with the world, as evident by the mess we find ourselves in today. As my
father once said he would vote for Alfonse Capone for president rather than
Mother Teresa, because one would be good for the country has a whole
(although we would need to watch him like a hawk) the other would be good
for the poor only....and this is what we have today, the middle class is on
the edge of the abyss, the rich are leaving the country in droves, and the
poor have more food stamps, more welfare, free cell phones, subsides for
housing and transportation, subsidies for electronic equipment, and other
government hand outs."
Erasmus (1466 — 1536) in particular has been adopted by the forces of Christian and post-Christian yin as the patron saint of the European Community and its socialist-multiculti-Islamocuddly doing away with itself. But while all three Christian greats and others in their vein were ecumenically oriented, liberalizing opponents of strict dogma and deeply learned humanists, their critical inquiry was bound in respect for tradition; their analytical reason, by faith in the transcendent; their ecumenism, by discrimination; and their humanism, by the concern for the survival and prosperity of their own kind.
What emanates now from important Christian leaders, not to speak of such bona fide faithful as the Johnson, Carter, Kennedy, Bush, Blair, Brown and Atlee names adduced in a previous chapter, is something entirely different: it is secular solipsism and utopian eschatology masquerading as enlightened Christianity. It harks back to 2nd century Gnostics and not to the great Christian thinkers of the Renaissance or Enlightenment. It’s the lamb lying down with the lion that’s still a lion. It’s redistributive socialism and minorities-exalting Progressive doctrine that has nothing to do with the recognition of God’s presence on Earth.
In contrast, in that part of Europe that was protected from the Progressive virus by the Iron Curtain, the Church is much stronger, but still mired in lowbrow superstitions of the lower cognitive classes. Catholics in Poland still aver that the Virgin Mary is Queen of Poland but prefer not to notice that the queen’s name was Miriam and she was a married Jewish mother in Israel. Hungarian Christian bigots revile Jews as foreign Semites, discreetly omitting that Jews not only conceived Christianity but were Christian and even European very long before the Hungarians were — respectively 1000 and 700 years earlier. If the Croat Catholic Church has begged Gods’ and mankind’s forgiveness for its horrific role in the genocide of Serbs and others (e.g. here, here and here), I haven’t heard about it. The Antisemitism of the Orthodox churches, notably the Russian and Greek, has no modern peer outside of Islam, and their anti-Catholicism has no parallel on the Catholic side (though in the past it did).
Protestant Western churches could lend some of their benevolent ecumenism and Biblical historicity to their Central and Eastern European brethren. But they should learn from the latter’s resilience, connection to the mystic chords of memory, centeredness on the home ethny, and an unabashed support for traditional, masculine values. It’s not in vain that the latest bridge in Slovakia is named after Chuck Norris, but Chuck’s home country can’t rename itself fast enough after Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and soon enough, Harvey Milk, too. Western churches might learn as well that tolerance is not surrender, and compassion for the poor is meted out to individuals through the virtue of private charity, and not to social classes through the vileness of the Socialist state.
A shift away from a socialist-redistributive agenda and toward historicity might bring Christianity overall closer yet to another truth: the grinding material poverty of the little people in 1st century Palestine has long ago vanished in the West. But ugliness and charmlessness and psychological warps stemming from these afflictions are greater and more intractable than those based on material wealth.
Scratch a mega-murderer like the chicken-like chicken farmer Heinrich Himmler, terrorist like Yasser Arafat , communist revolutionary like Antonio Gramsci, militant socialist feminist like Betty Friedan or Tarja Halonen, unhinged lefto-media flamethrower like Alex Pareene or Rachel Maddow or a super-rich, world-repairing narcissist like Soros or Bloomberg, and you reveal a neurotic ugly duckling in high school, physiognomy too repellent, or stature too short, or sexual signals too weird to gain acceptance among peers, with painful hurt inflicted by members of the opposite sex.
It’s those ugly ducklings that grow up with the burning mission to show “them,” to control other people’s lives, to inflict punishment, to enforce “social justice” because God’s injustice in the distribution of beauty cannot be redrawn, to become so powerful or rich — by any means — that any beauty, whether that of a woman or a painting, may be got on a whim.
A church fully awakened from Platonian stupor and no longer responsive to socialist cues would minister to the ugly and infirm more than the poor, and catch them at a very early age too, for they inflict much damage later on. The notion of life’s essential unfairness and the expression “cross to bear” are relevant, but even more so would be the Stoic idea that virtue is indifferent to the slings and arrows of fortune such as genetic inheritance (looks, health), parental advantage (family standing, wealth) or even the shadow of impending premature death. Painfully forged virtue and valor are the antidote to losing in fortune’s lottery of genetic—parental advantage, and the healthy society values them more highly than it does the winners in that lottery. Hello, Socrates; Goodbye, supermodel.
For a very long time, the Judaic and then Christian creeds have served to instill in the high and mighty a sense of humility and accountability before a “higher authority.” As God says to Job [Job 38:4, KJV]: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.” This has worked for the benefit of the ruled since early Biblical times (e.g. the prophet Nathan v. King David), and many times in European history, e.g. Pope John XXII repeatedly admonishing the cruel, despotic (and pervert) King of England, Edward II, for his malfeasance.
In addition, Christianity centered around the historical Jesus rather than the theological one could help unite a large number of cognitively equipped Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, Lutherans and Laterans, Pre-millenialists and Post-millenialists, Pascal wageres and “Cultural Christians,” Baptists, agnostics and even atheists honest enough to admit that Christianity and Western Civilization are one laminate. To scour and polish it is one thing; to delaminate is to kill it.
All those might, at last, perceive that they are rowing the same boat in stormy seas, its floatability depending on their harmonious cadence. Each faith can be permitted its own carry-on baggage, as long as it renounces claims that God’s truth is locked in its own satchel and no other. Each would have to admit humbly that it’s a blind man touching a different part of the same elephant. The theology and rituals of each should be respected by one and all, as long as the adherents acknowledge that theirs, just like their co-passengers’, is tinfoil wrapping a more solid but ineffable core, tied with a ribbon of tradition, warm remembrance of childhood, mother and father and a natural reluctance to take a sharp cognitive blade to warm and fuzzy parts of the self.
The second condition for a berth is that everyone forgets who killed whom in the past. The third is the recognition that this is a particular Western ark, and its sole function is to ensure the survival and enlightened thriving of the Western peoples. The Buddhist-Taoist-Confucian longboat is another worthy vessel, and it’s not any Christian’s business to extol his over theirs. The Chinese, Japanese and Hindu peoples too have had many spiritual masters who, though blind just as their Christian counterparts are, touched the elephant as surely as any Christian has.
About Islam, the less said the better; let it suffice that it belongs in neither boat. It is a basic rule that the louder the clamor of exclusive franchising rights to God and the stiffer the penalty for disbelief, the greater the distance to God. Islam’s distance is the greatest.
England’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, a critic of British schools providing religious education, says that government ministers of all three parties are not religious believers themselves but believe that belief is good for others. Meanwhile a British-via-Pakistan baroness, Sayeeda Warsi, a practicing Muslim herself and prominent Tory, decries what she calls “Europe’s aggressive secularism” and urges Europeans, in forums as diverse as Oxford and the Vatican, to be “more confident” in their Christianity. But then, of course, promoting Christian superstition within the tolerant framework of postmodern Europe creates a larger berth for Islam’s superstition as well. It’s the “Abrahamic religions” shtick that leads to sharia creep.
If admission of errors in doctrine and action is made openly, a stronger case for the merits of Christianity can be made as well. Moreover, such errors and resulting offenses are evident in the history of all the Abrahamic religions, and though mostly ended for the Jews when their theocratic nationhood ended shortly after Jesus’ ministry, it continues in Islam, stronger every day. Similarly, though the litany of whitey’s crimes is now recited by 8-year-olds in every school between Berlin and Auckland, Whites under African or Muslim rule, whether as slaves or just minority prey, have suffered more than Africans or Muslims have suffered under White rule. Had Africa invaded Europe in the 18th-19th centuries rather than Europe Africa, neither this computer nor this writer could have existed.
Second, such valuable Greek and Roman elements as are integrated in Western civilization — above all the Greek curiosity about the workings of the universe and veneration of beauty — became so through the work of many brilliant clerics, of which Pope Sylvester II (950—1003) was not the first, and Abbot Gregor Mendel (1822—1884) was not the last. As to the great gathering of beauty in Christianity, unique among all religions, one need only spend an hour in a medieval cathedral or in a museum of Renaissance painting, or listen to sacred music by composers ranging from Palestrina (1525 - 1594) to Lauridsen (1943- ).
The other great merit of Christianity is that it transplanted to Europe, and from Europe to America and the rest of the world, the Hebrew Bible’s ideas of the autonomy of the individual that’s subject to God alone. From this came the rejection of ancient practices that the Jews first rejected: human sacrifice and slavery. From this too came the concept of Natural Law and Jefferson’s immortal words about men created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, the legitimacy of Governments based solely on the consent of the governed. Which brings us finally to the Founding Fathers and their Nature’s God."