Melanie Philips, a blogger, editorialist, and cultural commentator based in Britain, is not herself a Christian, being of the Jewish faith; but she is more perceptive about the importance of Christianity to the survival of Western civilization than many who claim the mantle of Christ. She writes,
“Our increasingly post-Christian society makes the widespread assumption that secularism promotes freedom and equality while Christianity merely divides us. In fact, freedom and equality are Biblical precepts that bind us together. It is secularism that has divided us into groups jostling for power over each other and which has shattered our sense of a shared national project.”
Indeed. Would that more Christians, including those in high places in the Church, were to realize that as well! Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, has been one of those who has been reticent about standing up for Christianity in the fact of the dual attacks by militant Islam, on the one hand, and aggressive secularism and atheism, on the other.
But as my father used to say, “even a stopped clock is right twice a day,” and he has been reasonably outspoken on the dangers of Sharia (Islamic law). Reasonably. But as Ms Philips points out, he goes only so far, and it’s questionable whether it’s far enough:
“Archbishop Welby has spoken with some courage about resisting Sharia. He also wants Britain to ‘reimagine’ its identity on the basis of Christianity. Yet he undermines this by suggesting that different faiths must play an equivalent role. The mouse may have roared — but it remains, alas, a mouse.”
I do wonder what some of the late, great Archbishops of Canterbury – not just the great medieval and Reformation Archbishops, but even more recent holders of the office like the late sainted Michael Ramsey, and even Robert Runcie – would think about the current one! It is at least apparent that Lord Carey (immediate predecessor to Rowan Williams, himself the last Archbishop of Canterbury before Welby) is none too pleased…
Addressing Columbia students and faculty, Erdo warned about the dangers of moral relativism, and discussed the necessity of the Church in a secular state.
The cardinal said that relativism— the inability to declare something as objectively right or objectively wrong—is a “grave crisis” of modern secular states. Without a foundation in natural law, he argued, societies become unstable, and moral evil becomes permissible.
“It is difficult for the state to decide what is good for man,” said Erdo, without some foundation in natural law and a religious worldview. Absent natural law and “by a weakening of belief in the rationality of the world,” societies lose trust in democratic institutions.
”Even the majority can end up with wrong or harmful decisions, especially if the concept of the common good becomes uncertain, because there is no consensus even on the anthropological foundations of law,” explained the cardinal.
Erdo said that until the philosophical Enlightenment, societies were effectively governed with an understanding that moral law was based on transcendent realities.
“Law, morals and religion prove to form an organic whole, which is characteristic of Western society right up to the age of Enlightenment,” Erdo said.
Our Founders were well aware of this problem! I am reminded of the famous quote by John Adams, in an address to the Massachusetts Militia on 11 October 1789, in which he reminded them that
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
And no less a personage that George Washington, in his Farewell Address on 19 September 1796, enjoined his countrymen to recall that
“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.”
And the growing number and intensity of laws, passed in an attempt to reign in the unleashed appetites of humans who have forgotten moral obligation, religious duty, and philosophical self-control alike, is a reminder of the pithy observation of G.K. Chesterton, who, though neither a Founder nor an American, aptly noted,
“If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they will be governed by ten thousand commandments.”
Chesterton also observed, along the same lines, “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”
We often – and by “we,” I mean not the readership of this blog, but the larger secular society of which we are a part, or at least within which we find ourselves constrained to operate – often think of religion and morality as constraints upon freedom, liberty, and democracy (although we in the United States are not and were not intended by our Founders to be a democracy, but a representative, constitutional Republic, characterized by an ordered liberty grounded in classical moral standards).
But as the words of Cardinal Erdo, and the others quoted above, make clear, religion and morality are not the enemies of liberty, but its foundation.
I’ve seen my friends and colleagues on the Left side of the gun control debate dumbfounded at why Second Amendment advocates don’t seem to budge on their views after mass shootings. So I thought I would try my hand at explaining this phenomenon in the hopes that maybe more will be inclined to have a better conversation about guns and the Second Amendment in America. There are several reasons 2A advocates aren’t running to your side of the argument, and it might not be the ones you think.
Some excellent observations by the author, Meredith Dake-O’Connor – who, by the way, happens to be a woman. I mention this because one of the fallacies often believed and promulgated by the socio-political Left is that only “macho” males have any interest in the Second Amendment.
Nothing could be further from the truth! The 2nd Amendment is of particular interest to many women because the right to bear arms means that they are not at the mercy of men who are often physically larger and stronger than they are.
To paraphrase an old saying – that “God made men, but Samuel Colt made them equal”: God made human beings, but the Second Amendment made them equal!
If you can ignore the spelling / grammatical errors, this is actually a very good point. This is not the only reason it should be added – and I might use the word “leftists” rather than “liberals,” because today’s liberals, so-called, are a far cry from classical liberalism – but nonetheless!
“This is the propaganda film for white Christian Europe; everyone is white, happy and dancing in the streets… there were too many crosses, churches, and what was even worse, the attitude of the city, because they regarded this as a value.”
So, there are too many Europeans in a European town? Too much Christian iconography in a nation that has for many centuries been a bastion of Christianity? And heaven forbid, its inhabitants like it that way…?
In today’s EU, it seems, the inmates really are running the insane asylum.
Here is the “offensive” film. You can draw your own conclusions…
Many or most, if not all, of my readers will be aware that there was a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, which resulted in 17 deaths and wounded 14 others. I shall not here identify the perpetrator, who appears to be a deeply disturbed and sinister young male – I certainly will not dignify him with the title “man.”
It has not taken long for the left-wing media – following Rahm Emanuel’s infamous dictum “never let a good crisis go to waste” – to politicize this latest tragedy, and use it as the latest argument in favor of stripping Americans of our God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed right to defend ourselves. The irony in that will not be lost on those who have not succumbed to leftist ideological indoctrination.
Fortunately, not everyone has, and a good friend of mine posted the above on Facebook. I shared it, with a few added points which I reproduce here:
Automatic weapons were available to civilians for a brief period following the First World War, and prior to the National Firearms Act of 1934, after which they were and are NOT available to anyone who is not the holder of a Class III Firearms License – which is very hard to get, and requires extensive background checks and monitoring (and expense). When they WERE available, use of them in crime was limited to gangsters, which in those days meant organized crime families (which is why they were limited). So “automatic weapons” or “assault weapons” are a non-issue: as regards the civilian population, they do not exist.
And lest you say, “b-b-b-but large-capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles…!” let me remind you that the Texas Tower shooting, the first “mass shooting” by modern standards, which occurred in 1966, was committed largely with bolt-action and pump-action firearms.
Let me remind you further that mass shooters are highly motivated individuals, who are unlikely to be deterred by such minor details as lack of availability of their preferred (or any) firearms. The Oklahoma City bomber did not need guns to kill 168 people and injure 680 more. The 9/11 hijackers did not need guns to kill nearly 3,000 people and terrorize a nation, scarring its psyche in ways that still linger. Terrorists in various locations, including New York City last year, have not needed guns to kill large numbers of people by ramming them with vehicles. Someone who is sufficiently determined to cause a massacre will find a way of doing so. And while banning guns may make them think a little harder for a little longer, it’s not going to prevent it; it is going to make things more difficult for law-abiding citizens who want to defend themselves and their families, or use firearms for sporting purposes.
And that “18 school shootings in 45 days” meme that’s making the rounds? That includes eight incidents with no injuries or fatalities, two attempted suicides, one shot fired during the course of a fight, and two others that resulted in a single student being slightly wounded. And that is according to records found at “Everytown for Gun Safety,” Michael Bloomburg’s anti-gun advocacy group, which uses a very lenient (one could argue, highly misleading) standard: “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds,” it counts as a school shooting, regardless of whether or not the shooting results in injury or death. While any and all of these are regrettable, placing them in the same category as what happened in Florida is disingenuous, to put it mildly.
It is very easy to place the blame for tragic incidents like the recent Florida shooting on firearms. But – although the military is working on autonomous (AI) weapons (a concerning development, but tangential to this) – no firearm currently available to civilians is capable of engaging a target on its own. It requires a human being to make that decision and act on it.
In the 1950s and 60s, it was commonplace for students to bring firearms to school, for hunting purposes, often leaving them plainly visible in gun-racks in their pickups on the parking lot, or sometimes keeping them in their lockers. Yet there were no school shootings. During the same period (and for decades prior), high-school shooting teams were common. Again, no school shootings. Teenaged students even carried firearms on public buses and trolleys, on their way from their homes (or schools!) to the outskirts of town to hunt. Again, no shootings resulted.
The issue is not a gun issue. That’s an obvious but a misleading target – a “plausible distractor,” in testing terms. The issue is a societal and cultural issue, and a moral issue. It is a whole lot easier to say “ban guns” than it is to wrestle seriously with where we, as a culture, might have been going wrong – might be continuing to go wrong. And there is no single answer to that question, either; it is almost certainly a multiplicity of wrong steps, in a variety of areas.
These include, but are not limited to, the failures of parenting Sandy mentions, plus breakdown of stable family units in general, the rise of media and recreational opportunities (including music, videos or other visual media, the video gaming Sandy mentioned, etc.) that glorify amoral or immoral violence while minimizing its consequences, the breakdown of traditional religious observances and the moral guidelines religion has traditionally provided (see Washington’s Farewell Address), and the breakdown of cultural cohesion – and the stability that provides – in a variety of ways. There are probably many others that I have missed.
And until we seriously and constructively address these issues, the problem will continue. Banning or limiting (any more than they are already limited, which is severely) firearms will not solve it, it will only make things more difficult for law-abiding citizens, and chip further away at our freedom.
P.S. I have seen a number of worthwhile comments come across my newsfeed today. Here is one:
“We have to understand that even if we secure every school to were a mouse couldn’t get entry with a pea-shooter, it’s a band-aid. What then: shopping malls, fast-food restaurants, hospitals? We have a much more fundamental, philosophical and spiritual problem. When was the last time the great works of western philosophy and ethics were taught in our schools? When did we last focus our children on the big questions of the human condition, questions addressed by the great thinkers of Western Civilization? Could it be back in the last days when we had no mass school shootings? Do we really believe we could turn our back on the great projects of Western Civilization and not loose a hold on civil society itself?”
Indeed. To tear a plant up from its roots and not expect it to whither is the height of insanity. And of course, the diminution and marginalization of traditional religious faith – particularly the Judeo-Christian religious tradition – and the moral standards which come from it has played a major role in stripping our society of its moral compass.
And then there was this comment, from a Washington sheriff, interviewed today:
Here is the video clip, in which he reinforces a lot of what I’ve said, above – only a lot more succinctly:
We have viewed abandoning traditional social and cultural norms, traditional moral values, traditional religious faith, traditional child-rearing practices, and much more, as being “progressive,” and trumpeted this abandonment as great advances in the human experience. But as C.S. Lewis presciently put it,
“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistakes. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”
“Christianity is dying in western Europe. There are many reasons for that, including the complicity of many churchmen in the ideological awfulness that turned mid-twentieth-century Europe into a slaughterhouse. But the gospel has power, and those who believe that, and preach it in the conviction that it can transform and ennoble lives, can still get a hearing. Indeed, as post-modernity decomposes into ever more bizarre forms of irrationality, the cleansing, liberating truth of the gospel and the vision of life well lived found in the Beatitudes ought to be a compelling offer. “
This came across my newsfeed today, to the usual mix of ironic laughter and disparaging comments. I’ve seen it a number of times, and it is invariably greeted by either outrage or guffaws.
But the thing that is lost in both reactions is the fact that most men would treat a woman who was this kind to her husband as an absolute jewel to be cherished, cared for, and loved with passionate devotion. The few who would not, are jerks who would continue to be jerks no matter what the woman did.
(Of course, the sad economic reality, now, is that this sort of a situation is often simply not possible in today’s world – in which both partners must usually work outside the home in order to financially support the household – even if both parties wanted it. But that is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish………)
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II – called by some “the last Christian Monarch” – speaks on the practical difficulties of Crowns and Coronations. Also includes a look at the other Royal Regalia which are part of the last Coronation service in the world with roots extending back into the Middle Ages: a remarkable example of the continuity of the British Monarchy.
I found myself especially moved and touched by the Sovereign’s Ring – “known by some as the Wedding Ring of England,” which symbolizes the lifetime commitment of the Monarch.
Her Majesty The Queen has certainly dedicated her life to serving her people and Kingdom – indeed, the United Kingdom, as well as the Commonwealth Realms of which she is Head of State – as she promised at her unexpected Accession, following the untimely death of her father, King George VI.
She has done it with grace, poise, and dignity, as well as consummate wisdom and shrewdness, for longer than any other British Monarch, and with unmatched skill. Loved and respected by her own people and by millions around the world, it will be long e’er we see her like again.
May God continue to grant Her Majesty health and long life!
[Emma] White is part of a growing number of young people in the Church who are embracing traditional practices. Despite the popular idea that young people have no attention span, there seems to be a deep desire to encounter God in tradition and silence. More millennials are returning to older prayers and devotions.
As in a number of previous instances, this is from a Roman Catholic perspective – there is not (yet) nearly enough writing on these sorts of matters from within the classical Anglican tradition – but the thoughts translate easily to an Anglican context. Simply replace “Latin Mass” with “classical Prayer Book liturgy,” and (with a few minor differences, of language and ritual) most of it applies directly. Particularly interesting in this one: the author is a 20-year-old college student. As the name of a Facebook group I belong to puts it, “Actually, young people do like traditional liturgy!” Many do, anyway, and the number seems to be growing.