Monday morning UPDATE — More email responses — and this article from Israel National News:
Nihilism thrives in Europe, which has made a covenant with death. London’s beheading is a declaration of war against modernity, secularism, rationality, democracy, individualism, universal human rights, promiscuity, materialism and Zionism.
The red book of these converts to Islam is titled “Edarat al-Wahsh”, which means “governing in a wild world”. It advocates the creation in Europe of “parallel societies” next to the existing ones.
The goal is to ensure that the “infidels” will leave the house every morning with the fear of not entering it again. Non-Muslims will submit at the end: “The West has no stomach for a long fight”.
These two “dark” men, humorless, intense and rigid, Venner and the Nigerian Islamist, wrote the screenplay of Europe’s existential condition.
We are living through the self-extinction of the civilization that shaped the age we live in.
But there is a third pièce of Europe’s puzzle. The day after Venner shot himself dead inside the iconic Paris church building, a topless feminist activist held a fake gun in her mouth on the altar of Notre Dame cathedral, with the slogan “may fascism rest in hell” emblazoned across her bare chest.
To paraphrase T.S. Eliot: This is the way Europe ends – “not with a bang but a whimper”.
And more emails:
The Vatican should hire you as its spokeswoman or something. Your reflections on suicide, God, and the performance in Notre Dame were absolutely bang on. I mean, I have a doctorate from a pontifical university in theology and would be hard-pressed to put it as cogently as you did! VERY impressive.
Your blog, by the way, is itself one of the things keeping me from despair at the world today. I figure if there are even one or two people like you keeping up the fight, and taking no prisoners, one cannot yet throw in the towel.
Read your piece, and the one over at Gallia Watch.
You are correct, Venner and his actions are not even faintly Christian, much less Catholic. Unlike Woolwich, which was 100% Muslim. This being the defining difference between Christianity and Islam.
My conclusion upon reading Venner’s suicide note, this was an act of spiritual war against the Catholic Church. Spiritual war, not physical war. He was attacking the moral state that allows the Catholic church to remain flaccid while all around it France crumbles.
Its the same type of moral attack that has Buddhist priests set themselves on fire in Tibet. Its a suicide bombing where the explosion hurts the leaders of the church and gets them right in their moral authority, instead of just blowing up bystanders.
A faint hope on his part, you ask me. The only thing that gets the French outraged these days is the threat of a pension cut. That right there is the true failure of the Church in Europe, not gay marriage or Muslim immigration.
There’s no need to prove that Venner wasn’t a real Catholic, because, in fact, he wasn’t a Catholic at all. Well, perhaps by infant baptism, but certainly not by conviction.
I was getting confused about the variations in this story, so I went and checked on Le Figaro, and here’s what I found:
1) Mgr Jacquin, the rector of Notre Dame, said “We did not know him, he was not a regular at the cathedral.”
2) The letter Venner left in the Cathedral, to be read after his death, said, among other things, “It is in deciding for oneself, in willing one’s own destiny, that we conquer nothingness. And there is no escape from this demand because we have only this life in which it is our duty to be entirely ourselves or to be nothing.” [my emphasis]
3) His editor (Venner was a well-known historian “of the extreme right”) said that his suicide tapped into “a very strong symbolic power resembling Mishima’s,” i.e. the Japanese writer who was anything but a Christian.
Some of the commentators at Takimag refer to the man as a Nietszchean pagan, which is probably close to the truth, although his talk of Taking Action and Deciding One’s Own Life shows an element of existentialism too.
I suspect that some North American yoyos heard the news, and catching that the man was French and a “right-winger,” jumped to the conclusion that he must be a Christian/Catholic/Nasty Person, and reported it that way before anyone else had time to get the story straight.
Hope it works; I had to type that by hand. You may not read French, but if you know anyone who can, I think you’ll find that my translation, though inelegant, is fairly accurate.
Sunday morning UPDATE – I received a number of thoughtful emails about this post, and will publish more as permissions come in:
I thought your analysis of the Venner suicide, from a Catholic doctrinal perspective, was insightful and–as always–well written. (And, yes, I am a believing, practicing Catholic.)
Like you, when I first read of his suicide in the English-language press, I thought M. Venner must be a Catholic. However, that was not the case, despite his choice of Notre-Dame to depart from this “vale of tears”: the French Catholic press quickly corrected that impression for the home crowd. M. Venner was very much a conservative (not to say reactionary) intellectual, but his religious beliefs, if they can be termed that, appear to have been pagan. Not just Catholics are gravely disturbed by the slide of France into nihilism.
I thought you might be interested in this aspect of the story, so I have taken the liberty of linking to two articles on the subject: one, in French (which I think you read?), from the very reputable France-Catholique, the other from the usually well-informed English-language blog, Gallia Watch.
The other day a friend emailed me a thing about the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, adding something like, “Hmmm, rings a bell.”
Cuz this week we’ve heard all about how those two pigs in Woolwich weren’t “real Muslms” because complete lies and bullshit etc.
I feel confident placing scare quotes around the “Catholic” part and no, I’m not committing the “No True Muslim” fallacy, either.
Whereas those two Muslim scum were acting out the Koran chapter and verse, the “Catholic” guy did what may be one of the least “Catholic” things I can imagine, next to abortion.
I haven’t finished my first coffee yet, so this may or may not make sense.
If it is doctrinally inaccurate, email me.
As I said in the Street Carnage comments:
Venner was likely worked up because “sodomy” is one of the “sins crying out to heaven for vengeance.”
However, suicide is equated with despair, which is considered a “sin against the Holy Spirit,” and therefore a Really Big Deal too.
Despair means that you can’t believe God will ultimately triumph — that in fact, he already has.
The Catholic notion is that God has won, the game is almost over, and our job is to run out the clock without earning any stupid penalties.
I think I understand how he felt.
I look around and figure the West is over. I resent being born at this time, get tired of doing my little part every damn day, etc.
But suicide is playing God. The Catholic thing to do is to endure the pain until the end, not try to cut it short.
Of course, we can never know God’s mind and his mercy.
If you’re in a concentration camp or not in your right mind and kill yourself, every non-fanatic Catholic figures that God understands, that Mary will intercede on the soul’s behalf etc.
The latter circumstance is particularly forgivable. I’ve heard the urge to commit suicide as just that: a sudden compulsion where you fall in to a sort of trance. If you can’t form the intent to sin then you can’t and haven’t sinned.
Then Venner did this in the Cathedral which is just 10 types of sinful.
Not “oh, he messed up holy ground” so much as it speaks to his ego being huge and in charge and wanting publicity. No humility.
I can’t think of a saint in history who did anything even close to what this guy did. Not just the suicide but the spectacle.
For a man who railed against secularism and, I assume — I never heard of him before this week — the horrors of degraded “pop culture” (his type always do), he certainly went out with a Tarantino type flourish.
It betrays what was in his heart all along: selfishness, willfulness; the desire for fame, success and power. getting his own way on this earth.
None of those are virtues. What he did was not “Catholic” or reflect the teachings and traditions of the Church in any way.
Catholics can only explain this to the public, and pray for the repose of his soul.
I’d hope what remains of his organization will perform some kind of public penance for his actions, but I hesitate to write that because that sounds pretty arrogant in and of itself!
One thing I thought of afterwards and which I realize will sound flaky to non-Catholics is that this Frenchman was possessed.
In (my understanding of) Catholic teaching and tradition, Venner or whatever his name was might have made himself vulnerable to possession.
When you flirt with spiritual things but are not truly holy (and I don’t pretend to know this guy’s circumstances, I’m just saying) then you haven’t put up the proper protective “force fields.”
It’s like you’ve constructed a giant fort but left the front gate open. Your fort says, “Yo! I’m a big shot warrior!” — because a fort only has a war-like purpose.
However, you’ve stupidly left the front gate open, either because of negligence or because you are arrogant.
So you are inviting invasion and probable defeat.
If you go around saying, “Look at me, Mr. Holy! I’m the next Joan of Arc, the savior of France!!” but you have no true spiritual foundation — no sound, orthodox spiritual advisor; you don’t pray regularly or receive the Sacraments — then Satan is thinking, “This is the PERFECT guy to go after. I’ll use him to embarrass the Church.”
Sometimes Hollywood accidentally gets things right, though artistic intuition (and/or through its own flirtations with darkness.)
If killing yourself in Notre Dame Cathedral sounds to you like a scene from The Omen, you’re absolutely spot on.
A literally “diabolical” action.
If Venner was truly possessed then he wasn’t “in his right mind” and has diminished capacity, to put it mildly.
However, he will still have to atone in purgatory for all the sins he committed that led to his possession.
Or else he’s just going to hell, but again, it’s not like he was Hitler, and we are asked to trust in God’s mercy and superior knowledge of what really went on.
Again, that’s my understanding of the “rules.”
After typing all that I though about Baruch Goldstein.
I wasn’t there. I don’t live there. I can’t pretend to know what he was thinking.
Maybe he really did overhear a mass murder of settlers being planned and wanted to stop it.
(However, wouldn’t it have been more prudent to at least wait until these alleged terrorists actually streamed out of the Tomb, presumably yelling, “Let’s go kill a bunch of Jews”?)
While Goldstein’s actions were not a very “Catholic” thing to do, were they a very “Jewish” thing to do, since that actually matters more in his case, obviously?
I don’t know enough about Jewish theology (or Kahane’s particular theology) to answer that.
(Not surprisingly, you can easily find “two Jews, three arguments” fights about it online.)
And even if I’d read a hundred books about it, you can’t really “know” another religion from the outside, not completely.
As much as I admire Robert Spencer and bow to his greater wisdom, I believe there will always be a teeny tiny atomic mysterious speck of Islam he can’t “get” because he isn’t inside it.
I’ve had non-Catholics “explain” Catholic stuff to me — and non-Canadians “explain” Canada — and laughed in their faces.