by Mike Pyatt
In an era of “causes” some noble, others ignoble, a favorite of many is T.S. Eliot. In his day, he too distrusted the elite, saying, “The elites, in consequence, will consist solely of individuals whose only common interest will be their professional interest.” Eliot understood that the struggle to uphold “permanent things” has no surcease. He was a defender of cultural norms and social order. Self-described as “Catholic cast of mind, Calvinistic heritage, and Puritanical Temperament,” his stance on causes was “We fight rather to keep something alive than in expectation that it will triumph.” In human terms our victory isn’t always certain. He, like we defenders of liberty and life today, grasp that in every period of history, those who’ll endeavor to pull down “permanent things,” and others will defend them to the death. What are “permanent things?” Briefly, those verities that are timeless, immutable, and aren’t subject to material affirmation, or man’s whimsical approval.
Unending knee-jerk reactions underscore the fatuity of our glaring generational loss of “permanent things” as the blame game persists among elites as to how to end the violence in America. The Left and most Democrats refuse to look beyond the beguiling symptoms like more restrictive gun laws and expanded background checks. They deny, or refuse to explore the underpinnings that genuinely drive those massacres since Columbine. Rushing to shame our “gun happy” Republic, they make radical recommendations, like “gun by-back initiatives” that are nothing more than confiscation of weapons and violation of the Second Amendment.
The erosion of our dominant Judeo/Christian worldview, the lynchpin of our Founder’s dream, that stood conspicuously as staunch defenders of values, that bolstered our foundation’s religious liberty, civil and social order, and common ground of understanding permitting us to resolve issues that threatened to unravel the fiber that once protected individuals, and ultimately institutions, is no accident. When these “permanent things” are impoverished and supplanted by values, inimical to that end, we’re left to battle symptoms, that are detached from those edifices, once the cornerstone of our Republic.
Symptomatic of this loss was cameoed across the airwaves recently, when pundits and protestors ranted, they no longer wanted to hear talk of “thoughts and prayers” expressed for those ravaged by tragedies. Should one conclude that prayer, offered in the public square for those experiencing inexplicable loss, be summarily dismissed as unnecessary or efficacious? On June 6, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt implored the nation, “And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join me in prayer to Almighty God.” Those who uphold “permanent things” know that a fervent prayer vigil, rightly directed, for the afflicted, has, for millennia, been a staple of nations who trust in the Lord in time of trial tumult, and upheaval.
T.S. Eliot, American born, Brit by choice, one of the 20th century major poets and essayists, in 1939, in The Idea of a Christian Society, wrote of “the struggle to uphold permanent things” has no surcease. Lamentably, recent generations haven’t a clue what they are, or if they ever existed. Those who know must act vicariously as their memory. Once these ideas are no longer inculcated into national memory, we’ve discovered that osmosis is a miserable substitute for conscious assimilation. Anglican Eliot stressed that those “permanent things” not be politicized, and their intellectual guardian was theological. He understood that a more secularized world was largely intolerant of a Christian worldview, or dismiss it altogether. He proved to be prophetic. He added his culture, pre WWII “appeared to be drunk on the politics of conservation of the wrong things.” Permanence that one can uphold, will only be found in theological understanding. Exactly as our Founders stated “Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.” Not any religion. When Founders spoke of Providence, they meant the God found in the OT and NT. Anent the long standing debate over George Washington’s faith, letters from his adopted daughter revealed that Washington was quiet in public discourse of his faith, but that “General Washington avowed himself to me a believer in Christianity, and his religion of Jesus Christ.”
Eliot and his contemporary, C.S. Lewis understood the sophistry of sociology, progressive education and economics may steer them to mere expediency, or utopianism, with no claim on permanence, and no understanding of the theological realm. It’s apparent, as today, that “permanent things” defy convention and transcend time. Both warned of creeping destruction of values through progressive education designed to eliminate traditional concepts of objectivity. Lewis noted in such combat, “For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.” In his writings he demonstrated the pervasive flippancy that secularism has for serious subjects like “permanent things.” In our time one who’s solemn about issues that vex one’s soul, the dominant secular progressive culture has a default instinct to make light of anything virtuous. Flippancy, Lewis insisted, is laughter at the expense of permanency. We who challenge issues like same sex marriage, abortion and transgenderism, should anticipate targeted flippancy and unbridled derision that one can ill afford to take personally in this battle of ideas in our public square.
“Permanent things” extol veracity, virtue and oppose evil. Nudge us toward heaven. Escorts joy to our being. Dispels fear. Illuminates a world still “East of Eden.” They embrace the sacred, and navigate through the fog of relativism and moral ambiguity. Distinguishes between intellectual and sophistry. They look down the corridor of time of eternity, beyond the temporal and beckons one that direction. Soaring rhetoric and importune marches and relentless calls for more illogical legislation can’t replace “permanent things.” This loss is irreparable. What’s the good news? With God as our Ally we can remain indefatigable, though at times we grow weary. His promises have no expiration date. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org