The word “cult” fundamentally means a following marked by organization, devotion, and ritual. So, for example, there is Minnesota Viking cult because Viking fans are bound together in a unity, invest a lot of emotional energy in their team, and participate in various rituals involving face paint, cheese, BBQing and watching television. Watching endless hours of television in preparation for a Viking game, adorning one’s body with purple and yellow paint and standing outside in the winter to “show support” for the team are considered completely normal activities. Why? Because they are “present at hand” and part of the everydayness of contemporary American life. Also, even better, the Minnesota Vikings do not require any substantial correction of one’s moral behavior, that is, the Vikings, one assumes, do not care a great deal if their fans watch endless hours of impure internet activity in addition to watching endless hours of ESPN.
Cults like the Viking, World of Warcraft and even Buddhism and Hinduism are not too scary because one can belong to them and “get away” with a lot. Also, they are “cool” and something that the superstructure or “beast system” presents to us as acceptable. However, the least cool or most irritating cult in the contemporary world is Christianity or at least an orthodox triumphalist Christianity—most people do not mind “Hippy Jesus” or a Christ who claims that he is just one of the many Christs who have appeared throughout history–and if the teaching on sex, self-denial, and damnation are excised from the Gospels.
This weekend, I was blessed to attend the only conference in my life that was worth all of the airport misery and tedium of travel to a large American city. It was Tradition Family Property’s (TFP) 2015 national conference. There is only one cult celebrated by the TFP: the cult of Jesus Christ and his Holy Catholic Church, and I was strengthened in my devotion to this cult and now find the other cults that much more repulsive—in the Philadelphia airport where I now sit, it’s the cults of diversity, the Eagles, self, and expensive but poor quality perfume.
The visit began—thanks to lots of Dramamine—with a map-cap drive from Philadelphia international airport to the Germanic small towns of central Pennsylvania. I was lodged in one of the many formerly servants’ quarters of a 70 acre Edwardian, neo-gothic estate that had been owned by Glatfelter family—famous for pulp and paper.
After having imbibed—I mean drank—about 10 cups of coffee, Saturday was spent attending various dangerously reactionary speeches condemning the evils erupting from the septic tank of postmodernity and as well as a number promoting traditional Christian virtues and an organic way of life. Saturday’s lunch was punctuated by the St. Crispin’s day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V to commemorate the Battle of Agincourt on that day—yes, it was given by a man dressed in full armor.
On Saturday night there was a candle light procession in reparation for the sins of schism, heresy, egalitarianism, and liberalism (no, seriously); I especially was blessed to help seven other men carry a large statue of la Virgen de Macarena around the TFP estate. This was followed by cider (spiked and non) and roaring fires in the TFP manor and gloriously reactionary conversations with smartly dressed Catholic gentleman and ladies (I use those terms very carefully, BTW). The manor and the mannerism of the participants was like stepping into Captain Haddock’s Marlinspike manor—without the slapstick alcoholism. It was wonderful to be able to speak with people who instead of calling me crazy, responded with statements like “no, you are right.”
Sunday was filled with a number of talks as well as a Solemn High Mass in the basilica in Hanover, PA. Sunday’s talks culminated with a medieval banquet and an encouraging talk by Prince Bertrand of the Imperial House of Brazil, a descendent of King St. Louis IX of France. Prince Bertrand had been in the background most of the conference and seemed shy to speak in English, which is his fifth language, I believe. As Americans, we all have the Mark Twain Syndrome of revulsion toward aristocrats who seem to float around in modernity, living off of tax income and the glory of their ancestors. However, Prince Bertrand exemplified a modesty and gentleness that I have rarely encountered among farmers, workers, and especially the bourgeois. This gentleness was encased in an air of maiestas that echoed the majesty of the Christ whom he served more than the title he inherited from his ancestors. I know that people develop real and sincere loyalty toward their bosses, but after the prince’s speech, I was confident that despite the Sisyphean task of trying to restore a normal human way of life admits the Arkham Asylum of the modern word.
CODA: What is the TFP?
Tradition Family Property was founded by a Brazilian professor of law named Plinio Correa de Oliveira who saw the auto-demolition of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century and the suffocation of traditional Christian culture by the twin pinchers of liberalism and Marxism. As a response, professor Plinio sought to restore Christian culture through a return to Christian chivalry. He died in the 1990s but his spirit lives on through the many members who follow his ideal. The TFP members represent the quintessence of authentic Christianity as well as the masculine ideal presented by the muscular ethical traditions of both West and East. Initially formidable to young Americans who expect adult males to act like Donald Duck or Sponge Bob Square pants, the TFP members are exceptionally kind and gentle upon approaching. What was perhaps most shocking to me as a college professor was that I was treated with respect and admiration as opposed to derision and fear.