How to Speak to the Barbarians


The word, barbarian, comes from the Greek, imitative of the Hellenic perception of what other languages sound like.  It has an original reference to the less civilized or uncivilized peoples with whom Greeks and Romans had contact.

Who are the barbarians today?  Were they not assimilated into the Roman world a long time ago?  Alistair Macintyre would say that, indeed, they are not outside the gates, but among us.  The modern barbarians are those who have rejected Christianity and with it the hallmarks of western civilization.  They are intent on founding a brave new world on a thoroughly modern wisdom  grounded in nihilism and secularism.  The effect on ethics, including public conduct, has been devastating.  As a result, American culture is coming apart at the seams.

The barbarians come from every class, but are led by the cultural elite (an oxymoron) whopride themselves on their sophistication and urbanity.  In the name of tolerance they seek to topple traditional wisdom that has proven itself vital for a stable and just society.  Indeed, there is thinking from the past that is inadequate to harmful; but, not to make a distinction between what is worthy and unworthy in favor of disposing the beneficial  is a critical mistake.

The State itself has been a sponsor of corrupt practices and trends. We are thoroughly modern; therefore, we are becoming thoroughly corrupt.  Our children are  the greatest unfortunates of this trend.

How do we witness to those who are imbedded in these cultural tendencies?  The same as with anyone else. With gentleness and respect we must defend the faith and witness to Christ.  We must take every opportunity to do this.  Success or failure in this effort is important.  What is more important is that we be faithful to our Lord in all things with recourse to repentance when we go astray.   We must also witness to the decisionmakers when we find an opportunity as Saint Justin Martyr did in the second century before Emperor Antoninus Pius and the Roman Senate in his First Apology and Second Apology.

It should be noted that the barbarian tribes of the later Roman Empire were eventually all converted to orthodox (catholic) Christianity and became a key element in the development of European civilization.  Moreover, the Romans themselves were converted to the faith.  May conversion of our population lend aid to Christian confession and cultural revival.


Michael G. Tavella

Good Friday, 2024

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