1 March, 2023
I was recently interviewed by Fr Sam Randall on Radio Maria. We ranged over my own personal background as well as reflecting on the Dawson Centre, its foundation and mission. Listen here.
If you live in or near Hobart, please let us know at once if you intend to come to the Steven Mosher talk on Saturday 11 March. This is an opportunity to hear and meet one of the West’s leading China specialists. See below for details.
THOUGHTS ON LENT
I have a confession to make. For me and for many feeble souls like myself Lent nowadays is marked by little more than a cardboard money box on the kitchen windowsill and perhaps an intention to drink a little less wine and give up something nice like chocolate for six weeks. For many more, in this age of waning faith, giving up going to Church altogether is an easier sacrifice to make – and not just for Lent either! That’s a tired old joke you often hear and usually smile at, yet its undercurrent runs deep and strong: it means that so many of our friends have utterly lost their contact with the Faith and their belief in the value of self-control and training in spiritual matters.
By contrast our Muslim brothers and sisters commonly undertake tough and disciplined self-denial during the month of Ramadan. I find that kind of dedication deeply moving: eating and drinking nothing throughout the daylight hours, for weeks on end, is a hard sacrifice to make, probably even more so in the long summer days of the Southern Hemisphere. Frankly, many Muslims – and many Eastern Christians, particularly if they come from countries where there is active persecution of religion – put us to shame. Their loyalty to their belief is costly to maintain, and occasionally risky as well. They are brave and they live like champions.
So, of course, do a lot of Australian Christians. My own practise might be lukewarm and half-hearted, but I have many good friends who are spiritual athletes. Like almost everyone else, they understand (at least in theory) the value of physical and mental exercises: they know you have to train hard to play sport well, and study hard to excel in your exams. But they also know that the spirit, too, needs to be trained and strengthened in order to achieve real growth.
It’s a funny world. A lot of secular people do actually believe in the value of some kind of spiritual training. It’s not hard to find among them serious practitioners of Yogic or Buddhist meditation. Transcendental Meditation once popularised by the Beatles still has its adherents, and there are all sorts of other forms of controlled contemplation in quite common use. They have wide appeal among non-religious people for one important reason: notions of sin, guilt or judgement are conspicuously missing.
But these things are the touchstone of Christianity. I recall the Revd John Smith (died 2019), the so-called ‘Bikie Pastor’ and founder of the God Squad, defining guilt as ‘the nerve endings of the soul’. Marvellous phrase! To him feeling guilt was not the weakness of Christianity, but its strength. Guilt is the recognition that we have responsibilities, that other people matter, that we must always do more.
Lent sharply focuses on guilt. To live a good Lent is a fine and noble aspiration. It won’t make us play better tennis or earn a distinction in our exams, but it could make us better people in the ways that ultimately count for more than anything else.
With kind wishes,
IN THE NEWS
TOTALITARIANISM AND DEHUMANIZATION
Here is a challenging piece on totalitarian tendencies in the West. The author is Prof Christiaan Alting von Geusau, President of the International Catholic Legislators’ Network. Here’s an extract: ‘Although there is of course a vast difference between Communist totalitarian regimes of the 21st century that we see in China and North Korea, and Western liberal democracies with their growing totalitarian tendencies, what seems to be the unifying element between the two systems today is thought control and behavioural management of its populations.’
UK PROTECTS CITIZENS FROM ‘WRONGTHINK’
Prevent is a British agency established to ‘safeguard people vulnerable to radicalisation’. Sounds good? Well, according to this report it targets works of fiction that are ‘key texts’ for ‘white nationalists/supremacists’. Incredibly that means TV shows such as Yes Ministerand The Thick of It, movies like The Dam Busters and Bridge on the River Kwai, and a range of authors including Shakespeare, Milton, Tolkien, Chesterton, Kipling and John le Carré. Even Michael Portillo (Great British Railway Journeys) gets black-listed – after all, he was a Tory minister!
CANCELLING KATE FORBES
Kate Forbes would have been the frontrunner as new First Minister of Scotland except for one thing – she is an orthodox Christian. This is superb and moving reflection on her repression, arguing that ‘there is no place for [those like her] in modern Britain’.
…AND AUSTRALIA’S MOIRA DEEMING
This ugly vilification of another young woman of principle remarkably parallels the Scottish case. It’s an ‘all-out war on morality and rationality’, says Bill Muehlenberg.
WESTERN CULTURE BELONGS TO THE WHOLE WORLD
Marie Daouda was born and grew up in Morocco and moved to France at age 17, where she studied French, English, and Classics at the Sorbonne in Paris. She is a great defender of the legacy of Western Civilisation. This excellent article from the London Telegraph is unfortunately behind a paywall – though it is possible to read it free.
Interview with the founders of the King Alfred School (Dudley, UK). Their school offers a classical education that unashamedly celebrates the West’s history and heritage, as well as its Christian values.
WHAT’S THE POINT OF A CHRISTIAN EDUCATION?
Here is another piece by Christiaan von Geusau: it’s about ‘preparing children for the freedom – and the cost – of discipleship’.
Saturday 11 March – 6.00 pm
The Present State of Christianity in China
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population and development issues, as well as an acclaimed author and speaker.
Cathedral Centre – Level Two
Cnr Patrick and Harrington Streets
We are planning dinner after the talk at the nearby Marquis Hotel. Please advise if you would like us to reserve a place for you.
THIS TALK WILL BE VIDEOED AND POSTED ONLINE
Saturday 8 July – All Day
THE ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM
Wokery – a Wake-Up Call for the West!
(Location Jane Franklin Hall, University of Tasmania)
On Saturday 8 July the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies will host its eighth annual colloquium in Hobart, Tasmania.
“Alice laughed… ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’ I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Has there ever been a time when the gulf between reality and belief was wider than it is today? The idea that the naked emperor is actually wearing clothes has its funny side, but the humour is fast disappearing as school children are taught to believe that girls can be boys, that boys can be girls, and that grown-ups should be punished for denying it. This is no longer even remotely funny, but a serious threat to the stability of human society.
Not only is the belief in God as our ultimate reality widely denied, but our confidence in objective truth, goodness and beauty has been dealt a near fatal blow by the soi-disantintellectual elites that dominate the educational high ground. Our young people must be saved from this.
Wednesday 13 September – 6.00 pm
DR RALPH MARTIN
Dr Ralph Martin is President of Renewal Ministries and Director of Graduate Theology Programs in Evangelization, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Archdiocese of Detroit, USA. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Angelicum University in Rome.
Topic: Living as Catholics in Challenging Times
(Location to be advised)