Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Melancholicus was prompted to post this video owing to the brouhaha that has erupted over the timely warnings of Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester, in The Sunday Telegraph of 6th January last (see here for more details). In the wake of the bishop’s comments, a variety of Mohammedan organisations complained publicly about Dr. Nazir-Ali’s brazen political incorrectness; the response of the Muslim Council of Britain may be read here.
Melancholicus has observed, however, that the MCB are just as ready to give offence as to take it. Their current leader, one Muhammad Abdul Bari, accused the British Government last November of stoking Muslim tension owing to the concerns expressed by MI5 about the grooming of future suicide bombers from within the Muslim community in Britain. This man seems to be more concerned about “Islamophobia” and about the public perception of his community (article in The Telegraph here) than he is about the horrendous problems within that community — religious extremism, forced marriages, abductions, honour killings, and suchlike outrages. Is this man not aware that the way in which certain Muslims behave has caused far more “suspicion and unease” than anything ever said or done by the Government or MI5? And then there is the bare-faced arrogance; this same man, among numerous others, has had the gall to suggest publicly that Britain should adopt Islamic values. Of course if this madness were actually implemented by the dhimmis currently ensconced in the House of Commons, the number of Islamic “values” adopted by British society would continue to grow and expand until in the end Britain would be a sharia state, hardly distinguishable from Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Which of course is precisely what the good old boys of the MCB want.
Melancholicus could go on at length, but he will allow the much more eloquent Pat Condell to speak on his behalf. Some readers might be upset that Melancholicus has invited this gentleman to appear on Infelix Ego. But the prosecution has called this particular witness precisely because Mr. Condell despises all religions indiscriminately, and consequently cannot be accused of criticising Muslims or Islam on foot of any Christian bias. Aside from the off-colour remark about Catholic clergy and a somewhat earthy turn of phrase, Melancholicus considers that his readers will find much wherewith to agree in Mr. Condell’s comments, and will certainly support his robust opposition to the creeping islamicization of the west.
Time now for some Muslim-baiting.
The various organs of British political correctness reacted to Dr. Nazir-Ali’s article in predictable fashion, battening down the hatches and distancing themselves as much as possible from such incorrect views. As might have been expected, the bishops of the Church of England neither supported nor defended their colleague, but recoiled in horror as though he were a particularly virulent and deadly strain of virus.
One prelate, however, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, bishop of Oxford (pictured left), has actually gone as far as to welcome and support a Mohammedan drive to issue the ‘call to prayer’ from loudspeakers in his diocese. This bishop of a Christian church has taken appeasement of these people to a whole new level. Doubtless the fellow thinks he’s being charitable, magnanimous and ecumenical; to the the Mohammedans, however, this is just one more example of the ongoing weakness and apostasy of Christians in the west, and Rev. Pritchard’s gesture will earn him not their gratitude but their contempt.
From the Oxford Mail:
Bishop backs Muslim prayer call
By Fran Bardsley
The Bishop of Oxford has rejected another senior clergyman's fears that broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer in East Oxford could create a "no-go area" for non-Muslims.
The Rt Rev John Pritchard backed plans for the call to prayer in Oxford - splitting away from controversial comments made by the Anglican Church's only Asian Bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester.
Bishop Michael said attempts were being made to impose an "Islamic character" on communities, creating no-go areas where people of different faiths would find it hard to live and work.
But Bishop John said: "I want to distance myself from what the Bishop of Rochester has said.
"There are no no-go areas in this country that we are aware of and in all parts of the country there are good interfaith relationships developing."
Leaders at Oxford's Central Mosque, in Manzil Way, are considering asking for planning permission to issue the call to prayer from the mosque - and Bishop John said he was "very happy" with the move.
He said: "I believe we have good relationships with the Muslim community here in Oxford and I am personally very happy for the mosque to call the faithful to prayer in East Oxford.
"Faith is a very important factor in the lives of 80 per cent of the world's population and a public expression of that faith is both natural and reasonable."
Bishop John said practical issues over the number of times the call went out, the volume and whether a trial period would be required would need to be ironed out but said in principle it was "entirely reasonable".
He said: "I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you."
He added: "I sympathise with those who find any kind of expression of public faith intrusive, but I think part of being part of a tolerant society is saying, 'I don't agree with this but I accept it as part of my responsibility as being part of a diverse community'."
Bishop Michael told the Sunday Telegraph that non-Muslims faced a hostile relationship in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.
He used the amplification of the call to prayer as an example of how an Islamic character was being imposed on certain areas and said this resulted in alienating young non-Muslims.
An application for planning permission for the call to prayer at Oxford's Central Mosque has not yet been submitted.
Sardar Rana, a spokesman for the mosque, said he was "100 per cent sure" people would like the call to prayer when they heard it.
100% sure, eh? Would Sardar care to put any money on that? Melancholicus would be quite happy to oppose him in a wager.
The article has been online for less than a week, but has already attracted over 200 comments. From a perusal of some of them it appears that the good people of Oxford are distinctly less enthusiastic than their bishop about transforming Oxford into the city of dreaming minarets.
Come back Richard Harries, all is forgiven!
So what is this about?
Remember, gentle reader, that back in October we were talking about the socialists having their little meet to venerate the memory of Saint Che, martyr?
At the time Melancholicus sourly complained about the fact that nobody seems to mind the socialists organising public meetings to eulogise mass murderers, so long as those murderers committed their crimes in the service of left-wing politics. Being on the left, it seems, is sufficient to render their atrocities palatable, at least socially if not quite morally.
Melancholicus then predicted what would happen if someone were to organise a public meeting venerating the legacies of right-wing murderers, such as Reinhard Heydrich or Adolf Eichmann.
Well, this has actually happened! And the predictions that Melancholicus made at the time have been fulfilled almost to the letter.
Well, not quite — but almost. A student society at the institution where Melancholicus earns his living has invited a prominent figure of the European right to participate in a debate on the Treaty of Lisbon. This person is not actually a Nazi (at least not in the same league as Heydrich or Eichmann), but he is viewed as such by the left and by their hangers-on in the media. He is Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front.
Now Monsieur Le Pen was not invited to this institiution to commemorate murderers of any stripe. The sole purpose of his being here was to debate the Lisbon Treaty. The visit was due to take place in March or April of this year, and Monsieur Le Pen was to be accompanied by his colleague, Bruno Gollnisch MEP. However, the visit was cancelled almost as soon as it was announced.
The hue and cry that erupted after Monsieur Le Pen’s proposed visit had become public knowledge was annoyingly predictable; people will get upset over a right-wing politician like Le Pen, but not over a left-wing murderous psychopath like Guevara. The same people who festooned the walls of the university with flyers celebrating Guevara’s bloodstained career as well as the excesses of the Russian revolution immediately flooded the halls with posters denouncing the visit of the fascist Le Pen. Fascist is a pejorative they love to throw around with alacrity. Anyone who disagrees with the politics of these people is in their eyes a counter-revolutionary and a capitalist; disagree with them strongly enough and you become a fascist.
The college authorities, sensing the danger and the possible political fallout from the proposed visit, immediately moved to quash the invitation, and so Monsieur Le Pen will not now be invited to visit these shores. Melancholicus is relieved at the outcome—not so much that the “fascist” has been banned, but that the university where he works will be spared the turbulence and upheaval of such an event; Melancholicus does not care for riots and student demonstrations and threats of violence and uncontrolled passions and anarchist thugs shouting and people’s cars being overturned and set on fire and barricades being erected and the presence of the police being required to restrain the mob in order that people might not be killed. The campus can do without these things, and on that account he is glad that Monsieur Le Pen will not be coming.
That Monsieur Le Pen should have been invited in the first place, and that by a student society is a source of wonderment to Melancholicus. Students are notorious the world over for their hard-left views.
But as for the socialists, let me see... they hold public meetings glorifying the careers of the dictatorial thug Hugo Chavez, as well as murderers like Ernesto Guevara, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and at the same time they deny basic freedom of speech to Jean-Marie Le Pen, who never killed anyone.
Is there not a double standard in operation here?
Those pathetic loons.
The post in question addresses a new Islamic reforming movement that has appeared of late, a movement which seeks to excise the rationale for islamist violence by editing the Qur’an to remove all the nasty bits that are used by the fanatics to support their “holy war” on all non-believers. This movement is called Muslims Against Sharia, and their website may be viewed here. There is also a blog which is worth a look.
While the enterprise of Muslims Against Sharia is both noble and commendable, and while Melancholicus would certainly be inclined to support it, Hilary draws attention to the fundamental illogic in professing religious faith in Islam on the one hand and in taking it upon oneself to edit the Qur’an according to criteria that one decides oneself—in effect rewriting the Qur’an to suit one’s own tastes. This cavalier rewriting does not trouble Melancholicus in the slightest, since he does not believe the Qur’an to be in the least bit divinely inspired, let alone dictated by God directly from heaven—but it does raise unavoidable questions about truth and authority within Islam.
The big problem of course is that most Muslims will simply not buy into the idea of editing their holy book according to criteria established by mere mortals—and the extremists certainly won’t, as they are surely bound to view Muslims Against Sharia as apostates, and anything that they may say (never mind their doctored Qur’an) as the most egregious heresy.
But let us now hear Hilary on the matter:
It reminds me a bit, somewhat incongruously perhaps, of John Henry Newman's efforts to bring Anglicanism back to its origins and to create some kind of reconciliation between the CofE and its apostolic Christian roots. Of course, in this investigation Newman was too honest and diligent and his work brought him into the Catholic Faith. (While others of his clique, carried on in their desperate delusions, bringing us the weird and surreal house of mirrors known as "high" or "traditional" Anglicanism.) Perhaps it reminds me of Newman's solution for the Protestant Problem because there are certain correspondences between that and the Muslim Problem.
It strikes me also that the item gives us a hint of why the so-called "liberal left" is currently so dedicated to the Islamic project of world domination. It is not just that they are both bent on the same goal, to wit, the utter demolition of Christian culture and the philosophical assumptions upon which it is founded. It is deeper than that.
Adherents to the modern authoritarian leftism currently in fashion in places like the newsrooms of the BBC and Guardian, are making common cause with the Mahometans and their brand of authoritarianism because their ideology comes from Protestant authoritarianism. The "new left" is merely a logical extension of the ultra-authoritarian Calvinism that preceded it. Calvinism also, if you recall, required its adherents to slavishly submit to the words of the Bible as though it is the literal word-for-word dictated message from God. It also required its followers to conform their thoughts to an unquestioning acceptance of a number of logical contradictions. To a 17th century Calvinist, the idea of interpreting the bible was a capital offense.
Similarly the proposal to examine and edit the Koran to bring it into line with Christian moral values seems to be a self-defeating and self-refuting proposal, one that neatly exposes the inherent logical contradiction at the heart of Islam.
I wonder what an honest, objective Muslim who is not normally inlined to become a "homicidal zombie", would make of the Koran when approached in the way these people seem to be suggesting.
It does create a little dilemma doesn't it? Islam requires unconditional and unexamined submission to Allah; this requires submitting to the notion that the Koran (unedited) is the actual literal faxed-to-earth-by-angels words of Allah. But because of the manifestly evil and self-contradictory content of the Koran, to do this, they must turn off both their conscience and their intellect.
But if Muslims then edit the Koran to make it nicer (and, let's face it, more Christian), how can they possibly "submit" to it? It would then have to be admitted that it is not the literally dictated words of Allah, but a book written by human beings for their own purposes. The entire religious proposal of Islam then collapses.
The problem of Islam is this:
The Koran is the literal word of Allah,
but the Koran is manifestly wicked, and is full of contradictions,
leading to only two possible logical conclusions: that Allah either does not exist at all and was invented by an evil megalomaniac to further his dreams of world conquest, or is a ravening demonic monster who must under no circumstances be mistaken for the living God.
This leads us to the next problem:
Islam requires submission to Allah, as revealed to man in the Koran.
But human beings are endowed naturally by their Creator with the ability to tell right from wrong and are created with the freedom to choose between them.
If a man submits to Islam, he knows that he is submitting either to the demonic monster Allah, or to something he knows is false. Either way, in order to submit to it, he must do violence to his nature and suppress his conscience and his intellect in order to do something wicked and dishonest. He must, in other words, become a wicked and dishonest man himself.
But to try to solve this dilemma by making the Koran better, by trying to make Allah into the True God, he is back to dishonesty again. If he remains a Muslim, since the only thing a Muslim is required to believe, the only "tenet" of Islam is utter submission to the Koran as it is, he must admit that his religion is wrong, false. To say he submits, but only to parts of the Koran, is to say he submits only to his own preferences, and we are back to dishonesty and internal contradictions again.
The only way out is to ask the question, "Can the Koran in its entirety be the true word of God?" And if we are starting with Christian presuppositions about the nature of God (He is always good, cannot will evil and cannot ever contradict His own nature), we are obliged to say that the idea of a good God is always and can only be utterly contrary and opposed to the savage beast represented as God in the Koran.
What they seem to be admitting is that the only way to be a good Muslim is to be a bad Muslim.
Now, the human intellect, will and conscience, in its natural un-deformed state, is ordered to that which is objectively good because it was made not by man, nor by the monster Allah, but by the true God who can only make good things and only will the good.
From this it naturally follows that no human being who wants to do good can submit to the Koran without deforming his conscience in some way. Either by using the pretense of obedience to the wicked instructions in the Koran to excuse the evil he wants to do in life anyway (beat his wife, murder people who disagree with him, rape, launch Human Rights Commission complaints against magazines and publishers, and blow up buildings) or he can pull a Winston Smith and masochistically force himself to submit and love something he knows is false. His religion requires that he become, in other words, either a bad man with a hopelessly deformed conscience, or a self-enslaved dhimmi living a lie.
Both of which will make him into the kind of monster so beloved of the demon Allah.
Which is precisely what we have seen.
Muslims against Sharia, it seems to me, are trying to figure out a way out of this impossible logical contradiction: they are trying to be good men and good Muslims at the same time.
The debate that has since arisen in the commbox is also well worth reading.
Whatever one may think about Muslims against Sharia and whether the kind of reformation they advocate is compatible with the profession of Islam at all, it is nonetheless heartening to see a group of Muslims willing to oppose the religious fanatics in their midst and to take a stand for freedom of speech, personal liberty, democratic government and all that good stuff that we in the west have traditionally enjoyed, and which values which we tend not, on the whole, to associate with Muslim societies. While Melancholicus considers their project as ultimately doomed to failure, he is impressed by the courage of these people, who are prepared to risk their necks—literally—in the struggle against extremism.
Dublin schools to end Catholic-first policy
The Archdiocese of Dublin has approved a new school enrolment policy, which will see schools for the first time setting aside a quota of places for non-Catholic pupils.
The new admissions system is being introduced on a pilot basis in two primary schools in west Dublin.
Until now all schools belonging to the Archdiocese were obliged to enrol Catholic applicants first.
This significant development is a break with a policy that last year proved highly controversial.
The two schools with the new policy, St Patrick's and St Mochta's, are located in an area that has seen massive population growth.
Last year, an emergency school had to be set up to take in the non-Catholic children they could not accommodate and most of these were the children of immigrants.
This new policy is an attempt to ensure such divisions do not happen again.
It keeps two thirds of junior infant places for Catholics, but makes the rest available to non-Catholics.
The schools say they want a mix and that they want to reflect the communities they serve.
Their patron, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, agrees and he has asked parents to support the schools' initiative.
The Irish Primary Principals network welcomed the decision, saying it was a positive response to the enrolment challenges that schools are encountering.
As much as Melancholicus would prefer to see foreigners integrating themselves into the rest of the Irish population rather than forming separate, closed-off ghetto-style communities (as the Mohammedans do in Britain), he cannot approve of this initiative by his local ordinary, which could see Catholic children denied a place at their local school in order that non-Catholics—or even non-Christians—might claim those places instead. It is at the very least distasteful to witness the shepherd of the flock in this diocese, to whose care the souls of all the faithful are entrusted, depriving his own lambs of their food and giving it instead to outsiders. Furthermore, Melancholicus can hardly imagine either St. Patrick or his disciple St. Mochta (in whose honour these schools are dedicated) approving of this policy; picture the absurdity of places in an Irish monastic school in the age of conversion being reserved—with no necessity of baptism—for the sons of pagans, and the reader will understand how foolish—and how pandering to the spirit of this age—is the new policy of the Dublin archdiocese.
Nor, of course, will admitting non-Christian children to Catholic schools involve any question of proselytism, so we won’t even have the compensatory benefit of recruiting any new catechumens; Dignitatis Humanae has long since seen to that. That nefarious document disowned the very idea of a Catholic state; now precisely the same principles are put to work towards ending Catholic education.
The presence of non-Catholic children in a Catholic school will immediately result in a watering-down of the school’s Catholic ethos, since in these politically-correct times it will be seen as chauvinistic to parade one’s culture in front of ‘minorities’, even if this is done in complete innocence and without any ‘triumphalistic’ intent. Political correctness has conditioned many otherwise well intentioned and intelligent people to fear exposing minorities to any expression of ‘majoritarian’ culture, as though there were something inherently ‘racist’ in, say, displaying a crucifix on the wall of a Catholic classroom in which there happens to be a half dozen Sikhs or Muslims. Once the minorities are admitted, the crucifixes will quietly vanish; classroom prayers will be quietly discontinued—or else replaced by some generic fluff completely devoid of any specifically Catholic content and which could be said in good conscience by the adherents of any other religion; statues, icons, etc. will be removed and replaced with non-religious images so as not to ‘offend’ the sensibilities of any non-Christian child that might happen to be enrolled there.
This erosion of the culture of the majority is of course a one-way street, for there will be no such curbs on the culture of the minorities. Pupils belonging to other faiths will be encouraged to celebrate their own traditions and to share their culture and beliefs with their Catholic classmates. Catholic schoolchildren will hear much in their Catholic school about Allah and Krishna and Mohammed and Guru Nanak and who knows what else; but they will be told nothing of Jesus Christ, or His blessed mother, or the Trinity, or the Holy Bible, or anything specifically and recognisably Christian.
But what is Melancholicus thinking? So-called Catholic schools in this post-conciliar age are hardly havens of the Catholic religion even now, are they? Religious education in Ireland, long since hobbled by the execrable and even heretical Alive-O series, has long since been reduced to vacuous, airy-fairy, anthropocentric pap devoid of recognisably Catholic content. It is the conciliar religion, rather than Catholicism, that currently holds sway in Irish Catholic schools. So on balance, once this policy is implemented, Catholic schoolchildren will not really be losing out on anything they didn’t have before, will they?
But now, before we finish, imagine a Catholic child enrolled in an Islamic school. Do you think, gentle reader, that allowances would be made to accommodate this child and her religious sensibilities? On the contrary, she would be required to pray the Muslim prayers with her Muslim classmates; she would be compelled to wear the hijab in school despite the fact that she is not a Muslim; she would be told, forcefully and repeatedly, that Allah has no son, that the Trinity is unclean, that Christians and Jews are deserving of hellfire, that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet, and that the Qur’an and not the Bible is the word of God.
That’s a rather different picture, isn’t it?
Here in Ireland, folk are at the moment much in a tizzy about the proposed opening of a lap-dancing club in Kilkenny. Regardless of whether one considers this to be a marvellous stride forward into maturity or a regression into juvenilia, such is the regrettable parochialism of this small nation that no one seems to be able to stop talking about it.
Today Melancholicus was testily drumming the steering wheel while delayed in the morning rush hour beyond all reasonable endurance. Anyhow, he shall resist the urge to complain about the frustrations attendant upon commuting in Dublin, because once he starts he’ll never stop. He should of course pray more for serenity while on the road, but matters are not helped by the fact that he has thus far failed four driving tests, and to exhibit a learner-plate on one’s car in Dublin seems to send a clear signal to all other traffic that the driver is a fair target for bullying.
But let us return to the point of this post.
To ease his impatience he turned over to Newstalk 106, on which Brenda Power was beginning her morning phone-in show Your Call. Among other things, the fact that Kilkenny city’s first such sex club will open its doors this coming Friday featured in the discussions (interested parties may read the relevant newspaper coverage in The Irish Times here).
What exasperates Melancholicus most of all about such events as this is the content of the ignorant and thoughtless text messages that are routinely sent to the various radio stations whenever anything to do with the sex industry is aired in this country. First prize for idiot text of the day must surely go to the clown who sent the following message in to Newstalk:
“Other modern countries have lap-dancing clubs. Ireland is now a modern country. Hopefully Catholic Ireland is dead.”
So, according to the perverse logic of this texter, the level at which the sex industry has proliferated in this country is to be taken as the index of how modern and sophisticated Ireland has become! But that is not all. The “modern Ireland” of lap-dancing and suchlike is contrasted with “Catholic Ireland”, which lacked such progressive institutions as lap-dancing. The texter clearly has an animus against “Catholic Ireland”, seemingly because the sex industry was not promoted by the latter. Or perhaps he/she (probably he) was simply grabbing the opportunity to claim his fifteen minutes of fame by having his Catholic-bashing text read out on air.
What Melancholicus finds most irritating is the implicit notion that opposition to the sex industry stems only from traditional religious beliefs, and that if there were no religion the sex industry would be something fine and dandy that everyone would approve of. He has encountered this unthinking and uncritical attitude on more than one occasion. The only arguments he has ever heard advanced in favour of the sex industry in this country are those hackneyed slogans which celebrate “liberation” from the “repression” of “Catholic Ireland”. On the occasion of the opening of the first lap-dancing club in Ireland in 1999/2000, the aptly-named Declan Moroney, a journalist for the now defunct tabloid paper Ireland On Sunday waxed lyrical in his praise for the establishment, and declared that the only people who could possibly be opposed to such a great stride forward were those he derisively dismissed as “the rosary bead brigade”. But no convincing argument is ever offered to persuade us that we should view the sex industry as a good in itself; it is all based upon a knee-jerk reaction against Catholic moral teaching, and some specious blather about “adults” and “maturity”. In the meantime the sex industry itself gets away with murder (sometimes literally) and continues to exploit its slaves and dependants while thriving on the propaganda of its anti-Catholic and opinionated useful idiots in the media and in society generally.
It is boasted by the champions of the new Ireland that we Irish are now finally grown up, that we have become adults, etc. etc. etc. Melancholicus is far from convinced. If anything, Irish society has become even more adolescent and immature than at any time in the past. The Irish are increasingly a race of arrogant, lustful, avaricious and greedy souls, with a bad temper and a proclivity for profanity. Melancholicus invites his overseas readers to seek out a few Irish blogs (particularly those for whom the new Ireland is a good thing); just peruse the contents and see if you don’t agree with this assessment.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
There are a great many changes that Melancholicus would like to see made to his local parish Mass: the banishment of guitars, tambourines and other unsuitable musical instruments; the suppression of all those woefully inappropriate folksy “hymns”; the expulsion of musicians of any stripe from the sanctuary, and their relegation to the choir loft (which is where they should be in the first place); the abandonment of the damnable practice of using ‘girl altar boys’ as servers; the incineration of those shapeless off-white smocks that altar
Did I miss anything?
But out of all these changes, if I had to pick just one, it would be this: turn the priest around, so that he is facing the altar/tabernacle/east/almighty God again, instead of playing to the congregation. In my view, permitting Mass to be celebrated facing the people was the single most damaging liturgical innovation inflicted on the Church after the council. I can see it all the time, wherever the new rite is celebrated. Be he never so zealous for orthodoxy and liturgical correctness, if the celebrant is facing the people he will finish, despite his best intentions, by pitching the Mass to his audience instead of praying to almighty God. Many priests, brainwashed by the liturgical aberrations now fossilized within the new rite, consider the congregation to the be the most important ingredient in the affair, even to the extent of not bothering to celebrate Mass at all if there is no congregation present. Such a mentality could not have arisen if the practice of celebrating ad orientem had been maintained.
On the one hand, we have witnessed the rise of a pornographied and contraceptive culture characterised by unrestrained licentiousness, promiscuity, and convenience killing.
On the other hand, we see the creation of life increasingly transferred from the womb to the laboratory, a sinister move wherein the new life is subjected—all with the approval of government—to fiendish manipulations that violate the most foundational principles of ethics and humanity.
This blasphemy is just the beginning. They’ll be manufacturing the Uruk-Hai next.
Just wait and see.
The British public are, apparently, “at ease” with this abomination. Melancholicus is not in the least surprised, since western liberal societies have already swallowed so many camels that one more won’t hurt.
Or so they think.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Angry scientists protest Pope's visit to Roman university
Vatican, Jan. 14, 2008 (CWNews.com) - A group of Italian academics have protested plans for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to a leading university in Rome, charging that the Pope should not be honored in an academic setting because he has shown hostility toward scientific advance.
Some 67 professors signed a protest statement calling for cancellation of a visit by the Holy Father to La Sapienza university on January 17. Led by Andrea Frova, a physics professor at La Sapienza, the protesters said it would be "inappropriate" for an institution committed to scientific progress to honor the Pope, arguing that the Church has worked to suppress science.
To bolster their position, the 67 protesters cite a 1990 speech in which then-Cardinal Ratzinger defended the Church's disciplinary action against Galileo in 1633. In that talk, the future Pope cited the verdict of the agnostic scholar Paul Feyerabend, who said: "The Church in the age of Galileo clung to reason more than Galileo himself did." He found that the heresy verdict against Galileo was, by the standards of the times, "rational and just."
Although he did not endorse Feyerabend's conclusion -- Pope John Paul II had already acknowledged that the Church erred in condemning Galileo -- Cardinal Ratzinger did stress that the Church was not hostile to science, and in fact Galileo continued his investigations, with support from the hierarchy, even after his trial.
The thrust of Cardinal Ratzinger's speech in 1990 was to show how the Enlightenment era had created an artificial rift between faith and reason. He argued that the Galileo trial, "which was little considered in the 18th century, was elevated to a myth of the Enlightenment in the century that followed."
The protests against the Pope's visit to La Sapienza have echoed that hostility toward religious faith, claiming that the Church today still suppresses scientific progress. Ironically, to protest that alleged restraint on free inquiry, the group asked university officials to prevent a speech by the Roman Pontiff. Vatican Radio, describing the protests as unworthy of academic life, questioned whether the professors were displaying the "tolerance" that they proclaimed.
The dean of the university has said that he will not cancel the Pope's visit. But protests at the school are planned throughout the week, with critics posting anti-clerical slogans around the campus and organizing a "homo-cession" -- a parade of homosexuals and lesbians -- to protest Church teachings.
Yes, indeed! Academic life in a nutshell. Melancholicus can testify to this since he works in a university, rubbing shoulders all the time with academics. Without meaning to criticize his colleagues (many of whom have been most kind and beneficent to him, for which he is profoundly grateful) he must in all honesty state that he has found academia to be a veritable repository of everything that is small, mean, petty and narrow in human nature. The constant infighting, the rivalries, the petty jealousies, the endless slanders and libels, the mercenary politicking, not to mention the institutionalized leftism... it is all most unedifying, and this more than anything else has contributed to Melancholicus’ earnest desire to seek his living elsewhere, well away from faculty and classroom. He is aware that there is no escape from such things—they are endemic to human nature, and consequently may be found everywhere—but they seem truly to be writ large in the university.
Melancholicus was reminded of this fact upon seeing this reaction of the learned professors of La Sapienza to the proposed visit to their institute of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI. Here’s a little syllogism:
Major: Science will, in time, answer every question.
Minor: The Church is opposed to scientific progress.
Conclusion: Therefore the Church is opposed to truth, knowledge, reality, etc.
This, apparently, is how the good professors would seem view the matter. The conclusion follows logically from the premises, and so our professorial friends are quite confident in their stance. However, they have failed to notice (or perhaps have conveniently overlooked) that there are serious flaws in both premises which render the conclusion unsound.
Furthermore, if these good people were indeed truly enlightened, would they not welcome this opportunity to play host to such a significant leader of the benighted forces of superstition and obscurantism, in order that they might show him his errors before the whole world, and so correct him and all his followers, thereby leading them to the truth?
Instead they have chosen to respond with a petty and spiteful display of juvenility which does nothing to persuade this reviewer of the supposed ‘enlightened’ or ‘rational’ nature of this atheistic scientism. On the contrary, these gentlefolk seem to be just as superstitious and unquestioning as the most unthinking adherent of the most absurd religious cult.
The notion that the Church is somehow ‘opposed’ to scientific progress dies hard, but it owes more to the propaganda of the eighteenth-century ‘Age of Enlightenment’ than to real history. Scientists, it appears, make poor historians. Furthermore, what does the bizarre appearance of this proposed “homo-cession” have to do with science and the Church? The Church, at least, has from the beginning upheld a consistent attitude to homosexuality. Until recently, scientists were of the view, common to most members of society, that homosexuality was a disorder; today, influenced by the propaganda and the pressure of homosexual lobbyists, they have reversed their position. Now that they have succumbed to such activism, the findings of their science is dictated by their ideology. So what, in the end, is true? So much for objectivity. So much for the scientific method.
In any case, science as such does not enter the equation; it is all to do with a socio-political agenda and an opposition to the moral teachings of the Church, as well as the claims of the latter to be the custodian of divine revelation.
In any case, Melancholicus hopes that the Holy Father will not persevere with his intention to visit this impious university, for it seems that little good can come from it.
UPDATE: Melancholicus is relieved to note that the Holy Father has since cancelled his proposed visit to this seat of unwisdom. Deo gratias. Read about it here.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
He found it courtesy of Traditio in Radice, which in the past while has been resurrected.
The good fellows over at TiR also quoted this most apposite verse from sacred scripture (Numbers 14:33), which has since become one of Melancholicus’ favourites:
“Your children shall wander in the desert forty years, and shall bear your fornication, until the carcasses of their fathers be consumed in the desert”.
And have we not indeed been wandering in the desert forty years, since the wretched ’sixties, and Vatican II?
Let us look for a moment at the legacy of the baby boomers. This is best seen in their children — the confused, self-absorbed and navel-gazing Generation X. Gen X has a high rate of nihilism, apathy, drug and alcohol problems, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders, a fondness for angry, depressive and discordant music, and of course a sky-high rate of suicide. Think of Kurt Cobain (born 1967), or Beck (born 1970), who in 1994 sang that immortal lyric Soy un perdedor / I’m a loser baby / so why don’t you kill me, or basically anything by The Smashing Pumpkins. The existential situation of Generation X, or at least the stereotype thereof, is truly pathetic. However, one must not be surprised that we (for Melancholicus, born in 1972, is himself a Gen X’er) have turned out this way, for Generation X has had to wander in the desert bearing the fornications and whoredoms of our baby boomer parents, and the hand of the LORD is heavy upon us. After all, the sacred liturgy was mutilated on the boomers’ watch, and they failed to do anything about it, preferring instead to bequeath to their children a wilderness of clown masses, guitar masses, liturgical dancing and other puerilities, and a Catholic faith so emptied of its credal and dogmatic content that it can hardly be called a religion any more. The boomers’ watch also saw the introduction of no-fault divorce, abortion, the rise of the so-called “gay rights” which have led to the normalisation of sodomy, and now that they are reaching their senectude and are safely ensconced in governments all over the world, the boomers themselves are legislating in favour of euthanasia, embryo research, homosexual ‘marriage’ and numberless other aberrations. Even while they continue to hammer violently down on the nails in the coffin of western civilisation, they lack the spine to do anything about the Mohammedan threat, which in Melancholicus’ view at least, is the gravest peril to face the free world since the Third Reich.
Alas, we must wait until the last members of that accursed generation have been lowered into the ground before a true restoration, unimpeded by the inverted ideology of the world of the ’sixties, can finally begin.
As a definitive and final judgement on the legacy of the baby boomers, Melancholicus is reminded of a line of a song routinely hummed by a character in the WWII novels of Sven Hassel whenever battle was about to be joined:
Come now death, come!
RTÉ (which stands for Radio Teilifís Éireann in Irish, meaning ‘Radio & Television of Ireland’) is Ireland’s national broadcasting company. Their website may be viewed here.
RTÉ began broadcasting in 1961. The first televised programme on RTÉ 1 was a Mass celebrated by the then archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, CSSp.
In those far-off days Irish people were generally devout and God-fearing, and the bishops could afford to throw their weight around, since the flock was invariably so docile and pliable. RTÉ also was prepared to acquiesce to the will of the bishops regarding the sort of programming which was considered acceptable viewing for the Irish public.
In the early days, certain things could not be shown on Irish television. These included programmes hostile to the Catholic religion as well as programmes featuring (among other things) nudity, sexual activity, unacceptably coarse language, an unreasonable level of violence, or anything that might be construed as promoting immorality.
One of the unique features of RTÉ radio and television at that time was that the sound of the Angelus bell was broadcast at noon and again at 6pm just before the evening news, chiming for one minute—about the time it takes to recite the Angelus if one is quick about it—before the beginning of the scheduled news bulletins. On the television the sound of the bell would be accompanied by an image of the Virgin and Child. Melancholicus is not aware of any other Catholic country in which this was done, although he is open to correction on this matter.
Today, most constraints on RTÉ programming have been removed. RTÉ television does not yet transmit hardcore pornography, but that’s about the only depth to which they have not yet stooped. RTÉ is today a fiercely anti-Catholic company, which has no problem broadcasting items which are offensive to Catholics, or items which promote foreign religions or ‘alternative’ spiritualities. The tone of religious programming on both radio and television is exceedingly slack, mostly of the interfaith mish-mash variety, and regularly features contributions from dissenters, scoffers, and nay-sayers. RTÉ has by now wholeheartedly embraced the New IrelandTM of materialism, anti-clericalism, free love and gay rights.
In the midst of this sea-change, however, what is most remarkable is that the Angelus bell has survived. It still sounds on RTÉ radio 1 every day at noon and again at 6pm, and also on television on RTÉ 1 every evening before the six o’clock news. In a concession to the ‘ecumenical’ spirit of the times, the traditional Catholic image of the Virgin and Child has been replaced on television by a montage of images of persons engaged in various activities, none of which might have anything to do with the Catholic religion, but the Angelus is the Angelus nonetheless.
Given the exceedingly strong and visceral reaction by the bright young things of the New IrelandTM against all things Catholic, the survival of the Angelus bell on RTÉ is a miracle in itself, for Melancholicus cannot account for it otherwise.
It is hard to imagine that it will not at a future date finally be withdrawn on the initiative of some secularising zealot or some self-appointed PC watchdog worried that the Angelus bell might be ‘offensive’ to religious minorities, but at present it remains, a nugget of spiritual tradition in the midst of an ocean of frenetic change.
This is soon told. RTÉ radio 1 and Newstalk 106, the two main ‘talkie’ stations in the Dublin area, have been religiously providing their listeners with all the latest news and in-depth analysis of the primaries, and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Super Tuesday with breathless anticipation.
Melancholicus has noted one thing in particular about Irish coverage of American politics: the Irish are almost universally a race of Democrats. This of course is an age-old position, going back at least as far as the days of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, if not before. The political preferences of Irish communities in the United States seems to be mirrored exactly on the home sod. Witness the difference in the popular reception of visiting US presidents according as to whether they were Republicans or Democrats. When Bill Clinton visited Ireland in 1995, he was accorded the warmest of welcomes, with vast and appreciative crowds turning out to see him wherever he went. Ronald Reagan did not attract anything like similar numbers in 1984, but he did attract left-wing protesters hostile to US foreign policy in Latin America. When George W. Bush visited Ireland in 2004, he was greeted by a tiny crowd, most of whom had turned out to agitate, heckle and protest—as the reader must surely have expected.
Nobody on the Republican side has attracted much following in Ireland. Giuliani has been mentioned once or twice. There has also been plenty of media snickering at the religious beliefs of certain Republican candidates (Romney and Huckabee particularly). Contrary to popular foreign perception, ‘Holy Catholic Ireland’ is nothing of the sort. Melancholicus’ patria is a rigidly secular land. The Ireland of today is a staunchly anti-religious and even anti-Catholic country. Should Benedict XVI visit Ireland (as has been threatened), he is sure to receive a grand reception, but hardly on the same scale as John Paul II in 1979 (to date the only papal visit to this country). The so-called ‘religious right’ in the USA has no sympathy in Ireland.
Although John McCain’s name has been dropped on a few occasions, all the Irish news coverage at the time of writing concerns Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and the excitement of the contest between these two for the Democratic nomination. Most Irish people seem to support either one or the other. In tune with liberal notions of gender and race, many are excited by the possibility that this campaign will yield either the first black or first female US president, as if such superficialities were the only thing that counts.
Not being either American or resident in the US, Melancholicus has no vested interest one way or the other. The Republicans do not in his estimation deserve to retain the White House, but on the other hand the Democrats are a crew of pro-gay, anti-life liberal ideologues. I suppose it matters little whether Tiberius Caesar is succeeded by Caligula, Nero, or Domitian; the effect in each case will be much the same.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
World-wide: Before Vatican II, 36,200. Today 18,711.
Brothers: Before Vatican II, 5,204. Today 1,306.
Seminarians (USA only): Before Vatican II, 5,500. Today 140.
USA Jesuit priests: Before Vatican II, 8,000. Today 2,640.
Jesuits (Italy): Before Vatican II, 4,000+. Today 640.
Jesuits (France): Before Vatican II, 3,500+. Today less than 500.
Jesuits (Canada): Before Vatican II, 1,500+. Today less than 250.
Jesuits (Ireland and the United Kingdom): Before Vatican II, 1,740+. Today less than 300.
How the mighty have fallen!
H/T to Gillibrand.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
YES! I finally found it - the Latin text and music for the ‘eighth’ O Antiphon, O Virgo Virginum. A bit late, seeing as Sapientiatide is now well behind us, but late is better than never.
This ‘eighth’ O antiphon is not used in the Roman rite proper, only in the Sarum use thereof. I have it in English in my copies of the English Office and the Anglican Breviary, but have been searching for the original Latin for some time now. This happy discovery I owe to a chance visit to the Inn at the End of the World.
Because the Sarum use contains eight O antiphons, Sapientiatide begins a day earlier than in the Roman rite, on December 16th.
Is this the first one of the new year?
From Catholic World News:
Iraqi Catholics hit by Epiphany bombing campaign
Baghdad, Jan. 7, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Catholic churches and institutions in Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq, were hit by a series of bombing attacks on Sunday, January 6, the AsiaNews service reports.
Remarkably, no one was killed by the explosions, Church officials said. But several church buildings sustained major damage.
The attacks "represent a clear message," Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told AsiaNews, noting that they seemed clearly to indicate "a coordinated plan." Catholics in Iraq have been shaken by several bombing campaigns, evidently designed to intimidate the Christian minority and encourage further emigration from Iraq.
Car bombs exploded at the Church of St. George in Baghdad, where Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly had recently finished celebrating the Divine Liturgy. There were also explosions at a Chaldean convent and a Melkite church near Baghdad, another Chaldean church and an orphanage in Mosul, and a Dominican convent in Mosul.
Melancholicus could comment, but he is already weary with reporting on outrages such as this.
Inspired by this amusing post by Mulier Fortis, Melancholicus was reminded of hearing Mass on the feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28th last) during which the PP delivered for his homily an interesting interpretation of the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.
This carol apparently began life in post-Reformation England, in which secret Catholics and recusants used it as a coded means of passing on the Catholic faith, Romish prayer books and catechisms having been proscribed. However, as Father went down through each of the items comprising the verses of this carol, Melancholicus couldn’t help noticing that many of the Catholic teachings concealed therein do not differ at all from the Anglican version of the same!
The following is Father’s explanation of the symbolism in this carol, reproduced from Melancholicus’ memory, since no books or websites have been consulted in the preparation of this post.
Melancholicus has no idea how authoritative this explanation is, so he is open to correction by those who know more about the subject than he does.
So here goes:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a patridge in a pear tree
My “true love” is, as befits the Christian soul, almighty God. The partridge is His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the pear tree can double as the womb of the Blessed Virgin, in which the earthly life of the Lord began, and the cross, on which His earthly life ended.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves...
The two turtle doves are the two divisions of sacred Scripture, the Old and New Testaments. Incidentally, the offering made by poor couples in the Temple in Jerusalem after the birth of their first child was two turtle doves, and this in fact was the offering made on behalf of the Lord Jesus by His mother and St. Joseph when He was presented in the Temple.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens...
The French hens represent the three persons of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds...
The calling birds represent the four Evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five gold rings...
The gold rings are the five books of the Pentateuch, i.e. the first five books of the Bible, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying...
These are the six days of Creation as described in the first chapter of Genesis.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming...
The swans represent either the seven sacraments or the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost enumerated in Isaiah 11:2 and imparted through the sacrament of Confirmation.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking...
These are the eight Beatitudes delivered by the Lord Jesus in His sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:3-10.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing...
These are—if memory serves correctly—the nine fruits of the Holy Ghost. I’m sure they’re mentioned somewhere in the Bible (Paul, no doubt, enumerates them—maybe in Corinthians?) but I’m not sure where.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping...
An easy one! The ten precepts of the decalogue, of course.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping...
Which reminds Melancholicus of Rob Martin, a friend of his and fellow seminarist in those far-off golden days, who used to play the bagpipes (and no doubt still does). Well, to get back to the point, the pipers represent the eleven faithful apostles after the defection of Judas.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming...
These represent the complete apostolic college, and hence are a figure of the Church and of the unity thereof.
And that’s that.
|Oh, what the heck. Here's the picture after all.|
What’s your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Roman Catholic
You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is Mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.
And now for the post-match analysis. Melancholicus scored rather surprisingly in some areas. 93% Roman Catholic. 93%? Only 93%?? The Bloviator—a recent convert—scored 100% in this area, and Melancholicus is abashed. What, as his father would ask, happened to the other 7%? Melancholicus is afraid that the missing 7% must perforce belong to his inner heretic. And ah, there it is, right down at the bottom of the table — modern liberal, 7%. They don’t come much more heretical than that. Surely this must be a mistake! There must have been some slip of the mouse, for pity’s sake! Melancholicus must have been distracted while clicking the answers and hit the wrong one by accident, surely! Ah, mea maxima culpa! Extra penance is clearly required, as well as another reading of Pascendi.
Melancholicus asks his readers henceforth to exercise an inquisitorial watch over the content of posts on Infelix Ego. He asks them to keep a zealous eye open to make sure that the 7% modern liberal neither exerts itself, nor attempts to increase its percentage. Likely things to look out for would be a sudden admiration for the BBC, or a passing admission that Melancholicus has been too hard in places on the socialists, or the Mohammedans. Or surreptitious hints that he thinks multiculturalism and diversity might actually be good for society. Or the sudden appearance of a desire to go and live in Canada.
Melancholicus would really like to tag Cranmer with this theological quiz, but he doubts that he is important enough to merit his Grace’s attention, and in any case his Grace probably wouldn’t condescend to participate in such foolishness.
So he won’t.
Monday, January 07, 2008
It didn't attract much notice, but the General Assembly of the United Nations ended the year by passing a disgusting resolution protecting Islam from criticism of its human rights violations.
Lots of non-Muslims voted for it a sign that more and more corrupt Third World governments are identifying with the ideology of Islam, even if they don't accept its doctrines.
The resolution goes under the innocuous title "Combating defamation of religions" but the text singles out "Islam and Muslims in particular". It expresses "deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism".
The text of the resolution can be read here.
A commentator on Holy Smoke, one Patrick B., took issue with Damian’s view of the resolution, criticised his use of the word ‘terrorist’, attempted to argue that much islamist violence is politically rather than religiously motivated, and at the last interjected the red herring of the existence of violent groups that have no connection to Islam, as well as religiously-motivated violence involving the adherents of non-Muslim religions.
Melancholicus has re-read Damian’s piece, the text of the resolution itself and Patrick B.’s commentary, but in the end he must come down squarely against the commentator.
A fundamental error—into which both Patrick B. and the drafters of this resolution fall—is to regard all religions as essentially the same. Patrick B. points out that various other groups and the adherents of other religions also commit violent acts. Melancholicus is not impressed, since all this splitting of hairs and arguing over what precisely the meaning of the word ‘terrorist’ might be fails to confront the reality of a problem with which those who live in close proximity to Muslims—particularly Muslim majorities—have to deal with every day of their lives.
The fundamental problem is that in our time Mohammedanism is aggressively expansionist and a threat to the stability of all non-Muslim societies in a way in which other religions are not. To place all religions on the same level irrespective of their merits and demerits is to invite disaster. To even imagine that Mohammedanism is just a religion like any other is, in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, criminal folly. Add to this the brainwashed paralysis of western civilisation, in which those who make the decisions seem to be programmed to appease the Mohammedans on foot of ‘minority rights’, and the reader will have some idea why this resolution is bad news. These dhimmis actually seem to think that if they give the Mohammedan everything he asks for that he’ll politely go away and leave them alone. But the problem about paying Danegeld is that the Dane keeps coming back, and his price for keeping the peace rises steeply each time he does so. There is no better way to encourage an aggressor than by constant appeasement of his demands and capitulation before his threats. Appeasement of the Vikings didn’t work in 991, appeasement of the Nazis didn’t work in 1939, and appeasement of the Mohammedans won’t work now.
And in the meantime Melancholicus fears that this salient truth will not be recognised until it is too late.
Michael Nazir-Ali, the successor (after a fashion) of St. John Fisher, is one of the few bishops of the Church of England with a backbone.
He is also one of the few English bishops willing to tell it like it is, instead of concealing the truth not only from the British public but from himself as well because the facts happen to run contrary to the nostrums of political correctness.
On the feast of the Epiphany this year, the Sunday Telegraph published an article by bishop Nazir-Ali, in which he warned of Islamic extremism having turned “already separate communities into ‘no-go’ areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability”.
The shrill cries of horror were not long in coming. Melancholicus was awakened by them on Sunday morning listening to the news on BBC Radio 4. The BBC, which has of late developed a habit of cosseting the Mohammedans, was clearly disapproving of the bishop’s remarks. “Calamity” Clegg, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, helpfully dismissed the bishop’s thesis as “a gross caricature of reality”, although Melancholicus would have thought that phrase more accurately epitomised whatever passes for thought inside Mr. Clegg’s head. The Mohammedans, predictably, reacted with displeasure, although Melancholicus supposes (somewhat sourly) that they ought to be praised for not rioting in the streets or setting fire to cars or beheading people in their outrage at the spotlight shone on their antics by the bishop. In fact, none of the statements released by Mohammedan organisations reacting to the bishop’s article were quite as hysterical as the response of Mr. Clegg, although one group, the Ramadhan Foundation, did go as far as to call for Dr. Nazir-Ali’s resignation on the grounds of “inciting religious hatred” (whatever that means).
It shows how far British society has succumbed to the tyranny of “multiculturalism”, when an organisation set up to represent an alien religion can with impunity demand the resignation of a bishop of the established church!
Bishop Nazir-Ali’s article is important and will repay study, so Melancholicus has taken the liberty of reproducing the offending text in full below (original here).
Extremism flourished as UK lost Christianity
By Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester
In fewer than 50 years, Britain has changed from being a society with an acknowledged Christian basis to one which is increasingly described by politicians and the media as "multifaith".
One reason for this is the arrival of large numbers of people of other faiths to these shores. Their arrival has coincided with the end of the Empire which brought about a widespread questioning of Britain's role.
On the one hand, the British were losing confidence in the Christian vision which underlay most of the achievements and values of the culture and, on the other, they sought to accommodate the newer arrivals on the basis of a novel philosophy of "multiculturalism".
This required that people should be facilitated in living as separate communities, continuing to communicate in their own languages and having minimum need for building healthy relationships with the majority.
Alongside these developments, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into "no-go" areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.
Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them and even the risk of violence. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-Right intimidation. Attempts have been made to impose an "Islamic" character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer.
Such amplification was, of course, unknown throughout most of history and its use raises all sorts of questions about noise levels and whether non-Muslims wish to be told the creed of a particular faith five times a day on the loudspeaker.
This is happening here even though some Muslim-majority communities are trying to reduce noise levels from multiple mosques announcing this call, one after the other, over quite a small geographical area.
There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered?
It is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain.
The existence of chapels and chaplaincies in places such as hospitals, prisons and institutions of further and higher education is in jeopardy either because of financial cuts or because the authorities want "multifaith" provision, without regard to the distinctively Christian character of the nation's laws, values, customs and culture.
Not only locally, but at the national level also the establishment of the Church of England is being eroded. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat.
In the past, I have supported the establishment of the Church, but now I have to ask if it is only the forms that are left and the substance rapidly disappearing. If such is the case, is it worth persevering with the trappings of establishment?
Much of this has come about because of a "neutral" secularist approach which refuses to privilege any faith. In fact, secularism has its own agenda and it is certainly not neutral. It is perfectly possible for Britain to welcome people on the basis of its Christian heritage.
Christian chaplains can arrange for people of other faiths to have access to their own spiritual leaders without compromising the Christian basis of their own ministry.
Instead of this, the multifaith "mish mash" is producing a new, de facto, establishment as the Government attempts to bring particular communities on to its agenda for integration and cohesion, an agenda which still lacks the underpinning of a moral and spiritual vision.
If it had not been for the black majority churches and the recent arrival of people from central and eastern Europe, the Christian cause in many of our cities would have looked a lost one.
At last it seems the Government may be waking up to the situation; to the importance of English as a means of communication, to greater integration in housing, schools, and leisure pursuits and in citizenship education.
But none of this will be of any avail if Britain does not recover that vision of its destiny which made it great. That has to do with the Bible's teaching that we have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in God's image.
It has to do with a prophetic passion for justice and compassion and it has to do with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ regarding humility, service and sacrifice. Let us pledge in this New Year to restore this noble vision to the centre of our national life.
Amen. Melancholicus is worried about the frail condition of the Church of England, and by the current weakness of the Anglican communion as a whole. In traditionally protestant countries such as England, the established church has an important role to fulfil in society. To the degree that it is impeded (or allows itself to be impeded) in the discharge of this role, the whole of the society committed to its care will be weakened as a result. The English Church needs more prelates with the mettle of Michael Nazir-Ali, who will fearlessly diagnose the serious problems facing Christian civilisation rather than pretending they don’t exist. Without such leadership, the Church will continue to erase itself from existence and what, pray, will fill the vacuum left behind it when it’s gone? The Mohammedans are already bold enough to publicly recommend that Britain adopt Islamic values. Hazel Blears told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that she was proud that Britain was a “secular democracy” with a strong tradition of allowing people freedom to worship in their own way. But this completely misses the point. It is not an issue of allowing the Mohammedans freedom of religion. The post-Christian British seem to be so secure in their secularism that they cannot imagine themselves ever being threatened by a religious ideology, even in the onset of a greater threat to the stability of British society than was posed by World War II!
Time is a great teacher. Unfortunately by the time the lesson is finally learned, it may well be too late.
Read it all.
Check out this hilarious parody of feminist fruit-and-nuttery. Bravo sisters! (if you don’t mind being addressed as such by a mere male).
One of the perks of working in a university is that one invariably receives a satisfyingly lengthy Christmas holiday wherein to unwind and relax, and to recharge one’s batteries. Today is Melancholicus’ first day back on the job, and he has decided to ease himself into his duties gently, by first posting to Infelix Ego and afterwards turning his attention to matters of research and educational import.
Without further ado, Melancholicus notes that this is his first post of the year 2008, and accordingly he wishes to extend his warmest New Year’s greetings and felicitations to all his readers—or at the very least to that one visitor who was kind enough, just before the end of last year, to leave a comment on this post below.
Melancholicus also notes—not without a wee twinge of regret—that on March 1st this year, he would have been ordained to the diaconate had he persevered with his vocation. Ah well, never mind. As God wills, so be it done.
It has been a delightful Christmas, however, and Melancholicus is refreshed spiritually, emotionally and physically. He is always optimistic at the beginning of every new year, but this year seems somewhat different.
A sense of change is in the air. 2008 must surely bring with it some change of direction to this poor idiot’s life. Melancholicus would like to think that in 2008, something will happen for him, rather than happening to him. Perhaps he will recover his lost vocation. Perhaps, failing that, he will meet the woman of his dreams. Perhaps he will pass his fifth—yes, fifth!—driving test. Perhaps the parish will permit the celebration of a Mass in the so-called “extraordinary form”. Perhaps he will change his job (the university seems to want to keep him, but he’s not sure if he wishes in turn to keep the university); perhaps all these things will happen (well, the first two are mutually exclusive, but nonetheless) or perhaps, this year Melancholicus will be just a little less infelix. That alone would be worth the wait.
There is much promise in this new year. Should anyone reading this be moved to pray for any of the above intentions, Melancholicus would really, really like to have a full driving licence, to take the L-plates off his car, and to drive on motorways without having to worry about being stopped by the police.
But we will not let 2007 go without mentioning those to whom he is indebted for their kindness and for making that wretched year so much less unbearable amid so great an adversity. Melancholicus will not embarrass any living persons by enumerating their generosity, so he will confine himself instead to rendering his most heartfelt thanks to two in heaven — the Blessed Mother and St. Francis Xavier, both of whom really came through for him in a special way.
You see, gentle reader, there is a God. And prayer does work (eventually).
Are you sceptical? Give it a try.
And Melancholicus would like to inform his favourite protestant that the saints do intercede in heaven for those who ask them.