The Two Cities in June
Today the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See flew the “Pride” Flag outside its embassy in Rome to honor the very recent custom of spending the entire month of June in praise of the “LGBTQIA+ community.” This is now de rigeur throughout the liberal imperium, and many have observed that it has become a kind of pseudo-religious observance. One might even regard the United States as engaging in the diplomatic equivalent of “inter-religious dialogue,” presenting to the Holy See its “religious difference” from the Catholic Church which not only holds a different view of human sexuality, but also famously teaches that pride is the root cause of everything which separates us from God and one another.
Thus the month of June begins for me, as an Augustinian Catholic, with a fundamental contrast between two cities. There is one city, represented well by the pride flag flying in Rome, which is rooted in “celebration” of the omnipotent human will. This city purports to celebrate “equality and human dignity of all people,” but the claim is incoherent. The equality of human beings can only be affirmed if we have some objective standard in which we are all the same — in which we are all hold something in common. Yet, the city of pride, which celebrates itself this month, doesn’t have a theology fit for the recognition of equal dignity. That would require an anthropology that understood that each of us were “equal” by virtue of our common cause, and that our dignity was elevatable according to the end and purpose for which we have been made. What the city of pride celebrates, however, is an anthropology of transgressive difference which cannot celebrate God as prior to us, as the uncaused cause of a nature we all share in common, but rather celebrates only individual desire as an originating cause of sex, gender, identity. This is not only capricious and rootless, but “the community” it forms is vicious and tyrannical. It’s for this reason that St. Augustine calls pride the libido dominandi — the lust for domination — and he describes this as a spiritual disposition which is fundamentally disordering. While he sometimes refers to this as a “city of man,” what he really means is a disordering principle rather than a city, more of an anti-politics than a politics proper, because it is actually deprives people of their own proper good, and blinds them to the ends which would elevate them in the way of goodness and happiness.
The promethean attempt to construct the self according to our deceptive gazes, through distortive mirrors, leads to much disorder and misrule in the soul and city alike. Divine providence permitted that June be celebrated by this city as “Pride Month.” We shall see the pride flag everywhere — it will be flown outside U.S. embassies, and in our big-box stores as the concurrent public authorities of state and market enforce a sort of “false integralism,” where we are asked to offer a pinch of incense to the court religion of the liberal empire.