15 Feb

Are the gates of hell prevailing?

“Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” So said Jesus to Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi in response to Simon’s recognising him as the Messiah or Christ.

We can surely trust Our Lord’s promise, but we have to be under no illusions as to its meaning. Christ’s promise was that he would not leave himself without witnesses, not that he would hasten to preserve the shambles of, for instance, the modern Church of England. Many times over the 2000 years of its history, the Christian church has failed its Founder and gone wildly wrong. But the church persists and now there are more Christians in the world than there have ever been. Christianity is particularly strong in sub-Saharan Africa and is increasing in China. Thanks very largely to a Pentecostal revival in Central and South America, the faith is thriving there too, where a strong Protestant ethic is lifting men out of crime and drug-taking and women out of prostitution: thus alleviating poverty – not by so called “liberation theology,” which is only a form of Marxism, but by traditional Christian morality.

But in Europe, whose missionaries evangelised the world, Christianity is in poor shape. the Christian faith created Europe, built its churches and great cathedrals, its hospitals and universities; established the virtue of charity as the foundation of social and commercial life through the trades guilds and livery companies, each of which is dedicated to one of the saints. This faith created a decent set of political liberties, penetrated every social institution, dominated art, literature and music for a thousand years. But now our political masters throughout the continent strive by every means to obliterate Christianity from the public realm and there has emerged a new ethics and a new politics based on the secular, atheistic notions of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution: liberty, equality, diversity, relativism and political-correctness. Since this new ethics denies the ancient concept of Original Sin and therefore produces a false definition of the human character based on the illusory dogma of progress, the political and social ethics of Europe is correctly described as a heresy.

It may be that Christianity will be, if not obliterated in Europe then diminished to a degree that renders it ineffectual, removed from the hearts and minds of huge populations. This secularising process is being assisted by the bishops, the clergy, the synods and councils and the whole apparatus of church governance. The Latin Bible, King James Bible and Luther’s Bible have been ditched and replaced by inferior modern versions. Churches have been re-ordered so that the priest now faces the people when he is speaking to God: thus the visual presentation of transcendence has been debased into a cosy, inwards-looking circle of the likeminded. Traditional liturgies have been discarded and replaced by doggerel forms which reflect the social gospel and the progressivist outlook. (No mention of sin or repentance, for example, in the new Anglican Baptism Service). The doctrines of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the Miracles have been “demythologised” so that what meaning they retain is only as metaphors for socialism.

Well might Jesus have asked whether the returning Son of Man would find faith on earth. Yes, but not much of it in Europe.

So what can the traditional Christian do? What he must do is pray, repent of the secularising apostasy and ask God to destroy it. Today’s Christians must emulate the desert fathers who escaped degeneracy in their time by retreating to the wilderness where they set up new forms of community. There are no physical deserts available in Europe today, but we can draw ourselves apart by forming strong links with one another by means of modern technology and communications systems: in effect electronic parishes with their website magazines, traditional theological teaching by Google. And we should copy St Augustine (who fought the Pelagians and the Manichees) and St Dominic who, armed with the Rosary, waged intellectual and spiritual warfare on the Albigensian heresy.

Likewise, the calling of the traditional Christian today is to exactly the same spiritual and intellectual warfare. We shall need to use guerrilla tactics and subversion. Nor shall my sword…

For the truth is that what passes for civilisation in Europe today is a heresy at least as demonic as any of the old ones. We can take comfort from the fact that missionaries from the continent we evangelised are now returning to preach repentance and renewal, faith and morals, to our decadent society and debauched culture. Naturally, these missionaries are despised by secular European hierarchies, bien pensant practitioners of the secular Enlightenment.

So what? We were told to rejoice when persecuted. Only nowadays the persecution comes from a rotten core and it is self-inflicted.

Brethren, pray with me that God will deliver us from this body of death, that he will give us the courage, the devotion. the inventiveness and the means to cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light. As the old revivalists used to sing, Come and join us!

13 Feb

Some integrities are more equal than others

Many a good book has been produced as an act of retaliation. For instance, Newman’s magnificent Apologia Pro Vita Sua was provoked by a jibe from Charles Kingsley to the effect that truth didn’t matter to Roman Catholic clergy and moreover they were proud of the fact. I am feeling a bit Kingsleyesque myself as I read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the General Synod in which he said that “inconsistency and incoherence” among members of the Church of England is no bad thing. Well, I have long thought that incoherence and inconsistency are hallmarks of the Anglican hierarchy, but I hardly imagined I would live long enough to hear an Archbishop actually recommend these qualities.

On second thoughts though, what Justin Welby said is rather like the creative device of the “two integrities” ingeniously invented by Archbishop John Habgood back in 1992. By creating flying bishops, this allowed those who opposed the ordination of women equal right – guaranteed by statute – to their view with those who supported women priests

But in what fit of partisan spite does the Synod now decree that the statutory guarantee of their right, and thus their integrity, be withdrawn from the opponents of the appointment of women bishops while it remains extended to supporters of females in the episcopacy? For this is exactly the shameful action perpetrated by the biased Synod this week.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Four legs good; two legs bad

13 Feb

Coup d’Eglise

The fraudulent bandwagon of Church of England governance rolls relentlessly on. This week the General Synod agreed to fast-track the process which will lead to the appointment of women bishops by the end of the year. Under the agreed measures – which won overwhelming support at the last synod meeting three months ago – female bishops will be introduced with a house of bishops “declaration” setting out guidance for parishes where congregations reject female episcopal oversight. The plans will see the creation of an ombudsman who, appointed by the archbishops and with the backing of lay and clergy representatives in the Synod, will rule on disputes once female bishops are appointed. Clergy who fail to co-operate with the ombudsman could be subject to disciplinary proceedings. Thus the Act of Synod of 1993, the benign inspiration of John Habgood, then Archbishop of York, which guaranteed by statute a permanent place in the church for those who conscientiously oppose the ordination of women, will be rescinded.

Opponents will no longer have this statutory safeguard. The so-called “flying bishops” appointed to provide their pastoral oversight will be no more. Traditionalists will in effect have to rely on the generosity, goodwill and fair-mindedness of the feminists: and we have bitter experience of just how short a way that will take us.

The reality is that the liberal takeover of the Church of England is now complete. In this context “liberal” is the most misused word in the ecclesiological lexicon, for our liberal mistresses and masters exercise liberality only to those with whom they agree. For “liberal” read “totalitarian leftism.” They hate traditional Evangelicals and Anglocatholics, seeing them as throwbacks to an unenlightened era before the feminisation and diversification of the church took place. In his last speech before his retirement, Rowan Williams said all there is to say about the future shape of the church when he declared that we have a lot of catching up to do with the mores of secular society. As if Jesus Christ had commanded, “Go ye into all the world and set up focus groups.”

Well this week’s vote has seen to it that Rowan Williams’ prescribed catching-up has been achieved. The character of the church has been irreversibly changed. In Gertrud Himmelfarb’s memorable phrase: “The counter-culture is the culture now.” And traditionalists can expect no charity from the new regime.

What does all this presage for the future of the church? We can see pretty clearly what this future will be because we have a precedent in the development – I should say decline and fall – of the Episcopal Church of the United States which has adopted all the secular social fads of the the age with the result that that once great institution is now a laughing stock, a caricature of political correctness, with collapsed attendances and the complete loss of its influence in the nation.

Like ECUSA, the Church of England has become a right-on secular sect: its liturgy long since destroyed, its Authorised Version of the Bible cast contemptuously cast aside, its theology demythologised and its pastoralia debased into a form of practical socialism.

At least they should have had the decency to end this week’s synodical proceedings with a Requiem for the C.of E.

09 Feb

Please excuse the terrorists

Some Muslims in London are complaining that they were “unfairly targeted” by the police. It was like this…

They claimed they had returned from an expedition to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria only to be stopped and questioned by the authorities back in England. Does this constitute being “unfairly targeted”? We know that some British Muslims went out to Syria to fight alongside Al Q’aeda and the Sunni militants against Assad. Moreover, we know also that some of these fighters had declared an intention to bomb London on their return. The British police and the government would be failing in its duty to defend the realm if they were to ignore this threat. They have no method of telling, by merely looking at them, the nice humanitarian Muslims from the nasty bomb-throwing Muslims.

I dare say that if the police had simply rounded up all Muslims returning from Syria, put them up against a wall and shot them indiscriminately, there would have been cause for complaint. But by the Muslims’ own reports of the incident, they were not treated roughly. One said, “The police stopped us and said, ’Would you mind if we asked you a few questions?’” Good grief – so the police ask questions! What next? One of those questioned complained further, “Some of us were detained for three hours!” So not thrown into a dungeon and tortured then? But asked a few polite – but no doubt penetrating – questions.

The police were doing their job. The nice Muslims should have been thankful that necessary steps were being taken to protect them against the nasty, bomb-throwing sort. Some Muslims, after all, have form when it comes to murdering the citizens of London.

08 Feb

Stands Scotland where it did?

It’s hard to get excited about Scottish independence, though there have been many attempts by English political leaders to persuade us that it is the most important issue of our time. Mr Cameron – of that clan – is very keen to preserve the union even though this will mean our continued subsidising of all those Scottish socialists. There are no longer any – or at any rate many- Tories in Scotland. The destiny of aspiring Scotsmen seems to be to come to England and become either manager of one or other of our best football teams or, failing that, prime minister.

English Tories were suspicious of the benefits of the 1707 union, seeing in it the conniving achievement of the Scots, after successive disastrous harvests and near economic collapse, to hitch their wagon to England’s mercantile and financial success. Resentment persisted and we catch the tone of it in some exchanges between James Boswell and Samuel Johnson:

BOSWELL: I come from Scotland, Sir

JOHNSON: Yes Sir, and so do a great number of your countrymen.

Johnson’s dictionary also defined oats as a substance which in England provides fodder for horses but in Scotland feeds the population

As I say, I find it difficult to get worked up about the Scottish referendum. Except I am puzzled by what ought to be the centre of the matter, but inexplicably isn’t. We have had a political union with Scotland for 307 years. Whether Scotland retains this union or decides to break it will affect not just the Scots but the English too

Surely the people of both countries should be invited to vote in the referendum?

06 Feb

Rites and Rights

Moaner Cyd Eekie meant well on Thought for the Day when speaking about the treatment of women. No one should treat women disrespectfully, unfairly and certainly not with cruelty or violence. Moaner was, however, supposed to be speaking from a religious perspective as this is the requirement of TFTD. Of course we all know that it is possible to contrive ethical theories according to entirely secular criteria – with what hope of success being, as they say, a matter of some debate. But what is surely illegitimate is to conflate terminology: precisely what Moaner Cyd did in her talk.

The abstract secular vocabulary of human rights was all mixed up with religious notions about care, love and respect. The result was bound to be incoherent.

Why have religious people – Christians, Jews and now it appears even some Muslims – given up basing their morality on traditional deontological ethics – that is ethics which derive from revealed absolutes such as the will of God and God’s law – and taken up instead the relativistic, utilitarian vocabulary involving  abstract rights and consequentialist theories? Historically, this always leads to undesirable consequences such as the French revolutionary terror and the atrocities and genocides of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Ethics must – and traditionally have been – based instead on habit, manners and practices rooted in a transcendental reality. And usually accompanied by rituals.

05 Feb


I couldn’t believe it. I thought I heard someone call John Humphrys Sir John. Efficient broadcaster though he is, surely this was going a bit far? But no, it wasn’t Sir John. It was So John. This is the latest verbal tic. You must have noticed this widespread pretension of starting off every sentence with so. Not as a connecting word to show that something you are about to say follows from what has just been said. Just so – as it were. Apropos of nothing. It matters because any incorrect use of a word debases its correct usage.

I often wonder why there is this constant effort to improve the English language worse. All the “t’s” have long disappeared. The word deteriorate has been mysteriously replaced by the non-word deteriate. The nation has discovered an obsession with similes: why else is every other word like? I even heard “I was like like.” Then there’s the ubiquitous tendency to finish every sentence on a rising inflection, as if everything being said were a question innit? I’m informed this is the so-called Australian ending and that it derives from the soap opera Neighbours

These infelicities and desecrations are the verbal equivalent of sticking studs in one’s tongue, or indeed in other inappropriate places. Come to think of it, what constitutes an appropriate place for such barbarous ornamentation? And why do so many smart women affect to talk baby talk?

So – so to speak – I suspect people can’t help adopting these verbal tics any more than they can avoid catching colds in winter. If only good habits of speech were as catching as all the bad ones. I suppose it’s a variety of Gresham’s Law to guarantee that bad speech tends to drive out good speech. Whatever. I mean of course, Wha’evva.