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:
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.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.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.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.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.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
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