Secularism and Religion

Many here are aware that the basis of western civilization is in our Judeo-Christian heritage. Often we merely assert this, since we have known it all our lives, but it can be examined fruitfully.

I admire Melanie Phillips greatly because not only is she a very good writer and speaker, she is fully capable of thinking through things. And she does so here. Yes, this is a long read, but I think you’ll find it valuable to read the whole thing.

It has become the orthodoxy in the West that freedom, human rights and reason all derive from secularism and that the greatest threat to all these good things is religion.

I want to suggest that the opposite is true. In the service of this orthodoxy, the West is undermining and destroying the very values which it holds most dear as the defining characteristics of a civilised society.

In truth, in the United States, we don’t hear it explicitly very often, but in Britain, it is quite common in my experience. Not to mention very strident, not only from the secularists, but from Randians, and other assorted libertine groups.

Some of this hostility is being driven by the perceived threat from Islamic terrorism and the Islamisation of Western culture. However, this animus against religion has far deeper roots and can be traced back to what is considered the birthplace of Western reason, the 18th-century Enlightenment.

Actually, it goes back specifically to the French Enlightenment. In England and Scotland, the Enlightenment developed reason and political liberty within the framework of Biblical belief. In France, by contrast, anti-clericalism morphed into fundamental hostility to Christianity and to religion itself.

“Ecrasez l’infame,” said Voltaire (crush infamy) — the infamy to which he referred being not just the Church but Christianity, which he wanted to replace with the religion of reason, virtue and liberty, “drawn from the bosom of nature”.

[…] Instead of God producing heaven on earth, it would be mankind which would bring that about. Reason would create the perfect society and “progress” was the process by which utopia would be attained.

Far from utopia, however, this thinking resulted in something more akin to hell on earth. For the worship of man through reason led straight to totalitarianism. It was reason that would redeem religious superstition and bring about the kingdom of Man on earth. And just like medieval apocalyptic Christian belief, this secular doctrine would also be unchallengeable and heretics would be punished. This kind of fanaticism infused the three great tyrannical movements that were spun out of Enlightenment thinking: the French Revolution, Communism and Fascism. […]

In the Sixties, the baby-boomer generation bought heavily into the idea propounded by Herbert Marcuse and other Marxist radicals that the way to transform the West lay not through the seizure of political or economic control but through the transformation of the culture. This has been achieved over the past half century through what has been called a “long march through the institutions”, the infiltration into all the institutions of the culture — the universities, media, professions, politics, civil service, churches — of ideas that would then become the orthodoxy.

From multiculturalism to environmentalism, from post-nationalism to “human rights” doctrine, Western progressives have fixated upon universalising ideas which reject values anchored in the particulars of religion or culture. All that matters is a theoretical future in which war, want and prejudice will be abolished: the return of fallen humanity to a lost Eden. And like all utopian projects, which are by definition impossible and unattainable, these dogmas are enforced through coercion: bullying, intimidation, character assassination, professional and social exclusion.

The core doctrine is equality. Not the Biblical doctrine that every human being is owed equal respect because they are formed in the image of God: equality has been redefined as identicality, the insistence that there can be no hierarchy of values of lifestyles or cultures. There can no longer be different outcomes depending on different circumstances or how people behave. To differentiate at all is to be bigoted and on a fast track back to fascism and war.

So the married family was kicked off its perch. Sexual restraint was abolished. The formerly transgressive became normative. Education could no longer transmit a culture down through the generations but had to teach that the Western nation was innately racist and exploitative.

Subjective trumped objective. There was no longer any absolute truth. Everyone could arbitrate their own truth. That way bigotry and prejudice would be excised from the human heart, the oppressed of the developing world would be freed from their Western oppressors and instead of the Western nation there would be the brotherhood of man.

All this was done in name of freedom, reason and enlightenment and in opposition to religion, the supposed source of oppression, irrationality and obscurantism.

At the heart of it was an onslaught against the moral codes of Christianity. Those moral codes are actually the Mosaic laws of the Hebrew Bible.

[…] What they [Western “progressives” and the Islamists] also have in common is hostility to Judaism, Israel or the Jewish people. The genocidal hatred of Israel and the Jews that drives the Islamic jihad against the West is not acknowledged or countered by the West because its most high-minded citizens share at least some of that prejudice. Both Western liberals and Islamists believe in utopias to which the Jews are an obstacle. The State of Israel is an obstacle to both the rule of Islam over the earth and a world where there are no divisions based on religion or creed. The Jews are an obstacle to the unconstrained individualism of Western libertines and to the onslaught against individual human dignity and freedom by the Islamists. Both the liberal utopias of a world without prejudice, divisions or war and the Islamist utopia of a world without unbelievers are universalist ideologies. The people who are always in the way of universalising utopias are the Jews.

Do read it all, and there is a deal more than I have given you. The full title is: Secularism and religion: the onslaught against the West’s moral codes. It is simply a superb examination of where our basic morality came from, and how it has allowed us to exceed former civilizations by orders of magnitude, and how it has come to be endangered.

Crossposted from All along the Watchtower.


Two for Tuesday

Well, let’s try something, I keep falling behind, and often I have two (or more) articles that bear on the same thing. Let’s see if we can connect them and make a coherent whole out of it. For Instance:

The school shooting in Florida is still rattling around the internet, but finally, some sensible people are saying things. These thoughtful people we should maybe be reading and thinking about. Gene Veith over at Cranach picked up an article that got my attention too at The Federalist. Rev Veith says:

On the most basic level, according to Romans 13, we are not to impose justice by taking personal “revenge.”  Rather, God protects us and punishes evildoers through the agency of authorities whom He has called to “bear the sword.”  In today’s terms, that would include police officers, our military, and other lawful officers.

A well-ordered society is not going to be what later political theorists would call “a state of nature,” in which everyone has to battle everyone else in order to survive.  God’s gifts of vocations makes for an interdependent society.  Then again, not all societies are well-ordered.  Lawless societies, as in the “wild west,” function differently.  And even in a well-ordered society, those who “bear the sword” cannot be everywhere.  But vocation still applies.  Keep in mind that we have multiple vocations, not just in our particular line of work, but in our families, the church, and society.

That’s important I think. We do have multiple vocations. Like him I’m using the term in the Lutheran sense of a God-given job, whether it’s preaching, policing, carpentering, homemaking, fathering, mothering, whatever. None of us is only one thing.

In his article linked from Rev Veith, Mathew Cochran says this:

It is therefore no wonder that, like people who work in schools and other gun-free zones, American Christians are beginning to ask themselves, “What happens when the shooter comes to my church?” How are we to handle a situation like that? Like anyone else, Christians would rather mentally and physically prepare for such an eventuality rather than being caught unawares.

I recently encountered a story about one such congregation’s deliberation on the issue. They opted to take advantage of a course on active-shooter situations offered by their local police department. Unsurprisingly, they caught a lot of flack on social media.

There was, of course the usual hatred about how these killings prove the supposed inefficacy of prayer or non-existence of God (how that reasoning applies to a religion that believes God sent his own son to be killed for us, they never quite explain). But someone also questioned how Christians, who are supposed to love their enemies, could possibly fight back against a shooter. Doesn’t “thou shalt not kill” prevent a Christian congregation from shooting a guy who came to murder them all? It’s not only a question Christians are asked, but one that we also ask ourselves.

On the Question of Returning Fire

First, nothing in that story talks about the congregation arming themselves so they can fight back. Nor is that implied simply by arranging a class of this kind. I attended the same kind of class at my church several years ago, and while I think they broached the possibility of shooting back once or twice, it was largely focused on other strategies to maximize survival.

And yet, there is no inherent dichotomy in a congregant returning fire. Last night I reread, Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense. It’s something I do regularly, and you probably should too. In matters of life and death, there is no substitute for getting it right the first time.

Not for the first time, I was struck by how closely the US law on self-defense parallels the just war theory as expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas, and yes that has secular predecessors as well. One of the things that gets us is a quirk of the English language. Most of us know the Commandment as “Thou shalt not Kill” but the usage of the work kill has broadened since the King James version was written. For what we mean as kill, the translators used slay. For what they meant as kill, we use murder, including involuntary homicide, which is a different matter.

It’s still something you have to figure out between you and your God, but it seems pretty clear to me.

But that doesn’t really solve the problem, does it, although it might lower the body count a bit. Other factors than self-defense are necessary to make a real difference. My friend Leslie Loftus on Medium wrote a bit about how training is everything and linked us to another article there. That article is by Benjamin Sledge, and it is outstanding.

The Military Does a Better Job at Gun Control Than Anyone

One thing that has baffled me over the years is that I can go to the grocery store and buy a pack of tic-tacs and then walk across the street and buy a gun. I’m not baffled that I can buy a gun, as I believe it’s an important liberty to have, but it’s the ease and utter lack of training in which I can buy something that has no other role than to kill something.

A knife can be used for cooking and a bat for baseball. But a gun? Unless you’re collecting them for a museum, the point of a gun is to kill something.

Let me give you a breakdown of how the military has gun control right, and society has the process backwards.

When you enlist in the military, you will spend several weeks learning weapons safety and training. Before you are ever allowed to fire a weapon, you must be able to disassemble the rifle, clean it, and then reassemble the weapon. You will take tests and quizzes asking you questions pertaining to the distance and speed a bullet can travel. Once you pass your exams, you will then fire the weapon under the supervision and training of drill sergeants and weapons experts. Last, you must qualify with your weapon on targets. If you’re unable to do that, they will not allow you to graduate from basic training.

He’s correct, it is rather silly. When the system works properly (not always a given) we do check if one is a felon, and sometimes if there are mental issues, but it’s not all that rigorous, and it’s pretty much of a one-shot deal, even more than your driver’s license is. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Read his article – I don’t completely agree with all of his points, but it makes the most sense of anything I’ve read on the subject.

For instance, I have no problem with arming teachers who volunteer, with their eyes wide open to the responsibility and possibilities, say like veterans who have become teachers, but there is room for debate there, not simply the yelling at each other we have been doing. I understand why we are doing that yelling, I do my share. But while it is important not to give away our God-given rights, this is not productive, in fact, it is harmful, to us, and to the Republic.

What cannot continue, will not continue, and having our kids shot down in school should not continue, and won’t for all that long.

Astroturfing Graves

So, we’ve had a little time to let the dust settle from the shooting in Parkland. John Hinderaker has some thoughts on how the Democrat’s Children’s Crusade worked out.

Perhaps the Democrat’s thought their Children’s Crusade would put them over the top this time, after repeatedly losing the battle over guns. But so far, it doesn’t look that way. Most people believe that stricter gun laws will either have no effect or lead to increased violent crime. And Rasmussen finds that 54% think massive government failures are mostly to blame for the Parkland, Florida shootings, while only 33% blame a lack of gun control. Interestingly, the finding is even more pronounced among those who have school-age children: 61% think government is mostly to blame, while only 23% point the finger mostly at guns.

In other words, despite the non-stop efforts of CNN and MSNBC, attitudes toward gun control and violent crime haven’t changed much.

Pretty much what I see, as well. Nice try, but much too over the top, and much too quickly after the fact. In fact, the Children’s Crusade bore all the classic signs of Astroturf, which as Ace notes here, it was.

If It Felt Like the Children’s Crusade Was a Joint Hollywood-Media-DNC Production With Billion Dollar Backers, That’s Because That’s Exactly What It Was

Incidentally, they sure look heartbroken over the deaths of their schoolmates, don’t they?

That article says, in part:

Several large progressive organizations, donors, and a high-powered public relations firm are backing the March for Our Lives movement, which is quickly evolving from a student-run social media effort to end gun violence into one backed by some of the most influential activists in the country.

In the days after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, the teenage survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were impossible to ignore. They blanketed cable news coverage, built a massive following on social media, and began to organize a rally in the country’s capital in support of gun reform.

Barely two weeks ago, the student survivors sat in a circle in the living room of one of their parents’ homes, planning a trip to Tallahassee to meet with lawmakers and handling nitty-gritty matters like which media outlets to talk to.

Since then, major players and organizations 00 including Everytown, Giffords, Move On, Planned Parenthood, and the Women�s March LA 00 told BuzzFeed News they are helping the students with logistics, strategy, and planning for next month’s March for Our Lives rally and beyond. Much of the specific resources the groups are providing to the Parkland students remains unclear– as is the full list of supporting organizations– but there are broad outlines.

Giffords is a group started by Gabby Giffords to push gun restrictions.

Everytown for Gun Safety 00 bankrolled mostly by Michael Bloomberg — recently secured a $1 million donation from entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad.

MoveOn said it will encourage its millions of members to follow and promote the March for Our Lives movement on social media and attend the rally next month. The group said it had offered support in organizing logistics such as security and portable toilets, but it is unclear if the students have taken them up on their offer.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said the group is “teaching and hosting training”� for young activists across the US “to keep momentum going so they don’t get burned out.”

Democratic US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward County resident for nearly 30 years, told BuzzFeed News she has been in touch with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas since the day after the shooting, helping them connect to state legislators and plan their trip to Tallahassee last week.

Wasserman Schultz said that because this is the first time many of the students have interacted with legislators, she advised them on communication strategy. She also said she been in contact with Mark Kelly –Gabrielle Giffords’ husband and one of the founders of the Giffords foundation.


The American Federation of Teachers, which helped bus students and parents to Tallahassee multiple times last week, are now assisting with the March for Our Lives rally.
The federation’s president told BuzzFeed News that they are also helping support next month’s march as well as helping to shape the vision and mission for the group once the rally is over.

After that, she says the goal is to carry that momentum until November — with some of the students already using the hashtag #VoteThemOut.

“We are also marching towards midterms,” she said, adding that the activists intend for gun control and student safety to be a major platform and key issue for voters in the midterm elections.

There’s more at the above link, but you get the idea.

But what might be the cause? Could it be a Culture of Leniency™? Why yes, yes, I believe it could. From Daniel Horowitz, via Paul Mirengoff.

Daniel Horowitz convincingly ties the Parkland shooting to the culture of leniency towards criminals, also known as the jailbreak agenda. He writes:

The jailbreak agenda is definitely on display in the Broward County law enforcement agencies. It turns out that Broward County has been promoting a program, funded in part by the federal government, to incentivize local officials to do everything they can to keep juveniles out of jail. . . .

As Catharine Evans writes at the American Thinker, Broward County “had the highest number of school-related arrests statewide at 1,062” before Obama began his Common Core-style grant programs for local jailbreak agendas. Once millions of dollars were doled out for juvenile feel-good programs to avoid arrest, such as the PROMISE program, the number of arrests plummeted by 63 percent from 2011-2012 to the 2015-2016 school year.

The Obama administration touted this dubious achievement by Broward County. In fact, the school district’s superintendent was invited to the White House in 2015 for an event, “Rethink Discipline,” that would highlight the success of Broward and other localities’ success in “transforming policies and school climate.”

However, as Broward County Sheriff Deputies Association President Jeff Bell told Laura Ingraham, PROMISE “took all discretion away from law enforcement to effect an arrest if we choose to.”

Considerably more there too, do read the links. But, as a long time reader of Second City Cop, the best view from the blue shirt level of policing Chicago, I know this is a leading cause of the mess in Chicago. I also know that we are going to see it increasing all over the west, unless we start locking these fools up. Some belong in jail, some perhaps belong in mental institutions, none belong on the street where they can hurt and kill normal people.


A Miscellany of Bad News

Why is the UK killing me?

You may remember my post Slaughtering the Innocent, where we discussed how the NHS in the form of the Alder-Hey hospital seeks to kill a two-year-old, rather than try to reverse years of neglect by them for him. This is the face of his parents, who love him and wish to help him live.

Well, the courts have spoken. The parents do not matter, the state has taken control, and has the right to kill him. We used to make jokes about doctors burying their mistakes because it bothered them even more than it did us. Those days are gone, and so the jokes are no longer funny, they are simply true.

This video comes recommended by Laura Perrins and by me.

It is worse in Britain, which as he says, has truly become a non-Christian, and in point of fact, often anti-Christian country, but it happens here as well.

Paul Mirengoff tells us that many countries are not following the Paris accords (including some of those that preach the loudest. No real surprise, countries, like people, always act in their perceived self-interest. The difference is that the United States is honest enough to not pay lip service (usually) to things that act to our detriment. Few in the world are, Virtue signaling overcomes honesty most places.

Just for giggles, the US which withdrew from the accord is running ahead of the goals stated in it, just as happened with the unconfirmed Kyoto protocols as well. Free (sort of!) Enterprise, what can’t it do!?

Jonathon Turley tells us that a British woman left a note described as vile on an ambulance on a call that was parked in a reserved space. Well, it wasn’t exactly caring, read:

“If this van is for anyone but Number 14 then you have no right to be parked here. I couldn’t give a s— if the whole street collapsed now move your van from outside my house.”

Well, it wasn’t exactly the milk of human kindness, but I’d say vile was overstating it a bit. In any case, the police charged her with a public order offense, and yesterday she was convicted and fined. We don’t need no free speech in Britain, no siree bob, do what you’re told, serf.

Not that we are much better. Nicolle Russel reports that

In a blow to advocates of parental authority, last week a visiting judge in a juvenile court in Hamilton County, Ohio stripped parents of custody of their teenage girl, who wants to identify as male, because they would not allow the 17-year-old to begin hormone replacement therapy.

The judge awarded custody to the teen’s grandparents who were, in the court’s eyes, more accepting of the teen’s wishes and who will now be allowed to make medical decisions for the teen. This case, which might be the first of its kind in juvenile court, should be disturbing to any advocate of parental rights and freedom of religious expression.

Mutilate Your Child, Or We Will Do It For You

On rolls Leviathon, we still need to get the monster under control before he destroys freedom on earth.

Speaking of collusion, when will Agent Cob be indicted?

Because yes, they are all affiliated with the British Labour Party, does the illegality of the scheme surprise me? Not in the least. By their works, ye shall know them, somebody, a wise somebody, once said.


Gun, Liberty, and the Second Amendment

I was in a discussion over the weekend with some Brits, on the shooting in Florida, and of course, gun control came up. Well not actually gun control, which consists of hitting what you’re shooting at, but the right to possess small arms and ammunition. It got a little heated, when their somewhat suppressed anti-Americanism showed up, but you’d have been proud of me, I didn’t even swear, nor did I lose my poor opinion of them that I already had. In any case…

Yesterday, John Hinderaker, over at PowerLine recalled a piece on the subject by English/American Charles W. Cooke from National Review in 2015. It’s a good one, here are some excerpts.

As John says, Coke notes that talk is cheap and encourages them to get on with it and repeal the second amendment.

[H]ere’s the million-dollar question: What the hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.
Man up. Put together a plan, and take those words out of the Constitution.

This will involve hard work, of course. You can’t just sit online and preen to those who already agree with you. No siree. Instead, you’ll have to go around the states — traveling and preaching until the soles of your shoes are thin as paper. You’ll have to lobby Congress, over and over and over again. You’ll have to make ads and shake hands and twist arms and cut deals and suffer all the slings and arrows that will be thrown in your direction. You’ll have to tell anybody who will listen to you that they need to support you; that if they disagree, they’re childish and beholden to the “gun lobby”; that they don’t care enough about children; that their reverence for the Founders is mistaken; that they have blood on their goddamn hands; that they want to own firearms only because their penises are small and they’re not “real men.” And remember, you can’t half-ass it this time. You’re not going out there to tell these people that you want “reform” or that “enough is enough.” You’re going there to solicit their support for removing one of the articles within the Bill of Rights. Make no mistake: It’ll be unpleasant strolling into Pittsburgh or Youngstown or Pueblo and telling blue-collar Democrat after blue-collar Democrat that he only has his guns because he’s not as well endowed as he’d like to be. It’ll be tough explaining to suburban families that their established conception of American liberty is wrong. You might even suffer at the polls because of it. But that’s what it’s going to take. So do it. Start now. Off you go.

And don’t stop there. No, no. There’ll still be a lot of work to be done. As anybody with a passing understanding of America’s constitutional system knows, repealing the Second Amendment won’t in and of itself lead to the end of gun ownership in America. Rather, it will merely free up the federal government to regulate the area, should it wish to do so. Next, you’ll need to craft the laws that bring about change — think of them as modern Volstead Acts — and you’ll need to get them past the opposition. And, if the federal government doesn’t immediately go the whole hog, you’ll need to replicate your efforts in the states, too, 45 of which have their own constitutional protections. Maybe New Jersey and California will go quietly. Maybe. But Idaho won’t. Louisiana won’t. Kentucky won’t. Maine won’t. You’ll need to persuade those sovereignties not to sue and drag their heels, but to do what’s right as defined by you. Unfortunately, that won’t involve vague talk of holding “national conversations” and “doing something” and “fighting back against the NRA.” It’ll mean going to all sorts of groups — unions, churches, PTAs, political meetings, bowling leagues — and telling them not that you want “common-sense reforms,” but that you want their guns, as in Australia or Britain or Japan.

Keep reading, it’s all good. Robert Tracinski over at The Federalist has some thought as well.

Every time there is a school shooting or some other high-profile act of violence involving a gun (this time at a school in Florida), everybody pretends that America has never before bothered to consider the tradeoff between liberty and security — and that we haven’t long ago settled the debate on the side of liberty.

There are, after all, a great many ills that could seemingly be solved by placing every person and every aspect of life under the control of government overseers who would manage us for our own good. But most of us realize that such a life would be psychologically intolerable, utterly impossible to implement, and would expose us to the far greater evils that come from an overbearing government, whether through official incompetence or outright malevolence. So we have decided to brave the risks and uncertainties of a free society rather than long for the illusory security of an all-powerful state.

In my experience, the only people who actually think this way are the ones who (likely wrongly) think they’ll be the overseers, which should tell you all you need to know.

It also turns out that, as with the usual gun control measures proposed after a shooting, this one was not necessary to stop it. The FBI had received not one but two tips that the killer was planning a school shooting but failed to follow up. Remember what I was saying earlier about the limitations of relying on government, with all its ineptitude, to guarantee our safety.

Besides, if it’s a matter of balancing liberty versus security, we should remember that we are probably more secure now than we have ever been. Crime is down. The homicide rate remains at or near historic lows. The number of people murdered specifically by means of a gun is lower than it is has been in decades.

So because the authorities (mostly the FBI) have been ineffective at providing us security for the last decade, we should give them more power? I don’t think so. I too vote for liberty over security, not least because as an American, I can provide a fair amount of my own security.

By the way, outside of a few losers, I had lots of British support in that discussion. Good many of them think now just as we do, as was true in 1776, of course. They’ve watched as their government has usurped more power than is warranted, and they are not enthused. And that is why they got Brexit, now to hold it.



Feckless Tories and Brexit Negotiations

I don’t feature Dan Mitchell here all that much, although I do read him most every day. Why? Because like economics itself, his writing isn’t as exciting as some. But he is nearly always right. Yesterday, he wrote about the strong hand that the Tories hold in the Brexit negotiations, and here too he is right, although I fear that the Tories are just as good as the GOPe at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory™. Here’s a bit of what he wrote.

If I was a citizen of the United Kingdom, I would have voted to leave the European Union for the simple reason that even a rickety lifeboat is better than a slowly sinking ship.

More specifically, demographic changes and statist policies are a crippling combination for continental Europe, almost surely guaranteeing a grim future, and British voters wisely decided to escape. Indeed, I listed Brexit as one of the best things that happened in 2016.

This doesn’t mean the U.K. has ideal policies, but Brexit was a good idea precisely because politicians in London will now have more leeway and incentive to liberalize their economy.

Though I wonder whether Prime Minister May and the bumbling Tories will take advantage of the situation.

The Financial Times has a report that captures the real issue driving Brexit discussions. Simply stated, the European Union is scared that an independent U.K. will become more market-friendly and thus put competitive pressure on E.U. welfare states.

The EU is threatening sanctions to stop Britain undercutting the continent’s economy after Brexit…the bloc wants unprecedented safeguards after the UK leaves to preserve a “level playing field” and counter the “clear risks” of Britain slashing taxes or relaxing regulation. Brussels…wants…to enforce restrictions on taxation…and employment rights. …the EU negotiators highlight the risk of Britain ‘undermining Europe as an area of high social protection’…the UK is “likely to use tax to gain competitiveness” and note it is already a low-tax economy with a “large number of offshore entities”. …On employment and environmental standards, the EU negotiators highlight the risk of Britain “undermining Europe as an area of high social protection”.

In case you don’t have a handy statism-to-English dictionary handy, you need to realize that “level playing field” means harmonizing taxes and regulations at very high level.

Keep reading here.

And that is pretty much true. Europe is scared, in losing the UK, they lose a good chunk of their Danegeld, while the UK gets rid of the Dane, for as Kipling wrote

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: –
“We invaded you last night – we are quite prepared to fight,
 Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: –
“Though we know we should defeat you,
we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
 But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
 You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
 For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
 No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
 And the nation that plays it is lost!”

Sadly though, I am having increasing trouble seeing Theresa May as King Alfred, but perhaps the people will find a way to inject a bit of Sheffield steel into her spine. Although GK Chesterton’s vision is doubtlessly beyond her.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

The lines are repeated in a different context toward the end as Alfred gathers the Saxons for what will prove the last and successful battle

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’ 

Now it proves the flint against which the iron of resolve is sharpened, and the Saxons rally and they win, even though all had seemed lost. Alfred was not the most charismatic or dramatic of leaders, but he won, and this is why:

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

Alfred has faith and he had patience, and he had resilience; he lacked the capacity to despair. In short, he possessed all the Christian virtues. He listened to Our Lady and he understood her advice, and so, at the height of the battle:

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

And so, through many a sorrow and woe, the steadfast faith of Alfred proved victorious where the charismatic personalities of men with less character failed.

Here there is a lesson for us all – if we will read it.

Thanks to Jessica for teaching me that poem, and that paragraph.

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