Thursday, August 05, 2010

My Wedding Sermon

Ed West writes a post; The New Atheism is 'Bolshevism for the Home Counties', about his review of Peter Hitchens The Rage against God. Hitchens' Damascus moment in his conversion was seeing Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgment.
My wedding sermon has become somewhat fixed lately, at least in its core (we have had quite a few this year, one or two most weeks) it is basically that the view of humanity offered by Hitchen's brother, Christopher and Richard Dawkins  is essentially one of unredeemed man, red in tooth and claw, left to his own selfishness. Their vision seems to  really to be man steeped in original sin, unable to transcend himself, unable to escape himself. Love, self-giving and sacrifice are not transcendent but merely chemical or biological impulses. In contrast Christians see Love as the basis of the cosmos, this Love for want of a better word we name "God", and we glimpse it the couple being married. Christians ultimately see this Love in the self-giving sacrifice of Christ.
Such notions of Love can only be intuited, it cannot be measured, we know what it is when we see. In this sense it is the same as Beauty, encountering it enables us to transcend ourselves. In order speak about it we need myth, mystery and metaphor,  artifice and art, imagination and intuition. It is better expressed through music and poetry.
I wonder whether the very beauty of Weyden's painted communicated as much as the metaphorical narrative, could Ms Emin have done as much? I presume not.
I find Ed's reference to 'Bolshevism for the Home Counties' intriguing, Bolshevism might indeed be dead as a political movement but it finds expression contemporary - home counties - anthropolgy, man is simply what you see. It is only with the Divine he transcend himself.


shane said...

Why is the New Atheism 'Bolshevik'? There's nothing necessarily socialist about Atheism, new or old. Peter Hitchens is an incredibly simplistic philosopher and operates in false dichotomies. His nationalist conception of "Christianity" is much like that of Action Francaise. He values the Christian religion not as a means to salvation but rather esteems its merits purely in terms of social utility and a capacity for patriotism. The USSR under Kruschev outlawed easy divorce, prosecuted for sedition ("counter-revolution") those who disseminated pornography and vigorously pursued pro-natalist policies, such as offering financial incentives for women to bear large families. Puts to shame the liberal capitalist west.

Most of the evils Hitchens blames on liberals and leftists are actually a direct result of the Protestant Reformation. Moral libertinism is not a Fabian or Frankfurt School conspiracy and it dates back a lot longer than the 1940s. Britain has been essentially a non-Christian country for centuries. And post-Enlightenment Protestantism can scarcely be called Christian anyway. But we shouldn't expect Peter Hitchens, a Protestant, to agree with that. Protestantism, by repudiating the principle of authority in matters of religion, quickly led to the negation of authority in social structures and all forms of human relations. Hedonism and Liberalism are very logical and coherent trajectories of the Protestant religious system. Blame Luther and Calvin for our western degeneracy, not some left-wing bogeymen.

For civilization to have any prospect of recovery, it is absolutely indispensible that Protestantism is everywhere and totally extirpated. The Church must again start preaching on the errors of the Protestants and call a halt to the ecu-maniasm, which is just giving its misled followers a false sense of security.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Why is the New Atheism 'Bolshevik'?"
It is one of the things I bang on about. It is not so much a matter of socialism - more the concept of conflict that is part of "Bolshevikism". "Class struggle" is in the "home counties" now about gender, sexual orientation, it is centred on the family, the reading of history and human interaction.

shane said...

"It is not so much a matter of socialism - more the concept of conflict that is part of "Bolshevikism". "Class struggle" is in the "home counties" now about gender, sexual orientation, it is centred on the family, the reading of history and human interaction."

So it's a culture struggle? A kulturkampf? Again, I can't see how that's intrinsically Bolshevik.