The continuing decline of the Church of England

From Bruce Charlton:

This is a notice from my nearest Church of England establishment, concerning their programme of Lent Study for this year:

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Title: “THY WILL BE DONE… ON EARTH”


Week 1: Caring for the environment


Week 2: Eradicate hunger and poverty


Week 3: Life before death


Week 4: Promote gender equality


Week 5: Building a global partnership

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We Have to Vote, Don’t We?

I didn’t bother registering to vote after moving to Texas. For one thing, I wasn’t expecting to be here long. For another, I had largely abandoned interest in electoral politics by the time I was settled in, and my loss of interest had morphed into snarling hatred within a few months (concomitant with my conversion to Catholicism and reaction).

I’m not alone in my principled refusal to participate in a frankly evil electoral process, and I see now that I’m not online in reconsidering it. Kathlene M., in a comment at View from the Right, sends along the story of blogger Mark Shea, who relates the following answer to a reader who asks whether or not it’s morally justifiable to vote GOP this year:

The Administration’s acts of naked warfare on civil liberty briefly made me wonder if it might be prudent to vote GOP, but when I contemplated the fact that the GOP was, in fact, the engine that drove the passage of the NDAA, I thought, “Nah. They are as enthused about transforming American into a police state as Obama.” A GOP Prez will not do one thing to undo Obama’s “gains” in eradicating civil rights or checks on a tyrannical executive. So since both parties were still gung ho for their preferred grave intrinsic evils, I saw no particular reason to support either.

Now, however, the Administration’s gratuitous and malice-filled war on religious liberty and the Catholic Church introduces a new wrinkle to the equation. We now have what I think is a real difference between the parties. The GOP is largely indifferent to the Church when the Church disagrees with it on matters like torture and just war. It makes use of the Church when it is convenient (yakking about abortion and family values while doing very little). But it has never taken a position of naked and open hostility with a view to crushing it.

For this reason, I am considering voting GOP this fall as the prudent action, because an America ruled by a corrupt party indifferent to the Church is better than an America ruled by a corrupt party that is actively seeking to crush the Church. I haven’t made up my mind (because I’m not sold that supporting pols who advocate grave evil is something I can justify. We are, after all, talking about a field of candidates–Ron Paul doesn’t count since he will never be nominated–who aspire to be war criminals). But the launch of Obama’s war on the Church seems to me to be a potential game-changer here. He is, after all, also a bellicose warmonger eager to expand our wars of Empire, but he has also taken his war for an American hedonist crony capitalist police state empire, not merely to the Islamosphere, but to the doors of every Catholic Church in America. Give him four years to make war on the Church without hindrance and we may be very surprised at how little is left of the American Church by 2016. He means business and it is foolish to underestimate that.

Things are a little worse than that, though. I’ve noticed a pronounced radicalization among my leftist friends since the start of Obama’s war on the Church. They really want it beaten, subjugated, and destroyed, and they don’t care what absurd and evil lies they have to manufacture . Perhaps it’s just that their latent insanity has been stirred to action by an opportunity to express it with social approval; more likely, it’s that people of average intellect are basically sheep and that the nature of American identity politics is such that they will always be radicalized by the leaders of the parties they follow. (Remember the remorseless, unprincipled shriveling of nearly every mainstream “conservative” in America during the Bush administration?) The fangs have come out. Give it another four years and they may well be dripping with blood.

The lack of institutional leadership in the form of an aggressive and belligerent President would, if nothing else, halt the metastasis of the left’s cancerous madness for a few years, or at the very least draw it away from the Church and toward Republicans. It’d be a small victory, but small victories are perhaps all we can ask for in these benighted latter days.

Of course, my vote won’t make a difference — there’s no doubt that Texas won’t go blue this year. But being on the right side (or, rather, emphatically declaring that I’m against the wrong side), it seems to me, is reason enough.

A better discontent

Maybe I just know better than I once did where to look, but it seems like the far Right is thinking and communicating more clearly than it once did.  The best of our side have gotten better at identifying the key issues and our key concerns on those issues.  They can speak directly about meaning, piety, and loyalty without having to first blather on about the Vision of the Founders or the genius of the price mechanism.

Here are some encouraging articles I’ve come across just recently.  Here‘s an excellent statement of the conservative sensibility from Front Porch Republic:

As I look at the way we are now, I see a people who wish to be light, free from the weightiness of responsibility, limits, duties. We want sex without fertility, food without calories, endless consumer goods without (observable) environmental degradation, religion without law, divorce without fault, mobility without loneliness, bodies without aging, entertainments without limits. We want our freedoms to be endless and without cost, allowing us to float free from now this to now that, casting off identities and  responsibilities like old clothes discarded.

Of course, to those who are unbearably light, nothing is more repugnant than weight, but we are in our very natures called to weightiness, for we are moral agents, responsible for all.

Whether you think of the text as Holy Writ or mere literature of the past, the early chapters of Genesis indicate to us with bracing clarity the choice before us now. The human emerges from the dirt and yet is somehow responsible for the dirt, capable of tending, keeping, filling, and ordering the very dirt from which he is. The human is told to build, till, improve, cultivate–to husband (in the old sense) the cosmos as its responsible priest. And yet he is to exercise this creativity within the limits of fidelity, for he is steward and not Creator, always dependent, and obligated to be responsible.

How will we make our world and ourselves? Will be we unbearably free, infinitely light, using our creative capacities to cast off our responsible nature and soar into the beyond? Or will we be heavy, using our skill to tie ourselves into the loam from which we came, hoping to be faithful to obligation, duty, and the task of responsibility? Will the tapestry we weave have substance, or just the play of newness, with the shuttle undoing all that has been created before?

I want to be heavy. I want my children to be heavy. I want my life to be one of creative fidelity, finding new ways to be obligated and woven into the fabric of the world and the lives of my lover, my children, my neighbors, and friends.

Also, if you’d like to know what those queers at Yale missed out on, I’ve just come a great article by the estimable Dr. Esolen on liberal totalitarianism, parental authority, and sexual revolution:

On June 25, 2009, a seven year old boy was abducted at gunpoint from his terrified parents. They had just boarded a plane to fly to the country where the boy’s mother had been born, and where her kin still lived. They were leaving their own country for good, because they had grown weary of the harassment they suffered there from a syndicate of well-placed thugs. They themselves had broken no law.

The boy’s name is Domenic Johansson. He is now going on ten years old, and he has seen his mother and father only very briefly since. The thugs, officials of the Swedish government, have allowed the parents very little opportunity to visit. Domenic’s mother has suffered a nervous breakdown, and is now quite incapacitated. The foster-woman into whose care Domenic was given has informed the boy that she will never let him return to his mother and father, no matter what any court might say. Domenic, once a cheerful little boy, looks haggard, crushed, dull, as if the heart had been ripped out of him.

What was the crime committed by Christer Johansson and his wife?  The crime was simply that the Johanssons, a devout Christian couple, had pulled Domenic out of the state school and were educating him at home. It was, we should note well, perfectly within their rights by the Swedish law then in force to do this. It was also within their rights as specified by the European Union.

There was a time when certain things were considered holy. The family was holy: it was a realm of order and authority and love, not to be burst into by marauding benefactors. “A man’s home is his castle,” went the saying, meaning that the home, for father and mother and children, is as an independent dukedom, with its own traditions, its laws, its bonds of loyalty, its wisdom, and its hard-won wealth. So long as no crimes against God and man were committed, that castle was to be honored; for upon such families the whole social order was founded. One would no sooner set spies in the home to rat on mother and father, as the Soviets did, than one would burn down a church. It is not simply that one would refrain from abducting a child, as the Swedish government has done. One would not wish even to associate with someone who could conceive of so vile a thing.

Let us be clear here. The American Leviathan loathes everything that is not Itself. It does not want self-reliant people who can take care of themselves and their neighbors. It does not want people teaching their children in their own way. It does not want free associations, like the Boy Scouts, who actually do things like clean a park or build a bicycle path, things that benefit everyone, and for little or no cost to their towns and cities. It does not want private schools with their own curricula. It does not want private universities with their own ideas about what sports to sponsor, or what people they should hire. It will allow the shells of these things, so long as the “free” truckle to its will, and the “private” strip naked to its searching glare. Its pact with the little people is simple enough. The Leviathan will promote a false freedom, mere license, which helps to destroy every other social institution in existence, from the family to the neighborhood to the local school to the church. Then the Leviathan, having built a sufficient number of prisons, will come a-knocking on every door to help.

This is really the central meaning of the debate concerning whether the Catholic Church should provide for Fornication Protection Kits – for that is what we are talking about, though no one wishes to say so openly. The diktats from Levi come cloaked in the language of medicine, just as the diktats from Lotta and Lars come cloaked in the language of children’s welfare. But just as no one without a diseased mind can really explain why it is a benefit to children to be yanked out of their innocent mother’s lap and sent to live with strangers, just because mother and father wanted to teach them to read and write, so no one without a diseased mind can explain why it is a benefit to women’s health, or anybody’s health, to underwrite the sexual revolution.

Finally, Stephen lays out for us why American Catholics must be reactionaries, and what that means.

[W]hat is the smartest way to fight? What if none of these stances is effective in stopping or repealing Obama’s birth control mandate? What if engaging with the political system as it currently is actually creates more problems in the long run than it solves? For instance, civil disobedience may not work, because it will be hard for protesters to goad the federal government into using just enough violence to gain the support of the masses, but not too much violence so as not to suffer considerable loss of human life. Moreover, mustering mass support for her position may entangle the Church in dubious alliances that she may later come to regret. And, to go one step further, even considering armed resistance against the US military is just ludicrous.

Does that mean that American Catholics should abandon the fight? No! There remains open to them another option: the reactionary stance toward politics. For the reactionary, neither civil disobedience nor military resistance is capable of restoring a sane political order. Early on, some reactionaries, most notably the French reactionaries in the Vendée, took up arms against the revolution. But, by now there is now hope of restoring the old order. Indeed, it is not clear what the best one could hope for in the current situation is. The name of “reactionary” is an unfortunate relic of an earlier age, but at least it does connect the modern reactionary to his spiritual forbears.

Intellectual resistance is more demanding than military resistance. As the Colombian aphorist Nicolás Gómez Dávila said, “To think against is more difficult than to act against” (source). Armed resistance certainly requires courage, but the soldier has an immediate enemy who could destroy him at any moment, which helps him remain vigilant. Intellectual resistance, on the other hand, consists of transforming a culture, without the fear of death to spur us onward. Moreover, the reactionary does not wage an empty war of words in newspapers, on TV, or on blogs. It is a battle for souls. It is a war in which we must convert, ourselves first and then others.

American Catholics should by all means work within the ordinary political process and use civil disobedience to oppose President Obama’s contraception mandate. But, there is no guarantee that American Catholics will enjoy any success. Indeed, after Catholics are forced to pay for contraception, it is nearly certain that the federal government will impose a requirement to pay for abortions; this will play out in the same way that Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close down after they refuse to place children in homosexual households. We Catholics will be exiles in our own country. The task of a reactionary Catholic, then, will be to figure out how to hand on the faith in an age of persecution, how to prepare an underground spiritual and intellectual resistance, to convert hearts and minds. We will need to wait and be patient. Above all, we will need to take Cardinal von Galen’s words to heart: “Become hard! Remain firm!”

Basic Readings on the Web

This is an incomplete list, and based largely on what I’ve personally found enlightening or interesting (I’ve even taken the liberty of including some of my own writings), so feel free to suggest additions.

On Liberalism and Modernity

On Conservatism and Tradition

On Particular Issues

On the Orthosphere