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Sunday, April 17, 2005

FT vs Spectator

Nigel Andrews in the FT has a weird analysis of modern liberal culture as a fortress besieged by the forces of fundamentalism. It is characterised by flawed assumptions about the meaning of human freedom - e.g.,
'...For these rationalists, religious feeling has become a tarnished paradigm, corrupted by dogma and clerical dictatorship. For people who believe in the right to rule themselves, at least in areas of personal morality, the thought-policing of Islam in the east and neo-conservative Bible-thumpers in the west has become a new totalitarianism.'
But mostly its perception is just odd -
'We are still losing. We are still standing by, tongue-tied, when creeds that order their followers to mortgage this life to the next tell us all how to think and how to feel, how to live and how to die.'
Does this sound like Britain? All those tongue-tied libertarians afraid to express how and why Our Lord's teaching is wicked and inimical to human freedom? That'll be why divorce and abortion are legal, then... And behold the apocalyptic last paragraph:
'Gagging orders on art, culture and teaching have no place in a civilised world. [Except for gagging orders on Christian teaching, obviously.] They are the way to engender a new dark age. Zealotry in the name of new gods, or old gods set up in new pomp, has moved through the world before, burning libraries, closing schools, intimidating the freedom to seek and question. There is nothing tyranny hates more than individual will. For the individual will, with free access to a free culture and its storehouses, can discover and promote new truths, as surely as it can discredit and destroy - given time - old but stubborn systems of dogma and ideological dictatorship.'
Yes, it can. The individual will did this when God became a human individual and revealed the meaning of humanity and the right use of the individual will - to love God and neighbour. It turned out, as Ratzinger says in Truth and Tolerance, that 'the true reason is love, that love is true reason.' To suggest that there is a right use and end of the individual will is not tyranny. Pray that these young but stubborn systems of liberal dogma are again overthrown by the individual will, the will finding its gate, way and end in the God-Man.

This article does demonstrate one thing: that Christian protests against certain phenomena - most recently the whole Jerry Springer: The Opera thing - have fundamentally failed to put their point across, and have made the mistake of cashing into the culture of tolerance-as-the-only-virtue. Blasphemy and pornography (e.g.) are not bad because I find them personally offensive, and it's unkind of others to display them before me. They're bad because they're wrong - they undermine what humans are meant to be about - and are as such objectively offensive. We have to convey this.

Meanwhile Roger Scruton in the Spectator discusses the evil consequences of the sexual revolution, noting the death of shame and the adverse consequences of this upon 'the two great projects which, since 1963, have been in such serious decline: the project of love and the project of raising children.' A much more recognisable picture of The Way We Live Now. (Unfortunately he mars his rather lovely arguments with some foolish remarks about date rape.)