Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reformation and Deformation - Our Descent into Hell

[This is the first half of my latest article for the St. Austin Review.  To read the whole thing, subscribe to the magazine!]

Faustus is a divine; Mephistopheles is a devil.  They are talking in Faustus’ study.
FAUSTUS. First I will question with thee about hell.
     Tell me, where is the place that men call hell?
     MEPHISTOPHELES. Under the heavens.
     FAUSTUS. Ay, so are all things else; but whereabouts?
     MEPHIST. Within the bowels of these elements,
     Where we are tortur'd and remain for ever:
     Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib'd
     In one self-place; but where we are is hell,
     And where hell is, there must we ever be:
     And, to be short, when all the world dissolves,
     And every creature shall be purified,
     All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
     FAUSTUS. I think hell's a fable.
     MEPHIST. Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind.
     FAUSTUS. Why, dost thou think that Faustus shall be damn'd?
     MEPHIST. Ay, of necessity, for here's the scroll
     In which thou hast given thy soul to Lucifer.
     FAUSTUS. Ay, and body too; and what of that?
     Think'st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine
     That, after this life, there is any pain?
     No, these are trifles and mere old wives' tales.
     MEPHIST. But I am an instance to prove the contrary,
     For I tell thee I am damn'd and now in hell.
     FAUSTUS. Nay, and this be hell, I'll willingly be damn'd:
     What! sleeping, eating, walking, and disputing!
-         Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus


‘And that is why...the Blessed will say, "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven”, and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly. … There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.’
-         C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

“You think you can talk to dead people?  You think you can talk to Mom, or she can talk to you?  She’s dead.  You know what happens when you’re dead?  You’re dead.  That’s what happens.  You’re gone.  If you don’t believe me, watch the Discovery Channel.  They prove this stuff.  I’m not an atheist, and I’m not an agnostic either, but I know that this life is all there is and when you’re dead, you’re dead.”
-         Uncle David, the O’Brien Family Christmas Eve Dinner, 2012.



"Oh," said Syme with a beaming smile, "we are all Catholics now."

-          G. K. Chesterton, The Man who was Thursday


Actually, we’re all Protestants now.

For the Reformation, which began as a sincere effort to correct abuses within the Church, ended up falling into the pattern described above by Marlowe and Lewis – the lasting effects of which are shown by Uncle David.  For everything that we do is either a movement toward God or away from Him, toward Reality or toward Unreality (hell).

And now we breathe the Protestant spirit in and out, especially here in the United States, where Individualism and Rebellion are prized character traits.   And we find ourselves, to our surprise, largely in hell.

Our Catholic churches are Protestant-looking; and even our Devout Catholics are Protestant-acting.  I can’t tell you the number of tussles I’ve had with “Devout Catholics” who may be pro-life and Rosary-loving, but who are very proud of their disagreement with the Church on issues that they’ve figured out better than Rome – say, the benefits of torture or lying or the pressing obligation to ignore the poor.  And of course the not-so-devout Catholics, the liberals, are openly in Protest and proud of it, whether on contraception, abortion, women’s ordination, or what have you.

For the Protestant Revolt unleashed a spirit of the age, a 500-year-old spirit of the age, that at its core is a turning away from God and His heaven and an enthusiastic celebration of Man and his hell.  It did not begin with that impulse, but it picked up that impulse quite quickly – with the raping of the monasteries, the suppression of the Faith, and the murder of loyal priests as the first fruits.

And bad as those first fruits were, the last ones are worse.

[... TO BE CONTINUED in the next issue of the StAR.]

1 comment:

Scott W. said...

Even non-Leftist atheists have recognized a kind of International Protestant Conspiracy. When you read "American Malvern", it sounds like boiler-plate contemporary progressivism, until you realize who wrote it and when.