I belong.

The following is a call to Europeans to be proud of our heritage when it is under such irrational, ignorant, emotional and misguided attacks by the world at large.

What wonderful worlds I belong to as a European and especially as a Western.

Firstly, I belong to Homer’s Iliad, the most insightful epic of man’s anger and grief, and of a father over the body of his son – a story of the futility of war. Nothing ever written since captures war at its most violent, of a hero who makes Marvel heroes look simplistic children.

And then as an European Athenian I belong to the depths of the Greek culture: the idealism and love of the human body; Greek literature, drama, its humanistic philosophy embedded in sculpture, architecture and buildings proportionate to the human body, and its science.

I belong to Euclid, to Galen, and Ptolemy and a host of others who founded the rational investigation into the truth of things: who established the fundamentals of Maths, physics, and medicine.

More importantly, I belong to Aristotle – the summation of philosophical reasoning of Socrates and Plato – the reality of the world, truth and the glorious victory over atheism, relativism and nihilism.

In Aristotle’s lectures, we have the complete answer to issues which challenge us today. No modern philosopher can defeat Aristotle in his basic principles of being and searching for Truth. One either agrees with the conclusions brought about by his line of his logic on “being” or becomes a nihilist, atheist, relativist and thus believes nothing – even the existence of one’s self. One has to take the line of perfect logic of Aristotle or give up – there is no squeezing, sneaking out of his logic and the logical foundations of the conclusions of his thought. Socrates revealed that line of questioning. Not one contemporary scientist, media personality, politician, educationalist, professor today can challenge him. They don’t because Aristotle would raise too many unassailable contradictions in their assumptions prevailing today in the institutions of our modern world. The modern world is frightened of logic, and the Laws of Nature from which our reasoning is generated. Gravity obeys the laws of gravity: man is guided and should obey the laws of nature embedded in his conscience.

To reinforce my belonging to Aristotle, I proudly belong to the world of the 12th and 13th Scholastic philosophers and theologians, especially St Thomas Aquinas, who extended and reinforced Aristotle’s reasonings with the rules of logic and argumentation. No truth can be established without submitting to the process of establishing a first, and second premise which should lead to a valid conclusion. Students were trained in solid logic and to establish valid premises needed to read a wide history-spanning set of authoritative books. Schools and universities, such as Paris and Oxford in the 13th century_were built on the these foundations, the foundations laid by the Benedictine monks and Aristotle.

Our moderns are bereft of the whole world of reason, a world full of screaming, generalisations, biased assumptions – empty of truth – “truth” a term avoided in the world today .
I am proud of Alexander the Great, one of his main aims was to spread Athenian culture to all of mankind, establishing Greek theatres and academies in Afghanistan and Persia, intermarrying with an Afghan princess, melding his army with Persians, sending commentaries back to Aristotle of his scientific discoveries – all with the hope of civilising the world with a sense of shared humanity. Extending this, I belong to the world of the Western European conquistadors and colonisers of the Americas, Africa, the Pacific and Asia. The wonder of the huge masses of peoples of this world escaping from the horrific, barbaric, inhuman practices which dominated their lives, being replaced by the graces of Christianity. We catch some joy in this conversion in the joy of Mexican music today, of which many cannot see that our world would have had that joyful folk music developed over the centuries if not for the wholesale destruction of our Medieval lifestyles by the scourges of industrialisation of the West and the dour conversion of Northern rich Europe to Protestantism.

I belong also to the great Roman writers, their urbane reflections on life, their expressive, intelligent and moderate understanding of the human condition. And their prose style is unbelievably beautiful. I belong to their great achievements in engineering, architecture, and above all to their belief in the universality of the rule of law, a belief that at least has been extended to the modern world – the idea of the unity of universal law, in a multicultural environment.

I belong to over five thousand years of the ancient Jewish traditional beliefs of One God and the concept and practice of holiness in worship and life – beliefs which attracted many a Greek and Roman 100 BC. No other religion on earth promoted the need for individual personal holiness as its main characteristic. Thus I belong to Catholicism – the fulfillment and extension of Judaism’s hopes and expectations, and of its ritual – the promised future of mankind – universal holiness. Anyone experiencing the liturgies of the traditional Catholic or Orthodox Church world experiences the worship of the Temple of Jerusalem. The priest in the holy santuary ascends to the altar to offer the holocaust demanded by Moses, incense abounds, the sacrificial prayers are made accompanied by the psalms of David, which Jesus and the Apostles obeyed, and which the monastic Catholic church recites still today. The victim is killed, the blood collected, the priest consumes the victim. It is finished – the sacrifice to bring holiness and love into the world. And the people are then invited to consume the holy victim. This is what I and others participate and belong.

I belong to Western Europe, the conquest of Charlemagne and the idea of a unified Europe under a Catholic rather than Roman model: shared power between Emperor, his kings, their parliaments, and the Church – the alien concept of “sovereignty” did not exist. The Church and kings exchanged roles when needed to supervise law and order in their kingdoms.

I belong to the Benedictine monks who from 600 to 1200AD guided the kings and peoples of Europe in the scholarship and historical foundations of the old world, who re-established learning, created schools and universities, hospitals, hundreds by hundreds of welfare homes for the poor, the beaten women, abandoned children, the unemployed – far more in proportion to any modern city of town. Not because of economic, social or health reasons but because they loved their charges – suffering and death required a sacrificial loving man or women to nurse them – all who gave up their lives to unpaid virginity and purity- that sacrificial impulse an extension of the holiness of the daily Mass. People in trouble need the presence and touch of love – love of God conveyed through the presence and touch of a monk or nun. The social and other problems will always be with us – but not that loving touch of a monk or nun.

I belong to the new words invented in the 12th Century: words like gentleness, dear, delicate, beauty, charity, compassion, courtesy, grace, humility, peace, purity, tenderness, patience, devotion. They were invented or rather secularised by the lay people attending Mass. They needed these words to express a new consciousness about our relationships to each other. New words are invented to express new ideas and relationships. Look at those words and see the huge impact the Mass has on our lives and the ongoing relationships between people even in the 21st century. Even “hello” used to mean “hail” – wishing you good health or even the more Catholic meaning- “wholesomeness”, wishing you are full of God’s grace.

I belong to world of chivalry. The cult of chivalry has spread from the 12th Century Catholic noble to all men, even up to the 19th Century. Children and adults were read stories about chivalous men and events for centuries – chivalry dominated literature. Chivalry means that I am bound to protect the weak and poor, women and children. I must not fight anyone man on the ground, or who is lesser than me in stature and weapon. For the commoner, fists are equal weapons (knives are for cowards). I must especially give way to women: open doors for them, ensure they are seated first, doff my hat to them, and the same rules to the elderly and infirm. No man may strike a women or ignore chivalrous behaviour or he will be expelled from the company of his peers.

I belong to the Medieval peasant and his village. I wake early and attend 7am Mass, say Lauds and Prime of the Little Office of Mary when I hear the bells of the monastery ringing, we stop work for a few minutes for Angelus to honour Mary. We go to work till 3pm when I hear the bells announce Nones and start finishing off the day’s work till dinner and we all go to Vespers at 7pm – the whole village. And afterwards we go to the pub – with the whole family and drink our beer well, and sing our ancient songs. I meet my lord to discuss improvements to the estate. We get on well and we enjoy each other’s company, after all, we have shared our families’ lives for over 300 years!
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I am reminded every day by those bells that the work I do must be done with excellence, no matter what it is because it is all for God and His Mother, and for the increase of grace in my soul when at last I face my Saviour at death and yearn for the bliss of love in heaven. Nothing else except serving God in daily tasks really matters.

I do not belong:

I do not belong to the French revolution and which is still developing and continuing and deepening its atheism, socialism, capitalism and democracy, which sets me against my lord and Nature itself. Or the Protestant revolution which takes away my Mass, and my precious religious monks and sisters.

I do not belong to ugly railway lines and engines, to enclosures, to landless labourers forced to the huge mills and now to ugly multi-storey buildings full of slaves at desks, to concrete jungles and asphalt roads, cars, and streets full of families who are foreign to each other. Before World War I, streets were full of houses built to accommodate large families, living with people of similar cultures. They formed bonds with each other and forged real communities of extended families and neighbours distantly related to them. From those communities arose a real living culture. They have now gone except among strongly bound religious commmunities like the Moslems, Lebanese Christians and Polynesians in Sydney, or among some Mexican communities in the USA.

And then contraception, feminism, fabian socialism combined with greedy capitalism broke the family apart: it broke fathers and husbands (having no natural leadership role denied them, and seeing their trade disappear by capitalist corporate multinational replacements) alienated from their wives who now became breadwinners and now combining the roles of housework and the slavery of employment. The natural foundations of the family and authority forced by the law, council planning, and the economy is the death of natural authority. Children are now temporary “wards”of the state, especially at school where all the anti-natural ideologies are inculcated into their minds – the parent’s authority is of the lowest level in planning a curriculum. Are children educated to obey their parents without question? Or parents and other being Nazi, which has become a term of abuse for the very word “natural authority” written in the heart of Natural Law “Obey thy father and mother.”

I do not belong to the so-called “media” full of mindless cant, over-ridden by ads, thick sentimentality or exagerrated violence, stories of “relationships” eventually leading to fornication. All honour, purity, and any grasp of real goodness, real extended family life has disappeared. It is totally godless and at base totally meaningless. The insertion of coloured, gay, cross-gendered cast makes all seem normal. The teeth have been pulled of real demonic monsters: Dracula becomes a comic character. There are real demons inserting thoughts into our souls all day long to choose seeemingly-less inconsequential lesser goods and which persons are pulled without access to grace towards hardening their hearts against angels guided by the Holy Spirit to choose a higher good – be it turning off the league match and helping with the dishes or the kids. Damnation awaits the modern soul who habitually ignores the calls to grace!!

So, I look around me, my block of flats and the street, and see not one family celebrating Christmas but just an excuse to exchange presents, replace a Saint with a Santa, and have a family get-together. Might as well choose December 21 – the solstice – as the date for all it matters to our world. God is born to mankind and is ignored. Same as with Easter – have it at the other solstice. Worship the bunnies and enjoy the eggs. Ignore the passion of God suffering on the Cross and rising, conquering Death, to open the gates of heaven for those who love Him. He wondered on earth when he returned would there be any left who had faith. At present, the West deserves a great chastisement to remind them of who and what they are!

VII – Modernity and Music

MUSIC – FROM BEAUTY AND GRACE TO THE UGLY

A. The Foundations

Western music, and by that I mean, the music of Europe, has its origins in the music of the Catholic Church.

Our heathen ancestors – the Celts, Britons, Germans, Goths, Vandals, Franks – you can be sure did not, once upon a time, dance around in joyful jigs and reels of what we know now as popular, traditional folk music. No! they danced to the same kind of shaman-like drums and pipes as all savage peoples did. The same way as African tribes still do. Melody was minimal – orgiastic chanting to a beating drum.

The barbarian tribes conquered by Roman civilisation would only have heard the music of the Greek modes in state occasions – if at all. And when the Empire fell in the West, so did most of the civilising influence of the Romans.

From 400 AD to 1000 AD the barbarian tribes became civilised through the influence of the Catholic Church. The Church set up monasteries and schools, and encouraged the kings and chieftains of Dark Ages Europe to assist in the education of the faithful throughout Europe. There is tons of evidence for this development.

But where did the people – the ordinary mums, dads, and kids hear music? in Church, every Sunday and feast days. Gregorian chant and Latin hymns dominated the musical experience of these barbarians. And especially through the years from 800 AD to 1200 AD these people copied the “feel” of the Gregorian chant and hymns into their own music – folk music became an extension of what they heard in Church.

The “feel” of the ordinary European Christian originating in Church music was for music and art which reflected the doctrines of the Church: love, gentleness, mercy, joy, and grace. The form of music also developed from the liturgies of the Church: the chorus and response, psalmody led to versification and ballads. Marian hymns and Christmas carols soon became popular folk experiences. Dancing evolved from the village “stomp” to graceful dance – the Sarabande, the Polka, the Gigue (Jig), the Sicilienne, a myriad of dance forms expressing the unity of village group or a wedding dance among nobles – and there was no difference in the music in a multi-ranked society.

There grew a felt need for art forms to exhibit grace and so the traditional dance and music forms developed into what became so popular many centuries later.

From the liturgies of the Church – the chorus and response form – harmony, polyphony, madrigals and secular opera developed. And together came instrumentation, so that by 1650 Baroque – a musical style stretching for another hundred years – became the fully-matured expression of Western and Christian civilisation. It is not contrived. There is no theoretical foundation but the organic growth of traditional forms of chant, discovered harmony, dance and song. Baroque was both the music of the people and the music of the nobility. There was a free flow of the music of the beer hall “ditty” to its scoring and performance by any one of a number of Baroque composers for a performance at the beer hall or in front of a noble in his court.

Gone is the pagan, savage “stomp” to the drums and pipe. Common to all of the development of our Western heritage in music is the ascendancy of melody over the beat. Church music had no fixed beat but was based on the natural rhythm of Latin. The orgiastic beat of non-Christian music mainly disappeared from Western music.

Grace, gentleness, decoration, the contrasting of joy and sorrow, mercy, goodness and yearning for the beautiful: all kept the base demand for orgiastic expression to a minimum.

B. Classicism

There was a very brief period of Western music called the “Classical” period, when limitations were placed on the development of music. The evolution of Renaissance Rationalism led to the Modernist Enlightenment experiment of Classicism. The intelligensia of the late 18th Century worshipped the Deistic god of “Reason” and this god demanded order, control, and structure above all. Music became deliberately artful, and simplified, as if to tell a story, to be constructed rationally with a narrative beginning, middle and end. Beauty of form and noble delicacy dominate this form. “Effete” is the word for this kind of music.

But it has lost Glory and Joy (“Glory and trumpets” as Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings would say) and the graceful sadness which comes with glory and joy of salvation but the realisation of loss – in death or in love. And much of Baroque music is dance music, dance music which echoes all ranks of a society still in touch with each other – peasant to noble. The joyful play of the Baroque disappears and so does the connexion with the people.

Classical music is for an “informed” audience, for the nobles, for the rich, for concert halls. The “grace” in much of classical music is informed by hundreds of years of Christian civilisation and still present among the elite even in those who may have rejected the practise of the Faith. It will take another 100 years for that grace to gradually disappear.

By 1600, Gregorian chant had disappeared in the major churches of Europe, replaced by polyphony at best, or by Catholic or Protestant hymns, or by original compositions – none of which captured the inner beauty and grace of Gregorian music. Unless it was a hymn, music now heard in Church no longer was simple but “complicated”. However, Bach was famous to the everyday Lutheran because he captured the “feel” of the old Catholic music in his weekly Cantatas.

By 1800 the huge increasing division of Europe between the landed class and the commoner, also created a huge division in music: between the “music of the court” and traditional folk music and dance. The latter became even more isolated as the Industrial Revolution broke up village life. Remnants survived in nostalgic family occasions, in pubs, in remote country village halls.

C. The Revolution and Music

There is only one revolution – Modernism’s French Revolution. This revolution and its mutations through the next 200 years had a significant effect on music.

Firstly, the Romantic movement. Early Beethoven is still in touch with the old grace-filled world, and he is brilliant. But the Enlightenment worship of man dominates his music. He dares not only to break the rules but also to thrust his emotions on to the listener: “You will feel what I feel!” The Who and Elvis naturally follow from this. Beethoven’s “Song of Joy” became the anthem of the worship of Man, and signified the rise of strident, popular nationalism. At first, the range of these feelings were still reflective of the Christian past, but over 200 years later – without a living Christian culture – grace, purity, goodness, nobility, gentleness disappear, and have been replaced by sentimentality, or the rage of social and political commentary, or blatant sexuality.

Rebellion and Nostaglia become the dominating motifs through the 19th Century. Wagner creates a world of the dying gods. Deep, ever deep, sadness dominates. The soul lost in the greatness of the universe, alienated, hopeless. Great images of past glory. But all lost. Amazingly grand and sadly beautiful music. And why? Because Modernism has destroyed hope in glory. It is the music of sentimental atheism. It is the music of the man  heroically observing the universe, raising his fist to the non-existing God, and challenging the non-existent God that he will never surrender. A great mythical construct to justify the Great Rebellion.

Secondly, the worth of music is now to be judged according to the authenticity of the composer’s emotions. The stronger the emotions, the greater the demands on both the composer and the performer to reach the audience. Form must give way to the emotional force of rhythm. The performer and the instrument must become more strident. Gut strings give way to metal. Harpsichords give way to pianos. Singers search for volume and power. Orchestras become larger. And electronic assistance raises the level of performance and alters the relationship between the production of music and the receiver – now passive to the demands of the performer’s emotions.

If there is no control on emotions, then “raw” becomes the final step: the rage of rebellion, the screaming uncontrolled lover’s lament, the plain shouting, and finally, chaos. Plato was right: music is the most dangerous art. He wanted it banned from his ideal state. On the other hand, Aristotle wanted music included as a necessary component for the education of virtuous citizens to train their emotions and to enable citizens to be more amenable to reason. There is an urgent need for Aristotle’s advice to be heeded!

D. A Divided Culture

Thirdly, music is now divided into two main kinds: “Classical” – a total misnomer, and “pop”. So-called “Classical” music becomes totally intellectualised, abstract, and requires ideological explanations in order to attract the intelligensia. By the end of the 19th Century, atonalism ended the connexion between Nature and Music. It had to happen. Modernism destroys Nature, by divorcing the mind from nature. Modern man can create its own constructions regardless. Music is tonal – scientifically, naturally, historically. A played note contains all the tones within it. To create atonal music is to deny nature! So-called “classical” music died then. Let’s face it. Music gets ugly.

“Classical” music at present is now a non-judgmental “selection” in orchestras and radio stations around the world. A smorgasborg of “taste”. It is seen to be cool to mix “pop” dress, or culture in presentations, for young musicians to join in with “pop” groups. “Classical” music is seen as “snobbish”, of the aristocracy (not true of Baroque – but who cares?), reactionary, even obscurant.

On the other hand, the music of the people, once traditional village folk music, now becomes “urban” music, divorced from the old Christian culture. During the 19th Century, it is derived from the old “Classical” forms, but is debased by heavy sentimentality and above all, by the ever-increasing dominance of the beat – the orgiastic grows in Western “pop” music. One can see why now that Johann Strauss’ father hated his son’s popular compositions: the 3/4 Viennese waltz was the victory of dominant first beat over the grace of the 3/4 Minuet. Even the music of the Catholic church echoed modern forms. Sentimental hymns fully replaced chant, and the final anomaly of the 20th Century was the total replacement of chant in the liturgy with “hokey” folk music.

Dance music changes drastically. Urban dance bands in the first half of the 20th Century, would still include a waltz, a Maxina, a “Gay Gordons”, but the modern, snuggling, insinuatingly-smooth Fox Trot soon gave way to swing, and to the beating pulse of jazz. Eventually, Jazz itself divided into two. The urban intelligensia follow the jazz of the 1950s – the “cool” – another intellectualised form; and the folk, self-referential “blues” develops into the “raunchy” sexualised music of “rock and roll”. And the gross savage “stomp” soon reappears. Ugliness returns to the world.

Attempts at uniting the Classical forms with Pop have failed to take root in modern culture. Gershwin’s opus “Rhapsody in Blue” and his musical, “Porgy and Bess” soon became dated and died when jazz died out, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals lose their inventiveness. Some pop forms attained cult status like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Stairway to Heaven” because parts of them refer back to forgotten traditional forms and motifs.

Another attempts to form a “classical” fusion in pop music were the later creations of the Beatles. Much of the early Beatles music was just dance music for teenagers. The lyrics are clever, at times poetic, and music is mostly happy … almost joyful. There are little inventive touches in all their music. The second side of “Abbey Road” is an attempt to make a symphonic whole from a medley. But even when they tried to make “graceful” music, their lyrics reflected the Nihilism of the Age, or to balance “grace” with petty, sexual smuttiness. As they became famous and self-conscious of the huge effect they had on society, they became “artful”. The hubris of fame lead to them preaching the New Revolution. They create “trite” socio-political messages in brilliant music forms.

As Beethoven’s “Song of Joy” became the iconic March of the Revolution of Man against the rule of God for many generations, so has John Lennon’s “Imagine” become the iconic song for the Revolution against belief in God Himself. The older generations could appreciate the “Song of Joy” without giving up their love of God, but Lennon’s “Imagine” makes it all pretty plain where Modern Man is marching. And Lennon’s later songs become pornographic, seedy, sexually-liberated anthems to the New Age of Licentious Modernity.

E. Modern Angst and Pop

So we are left in the 21st Century with popular music reflecting the urban modern angst: alienation! alienation from lover, alienation from society, to basic violent protest at the world. Self-centred violent emotions forced on the listener. Quite horrible and a very bad influence on anyone who participates in music. The language is trite, vulgar and at times, obscene. And sometimes the intent is bestial.

There are refreshing outbursts of popularised joyful dance music from non-Western cultures and from Latin America, but they will never become a uniting force in the everyday life of the Modern world in which we live.

Music stirs the emotions at the deepest levels. Mankind yearns for goodness, wholeness, completeness, to be loved. Only virtuous behaviour – the culturing of good habits of thought, and feeling – make for wholeness. Our weakness is to allow the violence of feelings, the violence of rhythm, sheer rebelliousness, the pride of the life force (which can be turned to the most horrible acts), to dominate our lives. The more we listen to modern music the more we become less good.

F. Promising Trends

There has been over the past 50 years a revival of Baroque music, a revival scorned by the music intelligensia who prefer the Modern, the discordant, the challenging, the ugly. But, against all the trends and pressures to conform to Modernism, many musicians have identified themselves wholly with this revival to the point that they form whole Baroque orchestras and groups, playing with gentle, authentic Baroque instruments. The love of Baroque among all types of people is evident in the 150-year-old appeal of Handel’s “Messiah”, Bach’s “St Matthew’s Passion” and Vivaldi’s “Seasons”.

A good Baroque performer can make a living now from the demand by many around the world to have their hearts lifted and their souls eased by the many newly-discovered works of the old Christian world. And also becoming popular among many youth of the Western world is Gregorian chant, a development which shows that many young people are heartily sick of the decadent music of the Western world. Both these trends, will never again become universal, but at least there will be groups of people able to continue the tradition of good, graceful, beautiful music into the future.

G. My Own Music

I have fond memories of pop music, but my appreciation of them is purely nostaglic. Because music goes to the heart, one’s memories and the music of the time become inseparable. So, although I may say that I “like” a particular piece of music, it is really the memory of that time and place in my life which I like to remember. For instance, as a child, I remember a pop song “How much is that doggie in the window?” It is a cute, trite, sentimental little song. But to me it brought back fond associations of that time in my life. If one challenges me now about my musical taste: “You liked the Beatles!”, all I can say is that their music brought back fond memories. But examining their music objectively, one finds it still is “Modern” pop, admittedly inventive, and they try hard to avoid being trite. I found it hard at the time to enjoy their music and at the same time avoid the radicalisation of Lennon’s preaching; of the cynical put-downs of anything of real value. All you need is love? Free love and then post-coital angst? And now I will no longer listen to them. I prefer instead to listen to music which is pure: Bach, Handel, Corelli, Vivaldi. It is sweet and beautiful, it reaches down into the heart wholesomely and with gentleness. It is uplifting and at times beckons a universal humane sadness which echoes exactly where we all are. “Catholic” in the true meaning of the word.

H. Conclusion

If I were raising a family now, I would ban all modern music in my house, and by “modern” I mean all music after 1800! My children would be encouraged to learn the piano as well as a violin or cello or a woodwind instrument. They would attend Latin Gregorian Mass; they would learn to sing chant and the Latin hymns and they would be surrounded by Palestrina, Vittoria, Bach, Corelli, Vivaldi, etc. The guitar, bass and drums would be banned. There really is no room in a family for angst, rebellion, or violent expressions of emotions or thought. A family needs to be surrounded by virtue – virtuous music, virtuous reading and entertainment.

A family should be encouraged to play (rather than listen to canned) music and sing traditional airs around the piano. Work, pray, and play together.

IX – Modernity and Literature

PART THREE: Literature – Enlightenment Propaganda

Before the lofty idealism of the Humanism of the Renaissance, European literature was eminently practical.

A. Poetry and Drama

Lyric poetry honoured God or one’s chivalrous lover, epic poetry recounted the exploits of heroes such as Charlemagne or Roland. Prose reached its heights in clear, logical treatises of philosophy and theology. Or was used as ribald commentary on society. The origin of drama was in the liturgy of the Mass and the cycle of the Catholic year: the very popular miracle and moral plays of Medieval Europe.

There was no school of intellectuals judging literature as works of art. Medieval society and its art was unselfconscious. Moderns would say, naive.

The Medievals lived close to Nature. Everything was seen and felt to be connected. This meant that in the arts, the writer’s imagination knew no bounds. Anything and everything could be put together to show connections. Up to and including the Metaphysicals, Poetry was able to connect thought and feeling through the metaphors of a nature lived among men. Nature and word were joined. Shakespeare’s muse is full of the connexion of life, nature, meaning, men, and a commonality of unity of man with nature.

With the beginnings of Modernism in the late 17th, Classicism heralded the break between man and nature, even though Pope and Dryden invoke Nature as their goddess, it is a goddess undressed by their own rationalism. The Classicist is emotionally removed and examines his art, his forms, as a Newton or a Descartes. All cleverly effete.

Drama divided into the Comedy of Manners and the more serious French imitations of Ancient Greek and Roman tragedies.

The Romantic poets of the 19th Century contrived a unity of man with nature, but the horse has bolted. Nature is now remote and lost. It is a nostalgic discovery of the daffodils. A nostaglia matching the Romanticism of a Wolf or Schubert Lieder.

By the 20th Century, poetry and drama become the tools of social commentary. Ideology dominates. Or it weeps at the destruction wrought by Modernity. The Poet is alienated, as is the Dramatist and Painter, the Artiste. And as Modernity creates a universal ugliness of implemented ideologies into life, the artist paints ugliness to challenge and to reflect the ugliness of Modern Society.

B. The Literary Novel – a Modernist Invention

The Literary Novel is a Modernist invention. The Modern novel is about man, his thoughts, his feelings, his interactions with others in his world. A novel is judged on how it is “true to life” – a life centred on man. The novel is judged to be good if it simulates the reality of character, plot, life, psychology, the interactions of human relationships.

It is no coincidence that the first novelists were from the late 17th Century – the beginnings of Deism and Modernism. The world no longer wanted to hear about God – so “divisive”. Reality excluded God and Man’s relationship with God. The Novel became the new vehicle for exploring the Modernist’s world, ostensibly more real. But how real is the exploration of reality if a person’s life is centred on God. The life of many people is religious: people pray, address their God all through the day, are aware of themselves as part of a religious story which takes place daily. Yet, this huge aspect of life is ignored in the novel. Let us also consider the very real conflict some people every day one has with “conscience” at its very depths – the fight with God. You will not find that in “realistic” novels.

The most realistic personal writings in the past were by the saints: such as St Augustine’s “Confessions”, Dante’s trilogy, St Catherine’s “Dialogue of Divine Providence”, and St Teresa of Avila’s “Autobiography”. These works reveal very deep reflections of the relationship of the soul and God in dealing with the challenges of life, stream-of-consciousness narration, totally honest, humane, and almost “modern” in their understanding of what it is to be a human being – a normal, everyday person in their struggles in life.

It is not until the end of the 19th Century, that the novel, especially the historical novel, becomes of age: popular, universal, and the main means of Modernist Liberal propaganda. And this trend extends right into the 21st Century. Novel after novel explores social, political and religious injustices. First, the villains are the aristocracy, the Tories, Catholics and the higher Anglican clergy – the enemies of the Liberal Revolution. The villains then become the rich, the capitalist, the bourgoisie. And then, in the late 20th and early 21st century, the villain is anyone who dresses well, has taste, who has manners, or who is a “fundamentalist”, a bigot – but must be a religious bigot.

It is interesting to watch films adapted from older stories. The heroes, who once were virtuous chivalrous nobles, are reinvented as rebel teenagers, or “cool” and slovenly – the new virtue: being true to the freedom of one’s emotions, a real “dude”. Any control over one’s behaviour is seen as aristocratic pretence!

C. History Literature
The writing of History by academics is an Enlightenment Project – interpreting events in the past in the Spirit of Progress and Humanism, with the over-arching theme of showing just how evil the Catholic Church and its impact on delaying Progress and Civilisation.

Edward Gibbon’s mighty work – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – gives free rein for the author to interpret every event involving the Church in the poorest of light. The Enlightenment interpretation of History becomes the main theme of 19th Century English historians and continues right through the 20th Century.

D. Contemporary Novels
There is little of value in reading present day novels. Many portray the dull, grey lives of people caught in the hopelessness of Modernity: broken marriages, lonely women and abandoned children. Many rely on including immodest sexuality and general acceptance of immorality to identify with the reader. Many portray the challenge of people from multicultural backgrounds adjusting to modern life – with the approval of the author on the side of the modern rather than the traditional.
Novels for men rely heavily on violence, sex, war, and heroes whose heroism omits any other virtues than courage and manly skills. There are no manly heroes in modern novels full of gentleness, kindness, grace, modesty, charity, etc. It would seem inconceivable now that a hero could be manly and courageous and virtuous!! So much for Gawain, Percival, Lancelot and Galahad!

E. The Catholic Novel
Intellectual Catholics in the 20th Century tried to employ the literary novel as a means of portraying Catholic life: Mauriac, Bernanos, Greene and Waugh being the most famous. But they had bought into the Modern agenda. The Catholic novelist had become too aware of modernistic criticism of their novels based on “bringing God” into everyday life. So Catholic novelists based their plots on the main character experiencing some moral dilemma which would be solved in the end by some act of moral heroism generated by Catholic belief. The characters are portrayed as anti-heroes, extreme personalities, ignoble, or self-righteous: all it seems with one eye on the modern critic, who would insist on so-called “realism”.

But one would be then led to believe that Catholicism is nothing but morality – hardly a religion which moves and directs one’s emotions, thoughts, perceptions, interactions with others … totally opposite of the writings of Catholics in the Catholic world who are totally unselfconscious of Catholicism affecting their life.

F. Conclusion
The contemporary media of novels, film and TV dramas are devoid of life. Predominant is the sensational: extreme blatant in-your-face violence and sex, end-of-world scenarios, fantastic super-heroes, or dark portrayals of the everyday life of broken families, abuse, rape, angry men and women. Or progressive propaganda stories which take pleasure in cynically reducing any seemingly “good” or traditional life-style as basically hypocritical and corrupt.

Moral and cultural and subjective Relativism and Reductionism reigns supreme. There is no real substance of beauty, truth or goodness about contemporary culture. No real end nor resolution to life’s problems. Nihilism underpins it all. Concepts of “being nice” and “being tolerant” are pulled out of a hat to save the plot and redeem the hero. No storyline is allowed to really examine where in the “hat” these values come from or why they are there in first place.

“The Game of Thrones” and the “Middle Ages”

Game of Thrones is just another of those seemingly endless entertainments appropriating a thoroughly twisted view of the Middle Ages: an interpretation of a period of our history distorted by 500 years of prejudice, an interpretation reinforced by repetitious tropes, to the point when it is almost useless to try to get people to understand any aspect of the Middle Ages.

And yet, the Middle Ages is the very foundation of our Modern World. One could then say then that the Child, our modern world, hates its mother, to the extent of Matricide!!

The very terms, “Middle Ages”, and “Medieval” were invented by 15th Century Renaissance scholars to describe the period between the “good”, noble, arty, literate Classical era of Ancient Rome, and their own proud age of the rediscovered beauty of the Classical era. Everything between, from the Fall of Rome to c.1450 was dross, written off as in the Middle. They longed for the return of ancient Roman civilisation and its culture, art, music, literature, and laws. They wrote off 1000 years of our history, the very history which formed the foundations of his – Renaissance man’s – own ability to stand outside of himself and analyse the past.

What a travesty of history! Somehow Renaissance man just miraculously was able to think and analyse the past, to evaluate art and beauty, to explore ancient texts, texts of course, which just sprang out of the blue. European scholarship just sprang out of 1000 years of barbarism and artistic misery? One mustn’t mention where those universities of Europe began from which these Renaissance scholars received their doctorates.

And then the “Middle Ages” received its double whammy – the Protestant Reformation. From 1500 onwards much of Northern Europe as it turned Protestant, denied the traditions borne out through 1500 years of Christianity. For some Protestants, Christianity became corrupted right after the Apostles died, for others during Constantine’s reign c. 320 when the Church became established as Roman. And so, the Middle Ages was seen as the reign of the “Whore of Babylon” – the Pope. “Superstition” prevailed, and the doctrines of Catholicism – the enemy – darkened the mind of mankind.

And then the intellectuals – a new breed of men – sprung out of the Wars of Religion: the “Enlightened” ones who invented the new philosophies of idealism and empiricism – the foundations of our modern ideologies. The Enlightenment intellectuals cast the Middle Ages as a period of intellectual torpitude devoid of reason. The Middle Ages received this “triple whammy” – an age dominated by religious dogmatism, and at the heart of this was the Catholic Church – the enemy.

So, in order to celebrate the victories of Renaissance Humanism, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the great Liberal Revolution, intellectuals have, over and over, and over and over, through 500 years now made the Middle Ages a monster to kill with every weapon. One could run through an enormous list of history and philosophy books, novels, plays, films, cultural motifs, etc., all of which have as their fundamental basis the willing distortion of the Middle Ages!

Let us examine this Monster.

This Monster founded the universities of Europe from c 1100 to 1300. There were reportedly 20,000 students at the University of Paris about the late 1100s – about the same number as now. Oxford and Cambridge, Bologna, Padua, et al., all rose about this time. The medieval medical school in Naples was famous in the known world.

As early as 800 AD (in the Dark Ages), Charlesmagne, insisted that every parish church in his vast empire have a school to teach all the children to read and write. He was so determined in this that much of his vast horde from his conquests was used to fund this project. Furthermore he had inspectors ensure that this dying wish of his was carried out. Parish schools and scholarships developed throughout Europe and grew through the next 500 years.

Representative parliaments all developed across Europe during this time of the 1100s: the rule in each kingdom was that a king may not issue a new tax without the consent of a meeting of nobles, clergy and commoners and this was not just in England! Cities, merchants and free-holders voted and became more powerful as the economy of Europe grew.

Welfare? Hospitals, aged care homes, orphanages, pensioner systems, homeless care, soup kitchens, were in place, mostly in the charge of large numbers of religious, but some funded by the nobility.

But, let us get to the heart. All very well assembling a list of wonderful Medieval inventions, discoveries, structures, cathedrals, etc. What were these Medieval people like? Where were their hearts?

Words and new connotations of words are invented in each age to express new thoughts and feelings which are demanded by new experiences.

And what new words and new connotations of words were invented in England in the Middle Ages to express these new experiences? Words such as pity, gentle, mercy, beauty, bounty, charity, delicate, devotion, grace, honour, humble, passion, patience, peace, purity, tender, loving-kindness, long-suffering. Many of these words were taken out of the religious context and placed in the relationship, not between God and men, but between everyday people, to express these new relationships. Other new words came about to express the loving relationship between men and women: dalliance, dainty, debonair, delight, pleasure, love-longlingly.

Here we have a new world of developing tenderness and solicitude between people and especially between men and women and children.

Even the word “lady”: a curt Germanic word meaning “load-kneader” in 400 AD had come to mean someone gracious and tender by 1200AD.

How can we then place a world of these new affectionate expressions beside the world of the Game of Thrones and the many other Medieval-based inventions of modern times?

What brought about a change in human relationships of such depth? About 1100 AD we have minstrels roaming the lands of Europe singing of untouchable ladies whose beauty enchants noble men, who are inspired to live a life of purity and gentleness; who are inspired to defend the down-trodden, the weak, the defenceless; and for some to sacrifice their noble warrior lives for the poor and sick. For instance, the cult of St Francis was the most popular in Europe for a hundred years – young men and women from noble families who give their lives up for humble poverty for the sake of a Crucified God who identifies with the poor and lowly.

Of course, I know the answer. It were the doctrines and traditions and “superstitions” of the Catholic Church – the enemy of the Modern world, which brought about the Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages started to come to an end by the mid 1300s: by then the Commercial and Population Explosions of the Middle Ages had ended. Kings started to become independent from their nobles and from the Church; and by 1600 – the Age of Absolute Monarchy. The Age of Ideologies took their place, and now the underlying Medieval culture of Europe in dying. Soon we will look back in sadness at those affectionate words of Medieval England and wonder what basis there should be for them? Just superficial sentiment?