I have had the privilege to attempt an imitation of various authors in the past few months, specifically Rudyard Kipling, whom I attempted to imitate here. The following is an attempt to imitate Hilaire Belloc. My only disclaimer is that I am not Catholic, and thus have nothing against Protestant Church, but how does one imitate Belloc without denouncing Protestants? For another (much better) look at an imitation of Belloc, I will refer to this other lovely blog on which I also am an avid writer.
Every young man should venture in the dark—if not to exercise his courage to experience the abyss of the state of man. There was one evening in my youth when I undertook such travels in the shadow of the world. That night darkened as the sun (that lamp of the gods) descended behind the trees, and that light which shown at the earth’s beginnings was covered in the darkness that covers all human fate. Then I left for the road but took not any devices with which to communicate; no man who thus takes his venture out into the night should take with him a phone (or anything) for communicating his events to the world, but he should go out with the reality of adventure, the reality of death, before him. The phone—that barbaric monstrosity—destroys the virtuous vigor of society: men will chat, speak, mumble, grown, chant, communicate, dialogue, whisper, shout, scream, call, sing, and bellow to men across counties, but they will not step outside their homes into the darkness that awaits. And that evening, when the sun sank for good, I entered the void and began my pilgrimage by night.
For a moment as I walked, the lesser lights above me were covered by the great clouds overtaking the sky. A low rumble in the distance was heard, and the slight breeze of a coming storm could be felt. Then I neared a lighted, but abandoned, district of the town, but the shut taverns were uninviting, and after cursing them, I left for a small courtyard. Here I took a rest from my short travels. I sat on a wooden bench, as it were, and observed the area: the town courthouse was to the east, and the old library (now a building for court business) was to the east. Farther up to the west was an odd looking church that looked more like an old bank. I then heard more rumbling from above and proceeded on my way.
I traveled a few blocks when I came upon an old, towering church, looming in the darkness; its doors were shut up, and the only glow that emitted was that of the lamps on its doors and a streetlamp across the way. Then I continued on the road but continued left to get a second view of the church; it was made of stone and had one tall tower with a bell at the top. And upon an end of the road I stood staring at such a wonder, and I contemplated the Church that was at the beginning and the church that had entered the world since: how medieval men had hewn stone with their bare hands and erected towers and cathedrals fit for giants. They are monuments of the true religious fervor that took hold of men (for they filled the soul with grandeur, yet they could not be filled); the Medieval Church was a stronghold of Truth before it was spelled with a little t and men could mold the buildings to fit their own preferences. But the Medieval Church made men fit to its design and creeds, and all looked the same, for the Medieval Church was uniform in its formation as well as its creeds and mass. And there is divinity in those three: the Church, the creeds, and the mass are as uniform and complimentary as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
But the modern church (that invaded the world with violence) is built with the modern spirit of utility and can take any form. It is a room without pictures on the wall. It is a crumbling, stumbling, collapsing, decaying, deteriorating, eroding, failing structure, symbolizing the diverse and unstable philosophies of the modern age. The moderns will meet to discuss their philosophies in malls, gyms, schools, houses, parks, golf courses, coffee shops, or taverns (the only preferable of the bunch!).
LECTOR: And what is the point of this rambling?
AUCTOR: It is that the modern church is so spread and varied, few can recognize her any more. And what was more, the church at which I gazed that evening was empty and on a Saturday evening. If there is any place on earth a young sinner ought to be the evening before Mass, it is locked up in the church confessing. If there is any building that ought to be forever open to the public, it is the church. But the modern church locks its doors as it shoves the men out in droves, and it refuses men with as much force at it sends them out. Then it chastises them for not coming to church. And the human race must bear with the scruples of these men who fall in with the modern way, preaching acceptance but practicing refusal.
But I could not continue staring at the church all evening, and I—
LECTOR: Pray, what is the point of this tale.
AUCTOR: Never mind asking the storyteller what his point is!
LECTOR: It seems most noteworthy storytellers have a poi—
And I continued on my way past the church to a darker but noisier area of the neighborhood. The darker districts, as it is, of most towns are usually much louder than the lit areas. Those districts are more inviting than any modern church—the dregs of society make their way to these strips, and I am thankful, for now a man knows that if he just keep a few blocks away from these districts full of debauched men, he will find peace and repose for his soul. And that is the great mystery of society. I charge you to find peace in a modern church with all its hullaballoo and English racket! But the Medieval Church would take the racket from the dregs of society and make them into peaceful, reverent creatures. Out of its uniformity, individual men are created, men who venture into the dark of the world.
Sam Snow, theficklefarce.com
At what used to be my Home,
November 24, 2014
But written the modern way,
of typing on a horrid computer
Painting: “St. Martin’s Medieval Church, Dorking, Surrey”
By John Beckett,
Oil on cardboard panel, 1835