Vocations

You know how sometimes you have gleefully fantasized about storming off a job in a passion? However righteous the stimuli, the little drawback is that your employer will survive without you. Sorry to see you go, blah blah, but no one will “eat one slice of pudding the less” that evening. Those are Dr. Johnson’s words, about spectators at a hanging, who are nonplused but get over it.

You can storm off but you can’t punish your employer, as an institution or in its individuals. In our fantasy, that is what we want. I was thinking along these lines because I was thinking of how to react when it comes time for the next election. (I mean national elections. The local one, yes, I’m all on board for, because I want to support the mayor who kept the town halfway open for business despite endless diktats from the state capital.) About national elections, a lot of angry people in the comments boards at various blogs and news sites are declaring, “I’m done voting.”

It’s natural to want to react viscerally to a visceral outrage but, practically speaking, not voting is a little like storming off a job. You can’t punish the nation’s high-up people — our employers, shall we say? — by sitting out elections. They’ll be all right. The same two parties in Congress who cannily allowed all things, up to and including the burning of the capital city on June 1, 2020, will not be upset by, let’s fantasize, a Venezuela-worthy voter turnout of 20 percent in 2024. They won’t be upset by Venezuela-worthy results. During one of the last shows of Rush Limbaugh’s that I caught, he roared something similar. ” ‘We’ll get ’em in the midterms, Rush!‘ ” he mocked. “ ‘Just wait til 2022! We’ll show ’em!‘ — No you won’t,” he said.

Images from metro.co.uk, June 1, 2020.

I think he was right, though there is the risk that he will be proved right exactly by people foolishly undermining their own freedoms by not voting (in a passion), and so opening all doors and windows to, shall we say, more smoke and flames. Only how can we know whether, in humbly trudging to the polls, we shall be regrouping and relaunching a shining counterattack of the franchise, or simply being made fun of again? “The vote-counters of 2020 aren’t going anywhere” for a start, as an anonymous commenter below some blogpost said. The judges who sloughed off every lawsuit and every affidavit aren’t going anywhere. Then there is the experience of swing-state governors and judges figuring out how to not get the wrong election results. Months in advance. Emphasis mine:

What happened in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, among other states, but these are the four key battleground states, what happened in Pennsylvania, the executive and the judiciary selected the electors by changing the election laws. In Michigan, the secretary of state, part of the executive change the election laws. In Wisconsin, the secretary of state, as well as local officials and even boards of elections. Changed the election laws. And in Georgia, as you well know, the secretary of state, part of the executive. He changed the election laws to. As applies to signatures. … Four battleground states specifically violated the Constitution. Specifically contravened. All the hard work that was done at the constitutional convention to again specifically prevent state executives state or what would become federal courts. From determining how electors would be selected. And yet in those four states. The election laws were altered significantly. It doesn’t matter if the outcome would have been different, the Democrats certainly thought it would be. That’s why they pressed for it, litigated for it. To be told we’ve got to get out in huge numbers on Election Day, and so overwhelm fraud, should already be unacceptable in a functioning republic.

The Mark Levin Show, rough transcript, Jan. 5, 2021, Hour 1, Segment 2.

Another unacceptable line of thinking is what occurs to me when I ask myself: all right, suppose you don’t vote, as a protest, in 2024. What good at all do you fancy you are doing, or what effect at all do you think you are having, since you avow you cannot punish these people? I suppose I am hoping to watch, in time, the arising of a proverbial few good men who will grow frustrated at their political careers’ being everlastingly stymied by Marxist Democrat “victories.” Men who would have liked political careers too, but who are not utterly perverted in their minds and so can’t follow the lockstep to get one. But then, who do I imagine these good men are, and what do I expect they will do? Without a constituency that ever shows up for them? Might they not simply end up having a shorter walk to the camps? That’s why I call it an unacceptable line of thinking. Then to take another tack: if some Hero steps forth to save the republic and does, I don’t want to be among the poltroons on the sidelines, busy waiting.

Talking luridly about “camps” is also probably not a healthy line of thinking, but people can’t seem to help it. After all, in other nations, the camps weren’t there, and free citizens didn’t have to think about any such thing. And then they were, and they did. Kind of like masks, and being forbidden to congregate.

Now you’ll pardon a segue but I read a most worthwhile article at Peter Kwasniewski’s blog recently. He takes care to distinguish between vocations the laity can be called to — marriage, writing, medicine, and so forth — and the vocation to the religious life, which is supernatural and therefore entirely different. I like this distinction very much. It means the trusting assurance that God, who knows perfectly well what the supernatural is, knows what he is doing when he does not call you to be a monk or a priest or a nun. If you have a “vocation” which is more normal and natural, i.e. lots of people can be wives or writers, then that too is of God. He knows perfectly well what he might have wanted. Here, instead, is what he wants.

Liberating, really. Although one still envies people like Mother Antonia Brenner, who got married (twice), had seven children, and then entered religious life. She got divorced to do it, which seems odd. Anyway Mother gave up everything to live in a prison cell in Tijuana and minister to the jailed. Then she founded the “Eudist Servants of the 11th hour” precisely for middle-aged women ready for service beyond family and child-care. What a large population we must be. Founding an order seems so much more wondrous than to be called (perhaps) to be a blogger/diarist, partly educated, but ready to ruminate woolily on everything.

I say partly educated because I have only now read even so obvious a classic as the Inferno. (Dr. Kwasniewski has an intellectual resume as long as your arm.) My first impression of it is that you don’t really read it at all, you read the Notes by whomever is your translator. Those notes — think of all the scholars who must have translated Dante into all languages by now — must themselves comprise an epic library across centuries. Without them nobody reading in French or Swahili or anything would have any idea who all these 13th-century Italians are; but come the end of the book, you might at least grasp, Dante was a moral force, one good man, assessing the history of Italy and especially Florence just before his time. He had mulled over which bishops and lords deserved to be in hell, as we might do over politicians and corporate titans. He came from a city where men were burned at the stake for the crime of counterfeiting, for instance. Perhaps seeing hideous judgments handed down in this world made him consider ultimate judgments too. I am looking forward to the Purgatorio, which I trust is cheerier.

So what are vocations? To politics, to poetry, to causes? To waiting for a few good men? At Sunday Mass I had time to look at the crucifix and the altar, while the cantor chanted following the reading of the Epistle. Being new at the Latin Mass, I don’t quite understand. He may have been chanting a responsorial Psalm, as is done at Ordinary Form Masses, but if so, the Ordo in the Missal seemed not to make that clear. Collect? Introit? Secret? Anyway it gave me time to look. There is the crucifix. We believe Christ is God. If so, then there is God, suffering always. Which makes sense, given that mankind causes him suffering always. The only logical definition of God must be here, in the Cross above the altar. Each Mass re-presents the sacrifice Christ made to atone for the sins we commit, and therefore we hang on, I suppose, by a thread except Christ’s sacrifice cannot be spoken of in terms of weakness. I used to balk at the idea that he died “for me” since I wasn’t there in 33 A.D., but I begin to understand.

About Nancy

Freelance writer, retail floozie, savor-er of Flemish sour ales.
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