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Drunk on Compassion

How good it feels to open up your heart
And groove on how compassionate you are!
You advertise your causes on your car
And list your Facebook “likes” upon a chart.

You march in protests, always don your mask,
And quite politely call men “them” and “they,”
While voting to make decent people pay
For rancid social schemes in which you bask.

How kind to give an addict a free needle
And fund his taste for methamphetamine!
You judge him not—a new age magazine
Says not to shame the lost or make them wheedle.

Your tender heart cares so for people’s pride
You buy the homeless tents in which they swelter
So they can shun a sober, Christian shelter.
You help them fail before they’ve even tried.

Your codependent instinct to appease
Keeps alcoholics drinking on the street.
You give them cash, ignoring how they cheat.
And where are you when they die from DT’s?

You claim to love Mankind yet never will
Consider that your undiscerning “kindness”
Encourages destructiveness and blindness
And frankly helps to keep sick people ill.

Your fancies ruin lives. Address what’s real
And not ideals which are no more than fiction.
Misguided kindness feeds men’s dereliction.
Advancement’s based on facts. Not what you feel.

So when you fawn on some crime-addled punk
While blasting those who build and who create,
Consider that it’s you who nurtures hate.
Go home, my leftist friend. Because you’re drunk.

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DT: Delirium Tremens, withdrawal from alcohol, which can be fatal.

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Another Angel Gets His Wings

a villanelle

Expose the lies to which a leftist clings—
The mob will cancel you because they think
That’s how another angel gets his wings.

Too many are afraid to face woke slings
And arrows; don’t give in. Use voice and ink.
Expose the lies to which a leftist clings.

And if you’re stained by mud a leftist flings
Don’t hide or cower, never flinch or shrink.
That’s how another angel gets his wings!

A leftist often revels in his stings.
Although he screams that you’re the missing link,
Expose the lies to which a leftist clings.

He’ll try to break you with the hate he brings,
But never let him push you to the brink!
That’s how another angel gets his wings.

Be bold. Speak truth to janitors and kings
And all who think their bullshit doesn’t stink.
Expose the lies to which a leftist clings.
That’s how another angel gets his wings!

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Improbable, Not Impossible

Suppose the rains of Spring forget to pour,
Or crimson leaves in Fall refuse to drop?
What if the ocean waves eschew the shore
And Earth’s rotation grinds down to a stop?
Don’t fret! These strange events will not take place.
They’re prophecies of doom we’ll never face.

But I sure fret for dolts who claim with zeal
The sky is green, that good is evil, short is long
And plain impossibilities are real.
Don’t bother trying to prove to them they’re wrong.
Indeed, these days we’re forced to think it strange
If someone shows a willingness to change.

But wrinkles prove that people aren’t clay!
Admitting wrong should not leave men bereft.
Though change is hard it happens every day.
For instance, my friend grew up on the Left
Believing that he must abjure the Right.
But now he sees he never grasped the fight!

For when he started digging at the truth
He saw much false in all that he’d been taught.
So he renounced his loud, unthinking youth
And learned to trust his eyes, his ears, his thought.
And now? The longer that God lets him live,
The more he thinks and votes conservative.

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Poet’s note: This poem was partly inspired by C. B. Anderson’s poem “Dawn’s Belated Light.”

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Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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44 Responses

  1. Joshua C. Frank

    Wow, Brian, these are all great!

    “Drunk on Compassion:” Love the ABBA rhymes! The title reminds me of a quote from St. Isaac of Syria: “Compassion and justice in one soul are as a man adoring God and idols in one house.” I used to work in San Francisco, it’s crawling with homeless anywhere you go, because their law allows them to get away with anything (even stealing a car is only a misdemeanor for them). There’s a sign on a church telling people not to give money to beggars for all the reasons you say. Your poem is a more effective deterrent than that sign!

    “Another Angel Gets His Wings:” Such a great use of the villanelle form, and so encouraging for us protest poets! The refrains are so catchy and memorable.

    “Improbable, Not Impossible:” How true it is that “Indeed, these days we’re forced to think it strange/If someone shows a willingness to change.” Your ex-leftist friend sounds a lot like me; I used to be a leftist, and then I questioned it and drifted away from it in my twenties and eventually became serious about the Catholic faith into which I was baptized as a child, after which point I drifted further away, faster and faster. I like to say my neck has been getting redder over the years, and the process is still far from over as I try to shake off the influence of the culture in which I grew up. Now I have to go read “Dawn’s Belated Light.”

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Joshua. We have had parallel experiences. The Compassion poem is based on many an argument I’ve had with people who are kind to a fault — kind to the point of making it easier for addicts to get their drugs, who excuse homelessness no matter how much crime it yields, etc. I don’t wish to seem heartless — I’ve been on the receiving end of much help from others in my life — but I also know that sometimes you have to let people hit bottom or else they’ll never take the action necessary to get better. There’s a trend in the U.S. of infantilizing people and not giving them the respect of being adults who are capable of making adult decisions. And how we love to keep people from facing the consequences of bad decisions.

      As for Improbable, I’m delighted to hear your personal story because change is indeed possible! I’ll disclose my secret to you now. The “friend” in the poem is a thinly-veiled me. As conservative as I am now, I spent much of my life left of center. So we have doubly parallel experiences!

      Thanks again for your generous comments, Josh.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Brian’s poem “Drunk on Compassion” reminds me of something I read many years ago, in an essay. The writer said that the problem with left-liberals was that they suffered from “elephantiasis of the moral sentiment.” Their sympathy-and-compassion glands had become so atrociously swollen that they crushed the logical, judgmental, and rational centers of their brains.

    If you want to see the result, look at San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Or any other place run by Democrats.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      What you say, Joseph, is so true. My experience with left-liberals (and it’s been considerable) is that they do suffer from gargantuan doses of moral sentiment — in other words, bleeding hearts which overshadow all rationality. What’s like fighting quicksand is to get such tender people to recognize that they’re actually not the amazingly, phenomenally wonderful people that they think they are and that their policies are actually destructive.

      As for the results of places run by Democrats, I am with you 100%. I lived in Portland for 6 years, which I count from the riots of Occupy Wall Street in 2011 to anti-Trump riots in 2017. Every time the left was unhappy with something they rioted. This was long before George Floyd and BLM. And try to walk through the streets of downtown Portland without stepping in human waste. It’s a disgrace. But they’re so nice.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Brian, what I recognize in left-liberals is an insatiable need for SELF-CONGRATULATION. They have to be able to say “How good I am! How virtuous! How far above the ignorant and prejudiced masses!”

        My own opinion is that this need is really just a survival (through succedaneous religion) of their long-gone Low-Church Protestant fear of not being one of the Elect.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Joe, I’m not so sure about that. I’ve seen the same from liberals who (falsely) call themselves Catholic, even those from countries with Catholic roots such as France and Mexico.

        I think it’s a trait they’ve inherited from their father, the devil.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Josh, the thing about a succedaneous religion is that it can affect a wide range of persons, and not just those who were once adherents of the sect that has died out. I’m not surprised that you have experienced the same thing in persons who were not of a Protestant background or heritage. A succedaneous religion simply infects the air, like a cloud of dust, going into the intellectual lungs of anyone in the vicinity. And it is all the more easily picked up, because its victims are not on guard against the specific dogmatic claims of the inoperative religion, as they might be if it were still a viable, proselytizing creed.

        Camille Paglia was quite correct when she said that the current ascendancy of leftish liberalism in the United States is merely the current manifestation of 19th-century Low-Church Protestantism, with its scriptural beliefs amputated. And because of America’s worldwide influence, it has infected millions of persons of all different faiths everywhere.

      • Brian Yapko

        Joseph, I’d never heard the term “succedaneous religion” before and find great (and unfortunate) truth in what you have to say about religions that have basically become shells of what they originally stood for (with scriptural beliefs “amputated” as you say.)

        I think this is related to a concept explored by Dennis Prager in a recent article concerning religious “fictionalism.” Fictionalism basically contends that it has become common for people who do not actually have faith to pretend that they do for social or tribal reasons. To act “as if.” Fictionalism, like succedaneous religion, means there is no real connection to doctrine and that ritual is literally going through the motions for motives which have nothing to do with worship. Those who have given up on their faiths have seized upon social justice as something akin to an alternate religion. In the absence of any authority, whether biblical, theological or what have you, even a person of good-will can become extremely self-referential and narcissistic. “Goodness is what I say it is. I must be free to follow my heart,” etc. Maybe that feels good when looking in the mirror, but it plays havoc with the fabric of what actually holds society together.

        On my J,K. Rowling poem in January, Mike asked you a question about Israel and you set forth five factors that sabotaged the future of Western Culture. Your analysis was so spot-on that I’m going to cut and paste part of it here:

        “The driving force of modern left-liberal ideology is a complex mix of the following five emotional drives:

        1) anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism.
        2) anti-racism, but only against racism that targets non-whites and non-Westerners. (In other words, hatred of white Europeans is acceptable and defensible.)
        3) programmatic Marxism, but now basically understood as collectivism, massive bureaucracy, and confiscatory taxation.
        4) hatred of males and masculinity, and of heterosexual normality.
        5) an absolute DREAD and LOATHING of any attempt by Western and white peoples to act decisively and forcefully in their own ethnic interests.”

        I think each of these factors is realistically a threat to society. To these factors I would add your described rise of succedaneous religion and, if I may be bold to add, the rise of fictionalism and atheism.

        I also agree with Josh that this is not merely a low church Protestant issue. I have no doubt, Joseph, that your point about many Protestant churches is a valid one, but I have met many Catholics (more often former Catholics) who take pride in attacking the teachings of their own church. And, going back to the Rowling poem comment, when you mentioned the reaction of leftists to the existence of Israel you observed that “[It’s successful existence] drives leftists insane with rage — even Jewish leftists, whose real religion is left-liberalism, and whose ethnicity is a matter of mere chance.” You are, unfortunately, 100% right there as well. I know a great many titular Jews whose only religion at this point is social justice.

        A coalition appears to have formed of various groups who no longer believe in their own religions or any real moral authority and who have in their place substituted their subjective — often irrational — definitions of social justice. Their embrace of left -liberalism has given them what purports to be a spiritual home.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        I think all of those 5 drives can be summed up in a single one: “Anything But Christianity.” Whatever the Christian faith calls good, they call evil, and vice versa. The anti-white aspect exists to justify their hatred of Christians, since (in their eyes) Christianity is “the white man’s religion,” even though the majority of today’s devout Christians live in Africa and Asia. The inversion of rich and poor seems to fit in with the teachings of Jesus (this resemblance is routinely used as a Trojan horse), but in reality, the Christian faith has always called hierarchy a good thing; consider the many verses exhorting us to submit to authority. It is not true that “if men were angels, there would be no need for government,” since even the angels themselves live in a hierarchy.

        Really, there are only two religions: that of God, and that of Satan. It’s either “I am the Lord thy God,” or “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” The modern world is almost invariably choosing the latter.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, what a trio of truthful treats. In all three, you manage to expose those loathsome lies peddled in the name of care – lies that always do more harm that good.

    ‘Drunk on Compassion’ has great allusions to addictions and what a superb twist in the closing couplet… from enabler to inebriated in the stroke of a masterful pen. All should read ‘Improbable, Not Impossible’ – relying upon immutable truths and learning to believe our own ears and eyes, knowing how to think and not being told what to think are crucial to maintaining a sane mind with the ability to reason. I love the happy ending in this one. My favorite is “Another Angel Gets His Wings” – I’m partial to a good villanelle and this is good! I like its marvelous advice for a wonderful life (I couldn’t resist). I like the well-chosen repeating lines. I also like the change in meaning – how the “mob” of the first stanza think they will gain those wings compared to exactly what needs to be done to earn them in the subsequent ones. I love the way you are able to inject a huge amount of fun into poems with an extremely serious message. In my opinion, that’s the best way to get the message across. Very well done, indeed!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Susan! I appreciate every word of your comment and am glad that you noticed some of the smaller details — the twist on “Compassion” which reflects the unsober thinking of enablers; the reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a key component to “Angel.”

      Injecting fun into serious poems is something I learned from you! Along with calling out loathsome lies. Humor and playfulness in a poem on a serious subject may indeed seem strange but I agree with you — it’s the best way to get the message across. Thank you again for your generous comment and your support and inspiration!

      Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Brian, you have presented a thoughtful analysis but I would like to differ from you in one point. What you describe as “fictionalism” is really just a form of hypocrisy, because the people who practice it are just doing it for some ulterior motive (social acceptance, tribal loyalty, career advancement, etc.) If that’s the way fictionalism operates, then there’s no need to fear it, since it just a form of “going along to get along,” as they say in the army. These people are just saying what they have to say, and will change what they say at a moment’s notice if it suits them, or is more profitable.

    Succedaneous religion is different, and very threatening. It is committed, sincere, proselytizing, activist, dogmatic, and censorious. Like all religions, it can produce its fanatics and heresy-hunters. Someone practicing fictionalism is just playing a game, and he’ll drop the game if is no longer helpful to him in life. On the other hand, somebody in a succedaneous religion is powerfully energized and psychologically possessed by his beliefs. He will go to the wall for them. The fictionalist will not.

    The great danger in a succedaneous religion is that the persons who have it are unaware that their beliefs are based on some inherited and unprovable faith. Instead, they actually think that their beliefs are rooted in the very structure of existence, and are therefore indisputable by sane persons of good will. Talk to any left-liberal, and you will see what I mean. At some point in the conversation he’ll say “I’m not religious at all! I’m just arguing for what is sane and sensible and rational, and recognized by all intelligent, decent human beings!”

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      I can see your point, Joseph, about fictionalism being a form of hypocrisy. I do think there are many people who believe in the overall “good” of what they are doing — especially clergy who don’t believe in God (they are out there.) But whether practiced in good faith or for manipulative reasons, it is hypocrisy nonetheless.

      You are indeed spot-on (again) when it comes to the circular reasoning of leftists. Either they reject scriptural authority out of hand or they cherry-pick and/or torture biblical ideas to support their reasoning. In the end, the reasoning process is the same — they start with the result they want and then they work backwards to try to find support for it. Because they have already decided what they want, no amount of evidence or persuasive reasoning will get them to budge. In the law world, such people are the most dangerous litigants because they are so convinced of their position that evidence and the law just don’t matter to them. They’re entitled to what they’re entitled to and the lawyer must wave his magic wand to make it happen. Such litigants invariably lose when their case is presented in court and then they blame everyone but themselves. And so it is with ideologies which are self-referential and based exclusively on narcissistic viewpoints.

      Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I have just read the conversation thread with immense interest having gone through many of these thought processes myself. I have felt lost of late, lost and demoralized. This is because I always thought that when evil was evident, the vast majority of people would rise up against it and stamp it out, especially where the vulnerable are concerned. I don’t like it, but I have come to terms with people “going along to get along,” especially if they are solely responsible for their family’s welfare – I understand. I made decisions in my younger days that I wouldn’t make now because I’ve learned from my bad choices. But I’ve always thought even those people have a tipping point and haven’t we reached it? Even if one thinks that sexuality and self-pleasure are the prime purpose for existence, how can inflicting infertility and a life of pain and suffering on minors to fulfil that belief be a good thing? And I can go on about countless areas that have ruined many lives, areas where it is now obvious to many that evil was at play – the cruel treatment of people during the lockdowns (especially the demonization of those not wanting to take part in an experimental shot) being the latest atrocity.

    Joe, you say: “The great danger in a succedaneous religion is that the persons who have it are unaware that their beliefs are based on some inherited and unprovable faith.” That is the exact argument atheists use with Christians – an argument that is circular and unproductive. I have learned the hard way how pointless it is to argue with someone who is committed to transgender ideology, but in doing so publicly I may have got one young person to throw their puberty blockers in the bin and another to say no to the misery of life-altering surgery. The thing I failed to understand is just how many people are willing to shame, judge and shut down and out in the name of their succedaneous religion and it’s tough to come to terms with. What is key for me is to put truth above my reputation, to put truth above the feelings of others, and to speak it without fear of consequence… never before has the immutable truth and the right to speak it meant so much to me This conversation thread has answered many outstanding questions. Thank you, Brian, Joe, and Josh.

    Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Susan, I’m so glad we could help! These are issues that have been driving me crazy for a very long time. The only answer that makes any sense is that many people these days are committed to evil.

      Today’s world seems very much like Sodom and Gomorrah, or the world before the Flood. It would not surprise me if Jesus were to return in my lifetime. I firmly believe that hoping for the world to return to sanity is like hoping for a dead man to return to life; the only source of hope is that some individuals may choose to go into the ark offered by Jesus. If even one person is helped by our work, then I’m honored to be chosen by God to be a part of it.

      Reply
      • Brian Yapko

        Josh, I think this is a very accurate assessment of where we are at as a society now and the biblical disasters you reference are apt. These do indeed seem like the end of times and all I can say is thank God for faith to see us through. As for that return to sanity, I’m no longer writing in the hope of having it return (to the extent that it ever existed.) Like you, I’m writing for that one person out there who might be influenced to back away from destructive behavior; I’m writing because even if my ship is sinking it’s going to sink while hoisting all my colors; I’m writing to make a record of protest against what I know to be evil and untrue. I’m writing because it’s what my faith demands that I do. I’m glad you feel a similar call and that we are on the same side of so many important issues.

    • Brian Yapko

      Susan, thank you for contributing to this interesting discussion as well as for your on-going courage in advocating for truth in your poetry. It’s a challenge to publish difficult truths in this day and age – courageous publishers like Evan are hard to come by, and the likelihood is great that resentment of the exposed reader will be engendered. But many of us would not be able to live with ourselves if we didn’t speak out. But what you say about a majority of people rising up against evil… Given human nature, I think that’s a longshot even under the best of circumstances. Still, there have always been those voices crying in the wilderness who demand to be heard and who history remembers. Sometimes it’s as explosive as Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Sometimes its as subtle as the truthsayer following emperors in triumphs in ancient Rome whispering in the conquerors’ ears the reminder that they are merely mortal. But either way, those who speak the truth can do no other and their work is valuable.

      I agree with you fully that Joseph’s description of succedaneous religion explains a lot of what we see and hear in the cultural wars of today. It’s such an important and far-reaching subject that it warrants much more in-depth treatment than this comment thread allows. Thank you, Joseph as well as Susan and Josh for helping me to fine-tune my own thinking on this and related important issues.

      Reply
  6. Roy E. Peterson

    Coming a little late to the discussion, I have been rewarded with thoughts matching mine, but have learned so much in the process. I thank Brian, first of all, for his outstanding masterful phrasing in all three poems of the sad state of affairs in which we find ourselves and our world. I then learned from the rest of you. I share in deploring the evil that has become pandemic in our country.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Roy. I’m glad you enjoyed the poems even if they are on the bleak side. Unfortunately, there are unpleasant things in this world that should not be ignored and there are things in this world that should be discussed. I’m glad these poems have led to an interesting discussion and analysis of our present-day society. Roy, I always appreciate your poetry and am glad that we get to have this discussion and learn from, and share with, each other.

      Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    Brian, with this comment I’ll say “Drunk on Compassion” is a well-written and well-argued arrow that pierces false compassion with a valid point, asking both compassion practicers and others to take a good look at reality. There’s more to say, but I’d like to move into the discussion I’ve watched, but had no time to enter. In particular, to comment on where dangers lie. As you say in the poem, the danger that should be obvious is that compassion fails to help troubled individuals get out of their troubles, and actually harms them by enabling self-destructive behavior. Even worse, it weakens whatever will they might have to improve their condition, and wastes resources that could be used for real help.

    Joseph explains the motive of false compassion as an aspect of succedaneous religion, which shows why the compassion givers won’t move from their false belief even though it is ineffective and harmful in practice. Instead, these believers are themselves a danger to society because they spread their noxious thinking and useless programs by proselytizing activism.

    Fictionalism (as you, Brian, described it) seems less dangerous because fictionalists make a pretense of religious belief for some personal advantage. Unlike succedaneous believers, they will not stand up for the religion they profess to believe. They will say or do anything necessary (even abandoning religion) to retain their advantages. They are not dangerous because they make little or no attempt to spread pretended beliefs and practices, or to impose them on society outside their chosen religion.

    Fictionalists are, however, extremely dangerous to viable religion when they occupy places of authority and influence. They diminish the glory of God (insofar as that is possible from an earthly perspective), and they cause souls to be lost. One can always find sinful hypocrites in church, and I don’t want them out, because the Church has the means to absolve sinners and give penitents spiritual direction. But fictionalists are incapable of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying the Church. We have far too many of them as authorities and influencers. Thank God the Church herself is indefectible, which is why Joshua was able to find his way back to right thinking–though he undoubtedly saw fictionalism hard at work along that way. Susan (in some of her works published at SCP) has shown us an example of an ecclesial community where fictionalism triumphed over religion. She had to leave her advantage of employment when secularist falsehoods, and secular rewards for accepting them, proved too much for the rest of her congregation and its leaders.

    When we consider that human beings owe worship to God, and have spiritual needs beyond what human programs can satisfy, fictionalism in religion is a grave danger indeed.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Margaret, thank you for your reading and kind words about Drunk on Compassion. I appreciate your distinction between false compassion and true compassion which my poem may not make clear. I’m all for true compassion. Love is an essential aspect of my faith and that of many others. My concern is with either false or misguided compassion – it’s a compassion that does not actually pay attention to the effects of its misguided action and thereby proves itself to be an act of pure selfishness – something offered by guilt-ridden people who want to do “something” and so they seize on something insane like providing free needles to addicts or handing out money to that guy on the street corner who’s almost certainly going to use it to buy more booze. They are uncomfortable with feeling helpless and so they take ill-considered action to satisfy their consciences without actually weighing whether their actions are helpful. These are often people whose boundaries are very poor and who are easily manipulated. Yes, they do have a way of making things worse rather than better partly because in their need to feel like they make a difference they condescend and infantilize those they are trying to help. And, ironically, this type of smug superiority is indeed a form of hate. Furthermore, such people value the social status that their actions may yield and so they remain invested in their course of action to gratify their egos as well as their consciences.

      These points connect very directly to succedaneous religion and the refusal to reconsider false belief or to sincerely weigh motives. It’s not just a question of belief. It’s also a question of trying to assuage guilt and trying to demonstrate social superiority. It’s deeply frustrating to communicate with such people who can’t comprehend criticism of the “nice” things that they do, purportedly in the name of their faith. They are far too invested in their own narrative.

      I’m very glad you have identified a distinction between fictionalism and fictionalists. I think you are right on both counts. Fictionalism per se need not be dangerous. But fictionalists potentially are. I have had first-hand experience with a member of the clergy who is also a scientist and whose solution to the question of faith versus science was to simply say that both exist in separate realms, with science conclusively explaining the universe and faith explaining the minds of men. Fictionalist that he is, he left it at that, with the final conclusion that even though God probably does not exist, it’s useful for people to act as if He does. This is a member of the clergy!!! I can’t begin to assess what kind of damage someone in that position may do to an unsuspecting flock, nor can I comprehend why someone who doesn’t actually believe in God would go into the clergy in the first place.

      Of course, throughout history there have been men who ended up in monasteries, women who ended up in convents due to financial or political circumstances rather than because of true belief. However, I believe they would fall under the heading of “not dangerous” because, as you mention, they do not evangelize their lack of faith. But atheists frequently do and I find them to be exceedingly dangerous. Still, the Church is indeed resilient and indefectible and can withstand attacks no other institution has been forced to withstand. But it is stronger when those who serve it actually believe in what it stands for.

      Reply
  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Margaret, you’re absolutely correct in saying that “fictionalists” are extremely dangerous when they have actual power and earthly authority. There’s no question at all about that. Their timeserving hypocrisy allows them to say or do anything at all that serves their interests. And these types do tend to rise to positions of power, because their hypocrisy and willingness to deceive often give them a great administrative advantage over more honest persons.

    Hypocrites we will always have with us, and yes… we can only hope that they will repent and change. But the situation is made profoundly worse when their religious superiors in the upper hierarchy are full-blown, activist, and committed succedaneous religionists. Then these fictionalists will have no incentive whatsoever to change, since their self-serving hypocrisy is linked to the fanaticism of their paymasters.

    Are Cardinals Cupich and McElroy and Gregory fictionalists without any real faith except ecclesiastical careerism? I think so. But their boss Bergoglio and his coterie of favorites are hard-core fanatical post-Christian succedaneous religionists, no different from 18th-century French philosophes and encyclopedistes, with a horrific agenda of destruction that they are actively imposing. When you have this kind of top-down corruption, reaching from true believers in the Vatican down to a hierarchy of passively supine bishops, and cowardly priests — all of whom are happy to go along to get along — then our state is truly parlous.

    Reply
  9. Mike Bryant

    Brian, your poems all are so well written and make excellent points. The discussion here in comments has been eye-opening and interesting as well. I believe that most of the false compassion is fueled by other people’s money. At this point our government is funding many organizations, including almost every organized religion, to dole out the compassion in wheelbarrows of cash.
    The powers that be are simply employing the Cloward-Piven Strategy that is explained in this short article:
    https://prepareforchange.net/2020/04/06/americans-must-now-accept-the-hard-cold-reality-that-the-coronavirus-outbreak-is-intentionally-being-used-to-collapse-the-u-s-economy/
    At least, that’s the way I see it.
    By the time all the civil servants are hired and marble covered buildings are built to support each new bureaucracy, Washington ends up with more of our money than any of the poor.
    Charity works far better when left to the people. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Mike, thank you for the kind comment and thank you for the eye-opening article on the Cloward-Priven Strategy. I’d never heard of this before and it’s absolutely terrifying! Yes, the more that these various items are kept out of the hands of government the better. The way certain state governments exercise compassion falls right into that control paradigm. Many governments, states and federal, are funding programs that are (as I describe in the poem) “rancid.” One that particularly irks me is Oregon which has decriminalized all hard drugs such as heroin, LSD, cocaine and methamphetamine “so as to remove the stigma addicts face” and make it more likely that they’ll seek help. Right. The real result is that Oregon becomes a magnet for every druggee in the country, bringing with them more homeless, more crime, to the point where decent people have to move, thus crashing the economy. Not that these unintended consequences or the failure of the “progressive” policy in the first instance will cause anyone in government to shift gears. It will never happen. It’s a phenomenon.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        “Not that these unintended consequences or the failure of the “progressive” policy in the first instance will cause anyone in government to shift gears. It will never happen. It’s a phenomenon.”
        Of course they won’t shift gears because what appear to be unintended consequences are exactly what IS intended.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Mike, I agree. I’ve thought for a long time that the government knows exactly what it’s doing and just wants us to think of them as incompetent so we don’t suspect that they’re doing all this on purpose to make it easier to control us.

  10. James Sale

    Fine poetry, Brian – and the sort of work that students should be studying: examining and being challenged on their ‘meme’ belief systems and what is really underlying them – much of which has been covered already in the previous comments. As the atheist John Gray accurately observed: ‘The thinkers of the Enlightenment saw themselves as reviving paganism, but they lacked the pagan sense of the dangers of hubris. With few exceptions, these savants were actually neo-Christians, missionaries of a new gospel more fantastical than anything in the creed they imagined they had abandoned.’ All of it lacks reason; all is faith-based; and all is more far-fetched than Christianity itself; truly, as Joe observed, ‘Succedaneous’! Well done, great writing.

    Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Wow, James, great quote! Reminds me of a speech I heard on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

      “We’ve never harmed you. And yet we’re constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we’ve left the Federation. And that’s the one thing you can’t accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You’re only sending them replicators because one day they can take their ‘rightful place’ on the Federation Council. You know, In some ways, you’re even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You’re more insidious. You assimilate people and they don’t even know it.”

      Reply
      • James Sale

        Ha ha ha: thanks Joshua. I like Star Trek but never got as far as watching Deep Space Nine, so your quotation is new to me. Good to see the truth pops up, especially in fiction!

      • Brian Yapko

        Excellent, Josh. I too happen to be a big Star Trek fan and that’s a great quote. Hits way too close to home.

    • Brian Yapko

      James, thank you very much for your generous comment and your additional insights. I like your identification of a “meme” belief system, which seems painfully accurate. Your John Gray quote is fascinating and gives me much to ponder — especially the Enlightenment thinkers lacking the pagan sense of the dangers of hubris. Hubris is very much a problem in those in authority who would dictate morality from a position of extreme shallowness. And they are many.

      Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, James — see my reply down below. But while I’m here, I also like the quote which describes “missionaries of a new gospel.” Subjective views on what constitutes “social justice” appears to be that purported “new gospel” — and one which is insidious indeed. And, yes: succedaneous, which is a concept worth considerable exploration.

      Reply
  11. Margaret Coats

    Brian, I will use what I say to comment on “Improbable, Not Impossible,” but first let me try to give the succedaneous religion under discussion a proper name. When Joseph Salemi says that Bergoglio and others with highest authority in the Catholic Church are “post-Christian succedaneous religionists,” I’m sure he does not mean Christianity has died out as a viable religion. Perhaps he does mean the Roman coterie has been fatally infected with dust from the demise of mainline American puritanical Protestantism. But another name for what they have could be Americanism. This was a recognized heresy in 19th-century American Catholicism, in essence holding that immigrant Catholics should downplay or even abandon doctrine and practice, so as to create an American Catholic church in full conformity with American society. They should not try to give a Catholic character to America.

    But I am more interested in the analysis by John C. Rao, who treats Americanism as a religion for anyone. Its main tenet is that the United States, not God or Christ or the Church, is the means of salvation for humanity. It is the pragmatic way of providing happiness for persons and groups who cannot possibly agree on most things. The Americanist religion is built on secularized puritanism and Anglo-Saxon conservatism. This conservatism says nothing about political leanings, but strives for unity at all costs, with divisiveness as principal foe. It conserves stability of whatever can be stabilized among so many atomistic individuals. Being practical, it devotes itself solely to material happiness (free needles, not recovery that would require a spiritual impetus). It scorns high culture as useless. It is distrustful of ideas, because ideas are divisive. Thus, it demands unthinking and unquestioning acceptance.

    Rao says that although Americanism may have begun as a form of American patriotism, it is actually opposed to any true concept of nation or love of country. Adherents may find their religion better represented even by enemies of America, and begin to work against their homeland. We see this in globalist Americanists, whatever their nationality.

    Brian, your “Improbable, Not Impossible” could outline conversion away from the Americanist religion. Rao considers
    that the battle for Catholics to show America the Catholic path of salvation was lost long ago. “Attend the church of your choice” is an Americanist slogan. You found it almost unthinkable to differ from what you were taught, in part because it was your patriotic duty to hold it. You didn’t investigate, because acceptance was demanded, and ideas were distrusted. You didn’t recognize your religion as religion, and thus “never grasped the fight.” When you learned to trust thought, you found it impossible to prove anything to those who do not think. Pragmatic Americanists just want to do something, not to think about how. The fact that your “friend” now often votes conservative means he finds more thinking persons and policies on that side, not that conservatism is the religion he substitutes for Americanism. He has discovered the difference between politics and religion!

    My comments do not get into Rao’s careful analysis of history and of principles like freedom. He does point out that real individual freedom is seriously limited with adherence to the Americanist religion. But as you said above, Brian, this topic goes far beyond your poems that stimulate discussion of it.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Margaret, I read your detailed comment with a great deal of interest. This is obviously a subject which strikes a nerve for the two of us as well as others on this page. As individuals who value and defend faith but who also value freedom of worship/thought/speech, it is incumbent upon us to assess the threats which are so ubiquitous. That’s what makes your citation to Mr. Rao’s work so valuable. I’ve never heard of Americanism before and find it most intriguing. I have, of course, heard of American exceptionalism but you describe is something quite different — Americanism as a literal blending of patriotic and religious impulses but which does not lean in the direction of a theocracy but, rather, into the strange territory of state worship but without dissent and with a dogma which must not be challenged lest the objector be considered treasonous as well as blasphemous. Unthinking acceptance is inimical to traditional American values. This is a very dangerous trend and I can see why it troubles you. It smacks of fascism and enforced world nationhood, the very idea of which is quite concerning. (I’m one of those people who think John Lennon’s song “Imagine” is horrible because of its promotion of no nations, no religion. The end result is no humanity.)

      I’m grateful for your kind words about Improbable, Not Impossible. I don’t know if it’s much of a roadmap for others, but it certainly describes my experience in making a sharp turn to the right. Because, as you accurately observe, once one actually starts thinking for oneself one is like to find more thinking persons and policies on this side.

      I will re-read your comment (I’m sure more than once) to make sure I grasp all of the implications of what you report. Thank you for this, Margaret.

      Reply
    • Joseph S, Salemi

      Professor Rao’s views on “Americanism” are valid as far as they go, but they tend to be limited by being focused on one nation and its influence. The problem of succedaneous religion is much older than the United States, and far predates the specific heresy of “Americanism” which the Vatican tried to deal with in the late 19th century.

      “Americanism” in the strict sense was not even so much a heresy as a tendency among some American Catholic apologists to water down Catholic doctrines, making them somewhat more palatable to American Protestants, and thereby to speed up the assimilation of Catholics into the American mainstream. (It was the old “go-along-to-get-along” motive.) The path that these Catholic Americanists followed was essentially modernism, but a modernism remodeled to suit a kind of Yankee-Doodle “Let’s-all-be-pals” mentality, or the old chestnut — still heard from liberals today — that “what unites us is stronger than what divides us.” John Courtney Murray was the chief contemporary proponent of this Panglossian irenicist approach. All of this helped to generate the nightmare known as “ecumenism” among Christians, and which is now understood to bring in everyone else too, including idol-worshipers and Satanists.

      By the way, this American tendency to treat religion as nothing but a lifestyle choice was noted by the Jewish scholar Ludwig Lewisohn as early as 1922, when he remarked that his Protestant students at Ohio State University looked upon religious denominations as something as easily changed as ones address, or undershirt. It didn’t matter if you were Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist, as long as you “got along” and followed all public conventions of behavior, and had no independent ideas.

      Americanism had very bad effects, and has poisoned the thinking of millions of Catholics. It essentially said “You’re free to practice whatever religion you choose, as long as you don’t take it seriously enough to cause a fight over it.” Americanism implicitly believes that religion is basically unimportant, and is limited to the private sphere, and has no input at all into the political realm (which is completely laicized).

      Succedaneous religion (or Liberalism) is much older and far more dangerous. The word “succedaneous” simply means “substitute,” or “ersatz” or “used as a replacement.” It serves as a psychological and doctrinal replacement for the Christianity that it supplants. I think I should quote R.P. Oliver on the subject, since he was one of the first to use this term:

      “Liberalism is a succedaneous religion that was devised late in the 18th century, and it originally included a vague deism. Like the Christianity from which it sprang, it split into various sects and heresies, such as Jacobinism, Fourierism, Fabian Socialism, Marxism, and the like. The doctrine of the Liberal cults is essentially Christianity divested of its belief in supernatural beings, but retaining its social superstitions, which were originally derived from, and necessarily dependent on, the supposed wishes of a god. This Liberalism, the residue of Christianity, is, despite the fervor with which its votaries hold their faith, merely a logical absurdity, a series of deductions from a premise that has been denied.”

      Oliver was a very strong atheist (despite his vast scholarship in religious studies), and he disliked all religions except those that were specifically connected with and limited to a race or a culture. He saw liberalism as an outgrowth of the death of Christianity in the Enlightenment intelligentsia, who denied and mocked all supernatural aspects of the old faith, but who remained committed to the notions of “universal brotherhood,” “love,” “humanitarianism,” “natural law,” “equality,” “personal salvation through the practice of virtue,” and (worst of all) “the establishment of a divine kingdom here on earth.” It even has a substitute for “sin” — anything that fights against the principles of liberalism. It also has its saints, its sacred scriptures, and its methods of excommunicating deviants.

      The later Americanist ideology that Rao describes has been profoundly influenced by this succedaneous religion, but the latter is much more dangerous and demonic than the American desire that “we all should get along.” Succedaneous religion is fiercer because it has all the fanaticism of a newly-minted faith, and it has no interest in getting everyone together in a friendly club of indifference. It wants converts, it wants orthodoxy, it wants heresy-hunts, and it wants the most abject kind of obedience to its tenets and laws. What we are seeing today, in America, is the conscious and deliberate building up of a NEW RELIGION that insists upon the fealty of everyone: to gender ideology, to feminism, to equity, to trannie ideology, to militant homosexualism, to mainstream media, to anti-white racism, to anti-nationalism, and to the Democratic Party. If you don’t think these are hard-core religious doctrines, think harder.

      To answer Margaret’s question, I don’t think that Catholicism has died out as a viable religion. On the contrary, I believe that it is the only true religion. I believe Christ’s words that the Church is indefectible and indestructible, though in what form or manner it will survive is something none of us can know. But I do know that Bergoglio and a vast number of the Novus Ordo Catholic hierarchy are NOT Roman Catholics in any meaningful sense of those words, and that they are not just timeserving Americanists who want all of us to get along, but flagrant heretics of the succedaneous religion called Liberalism, and all its brand-new variants. The fact that they are wearing Catholic vestments is meaningless.

      Reply
  12. Margaret Coats

    This is a follow-on to what Joseph Salemi says concerning John Rao’s views on Americanism. My typing got misplaced because the computer closed unexpectedly, and I couldn’t place it as a reply to Joe when I recovered what I wrote.

    Joe, you say enough right here to show that (for Catholics) Americanism is indeed a heresy and not just a go-along, get-along tendency that was easily corrected in 1899. Leo XIII clearly outlined its errors, which he ordered to be abandoned by Catholics who held them, although he did not issue a condemnation, because neither Murray nor anyone else had written a treatise explicitly professing them. But as Rao says, “Testem benevolentiae” was not enough to kill the monster.

    However, I tried to present (far too briefly, I am sure) Rao’s conviction that Americanism is not just a heresy Catholics need to avoid, but in fact a religion, the religion all patriotic Americans (Catholics and others) are expected to hold. I thought I would get a response from you, and I am glad to hear your further explanations. If the generic name of the succedaneous religion is “Liberalism,” its adherents have not necessarily moved away from a non-viable religion. The French philosophes and encyclopedistes apostasized from the one true religion (non-viable and dangerous only in their mistaken opinion).

    I cannot do justice to Rao’s argument about the Americanist religion, even though I just re-read his “Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States” (1995, but sadly no longer available). As you say, Joe, succedaneous religion is older than Americanism–although I thought of Americanism because you spoke of 19th-century puritanical Protestantism as the predecessor religion. I will assure you that Rao considers more than I mentioned. As an historian, he refers back to Locke and other influences on American founding fathers–and forward to evidence of Americanism in the Second Vatican Council. That truism about the Council being pastoral rather than doctrinal derives from Americanist pragmatism unwilling to take ideas seriously. And it is a false truism because Catholics are expected to take undefined Vatican II doctrine as superseding anything else. Rao wields a hammer when it comes to flaws and inconsistencies, but his argument is so dense that one quick reading shows me I need two more. If you can find his 60-page book anywhere, you will probably agree that Americanism is a religion, perhaps one variant of “classic” Liberalism. It has many characteristics that you say belong to succedaneous religion. Again, I couldn’t list all.

    And it has the peculiar belief in America as salvific in a material (not spiritual) way. I believe I can see that at present even in the American leaders who believe that racist America is the problem and globalism the solution. After all, they are the ones who plan to show the world how to save itself–but as Rao would point out, they are fools to believe in their power.

    My apologies, Brian Yapko, for getting so far away from your poems–but thank you again for those good starting points leading to an important discussion. Your mention of “American exceptionalism” may have something to do with Americanism as a religion, but that depends on the views of the speaker. Remember, a follower of succedaneous religion may not think he is religious at all, and if he professes another religion as well, he is unlikely to acknowledge that Americanism supersedes his personal spiritual tenets. You can see why Rao had to write very carefully to provoke thought yet avoid confusion. I think he succeeds.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Margaret, the conversation between you and Dr. Salemi has given me a great deal of new information and new insights on subject matter of the highest importance. Although I can see that I have a lot of reading to do, I’m deeply gratified that my poems were a springboard for this dialogue so there’s no need to apologize. In fact, I could not ask for more.

      Reply
  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    Margaret, all I was trying to argue is that “Americanism” was originally just an intramural problem for Catholics who wanted to become more assimilated and “Americanized.” If the concept has metastasized into a much bigger phenomenon that now includes persons of all faiths and even non-believers, then certainly that is important, but it is another story. I have not read John Rao’s book but I know and respect his scholarly acumen. I also recall when my teacher Dr. William Marra of Fordham University fought fiercely to get Rao a tenured appointment at St. John’s University — even back then, one had to deal with Vatican 2 bigotry in high Catholic places.

    John Courtney Murray was a major influence in the drive to get certain ideas into the Vat 2 documents, so I guess one might argue that the late 19th-century Americanist heresy was a vector for infecting the larger Church with that particular virus. But the original “Let’s-all-just-get-along” attitude really did exist in the America of my youth. We all had our separate belief-systems, but virtually no one used them as occasions for fighting. It was an armed truce, but it was generally friendly, and it was the best anyone could hope for in a culturally and religiously mixed nation.

    What wrecked it was the resurgence of intense succedaneous religion in the 1960s cultural revolutions. Liberalism, like Dracula, always resurrects from its dirt-lined coffin.

    All of this is interesting history, but let’s move on to a really frightening thing that very few people are willing to think about, much less discuss. The succedaneous religion called Liberalism is close to being regnant in the West, not just in its earlier forms (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), but also in the new ones that I mentioned in my last post here. And it is more and more obvious that Liberalism WANTS INSTITUTIONAL CATHOLICISM AS ITS VEHICLE OF WORLD DOMINANCE.

    It’s easy enough to understand: the top-down authoritarian nature of Catholicism is what left-liberals want desperately. They don’t just hunger after actual full political and bureaucratic power (which they are very close to getting now) but also for deep philosophical and doctrinal control over great masses of ordinary people. Capturing the Vatican and the bulk of the hierarchy would put that kind of profound propagandizing power into their hands. This is why the issues of Bergoglio’s rigged election, his blatant heresies, and his desperate attempt to wreck the institutional Church before he dies are front-and-center concerns for all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

    Reply
  14. David Whippman

    Well-written poems. “Drunk on Compassion” really made me think, because (though not left wing politically) I have sometimes given cash to beggars. I can say honestly that I’ve never sought moral superiority by so doing. But still there is, of course, always the question of what they are going to spend the cash on. If I saw one particular guy in the town, I would buy him a chocolate bar instead. It seemed a sensible compromise.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, David. What you’re describing is always a tough decision. We have signs which advise against giving money to beggars and, instead, to donate it to places like the Salvation Army, where they’re actually well-equipped to help the homeless. There is a conflict, however, in that such facilities almost always insist that those they help give up alcohol and drugs. Many homeless would rather remain on the street than give up booze or meth. Buying a candy bar or some food sounds like a better idea than giving them cash, which enables their unsober refusal to seek help for their addictions.

      Reply
  15. Satyananda Sarangi

    Brian Sir, this is a hard-hitting slap on those who spread hate and manufacture a crippled society. Only you could have written this power-packed piece.

    Best wishes

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Satyananda! Your mention of a “crippled society” is a very powerful image. I believe that peoples’ strengths should be encouraged rather than their weaknesses.

      Reply

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