Lessons in Hope from the Maccabees
President Joe Biden represents in many ways what Dixie is not.
One of his oft-repeated refrains is that the united States should lead the world in some sort of ideological contest between democracy and autocracy, as though there were no other ways of organizing politically than around the ideas of disconnected, autonomous individuals and the absolute rule of a single, all-powerful strongman.
The South by herself is proof that there are other legitimate kinds of political structures – in our case, it is a broad participation in political life combined with a deference to an aristocracy of proven virtue (rather than rule by a self-anointed, ‘educated’, Gnostic elite as at the North).
But the Biden obsession with democracy/individualism gives birth to even more dangerous ideas than those involved with political forms; it leads to confusion about even the most basic facts of human nature: that there are only two sexes, man and woman. A comment of his on Twitter in 2020 removes all doubts about this: ‘Let’s be clear: Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.’
Alas, this is the way it goes with Yankees (and not just them, but also with their offspring/fellow-travellers – assorted coteries of scalawags, globalists, transhumanists, and the like), wedded to a notion of Progress that extols change for its own sake without any identifiable stopping point or end goal to temper its ‘creative destruction’. This derangement has reached such an absurd level that the Silicon Valley Yankee Mark Zuckerberg is literally inviting everyone to become a demiurge in his digital simulacrum of reality called the metaverse.
This contrasts vividly with what Mr Luke Brown, in his prize-winning essay, notes about the South: ‘[Dr Russell Kirk] said the South had “impulses” in a “distaste for alteration”, a “determination to preserve…society”, and “a love of local rights.”’
Great as they are, these impulses have been and remain under relentless assault from the united forces of Big Government, Big Business, and woke religion. They are in serious need of shoring up lest they collapse and disappear completely. Where can we turn for help in this essential work?
To a family that will be unfamiliar to some: to the Maccabees, whose lives are recounted in the books that bear their name in the Old Testament of the Holy Scriptures.
The Maccabees – Matthias, Judas, John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and John Hyrcanus – were kinsmen who led a small band of Jews against the mighty empires of Egypt and Syria in the 2nd century before the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. The rulers of those two latter empires at various times attempted to either exterminate the Jews or to change their customs. But through the faith, integrity, and boldness of the Maccabees, they failed each and every time. Thus, for Southrons, they are invaluable guides and examples for us as we try to defend our own lives and inheritance from extermination by evil powers.
In one of their encounters with Antiochus, it is related that
41. Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that each should give up his customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 "And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die." 51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city (I Maccabees 1:41-51).
Now, anyone who has even a lick of knowledge about the South after the War will recognize that this destruction of culture is precisely what has been going on in Dixie also via the Yankees et al. But we have had few who will defend it with any vigor. It was the same with the Jewish people in the time of the Maccabees. But God gave them help. When faced with the extermination of their way of life given to them by God through the Patriarchs, the Law, and the Prophets, their God-inspired leaders answered with ringing words that should inspire all faithful Southerners:
17 Then the king's officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: "You are a leader, honored and great in this city, and supported by sons and brothers. 18 Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts." 19 But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: "Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, 20 yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. 21 Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. 22 We will not obey the king's words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left" (1 Maccabees 2:17-22).
Very much like the leaders of the New South, Matthias was offered great wealth and honor from the haters of the God-given covenant, but unlike those vile, dishonorable traitors, he did not accept the soul-destroying bribe. He hurled it back at them in a valiant spirit of defiance. Would that Dixie’s leaders would do the same!
And when confrontations came as a result of their refusal to acquiesce to their own cultural suicide, the Maccabees were unafraid, placing their hope in God, which was not disappointed:
17 But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, "How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today." 18 Judas replied, "It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. 19 It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. 20 They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; 21 but we fight for our lives and our laws. 22 He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them." 23 When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him (1 Maccabees 3:17-23).
While we have no need at present to fight any physical battles, nevertheless, how many of us quail from any other kind of confrontation with enemies of the South due to their perceived might in our eyes? How many of us are even able to resist the allure of modern entertainment rather than immersing ourselves in something from our own rich cultural patrimony? Let us take courage from Judas and the other the Maccabees, who, ‘committing the decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his men to fight nobly to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth’ (2 Maccabees 13:14), accomplished great things for Israel.
Dixie, with the rest of the world, has entered the Lenten season, a time when we increase our spiritual endeavors that we may be fully prepared to encounter the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday. This is the perfect time for all Southrons to familiarize ourselves with the heroic life and deeds of the Maccabees, and to put their faith and courage into practice in our own lives as we seek to hold onto the inheritance handed down to us by our forebears.
All the while let us pray to God that we may be granted leaders like those we once knew – Hill, Stuart, and the rest – leaders like Simon and Jonathan Maccabeus and their kinfolk, who will help us attain those salutary and essential elements of a praiseworthy society – unity in beliefs and purpose and trust in and worship of the All-Holy Trinity – so that one day, if it pleases God, we will see our enemies driven out from fair ol’ Dixie.
Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.