Evil, King Arthur and Oliver’s army

The Scottish archaeology and history presenter Neil Oliver got “red-pilled,” largely it appears through dialogues with Mike Graham on Talk Radio during COVID. There is, as we know, no going back once one sees behind the curtain, so in his own cliche (always amusing to my wife and me) the process has “changed Neil Oliverr forr everr.”

He now works on GB News, and does excellent monologues from his home in Stirling which can be found on YouTube, at least until their algorithms find him out. The most recent contained some interesting information, gleaned from the large number of supportive letters that ordinary people send him.

These, as you will imagine, mainly come from people who either always were, or at some stage became, sceptical of the COVID narrative and/or other components of the Great Lie in which we now live. What was a great surprise to me, and apparently to Neil, is that something like half of the letters come from “people of faith,” which Neil appears to attribute to the power of a strong alternative belief system to immunise one against propaganda.

This is undoubtedly true in my own case (though one does need to begin to entertain the possibility that those you trust have been lying to you consistently). Indeed, what has been disappointing to so many of us Christian believers is how few of our brethren seem to have seen through the delusion at any level, dutifully taking their fifth booster, changing to paper drinking straws and blaming the Russians for launching HIMARS missiles at nuclear power stations they already occupy and need.

But Oliver’s experience suggests that pessimism about the perceptiveness of the saints might be coloured by our own local experience in churches, and the tendency for everybody to self-censor nowadays. It would seem that, proportionately, those with religious faith, of whom the majority writing to a Scottish TV presenter are surely Christians of whatever stripe, constitute a disproportionate percentage of dissidents compared to their low representation in British society.

For US readers, I hasten to point out that it is a very different situation to America, where the proportion of active Christians is much higher, and linked to a Republican Party which has largely embraced COVID scepticism for party-political reasons. I don’t deny the role of biblical faith in America, but it is of far more significance in Britain. I am greatly comforted by the indication that Christ is still making his followers “salt and light” in a dark world.

But there’s more to learn from Neil Oliver’s correspondence bag. He also reports that virtually 100% of his letters speak of the present multiple crises in terms of a struggle between good and evil, as opposed to left and right, rich and poor, East and West and so on. Since he is not, as far as I know, a Christian himself, he expands on this with reference not only to the Passion and the promised return of Jesus, but also the myth that King Arthur will come to rescue Britain from great evil in her time of need.

This myth has many echoes in popular culture, from the sleeping king in Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen to the awakened hero in C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, although in the latter case it is Merlin, not Arthur, who is revived. But in any case, the Arthurian myth is deeply imbibed with specifically Christian imagery, just as is the work of C. S. Lewis, which Oliver actually cites, but in the guise of the Narnia books rather than the space trilogy.

Be that as it may, the widespread recognition, among those who have awakened to the true nature of today’s events, of a conflict between good and evil is noteworthy, and one I have suspected myself from conversations I’ve had. Remember how unfashionable it has been, for so long, to recognise anything in the world as “evil,” rather than as poorly educated, oppressed, misguided, and so on. Christians even back in Lewis’s time tended to follow the Enlightenment line of explaining away the devil, and during the last century it became the mainstream theological view that the “powers and principalities” represented impersonal political forces rather than evil spiritual beings. How such forces came to be “in the heavenly realms” in Paul’s thinking was not explained.

The truth is, as I see it, that the longstanding Christianization of Western society has inured us to the full realities of evil. We don’t see, or at least recognise, demonisation of individuals, democratic governments have been relatively benign and uncorrupt, and the general civility of things has persuaded us that most people are “basically decent.” This rosy picture was never really true, when one considers the hidden child abuse, wife-beating, colonial atrocities and so on. But it was not completely an illusion either, as we failed to appreciate just what a difference the Gospel made to the world it reached, at least until that time when “the man of lawlessness” would no longer be held back (2 Thessalonians 2:6).

Whether that man is soon to be revealed (or whether I’m being overly futurist in my interpretation!) remains to be seen. I think it’s wise to keep him in mind, because Neil Oliver’s hope of a King Arthur saviour figure arriving to sort out the mess would easily fit the bill for the seductive false Messiah – the real Christ will not emerge sleepily from a cave to abolish lockdowns, but will be seen suddenly from east to west.

Still, I think Christians should note with great care the vast number of people waking up to the reality of evil for the first time in their lives. For it may be the key to effective evangelism in the increasing troubles the world faces not years from now, but this very autumn as the temperature drops and the nights draw in. The Gospel did not originate as therapy for “hurting people,” or even for the “marginalised,” but as God’s definitive solution to the problem of evil both in the supernatural realm, and in individual lives.

Evangelistically, there is a need to help people connect their new sense of societal evil not just with bad actors in corporations, governments or the WEF, but with the blanket of deception Satan has drawn over our own sinful hearts. As G. K. Chesterton famously wrote in a Times correspondence on “What is wrong with the world?”, “Dear Sir, I am.”

Remember that Peter’s closing plea to the crowd that first Pentecost, after he had described the death of Jesus at the hands of wicked men – with the full compliance of themselves – was, “Save yourselves from this wicked generation.”

Are we secure enough in Christ (see my last post) to seize the opportunity not only to explore how we can serve our local communities practically when the lights and the food are gone, but to connect the pervading sense of evil with the righteousness available through faith in Jesus?

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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.
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