Category Archives: society

01 Feb

The dummy-suckers

It is a pleasure to discover a good restaurant and even better to come across a talented writer. I have been reading Alexander Boot’s books and blogs for ten years and I have always found him sustaining. He is scholarly, informed and frequently amusing. Consistently he writes what is recognisably the English language – which makes a nice change from most of the stuff we read in the national newspapers. Recently Alex was wondering aloud on his blog why 1.3 million British subjects have signed a petition to deny a state visit to Donald Trump. What is it about this democratically elected president which irritates so many people to such a degree that they refuse to extend the president the courtesy of hospitality?

Perhaps it is because Mr Trump is deficient in the qualities possessed by foreign rulers to whom we did grant a state visit? Alex names a few of these in case we had forgotten, among them Messrs Mobutu, Suharto, Xi Jinping and Ceaușescu – all of them tyrants, dictators and some of them mass murderers. Donald Trump has been in office less than a fortnight and so he may plead in excuse that he has not yet had the time to set up the apparatus of mass slaughter. The petitioners should give him a little breathing space, and then perhaps he will live up to the standard set by the tyrants and dictators who were welcomed here with little protest?

Alex goes on to ponder the wider issue of what it is that attracts the mob in their millions to genocidal tyrants. And not least of the virtues in Alex’s writing is that you can see the pondering even as he writes. Here is that rare thing: a man thinking things out as he goes along, as the thinker and the writer should. Our present literary and journalistic malaise is all owing to the fact that, though we have plenty of thinkers and writers, the thinkers can’t write and the writers can’t think.

Back on the subject of the petitioners, Alex thinks this sort are the natural consequence of society’s lapse back into paganism. I dare say there is something in this. Certainly, the case of Hitler is evidence on that score. I wouldn’t want to dispute Alex’s judgement here, but I would venture another explanation – one which is not inconsistent with paganism.

When she was a toddler, my sister used to suck a dummy which had been dipped in something sweet. My mother and father tried to wean her off this comfort, as it would not have appeared seemly for my sister to turn up at Mrs Lillyman’s dancing studio in posh Roundhay, Leeds for her grade two ballet examinations with what my dad called “that thing” in her mouth. But every time they tried to remove the dummy, my sister screamed the bloody place down.

The petitioners are like my infant sister.

Since 1945 they have inhabited a political culture much to their liking: a politics of high taxation and regulation, a dispensation in which there is the appearance of democracy but not its reality. For while it is possible to chuck out the government and put another one in its place, the new lot are the same as the the old crowd. Added to this pretend democracy there is the relatively new ingredient of political correctness which tells the infantilised petitioners what to think and, just like nanny, controls their behaviour. They want to be looked after by nanny and allowed to suck their dummies. Well now the dummies have been taken away and they are screaming the bloody place down. They want to be overtaxed and over-regulated. They don’t want personal responsibility. They want the state to tell them what to do. Moreover, they have become so habituated to this politics that they long since developed a culture of entitlement. They imagined they would be allowed to suck on their dummies forever. The last thing they want is to grow up.

Listen, and you can hear them screaming the bloody place down.

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30 Jan

The illiberal secularists who rule us

Just before Christmas I wrote to Sajid Javid at the Department for Communities setting out my reasons for not being willing to sign an oath of allegiance to “British values” which, I argued, are not values at all but politically-correct diktats. Today I received a reply which claimed:

“The Equality Act of 2010 protects all individuals from discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnerships.”

No it doesn’t. It doesn’t defend me against discrimination on the grounds of my religion, which is Christianity. If I try to put my Christian principles into practice – which is what the New Testament tells me to do – then, like the Irish bakers who refused to decorate a cake with a slogan expressing support for homosexual “marriage” – I could find myself convicted of discrimination against homosexuals.

This, of course, is a crime, while discrimination against practising Christians isn’t.

The reply continues:

“People are also free to hold their personal views about marriage.”

Tell that to the convicted Irish bakers!

Perhaps in some abstracted sense, I am free to hold my personal views about marriage – but only so long as I don’t articulate these views. Effectually this denies me my freedom to be a practising Christian and in effect bans Christianity from the res publica.

There is nothing tolerant or liberal about this. The reply from the Department for Communities reveals beyond doubt that we are ruled by an intolerant, illiberal, secular metropolitan elite.

If I may express this epigrammatically, I would say: “In today’s Britain, all communities are equal – but some communities are ,more equal than others.”

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29 Jan

By mirrors and prevarication…

Slowly but surely, by hint, innuendo and prevarication, by a deathless procession of committee meetings and interim reports, the Church of England is working its way towards changing its teaching on marriage. Three years of “shared conversations” on the subject have just ended and the Bishop of Norwich has published a summary in which he says: “At present clergy are advised that they may offer ‘informal prayer’ to those registering civil partnerships or entering same sex marriage.  The parameters of such pastoral support are unclear.  The House proposes that there should be more guidance for clergy about appropriate pastoral provision for same sex couples.”

Society has, as they say, “moved on” and the church is getting left behind. Archbishop Rowan Williams noticed this fact and referred to it in his last sermon before he retired: “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.” Thus this very modern prelate inverted the teaching of St Paul who, on the subject of pagan values, commanded, “Be ye not conformed to this world.”

But what did St Paul know, living as he did all those centuries ago and long before our great Enlightenment?

The bishops and the synod are hell bent – I choose the words carefully – on catching up with the secularists. How do I know this? Because the bishops and the synod have got form: they have fallen into line with every “reform” in social manners and customs since the 1960s. We can be sure that there will be no point in the process of continuous “reform” at which church leaders will declare: “This is a step too far. Proceed no further. Stop!”

But there will be no explosions, no nasty shocks. The ecclesiastical committees will proceed by stealth and duplicity. Press release will follow press release and memorandum of understanding will begat memorandum of understanding. It will take as long as it takes. Only the result is certain. The Enlightened Ones – Williams’ catchers-up – will not take the decisive vote until they are sure of winning it.

Meanwhile, what? Let the very progressed Bishop of Norwich spell it out:

“No change in doctrine is proposed but it is often pastoral practice – how we treat people – which matters most.  This means establishing across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families, and continuing to work toward mutual love and understanding on these issues across the Church.  And so we speak in the report about re-examining the existing framework of our pastoral practice to permit maximum freedom within it.  We recognise two areas in particular where advice in relation to the pastoral care and support of lesbian and gay people needs fresh thought.”

Notice at once the trademark double-speak: There will be “no change” but there will be “maximum freedom.” Freedom to do what?

Our Lord’s teaching on marriage remains the same. We have a choice: obey his teaching or disobey it. That is the only “maximum freedom” Christians are permitted: freedom of the will.

The bishops and the synod will proceed with a shifty gradualism of which Fabius Maximus (280-203 BC) would have been envious.

This is the strategy: there  is to be“…a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people.” On the Christian criterion of “hate the sin but love the sinner” this cannot be faulted. But the paradoxical willingness to accept those who deliberately disobey Christ’s teaching – while desperately balancing on one leg to insist that his teaching still stands – will lead to the eventual abandonment of the teaching; not (at first, anyway) by decree but by default.

Then Rowan Williams will be able to rest easy in his retirement, having seen that the church truly has caught up with secular mores. That is only for the time being. For secular mores will soon gallop off again into even more Progressed and Enlightened “reforms.”

And the church will do… Well, we know what the church will do. What it always does and that is to play catch-up, very successfully.

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21 Jan

When I hear the word “culture”…

Wondering where to look next for a bit of excitement, I stumbled upon the briefing and agenda papers for the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England to be held next month. My pulse raced and I could feel my face purpling as I read: 

“The Church of England needs to undergo a major ‘culture shift’ to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives.”

My excitement was occasioned by the utter brilliance of this proposal. The Church has been around in England for 1500 years, but this is the first time a genius has arisen among the hierarchy to suggest that members of the Church might talk to their fellow-countrymen about the Christian faith. The idea is so radical and innovatory that the brain-dead ecclesiastical bureaucrat – sorry, I mean of course the pastoral expert- in Church House has actually had to coin a phrase to describe it. 

This luminous phrase is “culture shift.” And its radical nature is all in the fact that “culture” is not something we naturally associate with the contemporary Church of England

Unless of course we mean guitars and overhead projectors; with cutting up little bits of yellow paper and sticking them on bigger pieces of blue paper; of decorating cup cakes; of “holding a line dance for the Lord.” All these cultural activities, and more besides, are what the Church authorities recommend in their course booklet, Love Life, Live Lent.

Recently they produced something even better when they suggested that parish churches should become “Pokemon Hubs.”

“And behold, he saith unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world and wherever you come across anyone barmy enough to take any notice, tell him to set up a Pokemon Hub’.”

The report, entitled Setting God’s People Free, calls for Christians “…to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere – from the factory or office, to the gym or shop – to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.”

Brilliantly the Church House genius understands that, for Church members to be able to do these things, they will have to be taught.

This is an insight of truly startling originality and forces us, at the point of wonder, to contemplate the infinite depth and resourceful creativity of the mind of the contemporary Church. 

These inspired suggestions are key elements in the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform – the latest wheeze – sorry, “…an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to help grow the Church.”

Which, being interpreted means, “The Church authorities – bishops, synods and the like – have been so mindlessly inept for so long that hardly anyone comes to Church any longer. So we’ve run out of money, folks. You’d better get out there then are pull in a few punters – or we won’t be able to pay for the synodical bureaucracy and the bishops’ expenses.”

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20 Jan

The massacre of the innocents

Archbishop Justin Welby recently visited Auschwitz and afterwards said, “We must reflect on the human capacity for evil and the need to both recognise and challenge this wherever it appears. We must protest to the limit against evil: before it occurs, as it happens, and in its aftermath.”

That was very well said and profoundly Christian, befitting an Archbishop. Its pertinence is particularly noticeable in his phrase “wherever it {evil} appears.”

The extermination of 1.1 million people by the Germans at Auschwitz was a signal atrocity, but it was not unique. The Germans murdered six million Jews in their death camps, but the Russians under Stalin slaughtered three times that number – and some say even more than that. Still more were killed by the Chinese under Mao.

So this is where we should mark well the Archbishop’s phrase, “wherever it {evil} appears.”

And evil appears everywhere and in all ages “All have sinned and fallen  short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). This is the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, the fact that, while we may strive to do good, our will is inclined to evil. St Paul says, “The good I would, that I do not; and what I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19). We are divided selves. 

Nowadays the doctrine of Original Sin has gone put of fashion. Since the Enlightenment we have thought increasingly well of ourselves and so now the truth of the doctrine of Original Sin has been replaced by the lie of Progress. Modern, “liberal” Christians don’t believe in Original Sin: they think it’s just one of those dismal superstitions held by primitive people in the “pre-scientific” bad old days. Modern types are quite sure that they have grown out of such “negative” views.

The modern “liberal” preacher does not set about to convince us of our sinfulness but to cultivate our sense of self-esteem.

But it is easy to give the lie to the “liberals’” denial of the fact of Original Sin. If we are really so progressed, improved and altogether better than our forebears, why were more people slaughtered in the wars and genocides of the 20th century than in all the preceding centuries put together?

This is where I want to come a bit nearer home. The 1.1 million murders of the Auschwitz atrocity were an unspeakable evil. But since the Abortion “Reform” Act of 1967, 8,2 unborn children have been destroyed in the UK because their existence was. deemed inconvenient for those who procreated them. The legalisation of abortion, we were told, would abolish the dirty and dangerous backstreet clinics and termination would be allowed only within the first 24 weeks of gestation and in cases where the foetus was severely damaged or where there was a danger to the life of the mother.

“Termination,” they say blithely, clinically. They forget there should be an “ex” before that word

But for decades abortion has simply been used as another method of contraception used by the sexually incontinent.

8.2 foetuses destroyed since 1967. Currently at a rate of 200,000 every year in the UK. That’s an Auschwitz every five years.

And you tell me you don’t believe in Original Sin?

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09 Jan

“The Governess, Part III”

Take your seats today for the third and climactic act of this three act pantomime starring Theresa May. “The Governess” was the tile given to this show only after other suggestions had been examined and rejected: these included: “The Stunt” and “The Art of Self-advertisement.”

Acts I and II were hugely enjoyable. The first contained the memorably comic scene in which Mrs May, with the assistance of the Department of Cliches and Political Hand-me downs, is seen composing several articles for publication in national newspapers. How we roared with laughter at her subtle articulation of “Let me be entirely clear.” Then came her side-splitting, “My first priority” – for which due credit was acknowledged in the programme to the Department of Tautologies and the EU Commission on Pleonasm.

In the second act, Mrs May pretended to be a serious politician – the prime minister, no less -  and was seen giving an extended television interview. Our theatrical correspondent commented favourably: “This was the most brilliantly effective political satire we’ve seen since the days of that great comic actor Harold Wilson.”

I attended the dress – and what a dress! – rehearsal for today’s final act which begins in total darkness. In mock horror a disembodied voice calls out, “Now then boys and girls, what are the most terrifying words in the English language?”

At this point there was a palpable sense of unease and apprehension. Suddenly the stage was a fountain of light and Mrs May rose from a trapdoor in a gorgeous leopard skin leotard and answered: “Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”

I swear the audience laughter continued for all of five minutes.

There were some breath-taking moments of sheer bathos as when Mrs May began to sing the smash hit number “The Shared Society.” It began with the rising chromatic line in parody seriousness: “I’m going to do something about mental illness.” But yet again the tension was relieved quite hilariously as she went on to sing, “Oh no I’m not! I’ve already done that – when I said I want to make Brexit work for the Remainers!”

The rest of the act was the enumeration of all that Mrs May is going to do to make the country better and spread happiness. I won’t spoil it for you by going into details. “”(Actually, Mrs May didn’t go in for details either).

At the end I strolled into the green room which was crammed with theatrical journalists and literary people from the upmarket weeklies. Hieronymus Bosh from The Guardian interestingly denied that what we’d witnessed was a pantomime at all: “It was really a social comment piece – put me in mind here and there of Brecht, particularly in her evocative minimalist phrasing of “The Handouts Song “ and the rousing strains of “immigration, Immigration, Immigration” and its unforgettable refrain, “You ain’t seen nuffin’ yet!”

The Times Literary Supplement’s Jean-Paul Fartre seemed angered by Bosh’s remarks and he screamed back, “Social comment piece my arse! It was pure theatre of the absurd. Didn’t you get the Sam Beckett reference when the demon king character (Boris Johnson) tells her, “You can’t go on!” and Theresa slaps her leather trousers and replies, “I must go on! I’ll go on!”

The editor of The Tablet said, “What really did it for me was at the end of her moving song about all her magnificent achievements, the Theresa May-like-character vowed to make us all love one another and to abolish Original Sin.”

I ventured to ask, Where is the great lady, by the way?”

And the whole chorus erupted, “She’s behind you!”

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25 Dec

Begone gloomy prelate!

“2016 has left us awash with fear.” Thus spake that leader of the Church Militant in this state of England, the Arch-community dirge-chanter of Canterbury, Justin Welby. We are haunted, he chants, by “the fear of terror and the economics of despair.”

If you Google SKY News, you can see a picture of him actually looking haunted and afraid.

Speak for yourself, Mr Welby. I’m not. I would rather believe the angel who said, “Fear not” than the wimpish Primate of all England.

The aim of terrorists is to make us afraid. I’m not going to oblige them, and I am confident most of my fellow countrymen are not going to succumb to fear either.

And what’s all this about “the economics of despair”? Foreign investment, since the referendum, is at the highest level on record. There are more people in work than ever. A score more economic indicators register strongly on the plus side.

There are so many things to be thankful for. Obama has (nearly) gone. We were spared Hillary Clinton. Trump is (almost) in the White House. The England XV went through the year unbeaten. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow scored a stack of runs.

Welby himself has served another year at Canterbury – which means he has one fewer to go until the day he leaves office.

And Leave won that referendum.

Best of all, it’s Christmas Day. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father: full of grace and truth.

So Lord descend to us, we pray: and take that Justin Welby away.

I’ve got a better motto for us: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus…”

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21 Dec

A black day for Rose

From the seat of her high-ranking position as chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a black woman, complains that there are not enough black and ethnic minority clergy being promoted to high office. Her own office as chaplain to the speaker is a fine hideout from which to make such accusations. It reminds me of Soren Kierkegaard’s riposte to Bishop Mynster: “This prelate in all the majesty of his ecclesiastical regalia ascends the pulpit of his glorious cathedral and preaches on the text, ‘God hath chosen the humble things of this world’ – and nobody laughs!” 

Ms Hudson-Wilkin blames “institutional racism” within the Church of England. And still nobody laughs.

She had better report this deficit to the second highest-ranking cleric in the church then, the Archbishop of York who was, last time I looked, a black man.

We are accustomed to hearing from class and race warrior Rose on these matters. A couple of years ago, she was interviewed on Radio Four and talked of little else in half an hour. She is a sort of ecclesiastical Doppelganger of Diane Abbott.

The occasion of the reverend lady’s renewed expostulations was the consecration of Karowei Dorgu as the new Bishop of Woolwich. He too is black.

Am I still the only person laughing? 

I don’t think we should get overly theoretical about this perceived deficiency of black and effnik hierarchs. Let’s concentrate on the practicalities instead. If a remedy is thought to be required, how is this to be accomplished? Are there to be quotas to ensure that black candidates are promoted, that is preferred over white candidates solely on the grounds that they are black?

If so, this amounts to racism. It may come as a surprise to diversity-mongers, but black people can be guilty of racism too. (Indeed, the claim they cannot be guilty of this offence is itself an act of racist prejudice, albeit against whites) The race warriors talk about “positive discrimination.” But there is no such thing. One person’s positive discrimination is another person’s victimisation.

There are only two criteria for the promotion of clergy into positions of high office in the church – or indeed for the promotion of anyone anywhere – and these are ability and suitability.

All the clamour for special preferment to be given to black candidates is manifestly unfair and unjust.

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15 Dec

A degree in social engineering?

The BBC newsroom today describes Bristol as a “leading” university. I should like to know within what field is Bristol a leader or, to put it another way, where is it leading us?

Bristol is to increase its intake of disadvantaged students by offering places with reduced grades. These pupils are also described as being “from  schools with poor A-level results.”

Vice-chancellor Hugh Brady said this would be a “step change” in admissions. I don’t know what the vice-chancellor’s phrase “step change” indicates – except that he is rather adept in the use of jargon.

The Bristol project, to be launched by Education Secretary Justine Greening, is described as “an attempt by the university to drive social mobility and attract a wider range of students.”

More jargon. Being translated, it means that Bristol’s wheeze has nothing to do with education but is rather a political project in the dubious area of social engineering. Again I must ask for some clarity: just what is meant by “a wider range” of students? Lower exam grades show that some students are not as academically competent as those scoring more highly. If they don’t show that, then we might as well abolish all exams for then the whole business of grading would be meaningless.

Let me use a dirty word: exam results provide the authorities with criteria which allow them to discriminate between those for whom a university education would be suitable and those for whom it would not.

In fact this “leading” vice-chancellor’s levelling down project is a betrayal of the character and purpose of the university itself which is meant to provide intellectual excellence for an elite. If universities no longer exist for that purpose, then they, along with the exams, should be abolished.

Fastidious social engineers scream when you say these things, though I can’t see that they have any cause to scream. Those who oppose the policy of dumbing down and levelling are not claiming that intellectual excellence is the only sort of excellence: merely that it is the sort of excellence for which the idea of a university was formed in the first place.

Many who take readily to reading literature, history, philosophy or physics admit to being utterly useless when it comes to the exercise of practical and mechanical operations. To learn to become master of a trade is also something worthwhile – that’s why we used to provide five years’ apprentices so that, when they arrive at maturity, young people might be equipped with high skills as plumbers, electricians, carpenters or dressmakers.

We should ditch these social engineering projects and embrace the existence of different aptitudes. University standards will be damaged and ultimately destroyed by such politicking. And students who acquire their university places by this means will not be happy there.

And now for something similar… The BBC also reports that from 2017 all recruits into the police force will be required to hold a university degree. Why?

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02 Dec

The fully-integrated lunatic fringe

Opinion research company Policy Exchange has conducted a survey of the views of 3000 Muslims living in Britain.

It declares that 93% wish “to integrate fully” into the British way of life. Now, to integrate fully is, by definition, to share a consensus. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with everyone else about everything. But it does mean that a person integrated into a society will tend to share the important things, including beliefs, in common within that society.

How to square Muslims’ expressed with to belong with some of their beliefs? I don’t mean their religious beliefs. I mean the fact that, according to Policy Exchange, 96% of Muslims do not believe that Al Q’aeda perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities in the US. 31% believe that the Americans themselves carried out these attacks. And 7% say the Israelis were responsible.

Here’s another Muslim belief – or rather disbelief: only one in four Muslims believes that extremist Islamic views are held by any Muslim anywhere.

Every previous opinion poll among native British people has shown that the overwhelming majority is convinced that the 9/11 attacks were the work of Al Q’aeda. And every non-Muslim living in Britain knows that there are extremist Islamic views, leading to acts of terrorism: for we have all seen these crimes enacted on our streets and in our tube trains.

A group of people who refuse to believe known facts is not accurately described as “fully integrated”:  more appropriate phrases would be “lunatic fringe” and “in denial.”

I have one question to Muslims living in our country: If you say you wish “to integrate fully” into mainstream British society, then why don’t you?

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