Stammering about Hilaire Belloc and the Modern World



Sometimes I stammer …

The great Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc

Stammer when I cannot complete my thoughts in a fullness that pleases.

But even stammering may yet have value.

There is a reader here (a beautiful soul, I feel, even though I have never met him) who seems to see something I do not see.  That something is would appear to be an equality, an equivalency that I do not see.

For he seems (?) to see an equivalency, whereby the Holy Spirit works equally throughout all forms of Christianity, whether they be Protestant denominations or Churches possessed of the fullness of the Seven Sacraments (e.g. the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches).

My whole life, I see, proceeds on an entirely different notion to this.

God is present, the Holy Spirit is present beyond the Seven Sacraments, this I know.

But my whole life turns on this: that these Seven Sacraments offer something so powerful, so beyond anything I ever experienced outside these Seven Sacraments.

The world, the world …

Hilaire Belloc, you were such an acute observer. An acute diagnostician.

How in the 1930s, you diagnosed the world condition in ways that rend my heart.

You saw this deterioration, deterioration of Faith, of Reason, of Intelligence …

Already in the 1920s and 1930s, how acutely you diagnose this ‘dumbing-down’ of the world.

You diagnose the condition of a humanity bombarded by the reiteration of the Press.

Our modern, secular, pluralistic society is convinced of the ‘self-evident’ superiority of our modern, secular, pluralistic society.

It supposes that people are more free in such a pluralistic society.

But are they?

Is this a conclusion reached through Reason, Intelligence and Faith?

Or is it a conclusion reached through dumbing-down, uncritically listening to the reiterations of a capitalist-controlled media?

And do we really live in a pluralistic society – or do we all just unconsciously conform to an unseen authority, while we jive to the consumerist-capitalist beat – which sings us spurious songs of freedom?

Songs, sounds, jingles even …  bombarding, lulling, hypnotising, stifling, but also jarring, shattering the deeper layers of the soul.

The roar of traffic, the blare of advertising, that deep, thumping bass of so-called music on someone’s ghetto blaster ..

Dear Hilaire: ‘You ain’t see nothin’ yet’ …

Your 1930s ears would never have heard anything even remotely like Bachman Turner Overdrive.

A memory floats back of a figure from a novel of the 1960s. She is bemused by the Beatles and suchlike: “What is the need for a drum, when you have such very simple and obvious rhythms? Drums are reserved for far more complex music …’

The world drowns.

And seeing how the tide has risen and risen and risen since you wrote so acutely in the 1930s, dear Hilaire …

And seeing how the tide has risen and risen and risen since you wrote so acutely in the 1940s and 1960s, dear Valentin …

I wonder what world my teenage daughter will see when I am dead and gone, but looking towards her from eternity …

Another friend, (a known, rather than unknown friend, this time) is concerned about his young son growing up in a world of ecological catastrophe.

But there are things that trouble me still more than this.

Materialism, philosophical and commercial, troubles me more. The coarsening it creates, the deadening, the dumbing-down …

There is an alternative that my life has led me to see.

That alternative involves an Organism.

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But people do not see that it is an Organism -, a Living Organism with a Beating Heart.

They think that it is a belief-system. Here is a legacy of the Protestant emphasis on sermons.

We quoted Valentin Tomberg here recently to this effect:

The impoverishment of humanity caused by Protestantism: without the Mother the Word is not ensouled, and consequently humanity is deprived of the effect of the Universal Remedy. Christ becomes a Master who only teaches, not a Universal Healer [Tomberg’s italics] (The Wandering Fool pg. 90).

The Protestant sermon imparts beliefs. It teaches.

Often very good and beautiful things.

But the Organism does something else. It does something more than teach.

What is it that it does? It feeds, it nourishes, it heals through these Seven Sacramental Channels.

This morning I will go to Confession, followed by the Holy Mass at noon.

I will hear a brief sermon no doubt, the Priest will offer me some words as I kneel in the Confessional. Knowing this Priest, they will be wise, heartfelt and beautiful words, I trust.

But all of this is paltry, paltry I say, in comparison to being placed in direct connection with …

The Organism.

My only hope for this world lies in that Organism.

But people do not see it is an Organism.

Thus as you once wrote, dear Hilaire, about the Church:

The sceptic … must first appreciate that the Thing [Italics mine] is what it is; an organism endowed with a life, having a character and savour of its own: a personality, and above all, a personality undoubtedly and wholly One.

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