Not This Again

What a lot of nonsense the hooray for theocracy crowd does talk. Distortions, omissions, fantasies, strawmen, non sequiturs, aimless babbling – no trick is too cheap, apparently.

Resistance to politically correct attempts to expunge Christianity from our culture – the conversion of Christmas into “winterval” is symptomatic – should be encouraged, but one can push the defence of Christianity farther by imagining what Western society would be like without it…It was and is a highly cosmopolitan and egalitarian religion, recognising neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free. That, in addition to such novel ideals as charity, compassion and peace, and the status attached to women, differentiated Christians from a surrounding society based on cruelty, hedonism and organised slavery. Imagine yourself as a slave, rather than Caesar or Cicero, in Ancient Rome, and you’ll get the hang of it.

That is absolute crap. Self-serving self-flattering crap. It is not true. That word ‘cruelty’ for instance – that’s key. It’s a great myth now that Christianity has always been the enemy of cruelty above all, but that is not true. Cruelty is not, for instance, one of the seven deadly sins, and Montaigne’s great book was put on the Index partly because he argued against the cruel torture of heretics before their execution. And as for ‘imagine yourself a slave’ – well imagine yourself a slave in ancient Alabama, too! And then when you’ve done that, read what Seneca has to say about slaves, and ponder.

And then we move on to the ‘hedonism-materialism-consumerism’ moan that seems to be the last refuge of fools like this.

The stressed-out workaholic is a slave to work and the material things labour buys. Mindless hedonism, which Christianity once successfully eradicated or sublimated, is endemic on TV. As audiences, rather than commissioning editors, grow bored with images of sexual deviancy, how long will it be before this is replaced by the equivalent of the Roman arena? “Good idea,” thinks a TV Tristram! Dan Brown’s book, consisting of bizarre conspiracy theories, is the best-selling bible of credulous housewives.

Yes, and the actual bible is the best-selling bible of credulous godbotherers. What, exactly, is the difference? There isn’t any. Burleigh just prefers his bible to the other one. Well, fine, but what’s he getting on his high horse about? Where does he get off talking about credulity? And don’t overlook the veiled coerciveness in that bit about Xianity successfully ‘eradicating’ mindless hedonism. Beware of people who like to eradicate things. Especially when they’re theocrats.

Scruffy Irish pop stars and smart chefs are the new moral arbitors, while aspiring politicians vie to demonstrate their knowledge of Radiohead or Franz Ferdinand rather than two millennia of European high culture…blahblahblah whingebleatmoan…Scientists try to cut every corner regarding what Christianity established as the sanctity of human life, or they proselytise atheism with an evangelical fervour.

More coercion. Christianity doesn’t get to ‘establish’ things, especially things that don’t mean much, and it’s crap anyway, given the number of wars and executions that have been carried out on Christianity’s watch. And more ‘you don’t get to proselytise or be credulous or have bibles, only we get to proselytise or be credulous or have bibles.’ More silly childish non-argument.

People with little or no historical knowledge of Christianity are allowed to caricature it as divisive, fraudulent or oppressive.

Er – yes. They are allowed to do that. What do you propose instead, Mr Burleigh? A long term of imprisonment? Whipping?

By the same token, Burleigh is allowed to talk vacuous canting drivel in the Times, and I’m allowed to point out what vacuous canting drivel it is. So it goes.

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