Weekend 599.0 (the highway sets the traveler’s stage…)

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” John 12:25-26

(1) One last quote from Steeple Chasing by Peter Ross:

“As Christopher Neve observes in his book Unquiet Landscape, ‘art is the natural ally of religion’. Both require thought, focus and a sense of wonder. The intense noticing of a painter, or indeed a poet, is a form of worship, and the act of recording the world in oil paint or ink a transfiguration.”

(1a) From the Chaplains at Westminster Cathedral (17 March 2024):

“It should remind us of the repeated warnings which Jesus gives to his uncomprehending disciples of the inevitability of his forthcoming Passion, the pivotal event in God’s dealing with human history. It is at this moment that our hubris and proclamation of ourselves as the measure and end of all things comes up against the (to us) unpalatable reality of being dependent creatures, not independent creators of our own destiny. The Cross, therefore, becomes the place where a battle for supremacy is fought out, humanity seeking to destroy God’s claim upon our lives.”

Finished Steeple Chasing by Peter Ross. It’s a prophetic piece, likely loved by its publisher, because it affirms the globalist vision of the UK promoted by the intelligentsia (from open borders -to- contempt for the past -to- self-loathing -to- the never-ending violin of victimhood -to- the love and lust of state -to- eco-worship). It certainly checks every DEI¹ box.

What Ross does brilliantly is capture the rampant hopelessness of the people of the UK whilst crowding out the truly faithful. Steeple Chasing is the prequel to Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s how the UK becomes Air Strip One. The irony is George Orwell, and Ross is an Orwell Fellow, warned us about Ross. Orwell, after his fantasy and delusions of socialism faded, realized that Peter Ross and his ilk would lead us to the sword and then named names. Don’t believe me? It’s an article called “ORWELL ON TRIAL” in Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens.

There’s NO doubt Ross carefully selected non-believers to give the impression that faith has been completely extinguished in the UK. It fits his narrative, makes his publisher very happy, and leaves the reader with the impression the UK and her people are drowning (resigned as it were to fate for the sins of their fathers).

“‘I’ve never felt the presence of God in any these places’, said another. A third told me that she always feels slightly embarrassed when they are visiting a church and her husband sits down to pray.”

As a palate cleanser, I’m re-reading Faith of Our Fathers: A History of True England and praying to Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede on behalf of Peter Ross and all the other cranks in the UK who are sinking in a quicksand of their own peculiarity.

One postscript…whilst on retreat at St. Joseph’s, I read A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr and she talks about gathering crumbs. There are elements of Steeple Chasing that are OKAY (lest you think I’m just a crank of a different type). IF you love history, you’ll appreciate some elements of the book. When he’s NOT apologizing or waxing resentfully and contemptuously about the past, he highlights some interesting historical crumbs. The recently added chapter on Westminster Abbey is a great example. There were also some sobering passages on martyrdom ripped from history.

“At around the age of eighteen, she converted to Catholicism, and would have been in no doubt that this, in the reign of Elizabeth, was a dangerous step. In the year following her marriage, Thomas Percy, the Earl of Northumberland. was executed in a marketplace close by the Clitherow home and his head mounted on a nearby gate in the city walls. Had he recanted his Catholicism, his life would have been spared. However, his last words from the scaffold were a refusal to acknowledge the Church of England.”

Where Ross does succeed is in his syntheses of quotes and content from creative heavyweights like Poet Laureate John Betjeman. I love this selected excerpt from John Betjeman:

Twas not, I think, a conscious search for God
That brought me to these dim forgotten fanes.
Largely, it was longing for the past,
With a slight sense of something unfulfilled;

¹Recently finished British Rail by Christian Wolmar and the pattern / formula was similar. He somehow inserts two-pages on the history of ‘gentlemen’s clandestine activities’ on BR. Ross does the same and finds an immigrant chased from Nigeria for his sexual orientation.

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