30 November 2020.
Taking 25 years as an average human generation, a quick calculation shows that each of you has had 4,096 ancestors in the 300 years since 1720. This fact is obscured by our obsession with patrilinear reckoning, which counts only the male line. Not only is that sexist, but it conceals the truth that all notions of racial purity or claims to noble or exalted birth amount to little more than day-dreaming! In truth it is highly likely that you have among your ancestors slaves, slave owners, and persons who profited from slavery, as well as people from all sorts of ethnic and social backgrounds, criminals and saints, scoundrels and decent folk.
According to this site the following five countries currently hold 58% of the world’s 40 million slaves: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Uzbekistan. The remaining 42% are distributed among a much larger number of countries. According to another source there is still no criminal law penalizing slavery or the slave trade in 94 nations. It’s easy to find disagreement on the details, but most reports agree on a total number of 40 million slaves in the world today. It is significant that cases of slavery exist rarely, and always illegally, in nations of Christian background.
With these things in mind it is difficult to see how the recent vogue in pulling down statues and denigrating the characters of people linked with slavery can be anything else but cheap diversionary grandstanding. A few weeks ago the British Library turned against former poet laureate Ted Hughes claiming that he had an ancestor involved in the trade. They have since apologized, but what a farce that was! He won’t be the last to be black-listed in some way by practitioners of wokeness. When will this end?
The only solution is better history and more honesty. The best that can be said about those activists who try to censor the public record by erasing the memory of those they deem undesirable is that most of them are probably genuine in their hatred of abuse. But would not their efforts be better directed towards the embassies of those nations incontrovertibly known to allow the continuation of this vilest of practices?
An old post-communion collect speaks of Advent as a time to prepare for reparationis nostrae ventura solemnia, ‘the approaching solemnities of our reparation’. This reparation is an interesting word. It’s related of course to repair, and has always reminded me of a couple of lines in the Song of Tom Bombadil, from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:
Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.
Not a bad description of our world, when we face the facts about the flawed fragility of human life. Our Faith teaches us that against all the odds the world will be mended, not by the rise of the proletariat or by some other kind of fascistic oligarchy, but by the Grace of God assisted by the cooperation of good men and women.
THE COVID CRISIS
This article (The Hexagon of Tyranny) by Paul Collits takes a strong Covid-sceptic position which will probably attract some kick-back from some readers, but is soundly argued and solidly researched.
GREAT BOOKS AND GREAT QUESTIONS
Podcast: ‘The nature of the Liberal Arts and their formational significance in a time of great cultural disruption.’
Our Philosophy and Latin summer schools will now definitely go ahead – thank you for your support. But there are still places available.
With best wishes always,
30 November 2020