Religious plebs, salt and light

Everybody I know who appreciates the pervasive lies surrounding us, and notably every Christian in that position, feels isolated and, if the truth be told, rather impotent as they experience the vehement opposition of family members, friends, and church associates. And that is certainly justified, since the capture of the institutions by fashionable progressivism has reached even into the evangelical churches.

But I’ve been reading sociologist Frank Furedi’s most recent book on the rise of identity politics, 100 Years of Identity Crisis, and realise that the progressive agenda not only arose, but became institutionalised, long ago. What is interesting is that its effects were kept at bay before now, for a century, mainly by the actions of ordinary folks, most of whom had little idea of the ideological forces at work. They were, after all,unenlightened and bourgeois, as opposed to the intellectual elite which not only knew the world had to change, and exactly how, but knew they were the people to do it.

A disproportionate number of these unwitting unschooled counter-revolutionaries were operating from Christian convictions, because Christianity was the prevailing worldview of ordinary people who had ethical convictions at all. They were certainly aware that new moral attitudes were being promoted, but few realised that they were being introduced strategically and methodically by the powerful, and had the specific aim of overturning Christianity as the “archaic prejudice” causing all the world’s problems.

There was a focused purpose of training the young to reject outright the values of their parents, who represented the traditions and values of society (of course, largely Christian). Education was therefore a primary strategic institution for divorcing children from all that had gone before – a process we now see in its extreme form of rejecting history altogether. For example Furedi quotes Brock Chisolm, in 1946, saying:

We have swallowed all manner of poisonous certainties fed us by our parents, our Sunday and day-school teachers, our politicians, our priests.

Chisolm blamed this for the two world wars, a simplistic and misleading myth which became mainstream, but equally simplistic, in the New Atheist movement, which was of course a product of the educational system that gradually replaced the “poisonous certainties.” The inevitable result, inexplicably unforeseen by the intelligentsia with their theories, was that abolishing the unifying traditions of the past created a fragmented, rather than a peaceful and harmonious, world.

From a Christian point of view, this is a clearcut case of calling evil good, and good evil. Chisolm, be it noted, was not an obscure academic – he was the first Director of the WHO. Indeed, the creation of international bodies like the UN and UNESCO after WW2 was the great opportunity the progressives had sought to impose their ideas on the global community, as well as in the now more liberal national government systems.

They had not been without increasing influence before. I’ve mentioned before the Technocratic Movement of the 1930s, which was closely linked to the Eugenics Movement and similar elitist causes championed by prominent thinkers like Bertand Russell, H G Wells and G B Shaw over here, and similarly celebrated public figures in the USA, including of course John D Rockefeller and others with the financial resources to implement their ideas. What they had in common, and likewise have in common with what is going on today, is a conviction that only they have the answers and the wisdom to make things better for the human race through their own central planning, whilst simultaneously hating the human race as too numerous, too stupid, and too bourgeois.

Eugenics actually seems to be one of the few examples of effective counter-attack by the institutional Church, or at least the Catholics and some Evangelicals, as opposed to individual churches and Christians just living and teaching an alternative way. The Catholic Church was as hated for its opposition to enforced sterilization in the 1930s as it is now for its stance on abortion and contraception. It is notable, though, that the progressives gave up that ground, for the moment, when the actual effects of enforced sterilisation emerged from the ruins of the Third Reich, whose eugenics programme had been initiated and funded by Rockefeller.

This is only one example of how, in practice, the enlightened progressive agenda has always failed wherever it has been given free rein, although the progressives will always blame whatever remains of the old order for their own bad ideas. Consider, for example, how the removal of sexual taboos has been pushed since the late nineteenth century until the only taboo is the new one of “cis-gendered normality.” The removal of all that Freudian repression (woops – the enlightened science has now changed, but the programme continues!) has led to Sexting, Me Too, Jeffrey Epstein, the toleration of Asian sex-abuse rings, ubiquitous violent pornography, exponential increases in abortions and STD, entirely new diseases like genital Herpes and AIDS, single parenthood leading to a crisis in child psychological disorders and poor educational outcomes … the last two, of course, being what the whole shebang was promoted to cure.

Likewise, a century after the Russian Revolution and the tens of millions who have died under atheist Communism since, it is hard to take seriously the claim that all those deaths were the result of societies teaching their kids to honour their parents, which was literally what was being alleged. Is China still so tainted by Christian bourgeois morality after 74 years of Communism that it explains the oppression of the Uighur by the Han Chinese?

One can see the same trail of disaster for any of the programmes advocated by the progressives and instantiated as they began to wield power in government, education, academia, the press and the media. Educationalists inspired by “scientific” truths sidelined academic content for affirming children’s own creative ideas – and science has, naturally, been destroyed in the process, whilst we do have an escalating number of inventive new genders.

Factual untruth as well as rose-tinted idealism was as much a feature of progressivism “back in the day” as it is in these evil times. For example, the anthropologist Margaret Mead used the alleged (and entirely fictional) sexual liberalisation of Soviet Russia as well as her highly romanticised, and discredited, account of the culture of Samoa, to popularise sexual liberation as an educational ideal. The “healthy sex life” with which our children are indoctrinated from kindergarten is a romantic fiction, even when promoted by a celebrity anthropologist.

But even my own experience shows how the weak and ignorant stubbornness of the non-intellectuals kept society more-or-less functioning before the present apparent collapse of moral resolve. As I entered adolescence in the 1960s, not only was “the new morality” the trendy thing to discuss amongst one’s peers, but popular cultural figures like Mick Jagger dismissed sexual morality as obsolete, and Woodstock and the Paris riots opened the floodgates… though it took many decades for the downside of “free love” for women, and of course their unplanned offspring, to be discussed in fashionable circles.

But I had joined a Bible Class in 1962, and was converted in 1965. There accountants, engineers and the occasional professional teacher (and not a single PhD) simply taught the Bible. I don’t even remember very much direct teaching on the current sexual controversy, but I was taught to read the Bible as God’s word, and its moral teaching was entirely clear, as the old progressives rightly recognised but today’s progressive theologians seem not to.

Meanwhile at home, although my mother was at best a conflicted Christian, she saw real life more clearly than the trendy academics, and assured me, seriously if not entirely convincingly, that she would personally throttle me if I ever got a girl into trouble. Indeed my upbringing was so un-hip that I was even completely unaware of the “traditional” double standard on pre-marital sex for males and females until I got to university and met rich kids. Such was the Nonconformist legacy.

It was those close-to-home influences that I consciously allowed to form my own worldview, and it gave me a healthy critical approach to the academic theories I later encountered. It makes all the difference if you decide not to give undue weight to opinions just because they are held by academics. Indeed, there’s a very good case for blaming most of society’s recent problems on intellectuals uncontrolled by wisdom of the common people. Think of Marx, Marcuse or Foucault.

What I’m saying is that across the western world, ordinary people were stupid and unsophisticated enough either to be ignorant of the liberating nature of progressive theories, or simply stubborn enough to think for themselves, and to teach their children what they believed to be true. And what they believed to be true often had its basis in Scripture, whose teaching had particular traction, of course, with committed Christians. Even then Christians were regarded by the great and good as fools following old superstitions. And yet simply by being deaf to the new ways, they were in fact acting as effective salt and light that kept some semblance of stability and social unity alive until they were, quite deliberately, taken out of the way or pushed to the margins of society.

But then again, maybe they weren’t completely taken out of the way. In America, particularly, it was heartening last week to hear a doctor, speaking to a senatorial hearing on COVID vaccine damage, introduce herself as owing everything to the Lord Jesus Christ. YouTube has taken the video of the hearing down now, of course, since people like the editor of the BMJ or the former President of the Royal College of GPs cannot be permitted to spread information contradicting the progressives in public. The roots of suppressing old wisdom to bring in a new, better world, lie a century deep and have spread like Japanese knotweed to our institutions.

But as far as I understand the teaching of Jesus, he didn’t say that being salt and light depends on having a public platform. Indeed, a hundred years of keeping the spirit of antichrist at bay demonstrates that God can do quite well without such a platform.

They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in History, Politics and sociology, Prometheus, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Religious plebs, salt and light

  1. Levi Fetter says:

    Great post, Jon. Being a Girardian scholar as well as (although not unrelated to) a recent convert to Catholicism, I’ve been researching this question from the broadest philosophical, spiritual and anthropological position. You’ve outlined quite correctly that the “spirit of antichrist” is afoot in these progressivist machinations, and that indeed, it has been afoot for a long time. One subtlety that has been submerged by the almost mystical/mythical metaphor of Antichrist (especially when capitalised), is the more mundane and appreciable notion, preserved in the German language, that it also simply means “anti-christian” (which is, by way of example, an alternative translation to Nietzsche’s final work).

    I make this point because it brings into more sociologically comprehensible focus, the war that is afoot, and who is on which side. As I come from a Jewish secular and atheistic background and have moved through the ranks of the progressivists at university and élite money-men and political power in my early employment years, I can tell you that, although it seems simplistic to say (despite Occam’s Razor permitting the parsimonious conclusion) things boil down to the very distinction that Nietzsche himself identified and understood: that one is either with the Crucified One, and all that entails, or one is with Dionysus. It should also be remembered that while the former is Love, and the latter is Strife; therefore, the latter is always making war on the former, or as Blaise Pascal put it, “it is a tedious thing, this war that Violence incessantly wages against Truth.” (You should read the rest of Pascal’s extraordinary passage, although I suspect I’ve already brought it to your attention once.)

    Speaking personally, my circumstances have required a great deal of circumspection and a certain daring vis-à-vis an investigation of my own inculcated prejudices and ambitions, given that I have a new heart and mind in Christ and now share your view of the conflict as essentially that of Christendom defending itself against anti-christian forces; hitherto employing craft and cunning, but now, with Covid et al, transforming itself into coercion. The anti-christian spirit is capable of taking any man along with it whatever the background, time and place (See: History of the Papacy). But it should be remembered also that certain individuals, by virtue of their adherence to groups that are explicitly or deductively anti-christian, will likely be at the vanguard of all this trouble, if one is willing to look see.

    Christians – especially as a consequence of the Reformation, Wars of Religion and the edicts of toleration – have learned to tolerate the enemy as well as their conscientiously disagreeing Christian neighbour. They have come to believe – against the warnings of the Scriptures – that these are brothers in God, being from the same father – but I suggest to you that this is a dangerous misunderstanding, even a dogmatic falsehood.

    I’m sure you’ve come across the works of gnostic/atheistic critics of modernity, Spengler, Julius Evola, René Guénon et al. that are largely censored by our oligarchs. Each has their own spin on the crisis of modernity. Although I don’t endorse all the points contained within it, I would recommend the Catholic scholar E Michael Jones’ work.

    Let’s pray for happy days ahead, Jon. All the best to you and yours.

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Thanks for comments Levi. As we’ve discussed before, I see no issue with the spirit of antichrist at work in people, but that does not exclude supernatural beings as well. Jesus, after all, called his enemies “children of the devil.”

      And I agree that Christians in general have become blinded to the real nature of spiritual warfare by confusing what it means to love one’s neighbour, seek the lost and welcome all with the idea that everyone is already a child of God and basically “nice.”

      Incidentally, one more nuance: “anti-” in “antichrist” also has the nuance of “instead of” as well as “against.” Opens a whole lot more cans of worms.

      • Levi says:

        “Instead of” is indeed a key nuance, that I think Nietzsche was trying to demonstrate. This nuance is especially needed today, in relation to the bluster of comprehensible atheists (as distinct from the bluster of incomprehensible atheists, i.e. the babble of the criminally insane).

        Keep up the good work!

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