Had a well-attended talk last night here in Paris. Off to Tours shortly to speak there this evening. Don’t let snow deter you! I will be handing out Mardi Gras beads, so who in their right mind would want to miss that?
Mardi 13 février 2018 – 20h30
Amphithéâtre de la DDEC
33, rue Blaise Pascal – 37000 Tours
Back in Paris for a Thursday night event:
Jeudi 15 février 2018 – 20h30
Échange avec le philosophe Martin Steffens
Organisé en partenariat avec l’association ICHTUS
Crypte de Saint Ferdinand des Ternes
23, rue d’Armaillé – 75017 Paris
M° Charles de Gaulle-Étoile ou Ternes
This in my inbox tonight:
Thank you for writing The Benedict Option. It offers a sober wake up call to Christians in the West.
I’m writing in response to your recent article “Life in post-Christian Britain” as a 33 year old reformed Christian in the UK. There are two points I would like to make.
We have an extremely powerful LGBT movement in the UK spearheaded by “Stonewall” who call themselves a human rights charity but are a LGBT pressure group. I recently went to a public lecture by their CEO (Ruth Hunt) who was open that they have sought to work in non-democratic means, seeking to get legislation passed which they knew would not have public approval at the time. They are extremely intelligent, focused and well resourced and know how to apply pressure to politicians. They have also secured a place in the church of England, writing anti-bullying guidance for CofE schools. Unbelievable.
At the presentation I attended, Ruth said that one major pocket of disapproval for LGBT lifestyles is the Pentecostal church. They know that they will not be able to take on the leadership of these communities directly so their strategy for this is to target teenage girls in these communities through outreach programs, to try and persuade them that LGBT lifestyles are an acceptable alternative. These girls can then be advocates for LGBT “rights” in their communities. They have run pilot programs and are now moving to roll out. These are smart, smart people who are prepared to play a long game.
My second point is that I am extremely rare in being concerned about Christian education. Most evangelicals I know think it is selfish, and possible sinful, to take children out of state education because of the evangelistic opportunities one can have at the school gate. It is also argued that children can’t be kept out of the world indefinitely. None of this makes sense. There is a deep, deep naiveté amongst most Christians and when you consider what we are up against, we are going to be eaten for breakfast. I just find a deep seated objection to thinking the way you do in the Benedict Option but with no clear rationale as to why.
That said, there are a few Christian schools which have been set up in the UK in the last few years which are excellent, however most evangelicals I speak to are suspicious about them.
One often hears US Evangelicals claiming the same thing about public schools. My guess is that it’s far, far more likely that the Evangelicals kids are going to get “evangelized” by the popular culture than the other way around. I also wonder if some parents who could afford these schools for their kids aren’t simply rationalizing the fact that they would rather get the free education than make a sacrifice to pay for them.
Anyway, yes, the reader is correct: I’ve been doing this long enough to where I can see that many, maybe most, objections from conservative Christians to the Benedict Option don’t make a lot of sense.
It was epic, and continued to be epic as we made our way through Heathrow to catch our connecting flight to Paris. I’ll spare you the gory details. I haven’t seen her so sick in years. She was so pale (green, actually) and weak that it appeared we weren’t going to be able to get on the plane for the short hop to Paris.
A British Airways employee manning that particular gate was incredibly kind in that moment of distress. Without complaining, but instead showing gentleness and understanding, he ordered our bags taken off that flight — holding the flight at the gate — so we could catch a later flight. But when he checked the computer and found that the next flight wouldn’t be for six hours, Julie said it would be better to go ahead and take it, so she could get to the hotel and rest.
Again without complaining, and showing nothing but tenderness and compassion, he ordered the bags re-loaded, and escorted us down to the plane. Julie was sick on the plane, and in the taxi all the way to the hotel, but as we live in the best of all possible worlds, airsick bags were well deployed.
She’s resting now, and doing better, but will probably have to spend the first full day in Paris in bed rehydrating. Awful! But the one good thing that came out of that experience was witnessing the compassion of this stranger to a couple of distressed travelers. Had he been merely professional, that would have sufficed. But he went above and beyond that call.
Last night I tweeted this:
You know who is one of the kindest and most decent men in the world? A man named Gavin who works at Heathrow, and who helped my wife when she fell spectacularly ill with food poisoning as we were connecting to Paris. I wish I knew his last name. I'd tell the Queen!
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) February 11, 2018
The manager of the airport’s Twitter account wrote to ask for more information. I gave them the flight and gate information (I wasn’t sure that his name was Gavin, but Julie said she thought it was.) Anyway, this came this morning
Hi Rob, we have identified the staff member. He works for @British_Airways and he will be rewarded for his kindness. Thank you for tweeting us, stories like this make us happy. ❤
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) February 12, 2018
How satisfying! Everybody tweets when something goes wrong while engaged in air travel. It’s important also to tweet when, despite things going very, very wrong, things also go very, very wright. Whatever that gentleman’s name, Julie and I are grateful for his kindness, his traveling mercy. His good deed made me resolve to be kinder to people I meet in everyday life. Me being me, who knows how long that will last, but I appreciate the inspiration.
Discouraged by Cardinal Cupich’s relativistic “new paradigm” speech? Read Archbishop Charles Chaput’s muscular defense of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 encylical Fides et Ratio, which is, obviously, about the connection between faith and truth. Excerpts:
Finally, without vigorous philosophy, theology and the very life of the Church risk slipping into emotivism. In the name of being pastoral, the Church threatens to become merely indulgent, malleable, affective, and practical; in effect, anti-intellectual. This is exactly the wrong moment for that kind of mistake.
We live in a time when Christian truth is increasingly misunderstood, disdained, or simply unknown, even among baptized Catholics. Michael Polanyi would have recognized our culture’s contradictions, and its emerging shape. It’s a mix of “fierce moral scepticism [paradoxically] fired by moral indignation. Its structure is exactly the same as that of the moral inversion underlying modern totalitarianism”—a contempt for traditional morality, fused with and fueled by ferocious moralizing for social change. Rational consistency is irrelevant. Passion becomes its own justification.
At a more immediate level, the pastor of a local church must meet his people in their hearts and real lives, but also in their minds. We’re beings made for the truth. Thus a clear, appealing presentation of the faith plays a vital role in forming Christians. As a bishop, I sometimes hear from parishioners that one of their concerns with some priests has to do with the content of the homilies they hear each week. They’re happy with calls for kindness or generosity, but they also hunger for homilies that present the substance of the faith, its mysteries and doctrines, in ways that are accessible and attractive. That kind of homily isn’t easy to do. But it’s impossible to do if we don’t have a credible theology, one informed by the strong philosophical traditions of learning that are at the heart of the Church and her patrimony.
Writing in the wake of Vatican II, the Italian Catholic philosopher Augusto Del Noce made three simple observations. First, our era is a “peculiar combination of the greatest perfection of means with the greatest confusion about goals.” Second, in the face of modern atheism—often less a hatred of God than a technology-driven indifference to him—“for a large part of today’s religious thought, the quest for aggiornamento simply means surrendering to the adversary.” And third, much of what styles itself as Christian progressivism, no matter how good its intentions, serves as the instrument of that surrender.
For Del Noce, the Church’s mission in every era is to bring the world into line with eternal principles while respecting the good in those things which are new. Much of progressive thought does the “exact inverse, since [it seeks] to bring Catholicism into line with the modern world.” By stressing action over contemplation and politics over metaphysics, progressivism reduces the supernatural core of Christian faith to a system of social ethics—a kind of baptized, humanitarian chaplaincy to a world that doesn’t need or want it. The result is obvious. The proof, for Del Noce, would be the hollowed-out national churches that now mark much of northern Europe.
A truly great Catholic intellect, in contrast, speaks from the heart of the Church because he or she is both a rigorous thinker and deeply attuned to the Word made flesh, wisdom incarnate. The confusion that dogged the Catholic world in the years immediately after Vatican II emerged in part from the absence of that kind of rigorous intellect fused with a deep and sincere faith. John Paul did much to heal the confusion. But it has never entirely disappeared, and it’s alive in our own day with new force. This is why the substance of Fides et Ratio is so important—not just for scholars, but also for everyday Christians who turn to the Church for guidance and a path to eternal life.
Read the whole thing. And read it in conjunction with the Cupich address. There is a titanic intellectual and spiritual struggle going on in the Catholic Church today. Whether or not you are a Catholic, and especially if you live in the West, this matters. A lot.
A reader writes:
As a British reader I think your post “Life in Post-Christian Britain”is mostly spot-on. I just have a few thoughts.
The abortion lobby here is very powerful with little in the way of serious political opposition. I know many committed pro-lifers but there is the general feeling that the political battle has more or less been complete lost, at least for the time being. This might be overly defeatist or it might be an honest assessment of the situation. I am unsure.
As you say, we have a Tory government but there is very little that is actually conservative about them. One possible cause for hope is Jacob Rees-Mogg, the unfaltering MP for North East Summerset. Rees-Mogg is a practicing traditional Catholic and will not shy away from questions about abortion and same-sex “marriage”. Although he is of course pilloried in the press for doing so. Despite this, his strong Brexit stance as well as his honesty ensure that he remains wildly popular with much of the Tory parties traditional conservative base – most of whom loathe the direction Cameron, and now May, have taken the party.
In regard to the rearing of children in the UK, as I have recently married, I share many of your Catholic friend’s concerns. I have even considered moving to the States for the similar reasons (and still wouldn’t rule out that possibility). With the state pushing LGBT ideology in their schools and increasingly coming after private schools, I have no doubt that home-schoolers are living on borrowed time.
There remain pockets where Catholics might be receive a real Catholic education (I do not know about other non-Catholic Christians) but the majority of Catholic schools are Catholic in name only, and those schools which really do teach the faith are not only few and far between, but as said, perhaps will not be permitted to teach the faith much longer.
Additionally, the Head of Ofsted (the UK teaching regulatory body) has talked about the need to go after “Sunday school”. So any teaching/education beyond a certain number of hours a week will be monitored and possibly censored by the state. This presumably could include Confirmation classes and first Holy Communion classes, as well as bible study which any (good) parish happens to run.
I imagine to American readers that this would sound like a serious case of state overreach, but the other side of this which conservatives might be sympathetic to is the need to crack down on the spread of violent Islam through madrasas. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34933970) Even the “conservative” government has realised there is a problem and such establishments really do need to regulated, or indeed shut down. (This raises all the usual questions about the compatibility of Islam with the West, which no mainstream politician or media figure wants to face).
Nevertheless, in an effort to tackle a real problem (the spread of violent Islam) the state has, by accident or design, cast a wide net and now all Christian education not only inside but also outside school faces the prospect of monitoring – and then shutdown if they do not meet required standards. No serious Catholic is in any doubt about the standards by which we will be judged to be raising our children: are they being taught that gayness is next to godliness? If not, such bigotry will not go unpunished!
In regard to the questions you ask: my wife has already made it clear that obstetrics and gynaecology is more or less closed off to her and being a GP will also be extremely challenging due to the expectations about abortion and contraception. This is despite the fact that we have protections in law for physicians who do not wish to be involved in such practices. For myself, I would like to teach one day, but I will not promote any of this LGBT stuff, so perhaps this career path is closed to me.
For the US, I would say to monitor your immigration very carefully. I know and have known many good people who are Muslims. Yet there are clearly strains of Islam which are incompatible with the West (perhaps even this is true of Islam as a whole) and as the state cracks down on them, in the name of “liberalism” and fairness, it’ll come after Christians of every stripe as well.
As you have mentioned before, I would continue to implore your readers to take the task of educating their own children with the utmost seriousness and not assume that others (whether the state or church) will do this for them. As for what this looks like from a Ben Op perspective, I have no idea.
Feel free to publish this if you wish, I just ask that you omit my name.
Please do read the entire speech by Amanda Spielman, the Ofsted chief. It is breathtaking. Yet there are some, no doubt, who will express gratitude that at long last Her Majesty’s government is taking action against the Evil Vicar, before he poisons the minds of the wee ones.
The C of E is biting back, with the marvelously named Rev. Nigel Genders, who oversees Anglican education, saying:
Revd Genders said the “blanket regulation” and powers of inspection that Ofsted is calling for are a massive burden, unhelpful and ineffective: “It would be creating a massive haystack and never being able to find the needle.” He argues there is confusion over the issue of tackling extremism because a distinction needed to be made between voluntary church settings and illegal schools. He stressed that the church wanted to work with the government to keep children safe and if they have got concerns about particular settings “they should intervene.” But, he added: “It’s not for the state to tell churches how to behave or to get into state regulation of religion.”
A reader sends this beautiful letter in. He gave me permission to post it, provided I make several slight changes to protect his identity. He has approved this version:
I write to you as if I am writing to a friend, because I feel that I know you. I read your blog quite frequently.
I’ll quickly give you my background. I was raised in a conservative Evangelical home. We weren’t just religious, we were Christians. I know a lot of “Sunday morning Christians,” but I am very thankful that my parents weren’t. I have loved the Lord as long as I can remember, and had a conversion experience when I was 8. I’ve tried to read the Word of God and conform my life to it. I participated fully in the life of our church. It was the center of my life, although in high school the school began to take away from church’s centrality.
When I hit puberty, I began to experience attraction to other boys. I explained it away or ignored it for years, but eventually in college I came to accept that I was bisexual or gay (I do not believe in modern concepts of sexual orientation. Through studying ancient history I’ve come to firmly believe that orientation is a social construct, one which the devil works through. Nevertheless, however you want to deal with it semantically, I experience sexual and romantic attraction towards both men and women, but probably more towards men than women). In high school and junior high, I didn’t deal with these attractions correctly. I bottled them up and didn’t talk to any spiritual leaders about them. To be fair to myself, I had no reason to believe that any spiritual mentors would have been good to talk to about this. Fire and brimstone sermons about gays who would corrupt our country didn’t exactly make me feel like I could find pastoral support for what I was experiencing.
I should speed up. I came to college and had a crisis of faith. I went to a top secular university because I wanted to be an emissary for Christianity. Instead, I found my faith shaken because of my struggles with my sexuality. I eventually opened up to a campus minister and my church’s pastor, who were gracious and loving and have supported me for years now. I also have many Christian friends who pray for me and encourage me. However, it has still been a tremendous struggle, and I wish that I had gone to a mental health professional (preferably Christian) when I was having my darkest days. It would get to the point where I would lay in bed and not want to do anything, paralyzed by the conflict between my intellect (to follow a Christian sexual ethic) and the desires of my heart (to give in and live like almost everyone at my university would have me to: being “true” to who I “really was”). It has been a slow, slow battle, but God is my portion and my strength and has been changing the desires of my heart.
Once again, I should speed up. Last year, I wanted to take a class on one of the great books. I signed up for a class on Dante. I was interested in the Inferno, but had trouble getting into it. I became ill for a month, and found it hard to focus on anything. When we started reading Purgatorio , I became much more engrossed in the Divine Comedy.
About this time, I met a young man my age with a very similar background. Unfortunately, I fell in love. I justified my actions in growing close to this person (I’ll call him Scott) because there was no sexual sin. I rationalized my sin by considering the relationship a best friendship. Then sexual sin happened (over a month into what I told myself was a friendship), and I admitted to myself that things had gone wrong. I also conveniently happened to read the cantos about lust in Purgatorio. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Break happened and I had some time to talk to God (and read Dante!). I finished Purgatorio and read Paradiso. I saw what was wrong, the desires of my heart were all out of whack. I wanted what our culture told me I should want rather than what God has actually made me to want. I already knew I had to get out of my situation with Scott, I just didn’t know if I had the strength. It just felt so right (there’s some moralistic therapeutic deism for you! It’s funny how I can revile MTD in my head but still have it working in my heart). I felt that strength I needed when I read Piccarda’s oft-quoted words about God’s will being our peace. She is so right!
Immediately after finishing Paradiso, I bought How Dante Can Save Your Life and devoured it. Quite frankly, I should not have. I had a lot of schoolwork I should have been doing instead of pleasure reading. I suppose one’s soul is more important than one’s GPA, however. Your book helped me to synthesize my thoughts about the Divine Comedy, and gave me the last bit of strength I needed. It was really, really important for helping me to synthesize all my thoughts. The Divine Comedy is not an easy work! These words of yours were particularly enlightening to me:
“Sin is not, at heart, a violation of a legalistic code, but rather a distortion of love. In Dante, sinners–and we are all sinners–are those who love the wrong things, or who love the right things in the wrong way.”
The desires of my heart were twisted. Once I broke the “legalistic code” it was too late.
“The pilgrim Dante’s journey teaches him that the source of all the chaos and misery is disordered desire. If everyone, including himself, loved as they should love, they would love God more than they loved themselves and their passions. To harmonize with the will of God requires us to overcome our passions and our ego, to make room for the transforming love of God.”
That was what I needed the strength to do, to overcome my passions enough to make room for the transforming love of God.
When I returned to my university, after about a week of getting my courage up, I broke things off with Scott. I probably sound like a weak person since that was so hard, but it simply was, and I am a weak person whose only strength comes from the grace of God. It was interesting, because it was a sort of ultimate choice. On the one hand, I had Scott and everything that a successful relationship in the modern university is supposed to be. On the other hand, I had Christ and what could turn out to be a lifetime of emotional hardship. I chose Christ because I am convinced that one day I will experience the Beatific Vision, and it will be glorious. I do worry because I was so close to choosing Scott over God. That would have been tragic. It was by God’s grace that I read Dante for the first time in parallel to some of the most lethal temptation I’ve experienced.
I thank you from the depths of my heart for reading this. Thank you for being open about the struggles that lead you to write How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dante also saved my life. And I managed to get an A in the class 🙂
I am so humbled by this letter, and the courage of this young man. His sins are not my sins, and they may not be your sins, but every one of us has sins. The power of Dante to lead us back to the clear path is remarkable! It is a narrow path, and at times a very difficult one, but it is the way of life.
Men (and women) like this man should not have to walk it alone. If you are a Christian who would condemn him, or stay away from him because he is same-sex attracted, you are very, very wrong. He is struggling to do the right thing, same as you and I are with our own sins. If we cannot accompany him on the pilgrimage, then what kind of Christians are we? One of the greatest things about the Commedia is how, on the long pilgrim’s road up the Seven Storey Mountain, the broken but forgiven and healing sinners help bear each other’s burdens. This is how we are meant to live!
By the way, I found out on Wednesday that the publisher is going to re-issue How Dante in paperback (it is only available in Kindle form now, but you can get it for 99 cents). The paperback should be out by late March.
You don’t have to have read Dante before reading How Dante, but I hope my little book will inspire you to take on the Commedia. Lent is a great time to try. Be sure you get a good modern translation, with great notes. The ones I recommend to beginners are Mark Musa’s (here’s his Inferno) and Anthony Esolen’s (here’s his Inferno). Don’t make a mistake and buy Musa’s translation packaged as The Portable Dante; it does not have Musa’s complete notes. You really need the notes.
Dear readers, I am about to leave for the airport. I’ll be in Paris all next week, except for an overnight on Tuesday in Tours. Each night I will be giving a Benedict Option talk somewhere (see my French website leparibenedictin.fr for details) — except for Wednesday night, Valentine’s Day. My wife Julie is coming with me on this trip, for our first vacation together without kids since we started having chirren 18 years ago. We already have reservations at a nice restaurant. A good friend is house-sitting for us and looking after the kids. God is good. I’ll be back in touch soon.
Railway police in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, are the first in the country to start using facial recognition eyewear to screen passengers, the online arm of Party newspaper People’s Daily reported Monday. Security personnel at Zhengzhou East Railway Station donned the new accessories ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush to help them verify passengers’ identities, spot impostors — and even catch suspected criminals.
Spring Festival, or the lunar new year, is one of the busiest travel periods in China, putting immense pressure on the country’s transportation networks. This year, officials expect more than 389 million train trips alone during the peak travel period from Feb. 1 to March 12, when people return home for the holidays.
The glasses — which resemble Google Glass — are connected to a police database that can match passengers with criminal suspects. Since Zhengzhou railway police started using the eyewear earlier this year, they have identified seven people suspected of crimes ranging from human trafficking to hit-and-run accidents, according to the report.
In a similar move, train stations in major Chinese cities including Zhengzhou introduced a “face-swiping” check-in service during the lunar new year holiday in 2017. Similar to e-passport services at airports, small kiosks at boarding areas use facial recognition technology to scan passengers and their travel documents in just a few seconds.
China has pursued an ambitious plan to develop its AI sector in recent years, with police departments across the country implementing facial recognition technology. Shanghai has used it to identify and fine traffic violators, while in coastal Qingdao, facial recognition helped police arrest dozens of suspected criminals at the city’s famous beer festival.
If you don’t allow your face to be scanned, you will not be able to travel, it would appear. Hmm.
State police can stand outside of churches and usual facial recognition software to determine who is going into them and coming out of them, you know.
And if the Chinese have this technology, how long before it is introduced into the US, under the pretext of keeping the public safe? How long will it be before certain religious and political beliefs are deemed “unsafe” to the public, and those who espouse them monitored?
How many Americans would support it? I think we’d be surprised.
This stuff writes itself — on the wall, with an invisible finger.
Couple of snapshots.
Her efforts to distance herself professionally from abortions throughout her career — supervising staff when she had to but never taking an active role — had largely been successful and was accepted by colleagues and managers.
‘Other staff would volunteer to oversee them for me. They respected my feelings.
Then, in 2008, a restructuring in the hospital led to more abortions being carried out in the labour ward (previously they had been split between the gynaecology ward and the labour ward, depending on the stage of pregnancy), and Mary asked her managers for clarification on her position legally.
They told her she had to participate, or lose her job. Finally, in 2010, she refused to go on, sacrificing her career. Eventually she and another midwife filed a lawsuit. The legal process has now ended with their defeat. More:
The ruling overturned an earlier decision, in an Edinburgh court, which supported the women’s claim that they were ‘conscientious objectors’.
As the law now stood, they could be disciplined for refusing to take part. So, having delivered some 5,000 babies over three decades in a job she adored, Mary felt she had no choice but to take early retirement.
Now she is telling her story because the issue is back in the political frame, with campaigners pushing for a change in the law to protect health professionals who, as a matter of conscience, do not want to be involved in abortions.
Given the power of the pro-choice lobby, she and other supporters of the bill — including Lord Alton and Lord Mackay, the former Lord Chancellor — fear that it has a slim chance of success unless public support can be galvanised.
‘It’s not only about midwives,’ says Mary of her fight. ‘The issue of conscientious objection in the NHS will become even more important with things like end-of-life care. We need to tackle it now.’
Readers, this is coming here. Don’t you doubt it at all. A senior national medical figure I interview for The Benedict Option says this is why he doesn’t want his children going into medicine. He is too afraid for their future, because he can see coercive policies and laws coming. We had better gear up for this legal and legislative fight.
Britain has a Tory government. It could protect midwives like Mary. If it wanted to.
Rod Bristow, Pearson’s president for core markets, said they will use the handbook to “help update our own products and resources to ensure they are LGBT inclusive”.
The handbook, titled “Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum” suggests ways in which teachers can tweak their lessons so LGBT students “see themselves represented in what they’re learning”.
Suggestions include setting questions which reference same-sex couples in maths and science, and introducing LGBT-specific vocabulary in language lessons.
The handbook says an example of this would be a question beginning : “Two women would like to have a baby together, and the doctor recommends they use In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)”.
Such are these times. More:
In December, new Government-backed guidance for head teachers said that primary schools should include books that feature transgender parents in the curriculum.
School leaders must “celebrate” transgender people, encourage their staff to teach children about trans issues, and “ensure the visibility” of trans perspectives in the classroom, it said.
The advice was part of new guidance issued by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and endorsed by the Department for Education.
“Celebrate.” Not “teach about,” but “celebrate.”
Britain has a Tory government. Did you realize that?
A friend of mine, a believing Catholic from England, emigrated to the US so she could raise her children in a culture that is not so hostile to the faith. She, her husband, and their children are active now in a fledgling Benedict Option school community. It breaks her heart in some ways to be away from her homeland, but the faith of her children must come first, in her view.
Most British Christians won’t have that opportunity, or wouldn’t necessarily choose it if they did. Question to my readers in the UK: what Benedict Option strategies are realistically open to you regarding the education of your children? For that matter, how do you regard the vocational field (that is, jobs) as believing Christians? Are there fields that you know are closed off to you as believers? Are there professions you would discourage your children from pursuing, as a matter of faith?
What counsel can you give us here in the US?
American readers, especially Christians, so many of us think it can’t happen here. It can, and it will. I am eager to be corrected by UK Christian readers if I’m wrong, but I doubt very much that there is a popular constituency in Britain for the traditional Christian view in either of these cases. That is what it means to live in a post-Christian country. Though we should fight politically and legally against these sorts of things happening to us, we are increasingly unlikely to prevail. Then what? The then what? conversations are what I’m trying to stimulate with my Ben Op work.
UPDATE: Since publishing this, I’ve just seen Sohrab Ahmari’s piece about what Theresa May’s Tory government is doing in Britain on education reform. Read it! Excerpts:
Brexit was supposed to liberate Britons from unaccountable government, PC orthodoxy, and high-handed bureaucracy. But who needs Brussels mandarins when supposed Conservatives in Westminster are beholden to the same orthodoxies?
That’s the question religious leaders in the U.K. are asking themselves as Prime Minister Theresa May’s government prepares to make it mandatory for all schools–including private, faith-based institutions–to teach an ultra-progressive sex education curriculum. Under the proposal, all schools would be required to teach children from age 4 and up “age-appropriate” content that includes information about same-sex marriage and transgenderism. Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and others with traditional views on sex and gender would have to comply. No exceptions.
Former Education Secretary Justine Greening first floated the idea last March on the ground that the current law is “outdated,” since many religious schools are exempt from the sex-ed curriculum requirements. The prime minister sacked Greening last month, but her successor, Damian Hinds, told Parliament that he remains committed to the compulsory sex-education agenda.
Greening made no effort to disguise the ideology behind her policy push, telling Sky News in July that “it is important that the church, in a way, keeps up and is part of a modern country. We have allowed same-sex marriage, that’s a massive step forward for the better. And for me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.”
Dame Louise Casey, another senior government adviser, singled out Catholics in particular. It is “not OK for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage,” she testified in the House of Commons. “I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.”
Read the whole thing. It blows my mind that this is happening under a Tory government. What kind of future can religious liberty have in Britain if the government takes it upon itself to compel religions to teach its own doctrines, particularly when those secular doctrines deny what those religions believe?
Remember how horrified liberals were when President Trump’s vulgar remark about not wanting people from “shithole” countries as immigrants was reported? Sure you do. And do you remember how aggrieved a lot of the liberal Twittersphere was when I said on this blog that people don’t want housing for the poor in their neighborhood, and that they aren’t wrong for that?
Well, look at what’s going on in midtown Manhattan. I can’t embed that video, but it’s a news report from NY1, a local news station, about a raucous meeting of residents of West 58th Street in Manhattan — “Billionaire’s Row” — who are outraged by the city’s plan to house 150 homeless men in an old hotel space there. Watch the clip — it’s hilarious. The people are understandably upset (“Aren’t we bringing crime?!” protests one resident), because they are afraid of violence, chaos, and the decline of property values. Seriously, they are — this is what they said in the public hearing. Watch for yourself. There’s even a moment where the audience heckles an old lady from a local church who speaks up for the shelter.
I’d bet you my next paycheck that every one of those wealthy Manhattanites is a liberal — it’s easier to find a drag queen in Branson than a Republican on the West Side (people named “Podhoretz” excluded), who utterly deplores Trump. Especially for his shithole remark. But when it comes to moving the poorest of the poor into their neighborhood, well for heaven’s sake, darling, keep the shithole people at bay.
Says reader Sam M., who sent this clip in:
I don’t know. Maybe all the rich Manhattan people are Trump voters.
But of course they aren’t.
You were right. They are liberal right up until the homeless folks threaten to move in.
If you are a liberal who was disgusted by Trump’s remark and my statement about it, then please post the name of your city and neighborhood so your municipal government will know where to put the next homeless shelter. It is very easy to moralize about this stuff … until it actually costs you something personally.