Jeremy Corbyn is an old fashioned lefty. A politician who believes in certain principles and wishes to bring them into play. What a refreshing change from the plague of “professional politicians”- those dullards who serve up predictable banality across the parties to the furtherance of self not ideology. Little wonder Corbyn is capturing the imagination and doing well. Thirty years ago he would have seemed ordinary but today he is causing a stir. Tony Blair warns Labour will be doomed if he is elected. Establishment figures look on aghast! What can be done with such obvious strength of faith?
The other interesting story at the moment concerns Tim Farron. A liberal democrat MP standing for election as leader who, like Corbyn, is causing a stir because of passionate belief. He is an evangelical Christian and does not wish to hide his faith in Jesus Christ. This has led to him being attacked in the media. Which is strange- nobody gave Clegg a hard time for being an atheist, asking if his lack of belief might cloud his judgement on faith schools, etc… Yet Farron was absolutely battered on Radio 4 by Humphries – openly mocked for his faith. it seems that amongst the elites of modern Britain a real Christian faith is now socially unacceptable. Once again the question being- what can be done with such obvious strength of faith?
This “fear of faith” has been spreading for some time throughout Western culture. Certainly for all of my life. It explains the hunger for de-Christianisation within the establishment, the gradual loss of school acts of worship and the radical secularisation of our universities. It also helps us understand something of the decline within the church. For- rather ironically it must be said- this fear of strong faith has also infected church hierarchies too!! How the grey and wishy washy bishop cringes at the sight of firm bible believing Christians! Those who have not relativised the Gospel but who hunger to put it into practice.
We begin to see why, over the last half century, faithful clergy have often been pushed to the margins as the grey men of dubious belief and little substance have risen through the ranks. A truth most obvious in the Church of England with its links to the State but in other denominations too. The term “Magic Circle” exists for a reason… You end up with a weak and compromised institutional leadership, hirelings in the place of true shepherds. As if wishy washiness is great news and passionate faith the thing to be avoided.
Here then is my question to Western Culture. Why are you so afraid of living faith? What is it about conviction that has you knocking at the knees? What is the reasons? I have my own suggestions.
First the violence stemming from Islam is not helping faith in general. When maniacs crash aeroplanes into buildings -claiming their faith to be the reason- it can make us all imagine “passionate faith” is a dangerous thing. When lunatics shout “Alluha Akbar” before slicing off heads it makes us all uneasy about “belief” in general. Though, of course, logic dictates it is what we believe, not belief itself, which is the menace. A world believing in love would hardly pose a problem. But this finer point of logic is largely lost on a world losing its own faith and now deeply ignorant of the difference between religions, creeds and dogmas.
So fanaticism does not help. But there is a deeper reason, I suggest, which causes modern culture to fill its collective pants in the face of living faith. Namely that the culture and those who benefit from it are devoid of any real belief at this time. Like career politicians- they blow with the wind. A vacuum exists where integrity should be found. The vile truth at the heard of the priestly abuse crisis, and in the expense scandals in Westminster and the failure of the banks and the inability of corporations to pay tax and so on and so forth…
And this is why the Corbyns and Fallons and Farages of this world terrify the elites today. When someone of actual belief threatens to break through the constructed walls of mediocrity- it does not flatter those in authority. Cracks begin to show and the incompetence and apathy of the many becomes obvious. And it is for this reason men of faith and strength must be crushed at all cost and usually are. They might just wreck the gravy train or pull snouts from the troughs.
If only we demanded more from those in authority. From bishops and MPs, educationalists, celebrities and bankers. If only we were not so content with corruption and mediocrity then we might just get a leadership to inspire. Until then we must make do with more of the nonsense as witnessed this week when Mr Cameron was banging on about “British Values” without reference to which values they might be or even the Britain he images they come from. Father Hunwicke was quite right to call him to account and point out the nonsense he was spouting. But until others do the same it is all we can hope for.