“Abolish religion if you like. Throw everything on secular government if you like. But do not be surprised if a machinery that was never meant to do anything but secure external decency and order fails to secure internal honesty and peace”. Thus said the great Catholic author G.K. Chesterton. Religion is plainly necessary. Therefore, if we assume that God is interested in mankind, and cares for us (a big assumption no doubt – a veritable leap of faith), then it makes sense that the true religion – the best means through which humanity may communicate with Him – would be logically deducible as that which is most beneficial, spiritually and, to some extent, materially, for our species.
This is the altruistic logical search for the “best religion” – a search which has ever burdened me throughout my life and a million other thinkers and mystics throughout the ages. It was this God-guided quest for answers which led the ancient Israelites to reinterpret their henotheistic storm god worship as universalist monotheism – a step closer to the Truth. The combination of the early zealous, iconoclastic, Semitic Christianity with folkish imperial European – especially Graeco-Roman – paganism (producing the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions respectively, with their healthy cult of saints, rich iconography and imperial virtues) was a step further.
What, did you think Christianity as we know it emerged overnight out of thin air? As Julius Evola describes in his treatise Pagan Imperialism (and corroborated by other scholars besides) Christianity began as an insular apocalypse cult. When it became clear Christ would not return anytime soon, its focus shifted to the ecclesia – to the feeling of agape. Early socialism, effectively. It was only when Christianity was institutionalised under Constantine that it was forced to abandon its more unpleasant utopian elements and adopt a degree of realism and Romanity, eventually becoming the strong, practical religion of Latin, philosophy and Gothic cathedrals many of us love today. Does this somewhat artificial syncretic development imply that Christianity is untrue? Not necessarily. It is more than likely that God would guide us to His true religion using the tools, intellectual and mystical, He had created for us.
I say intellectual and mystical because the search must take place through both the mind and the heart. To contemplate religion rationally – that is the role of the philosopher and theologian. To contemplate religion emotionally, imaginatively and spiritually – that is the role of the mystic. The former may be called the Masculine Path, the latter the Feminine Path. It is the folly of many hyper-rationalistic sorts, usually men, to discount the Feminine Path altogether, and to mock its adherents – effectively discounting half the human experience.
If we relied purely on reason, we would soon fall prey to the vulture of transhumanism, and end up in the utilitarian nightmare depicted by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. No, reason must be tempered by romance! Just as romance or passion must needs be tempered by reason.
I have no cause to believe that this search, this continuous revelation, is complete – it will continue until mankind has achieved a perfect means of spiritual contentment. And I am far from spiritually content. Therefore, I have written this article to propose a new development in the Western spiritual tradition.
I love Christianity – European Christianity – in practice, but not in theory. Christianity in theory is a bitter, death-loving slave morality – everything Nietzsche accused it of being. This is why Protestant churches which aim to recreate a “pure” Christian creed are universally the most emblematic of said creed’s failings. But this is not what Christianity in Europe has always been in practice. It has been chivalry. It has been romance. It has been Muscular; even life-affirming. Christianity is at its best when it accommodates the world.
This world is a vale of tears. Christianity’s acceptance of that terrible truth is one of its Unique Beauties. But oftentimes it does not merely accept that fact – but embraces it, loves it. It reviles the world. It becomes an ugly, defeatist religion, tearing down nations and empires from the inside. At the height of the British Empire Rudyard Kipling, an avowed imperialist, yet a Christian, wrote “Recessional” which even during the Empire’s full strength bemoaned – even masochistically relished – its eventual collapse and fall. This is not a healthy attitude! Yet it defines the Christian creed throughout.
This corruption ultimately stems from the Christian belief that the world as we know it was a “mistake” – that the Fall of Man never should have happened. This unnatural dogma – the very essence of life-denial – leads Christians to come to the most unnatural, twisted conclusions, such as: sex and romantic love, even within marriage, and aggression and violence, even in a just cause, are nothing but necessary (if blameless) evils, despite being intrinsic to the human condition. Many Christians believe that romantic love terminates in this life; that all such loves will be made irrelevant by the communal agape of the World to Come (the Eastern Orthodox, to their credit, have a more nuanced theology on the matter – see The Glory of Marriage by David C. Ford). The last time I was a Christian, this belief drove me to the worst existential crisis I have ever had. I could not bear the thought that the beautiful love I had experienced with my beloved would be ended and rendered obsolete; to be replaced by some sexless otherworldly hippie commune, wherein everyone was equal and one relationship was indistinguishable from another – where all the memories of this life, including our beautiful romance, were but a bad dream. And what form would our Resurrected bodies take, without the need for food, sex or romance? Would all such desires be removed? Would I wake up in the Next Life without a mouth, genitals or romantic urges? Would I get no say in the matter – or was the choice simply between this, and Hell?
All my concerns were answered by my fellow Christians either with unempathetic Bible-bashing dogmatism, or resorts to a vague wishy-washy sense of numinousness. So I chose Hell, and fell from the faith. Ironically, the beloved in question for whom I had sacrificed my Christianity only became more devout as I became more secular. Therefore, it was increasingly difficult for us to connect with one another, and thus ended the relationship.
Christian pacifism is no less abominable and anti-natural. Christians (and liberals, their modern secular descendants) can’t stand the idea that soldiers might actually enjoy fighting! Hence they are always presented in our (actually very Christian, in a secular way) modern culture as either Victims or Heroes. They are neither. They are men.
As I see it, there are two core defining features to masculinity – leadership, and aggression. Evolution bred us to be hunters and warriors. The Judaeo-Christian idealisation of peace – which has its root in the weakness of the Jews in war during the later centuries of their civilisation – was not so much a problem when the world was a more brutal place, and the Church was more inclined to admit the necessity of violence. But in the comfortable modern West Christian pacifism has finally been permitted to reach its inevitable conclusion – the conclusion depicted so perfectly by the 1999 film Fight Club, of a generation of soft, unhappy, feminised men, who consume rather than create; who take rather than give; who, save for nosebleeds, have never seen the sight of their own blood.
Here I should clarify my thoughts somewhat, before someone takes me for a warmonger. My opinions on conflict are somewhat nuanced. War is uncontrollable – it will almost always lead to counterproductive collateral damage including the death of innocent civilians; and the cutting short of young lives must ever be regarded as a tragedy. Therefore, it should be avoided where possible. However, sometimes war, both defensive and offensive, is necessary for, indeed demanded by, the greater good, and in these circumstances should not be shied away from. As for interpersonal conflict – organised, civilised Fight Club style brawls would be my ideal for resolving disputes. This would inculcate a manly culture without leading to the wasteful loss of life inherent in duelling (which once plagued the West). My views on conflict are not contradictory to “Love thy enemy”, which is the basis of the core Christian message of omniphilia, omnibenevolence and the Brotherhood of Man. Quite the opposite – conflict is in fact dignified by a respect for one’s opponent. The Fight Club depicted in the film is a very Christian, fraternal organisation. The Red Baron was loved by the British who shot him down, and buried under a wreath bearing the words “To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe”. How chivalrous! Indeed, chivalry and duelling were ways in which masculine European men tried to reconcile Christianity with manly Western virtues.
We could additionally mention the Christian disdain for nationalism. In the mainline Christian conception, the beautiful diversity of mankind is itself a result of the Fall – a result of humanity’s arrogance in constructing Babel. It’s no wonder, then, that Christian resettlement agencies have played such a prominent role in resettling migrants in Western nations. Globalism itself is merely a secular adaption of Christian universalism.
I also speculate that the Christian revulsion of the world is a significant factor in the all-too-common apathy of Christians towards the wellbeing of animals and the natural environment.
The solution, surely, is obvious. In order to redeem the world and its noble elements – such as romance, just violence, nation, empire, and nature itself – it must fundamentally no longer be conceived of as a mistake. Christianity can be fixed very simply by, believing as we do that God has foreknowledge, concluding that the Fall of Man must have been intentional on His part – that He allowed it to happen for the greater good. After all, don’t we attain greater heights with free will than we would have done had we remained mere animals or automatons in the Garden of Eden? Most if not all Christian thinkers, while forced by dogma to officially deny it, seem to know this deep down and imply it. Islam and Mormonism outright preach it, and I would argue are much healthier, life-affirming creeds for doing so.
Verily, I am going to place mankind generations after generations on earth.’ They (the angels) said: ‘Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, while we (the angels) glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You?.’ God said: ‘I know that which you do not know.Quran 2:30. God had intended to place man on the earth from the beginning.
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.2 Nephi 2:22 – 23, the Book of Mormon. The Latter-day Saint account is that the Fall of Man was a necessary and vital step in God’s plan of happiness.
Both have an unequivocally positive view of chaste romantic love, and feature it in their conceptions of the next world (in Jannah none shall be unmarried; Mormon “celestial marriages” are eternal). Mormonism has a kinder theology of animal life. Islam also has a much healthier concept of violence (jihad). Islam is not a religion of peace, but neither is it a religion of war – the Quran plainly teaches that there is a time for violence and a time for restraint and forgiveness. What’s more, the Muslims have never been ashamed of their glorious caliphate empires – they never sought to tear them down from within!
Truly this world is a vale of tears, but that’s all the more reason to make the most of it! This is a purgatorial plane – a time of trials and struggle – to be embraced, not shunned! All our empires will eventually collapse, all our citadels decay – all the more reason to rage, rage against the dying of the light – against the Prince of this World, who is Satan – and make God our Heavenly Father proud!
This is the essence of my belief. Only by reinterpreting the Fall of Man can Christianity become a life-affirming religion, permanently reconciled with masculine national-imperial values. As I mentioned, Christianity has been life-affirming and imperial before – in Catholicism, chivalry, miles Christianus, and the Victorian “Christian manliness” and “Muscular Christianity” movements – but only partially, temporarily and while tinged with heterodoxy. Time and time again after the Crusaders and Conquistadors have saved Christian Europe through strength and valour, the priests have stepped in to preach iconoclasm and surrender. I say, no more! All the greatest achievements of our civilisation, from the Renaissance to the British Empire, were accomplished by life-affirming imperial Christians – therefore it is high time we finally crystallised this synthesis between Semitic spirituality and European vigour in theology. Make the Fall of Man deliberate, and all else will follow. This Constantinian, Ghibelline ideal is the next stage of the spiritual development of the West – the essential, necessary “Neo-Christianity” I refer to in my article “Total Depravity“.
It may be wondered, after all my harsh words, why I stick with Christianity at all, and not become, say, a Muslim or a pagan. Islam is too zealous, puritanical and iconoclastic for me; paganism too amoral and hopeless. I have returned to Christianity, or at least Neo-Christianity, because I believe in its essential wisdom; I believe it has certain “Unique Beauties” not found in any other religion on earth, such as:
I. The understanding of this world as a “vale of tears”, already stressed multiple times in this article. Christianity takes all the tragedy and corruption of the world and beautifies it. We see this beautification most clearly in the sanctified corpses of saints, and in the “Salve Regina” prayer: O, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. When used correctly, this attitude to a corrupt world can be life-affirming. Too often, however, it is used to the ends of life-denial. Nevertheless, in this sense Christianity is a truly realistic religion. I know of no other way to happily dwell in the world than to view it through this beautiful, bittersweet lens.
II. The understanding of humanity as a fallen race. This has always seemed abundantly obvious to me. Each and every one of us could be so much better in our interactions with other human beings. If we had been born into different circumstances, any of us could have been serial killers or Auschwitz guards. Human nature is so easily tempted and perverted. What’s more, this doctrine pays God the proper respect due to Him – if there truly is a Supreme, utterly perfect, all-loving Being, then how wretched it is; how very deserving is our damnation; that we would even consider disobeying Him.
III. The Nativity. This is the joy of Christmas – that the Supreme Being of the universe would take the form of a helpless human child. The profundity of this can never be understated. Other gods in other religions have had human avatars, of course, but none of them have been helpless – in other words, none of them have been truly human.
IV. The Atonement. The Supreme Being suffered and died alongside His long suffering Creation. Not only this, He sacrificed Himself for us – therefore “We love Him, because He first loved us”. This is true heroism and unconditional love, and no more can anyone curse God for the pain of their own life, when He Himself has experienced pain like no other. This is doubly important in that by reducing God Himself to a poor crucified convict, the less fortunate – those who have little materially but are still pure of heart – are forever redeemed and sanctified. Thus, on a deeper level, the Crucifixion of God represents the primacy of the soul, gifted with free will, over physical matter. The physically weak, who cannot help being so, need no longer be ashamed of their weakness, so long as they are morally or “metaphysically” strong.
V. The doctrine of loving thy enemy, of turning the other cheek and praying for those who persecute you. There is something deeply profound about this dogma. Why hate a fellow sinner who could at any moment repent and be forgiven, as you were?
…Among others. It is unclear to me where this Neo-Christian theology will lead. There are obviously parts of Scripture which contradict it, especially with regards to pacifism. So will there be adjustments to Scripture, in the manner of the Jefferson Bible, or even additions? Perhaps ultimately, if embraced by others, this could lead to the foundation of a new offshoot religion, similarly to how Druzism and Nusayrism sprung forth from mainline Islam. If so, it will represent only yet another step, informed both by reason and romance, in the long spiritual progress of mankind.