Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today, December 28, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  It commemorates the slaughter of the boys of Bethlehem aged two and under at the order of King Herod as recorded in Matthew 2:16.  These children are considered martyrs. 

It's hard not to see the parallels with today.  I don't mean the shootings in Connecticut.  Those were the actions of a single madman on the fringes of society, a madman who has surrendered forever the capacity to threaten us or to be (in any meaningful sense) judged by us.  Herod was certainly mad, episodically if not continuously, but he was not on the fringes of society.  He was the king, and he employed the mechanisms reserved to the State to carry out his murders -- at no risk to his person or his position.  

The same spirit (I do not use the term lightly) is illustrated in these passage's from G.K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man -- which was written in 1925, so there can be no claim that this was inspired by any loyalty to one of today's political parties.
But without dwelling much longer in these dark corners, it may be noted as not irrelevant here that certain anti-human antagonisms seem to recur in this tradition of black magic. There may be suspected as running through it everywhere, for instance, a mystical hatred of the idea of childhood. People would understand better the popular fury against the witches, if they remembered that the malice most commonly attributed to them was preventing the birth of children....
The civilization that centered in Tyre and Sidon was above all things practical. It has left little in the way of art and nothing in the way of poetry. But it prided itself upon being very efficient; and it followed in its philosophy and religion that strange and sometimes secret train of thought which we have already noted in those who look for immediate effects. There is always in such a mentality an idea that there is a short cut to the secret of all success; something that would shock the world by this sort of shameless thoroughness. They believed, in the appropriate modern phrase, in people who delivered the goods. In their dealings with their god Moloch, they themselves were always careful to deliver the goods. It was an interesting transaction, upon which we shall have to touch more in the rest of the narrative; it is enough to say here than once that it involved the theory I have suggested, about a certain attitude towards children.
If you've been paying any attention to the news, you know exactly what I mean.  This "certain attitude towards children" and the belief "in people who deliver the goods" are in complete ascendancy in politics, in society, in business, in academia, and in most of the religious institutions. 

May God have mercy on us.

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