30 Nov

There once was a bishop who lived in a hub…

The English cathedrals are doing very nicely, thank you. The First World War Centenary Repair Fund, administered by the government, has so far contributed £40million – and a further £5.5million this week alone. And this is not their only source of revenue. Businesses are often generous in their support: for example, a few years ago Goldman Sachs gave £40million to St Paul’s for the renewal of its stonework. And this as the canons were speaking in support of the Occupy movement and excoriating the City banks. There are 44 cathedrals and they charge admission – and it’s not cheap. St Paul’s will let you in for £18, generously reduced to £16 for children and pensioners. At Westminster the fee is £20 and at York £15. the cathedrals attract 11 million visitors each year, so you hardly require pencil and paper to work out how much the Deans and Chapters are raking in – well over £150million from pay-at-the-door alone.

Mind you, they need to bring in the money to pay themselves their stipends for, while the average Vicar receives £25,000pa, cathedral Canons are paid rather more and Deans get £34,000.

There is one more big difference between the financial condition of the parish churches and that of the cathedrals. The average parish church is required to pay tens of thousand of pounds annually to diocesan central funds through an ever-increasing tax variously known as the quota, the common fund or the parish share.

The cathedrals pay nothing.

Effectually, this means that each Vicar or parish priest must be a permanent fundraiser to provide his own stipend.

So we see there operates in the Church of England a sublime equality – though some places are more equal than others.

Cathedrals have often been described – chiefly by the Bishops and Deans who inhabit them – as “the jewels in the crown of the English Church.” A spokesman for the C. of E., responding to the latest tranche of cash from that WWI Centenary Repair Fund, was even more lavish in his praise. “Our cathedrals,” he effused “are valuable community hubs.”

So we are to understand that the hierarchy’s new vision for Christian churches in England is to see them as an aspect of social work by practitioners of the social gospel – which is only the social bit without the gospel – and another sign of the Church’s suicidal secularisation perpetrated by those who were ordained and appointed to teach us about the things that are sacred.

And lo is written, “My house has been called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a community hub.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
26 Nov

How to get on the telly

What’s the best qualification to get to appear on TV? Certainly, to be a young woman with large breasts – or, in the case of Ed Balls, a middle aged man with the same. Belonging to a rock band might get you on BBC4. I remember when that channel was opened, the BBC advertised it as “a place to think.” Well, they’ve given up thinking now as some evenings – particularly Fridays – are given over entirely to pop music. You could change your career and become a supermodel or a Premiership footballer. If all else fails, try dressing yourself up and pretending to be David Attenborough or Stephen Fry.

None of these devices – not even the last – is guaranteed to work.

There is, however, one foolproof route to success: have one of your relatives murdered. It helps if it’s a teenage son or daughter or a devoted husband in his forties.

There have been a few successes using this method this week alone, but respect for the dead and sympathy for the bereaved forbids mention of their names.

You would think that after such a grievous loss, the bereaved relative would wish most of all for privacy, to be left alone to reflect, even to pray, and to try to come to terms with the terrible event. That’s what used to happen. But now we live in the days prophesied by Andy Warhol when “Everyone is famous for fifteen minutes.”

After the verdict is announced, the fulminating widow appears outside the court and denounces “the scumbag” who killed her husband, whom she describes as “my rock.”

Or the grieving father faces the TV cameras beside “a roadside shrine” and describes his eight year old daughter – murdered by an “animal” – as “lovely bubbly.”

All these televised grievers have completely mastered the psychobabble that the media requires. the verdict has all;owed them to “achieve closure” and so now they can “move on.”

There is something inappropriate, mawkish and frankly creepy about all this. Grief is not a suitable subject for display and publicity. And the best way to assuage your grief is by not advertising it.

Kierkegaard said, “There is a sign in Copenhagen which forbids spitting in the street. I wish there were a similar prohibition on sentimentality.”

But in our blatant therapeutic culture, fame trumps all.

I think it was Anthony Burgess who commented that the highest accolade of our times is “You woz on the telly!”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
24 Nov

God makes an American comeback?

On Thanksgiving, Abraham Lincoln urged the American people to offer, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Barak Obama omitted all mention of “God” or “prayer” in his message to the nation.

By contrast, Donald Trump declared America “blessed,” referred to “my prayer” and ended with “God bless you all. God bless America.”

I just wonder if this might be the start of something good, something wholesome and restorative?

“Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

I could spend all morning quoting biblical texts at you in which the Old Testament prophets admonished an erring and straying people and urged them to return to their God. They added that the people would live in peace and prosperity if they followed God’s Commandments; but that they would inevitably end up in trouble if they did not.

But the Bible was written a long time ago in the days when people actually believed in God. Surely, four hundred years after the Enlightenment, we have outgrown such superstition? Dietrich Bonhoeffer – an Enlightenment man if ever there was one – declared that 20th century people had “come of age.” He neglected to mention the gifts reserved for age: two world wars, the most destructive wars in history. Man come of age perpetrated more slaughter in the Second World War than in all previous wars put together. In the same century, there were the genocides of the pagan Hitler and the atheists Stalin and Mao.

I have noticed modern man’s famous difficulties with belief in God all my life and I am sure that these difficulties arise because modern man first invents a god in his own image – a cartoon god, an unbelievable god – and then rightly and logically this belief. What if, instead of the cartoon god, we were to say something like this:

Unless you hold that there are absolute values by which your conduct is measured, by which you try to live, you are bound to live a morally incoherent life. Enlightenment nostrums and wonderfully progressed discoveries in mathematics, physics and biology will enable you to cure diseases, to live in warm houses, to construct an atom-smasher and even fly to the moon.

But no science, no technology, however advanced can give you guidance how to live.

Life requires absolute values. Relative values which change to accommodate our convenience and our shifting fashions and prejudices are not real values: there needs to be something definite, something absolute by which our lives are measured. The biblical word for this is “judged.”

As the great Enlightenment philosopher himself, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) put it: “The starry heavens above and the Moral Law within.”

Personally, I would want to go further than this theologically.

But will it do – for a start?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
19 Nov

ARCHBISHOP TALKS SENSE!

Indeed, the age of miracles is not dead. Let me write the headline: ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY TALKS SENSE. It’s even better than MAN BITES DOG. Yes, Justin Welby has surprised us by acting entirely out of character. He has said we must accept that the terrorist group Islamic State has some connection with Islam. Here is an extract from the Archbishop’s speech:

“If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it.

“A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

“This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Islamic State is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.

“Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.”

I have never heard him say anything remotely sane or sensible before. I ran out of fleshy areas of my body which I might pinch to establish that I was not dreaming. Now I am left wondering why Welby spoke as he did. In the past he was always a fully paid up member of the Islam-is-a-religion-of peace-and-love brigade: those Guardianistas and BBC types who claim that the murderous psychopaths’ shout of “Allahu Akbar!” immediately before they behead you/throw a few bombs into a shopping centre/spray a playground with Kalashnikov bullets/ or perhaps crucify you is an aberration or a mere coincidence.

It was probably too much to expect the Archbishop to take the reasonable next step and declare that the Christian response – in fact the Christian duty – towards those who deliberately kill the innocent should be to fight them. This teaching, derived from Aquinas’ doctrine of the just war, is entirely orthodox. Better still if Welby had followed the example of St Bernard of Clairvaux who, in the Burgundian town of Vézelay on 31st March, 1146, delivered his famous oration on responding to the Muslim threat:

“…Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed on Christian people? …Fly then to arms; let the holy rage animate you in the fight, and let the Christian world resound with these words of the Hebrew prophet: ‘Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood!’ ”

But credit where it’s due: The Archbishop’s words represent movement in the right direction and a welcome change from the usual evasive, euphemistic tosh that churchmen speak concerning the barbarians who perpetrate mass murder in the name of Islam. Who knows where these things might lead? Perhaps next week the Archbishop will ascend the pulpit in Canterbury cathedral and say, “Up, lads, and at ‘em!”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
10 Nov

Drain the swamp!

D’you remember how the metropolitan elite said we voted for Brexit because we’re thick? Well now the American branch of this elite is saying the same of those who voted for Trump, describing these poor, afflicted and unenlightened citizens as “low information types.” That’s what we thickos call “thick.”

Moreover, we thickos can’t be expected to pull our socks up. The journal Foreign Policy printed an article saying, “The people are deluded and it is the task of those with reason and expertise to undelude them.”

George Monbiot explained in The Guardian: “Why elections are bad for democracy.”

The Guardian wants us to appoint a sort of secular “episcopacy” to teach us all to come to the right – I mean, of course, left – conclusions.

It’s been done before, at least twice: in the USSR it was made up commissars; in the EU it is the commissioners.

And who will be on this committee of the righteous, The Guardian’s guardians, so to speak? There’s sure to be their own George Moonbat, the zoologist and master of the non sequitur Richard Dawkins, the know-all Attenborough, Polly Toynbee and Emily Thornberry who established her credentials at the last general election when she sneered at “white van man.” I suppose they might throw in Diane Abbot, just to add intellectual weight. They would bring back the Stalinist apologist for the Terror and the Gulag Eric Hobsbawm from the dead, if only this were permitted by dialectical materialism.

All these creeps who make up the lumpen intelligentsia must be pretty thick themselves if they can’t see that for their kind the game is up – at last. In Britain and in the USA, the common people have risen up and said, “We’ve had enough of you. You have sat here too long for any good you might have done. Go. Get out!” The entrenched left wing establishment – what Trump has called “the swamp” – is on the way out all over Europe too, as Frau Merkel and Monsieur Hollande will discover in next year’s elections. We are seeing a similar uprising of thickos in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium and half a dozen more countries.

God bless us every one!

Thickos of the world unite and drain the swamp!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
07 Nov

The existence of God

One of the most interesting passages – among so many interesting passages – in Ian Robinson’s writings comes at the end of his book Holding the Centre. He writes:

“After about two decades of intermittent struggle and a not badly received talk to a serious philosophical society on the subject of the ontological argument for the existence of God, I am unable to venture over the verge… To deny that there is judgement is foolish because the statement is itself an attempt at judgment. I would dearly love to be able to show that the insipiens who twice in The Psalms says in his heart there is no God is trying with Derrida to make the sense that there is no sense… I believe we make sense…Can anyone take it any further?”

I don’t think I can take this any further, but i can point to contributions by at least three philosophers which just might.

In An Essay on Metaphysics R.G. Collingwood says:

“If Gaunilo was right when he argued that Anselm’s ontological proof of the existence of God proved the existence of God only to a person who already believed it, Anselm replied that he did not care… Anselm regarded the fool who ‘hath said in his heart, There is no God’ as a fool not because he was blind to the actual existence of un nomme Dieu but because he did not know that the presupposition, ‘God exists’ was a presupposition he himself made.”

In God, Religion & Reality Stephen R.L. Clark writes:

“If rational discourse is only possible in a God-directed universe, it follows that rational atheists must actually rely upon the truth of theism even to argue against it…. God does not belong to the class of existing things, not that he has no existence, but that he is above all existing things, even above existence itself. Any existing God would be less than God. An existent God would be an idol or a demon.

!”A world in which literally anything could happen, for no intelligible reason, is not intelligible at all. If the truth is such as to be intelligible, there must be a reason why it is whatever it is. So either there is something that exists (and never needed to come into existence) because of what it is, or there is no explanation at all for anything.”

In The Experience of God, David Bentley Hart says:

“It simply does not matter very much is some god named ‘God’ might happen to exist, even if he should prove to be the unsurpassable and unique instantiation of the concept ‘god,’ as that fact casts no no real light on the enigma of existence as such. Even if this demiurge really existed, he would still be just one more being out there whose existence would be in need of explanation: one would still have to look past him and his marvellous works in order to contemplate what is truly ultimate: the original source of being upon which he and the world must both be dependent.””

“Whenever Aquinas spoke of the ‘first cause’ of beings, he was referring to an ontological not a chronological priority.”

I wonder if Robinson thinks this takes the matter any further? And I wonder what others might think?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
02 Nov

Our glorious diversity

I’m not sure how well the engineering industries are doing in Britain today, but social engineering is thriving. Professors Ted Cantle and Eric Kaufmann have produced a report showing that in some urban areas the white population has more than halved in twenty years.

Some of the largest declines were in Slough, where the white population fell from 58.3% to 34.5%; in Birmingham, where it decreased from 65.6% to 53.1%; and in Leicester, where it declined from 60.5% to 45.1%. In the London borough of Newham, whites make up only 16.7%.

The study found even more marked changes when it examined the figures at ward level. In one part of the Blackburn and Darwen authority area, only 7.8% of the population was white British, down from 42.3% in 1991.Smaller council areas in Birmingham saw declines from 40.4% to 11.2% in Small Heath and from 30.7% to 7.2% in Handsworth. This trend was repeated in parts of Bradford, Luton and in many London boroughs.

Professor Cantle said, “White people are leaving urban areas in disproportionate numbers – and they avoid moving to diverse areas when they do move. But we can’t say that is white flight because the motivations are many and various.”

Oddly, Professor Cantle proceeded to contradict himself, admitting that interviews he had carried out in recent years as part of the study had highlighted a sense among some white British people that the area they had lived in was “no longer for them.”

In one case a community cohesion officer in Yorkshire told Cantle he was the first Asian to move into a particular street and that within three years virtually every white British family had gone. “Some of those families made no bones about it. They said they are moving out because ‘they’ are moving in.”

Professor Cantle told The Guardian that politicians must urgently tackle this increasing ethnic polarisation:

“White British families should be encouraged to remain in ethnically-diverse areas in order to reverse the trend and to choose, rather than avoid, diverse areas when they do relocate. White families should also be encouraged to make similar choices with respect to placing pupils in diverse schools; in other words, they should be encouraged to create a positive choice for mixed areas and a shared society.”

In his book The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury, Danny Lockwood offers a different explanation for these huge movements of local populations. Having lived in that part of Yorkshire all his life, Mr Lockwood is also an experienced journalist, the owner and publisher of The Press, a weekly newspaper in nearby Batley. He knows what he is talking about. In his book, he describes in precise detail how “they” move in and, by relentless attrition, street by street, intimidate the white population until their lives become intolerable and they leave.

He describes his book as, “The story of a cultural revolution and social decay in the once-proud Yorkshire mill town of Dewsbury and a chronicle of more than twenty years of failed multi-culturalism.”

This experience is not confined to Dewsbury, but replicated in all the districts and boroughs studied in Cantle’s and Kaufmann’s report. I heard a similar story when I was Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill in the City of London. One day in the barber’s, I asked him, “D’you still walk to work in the mornings?”

He replied, “It would be a long walk from Epping Forest!”

“But I thought you lived just down the road in Tower Hamlets?”

“Used to, but we moved out. Wife and daughters insulted in the street – and worse. Threats. Violence. Other stuff you don’t want to hear about. Nearly all my neighbours have moved out as well. Life is much better in the Forest.”

Cantle and Kaufmann say that people such as my barber and white residents of the multiracial districts they discuss should stay where they are. But why should they stay and suffer intimidation?

To me, the most interesting fact about multiculturalism and glorious diversity is that the metropolitan elite who engineered it tend not to choose to live in such areas themselves.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail