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Lectionary, Quotage

Priggishness or Salvation.

What does it mean to walk in the flesh? It is not to stumble out of the bar at 5 am, strung out on various substances and nursing a hangover and self hatred{1]: it is the careful credentialism and collection of virtue points. The world has given up on God, and their public religion is the religion of the flesh, though the people who do it account themselves as more than carefully moral but progressive.

College today functions as middle-class finishing school, the gate and key to the world outside the service industry. But the critical point that the Jacobin piece misses is that academia is the font of moral instruction in American society, a decade or so upstream from the mass media. We learn at college that “people of color” is the proper designation for non-whites and that “LGBTQA+” is the proper acronym for the broader gay community. This is the twenty-first-century version of knowing which fork to use when navigating a multi-course meal. Where dining etiquette expresses refinement and discipline, politically correct behavior demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

But something common is signaled by both protocols: the education and personal virtue that legitimize social elites. The differences between the protocols are functions of a changing moral context. God no longer has the role of moral lawgiver—democracy has crowded him out. Pride Month, which comes every June, is a new sort of Eastertide, complete with passion-plays about LGBT history. Trillion-dollar corporations trip over each other to signal adherence to the queer, borderless creed. Their otherwise shameful power is sanitized with signals that their position is justified by some other moral authority. Just as attacks on the the king were once reframed as rebellions against God, attacks on corporations and governments today can be neutralized as bigotry. Whether this is justified — or if it even works — isn’t relevant. What matters is that diversity is the moral order that power instinctively tries to map itself onto.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that every dominant cultural institution has aligned against Donald Trump. Populism, in contrast to democracy, is deeply worrisome to the powerful. It appeals to the morally defective, who use the wrong fork and the wrong pronouns. Its problematic language is inevitably the language of the townie and the boozer, direct and demotic, vulgar and in need of decontamination through linguistic missionary work. And, most importantly, its particularism cuts vertical lines through the wide, horizontal world of the elite.

Robert Mariani, Jacobite

But we are not to live that way. The corporate rituals are those of snobs and prigs. People who would never drink instant coffee or beer. Who are repelled by the nature of most men. Who have forgotten their Descartes[2], and consider, like a Brahmin, that there are castes of men that to them are alien.

But to walk by the flesh is to damn yourself.

Romans 8:12-17

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

This priggishness and snobbishness, must, however, either serve an ideology or ensure that you are part of an approved culture. It must never serve Christ.

And as such, it is self-defeating. It is not enough to make oneself ugly. One must now be deformed. The flesh must be scorned, as if our society, which has abandoned God, is not corrupt to the core.

My grocery shopping was, for instance, this morning enriched by the spectacle of two tattooed ladies, one stocking the shelves and the other in command of the cash register. In neither case was the ensemble completed by the suggestion of a beard, but I’m the last one to look a gift horse in the mouth. And neither lady was, I hasten to add, a mere lady with a tattoo, such being nowadays more common than a lady with a purse. They were both tattooed ladies of the sort that once caused P. T. Barnum to rub his hands and pull out a contract and a pen.

I have yet to read a satisfying explanation of the tattoo mania, but personally suspect that it may be a case of Freak Creep. This is the process whereby freaks are pressed into ever-greater freakiness by slumming normies. That this might be the case struck me forcibly in the parking lot of that same supermarket, when, only moments after parting from the tattooed lady at the cash register, I saw a young mother unloading her infant from a minivan and wearing a tee shirt that said Counterculture.

There, I thought, is the bugbear of every freak. There is the engine that drives Freak Creep.

J.M. Smith, Orthosphere

We are not to be such. The signals of the corporation are driven by profit. If they destroy the family, and have us, in late middle age or even our older years, not interconnected by family, church and neighbourhood but isolated, atomized, and vulnerable to predation from the new immigrants to the advertising agencies that will give us makeovers so we can still be deemed attractive and acceptable — they can sell things to us: clothes, domestic help, protection services. And mass market food labeled artisanal.

It is far better to not be a freak. To not be special. To accept one is created human, and for this time.

When to walk in the Spirit is the act not of the prig, but the revolutionary for the Kingdom of God.

1. I am paraphrasing Milo Yiannapolous, who probably acquired the line from Taki.
2. Humanus sum. Nihil humanus a me alienum puto — I am human, I think that nothing human is alien to me.

One Comment

  1. Hearthrose

    Freak Creep. Excellent. I needed this term when I realized that I was the only mommy at the preschool who didn’t have either a tattoo or “alternative” piercing, including the Nice Mormon Lady. That was 13 years ago.

    Tattoos on women are like taking a sharpie to a masterpiece. It’s very rarely an improvement. Someone help me decide, which of these tattoos is worse: the guy I see occasionally who has his entire face tattooed blue or the lady with the ouija board tattooed on her upper back? One has the creep factor, the other has the face factor. (I won’t include tattoos done by pimps, which I’ve also seen, because those weren’t optional – although “pay up” is such a lovely sentiment to have permanently inked onto your skin).

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