Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Hopeful New Year

...a glorious Suffolk Church no doubt in the way of some dreadful slum New Labour have planned .Perhaps its time we stopped laughing at the Church of England .......

Scarcely a week goes past without some new wave of derision crashing into the poor old C of E. They are overtaken by the Catholics in the bums on pews contest, and told today that they are all , apparently, over paid and over manned .
“One in five Bishops faces the Axe”, squawks her Majesties Daily Telegraph, in a headline reminiscent of the ‘printing’ demarcation disputes. I feel a Christian pity for them, and I note with interest that record numbers of people turned up at Christmas this year in line with increased attendance of late . Why, I wonder would that be , with such fearsome antagonists as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens unleashing a new confident atheism into the book shops ?

Personally I started out as an atheist and I daresay I am as acquainted with the philosophical arguments against religion as well as most tolerably ignorant people . Whilst at University I came across “Humanism “as manifested in the works of George Elliot . She was influenced by Feuerbach ( worth looking at ) (1) ,but her beliefs do not make her revile organised religion. She saw God as a vision of what man, at his best, could be, and part of moral evolution whose ultimate source was still human .In her collection of short stories “Scenes of Clerical Life” , which I recommend, this affectionate ambivalence is at its most explicit.Do read them...
So as far back as my twenties I was past sneering and happy with poetic or symbolic ways of reading the Christian message .For me a personal relationship with God is out of the question but not every Christian in the past was required to see visions .
There is a the question of ethnicity as well .A Jew without faith is still a Jew, and the Rabbi would say “ You lack faith ? ... Come along you think he should worry ? ”. I admire the Jewish people enormously and this strikes me as a good way of accepting ones place in a belief system with doubt and outright denial if necessary. Why should I, in other words , be denied access to my past, a past I peculiarly value .
Then there is “love “. This great indisputable fact of our lives about which materialism has nothing to say. How can we be happy when the most important this we apprehend is left to one side by the prevailing Metaphysics ?

(2 )Thus I find myself in an empty tube station where, although there is nothing to be seen, there is the shudder and echo of something that has been and might be again .Leaflets and tickets still stir and we grasp what scraps of philosphy,art and lifes experience we can from the palpable emptiness.I have no conclusions about what this might mean but my own tradition a deserves respectful attention at least . So ,I would like to encourage the Church of England whose worst enemies would admit, is full of good people . After all you have lost Tony Blair and in that fact alone there is ample reason for great good cheer

2 Pinched loosely from somewhre in TS Elliot ...I think


Nick Drew said...

a fine seasonal musing, Mr M

you obviously have a comprehensive Resolution for 2008: Happy New Year !

Anonymous said...

Though Marx ripped Feuerbach to shreds in his Theses on F, Marx was heavily indebted to F for his (F's) critical insights into the secular basis of religion and the projection of real, human powers onto the deities.

I can rock with that to a certain extent in respect of organised religion - yes, let's get rid of some Bishops - as long as the money saved is given to our precious and irreplaceable heritage of stunning ancient churches.

And let's get real about religion. Yet can we do that without recognising that the question which Marx and F (and the rest!) never resolved - how did this awe inspiring, stunningly co-ordinated cosmos of ours come to be? - is irresolvable without some conception of a power ~ force ~ rationality - beyond ourselves, whatever form that might take.

Belief in that rational force has certainly outlived belief in old Karl Marx's Communist system

Anonymous said...

An interesting little quote from Marx's Theses on Feuerbach, n:

"The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking, in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question."

What Marx is effectively saying here is: B*ggar democracy and freedom, the will of the majority, the history of human thought, science and philosophy and endeavour, Truth is what WE (the minority of us who are Socialists) deem it to be and make it though our policy decisions and you (the majority) will defy us at your peril.

And that's old Broon to the nth degree and the basis of nulab's hegemony, isn't it? That's what makes Broon a dyed in the wool Marxist, whatever else the devious, lying old git claims to be.

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Happy New Year tio you ND

FLo I had forgotten you were so deeply read in philosophy. I do not accept the argument from " coo isn1`t it big ?" myself . It seems to me that if you explain it with a 'big thing maker' , you are left with the same problem at one remove

Daisy said...

i was raised catholic and have been recovering for the last 2 this time i am somewhat hesitant to attend a service as i am not as quick as i used to be and those lighting bolts strick pretty fast...

Nick Drew said...

Auntie Flo, I have little time for Marx, but I can't make that jump with you from the passage you cite to "bugger the history of human thought, science and philosophy"

Popper, and many 'British Empiricists' amongst others who are broadly on the side of the angels, could line up with "thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic"

Newmania said...

'thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic"

Isn`t that a tautology in a broad sense , and aren`t you talkling in a Empiricist sense about truth when Marx meant , obviously , in a narrowerm Marxists sense about what action to take in society...

Newmania said...

Daisy ...why not try a gentler faith...pleased to hear you have sinned all over the place though.I shall enjoy speculating as to what you did

Nick Drew said...

well, but take it from the other direction

would you (or Flo) be happy that Democracy (as a concept you endorse, let's say) had no implications for actions to be taken in society? Surely not (albeit you have an agenda of quite different types of actions in mind than, say, a Leninist).

even more so science

so you'd want science (& democracy?) to stand certain 'practical' tests? I would

as for its reality, well, in a Popperian sense a scientific law is just a current hypothesis awaiting refutation - what 'real' status does it have ? Certain cognitive attributes, no doubt, but the important issue is - how is it faring in the world of practicality and action (and reasoning)?

Daisy said...

i have actually thought of that has been a long process for me...and finding people who are ministers, etc in the church being as corrupt as they have been...i just have not been able to put my trust or belief in another church...or in a god...i know that sounds cynical and perhaps i am a bit but i don't think it fair that i pretend in a church just for the sake of going...and to be honest i have already mapped out a seat in hell and have a bottle of gin and a friend to meet there...would hate to screw that up!

Newmania said...

reality, well, in a Popperian sense a scientific law is just a current hypothesis awaiting refutation -

I think this vernacular insight is overemphasised perhaps because of the example of Newton and Einstein which is striking . The Sun will never go around the earth and the earth will never be 4000 years old so all truths are not equally provisional ,. Empirical experiment has nothing to tell, us about morality and little to tell us about “What ought we to do if we believe ...whatever it might be “Linguistics has and art and ideas have ..perhaps . If democracy is right , then why is it ? What are the laws we are unconsciously applying and so on this has implications about its limits and defence. ..Marxism sees no relevance to this and regards is at part of the ideological weaponry of class conflict ultimately driven by historically inevitable economic imperatives . Ugh

Benazir Bhutto,...has been killed blimey! make hell sound heavenly

Anonymous said...

Nick Drew said...
can't make that jump with you from the passage you cite to "bugger the history of human thought, science and philosophy"

Because Marx isn't talking about ordinary practice. For Marx, proving the truth by 'practice' meant proving it by revolutionary or Socialist praxis - as defined by Marx.

In Marx's view, virtually every other philosphical formulation which had gone before him had merely formed the basis for his own uniquely stunning critique of philosophy and capitalist society. Almost all of these other theories had been defective in relation to his own superior, systematic grasp of reality.

It's frighteningly Narcissistic and hegemonic arrogance - and it's Broon in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

as for its reality, well, in a Popperian sense a scientific law is just a current hypothesis awaiting refutation - what 'real' status does it have ? Certain cognitive attributes, no doubt, but the important issue is - how is it faring in the world of practicality and action (and reasoning)? (Nick Drew)

So, Popper's theory is also just 'a current hypothesis awaiting refutation - what 'real' status does it have?'

Didn't Popper argue - in common with that other sceptic, Hume - that we cannot prove metaphysical concepts such as causality? Yet the intolerability of such uncertainty generates causes us to seek reassuringly certain theories?

hahahha :) Not laughing at you, Nick, laughing at utterly metaphysical, Mr anti-metaphysics Popper.

Bet I'm wrong too, and Nick Drew wipes the floor with me for it.

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

So, Popper's theory is also just 'a current hypothesis awaiting refutation - what 'real' status does it have?'

I think Wittgenstein argued that you can use a ladder to get to a point of understanding but if your conclsions invalidated your assumtions it was ok to kick the ladder away and continue .

There are bucket loads of this sort of tripe lurking around masquerading as thinking ...

Newmania said...

PS....I am preety much making it up as I go along myself so you get the idea

Phil Meekoch said...

Have just come upon your fantastic blog!! Everyone's talking about it and I wish to add my own personal view. It is so great to find someone who sings from the same hymnsheet as me. Firstly I feel it important to add that christianity is an undervalued institution. We should love it for what it really is - a support network that puts family and community first. I belong to a new conservative church group living in the Sussex area. Would you be interested in coming over to us and giving a keynote speech?

Many Regards

Newmania said...

I`m not much of a speaker really Phil but I am fascinated to know there are like minded people in the same hemisphere.

On the subject of Christianity , I am somewhat "conflicted" really although will be going back to Church next year. I not sure I sing from quite the same hymn sheet as a commited Christian although i am well disposed top those who are ( if that makes any sense )

( I am a commited Conservative however)

Happy to link up but I`m afraid I do not hasve a way of doing so. Lewes Conservatives have my details my name is Paul Newman.

All the best

Phil Meekoch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phil Meekoch said...

If you not really much of a speaker would you be up for a bit of good Christian bum fun? It is Christmas? If not maybe you would like to drop in for a cream tea? Love from Devon xxxxx

Newmania said...

Cream tea for me thanks.

Daisy said...'s all about perception my dear...;)

Newmania said...

I have percieved Daisy.Thanks all the same

Little Black Sambo said...

"Wittgenstein argued that you can use a ladder to get to a point of understanding but if your conclusions invalidated your assumptions it was ok to kick the ladder away and continue."
That is a neat description of the status of Christianity as the basis of our ethics. (Is that what W. meant by it?) The trouble is that by "continuing", having kicked away the ladder (the discredited supernatural principles), we thenceforward depend on a weaker and weaker mixture of the right stuff.

Newmania said...

I do know what you mean LBS. Mathew Arnold called the idea an angel flapping its wings in a vacuum.

Mrs Smallprint said...

I sing from the hymn sheet (in the Church Choir) but do not consider myself a "church goer". The time I do spend in Church is valuble to me as time spent as a part of my community, hopefully giving pleasure to others through music.

All religions suffer from being run by people who seek power over others, whether by interpretation of the word of their prophets or by being "holier than thou".(hmm sounds like some politicians I could mention). However I have decided not to "chuck the baby out with the bathwater" and as a result now know many more very nice people in my village than I would otherwise have done.

In the light of the recent death of Benazir Bhutto I consider myself very lucky to live in a broadly Christian country where women can live their lives their way.

True Blue said...

I was a commited Christian until the "Happy Clappers" invaded our beautiful 11th Century Parish Church and Blair, (the RC convert) kindly appointed the "Old Druid" Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury, (no doubt on Cherie`s advice).
IMHO politicians should have no influence in religious matters, and certainly not, appoint the spiritual head of the Church of England, particularly if the said poltician, being the then Prime Minister T.Blair Esq, has been practicing Catholicism for decades.
Cynical or what ?

Anonymous said...

True Blue said...

IMHO politicians should have no influence in religious matters, and certainly not, appoint the spiritual head of the Church of England, particularly if the said politician, being the then Prime Minister T.Blair Esq, has been practicing Catholicism for decades.
Cynical or what ?

I so agree with you, True Blue, Blair, Broon and their Scots mafia have done incalculable damage to our English church - our English churches and graveyards too, especially those in the Conservative voting, South East.

Under the auspices of grave robber Harman, whole swathes of ancient English graveyards - which as well as being the hallowed resting places of our family and ancestors and important areas for contemplation, are vital green spaces, crucial wild life areas even in towns, and depositories of the most wonderful works of ancient art and irreplaceable heritage - are being savagely and wantonly ripped up and developed.

My heart aches for our stunning heritage of ancient churches and scheduled ancient monuments and earth workings too which are the earliest buildings of our ancestors still in existence.

Though I ought to be too old to do it now, I've almost fallen down more spiralling stairways from church and bell towers than I can recall.

What a heartening (and heart slamming) experience it is to climb up those spiralling 'flinty, fifteenth century towers', as dear old Betjeman called them - to hyperventilate and worry about how the air ambulance would get to you, in such a confined and inaccessible space, after your anticipated heart attack - among the huge cacophony of bells which reside in so many wonderful English bell towers.

Up there, among the huge, ancient beams, pigeons and bats, we're truly walking in the footsteps of England's ancestors.

Yet climb down those towers and, far too many c 1000 year old churches these days have been desecrated under govt and EU edict to look like the interior of an average semi-detached, post modernist box. The uneven patina and wall paintings of past centuries replastered as smooth as the newly built rabbit hutches which pass for modern homes.

I so want Harman and co to pay for this wanton savagery. What manner of civilisation can it be which has no respect for its ancestors? Even our ancient forebears venerated theirs.

Those who have no respect for the thousand year old resting places and churches of humanity can have no respect for the living.

Newmania said...

Mrs SP I think you are suggesting that if there was no such thing as Christianity you would have to invent it which actually is rather a theme.( I used to like being in the choir years ago)

TB I think his Grace has the best comment on that which you will se on the front sheet of his blog. The one from Yes minister

Anonymous said...

Struggling to recall the rest of the 'flinty, fifteenth century towers' quote, I looked it up. Here it is, in all it's lovely, Betjemanesque glory:


"The vagrant visitor erstwhile,"
My colour-plate book says to me,
"Could wend by hedgerow-side and stile,
From Benfleet down to Leigh-on-Sea."

And as I turn the colour-plates
Edwardian Essex opens wide,
Mirrored in ponds and seen through gates,
Sweet uneventful countryside.

Like streams the little by-roads run
Through oats and barley round a hill
To where blue willows catch the sun
By some white weather-boarded mill.

"A Summer Idyll Matching Tye"
"At Havering-atte-Bower, the Stocks"
And cobbled pathways lead the eye
To cottage doors and hollyhocks.

Far Essex, - fifty miles away
The level wastes of sucking mud
Where distant barges high with hay
Come sailing in upon the flood.

Near Essex of the River Lea
And anglers out with hook and worm
And Epping Forest glades where we
Had beanfeasts with my father's firm.

At huge and convoluted pubs
They used to set us down from brakes
In that half-land of football clubs
Which London near the Forest makes.

The deepest Essex few explore
Where steepest thatch is sunk in flowers
And out of elm and sycamore
Rise flinty fifteenth-century towers.

I see the little branch line go
By white farms roofed in red and brown,
The old Great Eastern winding slow
To some forgotten country town.

Now yarrow chokes the railway track,
Brambles obliterate the stile,
No motor coach can take me back
To that Edwardian "erstwhile".

John Betjeman

Newmania said...

Flo that was a funny sad post and i very much enjoyed it . You always say how old you are.One would never guess otherwise

steve said...

is your workplace swarmed with the fucking poles? i fucking hate it.

Newmania said...

I have nothing agaisn the P0les Steve , they seem admirable people to me .

I would rather a few more of them were in Poland but thats another matter

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