British atheism, and Laura Wood’s first comment at VFR

The new search engine that Alan M. has installed opens up VFR in new ways, not only making searches easier, but uncovering long-forgotten but exciting entries. For example, this morning I was curious to find when Laura Wood began commenting at VFR. I did a search for “Laura W. writes:” (since her ID back then was “Laura W.”). On the first results page, it indicated that were six pages of results, in reverse chronological order, so I clicked on “6.” At the bottom of the page that loaded there was an entry from July 2006 I had entirely forgotten, “British (and European) atheism: The coldness unto death.” In it I wrote about something I had intuitively felt for years but was saying aloud for the first time: that the extreme atheism that seems culturally dominant in Britain shows a coldness of the soul that amounts to a rejection of existence itself; and this is why the British are, among other things, so rapidly committing suicide as a nation.

Following the opening post there is an interesting discussion, with some European readers backing up my intuition about British and European atheism, and others challenging my view. And at the end of the entry Laura Wood posts her first comment at VFR:

Laura W. writes:

Regarding the discussion on atheism, I would like to comment on Jeff’s point that Britain has not rejected God because New Age spirituality is everywhere. This observation should only bolster your argument. New Age spirituality is not religion and is the exact opposite of Christian spirituality. It exalts the self and emotion. It is an anti-rational search for transcendence that ultimately leads to despair, confusion and rejection of God. It is a close cousin of the sort of corrosive atheism you describe. Christianity has a rational and historic basis. It does not ask the believer simply to feel. It asserts that God has communicated in actual language and real events to human beings. It claims to offer rational truths. As Francis Schaeffer would say, not “exhaustive” truths, but truths nevertheless.

By the way, in reading your posts, I have found the points at which you tangle with those who say you take Christianity too seriously the most, let’s say, suspense-filled. I keep expecting you to back down. Then you’d become just another journalist. I’m allergic to journalism, so I’m happy you haven’t.

LA replies:

Yes, you’re expecting me to say something like what I heard Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition say on TV in the mid-’90s, that society is a “level playing field” for the competition of different beliefs. When I heard him say that, I thought, what’s the point of having a Christian advocacy organization, if what you primarily believe in is a liberal society, rather than a Christian society?

Of course, VFR is not a Christian site per se. It is a traditionalist site, seeking to articulate and defend the essential aspects of the West as a whole. As such, it recognizes the truth of Christianity and its centrality in our civilization.

Laura replies:

VFR is not a Christian site in the sense that it has much of interest to non-Christians, does not seek to proselytize, and recognizes that the Christian and non-Christian agree on many public issues, must respect each other (except when the non-Christian is calling for annihilation of Christianity) and live amicably side-by-side. It does not advocate Christianity. But it is Christian in the way that the Pentagon is American.

[end of excerpt.]

- end of initial entry -

Charles Gray writes:

Thank you for advertising the fascinating discussion from 2006. Your comments at the start particularly caught my attention: “But this [British] hostility doesn’t stop at God and Christianity; as its sway grows over the soul, it extends to one’s own culture and country, and thence even to existence itself.” I’ve always thought that this evil progression might be a result of the nature of the British state. As you know, the Church is established here, and thus inter-connected with all other organs of the nation. So, first, one turns against God, Christianity, and the Church. But the Monarch is also Supreme Governor of the Church, and the current Queen is a public advocate of Christianity. So a British God-hater necessarily turns against the Crown, which has traditionally been the Briton’s first loyalty. The same with Parliament; since twenty-six Bishops are given seats in the House of Lords, Parliament too becomes illegitimate in their eyes. More examples could be provided. An important consequence of this is that the God-hater cannot take part in any communal national events and celebrations, such as Jubilees, as they are dominated by the Church and institutions profoundly linked to it. So the British God-hater becomes utterly estranged from his fellow-subjects and his country. For an American God-hater, there is no such natural progress from hating, say, the Episcopalian church, and thus going on to despise the presidency or the Senate.

The lesson seems to be that in a healthy society, an established Church and Christian Monarchy allow the nation and church to work as one; the nation serving the church and the church serving the nation, in their own ways. But in a sick society like modern Britain, such inter-connectedness causes hated of God to metastasize into hatred of culture and country far more rapidly and naturally than it would otherwise.

LA replies:

That’s interesting, but I’m not entirely persuaded. If the religion of the established Church in England were genuinely religious, and exercised real religious authority, your argument would be more persuasive. But it is, for the most part, such a pro forma and empty religiosity, that I question whether it would lead a British atheist to turn against his country just because he has turned against God and the Church.

I personally have never seen an Episcopal or Anglican bishop who actually believed in Christianity. What they believe in is modernity, and they tortuously re-shape Christianity to fit modernity. The current archbishop of Canterbury is a perfect example of this.

Howard Sutherland writes:

You didn’t give your vile sycophants the link to the British atheism entry! I’m sure it’s well worth reviewing in this year of grace (?) 2012. After all, this is the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, and the Summer Olympics will soon celebrate whatever it is they celebrate in London, once upon a time Dr. Johnson’s “flower of cities all.” A good time, surely, to take a hard look at once-Great Britain and ask how it came be the way it now is. And to give us Laura Wood’s eloquent first comments at VFR without showing what Laura was replying to is a bit of a tease.

It would be salutary to re-read your British atheism debate and ask how Britons have come to succumb to that “coldness of the soul” as we pause to review the last 60 years, during which the fawningly celebrated Queen Elizabeth has presided over a moral and social degradation of her nation with no parallel in Great Britain’s long history. Probably the brightest spot in this Queen’s largely dismal reign is the rescue of the Falklands from the Argentine junta (accomplished 30 years ago yesterday). But that naval victory would not have been necessary if Great Britain had had statesmen in power able to provide against preventable evils, as Enoch Powell put it.

Even considering the history of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the aggregate, is there anything to compare with Britain’s civilisational slide since 1952? As a Catholic, I might say the catastrophe of Henry VIII’s debauched defiance of the Church, his selfish sundering of his country from the rest of Catholic Christendom, and the vast destruction that ensued—the Dissolution of the Monasteries is only part of it—is a contender. But when that horrible passage of England’s history finally ended (and much the same happened to Scotland at the same time), the spiritually damaged Englishmen who emerged from it were still Christian, even if most were no longer Catholic. The British Isles endured the Black Death, the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of the Roses, but those trials do not seem to have destroyed Britons’ moral fibre. One might propose the dark century or two between the Roman abandonment of Britain and newly Anglo-Saxon England’s re-conversion under Augustine of Canterbury, but we have no way of knowing whether those ancient Britons fell into a spiritual state as debased as today’s English yobs and the multiculturals who burnt so much of London last year. I doubt it. Was any leader in Dark Age Britain as low a creature as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or David Cameron? I doubt it again: either such people would have found no followers in that more honest world, or they would have been killed when their followers realised their faithlessness.

So, please, let us see the whole thing. Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense! And let us hope that ancient phrase regains its former meaning.

LA replies:

Thanks for letting me know. But—my gosh—what a stream of words to be triggered by a missing hyperlink!

Charles Gray replies to LA:
I agree whole-heartedly with your comments on the Anglican Communion. I’m not convinced however, that its cravenness has much of an ameliorating effect upon atheist hatred of the Church. Over the last few decades, as both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have become greater and greater allies of liberalism and modernity, hasn’t hatred of these Churches actually grown and grown, to the fever-pitch it has now reached? In my experience, the only situation in which liberal atheists are interested in drawing distinctions between different forms of religion is when they are drawing lines between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims.

By the way, do you not think that the sheer nation-hating liberalism of the Bush years may not be connected to the fact that the President was (like the Queen) an open Christian, and thus the frenzied anti-religious hatred of many liberals was thus transferred to the state?

LA replies:

I don’t know. Of course a big part of the Bush hatred was connected with his Christianity. But national self-hatred, both in Britain and the U.S., has been growing for decades, and I wouldn’t say that Bush’s Christianity was a major factor in the development of that hatred on this side of the ocean. It would have been there in any case. At the same time, there is something peculiarly intense and demented about Bush hatred, and I’ve never felt that I entirely understood it. In any case, it wasn’t about his Christianity. It was about his personality.

Charles Gray replies:

Yes, I suppose you’re right. I can only really speak from the European perspective. Over here, there was sheer horror and revulsion that Bush was an open Christian, and that Christianity influenced his actions. European liberals are magnanimous enough to allow a powerless old lady (the Queen) to ramble on about God for a few minutes on television on Christmas day.* But for someone with the power to act on his beliefs, to do that was horror beyond imagining. Your readers may not know that the most famous “gotcha” question in recent British political history was when the BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked Tony Blair if he and President Bush prayed together. Blair, of course, denied the charge. The fact that this would be a “gotcha” question, delivered and denied as if it was “Do you accept bribes?” sums up the climate here. In my opinion, the “New Atheist” movement, led by Britons Dawkins and Hitchens, was far more a reaction to Bush’s open religiosity than any other event, such as 9/11.

* Well, only in the sense that there’s no active opposition to it. Instead, the major liberal broadcaster Channel 4 mocks and humiliates the Queen by showing an “alternative” Christmas message” in opposition to hers. It has recently been presented by Marge Simpson, a Muslim woman wearing a full-body niqab, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Has the sickness of modern liberalism ever been so succinctly revealed?

LA replies:

Bush’s Christianity was greatly overestimated. In what sense did Christianity influence his actions as president? Liberals lose their minds over mere gestures and symbolism. No. The reason the British became so overwrought about Bush’s Christianity was that they were already in an insane state of liberal bigotry against all the things liberals loathe, and Bush somehow fit their preconceptions of someone who embodies those things.

June 16

LA continues:

The insanity of the liberals and particularly of the British left regarding Bush consisted in believing in a script about the world that bears no relationship to reality. In this script, fascist white male corporate oppressors are constantly seeking to oppress, torture and destroy innocent nonwhites and Third Worlders. Seen through the filter of this script, Bush’s toppling of the monstrous dictator Hussein, done for the (apparently true, but it turned out mistaken) belief that Hussein had WMDs, followed by his reconstruction of Iraq, done for the purpose of giving the Iraqis democratic freedom, was seen by the left as as monstrous fascist cruel oppression of the Iraqis. Bush’s policy was wrong and disastrous in all kinds of ways, but it takes a particularly intense mania to see Bush’s hyper-Wilsonian (i.e. hyper-liberal) campaign to spread democracy and give a Third-World nation self-government as a fascist, racist campaign to oppress them.

LA continues:

Also, did Bush ever express concern about the millions of Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee their homes, and in millions of cases Iraq itself, because of the murderous Islamic persecution that befell them as a result of Bush’s giving freedom to the Muslims of that Muslim majority country? No. In everything he did, both in Iraq and in the Balkans, Bush empowered Muslims and harmed Christians. Yet the insane left, looking not at reality but at their false script of reality, think of Bush as some Christian reactionary who led an aggressive militarist Christian crusade against Islam.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 15, 2012 01:00 PM | Send

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