“It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falseness in the world.” — Dr. Johnson
“The mind can only repose upon the stability of truth.” — Dr. Johnson
I fear a great Romantic fallacy is corrupting our country; perhaps no man today is more Romantic than the man who has absolutely nothing to be Romantic about. The self-avowed atheist will be the first of the moderns to start a crusade against belief, admitting its all of no consequence; the feminist who believes gender is fluid and therefore irrelevant will scream, and shout, and shrill and shriek against the one gender that is not fluid—the white, Christian male. If one speaks with any modern moralist, he will discover that morality is either self- or socially-constructed yet that, above all else, it should be fought for with great zeal; that is, by declaring morality as something that is constructed, he is acknowledging that it changes, and if it changes by the mere whims and fancies of society, a rather fickle enterprise, it ends up much like gender, an irrelevant thing we are all trying to define.
But what the moralist often ignores is the simple fact that any war must be fought with a concrete ideal as its foundation. No man begins a war for something he is certain will not exist in five years; no man fights for a country he knows will turn on him once he returns home. All the modern Romantics fighting for ideals they claim are fluid will inevitably grow tired of fighting for fluidity and begin fighting for foundations, and those foundations will be the opposite of reality and common sense. The atheist will no longer fight God alone; he will fight for his dogmatic brand of atheism; gender theorists will give up the notion that gender is fluid, and they will also give up the idea that gender can be male or female; those words won’t exist in their narrow universe; we will all be pan-genders.
The modern rhetorician has also fallen under the spell of denouncing dogma. I was recently reading an essay by the (relatively) famous Mike Rose, who, with the rest of modern composition theorists, railed against the five-paragraph essay and the old, traditional, rigid-rules that used to be taught. The man denies the common fact of student writing. He denies the fact that if you do not show a young writer a way, the writer will not know where to go; and he is content with calling bad writing good, all for the sake of breaking the rules.
But, I say, if anything, we need more rigid-rules, more dogma; if anything, we need more tradition, more boundaries and walls to work within. Breaking down good dogma ultimately leads to the construction of bad dogma.
Any modern secular sage will argue that Christianity keeps its followers in bondage; there are too many rules and too much order. One might say that there is not order enough in many of our churches; one might say that most atheists today are more dogmatic than most Baptists or Methodists. With that I almost cannot argue. But if rules and order are so bad in and of themselves, ask the modern sage, who preaches from a podium, if it would be alright to break his rules. Better, as him if it is alright to break the podium against his brain. Many love breaking down boundaries to free the immigrants into the country. Fewer yet walk into a zoo denouncing boundaries and cages, and those who do only denounce them until the lion leaves his cage. And perhaps that is just why Christianity needs and creates boundaries, for if it was let loose it would devour society like a lion. For it is both terrifying and triumphant.
Not too long ago, I ventured downtown with my dogmatic buddy to share a pint and discuss the ways of man and literature and our Lord. My dogmatic friend explained to me that this particular casino—a man cannot have a pint without a slot machine in Vegas—was one of the oldest, one of more tradition. Now, tradition as defined by Vegas standards is anything over forty years old. I think a man would be hard-pressed to find a building older than fifty years in Vegas; it is a sign of deadness when a city must change every ten years; the lively town is the old town, built with the spirit of youth, built by men who wanted their buildings to last forever because their spirits last forever, buildings unlike the whims and fancies of gender-theory, socially-constructed and built for destruction.
But I have slightly digressed. My friend showed me around the casino and we left, deciding to stroll around the area, continuing our discussion. The downtown area, despite its newness, has made improving strides in recent years, and many locals who are sick of the strip flock there. One finds it easily enough by coming down Fremont Street and running into a pedestrian mall, what is called the Fremont Experience. (But I protest. Read my Gambler, No. 2 if you want the true Fremont Experience.)
We arrived at the corner of Lewis and Casino Center and longed to enter Anthony’s New York Pizza & Deli for a slice, but we found no seating, it being a Saturday evening. A young man from Kansas City who walks through downtown Vegas might feel as if he is in a different country. I did not often venture around downtown KC, but I did stroll around the Westport and midtown area a time or two. To compare the two would be silly. But in general, the Vegas district is much smaller and contains a far wider range of people. Bikers seemed to be a great hit the last time I was there—at Anthony’s—and it will be hard to forget seeing such a big man, with all his tattoos and leather, carry such a little dog around in his jacket. A stretch hummer and a man with a camera across the way caught our attention, especially when that man waived his camera around for a panorama. The white man in a purple EMAW shirt surely stuck out to him. But I fear I have digressed again.
Unable to grab a slice, we continued on, discussing the same particulars and dodging characters you want to dodge. I educated my friend on the sad fact of what a cis-gender was; we talked other particulars. The evening was a fine night from strolling, for once. Though the dryness in Vegas is both a curse and a blessing; the heat is not so bad, but then one must drink a gallon of water a day to keep from drying, wilting, shriveling, and dying. And I and my skinny bones had just had over a pint.
At some point during the evening, my friend asked me if I wanted to see one of the oldest buildings in town. I quickly shot my mouth off and asked him if the building was built last week, and he proceeded to tell me it had been there since the twenties. Educated, I continued with him, winding around darker streets, away from the neon and slots.
We rounded a corner, and there was a quaint, white building, but not just any building; it was a building that stood for something. It was not, I believe, socially constructed. It was not made by man. It was made by God. It was a church.
Written & Transcribed at The Desert Schooner,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Late September, 2015
Painting: “A square before a Church”
By Jan van der Heyden,
Oil on oak, 1678