Im­bib­ing the doc­trine of sec­u­lar­ism

The Church of England - - LEADER & COMMENT - Peter Mullen

“They’ve knocked the tops of all the crosses and turned them into T’s… Our Lord is now Our Ford who, when he was speak­ing on psy­cho­log­i­cal mat­ters liked to be known as Our Freud… Strep­to­cock-G to Ban­bury-T to see a fine bath­room and WC…”

Just a few lines from one of the great­est books and, in my view, the best ex­tended satire of the 20th cen­tury: Brave New World by Al­dous Hux­ley who died 50 years ago. The ti­tle is taken from The Tem­pest: “O brave new world that has such peo­ple in it.” Hux­ley wrote this won­der­ful, prophetic book in­side six weeks and con­fessed that he pro­duced it “…only as a squib to an­noy HG Wells.”

Brave New World, pub­lished in 1932, imag­ines a techno-psy­chotropic to­tal­i­tar­ian regime in which a sci­en­tific elite holds in sub­jec­tion an ex­tremely so­cially-strat­i­fied peo­ple by dish­ing out tran­quil­is­ing drugs and drilling them into the recita­tion of mind-numb­ing slo­gans.

This drug is called soma, which hap­pens to be the Greek word for body. And in Hux­ley’s dystopic mech­a­nis­tic world, the body is all. It is also a de­ter­min­is­tic world where freewill and the nat­u­ral range of hu­man emo­tions – es­pe­cially love – are de­nied. Sur­veil­lance is in­escapable. In­fal­li­ble, uni­ver­sal con­tra­cep­tion is com­pul­sory by means of a de­vice en­ter­tain­ingly de­scribed as a “Malthu­sian belt.” All ba­bies are born out of test tubes, and there is even the par­ody of an old Cock­ney song about this: Bot­tle of mine It’s you I’ve al­ways wanted Bot­tle of mine Why was I ever de­canted? Skies are blue In­side of you The weather’s al­ways fine There ain’t no bot­tle in all the world like that dear old bot­tle of mine.

Hux­ley’s pre­dic­tions have mostly come true, but it is not given to any­one to en­vi­sion the fu­ture in its en­tirety. He was dead right about our scorn­ing of God in favour of a sec­u­lar, athe­is­tic so­cial phi­los­o­phy and, of course, ac­cu­rate too in his warn­ing of the coming of a so­ci­ety whose mem­bers are half­fright­ened (by that uni­ver­sal sur­veil­lance) and half­bribed, by drugs and squalid en­ter­tain­ment, con­tra­cep­tion and love­less sex, into dull ac­qui­es­cence.

Hux­ley was too san­guine, too kind, about hu­man na­ture to imag­ine the greater evil of our world in which the whole­sale slaugh­ter of the un­born is now used as a method of con­tra­cep­tion, in case par­ent­hood should threaten to in­ter­fere with the right to an unim­peded he­do­nis­tic life­style.

But, among all the fol­lies and evils per­ceived by the im­pu­dent vi­sion­ary Al­dous Hux­ley, there was one thing he failed to no­tice: the resur­gence of mil­i­tant Is­lam. This over­sight had con­se­quences for the shape his novel would take but, far more im­por­tantly, for the shape of the world we now in­habit.

Brave New World imag­ines that Chris­tian­ity will sim­ply fade away, and so there is no ex­plicit per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians in the book. Hux­ley’s hero then is not some Chris­tian saint bat­tling against the god­less tech­noc­racy but “the Sav­age” – a nat­u­ral man bor­rowed from such writ­ers as Mon­taigne and Rousseau.

It is the Chris­tian who stands in the gap, in the place of ex­treme dan­ger, like the brave 300 at Ther­mopy­lae

Now - as they say em­ploy­ing a metaphor straight out of the tech­no­log­i­cal dystopia it­self – fast for­ward the 80 years since Hux­ley’s re­mark­able prophe­cies and what do we see? All the things he pre­dicted but, along­side them, the world­wide rise of ag­gres­sive Is­lam.

So who is the rebel to­day? Who stands op­pressed and per­se­cuted on the one side by athe­is­tic techno-ma­te­ri­al­ism op­er­at­ing a drugged-up, dumbed-down con­sumerist cul­ture of vac­u­ous he­do­nism, and on the other side by im­pe­ri­al­is­tic, fun­da­men­tal­ist re­li­gion­ists de­ter­mined to achieve global hege­mony?

It is the Chris­tian who stands in the gap, in the place of ex­treme dan­ger, like the brave 300 at Ther­mopy­lae. Our predica­ment is made the more dire by the fact that we refuse to recog­nise it for what it is. In­stead of look­ing to its de­fences - both in­tel­lec­tual and, if nec­es­sary phys­i­cal – west­ern civ­i­liza­tion, which was cre­ated by Chris­tian­ity, is in de­nial. We de­spise our Chris­tian in­her­i­tance and tra­di­tion as some­thing “prim­i­tive” which through our sci­en­tific en­light­en­ment we have out­grown.

And at the same time, through the ef­fete and cow­ardly doc­trine of po­lit­i­cal-cor­rect­ness, we make ex­cuses for our mil­i­tantly re­li­gious en­e­mies. Faced with the ag­gres­sion and ter­ror­ism of th­ese en­e­mies, we of­fer no firm re­but­tal but in­stead sui­ci­dally blame our­selves. We are like a man on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble who awakes scream­ing in agony out of failed anaes­the­sia and of­fers im­me­di­ate apolo­gies to the med­i­cal team for the noise he is mak­ing.

There is only one ques­tion re­main­ing to be an­swered: will what’s left of the for­merly Chris­tian West rouse it­self in time to con­front the twin dan­gers of ag­gres­sive athe­ism and mil­i­tant Is­lam? Our fel­low Chris­tians in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pak­istan and many states in Africa are fac­ing vi­o­lent per­se­cu­tion, dis­pos­ses­sion and re­li­gious “cleans­ing” at the least, and at worst ex­ter­mi­na­tion. The re­sponse of Euro­pean gov­ern­ments is in­dif­fer­ence.

The lead­ers of a con­ti­nent that was un­til very re­cently de­fined by its Chris­tian­ity are in­stead en­am­oured of the pie-in-the-sky ef­fu­sions of protests for “democ­racy” and all un­see­ing of the darker forces of mil­i­tant Is­lam that will soon squash th­ese in­no­cents flat.

Re­sis­tance is made im­pos­si­ble by the un­for­tu­nate fact that the Chris­tians who hold po­si­tions of author­ity and lead­er­ship through­out Europe are of the so-called “lib­eral” sort – the very peo­ple who are most anx­ious to de­cry their own tra­di­tion and who lead the cho­rus of apolo­gies for the sup­posed, usu­ally imag­i­nary, sins of our Chris­tian past. Their pol­icy in the face of threats from the mil­i­tants is to set up a high-level and ev­er­last­ing talk­ing-shop with mod­er­ate Mus­lims. They fail to no­tice that the Is­lamists have a taste for slaugh­ter­ing mod­er­ate Mus­lims, which equals or even ex­ceeds their ap­petite for mur­der­ing Chris­tians.

And when it comes to the per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians in Bri­tain by the avid and con­temp­tu­ous sec­u­lar­ist cul­ture, bish­ops, syn­ods and the like are equally in­dif­fer­ent. This is be­cause they have so im­bibed the dog­mas of sec­u­lar­ism – equal­ity, uni­ver­sal rights, di­ver­sity and a gen­eral pro­gres­sivism – that they have devel­oped a fiercer dis­ap­proval of tra­di­tional Chris­tian­ity than of the god­less cul­ture it­self. In the ter­ri­bly prophetic words of TE Hulme: “A civil­i­sa­tion is only de­feated when it has been pen­e­trated by the ideas of its en­e­mies.”

We have been so pen­e­trated. What is there left to do ex­cept fight and pray?

“O brave new world that has such peo­ple in it!”

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