“Such modest attainments as you can boast in the way of polite society will hardly survive the faith to which they owe their significance.” – Choruses from the Rock (1934) by T.S.Eliot
In other words, if Christianity goes, the lot goes. Europe has rejected the Christian faith and consequently the form of life which was created by that faith and which sustained our continent for fifteen hundred years has disappeared. People imagined that western societies could, with impunity, abandon Christianity and somehow all the good things which we value and cherish would remain.
They won’t and they haven’t.
The secular modernity which has replaced Christianity has delivered us into spiritual, intellectual, moral and aesthetic decadence.
Spiritually, religiously, the churches have discarded their formative texts. Roman Catholics have ditched the Tridentine Mass in favour of modern doggerel versions. The Church of England has thrown out The Authorised Version of the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. Our theologians – from Bultmann’s “demythologising” of the gospel to Robinson’s Honest to God and John Hick’s The Myth of God Incarnate – have ceased to believe in the Virgin Birth of Our Lord, his miracles, his Resurrection and Ascension
In the matter of morals, society, aided and abetted unfortunately by the church, has rejected the Ten Commandments and replaced those rules for living with act utilitarianism or situation ethics. This is defined as “doing the loving thing in any given situation. regardless of rules.” In other words, we make up our ethics on the spot. This is also known as “the new morality” – of which a wit remarked, “It’s only the old immorality in a miniskirt.” Whereas, the Ten Commandments are ethically sustaining because they are deontological – from being, from what is rather than what is merely thought . Separate morality from being and you end up, as Hamlet knew, in a world where “…there’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” So you can think yourself to be a girl even if in fact you are a boy. Or you can be non-specific or neutral. Schools have replaced the old pronouns “he” and “she” with the non-committal “Zie.”
As with our ethics, so with our intellectual life, we have descended into a new Babel of relativism. Deconstructionist critics such as Jacques Derrida claim that “Texts don’t have meanings.” (He said this in a text, by the way!) And if there are no meanings, there is no such thing as the truth. There is only “true for me” or “your” truth and “my” truth and “post-truth.”. We are so intellectually distracted that we can’t see that this means we can no longer talk about truth. In such a world our great philosophical tradition from Plato to Kant, from Aristotle to Collingwood has come to an end.
Aesthetically, we value and admire the wrong things. The rot started at The Renaissance. I’m not saying the Old Masters couldn’t paint, but that their attention was wrongly focussed. From the divine and spiritual objectivity of the Middle Ages – of such as Giotto and Fra Angelico – the Renaissance painters decided to picture humankind and the natural world instead. As T.E. Hulme said, “They rejected man’s place in the world as a species bound by Original Sin and requiring a Saviour and came to believe that, on the whole, humankind is a good thing.” We have descended further into a generalised mess which says that a work of art is anything that anyone says is a work of art. So we have installations, Saatchi, Tracey Emin and art as anti-art, Damien Hirst and animals pickled in formaldehyde, tattoos and the worship of ugliness.
We have abandoned chivalry, etiquette and honour along with natural hierarchy and deference. Our broadcast media, the Internet and the whole of our gadgeteered world of electronic devices is a lewd peep show. In their decline, the Romans had their bread and circuses. We have pizza and porn shows: Love Island in which people are paid to have sex on camera for the benefit of a depraved mass audience.
We are rotten within and we have become unable and unwilling to defend our civilisation against barbarism. This too is a consequence of our abandonment of Christianity. Four times since The Battle of Tours in AD 732 to the relief of the Siege of Vienna 1683, Christian armies led by Christian princes defended our continent against imperialistic, marauding Muslims who would first destroy it and then turn it into a dust bowl resembling the landscapes from which they originated. Secular, modern Europe invites the Islamic hordes in and reserves its condemnation only for those who oppose these disastrous incursions. The preferred word is “Islamophobia.” But a phobia is an irrational fear and there is nothing irrational about fearing a barbarous enemy who has stated times without number that he wants to kill us.
What words are left for Europe? Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetuam luceat eis…..Dies irae, dies illa.
Good night sweetheart
These fragments have I shored against my ruins.