Thursday, March 29, 2018

Freedom By Religion

I am not a believer in Freedom of Religion. I do believe however that one Religion has freed us: one Religion that is the basis of what we call 'Western Civilisation'. And we are fast losing that Freedom along with that Religion.

Those who spout the mantra of 'freedom of religion' seem not to think of just what that means. They allow in all sorts of belief systems, some of which are antithetical to our Christian way of life.  They give equal weight and value to ideologies that poison our society: ideas and beliefs that have led and are  leading us down the steep slope to perdition.

Christianity is hard. It is tough. Most people do not even try being religious today, yet they benefit from what Christianity has given us. At the same time they distort the messages of Love for one's neighbour, compassion and Charity with excesses that contradict the clear messages given to us by my Supplier.

Few today would say "Thy Will be Done" when faced with the hard obligations of Christ's commands. Even Christ Himself had difficulty in the Garden. Even He had to pray for the Strength that only the Father can give.

Most of us are asleep. Some are tucked in very comfortably indeed and have forgotten what they are here for. We are betraying our western, Christian Principles.

So a reminder today from Simon Smart and a tale from Everett Piper just to consider while you sup your pints before tonight's Last Supper and the betrayals that followed. 

Simon Smart is the director of the Centre for Public Christianity. He stood to speak:
Christianity is still the foundation of our most treasured convictions
 In his Easter message last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron was not the least bit shy about identifying his country's religious foundation. "Yes, we are a nation that welcomes, embraces and accepts all faiths and none", he said, "but we're still a Christian country."
No politician would get away with that in Australia. The first church built here was burnt to the ground by the convicts and ever since we've had a somewhat uneasy relationship with organised religion.

The crucifixion of Jesus was a crucial turning point in the history of Western morality.

But despite our apparent lack of religiosity, as a culture we remain thoroughly marinated in the juices of an ancient story, the climax of which is celebrated around the country this weekend. The first Easter Sunday led to claims of an empty tomb and, in the West, life has never been the same since.
The reality is, despite fewer and fewer of us having a hope of being able to articulate the details of that story, it is ingrained in the fibre of Western history as the moment when a revolutionary understanding of the value of every individual germinated and began to grow. The idea that the creator of the universe would enter the human drama as a child and then, in order to redeem it, willingly submit to a brutal and humiliating death, shaped our culture in profoundly important ways.

The Jewish tradition of the poor being the ones God loves was picked up and extended by early Christianity and its account of the crucifixion. For educated people in the ancient world, the grotesque execution of Jesus was the worst kind of humiliation, one that couldn't possibly have anything to do with divinity. 
But for the Christian, this humiliation was profoundly meaningful – salvation itself! 
The low point became the high point – the great inversion. 
Jesus urged those who wanted to be great, to also become the servant, or slave, of all.

Atheist philosopher Alain de Botton recognises the value of this radical shift.
Among Christianity's greatest achievements has been its capacity, without the use of any coercion beyond the gentlest of theological arguments, to persuade monarchs and magnates to kneel down and abase themselves before the statue of a carpenter, and to wash the feet of peasants, street sweepers and dispatch drivers.

The idea that those without status were actually the unique concern of God represented a radical enunciation of an ethos Westerners now consider self-evident but that was hitherto unimaginable.
"One finds nothing in pagan society remotely comparable in magnitude to the Christian willingness to provide continuously for persons in need, male and female, young and old, free and bound alike," says historian and theologian David Bentley Hart.

It had a lasting impact. People now simply take it for granted that institutions of public welfare, like free hospitals and soup kitchens or free education, are a social good whether or not they are economically beneficial. We may only pay lip service to care for the marginalised, but we do so knowing this is a moral good, even a moral responsibility. 
Over the centuries people absorbed this sensibility into their moral DNA, and while there have been terrible failures along the way, the world is a substantially kinder, more compassionate place than it would otherwise have been.

And it matters where these foundational concepts comes from. The great atheist critic of Christianity, Friedrich Nietzsche, insisted that the death of God meant the death of objective morality. Having lost the transcendent, the ground on which ethics rests becomes decidedly unsteady.

Australian moral philosopher Raimond Gaita – who is not a believer – writes that only someone who is religious can speak seriously of the sacred, but such talk nonetheless informs the thoughts of most of us whether we are religious or not.

"We may say that all human beings are inestimably precious, that they are ends in themselves, that they are owed unconditional respect, that they possess inalienable rights, and, of course, that they possess inalienable dignity. In my judgment these are ways of trying to say what we feel a need to say when we are estranged from the conceptual resources we need to say it … Not one of them has the simple power of the religious way of speaking."
There's no doubt we are losing that way of speaking and thinking. Many will think that is a good thing. But this weekend, whether you combine hot cross buns with hymns and prayers or are more focused on getting your boat out onto the water or your campground sorted, it's worth pondering the foundation on which some of our most treasured convictions rest – and asking ourselves what it is that gives them the resonance of both beauty and truth.
It is not a question you will hear in our Universities and Schools today. There the 'equally valued' alternative memes and mantras, impious pronouncements and the stench of hypocricy sound out to meet the wailing from the anti-Christ Minarets down the streets. Even a sound teacher or lecturer can be astonished not just at his colleagues' capitulations but the very grounding that the students bring. 

But, you might ask this old Tavern Keeper, "Who are you to judge?".  Everett answers. He is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
‘Who are you to judge?’

“The Lottery” is a classic short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948. It’s the tale of a rural, farming community in America of about three hundred residents. The town seems normal by all accounts as it prepares for a traditional, harvest-time event known as The Lottery.

Each year the name of every family is written on a piece of paper and securely stored in a locked box. On the morning of the annual gathering, the heads of each household draw from the box until a paper slip with a black spot is extracted. One of these clans is that of the “Hutchensons.”

Upon “winning” this first phase of the lottery, each member of the Hutchinson family joins the father to select another slip of paper out of another box until one member of that family — the mother, named Tessie — draws a piece of paper with the final black spot on it.

In spite of her cries, the townspeople, including her own husband and children, pick up rocks and stone her to death to ensure a more prosperous harvest.
I bet you didn't expect that !! 
For some 70 years, “The Lottery” has rightly been included in many literary anthologies for its..... 
shocking portrayal of the power of groupthink and the human inclination to accept evil.

For more than 30 years beginning in 1970, English professor Kay Haugaard used the story to spur corresponding discussions in her literature class at Pasadena City College. Ms. Haugaard says she could always count on some common reactions:
“Everyone thought it was scary because, as someone inevitably said, ‘The characters seem just like regular people — you know, like us!’”

“The story always impressed the class with the insight that I felt the author had intended: the danger of just ‘going along’ with something habitually, without examining its rationale and value. In spite of the changes that I had witnessed over the years in anthologies and in students’ writing, Jackson’s message about blind conformity always spoke to my students’ sense of right and wrong.”

Then in the 1990s, something started to change dramatically in how her students responded to the sobering tale. Rather than being horrified by it, some claimed they were bored by it, while others thought the ending was “neat.”

When Ms. Haugaard pressed them for more of their thoughts, she was appalled to discover that not one student in the class was willing to say the practice of human sacrifice was morally wrong! She describes one interaction with a student, whom she calls Beth:
“‘Are you asking me if I believe in human sacrifice?’ Beth responded thoughtfully, as though seriously considering all aspects of the question. ‘Well, yes,’ I managed to say. ‘Do you think that the author approved or disapproved of this ritual?’
“I was stunned: This was the [young] woman who wrote so passionately of saving the whales, of concern for the rain forests, of her rescue and tender care of a stray dog. ‘I really don’t know,’ said Beth; ‘If it was a religion of long standing, [who are we to judge]?’”
“For a moment, I couldn’t even respond,” reports Ms. Haugaard. “This woman actually couldn’t seem to bring herself to say plainly that she was against human sacrifice. 
My classes of a few years before would have burst into nervous giggles at the suggestion. This class was calmly considering it.”

At one point, a student explained she had been taught not to judge, and if this practice worked for them, who was she to argue differently.

Appalled by the student’s moral indifference, Ms. Haugaard concludes, “Today, for the first time in my thirty years of teaching, I looked my students in the eye and not one of them in my class could tell me that this society, this cultural behavior was a bad thing.”

Not one of these students would say human sacrifice is wrong? The whole point of “The Lottery” is to show the dangers of blindly following bad ideas. 
But Ms. Haugaard’s students had been taught that labels like good and evil, sacred and sinful, no longer applied as absolutes — and they responded accordingly. 
They had been taught that to assign moral values to actions was, in itself, wrong.

You may be tempted to conclude that this is an extreme anecdote and that this doesn’t happen anywhere else but in the politically correct meccas of Berkeley, Brown or Pasadena. Don’t be.

As a university president, I can assure you that if you were to conduct this same exercise today on campuses in heartland America, you would get the exact same blank stares of amorality that Professor Haugaard got on the crazy shores of the Left Coast some 30 years ago.

Remember this story the next time someone tells you it “doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you.” 
Remember this when you hear, “that’s ‘just your opinion.” 
Remember this when the “tolerant” tell you they can’t tolerate your intolerance. 
Remember this the next time anyone says, “Who are you to judge?”

Remember this story and pray.

Pray: “God help us.”
Like Christ did.

He asked His Almighty Father that the bitter cup be taken away, but accepted that God's Will Be Done.

At His Last Supper he gave us not a bitter cup but one of His Covenant; 

His Blood.

"For this is the Chalice of My Blood, Of the New and Eternal Testament: the Mystery of Faith: Which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins"

To many, even many Christians, the Eucharest which is the central part of the Mass, is simply a symbol.

It is not.

It is Transubstantial; It transformed society and the individual, just as simple water and wine are transformed, transubstantiated into the Blood of Christ before us.

But we are in grave danger of pouring out His Precious Blood as a libation to false gods.

To be Christian is to acknowledge that we cannot 'do it' by ourselves. 

I shall be in the Crypt this evening.

The floors are mopped.

I may be there and at Mass for several days, on and off, so help yourselves to drinks.



  1. How about freedom of choice to believe or not believe? John 3:16?

    1. A Gift of Free Will, you mean. Of course. We are called to Love and of course many will refuse. Their choice: our problem. Belief means to 'live' your life 'by'. Some will choose to live their life in hatred or in ignorance or refusal or many of a range of negatives, just to avoid Loving.

      Many are called to the supper but few choose to attend.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..