Milk Before Meat

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St. Paul preaching among the Gentiles

Nobody is going to be happy with this web site. With its launch alongside the new Laureate Gazette, I bring it to our readers’ attention that we have dedicated an entire venture to pitching a hard truth that will satisfy no one’s tilt. The feedback I’ve already received has been frequented with polite criticism. We’ve launched into territory where typical American commentators dare not go. Right philosophy has beckoned us towards traditional forms of government long abandoned, alien to contemporary sensibility. Nonetheless, various factions have long established their lay of this geography. They may be small in number, but they are fiercely tribal and outspoken. Some of their members are reactionaries, and many of them are out-of-touch historians. They have expected us to come into this territory bearing them tribute. They won’t receive it because this venture is not beholden to any particular faction, but to the pursuit of truths, particularly certain truths hard for Modern men to yield. That pursuit of truth has driven us to where we now go, and by its compass we are defined. We are strangers amidst these many coalitions, not having come from their ranks. Many of us in Laureate are converts, intellectual or religious. We’ve come out from the world, not from those who’ve hid from it. We have not come to this territory’s threshold for favoritism. Mentioning “social tradition” with any seriousness is alone enough to ostracize yourself, let alone tampering with ideas like stratified society, like social hierarchies made political, like monarchy. It’s a dirty word, those who utter it receive the political black spot ipso facto. We haven’t come to these ideas for social acceptance. Rather, we’ve journeyed here as part of our pursuit. It was a road that takes us along the way, most certainly a road less traveled. Our crossed paths with nearby factions are merely a circumstantial result of having reasoned some things justly.

The great Angelic Doctor says in media stat virtus, but it isn’t pragmatically beneficial to approach the median of truth when everyone falls on either side. The Modern man lay to the left, and the factions of the land to the right. Of course it’s impossible for Modern man to remain on the fence with something like monarchy, we all know this. They’ll reject any mention of the arch-traditional government without a shred of intellectual consideration. It’s a gut reaction, like vomiting after whiffing an odor. The entrenched monarchists, loyalists, and legitimists make a more curious obstacle. Don’t we have our cause in common with them? As far as they have removed their faction from the pursuit of truth, we are not with them. It’s a shame. Waywardness is a primary reason for the need of a venture like ours. Even groups who have graced so close to wholesome things often fall by the wayside. I find that American traditionalists are especially susceptible to being side-tracked with petty things. Many have lost sight of the larger picture in one of two common ways: either they are more Puritanical than certain of their Reformed friends, or more sentimental than the worst Modernist sophists. But to be successful, both intellectually and in practically combating liberalism, we must all approach our personal endeavors with frank honesty. That is, we need all to pursue the truth, to reunite all our efforts with the transcendental meaning beyond our own personal fantasies. Not condemnation, but diligent self-examination is required to begin our common pursuit. Let Laureate Gazette then offer the factions in our territory no tribute, but milk before meat. And most importantly, may they learn to do so with those who aren’t their own persuasion.

Let us begin describing the Puritans. They look at the highest cause before their eyes as the only cause. The first among the Puritans are the church-mongers. The only thing viable to them is the Church. Their shelves are packed with spiritual reading, their comportment is frumpily, innocently unaware to even the gainful Modern trends. Anything contemporary is anathema, even if the contemporary thing is not Modern. These sort have the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christs and the testament of historical saints as their only consideration for monarchy. Contemporary monarchy is only a good inasmuch as a lofty ideal in which to make more saints, but perhaps as ghostly impossible as the physical presence of saints. These Puritans only see monarchy as a translucent ideal; it’s surely the apex of traditionalism evident in the hierarchical reign of God, but they reason they’ll never see it on earth again. To explain the impossibility, they resort to religious pursuits only and neglect the world wholesale. Their neglect is a combination of despair in the liberality in the world, or in some vague claim that the world is too fallen and always corrupt besides. Any good Christian knows that their reasonings are fallacious, the one a mortal sin, the other to inevitably say the material world is evil or beyond the means of grace to fix. The latter throws our church-mongers in the same boat as the Protestant Revolution. They’ve damned the material world, despite living in it and hoping their own salvation. They’re forced to intellectually cope with logical contradictions.

The second among the Puritans are the politically righteous. This sort sees monarchy as the philosophical good, but have shut their mind off to anything else. They are perfect advocates for the perfect society, although they have neglected their spiritual or material health entirely. The politically righteous anathematize anybody who might stray from their precise footsteps. Their dens breed contempt and feuds even among other traditionalist monarchists. They will not deign to physical activism in the world, because in one way or another, they’ll be supposedly exposed to liberalism and dialectics. There is no pastoral need for these Puritans, but only the doctrine of the crown. They push the legitimacy of candidates in the United States who are inviable, not only because it will never happen, but because there is no legitimate pretender for the United States. Worse yet, many of the politically righteous are so out-of-touch as to demand the restoration of the old colonial empires, and the abolition of all significant history that has happen since them. All American patriotism is viewed with suspicion as liberal propaganda. Anyone below their high standard is sub-par, and with that in mind, the others turn away from tradition altogether.

The issue of the Puritans is that they must offer no tribute, but milk before meat. The church-monger must submit to realism. Humanity makes conclusions through what they observe. The things we see with our eyes are obviously not the highest causes of all things. Rather, we abstract those higher things from the knowledge we have concretely gained from the lower. While people are eminently sensual and many are corrupted by those lower things, concluding that all people would necessarily become corrupt when using lesser things absurd. Otherwise, how do the lower things permit us to abstract the higher at all? We would not be able to rust those abstractions. Even the saints began their paths to holiness by using their eyes to witness the things of the flesh. They didn’t count all things of the flesh as essentially worthless or evil. Rather, they subordinated the flesh to all spiritual things. So too, Laureate counts on speaking and acting upon the lesser politics of the material order without corrupting the message of higher truth. Rather, we are ordered to it. It was St. Paul that said to the Corinthians,

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ.

I gave you milk to drink, not meat: for you were not able as yet. But neither indeed are you now able: for you are yet carnal.

For, whereas there is among you envying and contention, are you not carnal and walk you not according to man?

We know that most of our fellowmen in America are deprived. Pius X argues in Pascendi Dominici Gregis that philosophical error is the primary cause for the Modern crisis, not spiritual death, not theological error. Philosophy, the fair lady of the natural order, is dead. Her reign of the lower order enables men to approach the higher, supernatural order. Sound death of mind makes anything beyond the mind an impossibility. Since the natural order is itself gainful, traditionalists must raise their fellow Americans up and reinstill proper societal order in our country. As our liberal republic uses the masses for determine leadership, so must we do likewise. Americans must be educated. As any proper teacher knows, one begins to dictate philosophy to students in common terms. There’s no desecration in doing so; you are not the devil’s instrument for cheapening the truth. The teacher does glory to God to use those students’ intellectual grasp of the common to bring them in discipline towards the greater. How much less attention we give to the natural order and our fellowmen, beyond the proportion that indicates due priority of religion, but to the point of sinful deficiency in our duty! We are called to live the Faith in the public square, and we can’t forget it without pain of sinning against charity.

Prayer is necessary to have, but grace also builds upon nature. We can’t always turn to prayer if we’re neglecting our duty of state in the real world. We must act, too.

The politically righteous, too, must suffer to step down from their proud stance. The method of convincing people to truth is hardly ever a battle of pure intellect, as they contend to use. Man is a composite creature, matter and spirit. His intellect and will are effected by his emotions and intimations as much as his mind. One can never neglect the emotional and poetic arguments for the truth for sake of only the highest intellectual arguments. Moreover, one cannot forget to have longsuffering and the greatest patience when reaching across the aisle. Conversion of heart does not happen all at once, and the first temptation of a person proven wrong is to pridefully defend the wrong position. Refusal to cooperate with human nature has nothing to do with your defending the truth, but it has everything to do with a profound lack of charity for neighbor. The stiff-necked and stubborn are devoid of virtue themselves. Though they say they’re defending truth, their blinding pride will guarantee an inevitable plummeting from their own position. They will betray truth for some petty personal preference, and they’ll have no compunction to know better. It was St. Augstine who said, “truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” Learn not to associate your efforts of preserving the truth with the truth itself. The truth of whatever matter will always have better duration and accuracy than you, regardless of your support. Instead, focus upon yourself. Purify of yourself of error if you truly love the true, the good, and the beautiful. Meditate upon those things of religion, and do not be deceived about your own menial responsibilities when faced with the temptingly large questions. And most especially, offer not tribute to those who have minor disagreements with you, but milk before meat. Silence in the face of a wrong opinion does not necessarily mean concession; it may mean prudence, it may indicate a mind ever striving to convert the opponent our of love for his well-being.

The second common way traditionalists get side-tracked is with overbearing sentimentalism. These do not consider themselves like Puritans, nor do they use the mind like a sharpened tool. Rather, they neglect the development of their intellectual arguments for traditionalism altogether. Their beliefs fall short of anything that isn’t an awe of the aesthetically beautiful, nostalgia for something they never saw, or having children. Their senses are offended by the Modern, and they’re not sure of anything beyond the fact that it’s disordered. The aesthetics of anything contemporary offends their sensibilities. Their eyes snag on the gold leafing of past trappings, of ermine cloaks, of jewel-laden crowns, powdered wigs, and haughty courts. Laureate and the AMS’ new web site will feel far too patriotic for the stodgy sort of monarchist, who’s more attached to a deep navy blue banner bearing fleur-de-lis’ than our star spangled one. He equates any hint of pride in the American endeavor as a betrayal to the ugly, as if national pride is only a virtue for Europeans. No, our oozing friend will busy himself with serenading the Bourbons – or some other old house. He will be too busy to involve himself with the meager business of making our own nation as great. And it’s no wonder he does so: if we all followed his example, the United States would be as void as the void of labor that never built it. Who would care to? France or Spain are simply lucky in that case: men have already built legacies for us to adore. Will we be so easily dissuaded not to build our own, or is it because those like our friend had never trained himself to know what the dream is? He spends his time idolizing royal families, putting lipstick on a pig and calling English tabloids legitimate political news. At worst, his sense of politics is so cheapened that he disconnects the form of monarchy from its essentially traditionalist nature altogether, becoming mere liberals with a celebrity obsession. The vision of disconnected grandeur is ripped from its roots. It’s now a hobby like any other, and a hobby for its own sake. Hobbyism is what justifies figureheads. Monarchy becomes stuck as a hobby in the mind of people who observe the sentimentalist. They let his treatment of monarchy rub off on their impressions of what it must be: snobby condescension from old people speaking nonsense in thick, frivolous accents, who are accompanied by equally old people of noses upturned and clad in powdered whigs. It sounds like something that we should more readily associate with a bad historical reenactment. But does Modern man think about political theory on feudalism, absolute rule, the role of the nobility, the traditional definitions of a country and its purpose, when he thinks of the word monarchy? No. The sentimentalists have done as much damage to our cause as the American Revolution. We have been made into a joke. The emotional attachment is so self-consuming and unintelligible that it’s left the realm of reality. The sentimentalist scares his fellowmen, because the beauty he sees is not only foreign to Modern man, but the way he’s attached to it is equally unthinkable.

The self-contained dream of the sentimentalist

Rather than let some emotional vital immanence dampen their outlook of our contemporary world, the sentimentalists need firstly to submit to right reason and order themselves properly to the superiority of logic. Morality demands that a man submit to his highest faculties. To not consider the truth of a matter in real contemplation is negligence. To invest all of oneself into his own dream is the peak of selfishness. What is a dream to to be a prompt for men to act upon? Perhaps the world might look similar to what the sentimentalist desires, if he only acted methodically towards bringing it into fruition. There is no pretend, no dream, no hallucinatory euphoria of the past that could replace a wholesome reality before us. It’s not sensible to waste our efforts indulging on self-centered gratification, it’s only easy. Look to the world outside instead, and your reward will be greater in the end. The first step is to consider the true definition of monarchy. Understanding its governing form against tenets of the liberal revolutions it shows the dichotomy between the two. They are not reconcilable in any clean conscience. Liberalism was birthed from the head of men conspiring against the king. It is disoriented, it has proven diabolical. Understanding the hierarchy and philosophy that proffered monarchs in Europe also gives testament to the higher truths it must submit to. We witness that a royal country is no hobby for itself, but a form of a whole larger mindset. The mindset is called traditionalism. To consider monarchy as a proper thinker proves there can be no divorce between the two. When the sentimentalists have their own mind in order, dealing with extrapersonal challenges will enforce the use of reason all the more in problem solving. Their love of monarchial trappings must also deal according to charity and realism. It is a product of a mind poorly trained to be deaf to reasonable things, to reality. Perhaps the inordinate zeal for monarchy’s guilded-age riches is a simply result of misunderstanding monarchy in its essential form. The Modern age is one of simplicity, and America even more so than many other countries. If a monarch were to arise in our day and country, he will not bear the riches that the sentimentalists have so much adored. A leading man must govern his comportment with due respect to the sensibilities of the time. If we get a crown, it will look completely different than those of the past, and monarchists must find peace with that. All ages must receive a certain deference, that their styles have a right to change from century to century. We need to remember that deference for the Modern age. There’s no exception for driving Modern man away from our convictions solely for one’s vain materialistic attachments. It’s a pathetic argument, and Laureate has no patience for it. The other factor concerning the new look of monarchy is liberal theology’s recent desecration of art and hierarchy. Even when considering proper deference to the age’s fashions, we are suffering from an undue deficiency. Modernity is barren, unfertile, and antiseptic. The solution to Modern styles is still not that of complete rejection, however. We advocate no compromise beyond that of realism; instead, it’s a matter of necessary tolerance towards Modern man. Monarchists must exemplify every strain of charity to the enemies that he intends to convert. Sentimentalists must get themselves in order, but they need give no tribute to the proper deficiencies of Modernism. They simply need to give milk before meet.

Feeding milk before meat to the uninformed is perhaps the most beneficial advice to Modern man that I can think of. Not that this advice is the most important thing we need to hear, but it hearkens to a principle that I think is the most universally abused. Many people of all stripes suffer so needlessly because men do not observe it. Paul’s message to the Corinthians needs to be retaught. It’s more than how to approach to others because behind its actions are revealed several crucial principles. The first is the nature of tolerance. By expressing “milk before meat,” St. Paul immediately expresses intention of advancing his catechumens’ knowledge when they are ready. His actions are no compromise to the principle of the thing, and nor are ours if we follow his example. By expressing that there is, in fact, still meat, he fully concedes that the meat is fullness of truth. St. Paul finds no contradiction between possessing the fullness of truth and teaching it only when the receiver will listen. Shouting matches and battle of wills do nothing but drive people away, even if the message you want to give is the highest truth itself. You are responsible for botching the communication of that truth to somebody when you fail to address a situation’s inadequacy. Nor will St. Paul forget to serve the catechumen meat one day, because he has expressed that it’s his will to do so. There’s no watering down of his teaching, no leaving the inferior milk as sufficient in itself. Walking alongside somebody on their journey through persuasion is required to properly instill the habit of truth in their minds. Throttling them with facts and positions they can’t grasp is wasteful, prideful, and apt to show confusion or division. Milk and meat thus forms a vision of tolerance not as a good in itself, but a necessary evil. We allow someone to remain only in absence of full truth insofar as they are ready to receive it, lest by impatience we bring about the evil of losing that individual altogether. This is patience as the traditionalist understands it, and not as the farce liberty which liberalism has made it. Secondly, St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians teaches us about the nature of truth as it’s related to virtue. We see that our patience and longsuffering with those we’re persuading is directly linked to our respect for and adherence to the truth. By the example of St. Paul, we see that practicing virtue is directly tied to preserving truth, which can be said to be true regardless of the situation. Contrarily, if we spurn virtue when dealing with others, we inevitably end up falling into grave error ourselves. To abide in truth is tied to persevering in that goodness which our human nature merits us to practice. The one falls without the other; they are convertible. Virtue terminates in love, which is man’s will when steeped in virtue; that is, to be of desiring of the good for another. Therefore, all who want to love truth and pursue her must in turn learn to love properly for love’s own sake.

Socrates echoes the same consensus of traditionalism in Plato’s Symposium. He maintains that truth is nothing that exists in the human mind because men can change and are frequently wrong. We only have a discipline which pertains to observing the truth, and the truth is. Truth is instead its own form, unaffected by all the error men could possibly bear it. However, the form is more than truth alone. Love and truth are so irreconcilable because they indeed come from the same source, and are the same. Love is the pursuit of the good, and the knowledge is the assimilation of that good into oneself. But if love and truth are themselves an assimilated form that does nothing bad, because all it attains to is good, then good, too, is the very same form as truth and love. As Diotoma tells Socrates, this form has,

a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another place foul, as if fair to some and foul to others, or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being, as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things. He who from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is. This… is that life above all others which man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute; a beauty which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if that were possible-you only want to look at them and to be with them. But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty-the divine beauty, I mean, pure and dear and unalloyed, not clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human life-thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple and divine?

By abstraction from our daily life and with life’s most crucial principles – truth, goodness, beauty – we place ourselves in contemplation of the Divine. The three crucial principles are known to traditionalists as the transcendentals. They guide all human affairs to more elevated things. They are what we must attain to for satisfaction amidst this fallen world. Philosophy is beholden to the first: truth. As politics is a child of lady philosophy, so we are led by truth through a territory where so many blinded tribals wander. They have lost sight of the greater picture, some of them reactionaries, some of them out-of-touch historians. They want tribute. They want the web site to look this or that a way, or to pursue this or that a niche demographic. They want to be pleasured, to consume material that’s unconditionally congratulatory. Let Laureate continue blazing a path anew without respect to some’s oddities. But as the liberal world has bucked the yoke of truth, goodness, and beauty, let us all submit to the transcendentals once more; let us find the grace not to dare measure ourselves, mankind, as the standard of truth. No, let us humble ourselves to the truth that is regardless of personal waywardness, accepting the good bent of human nature against that of the corruption. Every Modern pursuit has such need to be reminded that it isn’t an end in itself! With that in mind, Laureate bears the transcendental’s Latin names with its logo to signify our desire for all traditionalists to seek the same balance within greater things. Away with vanity! Vanity is for the enemy. No one may be happy with the web site, but it acts upon the clear dream we all have. It is my earnest hope to see more individuals rise with us for the name of tradition, the name of the Divine, the Name of Our Lord.

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