You are here

Charlie Hebdo, 9/11, and the Satanic Sacred

By Thaddeus J. Kozinski, Ph.D.

Originally published in We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo: Free Thinkers Question the French 9/11

The modern nation-state, in whatever guise, is a dangerous and unmanageable institution, presenting itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never actually does, give its clients value for money, and on the other as a repository of sacred values, which from time to time invites one to lay down one’s life on its behalf. . . . It is like being asked to die for the telephone company.[i]

–Alasdair MacIntyre

For the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language.[ii]

–Josef Pieper

Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And so do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.[iii]

–St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross 

  1. Freedom isn’t Free

Just four days after the Charlie Hebdo event, the world witnessed a march in Paris, in fact, the largest in French history, including two million people (with three million more Frenchmen marching in solidarity with the Parisians) and forty world leaders. The march was held to commemorate and mourn the sixteen people who were recently murdered at the Charlie Hebdo offices and at a Kosher deli, but it also had the purpose of emboldening and encouraging freedom-loving people, who must now risk their lives merely to exercise their right to free speech. Nous sommes tous Charlie Hebdo maintenant. The official government narrative of the event was that a few radical Muslim terrorists, and precisely those designated—quite immediately after the attack—by the authorities, murdered eleven employees of a newspaper simply because of the content of that newspaper, as well as five more Jewish people simply because they were Jewish. The official government-authorized meaning of the event was that violence employed against the free use of speech would not be tolerated in France. And any public utterance that did not fall perfectly in line with this authorized narrative and meaning met with the hostile force of the French state. Criticism of the blasphemous cartoons attacking the religious beliefs of millions of Christians and Muslims, and any hesitation in accepting with trust and gratitude the new French status quo of surveillance, suspicion, and censorship was considered intolerant, bigoted, and even criminal, for such could indicate only animosity toward free speech and thus solidarity with murderous terrorists.

In short, very soon after the largest free-speech march in European history—perhaps the only free-speech march in European history—there was a massive government crackdown on free speech, and precisely where that march took place. Included in the hundreds of the “dangerous enemies of free speech” that were arrested by the Paris police in the wake of Hebdo was an eight-year old French Muslim boy, detained and questioned by the police due to the dangerous content of his post-toddler speech. And only a month after this, a French citizen was sent to prison for two years merely for questioning the accuracy of certain episodes of another officially authorized narrative.[iv] In short, the most obvious consequence of the Charlie Hebdo event was not the expansion and tolerance of free speech, but its radical suspicion and circumscription. Indeed, Hebdo was followed by an unprecedented escalation of government surveillance and the fanatical legal suppression of free speech. Daniel Spaulding from Soul of the East reports:

“Over the past several decades, France has prosecuted numerous individuals for engaging in state-designated ‘hate speech.’ The French novelist and gadfly Michel Houellebecq, depicted in a satirical cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo the same day of the terrorist attack, was at one time tried, and later acquitted, for making remarks derogatory toward Islam. And a mere few days after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was arrested on the dubious charge of ‘glorifying terrorism’ after decrying his previous persecutions at the hands of the French authorities for alleged “anti-Semitic” comments. If convicted he could spend several years in prison.” [v]

 In his book, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too, Stanley Fish writes:

“’Free speech’ is just the name we give to verbal behavior that serves the substantive agendas we wish to advance; and we give our preferred verbal behaviors that name when we can, when we have the power to do so, because in the rhetoric of American life, the label ‘free speech’ is the one you want your favorites to wear. Free speech, in short, is not an independent value but a political prize, and if that prize has been captured by a politics opposed to yours, it can no longer be invoked in the ways that further your purposes, for it is not an obstacle to those purposes.” [vi]

I would argue that the Charlie Hebdo event and the behavior that followed it provide solid evidence for the truth of Fish’s words. There was an unmistakable Orwellian cast to the whole Hebdo event, suggesting the existence of an esoteric agenda underneath the exoteric one. If Fish is correct, and free speech is just the name given to verbal behavior that serves the agenda of capturing some political prize, who in Paris were seeking such a prize, and what was it? The who is easy: the French-Anglo-American-Israeli-European ruling classes, comprised of government, intelligence, technology, military, finance, academia, media, and entertainment, the organizers of the Je Suis Charlie Hebdo campaign and march, the budding Paris surveillance industry, the bureaucratic drafters and enforcers of France’s version of the Patriot Act, the South Park-esque cartoonists of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and their fans, and finally, every person wearing a Je-Suis-Charlie t-shirt (in spirit, if not on body). But what was the political prize? As we shall see presently, the what question is much more complex that the who.

When a narrative emerges whose explanation for a massively violent event and the meaning of the concomitant  crisis becomes official, unquestionable, and authoritative; when it includes, and without empirical evidence or investigative inquiry, the assignation of innocence and exceptionalism to the victims, and utter depravity and terrifying power to the designated criminals; when dissent from this narrative is socially forbidden, even to the extent of legal harassment and prosecution; when it spawns behavior in contradiction with itself, such as the committing of acts of terror in the name of eradicating terrorism, or restricting and punishing free speech in the name of expanding and protecting it; when the narrative is immediately supported, echoed, and policed by the vast majority of the ruling classes, including both the mainstream and “alternative” (gate-keeping) left and right; when it successfully unites and synthesizes otherwise opposed factions of the populous—liberals with neoconservatives, libertarians with statists, humanists with Nietzscheans, theists with atheists; when rational scrutiny and frank discussion of obvious explanatory holes in the narrative are forbidden; and when the ritualistic, annual remembrance of an event and recitation of its hallowed story, particularly the harrowing portrayal of the demonic villains to which it assigns all blame for both the increasing domestic strife among citizens and the perpetual Manichean war against the newest “enemy,” instills and evokes primordial fear and religious awe in the populous; when the narrative of an event or series of connected events possesses all of these attributes, or even just a few of them, we know we are dealing with no chance and ordinary phenomenon. Here we have something the apparent mystery and power of which strike at the very heart of the collective consciousness, searing it with something akin to the divine. What we are dealing with, in a word, is the sacred. And it just so happens that the Charlie Hebdo event and narrative bears all the aforementioned characteristics. But isn’t the sacred an extinct relic of our benighted, superstitious, medieval past?

  1. The Sacred (Secular) State

Secular modernity is neither secular nor modern. Of course, we no longer live under the medieval sacral regimes of throne and altar or post-Reformation confessional monarchies. And who can doubt the peculiarly modern rise of science and technology, the radically new kinds of political and economic institutions, the undisputed reign of democratic ideology, and our unprecedented religious pluralism? However, these obvious historical facts and features are not what are primarily signified by the words “secular” and “modern”; for, their inseparable concomitant is a “just-so” story of the genealogy of modernity: Only in secular modernity did man finally achieved his liberation from oppression and ignorance, from superstition, magic, tyranny, and priestcraft, from the dark forces of religious power, fanatical belief, and sectarianism. Man achieved this liberation primarily through the secularization of reason, morality and society, which was effected through the separation of religion from the political order, church from the state.  Ever-increasing religious and ideological pluralism ensued as soon as previously oppressed men of good will were permitted to exercise freely their reason and act on their consciences. It is certainly the case that when Christendom was finally broken up in the wake of the Reformation, religiously intolerant, confessional, monarchical states emerged, but these evolved quite quickly, historically speaking, into the secular, tolerant-minded, pluralistic, democratic states we have today. The rise of secular society after the sixteenth and seventeenth-century “wars of religion” (to see why this phrase must be put in scare quotes, see the pioneering revisionist work of William T. Cavanaugh[vii]) was rendered possible only by the removal of “religion” (a creation of the modern state, as Cavanaugh shows, being unprecedented in its newly depoliticized and privatized form[viii]) from all positions of political significance and power. Good-willed, reasonable people were ready and willing to accept the desacralization of the state, so the story goes, after centuries of witnessing incessant bloodshed over religion. Sequestered, depoliticized, and privatized, religion and the sacred would now no longer cause war, divisiveness, and oppression, and the newly liberated, autonomous, politically secular individual could finally thrive. In the religiously tolerant, secular, pluralistic liberal democracy governed by the rights of men, not God, the sacred would still have a place, as well as a capacity to exert influence over politics, but now it would have to coexist with the many competing, private sacreds residing in the same city, now proliferating and dwelling together in peace precisely because none are permitted to obtain societal, cultural, and political power, let alone a monopoly on power.

In short, secular modernity was born at the moment when the archaic, violence-inducing sacred lost its public, political hegemony and influence, having been relegated to the sub-political, private sphere of men’s fancies and hearts. What took its place in the public square is what should have always been there in the first place, the absolute right (well, restricted only by the equal rights of others) of the individual to self-determination, to freedom of thought, action, speech, property, and religion. Prescinding from the question of the ideological accuracy of this just-so narrative, it can be said with certainty that in modernity man attempted, for the first time in human history, to construct a political order not based upon the religious or the sacred. While not denying the right of every citizen to believe in a sacred, superhuman, cosmic, divine, transcendent power as the true ground of man’s existence, both personal and social, the theoreticians of the modern paradigm, people such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Madison, and Marx, justified, by appeals to reason, common sense and consent, historical inevitability, enlightened sentiment, or even the Will of God, the replacement of secular values and rights codified in a social contract, the general will, a constitution, or the party line for any supposed power or will higher than man.

Of course, the jury is still out on whether political power and unity can be derived from a purely immanent and secular source, from a contract made by humans with humans alone. Rémi Brague warns that, “Such a contract, precisely because it has no external point of reference, cannot possibly decide whether the very existence on this earth of the species homo sapiens is a good thing or not.”[ix] What the continual irruption and increasing proliferation of violent, crisis-making events that bear the sacred features described above—unimpeachable narratives, an ethos of fear and awe, the sudden unification of factions, etc.—indicates is that the phenomena of the sacred is as publicly present, influential, and authoritative in secular modernity as it ever was in the ancient “religious” world. We need only think of other recent sacred events, such as Sandy Hook, the Boston bombing, the Aurora shooting, the ISIS beheadings, the Sydney chocolate-shop massacre, and all the other post 9/11, staged crisis-events that constitute the ongoing episodes in the “War on Terror,” whose pilot episode was that most sacred of all American events, IX XI. Can modern man really live without the sacred? And when he has repudiated the traditional sacred, or perhaps has just forgotten about it, is he bound to concoct sacreds of his own, in his own fallen and depraved image?

Must the political order be derived from a cosmic model (or, at any rate, from an external, transcendent reference point), or are there valid and effective substitutes? Can unaided humanity, through the mobilization of its faculties, create a sacred, or at least a myth, powerful enough to convey a model? If the answer to these questions is no, we must ask then: Can a community exist without the sacred component, by the mere power of rational decisions and intellectual discourse?[x]

No. A community cannot exist without a sacred component, and when the traditional sacred of monotheism was rejected in modernity, the shrine did not remain empty.

An objection might be raised here. Even if it were a delusional mistake to try entirely to desacralize politics and power, did not secular modernity bring us the freedom of religion, the rule of law, civil equality, and representative government, that is, unquestionably beneficial institutions and practices unheard of in the pre-modern world? We can say with certainty that modern liberal democracy, insofar as it has provided the political, legal, cultural, social, and psychological space for the free exercise of reason and conscience, and as it has helped men to flourish physically through its scientific, technological, and medical advances is a considerably good thing. But what is the price we have paid for all these secular advances? Was the dethronement of the traditional sacred from its rightful place at the heart of society, culture, and politics worth it?—“What profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his very soul.”

  • Sacred Nihilism

One way to characterize the sacred is that which is considered absolutely good, under, around, in obedience to, and in pursuit of which men order their individual and corporate lives. Insofar as secular liberalism denies that such a metaphysical, ethical, and spiritual good, if it even exists, can or should have any public authority in civilized society, it is delusional and hypocritical. As Alasdair MacIntyre writes:

“Initially, the liberal claim was to provide a political, legal, and economic framework in which assent to one and the same set of rationally justifiable principles would enable those who espouse widely different and incompatible conceptions of the good life for human beings to live together peaceably within the same society. Every individual is to be equally free to propose and to live by whatever theory or tradition he or she may adhere to, unless that conception of the good involves reshaping the life of the rest of the community in accordance with it. . . . And this qualification of course entails not only that liberal individualism does indeed have its own broad conception of the good, which it is engaged in imposing politically, legally, socially, and culturally wherever it has the power to do so, but also that in so doing its toleration of rival conceptions of the good in the public arena is severely limited.”[xi]

Since secular liberal culture is, according to MacIntyre, founded upon a particular conception of the good, namely, the sacral good of the privatization and desacralization of all claims to truth, and a particular doctrine of truth, the irreducible plurality of conceptions of the good/sacred; and since the publicly authoritative rhetoric of liberal culture includes a denial of having any substantive sacred conceptions of its own, what liberalism amounts to is an institutionalized religious sacred—but one that indoctrinates citizens into disbelieving in its very existence as such. Just as the puppeteers in Plato’s Cave must ensure that the shadows they cast on the wall in front of the shackled slaves are never seen by them as shadows, else the cave be identified as a cave and the prisoners break their chains in revolt, the “secular” state must never be exposed for what it really is, a sacred power exercising hegemony over all competing sacreds, which it has effectively privatized and neutered. Thus, its own sacred dogmas become unimpeachable, unquestionable, uncontestable, and, most importantly, invisible. It judges all beliefs and actions in accord with these dogmas, and executes its definitive judgments through its terrible liturgical violence and murderous ritual scapegoating, masked by the language of rights, democracy, freedom, security, diversity, equality, and tolerance. Orwell, eat your heart out.

All political orders require a mechanism for engendering and preserving unity, and the sacred has always been the source and engine of this unity. It is no different in our “modern” day. The Charlie Hebdo murders, though horrific and tragic, were exploited, and perhaps even orchestrated, through a kind of psychological and spiritual sorcery, the effect of which was to create a unified, regulated group-mind (to use the term of John McMurtry) in the French people and in the West at large. At the shrine of Charlie Hebdo, “free speech” became God, but a god with no substantive core, no divine identity, and no supernatural content. It is a cunning idol, nevertheless. It commands only toleration, and it promises only freedom. Yet it tolerates—and encourages—only blasphemy and ridicule of precisely those competing sacreds it seeks to vanquish, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and the sacred personages of Mohammad and Christ—and it persecutes any who dare to critique its sacred nihilism. The desacralization, profanation, and degradation of Christianity and Islam is, since Charlie Hebdo, the official meaning of “free speech.”

  1. 911 and the Satanic Sacred

Although Charlie Hebdo was quite a sacred spectacle, 911 was the exemplar of secular modernity’s sacred. I have discussed this claim in more depth elsewhere[xii], but for now it is sufficient to point out its uncanny resemblance to traditional sacred mythology, ritual, and sacrament. Sheldon Wolin writes:

“The mythology created around September 11 was predominantly Christian in its themes. The day was converted into the political equivalent of a holy day of crucifixion, of martyrdom, that fulfilled multiple functions: as the basis of a political theology, as a communion around a mystical body of a bellicose republic, as a warning against political apostasy, as a sanctification of the nation’s leader, transforming him from a powerful officeholder of questionable legitimacy into an instrument of redemption, and at the same time exhorting the congregants to a wartime militancy, demanding of them uncritical loyalty and support, summoning them as participants in a sacrament of unity and in a crusade to ‘rid the world of evil.’” [xiii]

James Allison, an eminent theologian and expert on the thought of René Girard, the latter of whose oeuvre amounts to the complete unmasking of all non-Gospel-centered cultures as murderous, ritual scapegoating mechanisms, has given the most penetrating account of the 911 event as the nexus of satanic sacred power in the West. It is worth quoting in full:

“And immediately the old sacred worked its magic: we found ourselves being sucked in to a sacred center, one where a meaningless act had created a vacuum of meaning, and we found ourselves giving meaning to it. All over London I found that friends had stopped work, offices were closing down, everyone was glued to the screen. In short, there had appeared, suddenly, a holy day. Not what we mean by a holiday, a day of rest, but an older form of holiday, a being sucked out of our ordinary lives in order to participate in a sacred and sacrificial centre so kindly set up for us by the meaningless suicides. . . And immediately the sacrificial center began to generate the sort of reactions that sacrificial centers are supposed to generate: a feeling of unanimity and grief. Phrases began to appear to the effect that ‘We’re all Americans now’ — a purely fictitious feeling for most of us. It was staggering to watch the togetherness build up around the sacred center, quickly consecrated as Ground Zero, a togetherness that would harden over the coming hours into flag waving, a huge upsurge in religious services and observance, religious leaders suddenly taken seriously, candles, shrines, prayers, all the accoutrements of the religion of death. And there was the grief. How we enjoy grief. It makes us feel good, and innocent. This is what Aristotle meant by catharsis, and it has deeply sinister echoes of dramatic tragedy’s roots in sacrifice. One of the effects of the violent sacred around the sacrificial center is to make those present feel justified, feel morally good. A counterfactual goodness which suddenly takes us out of our little betrayals, acts of cowardice, uneasy consciences. And very quickly of course the unanimity and the grief harden into the militant goodness of those who have a transcendent object to their lives. And then there are those who are with us and those who are against us, the beginnings of the suppression of dissent. Quickly people were saying things like ‘to think that we used to spend our lives engaged in gossip about celebrities’ and politicians’ sexual peccadillos. Now we have been summoned into thinking about the things that really matter.’ And beneath the militant goodness, suddenly permission to sack people, to leak out bad news and so on, things which could take advantage of the unanimity to avoid reasoned negotiation. . . . What I want to suggest is that most of us fell for it, at some level. We were tempted to be secretly glad of a chance for a huge outbreak of meaning to transform our humdrum lives, to feel we belonged to something bigger, more important, with hints of nobility and solidarity. What I want to suggest is that this, this delight in being given meaning, is satanic.”[xiv]

All human beings “delight in being given meaning,” but the meaning given to the masses through the 911 and Charlie Hebdo events is as meaningless as it is idolatrous and psychopathic. Charlie Hebdo informs us that those who aren’t comfortable with public, state-supported mockery of other citizens’ religious beliefs are equivalent to murderous terrorist fanatics. Through 911 and the War on Terror that followed, the United States, as the metonymic Twin Towers and the World Trade Center,  was transformed into a suffering and resurrected God, scourged and crucified by the forces of pure evil that “hate our freedoms,” but brought back to life by Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, as mediators of the immortal righteousness of the American people. Our priest/warriors inaugurated an endless “shock and awe” crusade against the demons of this world, one that not only “keeps us free” but also effectively manages to separate the sheep from the goats, the saved from the damned—“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” the divinized oracle uttered. The meaning of 911, thus, is this: the definitive, once-and-for-all, divine confirmation of “our” exceptional righteousness, and, concomitantly, the inexorable, irredeemable wickedness of the “other,” defined by magisterial fiat as anyone not willing to worship American power. Of course, Americans had some faith in the truth of this meaning before 911, but only on 911 was that faith confirmed and vindicated, seemingly by God Himself, using as his divine sign demonic planes crashing into our tallest shrines, while the pontifix maximus placidly meditated on his sacred scriptures, The Pet Goat, read upside down in an elementary school temple.

For Marvin and Ingle, death in war—what is commonly called the “ultimate sacrifice” for the nation—is what periodically re-presents the sense of belonging upon which the imagined nation is built. Such death is then elaborately ceremonialized in liturgies involving the flag and other ritual objects. Indeed, it is the ritual itself that retrospectively classifies any particular act of violence as sacrifice. Ritual gesture and language are crucial for establishing meaning and public assent to the foundational story being told. The foundational story is one of both creation and salvation. At the ceremonies marking the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day in 1994, for example, President Clinton remarked of the soldiers that died there both that “They gave us our world” and that “They saved the world.”[xv]

Charlie Hebdo was a satanic psychological-spiritual operation through which the French masses, already alienated from the true sources of meaning, truth, goodness, and beauty found in the beliefs and practices of traditional monotheism, were initiated into the satanic sacred, the worship of the empty shrine of nihilism. William Cavanaugh writes:

“The public shrine has been emptied of any one particular God or creed, so that the government can never claim divine sanction and each person may be free to worship as she sees fit . . . . There is no single visible idol, no golden calf, to make the idolatry obvious . . . officially the shrine remains empty. . . . The empty shrine, however, threatens to make a deity not out of God but out of our freedom to worship God.  Our freedom comes to occupy the empty shrine. Worship becomes worship of our collective self, and civil religion tends to marginalize the worship of the true God.  Our freedom, finally, becomes the one thing we will die and kill for.”[xvi]

“You may confess on your lips any god you like, provided you are willing to kill for America.”[xvii] And now France has officially joined itself to America’s sacred War of Terror.

  1. Two Cities

Since 911, individual liberty has been vastly curtailed, and global violence has exponentially increased. Wars and rumors of wars abound. Perhaps the next staged, false-flag terror event will trigger the final annihilation of our freedoms and the complete establishment of a global police state, if we aren’t nuked out of existence first. The apocalypse seems to be upon us. So, what should we do—now? No doubt we should do all we can to restrict the scope and power of modern states and international institutions of global governance, as well as expose the machinations of the “deep state” that actually rules us. We must preserve what is left of the freedoms of speech, protest, and worship by non-violent means, and by self-defensive force if necessary.  Moreover, if our analysis is correct and modernity is merely the replacement of one bloody sacred for another—we used to have bloody crusades and wars for Christ and Mohammad, now we have them for democracy and freedom—it would seem reasonable for us to turn our efforts towards banishing any semblance of the sacred from the public square so as to separate it from all corrupting, political, coercive, and violence-making power and thus corruption. This would protect both the sacred from profanation and the state from idolatry. In other words, if Western governments are indeed shrines and purveyors of satanic nothing-worship, then we need to strip them of all sacred authority and power.

While it cannot be denied that a more secular, less powerful, and more—much more—decentralized government-military-financial-educational-intelligence-media complex is the sine qua non of any solution, if we take the reality and power of the sacred as seriously as it deserves, we should be as discontented at seeing the sacred remain merely a private affair as we are seeing it counterfeited, mocked, and profaned. God exercises, whether we recognize it or not, social, cultural, and political reign over the world—we live now in a theocracy, always have, and always will, until the end of the world. And this rule is not just over individual hearts, but over institutions and states, over men organized collectively for the common good and for His honor, even if they dishonor Him and order the sacred commons to their monstrous, vampirish appetites. He is the ultimate common good, the ultimate ground for any human social contract, and if He is relegated to the private sphere of idiosyncratic and irrational fancy, something not-so-good will always take His place. Just as there is no such thing as free speech, there is no such thing as an empty shrine.

Thus, we must work not only to dethrone the satanic sacred, the Abomination of Desolation now residing in the Holy of Holies, but also to replace it with the authentic sacred, the worship of the Living, Holy, All-powerful, All-knowing, All-just, All-merciful God. We need to learn, practice, revitalize, and establish in our communities and states those Traditions that embody and transmit His existence and will, that embody and mediate the ultimate realities of man’s existence, the transcendent origin, end, and meaning of all things that cannot be grasped by human reason alone, and which cannot be fully rationalized, defined, or articulated. Ultimate reality must be experienced and obeyed through and in its incarnations in authentic religious traditions. It is in this sense that genuine sacred traditions are the eyes that allow us desacralized men to see the spiritual, eternal, and transcendent meaning hidden in the physical, temporal, and mundane facts of everyday existence, to truly “delight in meaning” by being immersed in the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. We must replace the counterfeit and degrading meanings given to us by the satanic sacred with the truth.

To dethrone the satanic sacred that has usurped the seats of earthly power in Western society, we first must repent of our own complicity in its rites and ceremonies. What that complicity might look like would be the topic of another essay, but it has much to do with accepting the scapegoating status-quo because it flatters, protects, and keeps us feeling comfortable, and refusing to speak truth to power out of fear. After a thorough examination of conscience, we must unmask the satanic face hiding right out in the open so as to help those blinded to its existence and horrific nature through the unholy fear it engenders, the tortuous psychological and spiritual deceptions it incessantly enacts, and its totalitarian control of public discourse. As Neil Kramer describes, “For the ordinary person, the primary power of Empire rests not in its might or cunning, but in its invisibility. People who are not mindful of its presence do not comprehend their conscious and spiritual incarceration.”[xviii]

“The City of God is founded on a love of God that leads its citizens to contempt for themselves, counting all earthly things as worthless. . . . Augustine argues that the temporal ought to be ordered to the eternal (Civ. Dei XIX,17), but that this ordering will never be achieved entirely harmoniously till the second coming of the Lord. For, there is a second city here on earth in addition to the city of God—the civitas terrena, the earthly city. This city is founded on a love of self to the contempt of God (Civ. Dei XIV,28). And these two cities are in conflict . . . The earthly city is always opposed to true religion. . . . Justice consists in giving each his own, thus no society is just that does not give God the worship due to Him.” [xix]

The city of man has always been opposed to true religion, to the truly sacred, and this opposition has only increased in our “secular age,” and exponentially since 911. At the heart of every culture is always the sacred, and at the heart of our post-911, pathocratic, imperial culture of death and deception is a terrible—but entirely vincible—sacred power in mortal conflict with the Logos, the merciful, loving, and truly sacred Person who protects, guide, and saves those who are willing to recognize, adore, and trust in Him.


[i]                 Alasdair MacIntyre, “A Partial Response to my Critics,” in After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre, ed. John Horton and Susan Mendus (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), 303.

[ii]          Josef Pieper, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 34-35.

[iii]         Edith Stein, quoted by John Paul II in Homily of John Paul II for the Canonization of Edith Stein (Oct 11, 1998), available at


[v]          Daniel Spaulding, “Free Speech Farce,” The Soul of the East (January 30, 2015)

[vi]         Stanley Fish, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech and it’s a Good Thing Too (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 102.

[vii]        See especially William T. Cavanaugh, “A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House: The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State,” Modern Theology 11, no. 4 (October 1995).

[viii]       William T. Cavanaugh, Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011).

[ix]         Rémi Brague, “Are Non-Theocratic Regimes Possible?” Intercollegiate Review (Spring, 2006), 11, available at

[x]          Thomas Molnar, Twin Powers: Politics and the Sacred (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988), 137.

[xi]              Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1989), 336.

[xii]        Thaddeus J. Kozinski, “Modernity’s Apocalypse” in The Blueprint: Reflections, Debates and Propositions for a New Catholic Social Action Plan, ed., Guido Preparata, (forthcoming, 2016).

[xiii]       Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 9.

[xiv]        James Alison, “Contemplation in a world of violence: Girard, Merton, Tolle,” a talk given at the Thomas Merton Society, Downside Abbey, Bath (November, 2001), available at

[xv]         William T. Cavanaugh, “The Liturgies of Church and State” Liturgy 20, No. 1 (2005): 25-30.

[xvi]        William T. Cavanaugh, “The Empire of the Empty Shrine: American Imperialism and the Church,” Cultural Encounters  2, no. 2 (Summer, 2006), 15.

[xvii]       Ibid.

[xviii]      Neil Kramer, “Invisible Empire” (May 22, 2014), available at .

[xix]        Edmund Waldstein, “Religious Liberty and Tradition” (January, 2015), available at

Leave a Comment