31 Oct

There speaks a leader of men

England have lost a Test Match to the minnows Bangladesh. This is, to say the least, disappointing.

But at the inevitable press conference, the England captain Alistair Cook said, “I fear for my players. They are hurting.”

This before a five-Test series in India who are the  best team in the world rankings

Does it come any more pathetic in this touchy-feely world of delicate (and highly-paid) sportsmen?

Can you imagine Brian Close, Ray Illingworth, Douglas Jardine or Alan Border speaking so effeminately?

Or Mike Brearley – who would have surely said: “Well, that was a setback. Let’s put it right by going out and beating the Indians!”

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28 Oct

All in the mind?

The prevailing wind is a westerly. That’s why we get so much muck blown over from the USA. The current bit of muck is Halloween. This was never popularly observed until comparatively recently and in one sense it epitomises our infantilisation. It demonstrates the truth of G.K. Chesterton’s remark: “When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” It says much about the sort of society we are when, instead of celebrating All Saints’ Day on 1st November, we keep Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) the night before.

Some Roman Catholics and many Evangelical Christians become very exercised by this celebration of Halloween and warn that it can lead to the worship and glorification of evil. I suppose in a few extreme cases it could, but the real purpose of this “festival” is to make a lot of money out of it by selling masks, costumes and other such tat – as with that other fatuity, Fathers’ Day.

It’s gormless – but no more gormless than the countless celebrations of gormlessness that we go in for these days in our dumbed-down junk culture. For instance, this morning there was a serious discussion between supposed adults on The Today Programme about emojis – those silly faces and doodles which people append to their communications on the varieties of antisocial media. Particularly puerile was the fact that they were talking about designing emojis for older people. So there was one with bingo numbers for eyes and another with a reprimanding stare. is that what oldies do, then: get their heads down in the bingo hall and look up again to scowl at their neighbours?

Our infantilisation is now surely complete.

But there is something nasty about even a pretend celebration of the dark powers – whether you believe that devils exist or not. What certainly exists – and exists very powerfully – is the human imagination. And it is but a short step from pretend to reality – as we notice when violent images watched on TV stir up some people to go out and commit violence in real life. Only last week, a teenage girl was so distressed by a horror series she watched on TV that she did away with herself.

Why can’t people get it into their head that mental events are  real?

St Augustine taught that psychological reality is spiritual reality and moral reality. He said that, if you want to acquire a particular virtue – say kindness – you should pretend that you have this virtue already. Try doing little acts of kindness and you will gradually become a kind person: in the same way that (given a fair wind) you will be able to play the piano if you practise for long enough. Augustine, the master psychologist, actually said, “You must become a hypocrite.” Hypocrite is the old Greek word for an actor.

Be careful which parts you act out then. Choose warily the stuff you want to pretend or to practise.

Be careful what you wish for – you might get it!

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27 Oct

Something glorious in the state of Denmark

D’you think we might borrow the Queen of Denmark? Would the gracious lady consent to come and speak to our political leaders – most suitably perhaps in the House of Lords?

In a book, compiled with the Danish journalist Thomas Larsen, Queen Margarethe said that migrants arriving from south east Asia had “prospered”, but those coming from the Middle East “have had a hard time finding their rhythm in Denmark.” 

And she admitted that the sheer scale of the new arrivals seen across Europe over the last eighteen months had changed her views on immigration which, as a young woman in the 1960s, she and other Danes saw as “exciting.” 

Speaking about the cultural values some migrants bring with them, she said: “We cannot pretend that it wears off by itself. It won’t. Many of us thought that people who come to a strange place are a kind of a blotting paper that absorbs everything new.

“The task becomes harder, however, when so many people having various backgrounds and a particular religion arrive at once. They risk isolating themselves regardless of their will.” 

Queen Margarethe, who ascended the throne of Denmark in 1972, pronounced a scathing verdict on today’s EU politicians whom she accused of betraying European values in the name of political correctness: “If you can’t formulate what you stand for, it is hard to tell others about it. It needs to be worked on and every once in a while you need to put your foot down with somebody and say ‘Hey! That won’t do’.”

The Queen of Denmark’s views on immigration are the same as those of most people in Britain – with the exception of our political leaders. Most of us would say that immigrants (in manageable numbers) are welcome, on the condition that they don’t implant an alien and antipathetic religion and culture on our country. Generations of immigrants have, for the most part, adopted our British way of life and customs: Jews, West Indians and Poles have integrated happily and successfully. Hindus in particular have made a wonderful contribution to our national life. I was a schoolteacher in Bolton, Lancashire when the tyrant Idi Amin threw out the Asians from Uganda. Their business people revitalised the town’s economy and greatly improved the functions of local politics and civic life. The Hindu children attended my daily Christian assemblies.

They did not do as so many Muslim immigrants into Britain have done: intimidate the locals until they move out, and so create ghettos where they practise a parallel system of jurisdiction. It is many years now since Bishop Michael Nazir Ali warned our politicians and senior churchmen that there are indeed many Muslim ghettos in this country.

Our politicians and bishops didn’t want to know. They have betrayed the British people and stoked up a social cataclysm. The opposite of integration is disintegration – and sooner than you think. 

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15 Oct

Progressively worse

Hillary Clinton is promising “a progressive presidency.” I was wondering what this piece of jargon might mean when happily I received a clue – from the horse’s mouth, you might say.

Emails between two of Mrs Clinton’s closest colleagues have been made public. John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign, and Sandy Newman, president and founder of the campaign group Voices for Progress, have disparaged what they refer to as “Catholic Middle Ages teachings.”  

Why, when modern types seek especially to denounce a particular viewpoint, do they refer to it as of the Middle Ages or Medieval?

Some of the most profound philosophical and theological thought was gifted to Europe and the world by Medieval churchmen. Adapting Plato and Aristotle, they established a system of logic and enunciated fundamental presuppositions of rational thought which, despite the efforts of 17th and 18th century detractors, continue to provide a basis for metaphysics and epistemology. Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Anselm and Francis Bacon were among the clearest and most imaginative thinkers of any historical period. It is no overstatement to say that such men as these created modern Europe. And their creation was embodied in the founding of the first universities, the great cathedrals, schools, hospitals, the beginnings of western music in Gregorian plainchant and that near-miraculous administrative instrument, the parish.

These were only some of the achievements of an age so contemptuously sneered at as “Medieval.”   

Another of Hillary’s “progressives,” John Newman, wrote: “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a Middle Ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.”

But Christendom was not a dictatorship. It provided a decent set of political liberties. If it’s dictators you’re looking for, John, look no further than your cherished “progressive” modernity: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot. No “Medieval dictatorship” slaughtered human beings on a scale anywhere approaching the genocides committed by those men – who were fervent atheists, by the way. And there were more people killed in the wars of the “progressive” 20th century than in all previous wars put together

In another email, John Halpin of the Centre for American Progress mocked the conservatism of Catholics, especially converts: “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

It is difficult to attach any meaning to a statement as clumsy and convoluted as that, but I think we get the gist.

Medieval Christianity at least provided some practical guidance for our discerning of what is right from what is wrong – which the moral and social squalor of absolute ethical relativism cannot do. No doubt the practice of chastity is arduous, but the “progressive” alternative is unspeakable: every person, regardless of their, “gender” an opportunity for casual sexual gratification and millions of the unborn ripped untimely from the womb simply because people are sexually incontinent.

Listen – Hillary, John and Sandy – to words written by T.S. Eliot in 1934:

“Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws? She tells them of Life and death, and of all that they would forget. She is tender were they would be hard, and hard were they like to be soft. She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts. They constantly try to escape from the darkness outside and within, by dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”

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