Honorary Patriactionary: The Arch Druid

30 Dec

One of the things to note in Will’s post of Longfellow’s poem is the nearly-absent-today word: “Christendom.” A word whose decline began either in 1054, with the Great Schism, or 1517, on Reformation Day. That Christendom was no more was the great fear and promise that Nietzsche foresaw, and he predicted great strife over the proper replacement for it. I used to think of the period from 1914-1945 as the new 30 years’ war, when the two major forms of Protestantism would battle and destroy each other, having abandoned their roots in Christian thinking; Belloc wrote this exact thought years before I was born. To me, the tragedy is that the Protestant struggle for European domination also destroyed the great Catholic kingdoms of Italy and Austria-Hungary, the conservative Islamic empire of Turkey, and the Orthodox empire in Russia, along with murdering many millions of Christians.

I would write more about this, but I do not have to. I came across The Arch Druid, a man opposed to the secular nature of the age and an advocate of restoration of faith in Druid beliefs. While we do hope and pray for his soul, we accept that, as a religious person opposed to the Christian anti-religion of progress, he is much more ally than enemy. It does not hurt that he writes clearly, calmly, and with a wide-ranging intelligence and reading list.

Take, for one, the intro to his series on the collapse of the religion of “progress.” Some excerpts:

In Nietzsche’s time, the Christian religion was central to European culture in a way that’s almost unthinkable from today’s perspective. … The core concepts that undergirded every dimension of European thought and behavior came straight out of Christianity. … It’s indicative of the tenor of the times that even those thinkers who tried to reject Christianity usually copied it right down to the fine details.  Thus the atheist philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), a well known figure in his day though almost entirely forgotten now, ended up launching a “Religion of Humanity” with a holy trinity of Humanity, the Earth, and Destiny, a calendar of secular saints’ days, and scores of other borrowings from the faith he thought he was abandoning. … (L)ess radical neighbors went about their lives in the serene conviction that the assumptions their culture had inherited from its Christian roots were eternally valid. … The only difficulty this posed that a large and rapidly growing fraction of 19th-century Europeans no longer believed the core tenets of the faith that structured their lives and their thinking. It never occurred to most of them to question the value of Christian ethics, the social role of Christian institutions, or the sense of purpose and value they and their society had long derived from Christianity.

In his 1793 book Religion Within The Limits of Bare Reason, Kant argued that the essence of religion—in fact, the only part of it that had real value—was leading a virtuous life, and everything else was superstition and delusion. … The triumph of Kant’s redefinition of religion was all but total in Protestant denominations, up until the rise of fundamentalism at the beginning of the 20th century, and left lasting traces on the leftward end of Catholicism as well.  To this day, if you pick an American church at random on a Sunday morning and go inside to listen to the sermon, your chances of hearing an exhortation to live a virtuous life, without reference to any other dimension of religion, are rather better than one in two.  The fact remains that Kant’s reinterpretation has almost nothing in common with historic Christianity. To borrow a phrase from a later era of crisis, Kant apparently felt that he had to destroy Christianity in order to save it, but the destruction was considerably more effective than the salvation turned out to be.
A strong case can therefore be made that Nietzsche got the right answer, but was asking the wrong question. He grasped that the collapse of Christian faith in European society meant the end of the entire structure of meanings and values that had God as its first postulate, but thought that the only possible aftermath of that collapse was a collective plunge into the heart of chaos, where humanity would be forced to come to terms with the nonexistence of objective values, and would finally take responsibility for their own role in projecting values on a fundamentally meaningless cosmos; the question that consumed him was how this could be done.  A great many other people in his time saw the same possibility, but rejected it on the grounds that such a cosmos was unfit for human habitation. Their question, the question that has shaped the intellectual and cultural life of the western world for several centuries now, is how to find some other first postulate for meaning and value in the absence of faith in the Christian God. …The surrogate God that western civilization embraced, tentatively in the 19th century and with increasing conviction and passion in the 20th, was progress. … (emphasis added)
Progress makes a poor substitute for a deity, not least because its supposed omnipotence and benevolence are becoming increasingly hard to take on faith just now.  There’s every reason to think that in the years immediately before us, that difficulty is going to become impossible to ignore—and the same shattering crisis of meaning and value that the religion of progress was meant to solve will be back, adding its burden to the other pressures of our time.


This is the kind of stuff that stirs the hearts of reactionaries: the collapse of what The Arch Druid calls the antireligion of Progress (which has its own antireligion, Apocalypse.) You can and should read the next four posts in the line, from the April archive. The analysis is superb. I include a picture from that archive that he uses to illustrate how a false, civil religion coopts the use of symbols from theistic religions, to give you a sense of his visual communication.



Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


17 responses to “Honorary Patriactionary: The Arch Druid

  1. Will S.

    December 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Spot on, the pagan fellow is. And indeed, I don’t think that either the Great Schism or the Reformation truly shattered the concept of ‘Christendom’ themselves so much as Kant and other secularizers did, by setting up ‘progress’ as their idol, and foolishly buying into the Whig narrative; as Butterfield noted in The Whig Interpretation of History, there was foolish praising of Luther and Calvin by Whigs who wished to claim them as their own, even though, as he noted, they were in no wise Whiggish in any of their tendencies at all. Both silly Whigs who claim them, and some (many) silly neo-reactionaries who blame them, seeing them as forerunners of Whiggery, are equally deluded.

    Someone, I forget who, claimed that the change of language from ‘Christendom’ to ‘Western civilization’ was indicative of the victory of secularism, and that seems plausible enough; ‘Western’ it must be, since it no longer is the Faith holding us Westmen together…

  2. Will S.

    December 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I saw that painting on Twitter. Gives one the shivers, eh?

    Here’s a couple more that should also do likewise:

  3. Will S.

    December 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm


    It’s been years since I read Thomas Molnar’s Utopia, The Perennial Heresy, but I am often reminded of one of his claims—the belief that people will stop believing in utopian ideas is itself utopian. I am reminded of it most forcefully whenever I read about the “War on Terror.” Andrew Stuttaford writes,

    On September, 14th, 2001, I found myself in Union Square, New York City…Towards the southern end of the square, there was a large Union Jack, surrounded…by candles. Across the flag someone had written this:

    Just like D-Day. America & Britain stand together. Brothers-in-arms to rid the world of evil. God bless America.

    But Britain did not enter the Second World War to rid the world of evil. It entered as the result of a territorial guarantee issued to Poland. After the fall of France, the war became a matter of British survival. It was a crusade to rid the world of fascism only to Communists and fellow travellers and only after the Soviet Union, which invaded Poland two weeks after Germany, was itself invaded in June 1941. Six months later, Churchill sent Anthony Eden to Moscow with instructions to promise Stalin as much of Poland as he wanted; he took 47%. The war became a crusade to rid Britain of the class system only after clever dicks in the British Army decided to give the troops something to look forward to (“What We Are Fighting For”). In 1945, the troops voted en masse to send Churchill packing.

    But a crusade to rid the world of evil? This falsehood became current only recently. (Schoolchildren are taught now that the Second World War had something to do with saving the Jews. To which the only response is that it was a catastrophic failure in this respect.) Only lunatics or utopians believe in a war against evil.

    Which brings us back to Molnar. According to the excellent summary of Utopia:

    It may surprise many that Molnar sees Teilhard de Chardin and Karl Marx sharing the same ideological umbrella, despite the theological differences between them. Going further, the author argues strongly that utopianism is a persistent historical phenomenon seriously at odds with that Christian realism which remains as one of the supports of Western civilization. For the utopian—religious or atheistic—aims, despite all disclaimers, at the deification of man. Further, in Thomas Molnar’s cogent thesis, utopian doctrines implicitly deny the central Christian understanding of original sin. The perfection which they seek and the abstract Man of whom they speak alike conflict with the Christian understanding of the free human will and a personal, transcendent God.

    Let’s rid the world of evil, and God bless America. This is the heresy of Americanism, and its currency explains why “Christian” observance remains so high in “God’s country.” Post-modern American Christianity has little to do with the religion founded by Our Lord. It is a health-and-happiness cult based on the utopian idea that Americans are God’s chosen people, that he has blessed them with a new New Covenant.

    Kevin Michael Grace, 11.48 p.m., May 31, 2004

  4. Carnivore

    December 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    That painting is by Jon McNaughton. He’s a Mormon and has got others that are equally ridiculous.

  5. Will S.

    December 30, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Ah yes; Mormonism, like evangelicalism, a made-in-America religion promoting Americanist heresy…

  6. weak stream

    December 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

    As I say, there ain’t no such thing as an athiest. The rejection of Christianity by ‘New Agers’ is bogus when you consider that they have retained all of the Judeo-Christian values anyway. They reject Jesus and replace it with some kind of ‘Mother Earth’ worship. A different diety. For example, I don’t think you can say you love creme brulee, eclaire, crepes, French architecture etc. but say the French are culturally inferior. Declaring this is a self serving hypocrisy. And, yes, they still want Christmas vacation.

  7. Will S.

    December 31, 2013 at 10:30 am

    LOL! Indeed. 🙂

  8. Sanne

    January 2, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Great paintings, where do you find them?:)
    Happy New Year!!!

  9. Will S.

    January 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Hey Sanne, Happy New Year!

    I think they’re awful, myself, though technically proficient and skilful in execution; just bad art, with an unfortunate neo-con America-worshiping theme.

    I don’t know where Electric Angel found the one he posted in his original post here but Carnivore showed the link of the artist himself. As for the two I found, I just used Google, using my memory of what the first one was like – the file name has the artist’s name in it, if you right-click on it and look at its properties.

  10. weak stream

    January 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Something about the pose of the cop looks a bit ‘Village People’.

  11. Will S.

    January 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

    LOL, yikes! 🙂


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