In gravity is reality, and in reality is hope, and in hope is our only true and enduring joy.
I read this morning on a German website I follow about various high-profile Christmas Day sermons. A Catholic bishop lectured his flock about the grotesquely violent television shows (mostly of American provenance) that would be airing even in Christian homes—and even on this most hallowed day. The bishop’s Protestant counterpart harangued his parish about the Christian obligation to carry forward social justice: every person has a right to a living wage, he warbled. This isn’t the first time that, despite being a Methodist through my Welsh forebears, I have found the Catholic perspective the more insightful. Of course, the site’s daily celebration of the E.U.’s push to round up every last gun also appeared—under the rubric of politics on this day; but the political and the religious have grown interchangeable, after all, in what we vaguely, blandly call Christendom.
I have wished no one a “merry Christmas” this season, although I have wished peace to several. I don’t really see how a true Christian could feel very merry at the moment. Even those who preach at him from the pulpit are full of politics—and the political persuasion represented is very nearly always that of the nanny state. What’s wrong with us is what somebody else is doing to us (for filthy monetary gain, of course), and what’s right with us is owed to our embracing the vision of heaven-come-to-earth in the form of a vast paternalistic government. At this rate, there is little reason to believe that “Christianity” will not fuse with Islam (or be devoured by it, to put it bluntly). The Muslim theocratic model bestows power far more coherently and effectively upon the elite few, all of whom have a pipeline straight to the Almighty. We could get rid of guns, porn, Hollywood, beggars, and even thieves in virtually no time if we would just allow the Department of Justice to proceed with its quasi-Christian Sharia—a series of “loving” commandments from the Savior/Prophet.
I do sincerely wish peace upon the readers of The Conservative Intellectual. There are all too few of you, and I know and share the despair that eats at many of you. For a true Christian, however, every day is Christmas—and Good Friday, and Easter. We already know, or are supposed to know, that we will be persecuted if we lead the good life; yet we also know, or must strive to believe, that this brief illusion of life soon yields to eternal truth and glory, mocked by self-styled “rationalists” who haven’t enough science to smile at Mayan Doomsday. Pity those fools, listen to the fear in their bravado rather than the arrogance of their words… and keep weeding the same shoots of pride from your own soul.
With some trepidation, I offer a poem by one of my quarterly journal’s new contributors, George Shirley. This work will re-appear in the Winter 2013 edition of Praesidium (accessed through http://www.literatefreedom.org) within a couple of weeks. I hesitated to share George’s piece before Christmas lest I tread upon anyone’s merriness. Now I can declare—without bad taste, perhaps—that in gravity is reality, and in reality is hope, and in hope is our only true and enduring joy.
The Last Christmas Lights
The Year Twelve ends in Christmas lights.
Suburban blocks of dismal gray
Soon to freeze in Thirteen’s bite
Hint for now at winter play.
Soiled shadows in the night–
Nooks with garbage pails arrayed,
Chain-link pens where dogs may bite–
For a month by stars are framed.
Spirals red and twinkles white,
Strings that spell a joyous name,
Manger scenes whose plug from sight
Underneath the cradle stays–
Frosty, luminous with pipe,
Top hat, scarf, and twiggy wave–
Santa with his laugh so bright
Stalking chimneys in his sleigh–
Have from shelves at Wal-Mart hiked
Into every sordid space.
Home Depot stocks Three Men Wise:
Lowe’s has flashing candy canes.
Almost is one put in mind
Of some proverb turned cliché:
“Darkest is the troubled night
Just before the dawn of day.”
Stars to earth have fall’n despite
All our shades of sordid gray.
Just where most the tunnel’s tight,
There pricks childhood’s winking ray.
Surely not a nation’s night
Can unending for us gape:
Surely squalid plebiscites
Nothing are but kids at play.
Surely hope at last revives–
Surely menace goes away.
Every year has Christmas lights.
All years end with kiss and cake.
Never has my heart so tight
Watched the seasonal display.
Grown-up children one last time
Hope for gifts on Christmas Day.
One last time, from chasmic night
Hope they to an exit frame
With a string of twinkling lights:
Once more, “last” they would evade.
Children once the stars of Christ,
Addicts now of Christmas games…
Who can laugh that children cry
When the music no more plays?
Year Thirteen behind the lights
Rustles in a dismal gray;
No more fenced, its fatal bite
Only for the snows awaits.