A reader emailed me about this question, and a few days later I ran onto this. I'd have to say that generally speaking Anglican divinity frowns upon it. Bicknell's treatment is one of the best.
That being said, I would say it's somewhere near adiaphora. Even if it has no solid root in either Scripture or Tradition, it's hard to see why it might be harmful, and a case can be made that it can certainly be beneficial to Christian devotion. Bicknell even seems to admit this.
If you want to wade through the long video to find his comments, REC Bishop Ray Sutton's thoughts are interesting.
Katehon. News from the Orthodox bloc, and a necessary balance to the Western spin on things.
UPDATE: Fr. Chadwick responds below. I will leave this article up in order to provide the necessary context.
It is easy to come up with caricatures of the idea through bogus military orders in the Confederate states in America and modern cowboys with their small artillery in wait for some future conflict.
Now that, fair readers, is in all probability a cheap shot taken at yours truly, The Embryo Parson. Fr. Chadwick not only reads this blog, but he is a Facebook friend, and through both sources has likely gleaned the following about me:
1) I come from a long line of Southrons, the vast majority of whom fought on the side of the Confederacy during Mr. Lincoln's War. My half-Cherokee great-grandfather James Southerland was one of those ancestors. After the war, he joined United Confederate Veterans, an association of soldiers formed shortly after the war to honor the service of those soldiers who survived that conflict and those who did not. The successor organization to the UCV is the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an association of descendants of those who were non-commissioned soldiers in the War Between the States. A similar organization, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, honors the service of commissioned soldiers. I have been open on my Facebook page about my membership in the SCV, and recently I posted something about an officer in North Carolina to whom I am quite possibly related. I noted that if I was able to confirm my relation, I'd be eligible to join MOS&B.
It seems Fr. Chadwick has mistaken these historal organizations for "military orders". They are no more so than are the Sons of the American Revolution. Nor do the "Confederate states in America" (sic) exist anymore, except in the minds of the most extreme Neo-Confederates. The Confederacy was formed in 1860 and was destroyed in 1865, something that was lamented by Lord Acton and other Englishmen at the time, by the way;
2) I have also been vocal about the right to keep and bear arms, about the fact that there is almost certainly a "future conflict" coming to both North America and Europe, and about the role the RKBA will play here in the states when it comes. I happen to have made a meager scholarly contribution to the body of legal scholarship supporting what has been called the "standard model" of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which model was more or less recently affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions. Hoplophobic critics of the "standard model" sometimes refer to it as the "insurrectionist" reading of the Second Amendment, but in so doing they simply shoot themselves in the foot, if you'll excuse the pun, for all the constitutional history of the right to keep and bear arms -- a history that finds its origin in English (ahem!) common law -- is supportive of the proposition that the right to arms is guaranteed, in large part, to enable the civilian populace to effectively wage "future conflicts" in a 4th-Generation-style insurrection. Fr. Chadwick may wish to join millions of his countrymen and American liberal-lefties in eschewing such a proposition, but the historical and constitutional facts speak for themselves.
3) It goes without saying that I myself own a number of small arms for this very political purpose. My rifle of choice is the Colt LE-6920 M4, a carbine version of the evil, dreaded AR-15.
All of the foregoing, in Fr. Chadwick's overactive mind, makes me a "cowboy." Now, it's to be expected that someone who "detest(s) the notion of 'muscular Christianity'” will likely join the liberal-lefties in using the term "cowboy" as a pejorative term. For such people, the cowboy's virility, independence, willingness to suffer all that the particular line of work dishes out, and his noble code of honor are apparently things to be held in contempt. But I for one will accept being in even some remote way identified as the "cowboy", even though I am nowhere near as manly as he. Chadwick should take a trip out West sometime. I would be glad to introduce him to some real cowboys up in Wyoming. I think he'd receive quite the education. ;>)
Now, having written all this I suppose I could be wrong about the meaning of Fr. Chadwick's words, but if I am he is more than welcome to disabuse me of this interpretation, and I will accordingly delete this blog article post-haste. If he does not, however, then he stands duly corrected here about Confederate history organizations, what a "cowboy truly is, and the reason why Americans (including many cowboys!) have long been fans of Colt firearms.
Moreover, I will more than look forward to commenting (again) on whatever "caricatures" he may choose to "come up with". ;>)
It's been awhile since I've commented on the blogging of my friend Fr. Anthony Chadwick. Since our initial dust-ups many months ago, my theological sentiments have aligned more closely with his, and I accordingly find much (but not all) of what he writes about the Catholic faith compelling. He is a gifted thinker and writer, and I'm proud to link his blog here at OJC.
However, we remain at odds on the matter of Muscular Christianity. In a recent blog article entitled, "Der Ubermensch", Fr. Chadwick takes aim once again at the belief and practice of muscular Christianity, linking my recent blog article "More From National Review's David French on Masculinity", and irrationally sugessting some sort of relationship between MC and National Socialism (as he sometimes does to other bogeymen of his, such as Calvinism). After initially defending the retention of his own man card (and I agree he gets to keep it!), he writes,
I detest the notion of “muscular Christianity”. Christianity isn’t something to be defended, but lived. It is not strength, but love and beauty, the Beatitudes. . . .
Perhaps we can begin by being Christians in the spirit of the Beatitudes, seeking the Kingdom of Heaven and then weighing up our own strengths with those of the enemy.
Now, I see all that as a glaring example of the either/or fallacy. (That now makes two fallacies marking Fr. Chadwick's argument, the first one being the guilt-by-association/extention fallacy he commits every time he demonstrates the truth of Godwin's Law.) Christianity is a faith to be both defended and lived. It both strength and love and beauty.
The Catholic truth of this is summed up, I think, in an extrordinary 2015 article by Matt Walsh I stumbled upon just a day or so ago. The article began as a critique of contemporary "worship", but quickly turned to the topic of muscular Christianity:
I recently attended a service that might help solve the riddle of the fantastic decline of American Christianity. It was a different church from the one I normally go to.
Let me set the scene, perhaps it will sound familiar:
I walked in and immediately realized that I’d inadvertently stumbled upon a totally relaxed, convenient, comfortable brand of church. The first hint was the choir members dressed in shorts and flip flops. Sweet, bro. So chill.
There were a bunch of acoustic guitars and drums and tambourines and a keyboard. Before the service/concert began, some guy came out to rev up the crowd. Opening acts aren’t usually a part of the liturgical experience, but this is 2015 and we’re, like, so not into solemn silence and prayer anymore.
There must always be noise. Always noise. Sounds. Lights. Never silence, not even for a moment. . . .
If the faith is to regain lost ground in this country, it will only happen when Christianity is presented and understood as what it is: a warrior’s religion. A faith for fighters and soldiers. CS Lewis said it best (as usual):
Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
There. There it is, explained more compellingly in two sentences than many pastors can muster in a lifetime of sermons. This is frightening, militant language, but it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it is, most importantly, accurate. As Christians, we are fighting a war against the Devil himself. We are advancing against the darkest forces of the universe, and we march with God by our side. And all the while, all around us, on a dimension invisible to mortal eyes, angels and demons and supernatural forces, both good and evil, work to defend or destroy us.
The stakes are infinite. Our souls hang in the balance. We are standing on a battlefield where the hope of eternal life awaits the loyal soldiers. The Psalms say “praise be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war.” This is the feeling and the attitude that our leaders and churches should be stirring in us. This is the truth of this life and of this faith that we claim. It’s a ferocious, formidable, terrifying, joyful truth. It’s the truth that Scripture spends over 1,000 pages trying to explain. It’s the truth that should be shouted from the rooftops of every church and proclaimed from the mouths of every Christian.
But Lewis did not simply view this call to battle in mere spiritual or metaphorical terms. He saw social and political implications. From the book Present Concerns (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1986):
The word chivalry has meant at different times a good many different things - from heavy cavalry to giving a woman a seat in a train. But if we want to understand chivalry as a distinct ideal from other ideals - if we want to isolate that particular conception of the man comme il fant which was the special contribution of the Middle Ages to our culture - we cannot do better than turn to the words addressed to the greatest of all the imaginary knights in Mallory's Morte Darthur. "Thou wert the meekest man, says Sir Ector to the dead Launcelot. "Thou were the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."
The important thing about this ideal is, of course, the double demand it makes on human nature. The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost maidenlike, guest in a hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth. When Launcelot heard himself pronounced the best knight in the world, "he wept as he had been a child that had been beaten."
What, you may ask, is the relevance of this ideal to the modern world. It is terribly relevant. It may or may not be practicable - the Middle Ages notoriously failed to obey it - but it is certainly practical; practical as the fact that men in a desert must find water or die. . . . (Brute heroism without mercy and gentleness) is heroism by nature - heroism outside of the chivalrous tradition.
The medieval knight brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate toward one another. It brought them together for that very reason. It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop. . . .
If we cannot produce Launcelots, humanity falls into two sections - those who can deal in blood and iron but cannot be "meek in hall", and those who are "meek in hall" but useless in battle - for the third class, who are both brutal in peace and cowardly in war, need not here be discussed. When this dissociation of the two halves of Launcelot occurs, history becomes a horribly simple affair. . . . The man who combines both characters - the knight - is not a work of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium.
In the world today there is a "liberal" or "enlightened" tradition which regards the combative side of man's nature as a pure, atavistic evil, and scouts the chivalrous sentiment as part of the "false glamour" of war. And there is also a neo-heroic tradition which scouts the chivalrous sentiment as a weak sentimentality, which would raise from its grave (its shallow and unquiet grave!) the pre-Christian ferocity of Achilles by a "modern invocation". . . .
(However), there is still life in the tradition which the Middle Ages inaugurated. But the maintenance of that life depends, in part, on knowing that the knightly character is art not nature - something that needs to be achieved, not something that can be relied upon to happen. And this knowledge is specially necessary as we grow more democratic. In previous centuries the vestiges of chivalry were kept alive by a specialized class, from whom they spread to other classes partly by imitation and partly by coercion. Now, it seems, the people must either be chivalrous on its own resources, or else choose between the two remaining alternatives of brutality and softness. . . . The ideal embodied in Launcelot is "escapism" is a sense never dreamed of by those who use that word; it offers the only possible escape from a world divided between wolves who do not understand, and sheep who cannot defend, the things which make life desirable. . . .
Lewis sees softness and "milksopiness" in an insufficiently chivalrous man, but Leon Podles takes it a step further in his book The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, where he complains about the "bridal mysticism" that took hold in the Western Church during the Middle Ages, and how it contributed to a subculture of unmanliness in the Roman Catholic Church. Podles also documents how the feminization of the church proceeds apace today, and infects nearly all Christian communions, including evangelical and liberal Protestantism.
And, as we all know, the syndrome has infected Anglicanism as well. It was so bad in the Church of England of the 19th-century that F.D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley began the "muscular Christianity" movement that Fr. Chadwick decries:
Beginning at mid-century, the broadchurch Anglican F.D. Maurice and his pupil, the Rev. Charles Kingsley, began espousing the virtues of muscular Christianity. Maurice and Kingsley, like many Englishmen, worried that the Anglican Church and Britain were suffering from the evils of industrialization: among others, growing slums, poverty, secularization, and urban decay. Life was a battle, Kingsley argued, and Christians should be at the center, actively employing their "manfulness" and "usefulness" against the evils of industrialization. Kingsley doubted that traditional morality would be able to cope with the effects of industrialization unless the Church reformed itself. He also deplored what many considered to be increasingly suffocating effeminacy within the Anglican Church, and believed that muscular Christian men equipped with a cohesive philosophy consisting equally of athleticism, patriotism, and religion could rescue Church and country from sloth.
Lewis was on or near the Anglo-Catholic end of the spectrum, but despite the "milksoppy" reputation, to put it mildly and charitably, of English Anglo-Catholicism, Lewis was a chivalrous man: meek in hall AND useful in battle. (He fought in WWI.) His Narnia series defends chivalry to the uttermost, with boys (and girls!) carrying weapons and willing to use them.
Likewise, J.R.R. Tolkien. As Bradly Birzer writes in an Imaginative Conservative article, Tolkien & Anglo-Saxon England: Protectors of Christendom, per Tolkien,
The Christian should embrace and sanctify the most noble virtues to come out of the northern pagan mind: courage and raw will. “It is the strength of the northern mythological imagination that it faced this problem, put the monsters in the centre, gave them victory but no honour, and found a potent but terrible solution in naked will and courage,” Tolkien wrote. “The northern [imagination] has power, as it were, to revive its spirit even in our own times." Tolkien thought that a vigorous Christianity needed that northern pagan myth spirit to make it stronger. The German-Italian theologian Romano Guardini argued along the same lines. . . .
From its original conception as a myth for England, first conceived in muck and blood-filled trenches in northern France, Tolkien’s legendarium grew much larger in scope and significance. The story, especially The Lord of the Rings, became much more than a myth for any one people or any one nation. It, instead, became a myth for the restoration of Christendom itself. The intrepid Anglo-Saxon missionaries, in particular St. Boniface of Crediton, created medieval, Christian Europe by carrying classical and Christian traditions into the heart of pagan, barbarian Europe. St. Boniface converted innumerable barbarians to Christianity, unifying them under Rome. St. Boniface even crowned Pepin, son of Charles Martel, an action that would eventually lead to the papal recognition of Charlemagne as the revived Holy Roman Emperor in 800 a.d. With the return of the king Aragorn to his rightful throne, Tolkien argued, the “progress of the tales ends in what is far more like the re-establishment of an effective Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome." In his own private writings, Tolkien equated numerous parts of Italy with various geographical aspects of Gondor. In his diary, for example, Tolkien recorded that with his trip to Italy, he had “come to the head of Christendom: an exile from the borders and far provinces returning home, or at least to the home of his fathers." In a letter to a friend, Tolkien stated that he had holidayed “in Gondor, or in modern parlance, Venice." That Tolkien should place a mythologized Italy, and ultimately Rome, at the center of his legendarium is not surprising, as he viewed the Reformation as ultimately responsible for the modern, secularized world.
That Tolkien believed that the Anglo-Saxon world might offer us strength to redeem Christendom, should not surprise us. The hero of The Lord of the Rings, after all, is an Anglo-Saxon farmer turned citizen-warrior. Even as an uneducated gardener, this most loyal of companions recognized hope deep in the heart of Mordor. “Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach." Like his real counterparts who understood the meaning of the Logos, Sam, too, can comprehend the abstract.
One of the principal criticisms we hear from the neopagans among the European New Right, which is producing some absolutely excellent analytical works re: the debacle that is Europe, is that Christianity is a feminized, flaccid and pacifistic faith that not only quite naturally gave rise to liberalism but sapped the vitality from modern European men. Ad fontes, they cry, but it is not to our sources that they look. They look to tradition, but a tradition that antedates ours. They look to the noble pagans of old. (Well, we would point out that they weren't so noble, and that the Faith is a needed corrective, but their point is taken.)
I must confess that when we look at ourselves in the mirror there is some justification for this criticism. And it's not only liberal Protestantism that exhibits this manifest lack of muscular Christianity; as Leon Podles has demonstrated in his work, certain strains of Catholic mysticism are to blame, as are strains of modern Evangelicalism.
Judging by what I observe in much of both Neo-Anglicanism and Anglo-Catholicism, the feminizing rot has taken told there as well.
It was not so in our history, however. As Tolkien argued, and as it came out in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Christianity did make peace with the Anglo-Saxon warrior culture. This culture fed into a European stream and became the basis of chivalry, as Lewis likewise believed. I'm thrilled to see that Tolkien argued that the renewal of such a culture could become the basis of a renewed Christendom. My belief is that Christians in Europe and the Anglosphere MUST become "men with chests" again, lest the task of saving Western civilization from the depredation of the Islamist/Leftist phalanx passes to the neopagan, and all too often neofascist, movement in Europe and elsewhere that is currently working up an impressive head of steam.
Lex orandi, lex credendi. As Walsh implies and as both Lewis and Tolkien believed, Catholic worship is suffused not just with truth and beauty but with the spirit of muscular Christianity. Accordingly, we ought not "detest" it.
It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.
Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.
It seems to me that the problem is pretty simple: to the extent that Anglicans identify as Protestants rather than Catholics, then what we call "Anglicanism" is going to be all over the place, because Protestantism is all over the place. Not only could the original Reformers not unify eccesially or dogmatically, Protestantisms became increasingly variform with the passing of time. Just look at "Anglicanism's" history: reform, followed by Englightenment-style deform, followed by various and sundry "conservative" reactions and "revivals", precisely what happened in the Continental Reformations. Anglicans don't know who they are because Protestants don't know who they are.
One defender of Anglo-Protestantism recently answered my argument thusly: "One cannot sever the catholic super structure of Anglicanism-Andrewes' tidy one canon, two testaments, three creeds, four councils and five centuries is a good, albeit noncomprehensive expression-from sola scriptura, justification by faith alone and all the other emphases of Reformation Christianity, without distorting the essence of Anglicanism as a historic Christian tradition"
But who gets to say that Andrewes' formula constitutes the superstructure of Anglicanism? (Why 4 and not 7? Why 5 and not 10?)
What is "classical" Anglicanism? Reformed, Old High Church and Anglo-Catholic "Anglicans" all give different answers. The charismatics chime in and say, "we're classical Anglicans too."
Sola scriptura? But what about when a noted Anglican patrologist, J.N.D. Kelly, correctly says of the Fathers "Anglicans" say they follow, "Throughout the whole period Scripture and tradition ranked as complementary authorities, media different in form but coincident in content. To inquire which counted as superior or more ultimate is to pose the question in misleading terms. If Scripture was abundantly sufficient in principle, tradition was recognized as the surest clue to its interpretation, for in tradition the Church retained, as a legacy from the apostles which was embedded in all the organs of her institutional life, an unerring grasp of the real purport and meaning of the revelation to which Scripture and tradition alike bore witness" (Early Christian Doctrines, pp. 47-48).
Sola fide? Seems to me that one got bent beyond original recognition by some of the Caroline divines. Then along comes N.T. Wright. Which is the truly "Anglican" view of justification?
This is why I think Abp. Mark Haverland nails it in his 1995 article, "What Is Anglicanism?". There is simply no way to solve the problem of Anglican identity other than to believe and proclaim that an Anglican:
"-- . . ." Church" essentially is a community of Christians gathered around a bishop in the Apostolic Succession in a given territory. "The Church" is the community of bishops, and of Christians in union with them, throughout the world. Since ancient times bishops and their dioceses have been grouped under the authority of metropolitans in provinces. Metropolitans and their provinces in turn have been grouped under primates (or patriarchs) in "Churches", which often have had national or ethnic identities. While the patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople have ancient primacies of honor over other patriarchs, no primate has universal jurisdiction or infallible authority apart from the whole Church and the community of other bishops.
-- There were seven Ecumenical Councils in the undivided, ancient Church whose doctrine, discipline, and moral teachings bind us. There have been no Councils of similar authority since.
-- There are seven sacraments, as both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches teach. Two of these sacraments are "generally necessary for salvation", but the other five are no less sacraments."
I would add to this list that Anglicans are Augustinians, which means that they should hold to Augustine's doctrine of grace AND his doctrine of the Church. The pre-Reformation Augustinian trajectory should be enough for us: we don't need Luther as long as we have Anselm, Bernard, et al., and we won't be guilty of believing what McGrath admits is a "theological novum" that Augustine would never have affirmed.
My piece earlier this week — noting research that college men have less physical strength than their fathers did — kicked up a bit of a hornet’s nest. I got a number of responses both on Twitter and sent to me privately that took issue with what they called (in general) my hurtful caricature of masculinity.
Not all men need to be strong, they argued. The new economy meant that men didn’t have to be strong to compete, and — besides — many men experienced deep pain when they were mocked as kids for being “sissies” when they didn’t play sports or participate in outdoor activities. My piece brought back bad memories, and revived “toxic” conceptions of gender roles that have allegedly done much harm. . . .
But I don’t care if you’re a social media manager, fashion designer, or full-time e-sports champ who makes seven figures clicking a mouse, life still happens. You never know what tomorrow brings. I’m not saying that everyone should be a body builder or a mechanic — after all, some people will always be better lawyers than lumberjacks — but even lawyers can knock out push-ups and run on a track.
Here’s my own test of reasonable physical strength – one that can be met by every able-bodied and able-minded military-age male in the U.S.
Could you, if necessary, pick up a rifle and defend your nation from its enemies? To make this concrete, could you meet the minimum standards of even the military’s least-demanding physical fitness test?
If an intruder came into your home or a criminal attacked your family, do you have enough physical strength to at least give yourself a chance at fighting off an average attacker?
Are you strong enough to render valuable service to neighbors in need? In other words, could you fill sandbags if there’s a flood, change truck tires if an elderly woman is stranded on the roadside, or provide capable service when the shut-in down the street needs to move her belongings to an assisted living facility?
I raise these items in the context of masculinity not because women can’t help (you should have seen my wife taking her turns carrying our kid) but because men are far better equipped than women to provide immediate physical aid. Your average man simply has much more potential physical strength then your average woman, and the decision to voluntarily let that strength decline is a waste. I should know. As I said before, there was a time when I let myself go, content with the he knowledge that I could succeed as a lawyer and writer without the benefit of a single push-up. I changed course, and it’s made my life better, it’s made my family’s life better, and it’s made me a better example for my son.
Bullying is wrong, but childhood bullying is not a reason to demand less from men but rather a reason to demand civility and manners from the bullies. Crass stereotyping has hurt young men, especially some young teens, but the answer is to confront the crass, not to detonate gender norms. Physical weakness is not a virtue. Voluntary weakness is a vice. And, yes, a man has an obligation to be strong.
Muscular Christianity. Some Anglicans have proposed it. 'Nuff said. I'm working on my own physical deficits after my move to North Carolina after 6 years of apartment living, where I now have a fair amount of physical work to do on a huge lot, as I did on the mountain property where I lived 6 years before that.
The rifle thing I've had down for a long time. Every man a rifleman. That's one of my mottos. To me there is nothing more abominable than an Anglican man who is anti-gun. (Sorry, my English, Canadian, Aussie and Kiwi friends, but riflery is part of your legacy. Check your history. The hoplophobia that currently plagues the Commonwealth is fueled by the spirits of statism, socialism and effeminacy. It's not simply about peaceful social order. )
Work, pray and fight. See The Heroes of Middle-Earth: J. R. R. Tolkien & the Marks of Christian Heroism.
Anyone who is serious about the direction of this country ought to admit that the stance of the Homeland Security apparatus rests upon the staggeringly powerful force of conformity that is a major component of the American national character. Our two greatest foreign observers—Tocqueville in the 19th century and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th—were both struck by the herd tendencies of American thought and the rareness of individuality, the near universal craving for respectability within the mass. Unless one grasps this sad truth, he is disabled in understanding current events. Central government targeting of domestic dissidents could not be floated without an expectation of widespread approval. It rests upon the certainty that a substantial part of the populace will countenance the suppression of ideas and persons that violate what has been declared to be respectable.
Likely so, but no matter. These liberal-left masses are craven and will depend on those who serve the Deep State in law enforcement to do their bidding. As Edward Snowden reminds us, however, "there are more of us than there are of them." Not only that, there is a deep divide in American law enforcement and the American military over these matters. Ponder the implications of that one.
We do not exercise any of our liberties, religious or otherwise, by government's leave.
Christians fought one revolutionary war to prove this. We can certainly fight another.
If it does eventually come down to a contest between us and them, I prefer us. Or rather, the authority of God rather than the authority of them.
In a deeper sense, though, liberalism generally, and American liberalism specifically, is a tradition, the organic working-out of precedent, over time, in a particular political culture. The American Framers were figures of the Enlightenment, true, but they also thought they were restoring the traditional rights of Englishmen, rights that could be traced back to Magna Carta and beyond. The American conception of religious liberty, for example, is deeply influenced by the historical experience of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, and also by the particular understanding of religion that took hold in a colonial, frontier society. This explains why it differs so much from its cousin on the European continent, the French doctrine of laïcité.
But American culture is changing. Our traditions are not so popular nowadays, including our political traditions; and when we discard our traditions, we can fall for many things, including, apparently, authoritarianism. That, it seems to me, is the upshot of this important paper. The authors identify authoritarianism in our politics with Donald Trump, and it’s easy to recognize Trump’s authoritarian appeal (“I alone can fix it”). But there is authoritarianism on the left, as well, which the authors ignore. American college students increasingly oppose free speech, at least with respect to certain viewpoints, and insist on shutting down speakers with whom they disagree, often with the approval of administrators and faculty who should know better. Not to mention the left’s continuing assaults on religious liberty, including attempts to get nuns to cover contraceptives for their employees and threats to remove the tax-exempt status of religious schools that disapprove of same-sex marriage.
Foa and Mounk’s paper is bracing. If the trends they identify continue, the West, including the United States, faces a political transformation unlike anything we have seen for generations. Liberal democracy doesn’t look like it’s about to collapse, they concede. But, then, neither did world communism, even right before the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Bolded emphasis mine, EP.)
Another existential threat, if Western man still sees himself as the custodian of the world’s greatest civilization, and one yet worth preserving, is the Third-Worldization of the West.
The threat emanates from two factors: The demographic death of the native-born of all Western nations by century’s end, given their fertility rates, and the seemingly endless invasion of the West from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Concerning the demographic decline and displacement of Western man by peoples of other creeds, cultures, countries, continents, and civilizations, there is an ideological clash within the West.
Some among our elites are rhapsodic at the change. Worshiping at the altars of diversity and equality, they see acquiescing in the invasion of their own countries as a mark of moral superiority.
Angela Merkel speaks for them, or did, up to a while ago.
To those who believe diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, cultural—is to be cherished and embraced, resistance to demographic change in the West is seen as a mark of moral retardation.
Opponents of immigration are hence subjects of abuse—labeled “racists,” “xenophobes,” “fascists,” “Nazis,” and other terms of odium in the rich vocabulary of Progressive hatred.
Yet, opposition to the invasion from across the Med and the Rio Grande is not only propelling the Trump movement but generating rightist parties and movements across the Old Continent.
It is hard to see how this crisis resolves itself peacefully.
For the hundreds of millions living in Third World tyranny and misery are growing, as is their willingness to risk their lives to reach Europe. And national resistance is not going to dissipate as the illegal immigrants and refugees come in growing numbers.
What the resisters see as imperiled is what they treasure most, their countries, cultures, way of life and the future they wish to leave their children. These are things for which men have always fought.
"The discourse and behavior of the Left, says Haidt, is alienating millions of ordinary people all over the West. It’s not just America. We are sliding towards authoritarianism all over the West, and there’s really only one way to stop it."
As I argue below, there's more than one way to stop it, but stopped it will be, one way or the other. Liberal-leftists and their "confederates" among the Jihadis think they represent the vanguard of history. But they will instead all be consigned to the dustbin of history. And to the dustbin of eternity, if they do not repent, and finally "seek his Name". Our God Reigns.
HOLD not thy tongue, O God, keep not still silence: * refrain not thyself, O God.
2 For lo, thine enemies make a murmuring; * and they that hate thee have lift up their head.
3 They have imagined craftily against thy people, * and taken counsel against thy secret ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us root them out, that they be no more a people, * and that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have cast their heads together with one consent, * and are confederate against thee. . . .
12 Who say, Let us take to ourselves * the houses of God in possession.
13 O my God, make them like unto the whirling dust, * and as the stubble before the wind;
14 Like as the fire that burneth up the forest, * and as the flame that consumeth the mountains;
15 Pursue them even so with thy tempest, * and make them afraid with thy storm.
16 Make their faces ashamed, O LORD, * that they may seek thy Name.
17 Let them be confounded and vexed ever more and more; * let them be put to shame, and perish.
18 And they shall know that thou, whose Name is JEHOVAH, * art only the Most Highest over all the earth.
The People of God: "Saying little prayers against them" since the 2nd millennium BC. ;>)
Two of my favorite columnists just penned what I believe to be earthshaking articles on the civil war that is about to break out in Europe and North America.
First, Rod Dreher writing at The American Conservative, Inside the Head of Trump Voters, on the keynote speech the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt at a recent meeting of the American Psychological Association:
Haidt devotes his address to the theme “The Centre Cannot Hold” — which is, of course, a line from the famous Yeats poem The Second Coming. Haidt’s point is that we are at a dangerous time in American public life, one in which everyone is “filled with passionate intensity,” to quote Yeats. And Haidt can back it up with data. . . .
Haidt says Stenner discerns three strands of contemporary political conservatism: 1) laissez-faire libertarians (typically, business Republicans); 2) Burkeans (e.g., social conservatives who value stability); and 3) authoritarians.
Haidt makes a point of saying that it’s simply wrong to call Trump a fascist. He’s too individualistic for that. He’s an authoritarian, but that is not a synonym for fascist, no matter how much the Left wants to say it is.
According to Haidt’s reading of Stenner, authoritarianism is not a stable personality trait. Most people are not naturally authoritarian. But the latent authoritarianism within them is triggered when they perceive a threat to the stable moral order.
It’s at this point in the talk when Haidt surely began to make his audience squirm. He says that in his work as an academic and social psychologist, he sees colleagues constantly demonizing and mocking conservatives. He warns them to knock it off. “We need political diversity,” he says. And: “They are members of our community.”
The discourse and behavior of the Left, says Haidt, is alienating millions of ordinary people all over the West. It’s not just America. We are sliding towards authoritarianism all over the West, and there’s really only one way to stop it.
At the 41:37 point in the talk, Haidt says that we can reduce intolerance and defuse the conflict by focusing on sameness. We need unifying rituals, beliefs, institutions, and practices, he says, drawing on Stenner’s research. The romance the Left has long had with multiculturalism and diversity (as the Left defines it) has to end, because it’s helping tear us apart. . . .
Here’s what I think about all of this.
I don’t think the center can hold anymore. It’s too late. The cultural left in this country is very authoritarian, at least as regards orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. On one of the Stenner slides, we see that she defines one characteristic of authoritarians as “punishing out groups.” Conservative Christians are the big out group for the cultural left, and have been for a long time.
We are the people who defile what they consider most sacred: sexual liberty, including abortion rights and gay rights. The liberals in control now (as distinct from all liberals, let me be clear) have made it clear that they will not compromise with what they consider to be evil. We are the Klan to them. Error has no rights in this world they’re building.
If you’ll recall my blogging about Hillary Clinton’s convention speech, I really liked it in theory — the unity business. The thing is, I don’t believe for one second that it is anything but election propaganda. I don’t believe that the Democratic Party today has any interest in making space for us. I wish I did believe that. I don’t see any evidence for it. They and their supporters will drive us out of certain professions, and do whatever they can to rub our noses in the dirt.
I know liberal readers of this blog will say, “But we don’t!” To which I say: you don’t, maybe, but you’re not running the show, alas.
The threat to the moral order is very real, and not really much of a threat anymore; it’s a reality. As I’ve written in this space many times, this is not something that was done to us; all of us, Republicans and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians, have done this to ourselves. At this point, all I want for my tribe is to be left alone. But the crusading Left won’t let that happen anymore. They don’t even want the Mormons to be allowed to play football foe the Big 12, for heaven’s sake. This assault is relentless. Far too many complacent Christians believe it will never hurt them, that it will never happen where they live. It can and it will.
There is no center anymore. Alasdair MacIntyre was right. I may not be able to vote in good conscience for Trump (and I certainly will not vote for Hillary Clinton), but I know exactly why a number of good people have convinced themselves that this is the right thing to do. Haidt says that the authoritarian impulse comes when people cease trusting in leaders. Yep, that’s where a lot of us are, and not by choice.
This week, I’ve been interviewing people for the Work chapter of my Benedict Option book. In all but one case, the interviewees — lawyers, law professors, a doctor, corporate types, academics — would only share their opinion if I promised that I wouldn’t use their name. They know what things are like where they work. They know that this is going to spread. That fear, that remaining inside the closet, tells you something about where you are. When professionals feel that to state their opinion would be to put their careers at risk, we are not in normal times.
The center has not held. I certainly wish Jon Haidt well. He’s a good man doing brave, important work. And I hope he proves me wrong on this. I honestly do. Because if I’m right, there goes America. On the other hand, reasoning that this must not be true therefore it is not true is a good way to get run over.
And from Pat Buchanan, also writing at TAC, Yes, the System is Rigged:
“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged,” Donald Trump told voters in Ohio and Sean Hannity on Fox News. And that hit a nerve.
“Dangerous,” “toxic,” came the recoil from the media.
Trump is threatening to “delegitimize” the election results of 2016.
Well, if that is what Trump is trying to do, he has no small point. For consider what 2016 promised and what it appears about to deliver. . . .
. . .(I)f it ends with a Clintonite restoration and a ratification of the same old Beltway policies, would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?
If 2016 taught us anything, it is that if the establishment’s hegemony is imperiled, it will come together in ferocious solidarity — for the preservation of their perks, privileges and power.
All the elements of that establishment — corporate, cultural, political, media — are today issuing an ultimatum to Middle America:
Trump is unacceptable.
Instructions are going out to Republican leaders that either they dump Trump, or they will cease to be seen as morally fit partners in power.
It testifies to the character of Republican elites that some are seeking ways to carry out these instructions, though this would mean invalidating and aborting the democratic process that produced Trump.
But what is a repudiated establishment doing issuing orders to anyone?
Why is it not Middle America issuing the demands, rather than the other way around?
Specifically, the Republican electorate should tell its discredited and rejected ruling class: If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?
You want Trump out? How do we get you out?
The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring? . . . .
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy.
The 1960s and early 1970s were a time of social revolution in America, and President Nixon, by ending the draft and ending the Vietnam war, presided over what one columnist called the “cooling of America.”
But if Hillary Clinton takes power, and continues America on her present course, which a majority of Americans rejected in the primaries, there is going to be a bad moon rising.
And the new protesters in the streets will not be overprivileged children from Ivy League campuses.
"The Centre Cannot Hold." "The discourse and behavior of the Left, says Haidt, is alienating millions of ordinary people all over the West. It’s not just America. We are sliding towards authoritarianism all over the West. . . ." "If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?" “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
What follows from all this, brothers, is that in likelihood civil war is coming. We should be in fervent prayer all the time that God will divert us from this course, but if He does not, that we will be ready for it.
And inasmuch as the Christian Church is not pacifist, that we will be ready with more than our prayers and our street marches. We should not, and many of us will not, bow to these leftist tyrants. Instead, we will either forcibly remove them from power, or die as martyrs and freedom fighters. Either way, we win, for the Lord is King.
I'm not sure that "ethnocentricity" is as big of a problem as "phylitism" (the idea that one culture is actually superior or normative in Christian Faith). If the church were not divided, the ethnocentrism of her jurisdictions would merely amount to Christianity being contextualized. But, because the church is divided, ethnocentrism becomes a much bigger problem because the assumption of doctrinal superiority quickly turns into the presumption of cultural superiority as well. If the church were united, each culture's jurisdiction would be respected. In the current climate both jurisdiction and culture are coming into conflict between the overlapping jurisdictions, and ethnocentrism becomes phylitism.
That said, I definitely believe that the Catholic Church of the American Colonies is, and always has been, the Anglican Church. This is our rightful jurisdiction. The culture is totally informed by English-speaking cultural, political, and theological heritage. The King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer is the formative principle of our culture and the "language" of our national religious life-- from evangelicals to Methodists to Presbyterians to faithful Anglicans. It makes sense, then, that even converts would feel the impulse towards "Anglo-philoism" (a fondness for all things English). I think the Gospel has the power to transfigure culture, not destroy it. Classical English culture was a culture that was fully transfigured, before the onset of Enlightenment and secularism, so it would make sense for English Christians to desire a revival of that culture which was informed by the Christianity they themselves are currently formed by. English culture divorced from English Christianity is like a glove without its hand. This is what the Orthodox Churches are experiencing as well. Our culture is so quickly abandoning its "English-ness" that Anglican Christianity is starting to feel increasingly like an "insular" church in a foreign land.
Thankfully Dr. Englehardt finds his check in Orthodox scholars such as D.B. Hart, who eschew the old Orthodox anti-Western bent. And yes, that bishop, whoever he may be, *is* a crazy man from Palestine.
In the eighth grade, in 1954, a Roman Catholic priest told me that a 'Uniate' bishop would be coming from Palestine and that he was to perform the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. I did not know it and had to read it to become the altar boy for the Liturgy. And I did this. But I did not know that there was a Matins before this, and for one and a half hours I could not understand what was happening. And then this old Bishop came to me and told me:
'Come here, this is for you. All true Christianity will disappear in the course of your life from the West. True Christianity will come from the East and this will be very important for you.'
I thought he was crazy. I told him: 'What?'
And he said: 'All Christianity will disappear from the West during your life. True Christianity will come as light from the East.'
I asked my father: 'What is he saying? Is he a crazy man from Palestine?'" -- Dr. Herman Tristam Englehardt (PHD, head of Philosophy at Rice University)
"Borders are to distinct countries what fences are to neighbors: means of demarcating that something on one side is different from what lies on the other side, a reflection of the singularity of one entity in comparison with another. Borders amplify the innate human desire to own and protect property and physical space, which is impossible to do unless it is seen—and can be so understood—as distinct and separate. Clearly delineated borders and their enforcement, either by walls and fences or by security patrols, won’t go away because they go to the heart of the human condition—what jurists from Rome to the Scottish Enlightenment called meum et tuum, mine and yours. Between friends, unfenced borders enhance friendship; among the unfriendly, when fortified, they help keep the peace."