By Charlie Johnston
Modern society is characterized by malicious absurdity run by disreputable lowlifes with laughable pretensions. Thus far the Twitter Files have confirmed that the establishment media, Democratic Party, and the US Justice Dep’t. have, indeed, been collaborating to censor ordinary Americans on purely political grounds, lied repeatedly, and worked to destroy the lives and livelihoods of dissenters who would not buy into the lies. The FBI paid Twitter three and a half million dollars to act as its political censorship arm.
Prominent Democratic officials make wild accusations about what they think Republicans might be doing while ignoring hard evidence of Democrats committing the actual crimes they accuse Republicans of thinking of. Idiot Republican officials collaborate with Democrats on many of their vicious schemes, apparently as an act of good will. Welcome to the digital age of fascism.
Almost all of the schemes run out by officials are so ridiculous that serious people should not even entertain them, much less discuss them seriously. The leaders of our society argue that men can be women and vice versa, that mutilating children for gender “affirmation” is a positive good, that violent criminals should be quickly released (but that their victims should be disarmed), that shutting down our vast supplies of efficient, reliable energy to be replaced with inefficient, unreliable sources will save the planet rather than impoverish everyone, that opening up all national borders will strengthen the country, and that diversity of thought is to be forbidden. I have just barely scratched the surface of the absurd enthusiasms of our governing class.
America achieved greatness because it emphasized faith, family and freedom and worked hard to adopt good policy at every turn. Now a wastrel generation is determined to destroy all that. At least 80 percent of our governing class are lowlifes, people who in normal times would be tossed out of a dive bar, lest they taint its reputation. They should not be taken seriously, except for the fact they control most of the levers of power. Incapable of building anything, they occupy themselves destroying all that other, better people have created.
A couple hundred years ago, the brilliant economist, Adam Smith, observed that, “There is a lot of ruin in a nation.” His point was that a successful nation is built to absorb a lot of dysfunction before it collapses. Our modern leaders are not governing so much as they are testing the boundaries of exactly how much ruin the nation can endure before collapse. The problem is not just the abysmal quality of our leadership class, but that so many of us engage with them rather than forcefully driving them from the public square.
CORAC has been working to give people a way to work with other serious people to create a social fabric in the midst of the ruins. I don’t think the American Republic can be saved, only resurrected after the harpies running it have collapsed it. We will work together to provide the means and know-how for people to live together despite the depredations of a government that is devouring itself before our eyes.
More than a few solid law enforcement officials, including some retired FBI and CIA agents have encouraged me to dial it back on my contempt for the politicized Justice Dep’t. and the FBI. I am speaking here of good people, insisting to me that there are people internally trying to weather the current storm and reform the affected agencies. None of these good people have tried to defend the massive abuses.
I am encouraged that there are more whistleblowers coming forward now than I had expected. There are some real rumblings of internal discontent.
That being said, I have come to the conclusion that the FBI must be dismantled entirely. The culture is utterly corrupt. The good people working there will have to find work at a new agency or a state agency. This agency is beyond repair. The Twitter Files revelations prove just how utterly corrupt and politicized it has become. The only reason I won’t talk about it so much is because I expect that it will be washed away with the calamitous collapse I think is now inevitable – and so in that sense, the corruption of the federal justice departments are more a symptom of our national degradation than a cause.
I was stunned to see that some 16% of Protestant Churches across the nation will not hold any services on Christmas Day, for fear that it would inconvenience their congregations. Say what?! Honoring Christ with worship on the day celebrating his birth would be a distraction from the other social rituals associated with it?!
I’m not picking on Protestants here. I’m still processing my anger with the Catholic Bishops who curtailed Masses during the Covid overreaction, not to mention my absolute fury with those few who mandated that their Priests – and in a few cases, even parishioners – submit themselves to an untested experimental therapy in order to participate, a therapy that has now been proven to have horrific consequences for people’s health. Yes, the Bishops did not know that at the time (though a little serious research would have shown early on how toxic this was likely to be), but it has always been contrary to Catholic doctrine to force anyone to submit to even licit medical interventions against their will, much less untested, experimental ones. If they had ignorantly recommended the shots, without mandating it (maintaining a pretense to authority and to scientific knowledge they did not have) I would have just chided them for error rather than abuse. But abuse it was.
The larger problem here is the subordination of spiritual means to temporal ends. Some prelates believe that worship is important, so long as it does not interfere with leisure time. Others believe that spiritual health is important, so long as we do not risk getting a case of the sniffles from it. Thankfully, the prelates who believe this are a minority – just like a cancer is a small growth on otherwise healthy lungs. But both cancer and disbelief grow if not attended to. May all of us – and especially those prelates charged with leading us and implanting the spark of faith in us, learn to say, with the father in Mark 9:24, “I do believe. Help my unbelief.”
Several decades ago I encouraged a friend of mine who was a solid local conservative activist and leader to run for the State Central Committee – the governing board of the Illinois Republican Party. It was important to have a solidly conservative voice seated among those who decided the formal direction of the state party. But I also counseled my friend that, while he would have a largely free hand in primaries, once the voters had spoken, he was duty bound to support their nominees. Some of them would be squishes – but squishes chosen by the voters. If he ran he would be pledging himself to be an agent of the party, supporting its choices even when the voters’ judgment diverged from his own. I suggested to him that if he could not do that, as marvelous as he was, he should not run. It was a matter of both honor and integrity.
I thought of this when the controversy erupted over the Vatican removing Fr. Frank Pavone’s priestly faculties (the use of the term, “laicize” is both archaic and incorrect. A defrocked priest remains a priest all his life; he just may not exercise the faculties of his orders except in a bona fide emergency). I am in almost complete agreement with this marvelous piece on the matter written by Eric Sammons. This is a case in which I fault both Fr. Pavone and the Vatican: Fr. Pavone for his refusal to accept legitimate orders and the Vatican for eagerly disciplining orthodox priests while ignoring the depredations of heterodox prelates.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, all three of my director priests asked if I might consider the priesthood, myself. I told them absolutely not. A priest has a very fundamental duty of obedience to his superior that goes far beyond matters of faith and morals. I told them in times ahead there were things coming that would require faithful laymen to do things that priests, by the very nature of their vocation, could not and should not. A Catholic layman is duty-bound to obey his Bishop in matters of faith and morals so long as it does not contradict the clear teaching of Scripture or the Magisterium. Otherwise, he is free to speak his mind, including on Catholic matters (so long as he is obedient to spiritual decrees). He is also free to live his conscience without interference of the Bishop on all matters that do not contradict faith and morals. A Priest, however, takes a much greater vow of obedience to his superiors, accepting the assignments given him by them and obeying even temporal decrees so long as they are not contrary to authentic Catholic doctrine.
My Priests are all of Opus Dei, a prelature which takes pride in its fidelity to the Magisterium and its loyalty to the Holy Father. I went further than just telling my Priests that I would never participate in the formal authority of the Church. I told them that St. John Paul, the then-sitting Pope, was easy to be loyal to, but they must prepare themselves for a time when it would be much harder to balance their legitimate duty of fidelity to the Magisterium with their legitimate duty of obedience to their superiors. I was NOT telling them they would have to choose one over the other, but that they must live both well in a time where it would be very hard to do so.
My sense with the Fr. Pavone situation is that he has been an effective advocate of the cause for life with great fortitude and resolve. But he has been deficient as a Priest, unwilling to submit to lawful authority that he pledged to do with his original vows. This is a touchy area with me. My duty of obedience to my Bishop is not as great as that of a Priest or Deacon, but because of my situation and a voluntary vow, freely given, is greater than that of the usual layman. I give thanks for it. It helps me navigate the treacherous course I walk with greater confidence.
A few years back, my Bishop privately rebuked me for restlessly and subtly trying to justify my errors and gave me direction. There was much in his directive that was kind and, even, affectionate. But he was clear. It stung. As I contemplated what he had written, I came to hear the voice of God speaking to me through the Bishop. When I made my errors it stung. I did, indeed, take opportunities to highlight how things were playing out as I had said, even if different in detail than what I had imagined. But contemplating the Bishop’s directive, it hit me that God always justifies who He sends. If I was restlessly trying to justify myself, it revealed both a lack of faith and of docility in me. God would justify me or He would not. That is the lot of all who do what I do. Mine was just to wait upon the Lord. The Lord weeded out some of the vanity in me with my Bishop’s help. But it would have been to no avail had I ignored or defied him.
Anyone the Lord sends, as Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Religious, or even purported mystic, must live the decrees of the Lord in their entirety as best he can discern. For anyone the Lord sends is a sort of witness. If you give witness by openly defying rules the Lord, Himself, has decreed, what sort of witness is that? As the Lord, Himself, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
At the same time it is perfectly obvious that the Vatican is very selectively enforcing the rules – only against orthodox Priests. When it can glibly appoint pro-abortion advocates to the Pontifical Academy for Life, when it can celebrate Fr. James Martin’s open defiance of Catholic doctrine on human sexuality and family life, when it can openly betray faithful Catholics in China and, for that matter, the rest of the world, it should not be surprised that rousing itself to action only against orthodox believers is greeted with contempt by the faithful. It is a contempt that is well deserved.
I hope that Fr. Pavone will continue his pro-life work. He has been good at it. But if he was going to demand that he be his own boss while doing it, he should have, like me, stayed a layman in the first place. I am glad he is fully orthodox. He lives one side of the conundrum I presented my Priests several decades ago quite well. He does not even bother to try to live the other element of the conundrum. His witness would be best if he lived all the vows he took before God. God has a plan – and it is neither my plan nor Fr. Pavone’s plan. We work best when we live within the framework God has designed and that we have freely chosen. How many people speak with admiration of St. Padre Pio’s obedience when he was suppressed for a time? Was not the glory of God revealed both in his obedience and in his work? Did God not justify him?
There is no doubt that our Bishops and Priests are being sifted in Christ’s winnowing fan right. But so are we. If we choose one or the other in the modern battle between orthodoxy and authority we will be counted among the chaff. We must endeavor to live both. Though it is certain we will make mistakes, the genuine effort, itself, leads to our sanctification through Christ. Though His yoke is easy, He is, nonetheless, a demanding Master.
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Twitter at @Charlie62394802
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252