Christianity

William Gayley Simpson on Christianity and the West

William Gayley Simpson in the early 1940s

The following is adapted from a book I wrote based on interviews with the late white activist William Pierce, The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds.

“Someone else you might want to include in this [book] project,” Pierce called out to me as I was leaving his office at the end of one of our evening talks, “is William Gayley Simpson.  Do you know about him?”

Very little.  All I knew about Simpson was that he had written a book called Which Way Western Man? (free pdf) and that Pierce had published it under his own imprint, National Vanguard Books.  I hadn’t read the book.

“Simpson was born in 1892, the same year as my father,” Pierce continued, “so he was a generation ahead of me.  In the ’30s he was interacting with the public in a big way, speaking at a lot of universities, mostly about peace issues, how we must never get into another world war and that sort of thing, and at one time he taught Latin, mathematics, and history at a boarding school around where he lived in New York state.  Somehow, he had gotten hold of something I had written—this must have been around 1975—and he wrote me about it.  At that time, he was over 80-years-old [he died in 1991 at 99].

“We started corresponding.  I found Simpson to be a deep, sensitive, and serious man.  He invited me to visit him up at his farm.   He had built a farmhouse with his own hands, a really nice house, and he had a shop and outbuildings.  He did some planting, but mostly he just lived there and thought and wrote and maintained contact [letters in those days] with people from all over the world.  I stayed with him a few days and visited him a couple more times after that.

“Simpson told me about a book he was finishing up, which turned out to be Which Way Western Man?  I read it and was very impressed and published it.  We sold that printing, and then we did two more printings, about seven thousand copies, and sold out on those.   Let me get you a copy of Which Way Western Man?

Pierce stood up from his desk, turned to his left, took a couple of steps, and turned left again through an open door into his library.  I followed.   It was dark in there—I could barely make out the titles of the books.  It was a good-sized room, about fifteen-by-twenty feet.  It reminded me of the stacks in a university library, the same kind of metal shelving.   Rows of shelves tightly packed from floor to ceiling with books spanned the room’s interior.  Pierce had labels taped onto the shelves categorizing his collection, so he knew right where to find the Simpson book.  I stood behind him and took in this tall grey-haired man standing in this gloomy library as he turned a few pages of the Simpson book, his eyes just a few inches from the print as he had very poor sight.  

Pierce handed me the bulky, dark blue paperback.  My hand gave way a bit from the weight of what I later learned was a 758-page volume.

I thanked Pierce for the book and told him I would spend the rest of that evening and the next day looking it over, and that if I could get my thoughts organized I’d talk to him the next evening about what Simpson had written.   Read more

Operation Excalibur: Back to Church, Bucko! Part 2

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Go to Part One

Toward an Alt Right Biblical Theology

As teen-agers many secular humanists on the Alt Right probably rejected one or other of the millenarian visions of Christian theology (pre-, post- or amillennialist) available to the average suburban church-goer.  For these folks, the Bible situates us within as-yet-unfinished story.  We are awaiting the end times; we just cannot agree on when or how the Day of the Lord will come.  But what if there is another, better way of reading the grand narrative set out in the Bible?  Perhaps God knows how to tell a story.  Perhaps the biblical narrative is set in historical time with a beginning, a middle, and an end that has already come and gone.

On that assumption, it seems to me that there is a good fit between the embryonic cosmology of the Alt Right and the eschatological views of a dissident school of predominantly white Anglo-Protestants known as “preterists” (from Latin, praeter or “past”).  The covenantal eschatology (from the Greek eschaton, or “end times”) espoused by preterists holds that biblical prophecies promising that the Lord would come again in judgement (the Parousia) were fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.  On a preterist reading of Scripture, the Day of the Lord occurred in real historical time.  The forty-year interval between the Passion of Christ and the Parousia marks the Exodus of the righteous remnant from Old Covenant Israel.  In that period, the apostles preached the gospel to the ends of the earth, thereby fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

In the Last Days of the Old Covenant age, the New Jerusalem came down to earth, forever supplanting the Temple made with hands.  A new heaven and new earth took its place.  Within a reborn cosmic temple, the saints of Old Covenant Israel as well as those who had “fallen asleep” in Christ in the first century were resurrected from the dead.  No, the physical bodies of Abraham and the prophets did not rise magically from the grave.  Rather, the long-promised, long-awaited spiritual communion of the Old Testament saints with the Body of Christ (now incarnate in the early Church) was consummated.  The providential telos, the divine point and purpose of Old Covenant Israel had been fulfilled.  What relevance, then, has preterist eschatology to the desperate need in our time for an Anglo-Protestant political theology? Read more

Operation Excalibur: Back to Church, Bucko! Part 1

Then, He said to them, “But now…he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” (Luke 22:36)

“Talk is for lovers.  I need a sword to be king!” Excalibur Opening Scene (Battle of the Knights) 1981

Setting the Scene

Images of Excalibur, King Arthur’s legendary sword, typically mirror the mythic iconography of the Christian Cross.  Note the cosmic aura surrounding the gleaming hilt of the sword in the stone on the cover of my book, Dissident Dispatches.  Its mysterious magnetism beckons the man of destiny.  Only a true hero, uniquely possessed of the strength to pull the fearsome blade from the rock of ages, will be endowed with the sacred majesty of kingship.  Excalibur was a fearsome weapon, striking down the king’s enemies in a spiritual struggle between good and evil.  Of course, as a figment of literary imagination, Excalibur is more useful as an instrument of psychological or cultural rather than physical warfare. Accordingly, like any other popular meme, it can be deployed in cyberspace by any number of combatants, for fun or in deadly earnest.

On the Alt Right, the most famous, politically effective meme has been the seemingly innocuous cartoon image of Pepe the Frog.  Amidst the tumult and confusion of the Trump campaign, Pepe helped the Alt Right movement sort out amused friends from outraged enemies. The sorting process was a two-way street, however.  As part of the wider push by corporate and political wire-pullers to de-platform the Alt Right, the powerful Jewish activist organization, the Anti-Defamation League conducted a concerted, well-funded campaign of its own to brand Pepe memes as anti-Semitic and racist “hate speech”.  The goal was to outlaw reproduction of the Pepe meme by Alt Right publishers, broadcasters, and bloggers.  The tool chosen to achieve that outcome was copyright law.  Simply for featuring Bishop Pepe on the cover of a book, Arktos Media, already well-known as a dissident right publisher, found itself the target of legal action organized by the ADL.

The response was both unexpected and disproportionate.  Bishop Pepe triggered determined, well-resourced, and crafty enemies.  The frog cartoon cover art was quickly leveraged into a credible threat to the survival of Arktos Media.  In its campaign against Alt Right Pepe , the ADL had enlisted Matt Furie, a cartoonist who had drawn a primitive Pepe in a comic book, more than ten years ago.  In the meantime, thousands of green frog images had appeared on the internet and IRL during the meme wars of 2015–2016.  The ADL supported Furie in his claim to copyright ownership and hence all profits derived from the commercial use of Pepe the Frog memes.  A major corporate law firm was engaged (putatively pro bono publico) to enforce Furie’s putative proprietary interest in Pepe against all the world.  In practice, only parties associated in some way with the Alt Right or the Trump campaign received notices to cease and desist their use of Pepe memes and to hand over to Matt Furie any profits they may have earned therefrom.  In their letter to Arktos, Furie’s lawyers threatened substantial legal and commercial penalties should the publisher not capitulate to this demand.  Read more

Renewing Christendom

Dissident Dispatches: An Alt-Right Guide to Christian Theology
Andrew Fraser
London: Arktos, 2017

Andrew Fraser was for most of his career a professor of law at Macquarie University in Sydney. He was catapulted to prominence in July, 2005, by a letter to a local newspaper warning against the importation of Sudanese refugees into Australia: “Experience everywhere in the world shows us that an expanding black population is a sure-fire recipe for increases in crime, violence and other social problems.” The controversy surrounding the letter resulted in his departure from Macquarie.

In 2011, he published The WASP Question, a book which examines the failure of Anglo-Saxons around the world—the “invisible race”—to maintain a conscious ethnic identity and defend their collective interests:

The defining characteristic of WASPs [he wrote] is that they are much less ethnocentric than other peoples; indeed, for all practical purposes Anglo-Saxon Protestants appear to be all but completely bereft of in-group solidarity. They are therefore open to exploitation by free-riders from other, more ethnocentric, groups.

In the course of studying Anglo-Saxon origins, he came to appreciate the role played by the Christian Church in transforming a bunch of squabbling Germanic tribes into the English nation. It would be impossible to guess from looking at contemporary Christianity that the church could ever have served such a function. The privatization of worship since the Enlightenment has been so successful a revolution that many Christians are unaware of it, imagining it simply the nature of their faith to be a private affair.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Medieval Christianity “was a way of life, a communion, and a faith practiced in public and private by all manner of men and women,” as Fraser points out. The Bible did not merely “serve individual believers as witness to the word and work of God,” but also “provided the sacred charter” of the church. But if the Christian Church presided over the formation of the English nation, might the retreat of Christianity into the private realm have contributed to the downfall of proud Anglo-Saxon nationhood within the last several decades?

With such questions in mind, Fraser, already of an age to retire, made the unusual decision to enroll as an undergraduate at a nearby divinity school. The school turned out to be a “hotbed of multiculturalist ideology,” and at one point he was suspended for an entire year due to complaints of his “intolerance” from students and faculty members. But he persisted, and in 2015 was awarded a Bachelor of Theology degree.

Dissident Dispatches is the record of his experiences as a student. The book includes papers written for course credit (with his lecturer’s comments), accounts of his skirmishes with the politically correct, and subsequent personal reflections on both. It is arranged chronologically rather than thematically, giving it the feel of a miscellany, but a consistent theological and political perspective underlies the whole. Weighing in at over 500 pages, the volume is best digested in short installments. What follows is merely a summary of a few of the main themes. Read more

A Blood Libel Against the Christian West: Gil Anidjar’s “Blood”

Blood: A Critique of Christianity
Gil Anidjar
Columbia University Press, 2014

Trained in comparative literature, religious studies and Jewish thought, Gil Anidjar is a professor at the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His courses include Vampires, God and Freud and Derrida — a concatenation that immediately informs us that this will be a post-modern excursion, filled with startling juxtapositions. These juxtapositions also inform his meandering thoughts in Blood. A Critique of Christianity, published by Columbia University Press in 2014. The Table of Contents:

At the heart of the book lies “the Christian question.” Anidjar explicitly acknowledges Karl Marx as a source of inspiration, but it is worth mentioning that he would seem to be Jewish given his surname, and his work fits well into the common pattern of Jewish involvement in the culture of critique. Exploring the “theologico-political” foundations of Western modernity, Anidjar focuses on the (alleged) relevance of blood in Christianity, the “Eucharistic matrix”. From his point of view, blood is the element and the mark of Christianity which has been strangely overlooked by everyone else:

The reading I offer, the argument I ultimately propose, is that between presence and absence, blood is the element of Christianity, its voluminous mark (citation, context). It is the way in which and upon which Christianity made its mark. More broadly, a consideration of what blood reflects, produces, and sustains, what it engenders, must take — as one adopts — the form of a critique of Christianity. (Blood 11)

Like with much of Marxist, Derrida-infested, post-colonial academic prose, however, it is next to impossible to trace a clear line of argument, let alone learn anything valuable about the Eucharist or the meaning of wounds and blood in medieval Christian theology. Instead, we encounter a string of household names such as Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida, which are loosely woven into his admittedly creative interpretations of history. Adding generous doses of “Political Theology,” Anidjar cooks up a toxic, anti-Western broth to be fed to the children of Western Christian civilization who are paying for his chair. It feels a bit as if Anidjar had used his research grants for harvesting quotes from world literature and philosophy related to the semantic field of “blood” (including “veins”, “killing”, “murder”, and other expressions of violence), which he then reassembled in this artsy-academic bricolage published by an elite university press.

Despite his complicated, intellectual pirouettes to distract us from the fact that his discourse is sprinkled with half-truths and falsehoods, the argument does build up into a message that is easily accessible even to dimwits, not because it is well argued or historically accurate, but because we have heard it so many times before: We are the cancer of the earth. Our civilization is nothing but a trail of blood. Our allegedly blood-based exclusion of the “other” has led to genocides, oppression and imperialism, and hence the Christian West is the embodiment of evil. This is a familiar narrative that has been circulating at least since Edward Said’s propagandistic but highly influential book Orientalism (1979) — a book that has significantly contributed to the poisoning of relations between East and West. One of the founding texts of the fairly young discipline of post-colonial Studies, Orientalism infused an entire generation of educated elites from “the East” (including Japan) with hostility and desire for vengeance towards “the West” (including Germany). Read more

On Europe and “the Faith”

PopeFrancis

“Too often you have not been welcomed…Forgive the closed-mindedness and indifference of our societies, which fear the change of lifestyle and mentality that your presence requires.”
Pope Francis, 2016.

“Europe is the faith, and the faith is Europe…I say again, renewing the terms, The Church is Europe: and Europe is The Church.”
Hillaire Belloc, 1920. 

Over the years my attitudes towards race and religion have unfortunately brought me into conflict with many Christians, some of whom have been very close to me. Closest to home, my wife is an evangelical Christian. Like many of her co-religionists, she believes much of what she is told in church, not only in terms of what is written in the Bible, but also in the social instructions her church issues in order to steer its flock towards a “good” and “moral” Christian life.

My wife and I are opposites in many respects. She is fully aware of my own agnosticism, and is equally aware of my positions on racial, religious and political matters. Possessing an abundance of good qualities as a wife and mother, I don’t think I am doing her a terrible injustice by stating that she doesn’t completely understand the complexities of the subject matter I routinely explore. To her, the thing that matters most is that my attitudes are “good.” It is the “moral” merit of my positions that she is most interested in, and because she is a Christian the question of how “moral” my opinions are is entirely dependent on how closely they fit with the Christian moral worldview  —  as taught to her by her church. Thus, when we discuss this or that aspect of the news she will often ask of my opinions: “Yes, but is that a good attitude to have? Is that displaying forgiveness? Isn’t your heart too hard?” If the discussion continues, it frequently evolves into a debate between (my) facts and (her) moral feelings. Read more

My Journey

Back in the 40s and 50s, a minority group thought that they had an excellent way to make society better — they would make people better. In their midst was a man who was educated, charismatic, determined, and very religious; he was a rising star in their movement. They put their plan into action in the areas in which they lived, and had some success, but they also faced serious opposition, even persecution; they were forced out of some places, they were targeted for assassination, and their leader was beaten nearly to death.

They returned to their base of operations to regroup and revise their plan. The leader had a notion to effect their desired changes in another place, but he was prevented from going. But this man had a message, and he was on a mission, and he had a vision. He pulled his team out of the place to which he was prevented from going, and they set out to do their work somewhere else. When they began having success in this new place, they again became targets of the entrenched, corrupt political system. They were arrested and jailed. But they were not without support from the ruler with ultimate authority, and after a groundbreaking event, they were freed.

The city officials asked them to leave the city, which they did. But the ultimate success of their efforts was truly epic. Their message had found fertile ground among all classes of people there, and in time an entire continent had been radically changed because of the commitment of this tiny group that endured and risked so much on the notion that they could make the world a better place by changing the way people think.

Yes, that was back in the 40s and 50s. Not the 1940s and 1950s, but the actual 40s and 50s. The place was the Middle East and Greece; the tiny group was a new religious sect that came to be known as Christians, and their leader was Saul of Tarsus, known to us today as Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ.

Paul and his compatriots made three missionary journeys to spread the Gospel, the second of which is of particular interest to us. As I described it above, Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach, but Acts 16 tells us that the Holy Spirit prevented him. In a vision, Paul saw a man standing across the sea, shouting to him, “Come to Macedonia and help us!” Paul immediately assembled his team and went. (By the way, the “groundbreaking event” to which I referred was an earthquake which caused enough damage to the jail that Paul and Silas were able to escape, but not before converting the jailer to Christianity.)