Paul Kingsnorth wrote a very intelligent post reflecting on the symbolism and significance of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.
What happened today was a rolling, dense mat of symbolism, replete with historical meaning, anchored in a very particular nation and time period. What did it symbolise? Above all, I think, it symbolised something that our culture has long stopped believing in, and as such can’t really process effectively, or even perhaps quite comprehend. This was brought home to me by one particular moment in the ceremony.
You can see that moment in the photograph above. It’s a view from the height of the tower of Westminster Abbey, looking down onto the Queen’s coffin below. The Abbey is, of course, laid out in the shape of the cross, and the coffin was set down at the meeting point of the nave and the transept, where the two arms of the cross meet. At one point in the proceedings, the camera showed us this view, and then focused in on the scene, and the impression was that of some energy flowing down from above and into the coffin, then out across the marble floor and into the gathered crowd.
It struck me then that this was an accurate visual image of the world which this Queen’s death marks the final end of, and it struck me too that this must be one of the reasons why her passing has had such a huge impact – one way beyond the person she actually was. What we were seeing as the camera panned down was a manifestation, through technological trickery, of the ancient notion of sacral kingship.
This notion was the rock which the political structure of all medieval societies was built, and in theory at least it is still the architecture which supports the matter of Britain, whose bishops still sit in parliament with the power to amend laws, and whose monarch’s crown is adorned with a cross. Authority, in this model of society, flows downward, from God, and into the monarch, who then faces outward with that given power and serves – and rules – his or her people.
Forget for a moment whether you’re a Christian, or a monarchist, or indeed whether you just think this is so much humbug designed to disguise the raw exercise of power. I’m not trying to make a case here: I am trying to understand something that I think at least partly explains how we have got here.
The point of the model of sacral kingship is that all true power resides in and emerges from the great, mysterious, unknowable, creative power at the heart of the universe – the power which we call, for want of a better word, ‘God.’ Any power that the monarch may exercise in this temporal realm is not ultimately his or hers. At the end of the funeral today, the orb and the sceptre, symbolising the Queen’s spiritual and temporal authority, were removed from the top of her coffin, along with the crown, and given over to the care of the church. At that point, Elizabeth became symbolically what she had always been in reality, and we all are – small, ordinary people, naked before God.
This notion – that any power exercised by a human ruler ultimately derives from the spiritual plane – is neither British nor European. It is universal. Pharaonic Egypt recognised it, and so did Native America. The Anglo-Saxons believed it and so did the Japanese Emperors. Cultures large and small, imperial and tribal, on all continents over many millennia, have shared some version of this understanding of what the world is. Power, it tells us – politics, it insists – is no mere human confection, because the world is no mere human confection. There is something – someone – else beyond it, and if we are silent, in these cathedrals or in these forests, we can hear it still. Those who take power in this world will answer to it at the end. It is best that they know this now.
What is meaningful about this royal death is that the late Queen really believed this. So, I think, does her son, the new King. But the society around him very much does not. The understanding now is that authority flows upward from below, from ‘the people’ and into the government, which supposedly governs on our behalf. In this model there is no sacred centre, and there is no higher authority to whom we answer. There is no heavenly grant of temporary office which will one day be returned, and a tally made. There is only raw power, rooted in materiality, which in itself has no meaning beyond what we ascribe to it. There is only efficiency. There is only management. There are only humans.
Sean Collins of Spiked interviewed Joseph Bottum who, in 2014, published a book explaining very well the etiology of the hysteria and insanity afflicting America these days. This one is a must-read item.
One person who has long been exploring the religious fervour of todayâ€™s increasingly moralistic politics is the essayist and author Joseph Bottum. Indeed, his 2014 book, An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America, seems almost prophetic. There he argued that the demise of traditional Protestantism in the US has led liberals to transfer their religious beliefs, habits and passions into the political realm, moralising it in the process. Our age of â€˜post-Protestantismâ€™, he concludes, has eroded the boundary between the religious and the political, infusing politics with a religious mindset and discourse. …
The Mainline churches helped define American culture in several ways. First of all, the churches were mostly apolitical, which has had a profound effect on American culture. For instance, thereâ€™s never been a great American political novel. The average French streetwalker in a novel by Zola knows more about politics than the heroes of the greatest American novels. What is it to be an American? At the highest artistic level, it is to be concerned about the cosmos and the self. Politics is incidental to Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter and Huckleberry Finn. And thatâ€™s because Mainline Protestantism rendered politics secondary to what it deems is most important â€” namely, salvation and the self.
Second, Mainline Protestantism defined the structure of the family, and the shape of everyday life â€“ baptisms, marriages and funerals. It effectively shaped the social life of communities. When Tocqueville talks about these non-governmental associations in America that he found so fascinating, the two examples he gives are volunteer fire departments and burial societies. People banded together to make sure they had funding, and attendees, for each otherâ€™s funerals. This Protestantism will also shape the idea of the nuclear family, provide a sense of the arc of life, and frame how we understand whatâ€™s driving our behaviour, and how we think about politics. So when 50 per cent of the country belonged to these churches, these churches were still shaping social life.
The third thing Protestantism gave us was a shared language of the Bible. When Adlai Stevenson, the former Democratic governor of Illinois, was asked why he decided to run for president for a second time in 1956, he said, â€˜It was not like Paul on the road to Damascusâ€™. There was a cultural assumption that people would get this sort of Biblical reference. That too gave a unity to American culture. As much as the Lutherans were not the same as the Methodists, and so on, the churches shared what Tocqueville called the central stream, the main current in American life.
In the 1970s, the old Mainline Protestantism starts to break down. A question of what might replace its centrality in American culture emerges. There is a period in the 1990s and 2000s when it seems that Catholicism might provide the moral language that Mainline Protestantism no longer did. In the event, that project failed, primarily because liberal Protestantism did not disappear â€“ it just shifted into post-Protestantism. ….
What weâ€™re seeing now is an amplification of what I wrote about five years ago: an intense spiritual hunger that has no outlet. Thereâ€™s no way to see people kneeling, or singing â€˜Hands up, donâ€™t shootâ€™, or swaying while they hold up candles, and avoid acknowledging that itâ€™s driven by a spiritual desire. I perceived this when I wrote about Occupy Wall Street, and itâ€™s become even more like this. It is an intense spiritual hunger that is manifesting itself more violently. Because to the post-Protestants, the world is an outrage and we are all sinners.
As a follow-up to The Anxious Age, I wrote an essay in 2014 in the Weekly Standard, called â€˜The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideasâ€™. The first idea I addressed was white guilt â€“ that there is this inherent guiltiness that comes from being white. This notion has the same logical shape and the same psychological operation as Original Sin. The trouble is that, unlike Original Sin, thereâ€™s no salvation from white guilt. But the formal structure of white guilt and Original Sin is the same. How do you come to understand that you need salvation? By deeper and deeper appreciation of your sinfulness.
Similarly, there is ostracising and shunning. Cancel culture is just the latest and most virulent form of the religious notion of shunning, in which people are chased into further appreciation of their guiltiness. Two years ago, the Nation published a poem about an older panhandler giving advice to a younger one, about how to get people to give you money. The Twittermob went after that poem, on the grounds that the poet was a white man from Minnesota. And the magazine apologised, and the poet apologised for writing the poem. Thatâ€™s what the shunning is looking for. If you profane, if youâ€™re shunned outside the Temple, the only way back is to become fanatic, to convince people that you understand how guilty you are. And even then Iâ€™m not sure thereâ€™s any way back.
At the very least, one of the effects of the shunning is to frighten everyone into silence. Its purpose is to get people fired, to put people beyond the pale, to get them out of our sight. This is for a couple reasons. First, it is to ensure we are not infected by this sinfulness. And second, it is a public declaration of our power. It says, look how powerful we are, that we can do this to people.
We live in just the strangest times. But understanding the historical roots of these radicals as post-Protestant, and understanding the spiritual hunger which has no outlet for them, helps us to explain it.
There can be no question that he is right. Leftism generally is nothing other than the recrudescence and amalgamation of several earlier prominent Christian heresies, and contemporary Woke Leftism is an obvious outbreak of religious hysteria based on that heretic cult.
Religious Conservatives Argue Adam And Eve Would Never Have Been Banished From Eden If Theyâ€™d Had Guns
HOUSTONâ€”In what they described as scriptural evidence of the right to bear arms, leading figures among the religious right gathered Wednesday to issue a statement arguing that Adam and Eve would never have been banished from the Garden of Eden if they had owned guns. â€œJust imagine: If Adam and Eve had carried firearms and stood their ground against God, they would have been able to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in peace, and He could never have forced them to leave paradise,â€ said Pastor Hugh Peters of Houstonâ€™s Second Baptist Church, explaining how the entire course of human history would have been altered for the better if the first man and woman had taken the simple precaution of keeping a semiautomatic weapon at the ready for use during emergencies. â€œGod was trespassing on their property, pure and simple. He had absolutely no right to force them from their home. Had Eve been able to open-carry a handgun, maybe tying it to her hip with a vine or something, God would have known to back off. This is one of the Bibleâ€™s most important lessons.â€
God didn’t make men equal, after all. That was Samuel Colt.
[It] is a recurring theme with the American Left. It is the reason they embraced the term â€œProgressiveâ€ as their preferred label. They start with the unspoken belief that the story of man is written. It is the duty of the righteous to live it out in order to reach salvation. Itâ€™s why â€œbeing on the right side of historyâ€ comes up so often. They think of the struggle as between those on the side of the great historical force and those who are standing in the way of it. The righteous are always looking forward and moving forward.
It is also why they think of the past as a dark age dominated by the sinners. There is no romanticism on the American Left, because the past is by definition further away from the glorious future. Instead, the past is filled with monsters that were either slain by the righteous, or locked away, but ready to return at any moment. For example, they remain forever vigilant about the return of Nazis, as if they are a real thing that still exist. In the mind of the American progressive â€œNaziâ€ is just another name for Old Scratch.
Notice in that Times piece that the Trump voters are described as â€œleft behindâ€ rather than unhappy or in disagreement. In other words, the people voting for Trump did so because they were sad for having been left behind by the righteous. Voting for Trump was a cry for help. Itâ€™s tempting to see this as part of Obamaâ€™s narcissism, but in reality his narcissism is also the result of this deep belief in the flow of history. He was chosen to lead the faithful, so of course he is a narcissist. What savior would not be a bit full of himself?
Youâ€™ll notice that Progressives are forever warning about some attempt to â€œturn back the clockâ€ and return us to a former state of sin. It resonates with Progressives, because for them, the eternal quest for salvation means going forward, breaking away from the degraded past. Trumpâ€™s â€œturning the clock backâ€ is viewed as the wages of sin. Obama thinks he tried too hard to deliver his people to the promised land. The result was the great leap backward into Trumpism. It is a lament and call to redouble the efforts of the faithful.
American Progressives are the purest form of true believers, because they have disconnected their beliefs from practical considerations. Therefore, they are immune to facts and reason. When you examine the language they use to describe politics and the culture, you see the extreme mysticism. Obama does not even really know what â€œleft behindâ€ means, but he is sure it is a bad thing. For him, it is a purely a spiritual issue to be thought of in those terms. Practical considerations simply have no salience for him.
The error the Right has made for generations is to think it is possible to prove the Left wrong, and therefore force them to abandon their agenda. Thatâ€™s like thinking you can disprove sections of the Koran and cause the Muslims to abandon their faith. In fact, efforts to do so will always be met with a fierce defense of the faith. Practical arguments always embolden the righteous, as it confirms their belief in themselves as moral agents in a holy cause. Your irrational resistance is proof they are on the righteous path.
Kimberly Daniels is a former prostitute who got religion, became a minister, and wound up elected to the Florida State House of Representatives from Jacksonville as a democrat.
She recently sponsored a bill which would require Florida public schools to post “In God We Trust” on their premises, which has outraged the militant secularist crowd.
Progressive Secular Humanist Michael Stone had a cow on the Patheos blog over a recent comment by Daniels thanking God for American Antebellum Slavery, because â€œif it wasnâ€™t for slavery, I might be somewhere in Africa worshipping a tree.â€
Personally, I found her comment refreshingly un-PC and a lot more intelligent than the standard bitching and moaning about 150-years-dead historical circumstances and events.
Rep. Daniels’ quip is obviously not precisely accurate, absent slavery, today’s individual African Americans simply would never would have been born. But if, like Rep. Daniels, they indulge in imagining themselves born with the same identical personhood in their ancestral African place of genetic origin, they obviously would find themselves living in extreme poverty and primitive circumstances, with a much shorter life expectancy, possibly exposed to the hazards of tribal or religious violence or even to a slave trade still operating in the 21st Century, and worshiping trees or worse.
Michael Stone barks: “The stupid, it burns.” Well, he ought to know, because he, not Rep. Daniels, is the stupid one.
The African American community would be a lot better off with more leaders and spokesmen like Kimberly Daniels than they are with Al Sharpton and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
PITTSBURGH, PAâ€”A rowdy gang of angry, riled-up Arminian believers gathered to pull down a statue of Reformer John Calvin standing in front of Calvin Reformed Bible College & Seminary, authorities confirmed Friday.
The band of Wesleyan troublemakers brought a rope, lassoed it around the neck of the stone likeness of Calvin, and yanked it down while yelling rallying cries like â€œDown with limited atonement!â€ â€œYouâ€™ll never take our free will!â€ and â€œFor Servetus!â€
Mob members then stomped on the statue and spray-painted crude Arminian slogans on the downed Reformer, according to police reports.
In 1968, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin published a little book called Science, Politics and Gnosticism. In a section of that book entitled â€œErsatz Religion,â€ he argued that modern ideologies are very much like ancient Gnostic movements. Certain fundamental assumptions, Voegelin wrote, characterize both ancient and modern Gnosticism.
The gnostic, Voegelin observed, is fundamentally dissatisfied with his situation and believes that the world is â€œintrinsically poorly organizedâ€ and that salvation from the worldâ€™s evils is possible. The gnostic further thinks that â€œthe order of being will have to be changed in an historical processâ€ and that this is possible through human effort. Finally, the gnostic looks for a prophet who shares saving knowledge about how to make the transformation happen. It turns out that the intersectional project accords in every detail with Voegelinâ€™s description.
Intersectional scholars are, by definition, unhappy with their situations in life. From an outsiderâ€™s perspective, this seems more reasonable for some than for others, though itâ€™s apparent that everyone feels it to a greater or lesser extent. Most affectingly, at the Notre Dame conference, several black feminist scholars from South Africa described the explicitly repressive measures they had endured at their universities, where the prejudice against them is overt and sometimes results in violence. As one scholar put it, â€œItâ€™s not like Iâ€™m full of despair.â€ Then she paused and thought for a moment. â€œBut, of course, I am full of despair.â€
This nearly moved black American women to tears. They detailed their feelings of inadequacy in American universities, confessing that they feel they have no legitimate place, or that they are expected constantly to serve, because this is what has always been expected of black women. A young Hispanic assistant professor explained that United States immigration policy was a systematic attempt â€œto deny intimacy and familyâ€ to immigrants from Mexico. A self-identified â€œChicano gender non-conforming queer Latinxâ€ detailed the exclusion she had felt until she discovered a support group of other transgender people in Los Angeles. And the stories continued.
Expressions of hurt and exclusion were inevitably followed by anger at the systemâ€”at the patriarchy, racism, unjust institutions, and structural prejudiceâ€”and then by exhortations to do something about it. In Voegelinâ€™s terms, they were rebelling against the poor organization of the world, and maintained the hope of salvation through human effort.
Voegelinâ€™s idea that the order of being must be changed â€œin an historical processâ€ nicely captures the mandate of intersectionality. If schools, churches, and families are the primary institutions that have always formed people, and if they are fundamentally shot through with oppression and prejudice, then these institutions must themselves be thoroughly remade. In light of such an objective, the self-conscious deconstruction of what we take for granted makes sense. Gender, sexuality, family, Âhierarchy, capitalism, and, most of all, the university and its â€œpretenseâ€ to objective knowledge must be destroyed and reconstituted. Scholarship is secondary. Activism is what matters most.
A group of around 20 French Catholics was quietly praying the rosary in Paris just hours after the funeral of Father Jacques Hamel, the priest who was recently â€œbeheadedâ€ by Muslims in Normandy. The worshipers were peacefully protesting the closing of the Association of Catholic and Apostolic Chapels when suddenly a man, who is reportedly Muslim, walked up and purposefully attempted to shut down their demonstration.
Blog Catholique reports that the unknown man approached the group and began blasting music to stop the Catholics from completing their prayer. It was then that one of the worshipers rose from his knees and turned to confront the man before delivering a monstrous punch that instantly knocked out the Muslim.
The Muslim man hits the ground as spectators and demonstrators appear confused and horrified. The protester grabs the unconscious man and pulls him from the sidewalk before the footage cuts off.
According to the Daily Mail, there have been no arrests and it is unclear whether the Muslim man suffered any severe injuries.
The French blog states that the man was â€œchastised for his rudenessâ€ by â€œa soldier of Christ.â€
The New York Times today for the first time in 95 years ran an editorial on the front page.
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. Americaâ€™s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Letâ€™s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically â€” eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
Jonah Goldberg was moved to note some of the major news events which failed to provoke an equivalent emotional response.
The Peace of Versailles, Buck v. Bell, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the Ukrainian famine, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the Tuskegee experiments, the Holocaust, McCarthyism, the Marshall Plan, Jim Crow, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Kent State, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Watergate, withdrawal from Vietnam, the Killing Fields, the Iran hostage crisis, the Contras, AIDS, gay marriage, the Iran nuclear deal: These are just a few of the things the New York Times chose not to run front page editorials on. But, the â€œGun Epidemicâ€ in America? That deserves a front-page editorial.
I myself find it interesting to reflect that not one single member of that New York Times editorial board could properly define an assault weapon, nor if challenged justify placing ugly-looking semi-automatic rifles chambered in a slightly modified version of a cartridge introduced in 1950 for the purpose of shooting groundhogs in a special category supposedly more “designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency” than any repeating firearm which appeared on the market later than the Henry Rifle of 1862 or even the Colt Patterson Revolver of 1836.
The really important distinguishing category to which the editorial board of the New York Times belongs is the class of limitlessly self-important, limitless self-entitled holier-than-thous, the category of persons The Godfather referred to as “pezzonovantes” (90 caliber individuals) who get to hand down regulations and edicts, even if they do not actually produce the desired result, because “at least [they] are trying.”
The New York Times Editorial Board is composed entirely of fanatic liberal devotees of the cult of the Leviathan State, and their personal religion demands a symbolic regulatory response, a sacrifice of somebody’s rights, liberties, and property, as a means of addressing any perceived PROBLEM. When something bad happens, you must immediately invoke Nobodaddy, the administrative state, and make that sacrificial gesture. Then, and only then, is “la patrie” no longer “en danger.” It doesn’t matter if the ceremony of Statism has any practical effect. It doesn’t matter if what the priests of Leviathan do is actually counter-productive. The point of all this has nothing to do with reality or practical results. The point is the emotional satisfaction of the assembled congregation of the worshippers of the State through the performance of the proper ceremony.
If we don’t respond to every shooting which makes a major headline by banning something, by passing some brave new law, the urban-based cult of Leviathan will shriek at us in pain until we do.
The terrorists and terrorist nations such as Saudi Arabia only fear one thing: the destruction of the religion of Islam. There is nothing in this life that has greater value to them than Islam. They are willing to sacrifice and even die to promote Islam. This religious motivation is the engine that drives the Jihad against us.
The path to Paradise, according to the Five Pillars of Islam, involves the city of Mecca and its stone temple called the Kabah. Muslims pray toward Mecca five times a day. What if Mecca didnâ€™t exist anymore?
They must make a pilgrimage to Mecca and engage in an elaborate set of rituals centered around the Kabah once they arrive. What if Mecca and the Kabah were only blackened holes in the ground?
What if Medina, the burial place of Muhammad was wiped off the face of the planet?
What if the Dome Mosque on the Temple site in Jerusalem was blown up?
The greatest weakness of Islam is that it is hopelessly tied to sacred cities and buildings. If these cities and buildings were destroyed, Islam would die within a generation as it would be apparent to all that its god could not protect the three holiest sites in Islam. …
The US government and its allies must agree that this is the final solution to the Muslim problem. We must tell all terrorist groups that the next time they destroy the lives and properties of Americans at home or abroad, we will destroy Mecca, Medina and Dome Mosque. They will be responsible for destroying the three most holy sites in Islam and bringing the religion to its knees.
We must tell all the Muslim countries that are presently supporting and harboring terrorists that if they do not cease and desist at once, we will destroy the heart of their religion.
Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Islamic world would, for the first time in their bloody history of oppression and tyranny, have to give civil rights and human rights to women and non-Islamic religions. They would have to allow their people to decide for themselves what religion, if any, they want in their lives. The â€œreligious policeâ€ would be disbanded.
All Islamic laws would have to give way to the UN declaration on human rights, civil rights, womenâ€™s rights and freedom of religion. Once Muslim governments took their foot off the neck of their people, millions of Muslims would convert to Christianity as they have had enough of oppression and violence from their Imams and Mullahs.â€