When I wrote this a few years ago, I had not yet observed that the Pew Poll is all over the map when it comes to religious issues. So of course it sounded really bad: “49% of people who have left the church no longer believe in God or miracles.”
Culture rot in the West has deep roots, at least as deep as the French Revolution. The 19th century came up with Marxism, Darwinism–and spiritualism, a new “religion” based on communication with the spirits of the dead.
A major factor in the rise of spiritualism was the devastation caused by World War I, which shook many people’s Christian faith right down to the ground. These were Christian countries killing each other’s young men by the millions: something must have gone very, very wrong. So a lot of people started looking for answers… in spiritualism.
Among the chief proponents of spiritualism was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Sherlock Holmes. Doyle also believed in fairies. I don’t write this to show contempt for him. Doyle was emotionally shattered by the war, losing a son, two nephews, and a brother, and spiritualism was his way of trying to cope with it.
In 1926 he published a novel of spiritualism, The Land of Mist, featuring Professor Challenger, the hero of The Lost World (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Land_of_Mist).In this novel Challenger, scientist and skeptic, is converted to belief in spiritualism. It doesn’t make for very edifying reading.
In Chapter XII we find an account of a seance in which a medium summons up the spirit of a “Pithecanthropus,” a prehistoric ape-man which has since been upgraded to Homo erectus, a human. The original science that reconstructed Pithecanthropus is today presented as a comedy of errors. But in 1926 it was settled science.
Here’s a footnote by Doyle, discussing the incident in Chapter XII.
“The account of Pithecanthropus is taken from the Bulletin de l’Institute Metaphysique. A well-known lady has described to me how the creature pressed between her and her neighbor [at the seance], and how she placed her hand upon his shaggy skin. An account of this seance is to be found in Geley’s L’Ectoplasmie et la Clairvoyance…”
This illustrates G.K. Chesterton’s maxim that when a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing; he’ll believe in anything. You can think of as many more illustrations as I can.
Conan Doyle wound up believing in a lot of things which Sherlock Holmes would have sneered at. We shall be more charitable than Holmes. Spiritualism swept through British popular culture and is, of course, still with us today. Along with equally queer beliefs in Man-Made Climate Change, gender fluidity, and utopian socialism. One wonders what the churches have been doing, all this time.
You have to understand leftism as a species of religion, because that’s what it is. It has a creed based on totally false assumptions, among which are these:
Human nature is infinitely adjustable, and therefor, in the long run, perfectible. There just has to be a way to make us perfect, and if we keep tinkering away at it, we will eventually find it.
The only practical instrument for perfecting the human race is government; and the government must be given as much power as it takes to do that.
There is no human problem that cannot be solved by Real Smart People applying lots and lots of force, backed up by lots and lots of money.
This is why the things that leftids say sound so bizarre to normal people. Based on the premises given above, they believe government can bring about things that are, in fact, impossible: that fly in the face of human nature and the nature of reality.
What do they promise, that can never be delivered, no matter how much power you give the government?
Oh, just to name a few: income equality; no more poverty; no more war; no more racism, not even unintentional, unconscious, or “systemic” racism; no more bumps and potholes in the economy; no more distinctions of any kind among assorted groups of people (the pursuit of “diversity” through coerced uniformity); no more “hate”; they’ll “fix” the climate, controlling vast natural processes that no one truly understands; total sexual liberation, including stress-free “gender reassignment”… Or, to sum it up, as G.K. Chesterton might sum it up, Everything For Everybody–all brought to you by an all-powerful state operated by all-wise managers.
Is this a load of poop, or what?
Leftids, for the most part, don’t believe in God. But they want all the blessings God can give us, and look to receive them at the hands of government. That’s what makes it a religion. That’s what makes them tick.
“No borders, no countries”–we’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. And it’s total rubbish.
Why don’t they want borders? Why don’t they want countries? They think it will make them free, and from then on, life will be just beautiful.
It’s amazing what you can believe in, when you have no grasp of human nature.
Just for a moment, try to imagine a world in which there really are no national borders because there are no countries anymore. Such a world, maybe, would have no governments. Oops. No more food stamps. No more federal grants to education. No more a lot of things.
But maybe, instead of having no government, the borderless world would have one great big gigantic government that governs everything and everybody! Wouldn’t that be nice? A satanic parody of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth. It wouldn’t last a minute without dictatorial powers, ruthlessly employed.
And so, instead of freedom, you would have the Soviet Union on steroids. Some of those “no borders” ninnies will be disappointed. Just think–a government big and powerful enough to rule the whole world!
I mean, really–have these people thought this thing through? (Hint: no.)
G.K. Chesterton was right on the money when he said that once you stop believing in God, you don’t believe in nothing: you’ll believe in anything.
I had just about given up on the BBC as a source of edifying story-telling, when along came The Father Brown Mysteries (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2215842/). It’s got the acting, it’s got the writing, and it’s a treat for the eye. But more than that, it’s got a solid Christian message.
Mark Williams stars as Father Brown, the character originally created by G.K. Chesterton. The series is very loosely based on Chesterton’s detective stories. They’ve made Father Brown a humble parish priest in the little town of Kembleford, tucked into the lovely countryside of England in the early 1950s. The original Father Brown traveled around a lot, but this Father Brown’s mysteries come up to his doorstep.
What’s so great about a parish priest solving murders, week after week? Although he never fails to solve the mystery (and some of them are quite cleverly conceived), Father Brown never, never loses sight of his primary mission–to bring people closer to God. Especially people who have gone astray–even murderers.
Sure, it exasperates the local police inspector always to be the caboose with this meddling priest as the locomotive of the mystery-solving train. It would bug him even more, if he ever realized that solving the mystery isn’t even Father Brown’s top priority: he remains, under all circumstances, a man of God.
The writers very wisely set their stories in the not-so-distant past so that no one can demand that Father Brown start crusading for transgender rights or any such wicked nonsense as that. Sorry, nobody did that in 1952.
Father Brown’s tools are common sense, an understanding heart, love and compassion for the sinners under his care, an unshakeable commitment to serving God, a wry sense of humor, and humility. In episode after episode, he brings these tools to bear; and watching him work is not only a pleasure, but an inspiration. Like, wow, look at that! Godliness really is the most useful thing in the world–we could use a lot more of it.
Although most of the mysteries are murder mysteries, there’s no reveling in gory details. The overall tone is gentle, understated–rather like Father Brown himself.
We don’t have TV, so we bought the episodes on youtube, Seasons 1-3, and Season 4 on amazon.com. The show has been running since 2013, and we’re very glad to know that Season 5 will soon be available.
There isn’t much television like this, so grab it while you can.
Doesn’t that mean that 51% of those who have left church still do believe in God and miracles? But that ain’t the headline.
The Pew report says “‘science’ is the reason they do not believe religious teachings.” Like, once they clue you in to Evilution, you’re just too smart to believe in God anymore. “Rational thought makes religion go out the window,” say some of the poll respondents.
I wonder what these people mean by “rational thought.” Having given up belief in God, what do they believe in now? Space brothers? The good intentions of the Democrat Party? World government?
No, I think G.K. Chesterton was right: Once you stop believing in God, you don’t believe in nothing; you’ll believe in anything.
[Warning: this essay contains spoilers. Sorry, but I can’t make my point without them.]
My wife and I love murder mysteries; but I can’t help being amused whenever a famous and well-regarded author resorts to an impractical and wholly unreliable method of doing someone in.
G.K. Chesterton, in one of his Father Brown stories, has the murderer climb to the top of a very high church steeple and, from there, hurl a hammer earthward–expertly conking his victim to Kingdom Come.
Ngaio Marsh, in one of her Roderick Alleyn mysteries, has the murderer standing on a high cliff. Seeing his victim moving around in a pool below, he picks up a great big stone that requires both hands to lift, raises it over his head, and scores a bulls-eye on his target’s hapless skull.
Could you do that? Really, these murderers were wasted in civilian life. Either of them could have made a fortune playing basketball. I play basketball regularly, and on a really good day (which doesn’t happen all that often), with thousands of practice shots under my belt, using a nice, aerodynamically stable basketball aimed at a basket which is always in the same place and never moves, I might make half my shots from the three-point line–a much shorter distance than that traveled by either the hammer or the stone, with a moving target.
If it were me, I’d need a whole wheelbarrow-full of hammers and I’d miss over and over again. The victim would be well-advised to run away before I got lucky with a hammer. Ditto the big, hefty stone.
I suppose you can get away with this if you’re Ngaio Marsh or G.K. Chesterton. You or I would have nothing to show for it but a rejection slip and maybe a catty comment from an editor who’d had her fill of stories such as these. “Why didn’t the killer just hide a rabid sea lion in the trunk of the victim’s car, which would bite him when he opened it? Or simply arrange to bean him with a golf ball from 100 yards away?”
The same rule holds for any other kind of fiction, including fantasy.
Don’t ask your fictional character to do something that you couldn’t do yourself in 20 dozen tries.