“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”
– William Shakespeare.
Architectural Revival. ✠ In an age of ugliness, a work of beauty is an act of defiance. ✠ Tradition, not Modernism, is the future. ✠
“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”
– William Shakespeare.
Architectural Revival. ✠ In an age of ugliness, a work of beauty is an act of defiance. ✠ Tradition, not Modernism, is the future. ✠
It has been confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex upon their marriage later today.
I like Prince Harry, and I wish him well – him, and his new bride.
But I have to confess, I do wish he could have found a nice British girl.
I know he’s not in the direct line to the throne. Nonetheless – it doesn’t make it any easier for those of us who would like to see Britain stay British, when the detractors can now say, “but look at the example of Prince Harry!”
And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.
“The theory of the happy union of capitalism and democracy rests on capitalism creating secure middle-class employment for millions of citizens. Once capitalism only creates a peon-debt-serf class and a 5% technocrat / manager / financier / entrepreneur / speculator class that harvests 70% of the wealth and income, then democracy dies by the slow poison of rising inequality and ever greater asymmetries of wealth and political power.”
Politics, my late grandfather used to say, makes for some mighty strange bed-fellows.
Capitalism was a logical ally for our American (and more generally, Western) representative democratic-republican system during the Cold War, when our enemies were based on a vicious combination of totalitarian political systems and state-controlled economies – and when capitalism was indeed creating secure middle-class employment for millions of citizens.
But this is no longer happening; indeed, quite the reverse. What we are seeing is increasing polarization into “haves” and “have-nots,” into wage-slaves and wealthy overseers. Which leads to the question, is today’s capitalism an ally of freedom, (representative) democracy, and self-determination, or yet another – and apparently voracious and implacable – adversary? At the least, as the above quote makes clear, democracy (or, as in the U.S., a Constitutional Republic) and capitalism are not always or necessarily allies.
This is true in part because of a difference in philosophy and ethos.
Capitalism is, at base, about competition and dominance: various companies, corporations, entrepreneurs, etc., are are in competition to attract consumers, acquire customers, and in the process, accrue wealth and the power that comes with it. Those entities that are most successful eventually dominate the marketplace, at least until a more successful competitor comes along and knocks them off their hill. People are viewed basically as units of production, consumers of goods and services – sources of either labour or money – or both.
Democracy, on the other hand – or again, more properly, representative republics (because a true popular democracy is perpetually dancing on the edge of demagoguery and dictatorship) – is about power-sharing, checks and balances, and the common good. While competition is not absent (particularly during campaign season!), a properly-functioning representative republic is more about cooperation than competition and dominance. People are viewed as citizens and members of society, with a common stake in the success of the enterprise.
Thus, both the methods and the aims of representative democratic–republicanism and those of capitalism – at least, in its current dominant form – are actually quite distinct. But it is also the case that not all forms of capitalism are created equal.
There is a great deal of difference between the kind of extreme crony capitalism, economic oligarchy, or corporate plutocracy in which neo-robber-barons like the aforementioned Google, Facebook, and Amazon are able, by their extreme wealth and the power that wealth purchases for them, to manipulate the machinery of democracy itself, and the capitalism of the Jeffersonian ideal, in which a nation of yeoman farmers, shopkeepers, craftsmen and artisans, merchants and tradesmen, working largely for themselves, own pieces of a widely distributed network of capital and means of production.
I have commented previously on the fact that the present, voraciously predatory form of capitalism is a relative latecomer to humankind, and even within the American experience: the massive shift that took place from the Antebellum (pre-War Between the States) period to the Gilded Age (from c. 11850 to just before the First World War) was a cataclysmic course-change, here in the U.S., from a culture and society in which most Americans worked for themselves (most of those on farms, the rest in the kind of Jeffersonian businesses I mentioned above) to one in which the vast majority of Americans worked for others, for wages.
The modern form of plutocratic capitalism is not the default form, for America – and furthermore, it is not, I think, healthy for any society.
The question, of course, is what can be done about the present crisis; and although the linked article points out – accurately, I think – that blowback is beginning, what form it will take, and what effect, it will have, remains to be seen. But that something needs to be done is, I think, an unavoidable conclusion; lest we end up governed by “Avatar”-style quasi-governmental administrative entities (QGAEs) that are accountable to no one – except, perhaps, their stockholders!
A full return to the Jeffersonian ideal is (sadly, in my opinion) probably pretty unrealistic, in today’s world. But something like Chestertonian distributism may be, as I have posited on more than one occasion, the only route to a system of economics which is human both in scale and in ethos. Every alternative I can think of is frightening.
“For me, this isn’t about getting to the range. This isn’t about hunting, I’m not a hunter. This is about people’s rights. This is about human rights. And I think people often forget that there is a human right to defend yourself from a tyrannical government.”
On May 2, Breitbart News reported that students in schools around the country walked out of class in order to show support for gun rights via the “Stand for the Second” event. The event was organized by Will Riley, and he sat with Breitbart News for the upcoming episode of the podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins.
We asked about the motivation for the pro-gun walkout, and he said:
What drove me to action was I saw the response of the mainstream media to the movements of my peers — the March for Our Lives, the Enough walkouts during the national day of action — and I saw how the media was responding to that by creating this false narrative that my generation is somehow united behind gun control. I wanted to dispel that myth.
Riley made clear that he does not own a gun, that his ultimate motivation to “Stand for the Second” is his desire to preserve and/or recover founding principles and ideals.
He said, “For me, this isn’t about getting to the range. This isn’t about hunting, I’m not a hunter. This is about people’s rights. This is about human rights. And I think people often forget that there is a human right to defend yourself from a tyrannical government.”
He added, “My political concerns are very similar to Thomas Jefferson. I am very concerned with natural rights and the constitutional protections thereof.”
I have found it quite interesting how much coverage the pro-Second Amendment student walkouts received in the mainstream media: Zero. Nada. Crickets. One might almost think there was a dominant narrative that they wanted to promote, and that no deviations from that theme were permitted! But no, that couldn’t be, could it? The news media is supposed to objectively report the facts… right?
“I saw how the media was responding to that by creating this false narrative that my generation is somehow united behind gun control. I wanted to dispel that myth.”
As one young friend of mine commented, “this kid gets it.”
P.S. Here’s a map, published originally on CNN, showing the locations of walkouts during Stand the Second:
Was this event as big as the gun-ban protests? Probably not. It certainly didn’t get the level of media and political support they did, the infusion of funds, or the adult “advisors.” But I’m not sure I’d trust any of the mainstream media to provide accurate accounting, so we may never know for sure. But this map certainly demonstrates that it was not a small or local event!
What is particularly interesting to me is the number of walkouts in the Northeast, the West Coast, and the urbanized liberal enclaves in the Midwest, south of the Great Lakes. These are all areas which already have strict gun-control laws, and (if you believe the national narrative) want more. Clearly, not everyone who lives there agrees!
The Episcopal Church announced this week that it would be removing the words “man,” “woman,” and “procreation” from its marriage liturgy. Of course, the Episcopalians have long since removed Christ from their liturgy, so this latest move is no surprise.
The Episcopal Church – through which I came into the Anglican tradition, and which has been, in years past, the source of much joy and much of my growth in the Christian faith – has been on a long downhill slide for some decades, now. I am not quite ready to agree with Matt Walsh that it is “a church in the same way that the Church of Satan is a church. They are an anti-church. Rather than a body of Christian believers, they are a body of self-worshiping heretics,” but he is not entirely wrong, either.
Knowledgeable observers are torn as to when the rot set in; some would argue that the decision, back in the 1960s, to allow divorced persons to remarry in church without having had their previous marriage annulled – thus undercutting the authority of Christ’s dictum that “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” while placing secular understandings and popular “relevance” above traditional doctrine, and setting a precedent for further modifications – was the beginning.
Others place the point of departure further back, in the 1930s, when the Episcopal Church made the decision to allow artificial contraception, thus effectively decoupling (no pun intended) the sexual act with the act of procreation – a process which was made pandemic by the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and following, with all sorts of unintended negative consequences for society as a whole (the specifics of which are outside the scope of this essay).
Howsoever that may be, this latest development – to excise both the terms and concepts of “husband,” “wife,” and “procreation” from the marriage liturgy – represents a further acceleration toward the abyss. As reported by Life Site News, inter alia:
The Church of England is torn over plans by the The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States to efface the terms “husband” and “wife” – as well as references to “procreation” – from its marriage liturgy.
The change is meant to make the church’s marriage ceremonies more “gay-friendly.” Gay and lesbian Episcopalians have complained that the language of the current liturgy is offensive and exclusionary…
“The new service removes the phrase ‘the union of husband and wife’ and replaces it with ‘the union of two people,’” according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph. It also “replaces the section which talks about part of God’s intention for marriage being ‘for the procreation of children’ with the phrase ‘for the gift of children’ to make it more relevant for same-sex couples who may wish to adopt.”
This represents both an abandonment of Scriptural and traditional teaching on the point and purpose of marriage, and a complete and abject capitulation to a small but vocal minority for whom the celebration of their lifestyle choice is far more important than the moral and social standards that have characterized Christianity since its beginning.
I could cite chapter and verse from the Scriptures on this subject ’til I’m blue in the face, but I will not, for several reasons: first, I do not want to lengthen this unduly. Second, many of my readers will already be familiar with the arguments. And thirdly, those who are in favor of this innovation are unlikely to be convinced by appeal to the Scriptures – to which they already sit, shall we say, somewhat loosely.
But there are other issues with this as well. For one thing, I could easily see adding “the gift of children” as an optional alternative for cases in which the wife is infertile, the husband impotent, or the ages of the partners are such that bearing children is not a reasonable expectation. Such persons may well choose to adopt, and all respect to them. But the very word “procreation” is a reminder that we humans have the incredible blessing of sharing with God in the work of creation!
The sexual union of husband and wife, if all is going as Nature and Nature’s God intended, is capable of bringing new life into the world – a creative act, if ever there was one! – and raising up that child in a good way. In fact, the very reason sex feels good is to encourage us to engage in it, and (as the book of Genesis puts it) “be fruitful and multiply.” To put pleasure before procreation – in fact, to maximize pleasure and minimize or eliminate procreation, as we have been doing since the ’60s – puts the cart before the horse.
(We see the fruits of this, or lack thereof, in the plummeting birthrate among Western countries where the sexual revolution has taken hold, even as the population of less “advanced” and “enlightened” countries and regions explodes. Sidelining procreation is morally reprehensible, but it is also biologically and culturally suicidal.)
At any rate, according to Life Site News, “The move prompted a critical response from Church of England Secretary General William Nye last October, strongly urging the TEC to reconsider. The letter threatened to cut ties with the U.S. church if it adopts the planned gender-neutral [phrasing], replacing the current wording in its Book of Common Prayer.” This is more than a little disingenuous on the part of the C of E, since their pattern in the past has been to first deplore, and then later adopt, every left-wing innovation that has come out of the Episcopal Church! But it would be nice if they’d follow through, this time.
Whatever the C of E decides, Matt Walsh points out that
“Today there are fewer Episcopalians in America than Jews or Mormons. This is significant because the latter groups have always been relatively small minorities in America, while the Episcopal church was once the largest church in the nation. [Of course, that was a long while ago!] It’s been all downhill since then.
“What happened? You can easily track the church’s stunning decline over the past several decades and see that it corresponds to the church’s shedding of Christian orthodoxy in favor of liberal orthodoxy [emphasis added]. It began, as always, with the embracing of birth control and divorce. Then they moved to the ordination of women. Then it was a straight line to the ordination of openly gay clergy and the approval of same sex marriage. Now there is nothing surprising about seeing a feminist Episcopal priest blessing an abortion clinic or a transgender priest leading a service in a church adorned with rainbow flags. And it is even less surprising to look around the church and notice that nobody is sitting in the pews.
Why would they come and sit in the pews? What would be the point? The message of liberal Christianity is: “You’re perfectly fine exactly the way you are. Everything you’re doing is acceptable. Make no changes. Keep up the great work!” A weak person may be happy to hear that message, but they need not hear it twice. They need not come back for it week after week.
Traditional Christianity, in stark contrast, recognizes that a) we are all sinners in need of divine grace, and b) as sinners, we have a high recidivism rate, and need continuing infusions of that grace, just as we need to drink water regularly in order to survive.
Indeed, Christ likened himself to “living water,” that brings life eternal – and we imbibe that living water most fully when we “assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits we have received at [God’s] hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those thing which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul” (Book of Common Prayer 1928, Morning Prayer) – and not least, in receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the sacrament of the Holy Communion, as is “our bounden duty and service.”
But for that, we have to show up. I generally offer live broadcasts of Morning and Evening Prayer via Facebook on Sundays, and just as in an earlier time (and sometimes still today) churches offered first radio, later television, broadcasts of their services, I have no doubt that these may serve as a means of getting God’s word out to people who might not otherwise receive it.
But (setting aside for the moment that there can be no such things as a “virtual” Eucharist – one is either present to receive the Body and Blood, or one is not) the fact remains that one must make a decision to be present, and act on it. If you don’t show up (or perhaps, click on the right link), you won’t be able to hear and receive God’s Word. Nor is merely receiving the end of it: you still have to act on it. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” St. James reminds us.
And as Walsh points out,
“If a person wants worldliness, they can go literally anywhere to get it. If they want lectures on diversity and inclusion, they can stop by the Human Resources office at work, or maybe have a chat with a public school guidance counselor. If they want encouragement to continue in their sin, Satan is happy to use a whole variety of methods to communicate that encouragement…
“But if a person wants to pursue something higher; if he wants to be rescued from the dreariness of modern culture; if he wants to find his real and transcendent identity; if he wants to be challenged; if he wants meaning, then he has even less reason to turn to Episcopalianism or any similar variety of Christianity. It is not substantial enough. It is not different enough. It is not saying enough. It is not asking enough of him.
“That is the great secret that ‘progressive’ and ‘inclusive’ Christian leaders are too high on the fumes of humanism to notice or understand. Religions grow when they expect more of their adherents, not less. Religions thrive when they provide a lifestyle that is radically different from the dull, hollow lifestyle provided by the world. People turn to religion for identity. And if all they find is more of the same, more of what caused them to go looking in the first place, they will not be converted.”
Fortunately, there is an alternative. There are a number of alternatives, actually; but there is one that I can speak to and recommend personally because I am not only a member of it, but a priest in it: the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA, not to be confused with “the” Episcopal Church: TEC, or formerly PECUSA), of which the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable (a.k.a. St. Bede’s Traditional Anglican Mission) and the nascent St. John’s Anglican Church, Westminster, are member congregations.
The UECNA is a conservative, traditional, and orthodox Church, in the classical Anglican expression of Christianity. We accept the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “God’s Word written” and “containing all things necessary to salvation”; we look to the ancient and ecumenical (accepted by the whole Church of the time) Councils of the Church, and the Creeds promulgated by them, as our guides to interpreting those Scriptures.
We use the traditional Book of Common Prayer (1928 in the U.S., 1962 in Canada) and other classic Formularies (Ordinal, Thirty-Nine Articles, and Homilies) of the Anglican tradition for worship, devotion, and to guide our theological and moral understanding as Anglican Christians. These documents are to be read in accordance with the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, to the exclusion of all heresies ancient and modern.
Our Bishops are consecrated in the historic Succession which we believe stretches back to the Apostles themselves. Our Presiding Bishop, Archbishop Peter Robinson, is also Bishop Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of the East, within which both the Oratory of St. Bede’s and St. John’s Anglican Church are located. The United Episcopal Church maintains the Scriptural practice of ordaining only men to the orders of Deacon, Presbyter (Priest) and Bishop, but maintains the Order of Deaconesses as an ancient, lay vocation for women.
We believe that Christian marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and is a lifelong, sacramental union between them. However, as a pastoral matter, we also accept that marriages can and do fail, and seek to extend proper pastoral support to those whose marriages have failed or are in danger of failing. And we maintain the sanctity of life from conception through natural death.
And in any case, may God bless you!
Of all the worldwide comment on the Alfie Evans case, the core truth was best encapsulated by a headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Alfie Evans and the State. A medical debate that’s gone global is not about the money. It’s about power.”
Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the case of Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old boy from Liverpool with a still-undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder (a fact which is itself concerning), who died in Alder Hey Hospital in Britain after a British court ordered life support removed (technically, they ruled that doctors could order the removal of life support, which they did).
This, despite his parents’ valiant fight to take him to Italy for further treatment, which resulted in Alfie being granted Italian citizenship, the Pope chartering a state-of-the-art air ambulance to fly him there, and the Italian government and even military standing by to serve in a support role.
Despite international outcry and support for Alfie and his parents, the hospital not only took him off the respirator – after which he continue to surprise everyone by living four more days – but for even denied him sustenance and hydration, and went so far as to station a police cordon outside the hospital so that he could not be removed.
The argument was that airlifting him to Italy – where he would, as is generally accepted, have had no more hope of recovery than in Britain – would not be “in the child’s best interest.” Apparently starving and dehydrating him was.
I was a relative latecomer to this saga, but after learning about it, the incident has touched me deeply. I found the linked response to be particularly on-target:
“[At] every stage of this power struggle, the motive invoked was Alfie’s ‘best interests.’
“In the event, Alfie’s best interests turned out to consist of removing his ventilation, depriving him of nutrition for more than 24 hours, giving him minimal hydration and refusing, with the support of the courts, to release him from the hospital where this regime was being imposed on him. Although judicial permission had been given, in principle though not in practice, for his parents to take him home, this was deferred due to fears they might abscond with him to Rome and secure him humane treatment…
“Nobody expected a miracle cure at the Bambino Gesù (though its world-class clinicians might at least have succeeded in diagnosing Alfie’s illness, in the interests of medical research). What was expected was that Alfie could have ended his days among people who did not automatically regard his best interests as synonymous with death. His palliative care would have been of a high order and, as a moral principle, he would not have been starved or dehydrated to death – the point at which gently allowing a hopeless case to slip away crosses the red line to become euthanasia…
“And what about his parents? In that environment they could have spent invaluable time with their son, become reconciled to the inevitability of his death, in the consoling knowledge that every human endeavour had been exhausted in the effort to save him. That experience would have brought them – though the over-used term may jar – ‘closure.’
“Why was that not allowed to happen? The air ambulance ordered by the Pope was state-of-the-art, the medical personnel highly qualified, even the Italian military were involved and the danger of harm to Alfie in transit minimal; and, if he had died naturally, it would have been no worse than suffocating at Alder Hey. At least his parents would have done their best for him.
“But family and parental rights are being marginalized in Britain. It was spelled out from the judicial bench that parental rights took second place to the child’s best interests, a subjective term that turned out to be a euphemism for killing him… Here, however, we had two loving parents, in full agreement, trying to take their child abroad with every medical facility both in transit and at their destination, but prevented by the state.
“That is the grim reality: Alfie Evans [was] a prisoner of the State.”