24 September 2020
Nowadays many people hope for a multinational and god-free world. That is their ‘promised land’. For such people Christianity has brought more misery than relief, more gloom than joy, more war than peace, more hatred than love.
And – let us be honest – they can produce evidence to support all their opinions. They can point to the passive and sometimes even active involvement of churchmen in massacres, torture and capital punishment, apparent indifference (in some places) to slavery, ill treatment of the Jews, the brutish behaviour of some church people towards children. Rightly can enemies of Christianity list abuses such as these as examples of the failure of the rule of love.
But against that – if they too are honest – they must acknowledge that all the evil deeds done by men professing themselves Christian have been counter-balanced (I would say outweighed, but let us be cautious) by all the good things that have been done in the name of Christ. The systematic care of the poor, the relief of prisoners, the establishment of hospitals, schools and universities, the self-sacrificing saintliness of many clergy, active resistance to the bullying of civil authorities, the amelioration and ultimately the prohibition of slavery, and the improvement of the lot of women (yes, that too) – all these things have emerged within a society that has been predominantly Christian. Even today, in the shadow land of the post-Christian era, there are many who insist on calling themselves Christians still who have abandoned the Faith but maintain a firm commitment to what they rightly regard as the ‘Christian Ethic’. Amnesty International and the Red Cross are good examples of precisely that: though founded by committed Christians, they are now secular organizations, yet driven and motivated by that same ethic.
Those of us who live in the twenty-first century, inheritors as we are of two millennia of Christian thinking, can easily forget that concepts such as modesty, humility, mercy, pity, love for one’s neighbour and humanity in warfare have not always held such a potent place in the human temperament. You won’t find them in Homer, though perhaps you’ll see the dawning of a new and more enlightened sense of humanity and of the brotherhood of man in Sophocles, Virgil, Cicero and Seneca. But Christianity burst through into our world – a certain fact of history – and now sheds a new kind of light upon it, a light which has affected our vision even if we cannot see or will not acknowledge it.
‘Grandma took her life yesterday…’ This superb article by Maddy Dugdale (a Campion graduate, I’m proud to say!) is something you really must read.
Listen to these short podcasts by John Dickson on early attempts to free slaves led by three saints, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine and Egidius. Dickson makes the point that there are 40 million slaves in the world today: we should ask ourselves not why earlier ages let it happen, but what we should be doing to stop it!
One of our readers writes:
‘Slavery has been virtually universal among civilisations since the dawn of recorded history. After the Black Death serfdom broke down in Western Europe, leading to an unprecedented flowering of human potential. But slavery persisted elsewhere until just one Christian nation—Great Britain—sought to abolish it everywhere. What audacity! How it rankles to hear the “woke” single out Britain and her Empire for condemnation. Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory!’
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans strives for desegregation from 1948 onwards in the teeth of bitter opposition from KKK and others.
NEW LIBERAL ARTS COURSE IN AUSTRALIA
The Australian Catholic University is to offer a BA in the Liberal Arts with funding from the Ramsay Trust. The ACU joins institutions such as Campion College in Sydney and the Chavagnes Studium in France in offering a broad liberal education to prepare students for a full life and to equip them best for professional training.
MEANWHILE, IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO’S ONCE GREAT FACULTY OF ENGLISH…
‘English as a discipline’ has encouraged ‘colonization, exploitation, extraction and anti-Blackness…In light of this historical reality [sic], we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere.’
With best wishes always,