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September 13, 2014

Survival of the Fittest?

Now here’s a surprise. I bet you’ll never guess who wrote this. It was in 1940, when the Nazis were  conquering all before them:

Personally, I stick to my idea that we are watching the birth, more than the death, of a World. The scandal, for you, is that England and France should have come to this tragedy because they have sincerely tried the road of peace. But did they not precisely make a mistake on the true meaning of “peace”? Peace cannot mean anything but a HIGHER PROCESS OF CONQUEST. … The world is bound to belong to its most active elements. … Just now, the Germans deserve to win because, however bad or mixed is their spirit, they have more spirit than the rest of the world. It is easy to criticize and despise the fifth column. But no spiritual aims or energy will ever succeed, or even deserve to succeed, unless it is able to spread and keep spreading a fifth column.

Any ideas? I would have thought it might  possibly be the British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. But no; it was the arch-progressive Jesuit Fr Teilhard de Chardin, idol and archetype of liberal theologians, the man responsible more than any other for the revival of modernism in our day, following its condemnation by Pope St Pius X at the beginning of the 20th century. Fr Teilhard wrote the above sentences in a letter from Peking, quoted by John Lukacs in his work The Last European War: December 1939/December 1941. It’s all of a piece with his extreme views on evolution.

I first read Teilhard’s The Phenomenon of Man when I was aged 18. It was much praised at the time, as an attempt to reconcile science and religion, with its puzzling concept of  the noosphere, which seems to mean that  every being , including inanimate objects, possesses some degree of consciousness.  I was always puzzled by the way Teilhard  managed to write at length about the cosmic Christ, without mentioning   the Fall, Original Sin,,  the Passion, the Resurrection, the Redemption or indeed Revelation.   The idea, if I understand it correctly, is that we, along with all creation,  were all  evolving towards  “the omega point”, without bothering with such irrelevancies.   It’s just as well his writings were condemned by Rome, but there are still plenty of intelligent and otherwise orthodox people who still think he was wonderful.

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Detestable Indeed

By contrast, here’s a bit of sound common sense from another Frenchman:

It is not forbidden and it is even quite permissible for a solid, more or less Voltairean bourgeois to be opposed to dogma, opposed to Rome and opposed to the clergy; but it is not at all permissible for a priest, under the cloak of historical criticism or of free discussion, to undermine the religion whose minister he is and to put arms into the hands of the enemies of the Church; such a priest is a detestable gentleman—Charles Peguy (1873-1914).

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