Friday, March 6, 2015

Bad News and Good News for the South

The South as John Devanny explains is dying:

What exactly makes the South, the South? Hosts of scholars have puzzled mightily over this one. Historians might point to the old Confederacy, human geographers might look for the proliferation of Southern Baptist Churches, as well as clusters and distributions of BBQ joints and firearms ownership, while linguists ponder over the prevalence of “y’all” and other Southern speech patterns. The Academy is a nervous, for you see, the South seems to be slowly disappearing. This means coming up with new villains, and perhaps even more hysterical fulminations on how slavery in the southern United States is the root of all evil: past, present, and future. Yes there is grant money and tenure at stake here too, though one might justly believe that the South was studied and analyzed into an early grave. But really the South, however ill-defined, does seem to be disappearing.

Let’s have the evidence you say? Well, here goes. The snow geese migration has taken a pretty heavy toll on traditional voting patterns in Maryland (1970s), as well as current day Virginia and North Carolina, not to say anything of Atlanta and Florida, but that of course goes back to carpetbagging days. Southern accents are disappearing. Case in point, the midlands accent of New Jersey and Pennsylvania once extended to the area north of Baltimore, now it is firmly entrenched throughout most of Maryland and northern Virginia. Just find a linguistic map from 1970 and compare it to one from 2010, you’ll see. In my teaching career, the sons and daughters of people born and bred in South Carolina sport the accents of the San Fernando Valley. “Like, really?” “ Yes, Tiffany, really.” There was a time, as far north as Baltimore, that when you ordered iced tea it came sweetened; now we all must specifically ask for “sweet tea” in all places south of Mason and Dixon’s line. The list could go on ad infinitum. And truth be told, much of what we take as “Southern” since the Late Unpleasantness is of dubious heritage. Tent revivals, fundamentalism, bible colleges, football, textiles, are northern imports one and all.

 . . .

Source:  ‘How ‘bout a Little Bourbon with Your Philosophy?’, The Abbeville Institute,, posted 26 Feb. 2015, accessed 27 Feb. 2015

But there is hope for new life for the Souð, and for any country which truly yearns for it.  It will not, however, come from the ‘hillbilly Thomism’ of Flannery O’Connor, Marion Montgomery, and other Southern Catholics that Mr Devanny speaks of in his essay, as well-meaning as those pious men and women were and are.  For Thomism is itself a straying from the Ancient Faith of Christ.  We must ræðer look east of Old Rome, and north of New Rome (Constantinople), to the Third Rome, Moscow.  Đere, in Russia, we will find the Balm that will heal the Southern soul and allow it to grow and abound in every grace.  What is this Balm?  Union with the All-Holy Trinity through the God-man Jesus Christ, Whose revelation the Orthodox Church has kept without any admixture of error.

Knowing the deep religious basis of the Russian spirit, Dostoevsky, despite all the shortcomings of the people, believed that it stood to the Russians to carry out a great mission in Europe. He saw “the essence of Russia’s calling” in “revealing to the world the unknown Russian Christ, Whose principle lies in our native Orthodoxy” (Letter to Strakhov, 1869, No. 325).  . . .

Source:  Nikolai Lossky, ‘Dostoevsky on Russia’s Mission’, Soul of the East,, Mark Hackard trans., posted 27 Feb. 2015, accessed 28 Feb. 2015

This baptism of the South at the hands of Russia would be quite natural.  Between the two peoples there is a deep kinship in ways of thinking and living.  Consider the philosophies of the two, their desire for synthesis, integration, and wholeness rather than for analysis and breaking apart.  Here is Lossky again on the Russian mind:

 . . . In view of the breadth of the Russian mind and character, Dostoevsky was confident that the Christian spirit would be expressed in the ability to develop a synthesis of opposing ideas and aspirations that divide the peoples of Europe, whence would be achieved not only theoretical but practical reconciliation of all disputes.

It is remarkable that this ability and passion of the Russian mind for all-encompassing synthesis was noted long before Dostoevsky, as B. Yakovenko shows in his History of Russian Philosophy, by many Russian writers, such as Prince V.F. Odoevsky, Belinsky, Kireevsky, and Shevyrev.[i]

In the 1861 magazine Vremya, Dostoevsky wrote that the basic aspiration of Russians was “universal, spiritual reconciliation.” “The Russian idea with time will become the synthesis of all those ideas that Europe for so long and with such persistence produced in its individual nationalities.” Western peoples seek to “find a universal human ideal in themselves and by their own powers, and therefore they altogether harm themselves and their cause.” “The idea of universal humanity ever more wears away between them. Among each of them it takes a different type, dulls, and assumes in consciousness a new form. The Christian bond that up to this time united them loses strength with every day.” To the contrary, in the Russian character, “the capability for high synthesis, a gift for universal reconcilability and humanity is predominant.” “He gets along with everyone and is accustomed to all. He sympathizes with all that is human regardless of nationality, blood, and soil. He finds and immediately allows for reasonableness in all, if only there is to be some universal human interest.” “This is why Europeans completely do not understand Russians, and the greatest feature of their character they have called impersonality” (Ibid, III). In the work of Russia’s greatest poet, Pushkin, this “Russian ideal – integrality, universal reconcilability, and humanity” was incarnated (Ibid, V).

Source:  ibid

And here is Richard Weaver on the Southern mind:

 . . . the Southern mind is not by habit analytical.  In fact the Southern mind has little capacity for analysis and I think one could almost say that it is opposed on principle to analysis.  There seems to exist a feeling that you do not get at the truth of a thing—or that you do not get at a truth worth having—by breaking the thing in pieces.  This explains undoubtedly why the South has always done so poorly in business and technology, which demand analytical methods.  The Southern mind is, on the other hand, synthetic and mythopoeic—it seeks out wholes, representations, symbols (‘The Southern Tradition’ [1964], The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, III and Thompson, Jr., eds., Indianapolis, Ind., LibertyPress, 1987, p. 226).

One may also note the prominent place of the creation in both the South and Russia.  For an ensample from the South, see ‘Hymns of the Marshes’ or ‘Corn’ by Sidney Lanier:

For Russia, one may listen to Fr John Strickland’s recording beginning at about the 17:30 mark:

The South would be able to give in this relationship as well.  For Russia is not yet healed of the nightmare of Communism; her people need the prayers yet of friends around the world (and of their thousands and thousands of Holy Martyrs and Confessors of the 20th century) to complete their journey of repentance.

But whether the South receives the True Faith from Russia or from some other Orthodox people (Romania, Georgia, Serbia, and so on), joining the life of the Holy Trinity through the Orthodox Church is our only hope for renewal as individuals and as a whole people.  For the West since the Great Schism of 1054 has only been able to offer her peoples a crippled faith, thus allowing the idols/demons of old to return and reign, culminating (so far) in the bloody, Western-funded and -imposed Soviet era of Russia.

 . . .

The demons cast out by the New Martyrs and Confessors [of Russia--W. G.], by our recognition of them and so our prayers to them, went to the West, where they were welcomed. Now, as at Gennesareth of old, the demons have entered into those who welcomed them and they, like a herd of swine, are rushing to their suicide all over the Western world, shouting ‘Je suis Charlie’. Now is the time to redouble our prayers to the Saints of the Western world who belong to the Church. Together with all the heavenly hosts, they can send these demons back to their place in hell.

The Final Battle is coming. Every day the Second Coming draws closer, but the miracle of repentance is no less possible today than yesterday. The end may be only a few years away, but it may also be a thousand years away. The demons can still be cast out of the West ‘by prayer and fasting’. We do not fear, because whatever happens, we know that the real end of history, and not the end imagined by an American academic a history-filled generation ago, will be the Triumph of Orthodoxy. The last words in world history are Christ’s.

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips, ‘The Final Battle Is Coming: The Truth Will Set You Free’, Orthodox England events ‘blog,, posted 1 March 2015, accessed 6 March 2015

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