03 January 2007

My kind of people

Today's sermon is on the loss of religious faith among contemporary Church leaders

Where do we get our religious leadership today? Is there something more to religion than endless talk of social deprivation? Increasingly it is our Muslim leaders rather than our Cardinals Popes or Bishops who attempt to answer the difficult and pressing question of whether there is a God.

For me, as an agnostic, this is unsettling. Many Christians I know feel trapped inside a politically correct Church that only adapts itself to the interests of the State. Because it is state ‘welfare’ that now dominates our politics, it is the ideology of ‘social justice’ that dominates our morals – or lack of them.

It might seem strange that there are signs in Christianity of an increasingly aggressive secularism that borders on a hatred of religion. Our Church leaders appear far more concerned with the politics of envy than with belief in Christ's role as redeemer. This was revealed most starkly through attitudes to the Goldman Sachs Christmas bonuses.

So why are some of our Christian leaders so hostile to faith? Perhaps it is an example of classic Freudian displacement activity, as an increasingly unloved and unattended Church turns its impotence and ire on the belief in God. If the surrender of our bishops to the nostrums of collectivism denies them moral purpose, they will attack those who are prepared to stand with traditional Christian beliefs.

As the lifeblood of traditional belief drips from our body religious, it leaves a small pumping heart of non-Christians prepared to defend old-fashioned religious values. I don't care if they are Muslim, libertarian, anarchist or South Park Republican - if they preach the cause of civil liberty, and the right to reject the il-liberal/technocrat consensus, then they are my kind of people.

We live in a society of smug complacency. All too often it is only right wing bloggers who puncture the anaesthetised contentment of our left wing hacks and other mainstream media apparatchiks. Left wing ideology, packaged as “art” and “education”, has replaced religion as the opiate of the masses.

With apologies to Neal Lawson and The Guardian.

7 comments:

Gracchi said...

I'm not sure I agree with you here. I'm also an agnostic/atheist. But the most profound interesting things I've recently read on religion come from the present Archbishop of Canterbury. His theology is well worth reading- he gave some excellent lectures on the theology of art at Cambridge recently and has written on the early writing of the Gospels as well. The current Pope as well has a long list of theological publications to his name and is equally erudite. Criticising Carey for not being interested in religion is fine- but Williams in my view is probably the most intellectually and theologically interested Archbishop of the twentieth century.

Fabian Tassano said...

I have no doubt both Williams and Ratzinger are erudite. But all I can recall hearing from either since they got to top spot is commentary on social welfare rather than theological issues. Though I concede that may be partly media selectivity. If you can point me in the direction of something Williams has said about traditional Christian doctrine, I'd be grateful.

Gracchi said...

Well there is a book here about the power of art and its connection to religion- the text of which is actually online in four parts here, here, here and here. There is also a study of the desert fathers, a book on the relationship of history and faith which I'm going to review at some point. And that's just what I know about- I know very little of Dr Williams but he has written and published a lot- partly I think this is the press. At the lectures on the relationship between religion and art I saw no press whatsoever and yet they are profound and very theological.

Paul said...

"It might seem strange that there are signs in Christianity of an increasingly aggressive secularism that borders on a hatred of religion. Our Church leaders appear far more concerned with the politics of envy than with belief in Christ's role as redeemer."

Yes, belief in an existence beyond the material world is something a growing number of "progressive" clergy appear to find embarrassing: perhaps they lack the ability (and/or inclination) to wrangle with such things. Indeed, in some strains of Christianity (invariably Protestant), apologetics has all but been abandoned (the Episcopal Church --- the American contingent of the Anglican Communion --- springs to mind).

I wasn't so sure about a couple of Fabian's remarks --- "secularism that borders on hatred of religion", "the politics of envy" --- but then Providence dropped this article in my lap.

And the current AB of C, whilst clearly a particularly clever sausage, is most certainly in the thrall of Leftist doctrine. The fact that, on his translation to the primacy, he cheerfully described himself as "a hairy Guardian-reader" provided a bit of a clue to his political predilections. However, I am looking forward to browsing the links supplied by the Gracchi --- thanks, chaps. I would never dispute the notion that the church has some fine and subtle minds and that their output can often be excellent, but the pronouncements which hoi polloi hear tend (either by the design of the speaker or the filtering of the media) to smack of left-wing social theory. And Williams's pre-Christmas "question" to Israel was straight out of The Guardian Anthology Of Virulent Inversions.

By the way, if you're looking for theological and intellectual stimulation, Lenten talks are often worth a punt, especially at a cathedral. (And even if you don't like the talks, everybody's wonderfully polite, and there's usually a pleasant passage of coffee and biscuits afterwards.)

"We live in a society of smug complacency. All too often it is only right wing bloggers who puncture the anaesthetised contentment of our left wing hacks and other mainstream media apparatchiks. Left wing ideology, packaged as art and education, has replaced religion as the opiate of the masses."

Hear Hear.

And may God save us from coprophilic Canadian Canons.

Fabian Tassano said...

Gracchi, many thanks for the links. Williams's stuff certainly looks scholarly, I will investigate further in due course.

Paul, re the Steyn article: I'm sure there's a link between the Canadian clergy's enthusiasm for pooping, and Martin's Creed's planned follow-up to his film about vomiting. (Especially in the light of Dr. Williams's interest in art.)

Paul said...

...Though not a link I'd like to investigate. At least not without some good rubber gloves and a nosegay.

Paul said...

Occasionally, however, one finds the most delightful ray of hope.

One here will constant be
Come wind, come weather