Tag: Dr. David A. White

Culture Matters!

Culture Matters! posted in Eleison Comments on April 25, 2015

From Friday evening, May 1st, to Sunday mid-day, May 3rd, there will be held here in Queen of Martyrs House, Broadstairs, another seminar by Dr. David White, as last year on Charles Dickens, so this year on T.S. Eliot (1888–1965), another giant of English literature with a direct connection to this corner of England. It was in an open-air pavilion overlooking Margate beach about five miles north of Broadstairs that between October and November of 1921 the world famous Anglo-American poet broke a writing-block and composed some 50 lines of the third of five parts of the most influential poem of the 20th century, at any rate in the English language, The Wasteland (1922).

The poem is a brilliant portrait of the nothingness in men’s hearts and minds in the wake of World War I (1914–1918). In The Wasteland Eliot forged a new fragmentary way of writing poetry that captured the broken spiritual condition of modern man. By his broad and deep grasp of the artistic masterpieces from the past, notably Dante and Shakespeare, Eliot was able to give shape to the spiritual poverty of today. For instance in the six lines of the peom which are clearly connected to Margate, one of three working-class girls tells how she gave away her honour, for nothing, and to highlight the emptiness of the lives of all three maidens, their words are framed within fragments from the song of the three Rhine maidens who open and close the cosmic vision of Wagner’s epic Ring of the Nibelungs.

Emptiness and nothingness. Why on earth should Catholics bother with such depressing authors? Salvation is by Our Lord Jesus Christ, not by culture, especially not by nihilistic culture. A particular answer concerns T S Eliot. A general answer concerns all “culture,” defined as those stories, pictures and music with which all men of all ages cannot help furnishing and forming their hearts and minds.

As for T S Eliot, he himself soon dismissed The Wasteland as “rhythmic grumbling,” and a few years later he became a member of the Church of England. He had given brilliant expression to modern nothingness, but he did not wallow in it. He went on to write a number of plays and especially the long poem of the Four Quartets, which are by no means nihilistic, and about which Dr White, who loves Eliot, will also be talking in Broadstairs in a few days’ time. Having grappled honestly with the problem, Eliot came up with no ostrich solution, like countless Catholics that have fallen for Vatican II.

For indeed culture in general is to religion (or irreligion) like the suburbs of a city are to the city centre. And just as a military general with the task of defending a city would be most foolish to leave the suburbs to be occupied by the enemy, so any Catholic concerned for his religion cannot be indifferent to the stories, pictures and music which are moulding the souls all around him. Of course religion (or irreligion) is central to a man’s life, compared with which “culture” is peripheral, because men’s culture is, deep down, a spin-off from their relation with their God. Nevertheless culture and religion interact. For instance, were so many Catholics not under the spell of “The Sound of Music,” would they so easily have fallen for Vatican II? Or had the present leaders of the Society of St Pius X, by contrasting Catholic culture and modern anti-culture, grasped the depth of the modern problem, would they be now so intent on getting back under the perpetrators of Vatican II? Culture can matter like Heaven and Hell!

Kyrie eleison.

Website Launch

Website Launch posted in Eleison Comments on October 11, 2014

On the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary a website has just been launched on the Internet which could be of serious interest to regular readers of these Eleison Comments. It will be found at www.stmarcelinitiative.com. It will present the latest issue and all back-issues of the Comments in English and Italian back to 2007, and the latest issue and back-issues for the last five years or so in French, German and Spanish. And for readers who prefer reading on paper to reading on an electronic screen, the website will offer various means of choosing back-issues and printing them together.

A second section of the website, “Books and Talks,” will make available recorded conferences and sermons of Bishop Williamson, copies on paper of the first two of the four volumes of his “Rector’s Letters” written in the USA between 1983 and 2003, and all extant literature seminars of Dr. White. Again, modern electronics will provide a variety of ways of reaching and downloading these recordings, but only a few are on video as well as on audio. Orders to purchase can also be made by telephone by dialling +1 844 SMI SHOP, i.e., 1 (844) 764–7467.

Catholics – and non-Catholics! – not yet familiar with the literature recordings of Dr. White should seize this opportunity to see how he uses the classics of world literature as a bridge to connect the Faith to the world around us. The gap between these two grows greater every day. Conciliar Catholics have tried to adapt yesterday’s Faith to today’s world and many have lost their Faith in the process. Traditional Catholics are liable to scorn both today’s world as irredeemably lost, and world literature as irredeemably “unspiritual,” and the Faith of many of them has become quite detached from reality in the process. Dr. White has both a strong faith and a firm grip on the real world around us today, and his mastery of world literature has enabled him to make sense of both for countless souls, old and young, who felt otherwise hopelessly schizophrenic. Strongly recommended.

A third section of the website concerns “Donations.” It will present a similar variety of electronic means of donating to help maintain an oasis of, one hopes, good sense amidst today’s wasteland of nonsense. It should allow benefactors to donate what they want, when they want, on the schedule they want, and with ease. To set up the website has actually been quite an expense on its own. We think it should prove well worth while, but it has been one more reason for us to appeal to your generosity. We thank you in advance.

A fourth section is entitled “Information.” It will tell a little about the St Marcel Initiative, about how the website operates, and about what Bishop Williamson has been doing and hopes to do. However, news of his future engagements must be released with a measure of caution, because he does not have only friends around the world.

The Internet has serious drawbacks and dangers, but there is no question that, by an astonishing variety of electronic means, truths can be found on it that can be found nowhere else. We gently hope that this new website will contribute to that fund of truth. A lot of work has gone into putting it together, and besides the contribution of the many workers, that of many benefactors has also been indispensable. We sincerely thank all concerned. May God repay each of them, each of yourselves.

Kyrie eleison.

Dickens’ Broadstairs

Dickens’ Broadstairs posted in Eleison Comments on June 21, 2014

A number of friends have asked me how I like the house newly purchased for the “Resistance” in Kent, England. I like it. It is spacious and it is being beautifully set up by a fellow-exile from the Society of St Pius X, Fr Stephen Abraham. Only Heaven knows how it intends the house to be used in the near and distant future, but it is meanwhile a delightful refuge, five minutes on foot from the sea which God created, and which the liberals cannot touch.

Several famous English artists and writers from the past have also found refuge in this delightful corner of north-east Kent. Most famous of the artists is J.M.W. TURNER (1775–1751). Born in London where he spent most of his working life, from age 11 he spent several formative years in Margate, some four miles up the coast from Broadstairs. Here he discovered the sea, which with its light effects was a lifelong inspiration for his painting, and to Margate he frequently returned later in life.

Also in Margate the most famous poet in English of the 20th century, T.S. ELIOT (1888–1965), composed in an open-air pavilion still standing on Margate’s beach, a substantial section of the third part of his most famous poem, The Wasteland (1922). He had come to the seaside town as a refugee from London where an unhappy marriage had seriously affected his health. He did not stay long, but went on to Lausanne, Switzerland, where thanks to the care of a good doctor he completed his recovery and The Wasteland. But the prospect of the sea at Margate had no doubt helped.

Another famous poet, at least in England, was a frequent visitor to Ramsgate, two miles down the coast from Broadstairs. Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE, one of England’s five outstanding Romantic poets, is best-known for his long poem, The Ancient Mariner. He loved bathing in the sea at Ramsgate, perhaps also for health reasons. In any case, the colder the sea, the more he liked it.

Most famous of all, however, was a frequent visitor to Broadstairs itself, the novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870). He first resorted to Broadstairs in 1837, as a quiet place in which to complete his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, but he so fell in love with the antiquated little seaside town that he often returned with his family to write, or to rest from writing, through the 1840’s and into the 1850’s. His name and names of his novels, or of characters from his novels, are to be found all over the old town that he knew. It is now surrounded, not to say strangled, by Victorian and modern suburbs, but Broadstairs still celebrates every year its most famous visitor with a Dickens Festival in June.

Dr. David Allen White, a Catholic teacher of literature and music who is well-known to many Catholics striving to keep the Faith all over the English-speaking world, is a great lover of Dickens. Since he is passing through London this summer, he agreed to visit Broadstairs in order to hold on August 2 and 3 a 24-hour weekend seminar on Dickens, open to the public and including three conferences and Sunday Mass, and a visit which he will guide to the Dickens Museum in town, set up in a little old house known to, and visited by, Dickens himself. If you are interested in attending, let us know soon (through info@dinoscopus.org), because if numbers have to be limited, first come will be first served. Meals will be provided in-house, but visitors will have to find their own accommodation outside. Beware, it will be the height of the holiday season.

Dickens was not Catholic, but Dostoevsky called him “a great Christian.” Dickens certainly had a warm and open heart, and a brilliant pen.

Kyrie eleison.

Anti-Culture Antidote

Anti-Culture Antidote posted in Eleison Comments on May 31, 2008

In the recent April 15 issue of “ The Remnant,” there appeared an article “Windy Blather and Lies” by a young man that I don’t think I have ever met, but saying what I have been saying for many years: movies are far and away the most formative influence on young people’s hearts and minds today, and they constitute a tremendous obstacle to the youngsters’ either growing up or acquiring any sense of reality, let alone getting to Heaven.

The author of the article, E.Z., teaches at a Traditional Catholic school for boys which is outstanding in the USA today, yet he says that when the boys come back from a vacation, the one question they are all asking one another is what movies they have seen! I am not surprised, nor do I blame the school. What else does the anti-culture of today’s dissociety have to offer to the youngsters for the feeding of their minds? Worse, what real grip can the Catholic religion have on minds and hearts marinated in such silliness and unreality? As Marcel de Corte puts it, how can someone who has no idea of real being have any real idea of the Supreme Being?

Not that reality will let itself be overwhelmed. Through finance, economics, soon politics and war, it is coming back at a rate of knots. The danger is rather of our children being so progressively caught up in the wilfully immature fantasy that it will be too late for them to re-adjust to reality. “Movies are all they know,” says E.Z., “they aren’t learning anything about life except from movies. How can they reconcile a phony Hollywoodian perception of reality with their Catholic Faith?” No wonder Conciliarism took over from Catholicism!

The whole of E.Z.’s article, especially for adults who may never have thought about the matter, needs to be read and pondered on (four copies available for 4 from Remnant Reprints at PO Box 1117, Forest Lake, MN 55025, USA), because not only was E.Z. himself in his youth, as he tells, totally trapped in movie-mania, but also he found a wholly practical way out – recordings of lectures on the classics, especially Shakespeare, by Dr. David White.

Says E.Z., “You’ll learn more about the world and more about yourself and more about your Catholic Faith by listening to those hundred lectures than in any school anywhere.” Strong words, but they make sense. Dr. White knows both where youngsters (and adults) are at today. and he knows his Faith, so that his tapes can provide an incomparable bridge between the two. Get the article, get the tapes (I get no commission).

Kyrie eleison.