By HENRY EDWARDS
FROM time to time I have in vain protested (in the Welsh press, which for this purpose includes such periodicals as the "Western Mail") against the constant use of "image" in respect of politics and various other controversial subjects.
People seem bent upon trying
to provide some pays legal with the right sort of "image". For example, my friends of Plaid Cymru work too hard in trying to give the Welsh electorate some "image" of the party which will delight them. The party must not appear like a coterie of chapel deacons with a sprinkling of teachers and university men and the odd bard or two. On the other hand it must not look too much like a microcosm of proletarians from the valleys of the south-east.
FOR all I know this monomania has occupied many Catholic minds. We Papists must not be thought a mob of verticalisls, intent upon getting to "that sweet and blessSd country, the home of God's elect" to the exclusion of a wide interest in all that is humane and especially all that is gay and jolly and worldly.
I suppose we are keen on presenting an image that charms as well as the Faith may, in spite of the warning that there is a carnal man who just cannot see the beauty of the Gospel. But there is probably one sight the carnal man does see very clearly: the pious window dressing.
As the time comes to pay a special respect to Dewi, I tend to think along such lines, for I know that Dewi was of the tradition of revivalists who always and inevitably refuse altogether to come to terms with the world for which Our Lord said He did not pray.
It is now almost a dogma of religious behaviour that we Christians should make relevant the Gospel message to this world. I do not deny that there is point in the occasional need to do just that, and there is special need for the Catholic mission in Wales to speak to the people of Wales with due knowledge of their history and especially their recent history, their mode of life, and their flair for piety which less pious folk so often think is a peculiar species of hypocrisy.
DID Dewi so behave? I receive a stronger impression every year that he did not behave like that: I have in other articles upon this day commented upon his unyielding rigorism.
Here is a case in point. He came upon his people in a day of spiritual darkness. He ranks as a priest, as an abbot-bishop: but he was also a prophet, a prophet, that is, in the sense of a spiritual genius who cried out the word of God. You feel that he was quite indifferent to the compromises and accommodations we find almost completely necessary.
The other day after listening to some worthy Christians discussing religion (and how I am getting to dislike discussing religion). I turned to Otto's little hook, "The Idea of the Holy", which was given me some time ago by a Quaker elder. Perhaps the Lutheran Otto had had his fill of all the talk about Christianity as a social force, as a pep pill for people trying to he moral, as a way of life, as a means of getting "fellowship" (the horizontal notion that is now so overworked), as almost anything except the way of adoring the Holy.
In our own day a soteriological emphasis has become so curiously modernised that it no longer means the salvation of persons but some social salvation which will bring in a Jerusalem on earth that reminds me of the notions of Fourier.
D' prophesied when Rome had fallen. If I may borrow the Spenglerian metaphor, he worked in the springtime of European culture, when heroes and lesser mortals were sublimely unaware of culture. Bob tro y clywaf y gair "diwylliant", bydd fy !law yn cydio yn fy nryll, if I may imagine Herman Goering saying in my tongue: "Every time I hear the word 'culture', my hand leaps for my revolver".
Goering and we have lived in the years that presage the end of this cycle. Already many of us are getting more than a little tired of all this talk about "culture". We wander, as Maritain has written, through Europe as in a museum. And Wales, a nation of the great European order is practically in the same state of health as the other nations.
True, I speak and I shall continue to speak, of the resistance some of us are making to the cosmopolitan horde that breaks in upon us at this point and that— fancy Butlin's at PwIlheli.
What sort of image remains of Wales?
Here is subject matter for a hundred social satirists, many of whom are already reading the death-bed rites over a nation still very much alive, but threatened on so many sides.
"SAVE Wales by political action." That was an old slogan which has returned to circulation. I am sufficiently aware of the element of truth it contains to be aware that it suffers, as all slogans suffer, from over-simplicity. I have better things these days to say of certain kinds of direct action, which are firmly rejected by political nationalists now that they have become so respectable and practically inside that curious 'establishment" about which so many Welshmen hear so much.
Perhaps there is no adequate image of Wales today, And perhaps even the man who likes to think of himself as Cymro Dal (not to mention Ni Bach Cyniry Cyffredin2 who roughly equal England's Little Men) will admit that the form of the nation is fast being corrupted. Still, that brings us full circle to the heroic days of Dewi. Wales wants heroes and such heroes are of necessity Christian men.
Minnau yn awn, galwaf ar ly righyjeitlion Cyfiredin ac ysgolhaig. Deuwch at(?) jr adwy,
Sefweh gyda ml yn y bwIch3
IA Good Welshman.
2We Common Little Welshmen (usually goes with a lot of cant about democracy).
3Rough translation of Saunders Lewis' words: I also now summon my friends ordinary folk and scholarly, come to me to the gap, stand with me in the breach.