By Melanie McDonagh, The Spectator
November 27th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
By Melanie McDonagh, The Spectator
November 23rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
By Brendan O'Neill, Telegraph
[...] Here are five ways in which the nightmare fiction of Brave New World has become our nightmare reality.
by Michael Cook, MercatorNet
[...] Huxley was not conventionally religious. But from the 40s on, he became interested in mystical experience. (His book The Perennial Philosophy is an anthology of texts culled indiscriminately from Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and Christian sources.) He found that drugs helped and he was an early adopter of mescaline and LSD. As he lay dying in California in 1963, he asked for an injection of LSD.
He should have known better. He had already shown in 1932, in Brave New World, that drugs and pneumatic, loveless sex were unsuccessful attempts to evade existential anxieties. Nonethless, Huxley’s yearning for something permanent beyond the flux of the visible world made him an acute critic of 20th century materialism.
Set 600 years in the future, Brave New World depicts a society which is contented, peaceful and prosperous. Materially speaking, it is a paradise. But social harmony has been purchased at a high price. With a few exceptions, its citizens are mere drones whose humanity is leached away by free and abundant sex and a drug called soma which dispels depression. “One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments,” is the government’s slogan. In this environment, religion and politics are irrelevant.
Sex has been uncoupled from reproduction and babies of different intellectual castes are produced on assembly lines and raised in "hatcheries and conditioning centres". The lower ranking castes are cloned with Bokanovsky's Process, which produces up to 96 children from a single embryo. Families do not exist and an omnipotent paternalistic state cares for everyone.
Brave New World’s political framework is characteristic of the 1930s. With the impressive industrial and military success of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, writers like Huxley and George Orwell assumed that totalitarianism was all but inevitable.
By Steve Doughty, Mailonline
State benefits should be fixed by law so no Government can cut them, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams said yesterday.
He said welfare handouts should be ‘ring-fenced’ so claimants would not have to worry about losing them or seeing them reduced.
And he called for benefits to be renamed to try to stop people criticising them.
Lord Williams, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace earlier this year, said that ‘welfare has become a loaded word’ and proposed that state benefits should in future be known as ‘social share’.
The idea of permanently guaranteed benefits, with a new name to make them more popular, came in an article in which Lord Williams condemned levels of poverty in Britain.
He attacked ‘the scandalous and lethal inequalities of our society’.
October 30th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
by Gillan Scott, God & Politics in the UK
There has been a huge amount of interest in Canon J John’s recent guest post on the dangers of Halloween. I am very much in agreement with J John that Halloween is not benign. Even though it is becoming increasingly secular, there is little if any value in it other than being an excuse for manufacturers and retailers to push an unending range of cheap insipid products on the public in order to boost their sales figures in the run up to Christmas.
Read also: Halloween: harmless or harmful?
By Bill Muehlenberg
If a group of evil conspirators plotted to destroy the West, top on their list would be the plan to ravage it with everything sexual. Unleashing a tsunami of porn, sleaze and over-the-top sexuality would be a leading means by which the destruction of the West could be implemented.
And this is not just the stuff of fantasy. As I have written elsewhere, cultural Marxists have long sought to do this very thing. They have long made known their tactics in how to take over the West from within. When they tell us what they plan to do, we better take notice.
As an example of this, in his 1958 book The Naked Communist, ex-FBI agent Cleon Skousen offered 45 declared goals of the communists in their attempt to take over America. Here are some of those which have to do with marriage, family, morality and sexuality:
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
Does any of this ring a bell? If it seems that morality is taking a beating, the family is under threat, and sexuality is running amok, it is not just by accident. Many radicals know that unfettered sexuality is a great way to undermine and demoralise a nation. And the examples of sexuality out of control are there to be seen on a daily basis.
September 12th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
By Ben Johnson, LifeSite News
A publication of the international socialist movement has explicitly stated it is promoting abortion and gay “marriage” as part of a multi-pronged campaign to “replace global capitalism” with Marxism.
Over the next few days we will be posting four perspectives on Europe, in response to the ‘outside’ view given in Vista 13.
The first is from Jeff Fountain, who calls us to remember the values which shaped European culture;
PERSPECTIVE 1 : EUROPEAN AMNESIA: FORGOTTEN VALUES – JEFF FOUNTAIN
Europe suffers from amnesia. She has forgotten the source of her identity and of the values that shaped her culture. She has lost sight of the underlying unity expressed in the word “European” and which enabled the unique project we call the European Union to happen in Europe and not in Asia or in Africa.
Europe, however, is not simply something ‘out there’: we are Europe. We are the Europeans. We are suffering from amnesia. We are living today under what Charles Taylor calls ‘exclusive humanism’, which insists in the name of civility, human rights, democracy and tolerance, that transcendent religion and moral values be banned from the public square. Education, under the influence of this ‘exclusive humanism’, has become a tool for raising young Europeans with a deep scepticism about the role of religion, Christianity and the church in Europe yesterday, today and certainly tomorrow.
Against this background then, let me make three preposterous propositions.
One, the story of Jesus has been the single greatest factor in shaping Europe’s past. This is not usually what we learn at school, of course. But let’s ask what made Europe ‘Europe’. This western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass was populated by pagan peoples from the east. We still speak Indo-European languages, a fact which reminds us of these roots. So why not call ourselves western Eurasians? What happened that gave Europe it’s own distinct identity from Asia? Paul, Patrick, Boniface and many other messengers came to the peoples of Europe telling the story of Jesus. They introduced the God of the Bible to Greeks and Romans, Gauls and Celts, Scots and Anglo-Saxons, Friesians and Franken, Suevi and Slavs, Goths and Vandals, Rus and Balts, and eventually the Vikings. They were all exposed to a common story, summarised in the Apostles’ Creed. Kings were tamed, enemies were reconciled, communities were transformed. A common foundation for the European way of life was laid, albeit with regional distinctions.
By Jason Groves, Mailonline
Britain is ‘losing the plot’ as it becomes more secular and less trusting, the Chief Rabbi has warned.
Lord Sacks, who retires on Sunday, said society was failing to protect institutions such as marriage – with grave consequences.
‘I think we’re losing the plot actually,’ he said. ‘I think we haven’t really noticed what’s happened in Britain.
‘When you begin to lose faith and society becomes very, very secularised, you see a breakdown of institutions, whether they are financial or economic, or marriage as an institution.
'Then you ask “Why have they broken down?”, and you arrive at one word, which is trust.’
Last week Lord Sacks warned that the Government had ‘not done enough’ to support marriage.
He urged ministers to finally introduce a promised tax break for married couples, and said mothers who stayed at home to raise their children deserved more recognition.
However, yesterday he added that politicians were only partly responsible for the decline of marriage. He claimed the permissive attitudes of the Sixties had left marriage in ‘disarray’ and children worse-off.
By Brian Fitzpatrick, Lambda Report*
In his book , On Character, eminent social commentator James Q. Wilson defines virtue as “habits of moderate action; more specifically, acting with due restraint on one’s impulses, due regard for the rights of others, and reasonable concern for distant consequences.”
Alarm bells should ring when prominent commentators start talking seriously about decidedly immoderate notions like homosexual “marriage,” without considering the consequences. William Raspberry recently [in 1996] noted in his Washington Post column that gay and lesbian couples of his acquaintance are “not dangerous,” wondered why some people believe allowing homosexuals to “marry” could threaten their own relationships, and suggested that opposition to “gay marriage” springs from prejudice. He asked, “What are we afraid of?” The answer, of course, is the distant consequences. The health and survival of our civilization is at stake.
To understand the danger posed by homosexual “marriage,” you must join the great scholars in asking some fundamental questions. Why do some civilizations flourish? Why do others perish?
Perhaps the definitive work on the rise and fall of civilization was written back in the thirties by an Oxford anthropologist. In Sex and Culture, a study of 86 human civilizations ranging from Rome to Tahiti, J.D. Unwin found that a society’s destiny is tied inseparably to the limits it imposes on sexual expression. The highest levels of social development are reached only by cultures that practice what Unwin called “absolute monogamy,” in which marriage is limited to one man and one woman, sexual outside marriage is not tolerated, and divorce is prohibited.
Absolute monogamy promotes cultural growth by solving what anthropologist Margaret Mead termed the “central problem of every society,’ to “define appropriate roles for men.” Monogamous civilizations require men to choose either lifelong celibacy or the responsibilities of a husband: fidelity, breadwinning, and fatherhood. Most marry, to their good fortune, because married men tend to be healthier, happier, and more productive than bachelors. Joseph Schumpeter, the great economist, attributes the success of capitalism not to the entrepreneur’s lust for money or status, but to his love of family. The central pillar of any healthy civilization is the self-sacrificing married man who doesn’t spend his income on himself, but prefers “to work and save primarily for wife and children.”
Civilizations cease to grow, found Unwin, within two to three generations after retreating from absolute monogamy. Moral standards erode when a society’s members chafe at the discipline imposed by monogamy, and begin to gratify their personal impulses without regard for the consequences inflicted on others. According to sociologist Robert Nisbet, “What sociologists are prone to call social disintegration is really nothing more than the spectacle of a rising number of individuals playing fast and loose with other individuals in relationships of trust and responsibility.
August 2nd, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
by Tim Stanley, Telegraph
[...] But, again, as an Englishman and a Catholic I do share Mishima's instinctive dislike of all things contemporary. At times, it's like living in the ruins of a once great culture. All around you are the bare bones of a civilisation – the cathedrals, the municipal buildings, the art collections, the piers, the hotels, and the palaces. But the heart beats no more and the breath of life is gone.
July 30th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
By Thaddeus Baklinski, LifeSite News
A study conducted at Brock University examining the association between "authoritarianism and subjective well-being" has found that individuals who think of themselves as right-wing conservatives have a much greater sense of well-being and happiness than those who describe themselves as left-wing liberals.
July 14th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
by Paul Goodman, Conservative Home
[...] None the less, party politics and official inquiries only get one so far. The horrifying treatment of some elderly people in our hospitals and care homes is a symptom of cultural change – one in which there is no longer a presumption that older people should be treated as possessing experience and wisdom, and in which human life itself is no longer seen as possessing absolute value. "It has saddened me that in the past four months I have heard almost no one use the word “kindness”, writes Camilla Cavendish behind the Sunday Times paywall.
By Philip Blond, Conservative Home
By Fraser Nelson, Telegraph
Sexual inequality has reversed in Britain: fewer boys go to university, get a good job or earn as much money
[...] The economy is changing shape, in a way that is to men’s collective disadvantage. Occupations requiring physical strength are rapidly disappearing; a quarter of manufacturing jobs have vanished in the past 10 years. In their place come posts where “work” means grabbing a coffee, heading to the office and getting along with people. The qualities of social intelligence, communication skills and multi-tasking are not ones where men have any innate advantage. The recession has simply accelerated the emasculation of the economy.
A problem is emerging, and it’s one our politicians do not recognise. People like Harriet Harman grew up when the feminist agenda was synonymous with that of equality. But slowly, these two notions are coming apart – and anyone genuinely concerned about gender equality in Britain should be worried about the boys. For those aged between 22 and 30, “pay gap” refers to the fact that the average man is now paid less than his female equivalent – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that girls are better-educated. For every four university applications by girls, just three are submitted by boys. Male horizons are narrowing in Britain, and no one seems worried.
At the top, there is nothing to fret about. Men do fine. And many of them can pursue fun-but-risky careers in the knowledge that they have their wife’s substantial income to fall back on. If David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband all sounded relaxed about rejecting MPs’ pay rises yesterday, it may be because all three earn less than their wives. They cheerfully talk about doing the “school run”, an option not open to single-income breadwinners who start their commute at 7.30am. Gender equality is a very real concept among the rich, who now live in a world where young men and women do as well as each other.
But among poor families, boys are falling further and further behind – and are 30 per cent less likely to apply for university than girls. The Labour MP Frank Field has long pointed out how deindustrialisation (which happened even faster under Blair than under Thatcher) has robbed these young men of life options. Yes, office jobs may replace factory jobs, so the economy ticks over. But what about teenagers not cut out for university, who used to go straight into a trade? They struggle to find a role in society.
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four is about the political elite controlling the minds and hearts of the population through the mass media, and in particular through control of language. Orwell brilliantly realised that if the state can remove certain words, it removes concepts that are needed for certain thoughts to be thought. The Orwellian state, personified by Big Brother, introduced ‘thought crime’ to root out bad concepts, and newspeak: The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the worldview and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [English Socialism], but to make all other modes of thought impossible.
We can see how astute Orwell was when we look at new words developed for the purpose of changing minds and burying old attitudes. The term ‘gay’ has quite a long history in the homosexual community, going back to the 19th century for a meaning associated with homosexual practice and culture rather than its standard meaning of carefree and joyful. ‘Gay’ was an adjective, but now is also a noun to describe ‘gay people’, homosexuals, and the original meaning of joyful has almost been buried. The word was used and pressed in its sexual sense as preferable to ‘homosexual’, but how ironical our Minister of Education is said to be keen to ban the word as children, he claims, use it in a derogatory way as ‘effeminate’, or indeed homosexual.
‘Homophobic’ is a neologism brilliantly devised by the homosexual movement as a way of suppressing the view that homosexual behaviour was anything other than normal. An ethical opinion, that homosexual acts are morally wrong, has become the subject of this newcword, and the word taints the holder of the opinion as suffering fromcan odd condition or phobia, a psychological pathology. The genius of this move is that it followed the successful campaign to get homosexuality removed from psychological textbooks as an oddity, a condition to be recognised. Homophobia is now the abnormality, and those who do not agree with homosexual practice are in effect ill and in need of treatment. The ethical debate about sex has been suppressed and displaced by new psychological type, the homophobic.
By Hilary White, LifeSite News
For hundreds of years, Evangelical street preachers have been a normal part of the English cultural scene, but in recent years, a new feature of the political and legal scene has been their frequent arrests whenever they have dared to contradict the sexual zeitgeist and reiterate the Biblical and moral injunctions against homosexuality. British barrister and chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, James Bogle spoke with LifeSiteNews.com this week, saying that the phenomenon is a sign of a deeper problem with British authorities undermining the rule of law and civil liberties.
by Eric Teetsel, LifeSite News
[...] The technological-internet revolution began a new era of entertainment in which everything is a commodity. We are no longer a nation of ideas. Policies are products; people are brands. We pay no attention to intellectual boxing matches such as those between Lincoln and Douglas, or Hayek and Keynes. Instead we have beauty pageants in which contestants primp and pose for the affections of the audience voting from home.
June 29th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off
By Peter Saunders, CMF
The 20th Century was defined by economic and class-based divisions between socialists and capitalists. But, with the main political parties now increasingly embracing free market capitalism, it is culture rather than economics which has now become the defining political divide. The 21st Century is characterised by cultural, social and ethical fault lines between liberals and conservatives.
The main vehicles of British culture – parliament, the institutions, judiciary, universities, media, arts and entertainment- are increasingly now populated and dominated by a liberal elite which embraces an atheist worldview and the ethics of secular humanism. People who were in their teens and twenties in the 1960s are now running the country, 150 years after the start of decline of British Christendom in 1860.
Liberal elite values are characterised by sexual permissiveness, easy divorce, cohabitation, liberal abortion, drug legalisation, government interference, higher taxes, increased welfare spending and more recently by political correctness, embryo research, same sex marriage, euthanasia and the marginalisation of, and discrimination against, those with conservative values.
Social conservative values I see as including sexual purity, marital faithfulness, family and community loyalty, upholding the sanctity of life, respect for king and country, accountability, responsibility, integrity, stewardship, simplicity, sacrificial service, self-control, a strong work ethic and both charitable provision and legal protection for the most vulnerable.
Bishop Donald Allister stressed at a recent meeting on "Marriage" in Kettering that “kingdom values” and behavioural ideals are difficult even for Christians. “We can’t expect Christian behaviour from those who don’t know the Lord and haven’t received the Spirit,” he said.
Paul Perkin, chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, responds with a letter written to a member of his church in 2003
All this has important social and political implications – for example, with regard to the issue that prompted this, namely marriage. What I want to urge and encourage is the confidence that Christian educators and legislators have every right – no, every duty – to act on the belief that God's law is good for society – and that at least to some degree people know that. It is not a case of Christians trying to force their standards on an unwilling public, but of helping the public to see that God's law is the law of human being and of human community, and is for our own good. The alternative to this view is rather more disturbing. If you say Christians have no right to impose their standards, you might start with the life-long nature of marriage – but where would you draw the line? Christians have no right to plead that stealing is wrong? Lying? Murder? Your answer might be: 'but there is already common agreement that murder is wrong; there is no longer common agreement that marriage should be lifelong. So we can argue the former, but not the latter'. But what is this now saying? That right and wrong is simply a matter of analysing prevailing attitudes and going with them? You have then become a utilitarian. In your office I guess there are a number of unquestioning utilitarians, but that is quite a step for a Christian to take – to believe that 'right' has no inherent rightness, but is simply the majority view. So for us as Christians the choice is uncompromising: either right is right from any perspective, in which case it can be commended and argued for all, or there is no right; but there is no middle ground of ethical neutrality, or to put it another way, Christians maybe should be tolerant of other people, but can never be tolerant of other people's views if they contradict God's revealed standards (we'll still want to express that intolerance gently, lovingly, graciously, at the right time and in the right way, and assuming that we have earned the position to do it).
Actually I'd want to go further. The utilitarian has no real answer to the minority view. To the man who says: 'well you believe stealing is wrong, but I believe it is right for me, even if it does 'harm' others according to your worldview. Who are you to tell me otherwise?' The utilitarian can have no answer to that person.
Now, of course to a bible Christian, our approach can be: 'This is right because God's word says so'. To the non-Christian we cannot say that – we have to develop an apologia that defends rationally the rightness of right and the wrongness of wrong. We may add: 'And by the way, this is consistent with our Christian understanding of what God says on the subject' – We need not be embarrassed about what we believe. But our emphasis should be to defend why God says it is right. That is much harder, and possibly the reason why so many Christians have succumbed to the laziness of not engaging with the world. John Stott sums it up: 'If democracy is governed by consent, consent depends on consensus, consensus on argument, and argument on ethical apologists who will develop a case for the goodness of God's law'. Paul Read the rest of this entry »