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David Warren

“One forgets — purposely in my case — that a large part of the general public cannot cope with wit, drollness, or rhetorical conceits, is rendered apoplectic by dark humour, couldn’t get facts straight if they tried, and cannot read with attention. See the angry comments on almost any website. The Internet encourages not jolly debate, but the lynching behaviour that has come to dominate our political life…

“If, for instance, one has consciously taken God’s side, the Devil gets us so immersed in the political struggle, between Left and Right, that we can only imagine the fight in those terms. This, I think, is why when I or others write specifically on spiritual questions, we are answered with indifference, even from our co-religionists. But put, say, the word “Trump” into it, and there will be a series of explosions. These will come from both his supporters and his opponents, and it will lead only to cacophony, never to the still silence of Our Lord.

“The $64.00 question: What do we really care about? For our salvation, and our neighbour’s salvation, or only for settling some scores?”


Another puzzling Idlepost to leave my gentle reader, while I abscond. I shall disappear for a week or two, returning, should God will, in early June.  — David Warren On the dark side: Essays in Idleness

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Patrick Dooling May 25, 2019, 8:47 AM

    David Warren is a jewel: wit, intelligence, balance and, wonderfully, faith. I don’t think I’ve ever read an article of his that I did appreciate. May his tribe increase! Thank you, Gerard.

  • Patrick Dooling May 25, 2019, 8:48 AM

    Oops! ‘…did NOT appreciate.’

  • jwm May 25, 2019, 9:11 AM

    I had to laugh. As soon as I finished the Warren essay I clicked back here. I was going to open with “David Warren is a treasure”. Patrick Dooling said pretty much exactly what I was going to say in pretty much the same words. Great minds and all that.


  • Jewel May 25, 2019, 2:32 PM

    Another fantastic thinker whose wisdom I am privileged to savor, thanks to you.

  • Richard May 26, 2019, 7:49 AM

    The Devil, too, lacks a sense of humour, except for sarcasm; but it is not a form of sarcasm that pretends to be funny. Instead it is invariably bitter and cynical. He cannot bear to be mocked or teased, and encourages the masses to worship idols. (These might be considered his masks.) His own mockery comes with a sting: he wants his targets suppressed, and punished.++++++++

    “…..wants his targets suppressed, and punished.” Perfectly describes the mind-set of the rabid Left. With whom, from among that group, do we have any sort of meaningful conversation? Indeed, what do we even share in common? They have devolved into everything we are not. What is the reader willing to concede, surrender, or stipulate so that we can have that all-healing national conversation?
    I suppose it was baked into the cake that that lot would be militantly Atheistic. Treating anyone who practiced his/her faith with extreme contempt, regarding them as ignorant, benighted fools. Or worse.
    It started out with so-called political correctness. Most of us simply wanted to ignore it, figuring that the shear stupidity of what was being proffered by those lunatics would doom them and their gibberish. That clearly hasn’t happened and has only gotten worse over the intervening decades. This thinker, Theodore Dalrymple has it figured out:
    “In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
    Warren concludes by asking what we really care about. Salvation or evening scores. I haven’t been pushed enough yet to want to “even scores.” That is not to say that I couldn’t be provoked enough, though. Furthermore, I consider Warren’s framing of the question in an either/or proposition to be needlessly limiting. Rather, it should be a both/and solution, since the outcomes are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Remember: “All that is required for Evil to triumph, is for men of good will to do nothing.”

  • Jeff Brokaw May 26, 2019, 1:36 PM

    Speaking of the Devil, I stumbled across this yesterday from Paul Harvey “If I Were the Devil” (1965): https://youtu.be/S9NoQHgjM_0

    He saw it all coming 54 years ago.

  • Wanda Sherratt May 27, 2019, 4:52 AM

    I’m no great fan of David Warren. He was a better writer when he was at the Ottawa Citizen, with an editor to keep him disciplined. Now he’s adopted a pose of sugary medievalism, reminding me of something Sam Francis wrote in ‘Beautiful Losers’:

    “Alienated from the prevailing intellectual and political currents as well as from traditional social forms that were ceasing to exist or cohere, the conservative intelligentsia was able to find explanations for and solutions to the civilizational crisis it perceived only in the most esoteric theory, and the “practical” applications of such theory often took the form of some species of romanticism or archaism–a pretentious medievalism, accompanied by antimodernist posturings and colored with a highly politicized religiosity; an attraction to archaic social and political forms such as the antebellum South, the ancien regime of eighteenth-century Europe, or the era of nineteenth-century laissez-faire; and a distaste for and often an ignorance of American history that derived from a mirror-image agreement with the Left-liberal understanding of America as an “experiment” dedicated to an egalitarian and progressivist proposition. If the intellectuals of the Right did not adhere to some form of archaism, they tended, like Whittaker Chambers, simply to withdraw from the world in despair and acknowledgment of defeat.”

    He also took far too long to admit that Francis of Rome was a cheap imposter. I spotted the old fraud the moment I saw him on that balcony; Warren was still curtseying and calling him “Sweet Peter on earth” 4 years later.