Archives For Progressives

“The Titanic is unsinkable. Therefore we don’t need the extra lifeboats.We’ll get there faster without them.”

“But…”

“Oh. Shut up will you. You have a hidden bias. You’re bigoted and intolerant; a complete fool who doesn’t believe in ‘progress’.”

Karl Barth:
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“There is a lie to be seen in the contrast between all the fuss and bother [the luxuries & arrogance] on board this ship and the helpless way in which it then had to submit to a very elementary force of nature.
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The catastrophe brought this lie to light. God will not be mocked. He certainly intends us to work and to achieve something in the world. But He does not intend us to act as though we were done with working, and could now go fooling around.
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…If we have to say of the Titanic and its 1500 victims today…the blame for this lies with humanity.”
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(On The Sinking of The Titanic, 21st April 1912)

Related reading:

A Slow Turn To Starboard

Let The Pharaohs of Our Age Also Learn: Pride Comes Before a Fall

19th-december-2016-023Here’s how a committee meeting between Herod and his advisers might sound, if such a meeting were to take place in a Western context today.


“This baby! This Jesus, his mother and father, is a threat to us! Committee members, you are asked to agree with Herod’s call for the genocide of all new born male Hebrew children. For by this child’s very existence, all the power structures that surround him stand unprotected. This so-called, “Prince of peace”, is a threat to safe spaces, our glorious goal of perpetual revolution and the power of its leaders.”

“This child’s birth is nothing but a conservative, bourgeois conspiracy, comrades! It’s violence against everything we stand for, which is surely justification enough for its violent suppression.”

“His existence as an outright repressive assault on everything we’ve built; everything we want people to believe in.”

“This is blasphemy against the State and it must not go unpunished. We’ve heard of the academics; how three bourgeoisie wise-men cheated you. Traitors to our glorious academic industrial complex, all of them!! Therefore, any who refuse to give up this child’s location should be tried and tortured. Treated like the vermin, we say they are.”

“It’s their kind that hinders us from completely implementing the way of our glorious leaders. The way of our glorious revolution [pounds fist on desk] !! We should continue to seek to replace structures we deem oppressive with our own. Tear them down!! This child, the “Prince of peace” is a threat! He challenges us, our religion of peace, and our people.”

“Comrades, you know that ‘State power must be exercised in all spheres, even in that of thought!’ [i] For what we do is for the good of the people, we know what’s best for them, better than they know themselves.”

“Yes. Our revolutionary non-gender specific person of the same mind is correct! Our collective’s survival rests on our ideas dominating the higher ground in the hearts of the people. Those who still have sway with the young, and yet betray us must be purged!”

“I concur! This birth represents heteronormative oppression. We must rally people to take up arms against it. He who says that God became man is guilty of hatred towards women. It is said that the husband, one carpenter by the name of Joseph, has wed this woman, Mary, under strange circumstances. As it has been told to us by our spies and confirmed by the secret police, this Joseph is said to have been given the task of caring for the child by Angels. This only reinforces the evils of patriarchy. It will perpetuate the lies that claim healthy child rearing at its best, involves both a man and a woman; a father and a mother. It MUST be stopped! We must ban Christmas!”

” We’ll paint this male Christ-child and the nativity scene itself, as an evil idea, constructed to further the chains of bigoted societal norms.”

“The birth of the “Prince of Peace” threatens our control over what we say is peace; We must have war! These chosen people; these breeders, are an assault on ALL humanity. The State alone, is the peace bringer. The State alone, is the saviour of the people.”

“At the heart of this child is a war on peace! He will stand against our truth and it’s phobic misrepresentations. He will not be easy to control through our mass propaganda and He will unhinge us from progress.”

“For the betterment of humanity; for our evolution, we must have control and influence of hearts and minds, which as we’ve agreed, has to happen first with our educational institutions. Our science is the only science. Our truth, the only truth. What we say is scientific fact, is scientific fact. After-all, we fund our scientists well, and they’re loyalty to our agenda is off the charts. They will all fall in line and do as we tell them to.”

The room quiets down then a voice shouts in frustration:

“How dare this woman, this Mary, choose to keep her unexpected pregnancy! Worst of all, she claims to have been chosen by God! Send her to the Clinic for the welfare of women’s rights! That child must not be allowed to live!”

“This must not go unpunished!”

“Her convictions and religious beliefs are phobic, sexist and irrational. So, we the committee applaud your decision, dear Herod.  We’ve even lined up celebrity endorsements to back us on how necessary and just this action is. This woman’s pregnancy, and the prophecy attached to it is a farce, therefore this child’s life should be deemed not worthy of life.”

“Her and her child’s suffering will not be on your head. This Mary has made her choice and we will not celebrate it …. If only she could’ve seen the freedom our glorious revolution has offered her, the same freedom we’ve given all women, who do as we say, think as we think, and follow what and who we tell them to follow. Ignorant fiend! How dare she stand against us and think for herself. We cannot be to blame, we wouldn’t have had to act as we have. Mary is to wear the blame for forcing your hand, dear Herod, not you.”

“Okay. Then the decision is unanimous. Therefore, let nothing sway you. You are to wipe out males up to the age of two. This will save us and make certain we have eliminated this threat to peace and our civil order. This is an act of great compassion, surgically liberating your people from this threat to us, is the right course of action.”

“After all, we are the victims here! It’s an all out attack on feminism.”

“This young woman’s choice disempowers all women. Her choice undermines our choice for women. If she gets away with it, what does our lack of response say about our pro-abortion policies and how will that negatively impact the millions in funding flowing into our abortion-on-demand factories? This woman could potentially kill the whole industry. The State must, at all cost, uphold the ideals of glorious revolution.”

“Yes. I have the data here. Social media polls suggest support for reinforcing our commitment to feminism. Killing every Hebrew male under the age of two, is the only way to reassure those people that, you Herod, and your council, remain committed to social justice programs that favour those we deem to be the oppressed, and those we deem to be the oppressors.”

“The birth of the Prince of peace; the Son of God, and its proclamation before everyday people is a threat to us. It will inspire ignorance,  non-conformism and counter cultural activists into disobedience. Zealots will rise. Worst of all it will inspire unity and solidarity amongst those we seek to control for their own benefit.”

“Surely, not! The people are now convinced we serve them, even if putting our own interests before them is undeniable. Will they really care? They know who holds the power and who doesn’t; who to fear and who not to.”

“Well, I think your trust in our propaganda success is slightly misplaced. Make no mistake, this child will work against us! He will stand as a threat to our factories, our causes, and he will take away our ability to convince the people about how necessary it is for them to have us in power. Only you can be called King. Only the State and the glorious leaders of the revolution can be called saviour! There can be no other!”

“The raising up of anyone against the glorious progressive collective must be met with ridicule, shame, and gaol time. This rise of a King of kings, must not be allowed to happen.”

“I agree! We want our ideas to reign. We want a peaceful society in harmony with the peaceful religion we’ve created and authorised. We want our people to be thankful for the live-life-our-way programs. We have no room for a Prince of peace, we have a religion of peace; there is no room for a “King of Kings” who commands us to live life His way, according to the ways of the Good Book before our redaction of it.”

“If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I for one, am outraged! This so-called birth of the Prince of Peace, is what real violence looks like! It is violence towards the collective. Violence against the state! Violence against women! Violence against us!”

“Then let it be made known that all who disagree with us are traitors, haters and infidels! Anyone not thinking along with us, is against us.”

“We’re told that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, that this child is a saviour.”

“But the quiet proclamation announcing the birth of a Jew; a baby boy from Judea is ethnocentric; it’s offensive to other races. It propagates the legitimacy of Israel’s existence,  and threatens our power on the world stage.”

“If not stopped, this manger baby will lead a revolution. We are all in agreement. This Christ-child is a threat to us all.”

“We must not stop showing a unified stance against this blatant display of contempt for our leadership. Our glorious revolution depends on it, and our glorious leaders command it to be so!”

“Organise the outrage! Get the wheels of the State moving and manipulate the ignorant. Send out the murderous minions and shut down all this unlicensed good cheer. The party must not be seen to approve of this unsanctioned movement. Stop the early rumblings of this pathetic prophetic Jesus movement.”

“How will we survive, if the people are encouraged to think for themselves?!”

“Herod, you must act. Remember all who oppose you are tyrants fit for only one thing – total destruction and perpetual war!”

And everybody said:

“Long may our glorious revolution, the party who enforces it, and its leader who embodies it, reign!”


Notes:

This is a hypothetical response created for the purpose of highlighting how some in the West respond to Jesus Christ. How within that response rests a resistance to Him who still confronts us in our own positions of power.

For the recount of an historical response of someone in power to the birth of Jesus Christ, see Matthew 2:16-18

[i] Weil, S. 1936 Oppression & Liberty p.109 Routledge & Kegan Paul 1958.

IMG_3628At a recent family event, the person I was talking with deliberately identified themselves as a “progressive”.

It seemed odd to me that this person felt the need to qualify their ideological position. Based on his choice of words and a few popular socio-political slogans dropped in between them, his position was clear enough.

It’s how things are. Although there was polite disagreement, I didn’t fall in line with the controlling socio-political narrative. Consequently, I was treated as dim-witted and ignorant.

I even attempted to shift topics, mentioning that my father had passed away in March, but that was only met with silence and indifference.

I wasn’t hurt or at all that surprised. In other non-face to face conversations a lack of respect and sense of superiority has always tainted his participation in our conversations. In this instance, however, he came across as arrogant. Even if he was making a strong effort to conceal contempt for my questions and tentative conclusions, it was clear that my educated theological position was considered unscientific and therefore, illegitimate; of no value.

I was curious about why he was comfortable with dismissing my theologically trained position, and yet confident about his own knowledge of theology; mostly sentimental fragments of information, drawn from his youthful association with a church .

I walked away with the strong impression that he was uninterested in my position. He appeared hypocritical and prejudiced against anything a thinking Christian might have to say or offer.

This is nothing new. It’s a bit like what G.K Chesterton experienced at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Experiences which lead him to write observations like this:

 ‘In the Catholic twelfth century, in the philosophic eighteenth century, the direction may have been a good or a bad one, men may have differed more or less about how far they went, and in what direction, but about the direction they did in the main agree, and consequently they had the genuine sensation of progress. But it is precisely about the direction that we disagree. Whether the future excellence lies in more law or less law, in more liberty or less liberty; whether property will be finally concentrated or finally cut up; whether sexual passion will reach its sanest in an almost virgin intellectualism or in a full animal freedom; whether we should love everybody with Tolstoy, or spare nobody with Nietzsche;— these are the things about which we are actually fighting most.’ (Heretics, 1901, pp.15-17)[i]

Chesterton falls into three categories. Insightfully relevant: elements readers cannot help but agree with. Intensely relevant: the wordy elements that unsettle even the most devoted of his fans. Irritatingly relevant: elements that make a whole lot of sense, but would be cast aside because they speak too loudly against certain predominant socio-political agendas.

Reading Chesterton is a lot like reading Jean Bethke Elshtain, Albert Camus, Hannah Arendt, or the anti-Nazi theologians Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Their works are better savoured, than rapidly devoured.

They’re part of a movement and a counter-movement. Each unsettling us as we are directed in heart, thought and attitude towards something not of this world – pointing us to the God who, in the world through covenant and Jesus Christ, speaks to humanity from outside humanity. Humanity can never speak this Word to itself or by itself. It can only speak God’s Word in reference to where, when, how, who and what, God has first chosen to speak it. God’s Word; His grace and law comes to us – encounters us. It’s possible to say that genuine progress is framed and protected by law, but brought to life by grace.

Like conservatives, progressives don’t own the concepts of progress, tolerance, emancipation, compassion, enlightenment, grace or even charity. No creature, without the Creator, can truly claim them, or truly offer them, without eventually perverting progress, turning it into a lordless and tyrannical task-master instead of a servant.

As Chesterton said,

 ‘Progress, properly understood, has, indeed, a most dignified and legitimate meaning. But as used in opposition to precise moral ideals, it is ludicrous. So far from it being the truth that the ideal of progress is to be set against that of ethical or religious finality, the reverse is the truth. Nobody has any business to use the word “progress” unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals. Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal. For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word “progress” than we […] It is not merely true that the age which has settled least what is progress is this “progressive” age. It is, moreover, true that the people who have settled least what progress is, are the most “progressive” people in it. The ordinary mass, the men who have never troubled about progress, might be trusted perhaps to progress.’ (ibid)

In sum, you don’t have to be a progressive, to be for progress.


Notes:

[i] Chesterton. G.K. 1901, Heretics Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Ed. (pp, 15-17).