02Apr

The curtain is slipping

Dostoevsky, having foreseen the bleakness of existence within an authoritarian atheistic secular state, wrote that ‘without God man can neither flourish nor be free’. He knew that religion benefits society by holding the State to account, via recognition of an authority higher than itself which enshrines divine laws and brings unquestioned dignity to man. Secondly by providing a shared vision around which people can unite regardless of personal belief.

England once shared Dostoevsky’s wisdom and viewed itself, with pride, as a Christian nation under God. Christian faith was foundational to National identity it was not partisan nor incidental. Obviously this did not lead to a utopia because human beings are ever fallen and prone to error. But it did enable our nation to flourish by promoting a culture steeped in Christian virtue. Our legal system, once the envy of the world, was based on Christian morality and philosophy. Our universities, schools and hospitals were founded on Christian principles and named after Saints of old. And the buildings of Parliament were deliberately awash with sacred imagery to remind politicians of our Christian constitution and their Christian duty ‘to serve not to be served’.

Sadly, in the post war era, our nation began to take faith, and its contribution to society, for granted. An ambivalence that later turned to derision. This attack on faith came not only from outside but within. Fuelled by the zeitgeist modernist theologians also rose to power inspired by secular values. Majestic rites were replaced by banal, uninspiring services. In most parishes people gathered for the celebration of the community, clapping little Jonny for reading nicely, as opposed to offering sincere reverent worship of Almighty God on their knees. Respect for faith fell further, partly due to this insipid, infantile church of the modern era and partly due to the growing disdain of the elites.

Today unadulterated Christianity is no longer tolerated. It can lead to loss of jobs and fines. Instead a secular ideology has been handed to the nation in place of Christian faith. It is used as a stick with which to beat us. Thus, in the media, every negative aspect of church life gets emphasised, but the good is ignored. Trendy homosexuals are paraded only as paragons of virtue (some are and some aren’t) nuns only as sadistic tyrants and priests only as perverts and losers. True the Church has grot to deal with – true the hierarchy are not dealing with it well. But the simple fact that the vast majority of clergy and religious are decent people who serve communities in love is ignored. That the Church feeds more people, clothes more people, medicates more people and shelters more people each day than any other organisation on earth is downplayed. The faith is undermined and treated quite unfairly. Secular values are given priority.

Many people have turned from Christian faith sensing it is no longer in vogue. They trusted the great Oz instead (that is the elites, the media, government and institutions) and believed we could somehow jettison our faith whilst retaining the fruits of the faith; strong families, united communities, liberality, freedom of speech, tolerance, charity, care for the poor, et al. But half a century on and the fraud is being exposed everywhere we look.

The modernist church is haemorrhaging members / vocations and is found at the heart of corruption. Meanwhile traditional churches where fidelity to faith is encouraged show signs of growth. The curtain has also fallen in the secular realm where Oz is exposed as hapless, weak and pathetic. Just witness parliament in the face of Brexit negotiations! How the politicians would benefit from old fashioned Christian virtues like tolerance and charity. How sad to see them unable to compromise and move forward.

How sad also to see those who loves the language of inclusion exclude ever more people as they turn the screws on the needy. Wages drop, food banks increase, prisoners are not forgiven and disabled people lose help as attitudes to the needy harden all around us. The State gets ever bigger and the people ever less important. People who are increasingly afraid to speak out for fear of offending Big Brother.

A self proclaimed multi-cultural society, in which atheistic secularism actually dominates the public square, is dividing our nation. And the identity politics pushed on us are proving a very shoddy substitute to authentic religion. For where Christianity encouraged us to turn the other cheek and love thy neighbour as thyself, leftist identity politics is only making self identifying victims of every self and aggressor of every other.

The result is toxic: an intolerant, belligerent, snowflake culture. Witness how once great universities are now too scared to even to engage with thinkers who challenge them. Jordan Peterson the latest to be banned from debate supposedly because his views are unwelcome but more truthfully because those who promote the modern nonsense lack the intellectual credibility to engage with him and so wish to impose ‘my way or the highway’ by force and fear.

Post- Christian Oz promised us a brave new inclusive world free from God but abounding in virtue. What it has delivered is an erosion of freedom, increasing division and steep decline in morals and virtue. I suspect Dostoevsky would stroke his beard and nod. He was right all along. Without God man cannot flourish or be free. Until we return to a faith that will unite and sustain us the chaos and division seen in the Brexit debate is the future.

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5 thoughts on “The curtain is slipping

  1. I agree with many (although not all) of your concerns about the contemporary ‘post-Christian’ world, Father Ed. But I am puzzled that you should decide to refer specifically to England. You say that “England once… viewed itself, with pride, as a Christian nation under God” And that this “did enable our nation to flourish by promoting a culture steeped in Christian virtue.” Are you saying that England was at one time in some way more Christian than other countries (e.g. Ireland, Germany), or are you perhaps saying that the negative influence of the “zeitgeist modernist theologians” has been more pervasive and pernicious in our country than elsewhere? Or maybe you were just giving England as an example and you see the fact that “many people have turned from Christian faith” as a universal, or at least pan-European phenomenon.

    If we do look outside England, we would all certainly agree that Ireland is a far less overtly Christian country than it was in the pre-war and immediately post-war period. But I have to say I would find it difficult to argue that this has resulted in it being a less tolerant and charitable country (to refer to two of the “Christian virtues” that you identify). Surely Ireland is in many ways a far better place now than it was in the 1930s, -40s and -50s, when thousands of babies were sold to rich Americans by nuns, and when thousands of children – including my own father – were continually beaten up at schools run by Christian Brothers.

    1. I think the treatment of children in general has improved immeasurably over recent decades- even since I was a boy. Put bluntly shoddy treatment of children was not a Catholic thing but a societal one as shown by high prevalence of abuse in social care across the board. So in some ways our society is certainly better….but then I think about the poor little 8 year old boy in America who claims to be ‘trans’ and who dances in front of men for cash…or others being butchered at puberty because they are encouraged to disown their God-given bodies or the explosion of child pornography..and think we still abuse the young – we just prefer to pretend it is a bygone thing. Perhaps all that is different is better protection policies?

      That aside I think our general moral and spiritual life as a nation has deteriorated in general- I highlight England because I live here and it is the context I feel able to speak about.

      1. So we are in agreement, Father Ed. That’s good. We both agree that some things in the world have improved morally in recent years, e.g. the treatment of vulnerable children in Ireland and elsewhere, while other things have deteriorated, e.g. the polarisation of wealth to which you refer in the seventh paragraph of your original post.

        Of course your acknowledgement that “in some ways our society is certainly better” does rather weaken your assertion that in the post-war era we have seen a “steep decline in morals and virtue” and a move away from “old fashioned Christian virtues like tolerance and charity”. But when exactly was this period of Christian tolerance and virtue before the steep decline? You and I have already ruled out the 20th century, with its “shoddy treatment of children” (your words not mine). So was it the 19th century, when child prostitution was rife in English cities, and when it was not even against law (until 1885) for a man to use a 13-year-old prostitute? Or was it the 18th century, when many “old-fashioned Christian” people supported slavery? (I do, of course, acknowledge the role of some Catholics and other Christian people in campaigning to make slavery illegal.) I suggest, without wishing to be in any way unkind, that it is simply nostalgic fantasy to suggest that there ever was some sort of golden age before a move away from Christian virtues like tolerance and charity led to a steep decline in morals and virtue. But I would be more than happy for you to provide real evidence that I am wrong. I further suggest that without such evidence this harking back to an imagined better age is on a par with the comment by Catherine Blaiklock, the former leader of the Brexit party, that “I want seaside donkeys on the beach and little village churches, not acid attacks, mobs and mosques.”

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