 27, 2020), it is a weak, dissembling tract, when compared to Rebecca’s tour de force, “Monasteries, monks, & monuments – part 1.”

Enjoy the latter:

Dear Brother Gabriel,

For nearly four months, I’ve been mulling over this letter, what I should say, how to approach it, or whether or not I should even send it. But since “everyone should have a monastery that they consider their own, a place they visit often and support financially and pray for daily,” as Archpriest Michael Gillis says, I finally decided to reach out and explain the reasons my family stopped our monthly giving to Hermitage of the Holy Cross. I think it’s only fair and right to expound upon why your monastery is a place we previously considered “our own,” as well as address and challenge some misinformation that’s being disseminated under the Holy Cross name.

In late June, we received your July newsletter in the mail. In the feature article, “Of Wrath and Righteousness,” the anonymous writer (who I now realize is you, Hieromonk Gabriel) asserted that we are living in a “historical moment” in which “the wounds of the past months and years and decades and centuries have been torn apart afresh (although it must be said that for many among us, these wounds were never actually closed).”

“And so the crisis facing us is this: how can such terrible wounds be healed? How can we, as a nation, repent of our sins? How can we root out injustice and plant in its place the righteousness for which so many now so earnestly seek?”

This fallacious theme is built upon the non sequitur of “systemic racism,” yet you never define what that is or how it can even be plausible that America is still racist against people of color, even after emancipation, reconstruction, universal suffrage, desegregation, forced integration, civil rights, affirmative action, Head Start, all-black colleges, federal programs that promote black home and business ownership, and now diversity-and-inclusion schemes within both the private and public spheres. The implication, of course, is that you sympathize with the BLM-Antifa movement, although you are careful not to state that outright.

So, let’s take your claim that there are even “national” sins of which only certain people must repent. This is obviously a reference to slavery – the tired red herring incessantly used by progressives in order to buttress any wild idea they conjure up. And even though you don’t explicitly condone the riots, you do make an emotional appeal that they’re a consequence lacking “solutions” to the centuries’ old “wounds.”

This brings me to the online version of “Of Wrath and Righteousness,” a varied and longer treatise than the aforementioned print version, which I noticed in mid-July at the Holy Cross website. As a former reporter and newspaper designer, I feared that the feature photo choice – an image showing a rioter holding a sign with the MLK quote “A riot is the language of the unheard” – was foreshadowing of the woke teeth-gnashing so common in American Christianity.

The most disturbing excerpt said, “Across the country historical monuments, often associated with the Civil War, are being defaced and torn down by mobs. Given that slavery is believed by many people to have been the sole reason the Civil War was fought, it is quite understandable that they therefore view monuments to Confederate leaders as an intolerable affront (and I think this is a good reason to consider removing them, out of love for neighbor and desire for peace).”

So, the monuments should come down because they supposedly hurt the feelings of the uninformed and miseducated? This is pure emotivism and what I would consider “an intolerable affront.”

I’m quite certain the article still had this wording when in mid-August I emailed the link to Dr. Donald Livingston, president of the Abbeville Institute and also an Orthodox Christian and my mentor and friend. Interestingly, the above excerpt in parentheses now reads, “(and I think this is a good reason to enter into a discussion regarding these monuments, out of love for neighbor and desire for peace).”

Sure, you claim in the current edition of the article that your purpose wasn’t “to take a position one way or the other as to whether any of these statues ought to be removed.” However, one thing is crystal clear: you are willing to see a good and a bad side in BLM-Antifa, but not when it comes to the Confederacy. I would say this is the “crisis”: Christians very publicly demeaning my people, the Southern people, and doing so from a historically ignorant and a quite unloving view that both come across as palpable to the masses if laced with enough spiritual bromides.

Unfortunately, way too many Orthodox (even hierarchs) fall into this “social justice” trap, which is a result of plain-old bad American history. So, I pray you read on, as I’m going to try to tackle your two statements from that angle.

Although you don’t come out and say that you think slavery is the “sole reason” for the War, the inference is that because some people subscribe to this false belief, removing monuments should be up for consideration. And since your suggestion is built upon the slavery mythos itself (the claim that the institution was the single cause of secession and the subsequent invasion and violence), let’s talk about that.

Did you know there were many godly Southern slave owners (who at max were 20% of Dixie’s population) and quite evil and “racist” abolitionists? Did you know that blacks and American Indians owned slaves, so did Northerners including Grant’s wife, and that it was Africans who themselves sold other black Africans in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to Western traffickers, many of whom were ethnically Jewish? Even though slavery was an American institution, the majority of Confederates, which even included black Confederates (gasp!), were fighting for hearth and home.

Father John Whiteford and I discuss slavery in this podcast. Of course, there are countless examples of slave owners in the Bible, from Abraham to the Patriarchs. There was kingdom-wide slavery during the reigns of Solomon and David. And when Jesus referenced slavery in His parables, He was cleverly using it as a metaphor to communicate spiritual slavery, since physical bondage was a recognizable and common institution of the time. Through the biblical lens, Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert Lewis Dabney wrote at length whether or not it was even inherently sinful to be a slave owner.

Now, I’m not saying the Bible mandates slavery, but it was a “universal fact of life in the ancient world,” as Father John explains, and was (and is) a result of the fall. So why build a premise based upon the bludgeon of slavery? To me, that seems not only a disingenuous precedent, but a dangerous one of surrogate atonement.

If we follow that logic, perhaps we should consider removing monuments to Russian leaders. The Russian people participated in serfdom for 900 years, so should we raze monuments to the serf-owning St. Vladimir of Kiev? Russia banned “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” until after WWI, so should we demean its people in perpetuity?

Of all the people in the world, I think Orthodox Christians should understand the perils of what C.S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. Just as Orthodox don’t rely on a linear perspective of history, neither do we Confederate-proud Southerners. We don’t fool ourselves into thinking that things are always getting better, or that people are being perfected through their post-modern sensibilities and their own demonic versions of “their truth.” We’re not just making it up as we go along.

“We” came from somewhere. Forged in blood and fire, the South is a thing, a real and magnificent place with a real people – diverse with a deep history, time-honored traditions, different accents and idioms, unique food and customs, and is honestly, the best thing going in these disunited states, both Orthodoxy-wise and in its opposition to god-crushing globalism.

I firmly believe that the prime impetus for distorting Confederate memories is due to their “stand for Biblical authority” and their compelling stories of redemption. The average Confederate soldier trusted the Lord with all. Their faith was truly the only thing that got them through the invasion and deadly conquest of their homes, the murder of their fathers, sons, and brothers, the rape of their women, starvation, and the theft of their property, as well as post-War military occupation, disenfranchisement, perpetual reconstruction and shaming, and the government-imposed poverty that followed and is still felt today in many parts of the South.

And let’s take an honest look at some of the Southern heroes being defamed. I don’t know where you’re from originally, but I’m sure by now you know that Stonewall Jackson is West Virginia’s most famous native son. This “Confederate Joshua” was an extremely pious Christian and brought more black people to Christ than any of the self-serving “racial reconciliation” frauds littering many American churches presently. Let’s not forget that this bold act was not only unpopular in some circles but could also be highly problematic since teaching slaves to read and write without his master’s consent was forbidden.

Robert E. Lee too invested the time and effort into making his slaves literate prior to freeing them before the War. Despite the manipulative and malicious historiography constantly hurled at this Confederate and US veteran, it’s fact that Lee was a devout Christian, and was renowned for his humility and kindness to all, despite their social standing. “Above all things, learn at once to worship your Creator and to do His will as revealed in His Holy Book,” Lee advised.

The famous general shared the communion table with black folks and helped to set a Christian tone of postbellum reconciliation. My eldest son’s middle name is Lee (and hence his Orthodox name Leo, as in Leo the Great, who was also a defender of his faith and his country) because as Dwight Eisenhower described, the quintessential Virginia gentleman was “selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God.”

So often maligned is the fiery Nathan Bedford Forrest who came to accept Christ quite a few years after the War. Yep, the man who Sherman called “that devil Forrest” could have embraced revenge, but instead advocated for true healing, in a time when it sometimes wasn’t fashionable to do so. Yet, all the masses can utter about Forrest, if they even have a clue at all, is “Hey, wasn’t he in the Klan?”

This is the kind of ad hominem attack that passes for “knowledge” these days. As a result, the bodies of Forrest and his wife were exhumed from beneath their monuments in Memphis, where they had been resting for more than 100 years, taking with them (like so many other razed monuments) the stories of fallen but fascinating people that tell a nuanced history, not the boring caricatures of leftwing academics, churched charlatans, and the 1619 Project.

And what about my highest-ranking Confederate ancestor, General A.P. Hill, who was murdered by federal troops at the Siege of Petersburg? He is buried not below his monument in Richmond, but he is actually entombed within it. Should we consider moving him, my kith and kin?

Why are Christians being tacitly encouraged to participate in gnosticism? Doesn’t matter matter? Do you not see that when monuments to Southern heroes, veterans, and fallen Confederates are being desecrated, spat upon, mocked, torn down, and dug up, that this is a type of iconoclasm? Why would we even want to converse about monument removal and bolstering ancestral guilt? Isn’t that a violation of the 5th Commandment? Are we not supposed to honor the dead?

I know that on the advice of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion the monastery has not been receiving outside visitors since mid-March. I want to be obedient to Met. Hilarion, but I also ardently disagree with that restriction. “Mother of Five” and I discuss on my podcast our frustration with the Church’s overall response to covid. But what does this have to do with your essays?

While you all up there in the safety of your monastery and its “seclusion from the distractions and temptations of the world,” we lay people who financially and spiritually support Holy Cross must live out here amongst the brainwashed neo-Bolsheviks, surviving in an increasingly acceptable paradigm of fear that is undergirded directly due to your coddling of the very mobs you claim to abhor. This is not a good plan for promoting peace.

While the monastery shuts itself off – unlike St. Herman of Alaska who toiled fearlessly to tend to the sickly, infirm, and dying during an epidemic during his time – we’re being to told to have a “discussion” with people who think discourse and civility are dog whistles for white supremacy.

Do you understand what leftists in the streets do to people who dissent to any shred of the BLM worldview? Or have you heard about the mandatory “racial sensitivity training” (read: anti-whiteness) that many government agencies and corporations make their employees (like my husband) endure?

The mania is getting pretty darn close to the struggle sessions communist resistors experienced during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. And how is this allowed to happen? Why, because the barbarians (who aren’t nearly as nice as the Visigoths and Vandals) are given aid and comfort by mayors and police, DAs and the courts, the media, academia, big business, and the Church.

How can we have a discussion with secular religionists who believe that any dissent is a microaggression, that nonconformity is hate, that logic is a tool of the patriarchy, and that speech itself is violence? And if you disagree, well, that’s just further proof of your “white fragility,” thus, your innate racism must be punished punitively and purged by any means necessary. This is a critical theory pogrom that seems to me to be in direct contradiction to the 9th Commandment.

I’m baffled as to why you’re urging Holy Cross supporters (many of whom are Southern) to have a “national conversation” about a made-up “racial reckoning,” a fake “historical moment,” with people who also routinely break the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, and 10th Commandments, and veil hate as love. These anarchists are akin to the Israelites in Judges, where “everyone did what was right in his own sight.”

The ideology of the roving reprobates is specifically built upon rejecting civil discourse. Therefore, it’s utterly futile to seek reconciliation (which presupposes forgiveness, good will, and mutual respect) with a people who do not share such moral groundings.

You say condemnation drives away the Holy Spirit, but it is Southern-without-apology folks who never seem to be the neighbors for whom priests, pastors, and politicians cajole people to sympathize. We’ve been painted as the “condemners” simply for knowing all too well that monument removal is a symptom of the “spiritual crisis” of mass democracy, centralization, materialism, rationalism, and secular-humanism.

Southerners lived through the terror that was foretold in the puritanical-progressive kontakion “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”: that God will use His “terrible swift sword” and “fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel” to bring judgment upon “condemners” and “crush the serpent with his heel.” There was no “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!” for the Confederacy.

So when people like me stand up for faith and family and against “Union” by force, it’s no wonder that the South is enemy number one. In fact, I would say it’s because of this belief in subsidiarity and against an imperial “indivisible” Union that the words and statues of statesman John C. Calhoun are being erased, not his views on slavery as an institution.

Same goes for the Cherokee and other “civilized” Native American tribes that joined the Confederate cause. Even they aren’t safe from being cancelled these days, for they too struggled for independence from the gigantism of the nation-state – the same Federal leviathan that currently delights in propping up the degenerate system that targets our children and then exports these anti-family “values” around the globe. It’s the same system that subsidizes infanticide here at home, and indiscriminately kills people in foreign wars, while typically supporting the side(s) that persecute and kill Christians.

Surely you understand that decentralization via the collapse of the evil Soviet Union is (besides the will of God) what is supporting a rebirth of Orthodox Christianity in Mother Russia and in many former Soviet bloc countries. So why perpetuate the progressive language and leftist fictions that have erected an Iron Curtain here in my sons’ ancestral home, one that silences and punishes them for merely existing?

Russia and Dixie actually have much in common, so shouldn’t Russian Orthodox Christians comprehend better than anybody that trying to appease the heathens is not just physical suicide, but spiritual suicide? Why trust a neo-Bolshevik when they’re not even as smart as the original Leninists, who at the very least thought homosexuality was a bourgeois decadence?

It’s concerning too that the ecumenism of “anti-racism” and hint of support of Southern cultural genocide is not only coming from a monastery, but one nestled in the foothillls of West Virginia – a swath of Old Virginia, which was clearly created out of “unconstitutional usurpation.” Is there no concern for the plight of your Southern neighbors or at least a grateful heart for their hospitality?

I’m reminded of St. Innocent of Alaska who proclaimed “the Gospel of Christ to the natives in their own tongues,” as goes the hymn, and toiled in “hardships and dangers” to bring “many peoples to the knowledge of truth.” Or the aforementioned St. Herman, who defended the rights of the Kodiaks and Aleuts and was a protector of the persecuted. Or St. Nicholas of Japan who immersed himself in the language, culture, and homeland-hero stories of the Japanese, even translating the Bible and services into their language, making Orthodoxy more accessible to the natives.

This begs the question: why would you and the monastery for which you speak, not offer the same basic manners to the people group you dwell amongst? It seems that being the leaven to transform the lives of the natives isn’t of preeminent import as far as your essays are concerned, whereas placating the very ideologues who hate them is. Talk about injustice.
And why are the malevolent militants not the ones being lectured to? In your “appeal to the people” fallacy, to whom are you appealing? Seems to me you’re supporting unethical assertions made by the most outlandishly unethical of people.

Just do a little research on some of the postmodernists’ ideological and political ancestors. I’m not just talking Hegel and Hobbes, Marx and Mao, but Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Antonio Gramsci. Compare the subversive and perverse “social theories” of leftist philosopher-pedophile Michel Foucault with the fervent faith and sacrificial living of the South’s Confederate ancestors. There is no competition between who was evil and who was good.

Perhaps you’re taking a conciliatory tone with the BLM-Antifa fatalists because you think that by temporizing now and deflecting attention to the low-hanging-fruit of the South, Orthodoxy will get a pass. That’s not virtuous; that’s virtue signaling.

Like Father John Whiteford explains, “If you go with the flow of society, you will lose your soul. … If people who hate God love you, …. then you’re doing something wrong. If they hate God but they love you, that’s because they’re not seeing God in you.” Like Christ said, “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

Moreover, it’s shortsighted. Making concessions with the demonic and totalitarian will never put you in the good graces of these very bad people. There’s no appeasing them. They have no good will and Christian capitulation only emboldens them. Even the typically meek Abbott Tryphon is waking up to this reality.

Nothing and no one is safe. This is why “Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, both of whom were obviously instrumental in defeating the Confederacy and freeing the slaves,” as you wrote, are being targeted. Although I’m no fan of Grant and especially Lincoln, the destruction of both Northern and Southern heroes is all the same thing: the neo-Marxist vision. Wipe away the past to pave the way for something new. Get those pesky, old, dead white guys out of the way and then transhumanist utopia can flourish.

This is why BLM-Antifa burning things down should be no surprise. They must eradicate all so that a new world can be built upon the ashes. Indeed, the whole point of leftism is to dismantle tradition. To deconstruct (not reconstruct) not only the South, but America, Western civilization, and those backwards, racist, and irrational Christians, and replace them with the egalitarian “religion of the future,” as Father Seraphim Rose called it.

The entire aim is to “liberate” men from God, to be both radically individualist and collectivist, to have chaos conquer Divine order, to smash all differences and distinctions as to create the mass man. It’s an inversion of everything that is Orthodox.

BLM-Antifa sees hierarchy as an instrument of the oppressor, of which the Church is chief. This is why the Pauline Church is attacked as “anti-Semitic” and the apostle’s letters are said perpetuate slavery. So, should we “cancel” St. Paul, tear down his icons, and burn all the books of the Bible he authored?

You may even be surprised that there’s growing leftwing chatter attacking the Orthodox Church as anti-Semitic for canonizing the Romanovs. I’m not. It’s what the left does, and unless you stand against their hedonism, they are coming for the Cross.

This is an existential war on a grand cosmic scale. It’s not about gnosis but rather all about nihilism. Cultural Marxism is based upon abstractions. That’s how its adherents can say there’s no objective truth, or that reality is whatever you want it to be, or that even “self” is a product of language. Everything, most especially God, is a construct. “Do what thou wilt,” as satanist and culture-influencer Aleister Crowley preached and America listened, and to hell with submitting to the transcendent ethical good.

Plus, being Russian Orthodox makes you even worse in their eyes, not only due to the Church’s strict adherence of traditional gender roles, but also because you represent Russia, which as we know too many Americans believe is brimming with superstitious rubes standing in the way of human and technocratic “progress.” If any one group should understand the sinister power of fostering uprootedness, building a false narrative, and then relentlessly demonizing the archetype, it should be ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia).

More than three years ago, I wrote, “I felt as if church – a place that’s supposed to be about healing, fellowship, and true freedom – was more like a progressive caste system in which the Southern white man must wear the yoke of burden of every ‘aggrieved minority.’ It’s tight around his neck, but the Bible-toting dictators will loosen it, only if he behaves.”

This was during my departure from Protestantism and into the rich world of Orthodoxy. My fellow newbie Orthodox friend rightly pointed out that it’s so often converts who are willing to raise criticisms, since it’s precisely that kind of inquiry that drew us away from false dogmas and to the one, true faith. So as a mother and wife, a journalist, a former feminist-atheist-socialist, a Southerner, and a chrismated Orthodox Christian of three years, I’m ringing the warning bell.

Just as monasticism is your Cross to bear, marriage and family are mine. Please know I accept fully that the only monument to a perfect man is that of Jesus hanging on the Cross, but know too that I’m earnestly seeking righteousness in fighting for my roots, ancestors, and posterity, and against identity-less-ness. Neglecting history not only enslaves us to the present but commits us to a future much darker than it has to be. And let us not forget that creation is slow and difficult, but destruction is quick and easy.

So, I implore you to resist getting blindsided by the Zeitgeist of perpetual revolution, not only because I think you’re wrong, but because I’m certain your Ameridox suggestions will weaken the Church’s footing in this spiritual war. I pray you consider facts and perspectives you may not know, and choose to use your platform to emphatically repel the barbarism, not castigate your neighbors.

St. Basil the Great once said, “Anyone who is capable of speaking the truth but remains silent, will be heavily judged by God, especially in this case, where the faith and the very foundation of the entire church of the Orthodox is in danger. To remain silent under these circumstances is to betray these, and the appropriate witness belongs to those that reproach (stand up for the faith).” I am capable, and I pray you are, too.

P.S. I plan to post this letter at my website. In the meantime, I entreat you to respond and I will, in good faith, publish your words, which I know my many Orthodox and Southern followers will be eager to read. Even my Protestant and Catholic friends will be interested, as traditional Christians of all stripes are desperate for real courage, not relevance.

Rebecca’s interviews with me:

Ilana Mercer, part 1: Roots, writing, & resistance, By Dissident Mama on Friday, September 25, 2020.
Ilana Mercer, part 2: Lady Paleolibertarian, By Dissident Mama on Monday, September 28, 2020.

 

UPDATED (8/31): ‘Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves’

Art, English, Human Accomplishment, Literature, Logic

I’m no poetry expert, but I know beauty when I read it. That’s why I like Oscar Wilde (or Louis MacNeice, linked below).

Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol is exquisite. (Its author had been “involved in the aesthetic movement, advocating for the value of beauty in art.”) If you know something about his life, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor for homosexuality. He died in Paris, shortly after his release.

Wilde (1854-1900) had become something of an advocate for prisoners, having experienced the inhumanity of England’s jails.

Like everything he wrote, The Ballad of Reading Gaol is not only achingly beautiful, but it showcases Wilde’s understanding of the human conditions and heart, especially the chorus, highlighted. The ballad is about a fellow prisoner, Charles Thomas Wooldridge (1864 – 1896), “executed in Reading Gaol for the murder of his wife.”

The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde – 1854-1900

I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
“That fellow’s got to swing.”

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one’s throat, before
The hangman with his gardener’s gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.

II

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer’s collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock’s dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God’s sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other’s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men were we:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.

III

In Debtors’ Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman’s hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher’s doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers’ Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother’s soul?

With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fool’s Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil’s Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we—the fool, the fraud, the knave—
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another’s terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another’s guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savior of Remorse.

The cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and loud they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

“Oho!” they cried, “The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.”

No things of air these antics were
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God’s dreadful dawn was red.

At six o’clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows’ need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man’s grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to com
e: So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man’s heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From a leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman’s snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

IV

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain’s heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God’s sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man’s face was white with fear,
And that man’s face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer’s heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God’s kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope’s sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man’s despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God’s Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace—this wretched man—
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A reguiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life’s appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

V

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother’s life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know—and wise it were
If each could know the same—
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity’s machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one’s heart by night.

With midnight always in one’s heart,
And twilight in one’s cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life’s iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God’s eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper’s house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul’s strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ’s snow-white seal.

VI

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

This poem is in the public domain.

RELATED: “The Magic Of MacNeice

UPDATE (8/31):

So Many Dumb People Are Breaking America, AND Then There is MATTHEW WHITAKER

America, Art, Human Accomplishment, Music

There are so many incredibly dumb and destructive people controlling and breaking America that it’s useful to remember the select few—not that many—extraordinarily bright and beautifully gifted people who light our country up:

MATTHEW WHITAKER.

My own preference runs to Dvorak’s Piano Quintet, not jazz, but whatever he plays—and he can do Dvorak justice—MATTHEW WHITAKER amazes and inspires. What a story!

Meet the blind piano player who’s so good, scientists are studying him“:

Matthew Whitaker has been rocking crowds with his improvisational piano playing for most of his short life. He may be blind, but a neuroscientist has found Whitaker’s visual cortex goes into overdrive when he plays.
… Every so often, someone so young does something so amazing you can’t help but wonder – how do they do that? That’s what happened the first time we heard Matthew Whitaker play piano. Matthew is a jazz pianist who is blind, and since the age of 11, he’s been performing around the world. He’s been called a prodigy and, as we noted when we first aired this story in February, his talent is so extraordinary. He’s also caught the attention of scientists who are now studying his brain and trying to understand his vision of music.
Whitaker doesn’t just play music, he plays with it. Twisting melodies, crafting complex harmonies and improvising at lightning speed. It’s acoustic acrobatics performed over 88 keys and it is not for the faint of heart. …

MORE.

A Toast To Thomas Jefferson—And The Anglo-Saxon Tradition That Sired And Inspired Him

America, Classical Liberalism, History, Human Accomplishment, IMMIGRATION, Nationhood, Natural Law, Political Philosophy

“Let us … toast Thomas Jefferson—and the Anglo-Saxon tradition that sired and inspired him.”ILANA MERCER, July 4, 2019

The Declaration of Independence—whose proclamation, on July 4, 1776, we celebrate—has been mocked out of meaning.

To be fair to the liberal Establishment, ordinary Americans are not entirely blameless. For most, Independence Day means firecrackers and cookouts. The Declaration doesn’t feature. In fact, contemporary Americans are less likely to read it now that it is easily available on the Internet, than when it relied on horseback riders for its distribution.

Back in 1776, gallopers carried the Declaration through the country. Printer John Dunlap had worked “through the night” to set the full text on “a handsome folio sheet,” recounts historian David Hackett Fischer in Liberty And Freedom. And President (of the Continental Congress) John Hancock urged that the “people be universally informed.”

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, called it “an expression of the American Mind.” An examination of Jefferson‘s constitutional thought makes plain that he would no longer consider the mind of the collective mentality of the D.C. establishment “American” in any meaningful way. For the Jeffersonian mind was that of an avowed Whig—an American Whig whose roots were in the English Whig political philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

By “all men are created equal,” Jefferson, who also wrote in praise of a “Natural Aristocracy,” did not imply that all men were similarly endowed. Or that they were entitled to healthcare, education, amnesty, and a decent wage, à la Obama.

Rather, Jefferson was affirming the natural right of “all men” to be secure in their enjoyment of their “life, liberty and possessions.”

This is the very philosophy Hillary Clinton explicitly disavowed during one of the mindless presidential debates of 2007. Asked by a YouTubester to define “liberal,” Hillary revealed she knew full-well that the word originally denoted the classical liberalism of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. But she then settled on “progressive” as the appropriate label for her Fabian socialist plank.

Contra Clinton, as David N. Mayer explains in The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson, colonial Americans were steeped in the writings of English Whigs—John Locke, Algernon Sidney, Paul Rapin, Thomas Gordon and others. The essence of this “pattern of ideas and attitudes,” almost completely lost today, was a view of government as an inherent threat to liberty and the necessity for eternal vigilance.

Jefferson, in particular, was adamant about the imperative “to be watchful of those in power,” a watchfulness another Whig philosopher explained thus: “Considering what sort of Creature Man is, it is scarce possible to put him under too many Restraints, when he is possessed of great Power.”

“As Jefferson saw it,” expounds Mayer, “the Whig, zealously guarding liberty, was suspicious of the use of government power,” and assumed “not only that government power was inherently dangerous to individual liberty but also that, as Jefferson put it, ‘the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.’”

For this reason, the philosophy of government that Jefferson articulated in the Declaration radically shifted sovereignty from parliament to the people.

But Jefferson‘s muse for the “American Mind” is even older.

The Whig tradition is undeniably Anglo-Saxon. Our founding fathers’ political philosophy originated with their Saxon forefathers, and the ancient rights guaranteed by the Saxon constitution. With the Declaration, Jefferson told Henry Lee in 1825, he was also protesting England‘s violation of her own ancient tradition of natural rights. As Jefferson saw it, the Colonies were upholding a tradition the Crown had abrogated.

Philosophical purist that he was, moreover, Jefferson considered the Norman Conquest to have tainted this English tradition with the taint of feudalism. “To the Whig historian,” writes Mayer, “the whole of English constitutional history since the Conquest was the story of a perpetual claim kept up by the English nation for a restoration of Saxon laws and the ancient rights guaranteed by those laws.”

If Jefferson begrudged the malign influence of the Normans on the natural law he cherished, imagine how he’d view our contemporary cultural conquistadors from the South, whose customs preclude natural rights and natural reason!

Naturally, Jefferson never entertained the folly that he was of immigrant stock. He considered the English settlers of America courageous conquerors, much like his Saxon forebears, to whom he compared them. To Jefferson, early Americans were the contemporary carriers of the Anglo-Saxon project.

The settlers spilt their own blood “in acquiring lands for their settlement,” he wrote with pride in A Summary View of the Rights of British America. “For themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold.” Thus they were “entitled to govern those lands and themselves.”

And, notwithstanding the claims of the multicultural noise machine, the Declaration was as mono-cultural as its author.

Let us, then, toast Thomas Jefferson—and the Anglo-Saxon tradition that sired and inspired him.

©2019 ILANA MERCER
WND.com
July 4, 2019

SEE: “A July Fourth Toast To Thomas Jefferson—And The Declaration,” by Ilana Mercer, July 4, 2019