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Our New St. Boniface

St. Boniface, Apostle to the Germans (Sergey Kohl/Shutterstock [1])

A reader writes:

I am a primary care physician in a major Southern city –

I can testify for sure – most people would be horrified if they knew what their children/grandchildren were looking at online.

Just this afternoon – I had a 42 year old mother in tears in my office. Her son is a sophomore in high school at a “gifted and talented school” here in the local community. One of his high school age friends texted my patient – the mother – the following in reference to her son – “leave him alone B=$%h – or you will have to deal with me”. Apparently the mother had been all over her son for spending too much time on his computer and had begun making restrictions. The friend was not happy. When she doubled down after this text – the friend then sent her a picture of a KKK grand wizard holding a revolver to the head of a kitten. When she called the mother of the boy about this incident – the mother began laughing hysterically – and marveling at his creativity.

Mind you – this is just today’s story – I can write a novel from just what has happened to my patients in the past 12 months.

My parents in the 1970s were worried about us ending up like Eddie Haskell on the Beaver show. He comes off as a saint compared to many of these kids I am dealing with today.

I have two sons at home – toddlers – the stories that I am dealing with every day horrify me about the America my children will inherit.

People need to begin taking this stuff seriously – but I am afraid they are not.

Reader Edward Hamilton, who teaches in a small Southern Evangelical college, writes:

Regardless of whether or not Christianity retains nominal membership by a large fraction of the country, it’s clear that the locus of passions in the hearts of many younger Christians has shifted from issues that involve the traditional church community to issues that involve post-Christian (or even nihilistically anti-Christian) online communities.

Last weekend, a bunch of my students were waxing enthusiastic about the 4chan humiliation of Shia LaBeouf’s “He Will Not Divide Us” campaign [2]. This barely made a ripple in the broader media, even in the traditional conservative media. But it was a major coup in the alt-Right media world, and my student knew about it within hours of it happening. The general consensus of my boys was “Do NOT mess with 4chan. They will wreck you for life.”

I was reminded of a recent post here about Islam being “the last bad-ass religion”. There’s nothing bad-ass about Christianity these days. I teach at a small Christian college that until just this year wouldn’t even let its faculty drink alcohol; I’m telling you now, there is no political action by a figure or organization on the old-style Christian Right, substantive or symbolic, that any of my students would care about — certainly not on the same level that they care about how 4chan is brilliantly messing with Shia LeBeouf. They know 4chan is a hot mess of racism and sexism; that came up in the conversation, without much push-back. But they just don’t care. The symbolic power of lowering that flag and raising a Trump hat was a shot in the arm in a way that anodyne calls for a more winsome Christian witness in the postmodern world can never be. I’ll take a 100-to-1 bet against ever hearing any of my students kibitzing passionately over the weekend about a David Brooks column, or a James K.A. Smith book. Or for that matter, a Rod Dreher book.

This was not always true. A millennium ago, it was Saint Boniface who was chopping down the sacred grove of Thor in order to gather wood to build the foundations for Fritzlar’s altar. Christianity and paganism were the allegiances that mattered, the ones that generated emotional energy and engaged the popular imagination. Christianity was ascendant, and it was totally bad-ass. Boniface was kicking a millennium of paganism to the curb, and ushering in a millennium of Christendom.

This week, the world’s next Saint Boniface was celebrated by an audience that will inherit the world, one that is growing as rapidly as the church is shrinking, as young and vigorous as the leadership of most denominations is aging and benign.

Celebrate it, dread it, or ignore it, but our new Saint Boniface is an anon on /pol/.

Hey, here’s a badass Orthodox Christian site. [3]

71 Comments (Open | Close)

71 Comments To "Our New St. Boniface"

#1 Comment By David J. White On March 18, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

So many people wouldn’t even believe their ears if they heard someone say “Christianity” and “badass” in the same sentence.

A good example of that is the way our popular culture has turned St. Francis of Assisi into a tree-hugging proto-hippie, as opposed to the badass who risked his life to try to convert the Sultan.

#2 Comment By Johan On March 18, 2017 @ 4:13 pm

In any decent country now or ever, Mr Boniface would have been beaten or at least fined and imprisoned for his vandalism of someone else’s tree. Any ideology that considers this character’s actions to be heroic, I hope will fade away.

#3 Comment By Bob Taylor On March 18, 2017 @ 4:53 pm

Thank God it was the Bruderhof who kidnapped you, not a Falwellian op. I, too, was wondering about you.

#4 Comment By mdc On March 18, 2017 @ 5:20 pm

“I am scarcely aware of who Shia LaBeouf is and have never hard of “He will not divide us” and 4chan. I must be living the Benedict Option.”

But will the BenOp be an effective refuge from all that, or a deep dive into continual culture-war analysis and outrage-porn? I honestly can’t tell. The ‘tend your own garden’ stuff points one way, the ‘know your enemy, get your head out the sand’ stuff points the other.

#5 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On March 18, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

Kek? I’d rather prefer K.u.K., as in Kaiserlich und Königlich.

#6 Comment By Annie On March 18, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

Eliana, those are wonderful points. The formlessness & brutalism of our society creep in everywhere, not just architecture or decaying strip malls.

Some time back I began quietly removing Sandra Boynton books from the nursery. It’s not just her books, there’s so many: books with hasty, cartoonish sketches and cheap laughs. Movies with worse things. Books weird for the sake of being weird yet wholly lacking in wonder. The great gift we can give our children is the sense of wonder; as Rabbi Heschel wrote, wonder is the first step to God. Or, the first way we hear God speaking to us. So we silence it with crudeness, with pep, with busyness, with false despair, with ugliness.

It’s easy to snicker at those who dare to feel wonder, but I’ve noticed grown-ups hunger for it as much as children. We dull it so regularly and it takes effort to restore it. Recently I came across an episode of a show I watched in my socialist salad days, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and was horrified by how demeaning and anti-human it was. Why were cruelty and abominable behavior so funny? Why was it so embarrassing to admit to other urbanites that constant deliberate ugliness and sarcasm was exhausting?

It may be dismissed as the ramblings of a mean old grump, but how can people hear, see, or otherwise recognize wonder in a world of endless noise and formless shapes? Truly we live in Paul Virilio’s world of speed. Instant gratification all the time. What will a generation completely raised in the blue lights of flickering screens and instant porn become? Turning our gaze from the good, what image have we offered them to guide and shape themselves?

So we need sackcloth and ashes to restore virtue ethics, and devotion to the good, the true, and the beautiful to restore wonder. I’ve been thinking about the spiritual poverty of our milieu, and how the beauty found in a midnight vigil or early dawn adoration are such an antidote to the poison. For myself, practicing the Benedict Option may entail collecting Tasha Tudor books for children, becoming a foster parent, and finding a way to praying the rosary, visibly, in public. To bring something of the vigils to those who never hear the word “God,” who hear much about compassion and mercy and then are left to drown with a prescription for painkillers and a sea of noise all around them.

Dismissing little constraints doesn’t seem like a big deal until one is sinking in mud, surrounded by trash, and realizes it was small choices with perpetual vigilance that made our world a home and not just a strip mall parking lot.

#7 Comment By Potato On March 18, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

Kek? I’d rather prefer K.u.K., as in Kaiserlich und Königlich.

Kek is an orc laughing. Stupid in-joke, like 99% of this stuff.

#8 Comment By JonF On March 18, 2017 @ 9:32 pm

Raskonik,
why is it even necessary or useful to note any of those you go on and on about above. Here’s a simple and ethical solution: deal with people as individuals note as members of groups. That will solve a great many practical and moral problems and even when you make an occasional mistake (we all make mistakes) you not go too far off course, while you will if you insist on treating everyone except maybe those who look like you (including in the nether parts) as if they were faceless non-personal members of some collective “they the other”.

#9 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 18, 2017 @ 10:18 pm

Thank God it was the Bruderhof who kidnapped you, not a Falwellian op. I, too, was wondering about you.

Reminds me of an unpublished article I submitted to the late, great, Wittenburg Door. It explored the yawning chasm between Dr. James Dobson’s sage advice on children and families, contrasted with his screaming hissy fits at political rallies. It turns out that the real Dr. Dobson was on his way to share a plate of ribs with the late Molly Ivins, when he was kidnapped by Karl Rove after he declined to endorse George W. Bush for president. He’d been held captive for years, while an imposter did the screaming hissy fits on the political stage.

Here’s a simple and ethical solution: deal with people as individuals note as members of groups. That will solve a great many practical and moral problems and even when you make an occasional mistake (we all make mistakes)

Hear! Hear!

Some time back I began quietly removing Sandra Boynton books from the nursery.

Don’t know who she is, but when I have to stock a nursery with books, I rely on the tried and true: Babar, Where The Wild Things Are, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (when they’re a bit older), Beatrice Potter…

#10 Comment By Raskolnik On March 18, 2017 @ 11:15 pm

Why is it even necessary or useful to note any of those you go on and on about above. Here’s a simple and ethical solution: deal with people as individuals note as members of groups.

First of all, this just isn’t how human beings are wired. Our minds are first and foremost classification engines, and there is good evolutionary reason for it: being able to identify a banana as a good banana as opposed to a rotten banana is an absolutely essential survival skill. Likewise with in-group/out-group distinctions. As a political goal, especially for systems of political order based on the ideas of classical Liberalism, there is of course something to be said for focus on the individual. However, while there is something to be said for this, a) it will always conflict with root-level psychology, and b) the progressive left (SJWs) have completely abandoned this as even a rhetorical fig-leaf covering their naked will-to-power. They hate white people, Christians, heterosexuals, and men–and they make no secret of it.

Second, “never categorizing anyone” is completely impossible from a policy perspective. Policy, by necessity, deals with population groups as opposed to individuals. I’m all for subsidiarity, which would mitigate most of the worst of this problem, but any system of government is always going to have to make broad-brush distinctions between population groups. Those groups need not be racial, but see the first point. Racial/linguistic/cultural/religious classifications (which are extremely strongly correlated) tend to be the easiest way to make an in-group/out-group distinction, for obvious reasons.

#11 Comment By Jonathan Scinto On March 18, 2017 @ 11:20 pm

Aggressively persecuting other faiths, doesn’t make you badass. It makes you a fanatic. See the campus SJWs if you want a secular example.

#12 Comment By Stephen Hall On March 19, 2017 @ 1:56 am

“A reminder that before Christianity in the West became weak, its adherents marginalised, its sanctities desecrated, it was busy marginalising, persecuting, and desecrating the ancestral faiths of others.”

As well as they should, and should again.

#13 Comment By a spencer On March 19, 2017 @ 3:29 am

4chan has one defining characteristic: trolls trolling trolls. It is omnidirectional.

One the one hand, it can be quite funny.

On the other hand, every single aspect of the ‘cultural cesspool’ that people on this website complain about is exhibited there. And then some. For instance, 4chan (and YouTube) have done more to advance Holocaust denial in the digital age than all the newsletters in all the PO Boxes of the Post WWII analog era combined.

There are some good, SFW hockey threads on 4chan’s sports section, but the rest of it is nothing to be proud of.

Since our host has young sons, I’m more curious if they’ve seen it, or if he has and what he would tell them about it because they will almost certainly come across it at some point.

#14 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On March 19, 2017 @ 8:09 am

Potato

Kek is an orc laughing. Stupid in-joke, like 99% of this stuff.

I suspected something of the sort

#15 Comment By Lisa On March 19, 2017 @ 2:03 pm

About 10-15 years ago is brought my son to a Quaker church for a report he was writing. At the time I didn’t know that there are three branches of Quakerism, or that we had ended up in the most conservative branch. In any case, a missionary gave the sermon. He spoke enthusiastically about how converting people was causing complete chaos in the area. It was splitting up families, people were killing each other and on and on. But despite all that they would continue on with their work.Everyone around us was thrilled and clapping. It made me sick to my stomach and I don’t think my son has been in a church since.

#16 Comment By VikingLS On March 19, 2017 @ 5:40 pm

“Well, yeah, if it’s badass Christianity you want, Vladimir Putin has an offer you may not be able to refuse.”

Anne what do you know about the Russian Orthodox Church that hasn’t been run through the filter of the western media?

#17 Comment By JonF On March 19, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

Re: It was splitting up families, people were killing each other and on and on.

Huh? People killing each other? Where? In the USA? I don’t mean to be rude to you, but that almost sounds like the sort of Fake News I would expect to hear from Mr. Trump.
And I have to wonder about what sorts of families these are that take umbrage over someone converting. I’m sure I have a relative or two who thinks I’m an eccentric for my church-going, but no one would be upset over that.

#18 Comment By Some Guy On March 19, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

The modern American church offers little to a 25-35 White father, I can just imagine the reaction that 12 year olds have to it.

The last time I entered a church, from a political perspective there is was little talked about by the over 60 congregation but Israel worship and plans to feed Africa.

Yea, no thanks. I’ll pass.

#19 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 20, 2017 @ 8:55 am

“Well, yeah, if it’s badass Christianity you want, Vladimir Putin has an offer you may not be able to refuse.”

As Viking LS points out, you really need to know something of what you’re speaking of before you speak, or as one of my teachers back in high school put it, “think before you talk”.

Putin is so ‘badass’ in his approach to Islam, for example, that he builds large mosques in Moscow, encourages mass migration from Central Asia, puts people in jail for overly vigorous criticism of Islam, and massively bankrolls / props up one of the nastiest Islamist politicians on the planet right now (the current Chechen President).

#20 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 20, 2017 @ 8:58 am

“He spoke enthusiastically about how converting people was causing complete chaos in the area. It was splitting up families, people were killing each other and on and on. But despite all that they would continue on with their work.Everyone around us was thrilled and clapping. It made me sick to my stomach and I don’t think my son has been in a church since.”

Sounds almost like Jesus then:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

JonF,

I would assume she’s vaguely hinting at something in India or somewhere like that.

#21 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 20, 2017 @ 9:04 am

The last time I entered a church, from a political perspective there is was little talked about by the over 60 congregation but Israel worship and plans to feed Africa.

Feeding Africa is pretty important right now, given that the UN says that the world is currently facing the biggest hunger crisis since 1945. That might be a slight exaggeration if you include the Great Leap Forward, but it’s certainly the biggest famine since the Great Leap Forward.

[4]

Trump has of course cut our foreign aid budget which will only make the problem worse (and says a lot about his ‘Christian’ credentials or lack thereof), so I’d suggest at this moment in time it’s especially necessary for private and church charity to take up the slack.