16 Oct

Freedom is dangerous, so let’s ban it

As a non-smoker who can’t stand the stink of cigarettes, I yet think the proposal to ban smoking in our parks is ridiculous. Just about the only place people are now permitted to smoke is within the confines of their own homes – which causes infinitely more pollution than lighting up on Hampstead Heath where a small amount of smoke won’t hurt anyone in all that fresh air. But it’s worse than ridiculous: it’s a shocking deprivation of individual freedom. Of course, individual liberty does not mean freedom to do just anything. For example, you shouldn’t be allowed to set off fireworks in the cinema or play guitars in church, but there must be a good dollop of live and let live.

The wholesale banning of stuff and actions is sinister and reflects a creeping totalitarianism. For the fact is that we are governed – policed is a better word for it – by a metro-political, politically-correct elite who are so self-righteously up themselves that their first response to anything they don’t approve of is to slap a prohibition order on it. This elite is noticeably selective in the stuff it seeks to disallow.A man may forsake the natural use of a woman and marry another bloke. A man may change his sex – so long as he remembers to refer to what God has made him by the absurd PC word “gender,” as if we were all proper (or improper) nouns. Radio and TV stations galore can fill the air waves with the pollution of mindless pop music. You can shop on the Sabbath 24/7. But if you take your child out of the lousy state school system for a couple of weeks – perhaps to show her the ruins of Carthage – you will be fined. And so on.

We have forgotten what traditional social ethics is all about. It always used to be based on the idea of the dignity of the individual and his right to do as he likes within reason. And the working out of social morality involves the discussion about what constitutes rational behaviour.  Moreover, we should be permitted to do things that are bad for us – such as watching Strictly Come Dancing and Downton Abbey, reading Hilary Mantel, listening to the music of Philip Glass*** and even attending to party political broadcasts; and things that are dangerous – such as rock-climbing, driving our cars along country roads at night and voting for Ed Miliband.

The basis of social morality should not be what is approved by a politically-correct commissariat, directed by clones of Harriet Harman, Polly Toynbee, Diane Abbott, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown  and Dame Jenni Murray  but by the rational operation of free choice.

Instead, our society is a sort of totalitarianism-lite. And unfortunately totalitarianism-lite all too easily turns into totalitarianism-heavy. 

PS *** Knock knock – who’s there? – Philip Glass- Knock knock – who’s there? – Philip Glass – Knock knock – who’s there? – Philip Glass- Knock knock – who’s there? – Philip Glass….

15 Oct

Private parts and the private language

I was in Skinners’ Hall in the City of London to say Grace for the Worshipful Company of Fuellers and sitting next to the Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Distillers, He asked me, “Have you ever had any doubts about the existence of God?”

Well, yes. There was a time when I was in the first flush of teenage omniscience, round about 1958, when for a few weeks after the end of the cricket season I actually declared myself an atheist. These religious hot flushes can’t last. And, prompted by my first look at Rene Descartes, I soon returned to my senses. It was the “I think, therefore I am” bit. I read it and I thought, “You arrogant bugger!”

And it struck me: how could he think his own existence more certain than the existence of God?

A few years later I read Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations – paragraphs 245-315 in which he demonstrates the impossibility of a private language. How could I ever know that I was using my private language correctly? Memory is only unreliable, and relying on it as a check would be, said Wittgenstein, “…like buying two copies of the morning paper to see if what said was true.” The Cogito is a tautology which merely repeats in the predicate what it articulates in its subject. The fact that I speak a language shows that there must be other speakers from whom I learnt it. In truth, I use the word “I” to distinguish myself from these others.

Years later I read C.H. Sisson’s wonderful remark: “The only word that gives any difficulty in the Creed is ‘I’.”

Descartes (1596-1650) effected a sort of Copernican revolution in which the theocentric metaphysics of the Middle Ages was replaced by the anthropocentric epistemology of the Renaissance.

It was all downhill from then on. Once man puts himself at the privileged centre, he begins to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. Catastrophically, he thinks he can make up morality on the hoof. Deontological ethics – God’s commandments – go out of the window and are replaced by a relativistic utilitarianism in which nothing is good in itself but only in consideration of its consequences.

Jam tomorrow. The notion of the good forever postponed, like a whole series of penultimate climaxes in a Rossini overture.

In the 21st century we have reached the extremes of Cartesian self-centredness in which everyone, however unintelligent and unschooled “has a right to their (sic) own opinion. And, of course, every opinion is to be regarded as as valid as every other opinion. Our technology reflects this mood. Solipsistic babble on the i-phone. Selfies. The dissemination of pictures of one’s private parts in case, pace Descartes, there is anyone out there who might have even the vaguest interest in such pictures.

In short, atheism institutes narcissism. The creation story is reversed and man creates god in his own image – which image is himself.    

14 Oct

A new Islamic State?

Yesterday the House Commons voted 274-12 in favour of the following motion: “This house believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-states solution.”

By so doing, the British government officially gives its support to a terrorist organisation that shares the same aims as Islamic State with which we are at war. The government of the Palestinian Arabs is a coalition of Fatah and Hamas – this latter party is designated a terrorist organisation by most of the civilised nations. Hamas is not interested in “a two states solution,” but declares every day that its aim is the destruction of Israel.

British MPs have thus chosen to give encouragement to an organisation which lists genocide as part of its agenda. It was the cowardly terrorists of Hamas who recently fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns from schools and hospitals in Gaza.

Israel uses its weapons to defend its people, while Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons

No denunciations of this evil policy were forthcoming from the West who instead condemned Israel’s legitimate attempts to destroy Hamas’ rocket launchers and its network of tunnels through which the terrorists regularly emerge to attempt further slaughter in Israel’s southern towns and villages. Incidentally, the West – including Britain – pours countless £millions of aid into Gaza which money does not go to the welfare of the people but to the purchase of more weaponry and the expansion of the system of tunnels.

Of course Israel would prefer to have a peace-loving Palestinian state for its next door neighbour. Indeed it has tried to negotiate this on many occasions. In 1998, for example, at Camp David, Bill Clinton came within an ace of achieving this happy arrangement – only for Yasser Arafat to leave the negotiating table, return to the Middle East, tear up the agreement he had just signed under Clinton and start a second intifada – a terrorist uprising – against Israel. By all accounts, Hillary Clinton’s comments on Arafat’s treachery are unprintable.

Israel is a democracy surrounded by barbarous enemy tyrannies who have tried four times since 1948 to wipe Israel off the map. Thus in sixty-six years the Israelis have been obliged to fight four defensive wars against these aggressors. Hamas are furious at the moment because the Egyptian president has locked up its supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and cut off much of its weapons supply line.

Shame on those 274 MPs.

10 Oct

Fantastic philosophers

In a drowsy moment, I came across one of those weekend supplement articles in which the reporter is obviously trying hard to get off the beaten track – celebs, pop music, bread and circuses shows on TV – and talk about something which at least has some subject matter. It was all still rather golly-gosh, of course, as the supplements always are. This writer was clearly setting out to talk to us about philosophy, while avoiding taxing our brains. He certainly didn’t seem to be taxing his own much. Anyhow, the gist of the piece was to tell us that Bertrand Russell and Peter Strawson were the two “most fantastic” – golly-gosh, you see – British philosophers of the 20th century. I should have thought that being “fantastic” is not what an aspiring philosopher wants to be. Try “plausible.” There was not a word about the substance of Russell’s or Strawson’s work. Well then, let’s see…

Russell wrote a book in 1909 called The Problems of Philosophy and in it was a chapter on induction – that is, how do we know that the future will resemble the past? He said, “Although the sun has risen every day previously, we have no reason (my italics) to expect the sun to rise tomorrow.” Now how does that strike you as a piece of “fantastic” philosophising? You might think that such consistency on the part of the sun over millions of years – or even only over the long years of Bertie’s lifetime – would afford us at least a little reason for thinking that tomorrow morning the sun will give us a repeat performance. The fact is that the sun has never failed to rise, not once. I grant you this is no proof that the sun will rise tomorrow. Russell wasn’t taking about proof, but reason. Surely, on the evidence, we can claim to have good reason to think the sun will rise tomorrow? If the sun’s record over all these millennia is no reason, then it is difficult to imagine what could possibly count as a reason, and the word “reason” itself becomes meaningless. There is a technical expression to describe Russell’s performance here: it is called ignoratio elenchi by high redefinition of reason. That simply means the old boy missed the point.

Russell spent ten years over his work Principia Mathematica trying to prove that maths is based on logic. He confesses he wore himself out in the process. No wonder: arguing the toss with the likes of Wittgenstein, Whitehead and G.E. Moore must have been a bit testing. Russell soon found that the task was more difficult even than trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time – because you’re bound to run up against the paradoxes: eg “The set of all sets that are not members of themselves – is it a member of itself or not?” Or, more domestically, “All Cretans are liars – and it was a Cretan who said so.”

So what did Bertie do next? He got tired. Then he declared that the problem cannot be resolved in the ordinary logical language. We need, he said, a meta-language. But he soon found that in the meta-language he ran into the same problem that he’d found in the ordinary language. So you need a meta-meta-language. And on you go into an infinite regress. Like the Robertson’s jam with the picture of the golliwog on the jar. And on that jar there is a picture of a golliwog holding a jar and on that jar….” So how to stop it? Russell said we need “a theory of types.” But he found the same problem with the types as he’d found with the language and the meta-languages. To avoid going barmy, you have to find a device. Russell said he’d found such a device and he called it an “axiom of reducibility.” In other words, there comes a point when you have to say, “OK, it’s time to chuck it.”

Russell did other things. He fell in and out of love with that great Garsington carthorse Lady Ottoline Morrell, seduced Eliot’s wife Vivien, preached “free love,” campaigned for unilateral nuclear disarmament and failed conspicuously to understand Immanuel Pussyfoot Kant (1724-1804).

Fantastic eh?

Strawson’s big book was Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (1959). In this he solemnly addressed the question of how we tell the difference between lumps of inanimate matter and the people we see walking about. He concluded that we call inanimate matter “material” and that we call the people we see walking about “persons.” Naturally, being an academic philosopher, he invented a technical formula in which to express his astonishing discovery: he said material objects take “m-predicates” while persons take “p-predicates.” And that explains why you’ve never seen a dish of rice pudding trying to buy a first class rail ticket.


Who might we regard as the finest British philosopher of the 20th century? I suggest, by a country mile, R.G. Collingwood for his demonstration in An Essay on Metaphysics that science needs absolute presuppositions which are not themselves derived from observation. And for his notion – explained in The Idea of History – that historical study is not something which should rely on “authorities” but consists in asking appropriate questions. That history is not “the past.” For the past does not exist. History is thoughts about the past in the minds of historians in the present.

Better than fantastic, that’s, as the supplement’s showbiz columnist would say, “Reelly, reelly good.”

09 Oct

Dying from political correctness

I’m getting very fed up of hearing from Cameron, Obama, MIliband, Clegg, Hollande, Merkel, the Archbishop of Canterbury and every public figure in the West you’ve ever heard of that the army of terrorists known as Islamic State, presently slaughtering thousands in Syria and Iraq and systematically beheading Western civilians, has nothing to do with Islam. IS has everything to do with Islam. In fact IS is the section of Islam most faithful to the command of Mohammed to force conversions on pain of execution. Islam expanded and spread by waging war and terror from its very beginning.

This “religion of peace and love” has got a CV. Here is a summary of its imperialistic incursions and attempted conquests over the last 1300 years:

In AD 732 a Muslim army of as many as 200,000 men was defeated by the Christian Charles Martel at Tours. If that battle had been lost, all Europe would have fallen to militant Islam .In 1565 the relief of the Siege of Malta, by a Christian alliance, ensured that the Mediterranean did not fall into Muslim hands and so give them a toehold in southern Europe

Then came the Battle of Lepanto on 7th October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Spain (including its territories of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia), the Republic of Venice, the Papacy, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller and others, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire.

There was that other 11th September – 1683 when Christian armies under Jan Sobieski arrived at the gates of Vienna and defeated the last substantial Muslim incursion: the last, that is, before the one which we face at present.

It is not as if we were not told about perpetual jihad. Among a great many warnings was that issued by Professor Marcello Pera, former president of the Italian Senate soon after 9/11:

“In Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ossetia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Morocco and much of the Islamic and Arab world, large groups of fundamentalists, radicals, extremists – the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brothers, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Armed Group and many more have declared a holy war on the West. This is not my imagination. It is a message they have proclaimed, written, preached, communicated and circulated in black and white. Why should I not take note of it?”

It is not as if the current murderous Islamic insurgency were limited to one isolated region. From West Africa to Pakistan, barbarism is the reality. In Nigeria, Boko Haram, – which means “education is forbidden” – murders thousands, captures hundreds of schoolgirls and holds or sells them on as sex slaves. Boko Haram has also seized and destroyed 185 churches. In Mali and other parts of Saharan Africa, A Q’aeda rules, as it does in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen particularly and in Iraq. In Algeria, through Tunisia and Libya, the jihadists are prominent. In Somalia Al-Shabaab is a similar threat. In Syria we find the Al Nusra Front, the most murderous of them all, apart from IS. Shia terror gangs based in Iran, or backed by the Ayatollahs there, emerge to subvert, to burn, rape, pillage and murder. Afghanistan and Pakistan are plagued by the Taliban

As Professor Pera asks: are we somehow not meant to notice?

In his book The New Leviathan (1942), R.G. Collingwood, Waynflete Professor of Philosophy at Oxford,  describes Islam as “the first barbarism.” He adds:

“With the logic of its position as a barbarism, it has no option but to aim at the conquest of the world. No agreement with any other body politic is possible. Like all barbarisms, it does not believe with any firmness of conviction that any body politic other than itself exists at all: with the characteristic of barbarism which is called fanaticism, it craves to be surrounded by a completely empty world, a world containing only itself and God.”   

And that empty, spoilt world is exactly what we see wherever Islam prevails.

Collingwood describes the Islamic ideology: “There is one thing that Islam in its whole history has done. It is a negative thing, as whatever barbarism does must be: a feat of destruction.They yearn for the death of martyrs for it leads them to paradise, while we cling to life and fear death.”

That is exactly what one of the leaders of Al Q’aeda said not long after 9/11: “We shall win because you love life, while we love death.”

And they are winning: by military insurgency, shocking cruelty, burning, looting and murdering; by infiltration, because we have lost control of immigration; and by their hugely greater birth-rate.

I wish our leaders would recognise what has been in front of their eyes for decades. I wish they would admit that there is a war on and fight it. The Muslim insurgents, terrorists and the latest would-be caliphate want to kill us.

For ourselves, it is one thing to die fighting a just war. It is a far worse thing to be killed without putting up any resistance.

Forget the absurd differentiation between “Islamic” and “Islamist,” for these are one and the same. Lay aside nonsense words such as “Islamophobia” and cease the policy of pre-emptive self-abasement.

Or we shall all die of our euphemisms and political correctness – and sooner than you think.

09 Oct

Without whom NOTHING is strong

People look around at the political scene – the state we’re in – and ask what can be done.

There is an order of things: politics – what Sisson called “a decent set of political liberties” – depends on good law but also on institutions which are themselves allowed to flourish freely. And there must be some ethical code which is the basis of the res publica. This in turn depends on a sound theological understanding of the origin and source of all goodness. And that source is God.

People imagine that we can give up on God but all the benign infrastructure which derives ultimately from God will stay in place. It won’t – as we are seeing for ourselves. Eliot put it well in 1934:

“…such modest attainments as you can boast in the way of polite society will hardly survive the faith to which they owe their significance”

In short, Judeo-Christianity is not an optional add on but the origin and also the engine of our civilization. Ethics and politics have to be derived from dogma. And dogma has to be held in faith. As Collingwood put it, we require fundamentally “absolute presuppositions.” These absolute presuppositions are the doctrines of the Creed

Well, we have given up on the Creed and turned to strange gods.

The most shocking aspect of our defection is the church’s Laodicean temperament wherein “…the best lack all conviction etc” In such a condition it is obvious that “The centre cannot hold.”

A wonderful example of the wrongheadedness which prevails was given to us by Rowan Williams in his final address before he retired: “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.” Wrong from the start. What he ought to have said is, “Be ye not conformed to this world.”

So what to do? I can only quote Eliot again, from The Waste Land. “What shall we do tonight? What shall we ever do?”

Prophesy against the forces of chaos and the dark, outside and within. This means criticism, which, as we know, is the word for judgement. Criticism of the sort practised by such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, John Baptist AND Coleridge, Eliot and Collingwood. And this criticism – which itself must be derived from our theological understanding – must not amount to mere sniping, as it were sporadically. Our prophesying and our criticism must be a constant struggle to maintain a proper judgement and to express this judgement in English: the language that is at one with our soil

And say our prayers and receive the Sacrament. As Sisson said, “Without the Sacraments, there would be nothing.”

08 Oct

The British Caliphate

Now here’s a strange thing: the media are usually obsessed with politics, but they’ve been very quiet ahead of the Clacton by-election to be held tomorrow. Why this odd neglect amounting almost to an aversion? It could be of course that the papers and the BBC are looking to their priorities and they would rather fill more pages and programme hours with their other favourite subjects: celebs and pop music. But really that’s not the reason they have all gone quiet about Clacton. The elephant in the room is Nigel Farage and they’re all pretending he isn’t there

The media hates UKIP

They hate UKIP because that is the one party they cannot manage. There is a sort of pretend rivalry involving Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems and this is played out daily in parliament and in the media rather like a game show. Of course The Guardian supports Labour and the Telegraph thumps the tub for the Tories. And everyone knows the BBC is full of lefties. And so they squabble over the garden wall like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. But it’s not a very serious squabble, because the media knows it can rub along very well with the three main parties. For, behind the speeches, the policy documents, the PR and the windy rhetoric on what are alleged to be the main issues concerning the country, all three parties are in broad agreement. All three will have to say something about the deficit. All three will promise additional funding for the NHS. All three will go in for pious utterances about educashion.

And whichever party is in power, nothing will change.

But in Clacton other voices are being heard – or rather not being heard very much, owing to the media’s dislike of what these voices are saying. Actually, the BBC’s neglect of tomorrow’s election is not total. There was one short item on Today this morning – tucked away after the sport and just before Thoughtlessness for the Day. A woman in Clacton said she was concerned about immigration, the way it is out of control. She was articulate and knew whereof she spoke. Out of control immigration, she said, is not a problem of foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs and our benefits. Immigration out of control is, she said, “…about the changed character of our country. There are no go areas now.”

She didn’t mention that other elephant in the room: the elephant that is even bigger than Nigel Farage. Well, she didn’t mention it by name. I will. The elephant is not called Jumbo or Daisy. The elephant is called Islam.

The Clacton woman added, “I’m glad I’ve had my life. And my children – they’re not going to have any children of their own.”

She is right. The character of the country is being changed. There are no go areas. And the Clacton woman is not the only one to have noticed this. Bishop Michael Ali – the only bishop who speaks his mind –  probably the only bishop who has a mind – has said it too.

Where are these no go areas then? Not around Hampstead, The Barbican, Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster where the metropolitical elite – that cosy menage involving the politicians and the media types – live, move and have their being. Not in the sleepy villages in the Home Counties. Not in Upper and Lower Slaughter. Not in Grantchester where our posh new TV vicar lives.

Try Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Stepney, Leicester, Bradford, Dewsbury, Batley, Oldham, Rochdale, Blackburn, Accrington and some suburbs in all our major cities. Here, and in many other places like them, is where you will find the no go areas. And here’s a note: there are now more Muslim schoolchildren in Birmingham than indigenous whites. Immigration has continued unchecked for two generations and recently the rate of immigration has increased alarmingly. I should say catastrophically, for it is probably now too late to avert its consequences. The spurt in immigration over the last decade owes largely to Tony Blair who gleefully encouraged it, saying, “We’ll rub the noses of the middle class in diversity!”

Thus what started as a device to irritate the Tories has actually ruined the country.

And we don’t get diversity. Diversity would mean people of many different backgrounds rubbing along together. That’s not the reality. The reality is ghettos created by mass immigration of the members of an alien and separatist ideology. When such a condition obtained in South Africa, the lefties expressed their detestation. It was called Apartheid. And that’s what we now have in Britain – thanks, incidentally, to the policy of our Tories, Labourites and Lib Dems who, while they condemned Apartheid in South Africa, were busy creating a similar reality in our own country. Only they don’t call it Apartheid in Britain. Here it’s called Multiculturalism.

Perhaps Nigel Farage will be our Nelson Mandela? But how many years must he spend in the wilderness – or in jail – first?

Have we got space for three elephants in the room? The third jumbo is the very high birth-rate among Muslims. The Education Secretary says,”We have a baby boom and need to create 500,000 new primary school places.” No baby boom among the indigenous whites where it is 1.9: parents not even providing their own replacements, so to speak. Muslims do not like our way of life and so they absent themselves from it and wait patiently for the time when there will be enough of them to change it everywhere and in every respect.

They – and we – will not have much longer to wait. Give it a few more years, a lot more mosques, a little sharia (which Rowan Williams is so fond of), a little more of the contempt for electoral propriety we saw at last May’s elections in Tower Hamlets, and Britain will resemble the sorts of shambles we now see all across North Africa and the Middle East.

But don’t forget – if you don’t like the way things are going, you’re not allowed to say so.

That’s Islamophobia.

06 Oct

A tricky one for Welby

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, (aka Willie Wonga of the Payday Loans Factory) has cancelled or postponed the 2018 Lambeth Conference. This is no small beer. It’s as if the prime minister should cancel budget day.

First held in 1867  at Lambeth Palace, the Conferences have gathered the bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years to discuss the common issues facing the whole church. The conferences were postponed only twice. The 1918 gathering was postponed until 1920 owing to the First World War, and that of 1940 was postponed until 1948 because of WW II.

News of the cancellation was made public by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, the terrifically radical, talkative and bossy feminist, the Most Rev. Katharine Schori. She informed a meeting of the House of Bishops gathered in Taipei, Taiwan, that she had been told by Archbishop Welby that Lambeth 2018 had been cancelled.

According to a report of the exchange printed by the Episcopal News Service, the Presiding Bishop said Archbishop Welby “…had been very clear that he is not going to call a Lambeth until he is reasonably certain that the vast majority of bishops would attend. It needs to be preceded by a primates meeting at which a vast majority of primates are present.”

She further stated that “as he continues his visits around the communion to those primates it’s unlikely that he will call such a meeting at all until at least a year from now or probably 18 months from now. Therefore I think we are looking at 2019, more likely 2020, before a Lambeth Conference.”

The decision to postpone Lambeth because of internal dissention is unprecedented. Highly controversial doctrinal issues – about the nature of Holy Orders and the authority of Scripture – have been a prominent part of earlier agendas.

So why cancel this time? It’s sex again – specifically the long argument about homosexuality. in 1998 the Conference restated the church’s formal view that homosexual activity is immoral and this occasioned the largest boycott in the conference’s history. At the centre of the debacle was the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to invite the American, Canadian and Central American bishops who consecrated the Bishop of New Hampshire, the openly “Gay” Gene Robinson to Lambeth. This was the reason given by 214 traditionalist bishops for absenting themselves from the Conference of 2008.

It’s understandable that Welby wants to avoid a repetition of such an embarrassing shambles. But it goes further than that. What if this time the traditionalist bishops decide to turn up and tell the Arch of Cant and the rest of the “liberal” episcopal elite who run the church that they are being unfaithful to biblical teaching on sexual morality? It is well known that since 2008 pressure from this radical elite in favour of the acceptance of homosexual behaviour as normal has intensified. In his last sermon before he retired, the former Archbishop Rowan Williams declared, “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.”

To which the traditionalists – that is the Christians who uphold the teaching of the Bible and the church universal over 2000 years – would reply, “Whatever happened to the New Testament’s commandment ‘Be ye not conformed to this world’?”

Since the formation of the great missionary societies in the 18th and 19th centuries, the usual way of things has been that European Christians would go out into Africa, Asia, South America and the whole world and make of all men Christ’s disciples. But now the disciples are promising to return and chastise the faithless heirs and successors of those who first preached to their ancestors.

And the faithless heirs and successors don’t like it one bit.

05 Oct

The Most Gentle Atheism

This morning’s Sunday Programme on Radio Four offered a rare treat. That nice, matey, Justin Welby, Arch-community Songster of Canterbury, came on to tell us that he says the Creed and believes it – “without having to cross my fingers.”

But should we believe him? In a manner of speaking. Or, as Welby himself might say, in a very real sense. Along with most of the rest of the bishops, he believes in a sense, in a manner of speaking. I can best explain this nuance by asking you to compare the sorts of things you would hear in sermons of fifty years ago and what we get today.

As Larkin said of sex, we might say the same about the secularisation of the church: it began in 1963, “Before the end of the Chatterley ban and The Beatles’ first LP.”

In a typical 1950s sermon  on the creation of the world, the priest would tell us that God certainly did create the world. Only after making this plain, might he conclude that therefore humankind has a duty to look after the world. In other words, the ethical consequences for humans was derived from the miraculous action of God who really did make the world. Nowadays, preachers give us the Green dogmas, using the language of creation, but regarding creation only as a myth from which to derive the propaganda about low energy light-bulbs, carbon footprint and global warming.

Again, in a 1950s sermon about the Incarnation, the preacher would first declare his real belief in Our Lord’s birth of a Virgin. Only then would he elaborate, saying that, as demonstrated by the unique manner of his birth, Jesus was a very special person. Nowadays, they don’t believe that Jesus was actually born of a Virgin. They are far too advanced and progressed in their thinking to believe something as “primitive” as that. They regard the story of the Virgin Birth as just that: a made up tale meant to tell us that Jesus was “special.”

The same goes for the resurrection. They used to preach it, truly believing that Christ in his body rose from the tomb. Again they would proceed to say that because of the resurrection we can now experience new life. Today’s preacher does not believe in Christ’s physical resurrection from the dead. He/she thinks that the resurrection is something that happened in the psychology of the first disciples: their subjective experience of new life.

And so on throughout all the fundamental Christian doctrines. Today’s bishops and clergy – in Professor Rudolf Bultmann’s phrase – “demythologise” the doctrines. They do not believe the doctrines fundamentally. Indeed, they would be offended and mortified to be regarded as fundamentalists. That would be a real blow to their self-esteem.

If you like jargon, the technical word for this process is “reductionism.” It is only the Positivistic, Materialistic philosophy applied to theology. It is the same sort of thing as that which claims that mental experiences are “nothing but” physical events in the brain. The modern bishops and clergy have simply swallowed whole the (actually very unbelievable) superstitions of that crass materialistic science. Crass because it can be disproved in one go:

If the world and humankind were only material things, there could be no way of knowing this: because the act of knowing is not itself a material phenomenon.

Bishops are meant to be shepherds. But if the shepherds are hirelings…          What can we say of Welby and the rest of the episcopal gang?

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3: 15-16

PS And yes, that is the way the real Bible spells “spue.” Look it up for yourself.

04 Oct

Feeding the 5000 in Dumbo-speak

And the BOSS was, like, “Like, where shall we buy bread to feed this lot then?” And Phil was like, “There’s a guy here with five chocolate croissants and two sludge trays of sushi, but that’s norra lorra nosh, like.”

“So like the BOSS was like, ‘Get them to park their arses. know what I mean?’”

Now there was a lot of grass out there – and some of the guys were smoking it. And the BOSS sort of like passed round the choccie croissants and the disgusting sushi. Honest, he did. So everybody was so like ‘Yuk!’ and they weren’t having any, know what I mean?

So the BOSS said like we should think about the environment and not, like, leave all that yukky stuff lying around, right? And Andy was like, ‘Take a butchers at these twelve supermarket trolleys and, like fill ‘em up with the yuk.’

And we were all like ‘‘OMG!’’