‘That Hideous Strength’, the C.S.Lewis novel in which the author hoped to bridge the differences between Charles Williams’ matter of Britain and Tolkien’s magnificent mytho-history, has proven the most prophetic of Lewis’ work. The Italian materialist Professor Filostrato informs one of the married protagonists, Mark Studdock, that the highest purpose if the totalitarian social-scientific N.I.C.E. is the replacement of the messy and savage business of procreation altogether – and to replace natural life with technological creations altogether.
That was the passage that hit me squarely when I recently re-read THS. There is a true connection between Williams’ Romantic theology and Tolkien’s subcreation through the love ghat the Holy Trinity bears for Creation and specifically the ardor for His Church that fuels the passion of Jesus. In Tolkien, the Ents have lost the Entwives over a neglect of each others’ gifts – a frightening image of the increasing opposition of gender that the whole multiple gender delusion conceals. It us the most terrible thing, the sight of young men de-virilizing themselves and young women turning themselves into parody boys and men, as the wedding feast that is the summit of the union of God and Man is detested, derided, abandoned. Williams is tje greatest champion (in the truly mediaeval sense) of marriage in imaginative literature of the 20th century. Tolkien’s ideal is most embodied in the tale of Beren and Luthien – and it is quite fascinating that the union of Men and Elves in Middle-Earth is redemptive for both – especially because the PC critics of Tolkien try to make him an Edwardian-Georgian racist. The complementarity of the races is founded within that of sex- Peter Jackson lime all children of his time simply could not grasp. The nobility of marriage is linked to the inter-related spheres under dominion of the man and woman, husband and wife. It is Sauron who seeks a perversion of this and from whom Saruman learns of the forced manufacturing of twisted children.
Our age us that of Saruman, the honey-tongued liar who serves Sauron. These vile counsels wrapped in noble-sounding words conceal the degradation of motherhod and fatherhood into an unholy parody of the self-sacrifice of the wedded couple and their tasks. Lord of the Rings concludes with Sam returning to that which Frodo sacrificed himself to preserve, the fruitful love which, i.n nature, is the source of peace.
The result of the referendum in Ireland must be admitted to be Pope Francis’ responsibility. Though he called it a ‘maneuver of the devil’ when the Argentinian government sought the blasphemous alteration, he did not cut through the ambiguity caused entirely by his easily taken-out-of-context ‘Who am I to judge?’ soundbite, which doubtless worked in the same way as the relatio at the preparatory synod last autumn. Low -information voters vote on what is most often repeated in the corporate press, and for most of the past 2 years these are the statements they are accustomed to hearing. Worse, the pope told the bishops of Italy in the past week to ‘Stop telling people what to do and fight graft’ – how were Irish voters to interpret such a message, not directly intended for them, but as permission to ignore their bishops’ words on the referendum? The bishops’ own failure articulate unambiguously that a yes vote would be the sin of sacrilege, direct approval of the violation of God’s primordial ordination, that the ill-instructed and scarcely admonished were able to tweet how they voted yes as Catholics.
There must be some Italian nun, or some modest poverty-vowed religious, who can reach the Holy Father with St. Catherine’s audacity and insist he be less loose and ambiguous in his words. He is, I’m afraid, doing the reverse of St. Paul who strove to present his hearers to God “without wrinkle or blemish”- Francis appears, as of today, to ha e presented an entire nation injured and muddied because he left it out in the world unattended.
Paul VI has now been acknowledged as Blessed Paul VI. We became so accustomed to his successor’s way of reaching people in vast crowds, while providing inspiring images for media use, that the Pope he regarded as a ‘ true spiritual father’ was long eclipsed, frequently derided, or even used as a foil in the Pope vs. Pope polemics of demi – catholic pundits.
Mostly he had become affiliated solely with Humane Vitae, and praised as prophetic, but only in relation to matters of procreative ethics. But his quietly prophetic charism was manifest in other ways not so extensively documented.
The media world of spectacle in which we all live thrives on images of suffering. St. John Paul II was always transparent in his suffering as he was in his joy; but Paul VI was of a generation that was not yet friendly with cameras. There is wry bemusement on the pontiff ‘ s countenance in his official portrait. Whereas people felt embraced by John Paul ‘ s glance, there is a thoughtful perceptivity in his, a warmth in which strength is not immediately evident. There is a veil- as if he were already half on the other side but was detained by sharp duties and burdens to remain here in this world for a time.
I am more than delighted to have made his acquaintance a third of a century after his death; there is joy and freshness in touching the undisturbed gems of the treasurers left us by this suffering, sublimely hidden pontiff, whom we can now address as Blessed Paul VI. Before long may he be known as St. Paul VI
Blessed Paul VI, pray for us.