Sunday, 21 February 2021

The Church as the Cause of Evil?

Spirituality can always be tempted and corrupted by power. Christ was implacable in his opposition to the Pharisees who used the spiritual as a bullying means to the end of power over people. In addition to this, when Satan tempted him with temporal power in the wilderness, because he was God, he successfully resisted the temptation. The flawed humans who ran the church often failed in this respect and, so, you get worldly Popes (some of them epicurean patrons of the arts) for example who crave power. This is not the impulse that defines Christianity or the church though - it’s a falling away from the sanctity, love and pursuit of eternal life (dogmas it is good to inoculate people with) that are meant to define it. There is, therefore, always a tension in the church between those who fail and those who succeed in their sanctity and resisting worldly temptations, the latter often trying to keep the former honest. There’s nothing in the essence of the religion as expressed in the New Testament encouraging its adherents to burn and torture other people.

I’d say that there has been sufficient successful sanctity to have influenced western civilisation for the good. Without the religion we’d have been worse off. It’s a living tension though, not a purity. Christianity was never going to be about purely good people. It was going to be about some who succeeded at it and some who failed. That’s the drama of the Christian life - the struggle between good and evil. Nothing is a forgone conclusion. And it has to promote itself. Gospel means good news. The chance to succeed is available. Evangelism is inherent. For me religion is inevitable in a creature like us who can’t help seeking meaning. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Delegitimisation

The assault on the Capitol was symbolic of an assault on democracy and resulted from a foolish strategic error on Donald Trump’s part (although the symbolism may come to mean something useful in the long term). And yet one has to ask why it is focussed on so much when what ante-dated it was so much more significant in terms of respect for democracy.


The Brexit referendum and the 2016 US election were assaulted by direct attempts to delegitimise them using supposed Russian connections to undermine what were seen as stupid ‘populist’ votes. Brexit, promised to be carried out come what may at its inception, was blocked for 4 years in Parliament and Carole Cadwalladr won the Orwell Prize for suggesting that Cambridge Analytica and Arron Banks’ links to Russia ‘explained’ it. The Information Commissioner has recently pronounced that Cambridge Analytica has no case to answer (for using methods praised as being cutting edge when Barrack Obama used them in 2012). Cadwalladr has just paid the first tranche of £60,000 to Banks, having lost his libel case. I wonder if she’ll return the Orwell Prize.


In the US the Mueller inquiry sought to delegitimise the 2016 result by proving Russian links and failed. 


Why are these things viewed as anything less than assaults on democracy and refusals to accept the legitimised democratic instruments we use to avoid armed conflict? Because the votes did not compute for liberal progressives they thought they could only be explained by outside interference. This was the measure of their arrogance, stupidity and contempt for ordinary people.


The symbolism of the attack on the Capitol can be extended back in time to embrace far more than the response to the 2020 election.


And, of course, the attempt to delegitimise reaches beyond politics to the point of demonising, criminalising, disallowing and ‘cancelling’ any conservative voice just for being conservative. The conservative voice was not that long ago seen as an indispensable part of the productive and healthy dialogue and tension we need between left and right. Now the aim is to eliminate it.


The attempt to erase the conservative voice from politics by rendering it de facto illegitimate is catastrophic for sane politics. It bodes very badly indeed.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Rationalists Conjure the World into Existence

 Rationalists do not behave as if their reason arrived in a world where there are already things in existence derived from nature before its arrival. It behaves as if all things in existence were created by reason and somehow dependent on it for their existence. 

Written in the Runes

 Some people wanted Boris Johnson condemned long before Covid-19 arrived and long before they turned the question of considering whether his “performance” regarding the management of the problem deserved condemnation. This means that it was, for them, always inevitable that they would bring in a guilty verdict and that their marshalling of scientific evidence to give their verdict an air of respectability and credibility and the impression that it was carefully considered in an objective manner is really a sham of seriousness. We may have respected them more had they not dishonestly and disgracefully used such a sad and unfortunate ordeal merely as a means to an end they always wanted.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Language, History and Geography all Conspire...

Language, history and geography all conspire together in culture and culture defines us in terms of WHO we are. To try to undermine Nelson or Churchill by blackening their names with connections to slavery or colonialism is to attempt to deny us the fullness of our being. It is no less an act of hatred - psychological in this case - than violence is to the person.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

One Way of Understanding the Mounting Crescendo of the Culture Wars

Socialism was always flawed in the sense of being unelectable if it insists on being itself (cf Blair and Starmer). The Marxist worldview-fuelled grievance and victimhood culture (a convenient route to bullying power) was always a mis-take on reality. Both of these cognitive errors are now being tested to destruction and risk being shown to be unsustainable and un-serious. What we see are the desperate death throes because, in their bones, their adherents know it....

Friday, 20 November 2020

The Reverend Lubbocks

Rooting through the attic the other day I came across a printed flier on crumbling yellowed paper written by an ancestor of mine on my mother’s side. It was an advertisement that this gentle and bewhiskered Victorian pastor had written in order to promote sales of his latest book. It read as follows:


The Parsonage,

Nether Prating,

Gloucestershire 


May, 1876


If I may be so bold as to call to the reader’s attention my previous volume - Conundra Futiles Mulieribus - which was designed to alleviate the afternoon leisure hours of frustrated gentlewomen with a tendency towards hysteria by means of a series of mental entertainments, exercises and parlour games with a theological flavour to them. My publishers Barnum and Popsicum have reported good sales.


In the light of the successful sales of the first I am delighted to tell the reader that I have recently embarked on a second volume - Ad Effectus Non Bonum - which contains pursuits whereby the wives of railway magnates confined to the home and the nursery may engage with forlorn and sterile brain-teasers based on the disputes at the Council of Nicaea and the Pelagian heresy in order to while away their time. What will most recommend them to their absent spouses, engaged in serious enterprise in the capital, is that in no way will the riddles lead to their devoted help-meets being troubled by thoughts about the real world as they bear not the slightest relation to it. The new volume will soon be available at good purveyors of literary endeavours at a price of 2/6d.


I am your obedient servant,


The Rev Clarence Obadiah “Fly-fornication-these-bones-shall-live” Lubbocks D.D. (Oxon)


In my more optimistic moments when the lowering clouds clear and the sun strikes through I like to feel that, in my own small way, I do my utmost to maintain the tradition of my pious and observant forerunner.