Between Fate and Schicksal


The Germanic concept of Schicksal and the Anglo concept of fate are not coterminous. To the Anglo mind, long steeped in Liberalism[1], fate is something to be hated, feared, reviled, avoided, subverted, or overcome — or at least lamented; to the Germanic mind, fate is as inevitable as death, but this is not necessarily an evil to be lamented, for fate gives structure to the Universe, to our reality and: Ordnung muss sein. Further, the Germanic Schicksal does not have the edge of Nihilism that the Anglo fate cannot escape; our fate does not make us automata; rather, it is our response to our fate — our actions in light of Schicksal — that give true meaning and purpose to our lives. To the Anglo mind, the acceptance of fate is resignation, submission, or even defeat; to the Germanic mind, the acceptance of fate is abidance, longanimity, and wisdom. To the Germanic mind, which conceives of fate as inescapable and immutable, it is nothing short of insane to fight against one's fate. If you find yourself in a strong current, you do not swim against it — a futile and fruitless undertaking; you swim with the current and meet whatever obstacles may come. The man who swims against the current will end up in the same place as the man who swims with the current — except the latter will not arrive exhausted, defeated, and demoralized. In short, the Germanic approach to Schicksal is acceptance — Germanic acceptance[2] — of what will and must be, whereas the Anglo approach to fate is one of futile struggle.

In the pagan mythos (clearly misremembering and corrupting Scriptural eschatology), even the gods could not escape, overpower, subvert, or otherwise alter fate. What the Norns carved or wove — subject not at all to the desires, whims, or hopes of men or gods — would come to pass. Götterdämmerung would arrive regardless of what the gods did or did not do in the intervening age. This is, of course, a corrupted retelling of the actual Eschaton, but it retains a proper view of fate — what God has decreed will be, and neither action nor inaction of man, angel, or demon can alter God's decrees[3]. But what is the core, then, of Schicksal? It is the recognition that much is beyond our control. We are products of many forces — only one of which is our own will, which was and is itself shaped by many forces outside our control. I did not choose to be born, and yet I was. I did not choose to be German, and yet I am. I did not choose to be American, and yet I am. I did not choose to be Californian, and yet I was. I did not choose to believe in Christ, and yet by His grace and by His Word and Sacraments, I am a Christian. I have not chosen the mode or day of my death, and yet it will come.

Schicksal is neither inherently cruel (grausames) nor inherently merciful (gnädiges) — it simply is. But, as in all things: Ordnung muss sein. — and so fate is met calmly (ruhig entgegen) and accepted (abgefunden). It takes an Anglo mind to produce "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"; the German approach is of a different nature: "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei." — 'Everything has an end, only the sausage has two.' One is to face one's Schicksal, not with resignation, despair, or Nihilism, but with acceptance. Character and mettle are demonstrated not in the insane attempt to alter the immutable, but in one's approach to and handling of one's fate. But this is enough for our purposes here.

For Christmas, I purchased several bristlecone pine trees — one (packet) each for my nephews and my niece (plus one extra, because prudence is advisable). We planted them earlier this month. Bristlecone pine trees live for millennia. In their native range (due to harsh conditions), they grow very slowly. Granted, where these particular trees will be planted offers significantly better conditions for growth, and so these particular trees may grow significantly more quickly than their counterparts in the high desert; however, it is still the case that these trees will likely be one one hundredth or one fiftieth through their lifespans when I am dead. In fact, barring disease or other misfortunate, these trees will see hundreds of generations.

Civilizations grow great when old men plant trees in the shade of which they know they will never rest.

It is not simply a matter of a proper civilizational, communitarian outlook; the planting of trees — or any project or undertaking that will outlive or outlast those who began it — is a moral and a theological declaration. I am not an individual — and neither are you. I am a link in a chain stretching back in time through Ashkenaz, Gomer, and Japheth, through Noah, to Adam. Everything I have and am comes from my forebears, and I hold all of it in trust. No link is ever greater than the chain, but any link may cause the chain to fail.

Even if I knew that the world should end tomorrow, today I would plant my apple tree.

These may be the End Times; these may not be the End Times. This is the final age before eternity. This world may end in fire tomorrow, or it may continue for thousands more years. We must build as if we will live forever, but prepare our souls as if we will not survive the hour. However, those who would 'prepare' themselves by withdrawing from the world are useless fools, at best. We are not to withdraw from the world, but to be fully and actively in the world. To live is to struggle, and a life without struggle is no life at all. We are to contend for the truth, to seek the good of those entrusted to our care, and to leave τον κοσμον better than we found it. All is inheritance, and the squandering of the principal is an abhorrent evil.

Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

How, then, are we to live so long as we remain in this world? We are to serve our neighbor — those who are, by blood and proximity, close to us. God does not need our good works, but our neighbors do; we serve God by serving our neighbor. And how do we serve our neighbor? By good works. What are these good works? They are first, foremost, and overwhelmingly the ordinary things of life: honest work for an honest wage, keeping a home, training children, cooking healthful meals, visiting the sick and the elderly, et cetera. We do not serve God primarily by extraordinary works — unless He demands them of us; we serve God by doing what is right and good in our everyday lives, in our vocations. It is not more holy to be a monk than a cook; in fact, by not withdrawing from the world, the cook is truer to God than the monk who does so withdraw. If you are a cook, prepare good food well, and in so doing serve God by serving your neighbor. We do not serve God by seeking some 'calling' outside our vocation or tempting God by seeking 'signs'; we serve God by diligently pursuing our vocations and providing and caring for those He has entrusted to our care.

What does all of this mean with regard to our present political, social, cultural, civilizational circumstances? First, we must recognize that to be born in this time and to live in it is our fate — God did not randomly assign our birth years. Second, our duty is not to win, but to fight. We have no guarantee that we will win this conflict, such things are almost entirely out of our hands. God requires of us only that we do what we can with what we have been given; each will be made to give an account for what he did with what God gave him. Are you wisely investing your talents?

We must abolish the artificial distinction between the right-hand Kingdom and the left-hand kingdom — the supposed "wall of separation" between Church and State. Is God God only of the Church? Is Christ King only of a small subset of Creation? We are Christians because that is our duty to God. We are Nationalists because that is our duty to neighbor. We are Christian Nationalists because we do not acknowledge and will not accept the satanic doctrine of the 'separation of Church and State'. It is the duty of the magistrate to see that God's Law is upheld in his jurisdiction and that God's Word is rightly preached in the same; it is our duty to bring erring magistrates back to their senses and to see that they properly execute their office and uphold their duties. All authority comes from God, and the magistrate who does not obey God is no magistrate at all. The undershepherd may not do as he pleases with the sheep, for they are not ultimately his.

God will hold us accountable for what we have done and for what we have left undone. It may be that God will relent and have mercy on us, but our duty is not outcome dependent. God is faithful and just; it is our duty as Christian Nationalists to see that our nations emulate, that they mirror God's nature in Creation, for that is the duty of a true son — to image that of which he is scion. The good, the beautiful, and the true are worth defending, and — God willing — we will defend them.

Gott mit uns.

And particularly in that ideology's conception of freedom and liberty. ↩︎

A sort of Stoicism that is true to life. ↩︎

cf. Election. ↩︎