A timely reminder from AS Haley


As explained in several earlier posts, this blog has purposefully remained silent during the civil (and religious) strife that has dominated discourse prior to Election Day next Tuesday.  Your Curmudgeon has been as dismayed as any of you who grace this blog with your attention and comments about the escalating sense of disconnect between reality and rhetoric.

A few factors remain constant. The Episcopal Church (USA) continues its downward spiral into irrelevancy, by adhering strictly to Neuhaus’ Law in steadily driving out all those brought up in its orthodox traditions (including your Curmudgeon), which traditions it has now proscribed. Other denominations that have abandoned orthodoxy are experiencing similar declines.

The result of the elections in four days will, I submit, demonstrate whether there is a similar phenomenon at work among the body politic.  The contest is not between two political parties, but between those who insist on the nation’s adherence to its foundational principles and those who (for whatever motivation) insist that those principles be jettisoned — and replaced by, well, you pays your money and you takes your choice: or in other words, whatever notions can command an ephemeral allegiance among those who are dominant for the moment.

That choice is no choice at all. The alternative to adhering to the principles that have made this nation great is actually a multiverse of discordant discontent, fueled by whatever (one believes) has sunk one’s boat, or has prevented one from reaching ascendancy. There is simply no way to unite that multiverse around a common ground, because each is convinced he or she has been gored by a different ox, and so requires different “justice” in recompense.

As we approach this election, therefore, I would like to call to the attention of this blog’s faithful followers a timeless parable from the pen of the incomparable G. K. Chesterton, expressed at virtually the outset (1905) of his literary career. Notice especially its relevance to those “peaceful protesters” who have decided to rid us of commemorative statues of our forbears:

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

 – G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905