Lacking conviction?

code pink on Iran

Neo and I have sometimes quoted Yeats’ lines from The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
This is because they seem as relevant to our times as they did to the 1930s. T.S. Eliot expressed it less pithily but with more exposition in his Idea of a Christian Society which was written around the time of the Munich Crisis of 1938. He, like many, was shaken by what had happened, and penitent and critical. But as he explained:

It was not…a criticism of the government, but a doubt of the validity of a civilization. We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us. Was our society, which had always been so assured of its superiority and rectitude, so confident of its unexamined premises, assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries, and had it any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends?

Those words are I think even more relevant now than they were then. Back in the 1930s our civilization retained many of its Christian characteristics, and its morality and standards were those of our Judeo-Christian heritage – we did, in short, as we found in 1940, have some ideas to pitch against those of the Nazis, as we would, for the long Cold War, against the Communists. But what have we now?

I’m struck and penitential about the way in which so many feminists are quiet about what has happened in Cologne and elsewhere – it is clear that for them fear of being called ‘racist’ outweighs the principles they claim to stand for. Their ideas are not held with as much conviction as those of ISIS sympathisers. But they are hardly alone. Our governments do, indeed, seem to care only for banks and profit and not for anything higher. It leaves us, literally, vulnerable against those who hate our civilization and all it stands, or stood for. The reason I singled out feminists a moment ago was that they at least know, passionately I thought, what they stand for, but it is easy to be passionate when faced with an ‘enemy’ which isn’t really that. Western men can be misogynistic, but that fades when compared to the attitude of many Muslims – but best not cross them because unlike Western men, they will turn round and harm you. Is it cowardice? Or is it just that they are not that passionate?

It sometimes seems as though the effort of staying alert for so long against the enemy of Communism has sapped us of our energy. Was it too much for too long? No doubt it would be nice if the world was a better place where we did not face real enemies, but those liberal pieties are not true, they are a delusion. Perhaps Eliot was right, and we do not have values which will stand when the wind blows? But so it seemed in the 30s – and when the moment came, so too did the man – Churchill. We shall have to hope there’s one in the wings.

About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

21 Responses to Lacking conviction?

  1. Reblogged this on My Daily Musing and commented:

    This is interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so very welcome, :).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    The world today seems like the fire ant bed I stepped in last time. It must’ve had as many ant inhabitants as the world has humans, 7 billion or so. Don’t know much about their convictions, but felt their passionate intensity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      True that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed profound words and thought for T.S. Eliot! But today the wheels have come for any real Theism, workable at least in the culture of the West. Now it is modernity & postmodernity, which has deism at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Alas, I fear that is so 😦


  4. *come off


  5. What if your facts are wrong?


    • JessicaHof says:

      Which ones did you have in mind?


      • None specifically. There is one case where a young lady in Germany who claimed to have been assaulted by Muslims who later admitted she made the story up, though I doubt that is a common occurrence. It does raise questions, however. There have been a lot of articles written lately about the depression and hopelessness in the baby boomer generation. I don’t know why this is the case, but I do see it. There is an overall negativity about everything that is fueling a lot of political moves these days. I also think there is a natural tendency to over exaggerate preexisting prejudices.

        I just see an unfortunate union of these prejudices and the general depression about society that I am not sure is really Christian.


        • JessicaHof says:

          If you look at the whole Cologne story, there is far more than one woman, and a serious attempt by the German authorities to keep the lid on it, so I doubt the facts there are wrong.

          I think it is entirely Christian to assume this society is sick and needs healing – it is composed of sinners, and we all need that 🙂 xx


        • For Jonathan (and my oldest son, 26 is named Jonathan, born when I was 40). I am a Irish Brit baby-boomer (at 66, 67 in Oct.) and I don’t see as an Anglican priest working as a chaplain in an American hospital (part-time), any more problem with the boomers verses the younger generation. In fact I think the x’ers and the millennials, might have the boomers beat myself! The whiner generations! But then, I am an older combat vet and always a “Bootneck” (RMC). So we all have our human prejudices! Btw, sadly in my opinion, this generation of western men don’t have an outlet to man up quite often. Not to mention the old blame game, i.e. blame their parents!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry, I was out of town. I guess I have a few questions. First, who specifically did not comment that you expected to comment? Is not commenting a sign of support in your opinion? Also are you saying that feminists are not commenting? If so, what are you using for evidence?


    • the unit says:

      When we have history we’ll know fact from liberal pieties. Once upon a time an old man in Florida (twenty years ago, he then my age now) stepped on a fire ant bed and sunk to his crouch. Couldn’t get out. Succumbed there to an intolerant passionately intense hoard of occupiers.
      I be in Florida and tread lightly with snow shoes (well not really, but engineer boots)to prevent me from making decision based on wrong (delusional) fact that came from liberal pieties. If I step in a mess and I sink to my crouch, I’ll wish I had had snow shoes on, even on hot Florida summer day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • And JS, your NOT going to find any cracks in the logic of Ms Jessica!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sank to your crouch….? Um……?


    • the unit says:

      You do read right? His, not mine. Yet. But you probably don’t know that much about Florida subsoil, lime stone. Sinkholes and such. Son fell into sinking hole walking back from street mail box. That’s a fact. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Are you trying to sat crotch? Not crouch? And one falls into a sinkhole, not a sinking hole…?


        • the unit says:

          So many questions. Ok old man sank ’til he “sat” on his crotch and remained crouched over until he succumbed. lol Maybe I should of said sunk to his rim. More clear now?
          And no, became a sinking hole with weight of son on the ground above. It was fast though. Fortunately self limiting depth.


  7. the unit says:

    Taking the next step…
    In 1784 Congress had appointed Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin as peace commissioners to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with the principal states of Europe and the Mediterranean — including the Barbary states. Already in Europe, the commissioners quickly learned that the Europeans made peace with the Barbary powers through treaties that involved annual payments of tribute — sometimes euphemistically called annuities. The merchant vessels of any country without such a treaty were at the mercy of the state-sponsored maritime marauders known as corsairs, sometimes mislabeled pirates. The commissioners reported this to Congress and sought guidance.
    Therefore Tom, John, and Ben went to work it out…historically speaking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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