The Serpent

A quote from Christ the Tiger, by Thomas Howard:


Our situation is directly analogous to that of men in Death Row. We fill in the time somehow, but we shall not get out. The inevitable event makes the intervening activities look absurd.

* * *

We are all sitting in Death Row. One fine day the man comes, and we excuse ourselves awkwardly and disappear. How is it that our friends can go on with their checker games when they know that they are next? They are acting as though what is going to occur momentarily is entirely insignificant, yet when the man comes and calls for them, they invariably mumble, and shake, and plead. What is this? Is the summons significant, or is it not? If it is not, then why the quaking when it comes? And if it is, then whence the equanimity beforehand?


It’s this kind of awareness of one’s own mortality, and hence of one’s eternal significance, that drives my writing, whether it’s apparent or not.  Speaking of my writing, I won a literary prize for my story “Stink.” I take extra credit for winning with a title like that. I should have titled it “Spring Bluebonnets,” but I didn’t. The prize is the Terry Kay fiction prize sponsored by the Atlanta Writing Club. I’m told the story will be published at some point in The New Southern Fugitives e-zine.


In other news which I insist is completely unrelated, hell has frozen over. I subscribe to daily emails from the New York Post and lately have taken to looking at the cover because they’re often pretty clever. I didn’t read this whole story, but apparently the Hell’s Angels had an outpost in the Village and became disgusted with yuppie bourgeois culture overwhelming the bohemian vibe, so they moved out.



All right, one more little quote from Christ the Tiger, I can’t resist:


Just at the moment when we thought we had guaranteed our own standing in [Christ’s] good favor by organizing an airtight doctrine or a flawless liturgy or an unassailable morality, he escaped us, and returned with his hammer to demolish things. Try as we might, we could not own him. . . . For he always emerged as our judge, exposing our cynicism and fright by the candor and boldness of his love. He tore our secularist schemes to ribbons by announcing doom and our religious schemes to tatters by announcing love.


I’m ever considering political, cultural, and religious beliefs so as to try to unwind them to first principles. I think people often don’t do that about their own beliefs. In this blog excerpt by Anthony Esolen, he gets at the heart of the disconnect about not only abortion, but attitudes about sex in general. That his conclusion sounds so radical (to many ears nowadays) is an indicator that he’s largely succeeded at arriving at the underlying principles. He first correctly charges people with a love of something other than God; namely, avarice, and not just love of money, but “avarice in education, avarice in careerism, avarice in celebrity, and avarice in political influence or power.” Then he speaks to the impact of our desire for absolute autonomy, in service to that avarice, and how it affects our attitudes about abortion:


Every time a man and woman go to bed together to do the child-making thing, the question is present, because they may make a child. To say, “You may not kill the child you make,” is to imply, “You have no business doing this thing in bed, if you are in no position to care for a child.” To imply that is to imply that we are not the lords of our bodies. The earth heaves from beneath us.


For then the entire “culture” of sexual autonomy is to be rejected. Feminism, which is based on a separation of woman’s interest from man’s interest, and of either interest from that of the child, is to be rejected. Man’s use of woman for sexual release, without reference to the family, is to be rejected. The nightmare world of pharmaceutical and surgical mutilation, to try to squeeze the body into the phantasmagorical molds of the imagination, is to be rejected. Sodom and Gomorrah are to be rejected, Seattle and Portland, Hollywood and Wall Street, Yale and Princeton, insofar as they build upon sexual autonomy as allowing for, and lubricating the quest for, avarice in all its forms, are to be rejected. Man is for woman, and woman for man, and both together for the child.


Then let the pro-life movement be advised. We are really asking for a moral revolution. If the child lives, the mother’s life will not be the same, because if we accept the principles that allow the child to live, none of our lives can be the same. There is no way to guarantee, as some pro-life people seem to want us to do, a world safe for the unborn child that is also a world of total sexual and economic autonomy. In any world in which autonomy is the highest ideal, the child—that incarnate sign of our dependence and existential poverty—must go.


The serpent says we shall be as gods. That is the argument we must defeat.


Excerpt from When Reason Does Not Suffice: Why Our Culture Still Accepts Abortion, by Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse April 3, 2019.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.