Jacob Rees-Mogg and Absolute Morality

There has been a bit of commotion over in Britain the last couple of weeks, caused by a Member of Parliament that I’ll bet most Americans have never heard of, and that’s a shame. His name is Jacob Rees-Mogg. His father was William Rees-Mogg who was a former editor of the £ Times newspaper and created a life peer in 1988. Jacob was educated at Eton and in History at Trinity College, Oxford. (Can you say “posh”? I knew that you could.) He created his own financial services company and is the Member for North East Somerset (since 2010). Quentin Letts dubbed him the “Honourable Member for the early twentieth century”. It’s rather humorous, and yet, his accent and manner of dress, and yes his manner of acting play into it. As does that he is proud of being both Catholic and English, something we see far too seldom these days. And that’s why the commotion. The other day he was on Good Morning Britain and some of what he said shocked the hosts rather profoundly.

It’s rather fun to watch Piers Morgan taken apart, apart from the fact that Rees-Mogg is entirely correct for the Catholic Church as well as any orthodox Christian. It is simply what we have always believed everywhere, at all times. Here is exactly how far our churches have descended since the beginning of the twentieth century. And that leads us to something else. Steven Bullivant writing in the Catholic Herald, tells us something about how secular Britain, even its Catholics, are becoming.

How many Catholics actually share Jacob Rees-Mogg’s beliefs?

He is already in a minority simply by attending Mass regularly

Today’s Times carries an interesting – though for many Herald readers deeply dispiriting – article: “Most UK Catholics back right to abortion”. (It’s behind a paywall, but a quick and free registration can get you access.)

I won’t repeat the full thing here – and besides, you can read the full report from the 2016 Brithish Social Attitudes survey, on which the article is based here. But the essential statistics are these: In 2012, 39 per cent of British Catholics thought that abortions should be legal on the simple grounds that “the woman does not wish to have a child”. Now, fully 61 per cent of British Catholics think so.

This is, it must be said, a huge leap in just four years. By comparison, in the 27 years prior to 2012, the proportion of similarly pro-choice Catholics increased by only six percentage points (from 33 per cent in 1985). Personally, I’d suggest regarding the specific figures in play here – i.e., 61 per cent of British Catholics; a rise of 22 percentage points – as being illustrative, rather than pin-pointedly precise. (This is due to all the usual caveats regarding sample size, margins of error, etc.) Nevertheless, the general tenor of the statistics, and indeed of the direction of travel, are likely to be trusted.

These figures come at a time when Catholic attitudes to critical moral and social issues are already very much in the news. This is thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s straight-talking statement of the Church’s, and therefore his own, opposition to both abortion and same-sex marriage. It is not surprising, then, that these new BSA data are being used to cast Rees-Mogg’s views as being out of touch even among Catholics themselves.

I addressed the general question of “How odd is Rees-Mogg?” in terms of British social attitudes as a whole on the Spectator’s website over the weekend. How representative, though, is he among his fellow Catholics?

First of all, he is already in a minority of Catholics simply by virtue of being a regular Mass attender: fewer than one in three of cradle Catholics (a good chunk of whom now identify as ‘no religion’, of course), and only about two in five of all those who currently identify as Catholics, say that they attend Mass even as often as once a month (see here).

Accordingly, it would be interesting to see what difference there is between practising Catholics and non- or irregularly-practising Catholics on attitudes towards abortion and other subjects. I suspect that among them Mr Rees-Mogg’s views would find much greater (though not at all unanimous) agreement.

Even so, these new statistics are a sobering indicator (as we didn’t have enough of them already) of just how far British Catholics have secularized. So too, for that matter, is the furore surrounding Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Part of what I find disheartening in this is that even as we, in the US, appear to be winning the battle on abortion, and we have public opinion on our side on same sex marriage as well. It was simply established by a federal court acting extra-constitutionally, if not quite unconstitutionally. But the United Kingdom appears to be still sliding down that slippery slope. But we know that we have seen some very dark places in this battle here as well. And one of the things that is winning for us, is the steadfastness of many Catholics in this battle, who have shown some of us Protestants what we must do to achieve the proper result.

And so, real conservatives in Britain have found someone who speaks eloquently for them, and for us as well. There is a boomlet for him to become the leader of the Conservative Party. It is, at best, very premature and unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Because a lot of what is happening in Britain these days are very much like those things that have caused us to say here, “That is why you got Trump”. And nothing in my lifetime was more unlikely than that.

He also reminds me of this, from Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream- -and not make dreams your master;
If you can think- -and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on! ‘

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings- -nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And- -which is more- -you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rees-Mogg certainly is, and a most admirable one, as well
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A Clerk of Oxford: Blogging, Academia, and Aspiration

Photo Credit:  A Clerk of oxford

Photo Credit: A Clerk of oxford

One of the consequences of my friendship with Jessica is that I have been brought in touch with a fairly wide cross-section of British historians (and such). Mind you, I know only a few of them well, and a couple have become close friends but, I see a good bit of their public work. Frankly, I wish I was as well connected with American ones.

I have found many of them via Twitter, and that has led to several of them being featured here. One of my favorites, not least because her interests cross mine in several areas is A Clerk of Oxford. The other thing is that she is, I think anyway, a superb writer, able to transport one to the historical places she writes about. Frankly, I love her blog.

She has just published her 1000th post, and its tone is a bit sad, on what should be a joyous occasion. For those of you who read our blogs but don’t write one, I’ll tell you a secret: It ain’t easy. Coming up wit material that is both interesting and that one know well enough not to make too many mistakes is hard. To be able to write it in an interesting fashion is harder yet. She does it very well, far better than I do. So very heartfelt congratulations to her.

But the tone of her post was not all that cheery, as you’ll see. My impression was that she was turned down for a new position (I may well be wrong (if so, I hope she’ll forgive me.) and that it was done with open contempt by a senior faculty member. Well, that’s not unheard of, sadly not in business, and certainly not in academia. But it is not helpful, to the institution and certainly not to one turned down.

I have heard, from some of my friends over there, stories of the rankest incompetence, which would get you bounced off the curb in my company, no matter how senior you are, especially in the faculty leadership. For the most part they were told to me in confidence and so I will forbear sharing them with you but, I’ll say this, I believe every word she says here.

What we call ‘academia’, as practiced in universities today, is a modern invention, not more than a century or two old, and it seems to me that it’s swiftly reaching the point at which it becomes no longer sustainable; but scholarship and learning are much bigger than academia, and living somewhere like Oxford helps you to hold that in mind. The human desires to understand, to study, to teach and to learn are fundamentally good and beautiful things, however much any particular institution or any age may distort them, and Oxford’s long history of scholarship is a reminder of that: from its medieval origins, the monks and friars who gathered here to study and teach, through its history of benefactors, women and men who endowed colleges and gave money, asking nothing in return but prayer, to the countless generations who have laboured in its libraries to win the secrets of books, a silent wrestling-match with no prize but knowledge.
This is an idealistic picture, I know, but you’ll have to forgive me for being a little wistful right now. Most of the scholars, great in their day, who have worked within Oxford’s cloisters would not survive five minutes in modern academia, and I can’t help feeling that’s not a good thing. Of course I know that the world I’m describing would for most of its history have excluded people like me (a woman, from a non-traditional-Oxford background). But in effect, it still does; it still speaks in code, to keep insiders in and outsiders out. You might think that after eleven years in Oxford I’d have learned to crack the code, learned to fit in, but I’m as mystified as ever. It’s not just Oxford, anyway, but academia as a class – a culture still dominated by patronage, opacity and exclusion, only now in different ways. Now they talk the language of inclusion, while being as exclusive as ever. Oxford has a little bit of polite verbiage they put in their job adverts these days: ‘Applications for this post are especially welcome from women and ethnic minorities, who are under-represented among the University’s academic staff’. Well, you can certainly apply; but if you don’t respond well to an aggressive and hostile interview, you might end up quoting that verbiage back to yourself rather wryly. If I leave academia now, I just become a statistic. But I’ve received so much kindness and such rigorous teaching in this place (the vast majority of it from women); when I leave, I’ll take that with me, and do some good with it somewhere.]

A Clerk of Oxford: Blogging, Academia, and Aspiration.

And so I have little add, except that I offer her congratulations on a thousand posts, many of which I have enjoyed thoroughly, and commiseration and sympathy on her setback, which I hope will resolve itself to something even better. It can happen, and often does, at least two of my friends have oxford degrees and neither was a traditional type in college.

Toward the end of her post she included a poem by C.S. Lewis (and you all know what sucker I am for poetry).

In 1919, when he was still an undergraduate (and not yet a Christian), C. S. Lewis published a poem called ‘Oxford’. It’s full of youthful idealism, but it would be unjust to call it naive; the boy who wrote this poem had lived through a war worse than anything most of the people who inhabit a place like Oxford can even begin to imagine. He had a right to his idealism and his hope for a better world.

It is well that there are palaces of peace
And discipline and dreaming and desire,
Lest we forget our heritage and cease
The Spirit’s work — to hunger and aspire:

Lest we forget that we were born divine,
Now tangled in red battle’s animal net,
Murder the work and lust the anodyne,
Pains of the beast ‘gainst bestial solace set.

But this shall never be: to us remains
One city that has nothing of the beast,
That was not built for gross, material gains,
Sharp, wolfish power or empire’s glutted feast.

We are not wholly brute. To us remains
A clean, sweet city lulled by ancient streams,
A place of visions and of loosening chains,
A refuge of the elect, a tower of dreams.

She was not builded out of common stone
But out of all men’s yearning and all prayer
That she might live, eternally our own,
The Spirit’s stronghold — barred against despair.

And my hope that she will keep blogging because I, at least, and I know I’m far from alone, love her blog, and her insights. And I hope it all works out for her.

 

Eamon Duffy: Newman and the Papacy; The Newman Lecture

B_HG-pXWoAA3ZQ3These just keep getting better and better, this week’s third (delayed) Newman Lecture is Professor Eamon Duffy on Newman and the Papacy. It is quite fascinating on a topic that I like most American know little about. We have perhaps overemphasized the importance to us of that little fracas that we call  “The Civil War”.

The lecturer this week is Professor Eamon Duffy.

Eamon Duffy is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow and former President of Magdalene College.

Enjoy

Storify simply will not embed for me here, so I would suggest you follow the link and read Professor Charmley’s live Tweeting and comments as you listen to the lecture.

Eamon Duffy: Newman and the Papacy (with images, tweets) · ProfJCharmley · Storify.

This was my reaction then, and even more so now.

Political Correctness vs. The Truth

My friend Juwannadoright reblogged the original post and made some very cogent points here, I recommend her take highly. I do want to go a bit farther with it however. She does make the point that I took my title from. A large part of the problem we have in the west is because we are afraid to call things by their correct names. In this particular case we have a crime ring in the UK running rampant because everybody, including the police and the courts are afraid to say the next clause “endemic sexual abuse of children by predatory Muslim paedophile gangs.” I can’t speak for you but, I’ve noticed little reluctance to speak out (whether or not justified in any given case) against any hint of pedophilia in organized Christianity, and here I thought double standards were bad.

#UK: Britain’s Rape Jihad Crisis

By Soeren Kern

A court in London has sentenced seven members of a Muslim child grooming gang based in Oxford to at least 95 years in prison for raping, torturing and trafficking British girls as young as 11.

The high-profile trial was the latest in a rapidly growing list of grooming cases that are forcing politically correct Britons to confront the previously taboo subject of endemic sexual abuse of children by predatory Muslim paedophile gangs.

The 18-week trial drew unwelcome attention to the sordid reality that police, social workers, teachers, neighbors, politicians and the media have for decades downplayed the severity of the crimes perpetrated against British children because they were afraid of being accused of “Islamophobia” or racism.

According to government estimates that are believed to be “just the tip of the iceberg,” at least 2,500 British children have so far been confirmed to be victims of grooming gangs, and another 20,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation. At least 27 police forces are currently investigating 54 alleged child grooming gangs across England and Wales.

Judge Peter Rook, who presided over the trial that ended on June 27 at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (aka the Old Bailey), sentenced five of the men to life in prison and ordered them to serve a minimum of between 12 and 20 years before becoming eligible for parole.

Rook said the severity of the jail terms — which are longer than those in other high-profile grooming cases such as those in Rochdale, Derby and Telford — were meant to send a message to abusers that they would be targeted and brought to justice.

After reading the sentence, Rook said the men — who are from Pakistan and Eritrea (see profiles here) — had committed “a series of sexual crimes of the utmost depravity” and had targeted “young girls because they were vulnerable, underage and out of control.”

The ringleaders of the gang, brothers Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, were given life sentences and were told by the judge that they had been found guilty of “exceptionally grave crimes.” They are to remain in prison for a minimum of 17 years before becoming eligible for parole.

[…]

The mother of Girl “C” told the British newspaper The Guardian that she had begged social services staff to rescue her daughter from the rape gang. She said that her daughter’s abusers had threatened to cut the girl’s face off and promised to slit the throats of her family members. She said that they had been forced to leave their home after the men had threatened to decapitate family members.

[…]

 All the agencies of the state, including the police, the social services and the care system, seemed eager to ignore the sickening exploitation that was happening before their eyes. Terrified of accusations of racism, desperate not to undermine the official creed of cultural diversity, they took no action against obvious abuse.”

According to Hargey, “Another sign of the cowardly approach to these horrors is the constant reference to the criminals as ‘Asians’ rather than as ‘Muslims.’ In this context, Asian is a completely meaningless term. The men were not from China, or India or Sri Lanka or even Bangladesh. They were all from either Pakistan or Eritrea, which is, in fact, in East Africa rather than Asia.”

[…]

Hargey points to a telling incident in the trial when it was revealed that Mohammed Karrar branded one of the girls with an “M,” as if she were a cow. He writes, “‘Now, if you have sex with someone else, he’ll know that you belong to me,’ said this criminal, highlighting an attitude where women are seen as nothing more than personal property. The view of some Islamic preachers towards white women can be appalling. They encourage their followers to believe that these women are habitually promiscuous, decadent and sleazy — sins which are made all the worse by the fact that they are kaffurs or non-believers. Their dress code, from mini-skirts to sleeveless tops, is deemed to reflect their impure and immoral outlook. According to this mentality, these white women deserve to be punished for their behavior by being exploited and degraded.”

[…]

“It is very sadistic. It is very violent. It is very ugly.”

Emphasis mine and there is quite a lot more detail at #UK: Britain’s Rape Jihad Crisis, do read it.

There are several issues implicit in this story:

  1. The obvious fear of the British authorities (and American ones are not any better) of being seen as Islamophobic, they have an obvious preference to sell their own citizens subjects down the river to keep from being criticized by the PC police. To me that is inexcusable, the mark of a just government is that it tells the truth, bluntly and without fear, anything else is a betrayal of the heritage we share and that so many have died for over the millennia.
  2. We fought, many of us on all sides of the political spectrum, to establish that no woman, anywhere, was ever asking for rape and torture in the way she dressed and acted, after many years we won that battle in our societies, and now we are throwing that victory away to these animals?
  3. In some ways, I can understand so-called crimes-of-passion, I cannot and will not make excuses for them but can understand that some people just do not have the proper inhibitions to be members of polite society. Usually this means that they will have to be shut away from society for many years, that’s too bad but, the function of the state is to protect the people and it cannot be helped. But that doesn’t apply here, does it? Because…
  4. This is a commercial operation, grooming they call it, I don’t. I call it slavery, not white slavery, not any of the modifiers, it’s pure and simple slavery, for profit, and the slavers enjoyment of course. I’m certain that Wilberforce is very proud.
  5. It is inflicted on (mostly) helpless young girls in a society rendered helpless itself by its own government. The British government has managed to repeal every right that a British freeman had (pretty much only in the United States do they still exist) and now because of a fear of the Islamist, the government refuses to protect them as well. The phrase, “Ripe for the plucking” comes to mind.
  6. And finally, and somewhat less important, is that the court is finally doing the right thing and sentencing these vermin to life terms (hanging would be better but it is Britain, after all) but what sort of life term is 17 years? I mean I’ve heard of the locust state and I’ve heard of (and seen) 17 year locusts but I didn’t know they were both part of British jurisprudence.

Still this is a good news post, that is the strongest measure to protects themselves the British have taken in years, usually this has been their response:

no_evil

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