I was recently at the park with my kids when a summer camp of Catholic boys and girls went marching by, right through the middle of the park. They held banners and wore modest clothing, and the first group of men and boys were even singing a song. Not a clap-clap-happy-happy type of song, but a deep-throated liturgical form of praise. There were about four or five separate groups, each accompanied by a priest in his cassock.
Regardless of what one believes about Catholicism, the sight of this proves a point: a confident public presence is achievable and desirable if our agenda is to advance.
But in considering this, I have had to think over what “our” agenda even is. There are many projects and desires amongst us, including safer cities, a national homeland, a purer and revived church, etc. So if there are so many avenues that impassion us, what is the thing that defines “us”? Who are “we” that we could march together through our towns and city centers?
Perhaps that is why smaller movements, like the fight against abortion, have been able to hold a healthy growth. The “we” aspect is defined by the fight for life. The growth of Christians entering traditional living and religion is in part due to the demonization of all things sane. Those who revolt against the sexual and moral exploits of the degenerate are finding a home amongst others who also wish for a safe place to raise their families.
We are kind of a hodgepodge, really. Different religious backgrounds, different denominations, and, on occasion, different goals for the future. I think over time we will need to find a definite banner to unite under, something more lasting and concrete than the banner of “against today’s degenerate society.” We fight against evil, yes, but we also fight for Truth. And it’s the fighting for part that is really important when it comes to propelling a movement.
That said, I had some other thoughts after watching the troupe move through the park:
- Don’t rely solely on city approval or planning. Many larger events, for holidays or events that require reserving sections of a park, mean you have to go through the city or the parks committee for approval. Depending on what kind of event you are looking to host, they may nix it before it has a chance to breathe at all. What this group did required no reservations or prior planning. A march through the park, with a stop at the restrooms, is quite legal.
- Make a powerful point in a meek way. Those observing the camp as they moved through could hardly have faulted them for anything they were physically doing or saying. Any frustrations would have been aimed at their existence. There are already so many people who hate that people with our views and opinions exist – we really don’t need to challenge them to increase their number by acting foolishly in public.
- Embrace and embody our identity. As Christians who believe that peoples live most freely in homogenous groups, our identity can be a really tricky thing. Is our identity based purely on a political and social ideology? Is our culture reliant on being white only? This is why it is crucial to know Christian teaching on the family, the state, and the nation. We are being attacked from each side: we embrace heterosexual married relationships, families where the mother is able to stay home, unions that accept however many children our Lord may bless them with, a state that encourages natural and moral laws, a nation of people who have incorporated their culture and religion into a livable image that honors God. There are so many footnotes underneath those things that fill the Left with incredible hatred that I think we often fall into wanting to identify with what we oppose rather than what we support. The group marching through the park is such a culture shock to 99% of those who saw them because the Catholic Church is known for having hard stances on many things that modern Americans have taken as part and parcel of being human. And those kids and adults knew it. Men who are a little iffy on being looked at weird don’t start singing together as they walk through a busy public park. The adults of that group are fully invested in their identity as Christians, and the children, seeing their example, are as well.
I want to pause here for a longer second.
Everybody hold your breath.
We have been given visual examples of what marches or rallies look like that are about race relations or political ideas. I think those have a place, I do. But that cannot be the only way that we, as Christians, can express our desire and vision for the future. We hold to a higher truth than “groups have a right to self-determination” or fill in the blank with what is most important to you. To take back our cities, towns, and counties, we cannot simply hope to be able to put up a tent at the fair and hand out “diversity is white genocide” pamphlets. Taking back a culture means we need to have one. We need to be part of a group that is a local entity in our city and town, or else we are that lonely person on the corner with loud opinions, however right they may be.
I often think about those who seek homes and land deep in the hills, off the grid, loaded with dry and canned goods. Many aspects of this tactic are admirable. The use of land, the wisdom to stock provisions, and the desire to live simply – those people have a lot of grit and passion. But I do wonder, should society keel over and breathe its last, if they have a contingency plan to rebuild civilization, or if the main goal is simply survival. Because, if so, I truly do not understand how they will last a generation or two.
- Wear the uniform. This is a hard one for women in particular. It is a rare Christian woman (and Christian women themselves are already rare) who rejects the modern fashion of tight pants, tighter shirts, and terribly placed sections that show skin (I mean…honestly, what is with the shoulder being exposed?). But as this culture rapidly approaches the cliff, there is little more silently offensive than a happy wife and mother, surrounded by her children, all wearing modest dresses and skirts. I’m not talking Amish, here. We needn’t jump to that image. It is very possible to find affordable clothes that are feminine and modest. It is just not always desirable to do so. And for those who do not have an identifiable image or outfit which their pastor wears each day, the sight of an army of women in dresses and skirts says enough.
- Be a group. It is an easy temptation to break away from any or all groups nearby. Amongst our group, many feel a natural disgust at the state of their local churches. Whatever the case or reason may be, it does not take away from the fact that a group is a more powerful entity than an individual. A few people standing on a corner are less intimidating than forty people standing on a corner. But why not a hundred, or a thousand? I think those who find themselves alone often fight a battle of pride. They see the state of things, they diagnose the illness. But they view themselves as above it and think the solution is to break away, perhaps physically, mentally, or both. If every righteous person thought himself as above the evil of his fellow people and went to live alone and apart from any organized group, we would be without example for holy living and without teaching on proper understanding of Scripture and tradition. But the opposite is actually truer, that the humble man who kneels to the authority of Christ is involved in his religious and local community, seeking to better it by bettering himself.
- Involve your family (when it is safe to do so). Our children will be fighting the same battle that we are today. They need guidance on how to speak out with grace, but also how to speak out with confidence and faith. Our children can learn from a young age how it feels to be a part of a religious group that doesn’t keep everything contained within the church walls. Plus, it makes it quite easy to combat when protesters or conscience-pricked naysayers want to do or say anything. A man getting into a physical altercation with someone attacking his family has a greater defense and public image. Not to mention, many others who may be tempted to shout or say something would consider holding their tongue. Obviously, I am talking about public religious occasions, marches for life, and such events that are calm in nature, not provocative pro-white rallies or the like.
These would be the same lessons, just a bit more spitefully written, if I had seen a group of Muslims walking through the park, sticks in hand to beat away any dirty Christian. But, seeing a Christian group display their faith confidently was inspiring, rather than revolting. I was able, for a few seconds of that day, to envision what a Christian city could be and the kinds of things one could see in the summer at the park, rather than scantily clad women and men covered in strange tattoos.
Whenever I dwell on the problems of today, both physically and spiritually, I usually end up at the same question: how do we change it? The answer is less on how we can manipulate the surroundings through politics (although that is very important!) and more on how we can control ourselves and focus on living a truly Christian life. If, as families, we do this, then others are inspired to as well. And that’s all a church takes – a group of families living near one another.
Be bold in praying with your family over a meal in a restaurant. Be confident when speaking against abortion and sodomy. Be loving in demeanor towards your spouse and children. Be humble in speech towards others in your church. It sounds so flaky, but the opposite is being a barking madman that might have all of his facts straight but is quickly ostracized (with his ideas) and put out to pasture.
As families, the state is meant to be our servant, working to help us live edifying lives. Claim the space in your parks, in the local restaurants, at the museum, walking in the neighborhood. We aren’t going anywhere, and it’s time people started recognizing that. The so-called “laws” that the courts want to press onto our lives, the anti-Christian messages promoted in the schools – those things are butting into our territory. We aren’t just a face in the crowd that wants representation. We are the only crowd that matters.