O Holy Father, who hast made me a pilgrim,
What pilgrimage is this that thou hast given me?
Would that there were a volume inscribed,
Refutatio omnium hæresium,
Which is, being interpreted,
The Refutation of All Heresies
Whose pages were but inscribed,
With but a single word:
The war in Heaven is short,
When the Dragon swept a third of the starry host,
Thine own champion,
But spoke his name,
Which is, being interpreted,
“Who is like God?”
The damned doomed Dragon like lightning fell,
From Heaven expelled,
With all the rebellious host:
Sore losers one and all,
To use the common term,
Confounded by a single word:
But such a Refutatio omnium hæresium
Lieth not open to my pen:
A lesser work by far,
Hast thou given me to write.
To refute all heresies,
I would start on a point obscure,
And say that science and technology,
Have an occult resonance deep and loud,
For not with occult sin is one enchained,
A text to send,
But yet they beseem,
Of a single cloth to be cut,
And herein is a problem:
For of matters occult to treat,
The temptation is to believe,
“If only we are dainty enough,
We can pick up a turd by the clean end,
And avoid getting our hands dirty.”
The point is sincere.
And yet we bear wounds,
Of the Damned Backswing,
And if all else were ignored,
I would speak carefully of the recurrent Damned Backswing.
The Sorceror’s Bargain is one head of this Hydra:
The enchanter is told,
“Give me thy soul and I will give thee power,”
But if thou hast given thy soul,
Who hath the power?
This is one surfacing of the Damned Backswing,
A Damned Backswing shared by street narcotic:
At first, a doorway to deepest joy,
Or so it first appears,
Until the first appearance disappears,
And the addictus,
The one consigned,
Has escalating doses whose heights are lower,
Than the lows before taking a street drug.
Thus cutteth the Damned Backswing.
In ages past, Reason was enthroned,
Or such spake the spirit of the age,
Descartes and rationalism now made pariah,
In the postmodern flight from Reason,
But the Damned Backswing did not start,
When Descartes became vilified without question:
“Reason” enthroned was “Reason” pared down,
Like a toolchest replete with hammer, axe, awl, & c.
Pared down to a hammer alone,
And that hammer enthroned:
The damned backswing thus stole reason,
Not from when continental philosophers ridiculed Descartes,
But in Descartes and the Enlightenment itself,
The damned backswing eviscerated Reason already.
In the ’50s, in the ’80s,
The economy was booming in many places,
Middle class citizens enjoyed creature comforts,
Beyond imagining to medieval King and Queen.
But something queer has happened:
The damned backswing cuts,
And we are not ever changing from prosperity to prosperity;
The damned backswing hews away at wealth.
To the United States of America,
The erstwhile champion of rights,
The Bill of Rights is called,
“Void where prohibited by law,”
And surveillance grows and grows,
Thus unfurls one cut of the Damned Backswing.
What shall I say of porneia,
Which is beyond a squid:
Thrown out the front door,
Its tentacles remain in your cabinets,
And if you clean these out,
They reach out from under your bed at night.
Literally spoken, porneia is sexual vice,
Yet its entwined, unbanishable tentacles,
Are the condition of much more than lust; An open-ended thing is porneia.
In this porneia we have intertwined,
Plastic foods and plastic culture,
Contraception and Splenda,
Pleasure to grasp and fruitfulness to escape,
Feminism renamed gender studies, queer concerns,
Sexual freedom and a pornified world,
Pride, narcissism, subjectivism, and the occult,
Things that are not separate, but bleed one into the other,
Our ersatz answer to the question,
“What is the chief end of mankind?”
For to glorify God and enjoy him forever,
Is no longer apparent.
The Christian way seems dull and discredited,
Or at any rate dull,
So people turn to “alternative spirituality,”
Or the iron yoke of Islamic surrender,
When they recognize religious impulse as such.
And just as people reaching for spirituality,
Find “alternative spirituality” what comes to hand,
People seeking the good of women,
Find feminism of some stripe to come to hand,
Not, perhaps, its extreme radical form,
But something modest,
Some via media to pick it up,
By the clean end.
What is not realized is that feminism is anti-woman.
In rhetoric and presentation,
It seems the promotion of women,
Yet the enemy, the enemy true,
Is not traditional men:
They are only a decoy.
The Enemy, capital “T”, capital “E”,
Are nonfeminist women,
Who enjoy happiness on a course—
Not engineered by feminism,
Who retain an organic spiritual diet,
And not the plastic social engineering,
Of feminists sitting down and designing,
Their creation to make women happy—
As they despise conditions that have made women happy.
We are urged to listen to women’s voices,
In practice only the suitably, conveniently liberal,
Seem to qualify as having women’s voices.
And to examine another tendril,
Like in spirit and like in heart,
Fantasy is no longer a bookstore’s fringe,
Christians read it,
Laced with escape,
From the terms of the here and now,
Which God has given us.
It springs from the same root,
As those for whom magic is not enjoyed,
By a reader’s willing suspension of disbelief,
But literal and actually trying to make real.
There is a difference,
A difference profound,
But both are fruit of the same tree,
And both instill the same passion,
A spiritual condition that is wounded,
In its ability to enjoy where God has placed us.
These two are connected:
The clean end of moderate feminism,
And the clean end of fantasy that is just a book,
It seems we can pick it up without getting our hands dirty,
But there isn’t a clean end,
I see two responses,
One false, and one true:
The true response is to cite,
“The righteous shall live by his faith,”
And the false is to tell how much,
In Wittgenstein-style “forms of life,”
We have lost:
For the 1950’s were far from traditional;
For in traditional societies,
Men and women alike worked in adult company,
Not the 1950’s housewife confined alone,
But this answer is a decoy.
C.S. Lewis was right:
“Life has never been normal.”
And the righteous will live by faith:
Each day has enough trouble of its own,
And the path of life is to live,
Working on the day’s work and food,
Given to us this day by God.
For the refutation of all heresies is:
Michael – Who is like God?