Archive for July, 2006

A few weeks ago I received an email from Phillipe Maxence, editor of a French Catholic magazine L’Homme Nouveau. We’ve had some interesting correspondence, and with his permission I am posting the following compendium of excerpts from his messages (edited for English clarity).

A Frenchman, I discovered Caelum and Terra
several weeks ago. I am completely sympathetic with its way of seeing things. I
am a Catholic journalist, chief editor of a Catholic newspaper, L’Homme
. I am also the author of several books including a work on
Chesterton, a book on The Chronicles of Narnia, and a book on schools
which are completely free of the State. I am also the father of 7 children and
a Benedictine oblate at the abbey of Fontgombault. My personal ideas are
greatly inspired by John Senior whom I read and with whom I corresponded until
his death.

Caelum and Terra, which had been unknown to me,
managed to express clearly how Catholics should confront the modern world. It
synthesized principles, looked for the means to apply them, and analyzed the
big questions which are presented to us by modern technology.

I would like to contact the founders and the editors of this review… I would
also like to make known this spirit to French Catholics who need it and to do
interviews by email and to publish certain articles in France. Finally, I look
for concrete examples of Catholic communities, Catholic families which are
formed by the ideas in Caelum and Terra and the books which evoke these

It is possible to realize something between our two continents because if our
religion roots us on earth, it opens us also to the universality of the Credo
which we share….

French Catholics—children of Descartes—did not well
understand the dangers of the modern technological world for the faith. The
French separate constantly ideas and real life. That is why C&T seem to me
so interesting and so just. …

Europe is in a state of apostasy. But we have a chance in France to have the
fighter’s temperament. There are still small pockets of resistance. We have to take care only that charity not be lost in the fight. We have also to learn to connect our ideas and our way of life. We are very late in comparison to the Americans of C&T on this point.

There is a true Moslem danger in France. But the main danger
it is that we do not dare to assert our faith in front of them. The best answer to the Moslem world is not the modern world, it is Catholic faith. Catholic faith is also the best answer to the modern world….

Modern world prevents us from living at the rate of our own
human nature. It is a madness and France follows the road of the United States on this point.

As accustomed as we in the US are to hearing of how bad things are for the Church in Europe, this is extremely heartening. M. Maxence is very eager to have back issues of CetT and I plan to send him some of my extras this week. There are a number of issues of which I only have one copy, though, so I may be putting out a call for the missing ones later this week.

This weekend has been unexpectedly busy for me so I’ll save any further remarks on my part for later. One more thing: M. Maxence has read and favorably reviewed Crunchy Cons–see some discussion here–and is currently reading Look Homeward America (which is more than I can say for myself, although I really do intend to read it).

Maclin Horton

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Kick Me

Binx Bolling, the alienated and ironic hero of Walker Percy’s fine 1961
novel The Moviegoer, listened every night to the radio show This I
Believe. This I Believe
isn’t just a literary device; it was a real
program, where listeners shared their personal credos, always ending with the
words "This- I believe". You may be sure that these ranged from the conventional
to the acceptably controversial. As in the social conversation of our own day,
the limits are set by the ruling paradigm.

Binx was baptized as a baby and says "this accounts for the fact that I am,
nominally at least…a Catholic". He is, however, an unbeliever. "Other people,
so I have read, are pious as children and later become skeptical (or as they say
on This I Believe: ‘in time I outgrew the creeds and dogmas of organized
religion’). Not I. My unbelief was invincible from the beginning".

National Public Radio – to my utter amazement- has recently resurrected
This I Believe. I have only tried to listen to it once or twice, but
find I am so embarrassed for the self-important proclaimers of My Own Personal
Values, the dogmas of the new orthodoxies, the creeds of the Church of Me,  that
I cannot finish the program.

NPR has the reputation for being serious radio, a reputation it sometimes
still deserves. But it also at times carries a pretty strong thread of the
ridiculous, not to mention the pretentious. Our local outpost’s Station
Identification quip is "This is WKSU: NPR. Classical. Other smart stuff". I know
this is supposed to be wry and ironic, but I still wince.

And so This I Believe, where You the Listener are invited to share
your guiding principles. Within limits, that is. You can be sure that a
submission that begins "I believe in God, the Father Almighty" would no more be
aired than the entry that the fictional Binx Bolling sent in:"I believe in a
good kick in the ass. This- I believe".

I was one of those who was pious as a child, and even in my brief season of
unbelief I bore a strongly religious temperament. I believe in God, the Father
Almighty and the rest of the ancient Christian Creed. But if given the choice
between the puffed-up relativist orthodoxies spouted by the pontificators of
Serious Radio and Binx’s kick in the ass, give me the kick in the ass, which at
least gets the message across to the kickee that there is an objective world out
there, that reality is more than a subjective personal construct.

Daniel Nichols

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Caleb Stegall, of The New Pantagruel & Reactionary Radicals, gets a shot at presenting the case for a new populism in the Dallas Morning News (link via Crunchy Con blog, and no doubt the presence of this piece in the DMN is also due to the fact that Rod Dreher works there). Sample quote:

There are signs. Peggy Noonan recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal that
due to popular discontent with the widening gulf "between those in
power and those who put them there," the time is here for a successful
third-party run in American politics.

I read the Noonan article when it came out a few weeks ago, and thought it seemed significant that she’s even talking this way. I think it’s certainly true that large numbers of people believe (rightly, for the most part) that the elites of both parties are at best out of touch with them, and at worst contemptuous of them. Whether this represents a real opening for an alternative I don’t know, although history makes me doubtful.

I’m never entirely sure what people mean by "populism." Sometimes they seem to mean merely "what the people want," sometimes "what’s really best for the people at large." I suppose I’m also just a tad suspicious of it, since I grew up in the time and place of George Wallace, third-party populist extraordinaire (in the first sense, but very much able to appeal to the second sense).

Maclin Horton

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If I Could Just Touch the Hem of His Garment

Another note on Sunday’s Gospel. Am I trying to be, like, some kind of homilist or something?

Maclin Horton

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Robert Gotcher sends a link to a debate about Wal-Mart on the Heart, Mind, and Strength blog in which he argues against and various other people take either for or mixed positions. Actually there are several posts, so after the one linked to above, you might want to go to the main page, scroll down to the bottom, and then scan up for related posts. Also there seems to be some discussion on the Crunchy Cons book, which I haven’t read yet (the discussion, not the book).

Maclin Horton

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