How could this happen to Ireland? (Deacon Nick Donnelly)

from: Catholic Voice Ireland, by permission of the Editor.

 

By Deacon Nick Donnelly

The impoverished state of the Catholic faith and the Church in Ireland has been exposed by the large majority voting to legalise same-sex “marriage”. I have heard reports from the Irish Diaspora of faithful Catholics being in a state “beyond shock” at the enormity of Ireland’s betrayal of marriage and the repudiation of the Church. A friend told me that she thought that the “yes” vote was such a serious desertion of the Faith by so many Catholics that it could be one of the worst events in modern Irish history. Another friend described the “yes” vote as the greatest possible insult to past generations of Irish Catholics who had sacrificed so much, even their lives, out of fidelity to the Faith and the Church. Around the world many are asking the same question, “how could this have happened to Ireland?”

During this time when so many of the faithful are crying out in distress it is good to be able to turn to the See of St. Peter for guidance. Soon after the vote Cardinal Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, described the result of the referendum not only in terms of a national tragedy but as also a tragedy for humanity. He told reporters:
“I was deeply saddened by the result. The Church must take account of this reality, but in the sense of reinforcing its commitment to evangelization. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity. The family remains at the centre and we have to do everything to defend it and promote it.”
Preparing for the Shock of Apostasy
But more than this, we could ask the question, has Pope Francis been preparing us for the possibility of such a catastrophe befalling the Church? On two occasions the Holy Father, unusually for a reigning pope, has recommended a modern novel as a key to understanding the forces at work in society and the Church. Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, published in 1907, describes a world set in the future where triumphant secularism has pushed the Church and Catholics to the margins of society. The events of the novel are set in a time when systematic secularist propaganda, delivered through parliament, schools and media, has created a pervasive sceptical humanism that leads to wide-spread apostasy among the last remaining ranks of Catholics, and most shockingly among priests.
It is this theme of apostasy in the face of secularism in Benson’s novel that has been the focus of Pope Francis’ reflections. During a homily given in November 2013 the Holy Father spoke of Mgr. Benson writing about “the spirit of the world that leads to apostasy, almost as though it were a prophecy, as though he envisioned what would happen”.
Pope Francis’s analysis of apostasy
Pope Francis sets out an analysis of apostasy which helps us understand the forces in the Irish Church that resulted in the “yes” vote. Apostasy occurs when the people of God abandon our traditions and identity out of a preference for “worldly proposals”. He characterises such disloyalty among Catholics as a form of adultery that is prepared to negotiate away the “essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord.” Cardinal Burke sees the “yes” vote in these terms, describing it as “defiance of God”.
The Holy Father is clear that the disloyalty that is characteristic of apostasy “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness”. Pope Francis identifies a sign of this “spirit of secular worldliness” as the “uniformity of hegemonic globalization, a uniformity of thought born of worldliness”. There were many examples of intolerance towards people proposing the traditional vision of marriage and the family during the referendum campaign as if, for some, accepting same-sex “marriage” was the only possible option.
Pope Francis warns that the “spirit of worldliness” comes out of a sinful root, “out of wicked men capable of intelligent persuasion” who seek progress at all costs. At heart it is the attitude of the immature, which Pope Francis calls, the “spirit of adolescent progressivism”, that “seductively suggests that it is always right, when faced with any decision, to move on rather than remaining faithful to one’s own traditions”. The Holy Father advises that we guard ourselves from going down the path of adolescent progressivism because it always leads to the “culture of death”, as depicted in Mgr. Benson’s Lord of the World. Pope Francis warns:
“We would also do well to ponder the consequences of their infidelity, to think about the death sentences, the human sacrifices which followed thereafter. Do you think there are no human sacrifices today? There are many, many of them. And there are laws that protect them”.
Following the “yes” vote there were immediate calls in the Irish media for a further referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution that protects the sanctity of life of the unborn, already weakened by Kenny’s abortion law.
The Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland
The Irish Association of Catholic Priests [ACP], which claims to represent a third of priests in Ireland, took a neutral position regarding the Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ referendum. A statement issued by the leadership team of the ACP exhorted priests “not to direct their parishioners to vote Yes or No.” However, members of the ACP leadership team then went on to prominently advocate support for a “yes” through the media. In my previous article, Is This the Death of the Irish Church? I listed the prominent priests who misused their positions of leadership in the Church to support the ‘yes’ campaign. Fr Flannery explained why he would be voting “yes” in an article in the Irish Independent in early May. He wrote:
“Having considered the question that is being presented to us on this occasion, and after having listened to the debate so far and given it a great deal of thought, I will be voting Yes. I do not consider this decision to be in any way in conflict with my faith, or with my position as a priest”.
Priests who acted against the Pope and bishops
Both the statement of neutrality and the active campaigning for the “yes” vote were not only contrary to the guidance of Irish bishops, but also against the conclusions of Pope Francis and the world’s bishops at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family that re-iterated the Church’s rejection of same-sex marriage. The Synod’s Final Report summarised the Church’s teaching:
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” (55).
It is instructive to examine statements made by members of ACP’s leadership since the “yes” vote from the perspective of Pope Francis’s analysis of apostasy in the light of Mgr Benson’s Lord of the World. In these statements we find elements of apostasy: arguments for the abandonment of the Church’s traditions and identity out of a preference for worldly proposals, and, a sense of adolescent progressivism. It appears to me that these statements from these priests suggest a single and faulty solution to the situation of the Church in Ireland that is entirely lacking in the one thing necessary – the Catholic Faith.

Consider the following statements.
Abandon teaching sexual morality
Fr Tony Flannery of the ACP proposes that the Irish church must abandon teaching young people about the Church’s doctrines on sexual morality for “at least a generation” because of his experience of giving school retreats at which young people told him they were “tired of the Church always saying NO when it came to anything to do with sex.”
Fr Flannery is right to criticise the reduction of the Church’s sexual ethics to only a list of negative prohibitions, but in response to the young people’s objections did he present the positive YES to sexual continence and chastity found in the Theology of the Body? Is he seriously suggesting that adults responsible for education and formation deny young people the wisdom and richness of the Church’s sexual morality for a generation?
Accept the worldly proposals of modernity
Fr Brendan Hoban of the ACP concludes that the overwhelming “yes” vote shows that the Church “is very much out of sync with the temper of its people”. According to Fr Hoban the Church lacks “the confidence to engage with modernity” and above all is “trailing too far behind its people.” He sees the ‘worldly proposals’ of modernity represented by same-sex ‘marriage’, abortion, contraception and divorce as an unstoppable force, “Trying to keep out the tide is always a failed enterprise. When will we learn that simple truth?” However, St Paul warns of the danger to Christians of abandoning the Faith handed to us from the Apostles for modern fads and fashions:
“The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect for themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes” (II Tim 4:3).
Adapt teachings to the spirit of secularism
Both Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Iggy Donovan appear to suggest that the Church must adapt its teaching to the “spirit of worldly secularism” because, according to them, the people are no longer receptive to the doctrines of the Church. Fr Flannery writes, “The people are no longer willing to listen to speeches and sermons on morality from the Church”, and Fr Donovan says, “The church has to realise ordinary people are not listening to us any more”. But the question must be asked, with the catastrophic collapse of catechesis in Ireland over the past fifty years have ordinary people been given the opportunity to listen to God’s life-giving truths?
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin alluded to this crisis in catechesis when he admitted in the wake of the referendum that many young Catholics voted “yes” to legalise same-sex “marriage”. He said:
“I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church”.
Mgr. Robert Hugh Benson on the Apostasy of Priests
Writing over one hundred years ago Mgr. Benson foresaw what we ourselves are witnessing, the apostasy of priests unable to withstand the relentless pressure to conform to secularism. He movingly conveys the struggle between faith and betrayal in the conversation between the novel’s main protagonist, Fr Percy Franklin, and Fr Francis, who is losing his faith. We see the conversation through Fr Franklin’s eyes:
‘He understood perfectly what a strain it had been; he felt bitterly compassionate towards this poor creature who had become caught up somehow into the dizzy triumphant whirl of the New Humanity. External facts were horribly strong just now; and faith, except to one who had learned that Will and Grace were all and emotion nothing, was a child crawling about in the midst of some huge machinery: it might survive or it might not: but it required nerves of steel to keep steady. It was hard to know where blame could be assigned; yet Percy’s faith told him that there was blame due. In the ages of faith a very inadequate grasp of religion could pass muster; in these searching days none but the humble and the pure could stand the test for long, unless indeed they were protected by a miracle of ignorance. The alliance of Psychology and Materialism did indeed seem, looked at from one angle, to account for everything; it needed a robust supernatural perception to understand their practical inadequacy.’ (Lord of the World, p.35).
Though Mgr. Benson expresses compassion towards priests whose faith fails before the relentless ascendency of materialistic secularism, he also knows that they are culpable for their apostasy. Why do priests who have given their lives to serve Christ’s Church get to the point where they protest that fundamental truths of the faith are absurd and impossible? Mgr Benson concludes that they are guilty of pride, because they ‘dismiss all who believe in it as not merely mistaken, but unintelligent as well’. Mgr. Benson counters the prideful objections of apostate priests by simply pointing out, ‘it cannot be absurd so long as educated and virtuous people continue to hold it.’
In this situation of post-referendum Ireland, let us remember the 38% of Irish people who voted to uphold the Christian truth, beauty and goodness of marriage. After the shock of the referendum I know that many Irish Catholics, at home and around the world, are earnestly asking Our Lord to help Ireland. And from a great love for our priests let us pray for these chosen men who daily enable, through the miracle of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lord Jesus Christ’s entry into our fallen world. May these priests again feel in their hands and hearts the eternal Truth who does not waver or desert His people but transforms our world.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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36 Responses to How could this happen to Ireland? (Deacon Nick Donnelly)

  1. sixupman says:

    And the Irish Hierarchy are considering lifting the discipline against married clergy?

  2. toadspittle says:

    “How could this happen to Ireland? “

    Quick take: People might have had too much Catholicism thrust down their throats – and got sick of it.
    Only a theory, however. …And very likely quite wrong.

  3. That’s right. According to “Patheos” (http://goo.gl/JHpnKc), at least one Irish bishop is calling for a “discussion” of not only married priests but also of women deacons.

  4. Gertrude says:

    It seems that groups of priests throughout Europe have idea’s of their own about what the Church should teach, and if not to their liking, appear to want to ‘go it alone’.
    Oh that we could hear clear adherence to the Doctrine of the Church come from Rome. (sigh)

  5. toadspittle says:

    I doubt if the Plain People Of Ireland* today pay even minimal attention to what the remaining handful of priests there do – or do not – preach, or teach, to them.
    They’ve heard it all before.
    For centuries.
    What transpired was not basically a “pro-gay” vote – it was an “anti-Catholic Church” vote.
    This, however, is only my personal estimation.
    And who knows? Anyone else agree? …Nope? …OK.

    *Flann O’Brien.

  6. Gertrude says:

    I actually agree with you Toad.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    If apostatizing priests are becoming more common in our dioceses, maybe it’s time for concerned and technically proficient (hint😉 Catholics to create a “Rate Your Priest” website, so that the faithful can avoid parishes where such people are in charge. There actually is a blog like that in Germany. Perhaps RJB can tell us what he thinks of it.

  8. toadspittle says:

    Yes, you clearly do understand, I see, Gertrude.
    It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
    …Which is not to say “The Plain People Of Ireland” were correct in the path they decided to take. But neither is it hard to see why they decided to take that path.
    All this hair-tearing, garment-rending, wailing, keening, and hand-wringing over, “Why Ireland, of all places?” Simples.* Because Ireland was dominated by Catholicism in a manner enjoyed, if that is le mot juste, by hardly any other “civilised” countries during the 20th Century – that’s why.

    Can’t be sure, though. Only my theory. Might well be wrong. Who knows?
    (But, also, maybe we are all getting somewhere positive.)

    *! …D’oh!

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Deacon Donnelly’s diagnosis of a Church under assault and grievously wounded (not destroyed, mind) by the forces of secularism, both within and without Her four walls, is shared by our old fellow Catholic, Damian Thompson, in his article in this week’s Spectator: “2067: The End of British Christianity”.

  10. Terry Middleton says:

    Irony of Ironies. There is one part of Ireland not affected by the same-sex marriage legislation, and that is Northern Ireland. However, the political party supported overwhelmingly by Catholics – Sinn Fein – did campaign loudly in the Republic in favour of the proposal. Aren’t we fortunate that the North has a majority of Protestants, whose political parties, the UUC and particularly the DUP, arfe bitterly opposed. Isn’t it time for Catholics to lend their support to the Unionist Parties. It is the only way to preserve some element of Catholic social teaching. Irony indeed!

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    “Ironies of ironies.”

    Yes, it is ironic that same sex marriage has become a ballot box issue – seeking to overturn the Oxford English Dictionary by popular vote. In the resistance against that bizarre way of evolving our language , all are welcome – Ulster Protestants, Ulster Muslims, Ulster Hindus and Ulster atheists.

    Drop by again, sometime, TM.

  12. geoffkiernan says:

    And what pray tell is the difference between ‘adolescent progressivism and Modernism’?……,

    Father Brendan Hoban quickly concludes that the YES vote demonstrates the Church is out of sync with the ‘temper’ of its people. So What.also hat the (c)hurch lacks the confidence to engage modernity but above all is trailing to far behind its people …. May I suggest the ‘people’ are in fact going in the wrong direction. (If they chose to turn around they would find themselves in fact trailing the (C)hurch
    The real Catholic Church with all its doctrines and teaching intact, are leading Humanity.
    It is the nice Catholic Church that is trailing and failing the people.

  13. toadspittle says:

    “…seeking to overturn the Oxford English Dictionary by popular vote.”
    Not necessary to vote in order to change the meaning of a word. Usage does it frequently and nobody minds. Too bad if we few pedants do. Languages evolve. We’d probably not understand Chaucer, if there was a recording of him speaking.

  14. toadspittle says:

    “May I suggest the ‘people’ are in fact going in the wrong direction. “
    That is possible, Geoff. But not many Irish are prepared to turn around and go back to the 1950’s Ireland. And you don’t need enumerations from me as to why.

  15. JabbaPapa says:

    Deaconesses, as they existed in the Western Church and as they have been reinstated in the Eastern ? Why not. But “women deacons” ? No Thanks.

    As for discussion of married priests, a) we already have some and b) nothing forbids that discussion.

  16. geoffkiernan says:

    As someone that is proud of his Irish ancestry and a part of the mentioned diaspora I am also saddened by the State of the Church in Ireland. But It is, maybe, some consolation to know that she is not alone in the world.
    It is little wonder that she is forlorn given the quality of Her Priests and Prelates. Very few had the backbone to stand up and be counted when it mattered.
    The Holy Father must also carry a large part of the Blame considering his clear lack of support, apart apparently from a couple of the references to a book written in 1907 however pertinent and insightful it may have been.
    The author makes two telling references. The 1st mentions the suspect quality of religious education received by students in their 12 years of the Catholic School System and the other mentioning the ‘catastrophic collapses of catechesis’ over the last 50 years. Both have implications for this part of the world. Since the events in Ireland the vocalist in Australia have suddenly awakened and I suggest its only a matter of time before we suffer a similar fate.

  17. Michael says:

    Pope Francis warns that the “spirit of worldliness” comes out of a sinful root, “out of wicked men capable of intelligent persuasion” who seek progress at all costs. At heart it is the attitude of the immature, which Pope Francis calls, the “spirit of adolescent progressivism”, that “seductively suggests that it is always right, when faced with any decision, to move on rather than remaining faithful to one’s own traditions”.

    That sums up a lot of what is wrong with contemporary Western culture in general right there. Obsession with ‘progress’ at all costs, coupled with a collective case of severe arrested development, and the subsequent rejection of the long-held traditions which have shaped our culture thus far, just because they get in the way.

  18. Michael says:

    Not necessary to vote in order to change the meaning of a word. Usage does it frequently and nobody minds.

    Some changes are more significant than others. Changing the definition of the word ‘scaffolding’ or ‘laminate’ is not the same thing as changing the meaning of the word ‘marriage’ – the first two are used casually, have no relation to any fundamental societal issues, and more often than not their meanings will be added to, extending the range of possible meanings, rather than substantially altered.

    In the case of marriage though, this is a word that has to do with one of the most fundamental issues in society – the family – and the very core of its meaning has been altered. Different kettle of fish altogether.

  19. Michael says:

    Very good article JH. Another way of summarising Thompson’s article is that the Protestantisation of Western culture is finally bringing about its terrible conclusion – the diluting and stupefying effects of endless individual choice.

  20. kathleen says:

    “The Holy Father must also carry a large part of the Blame considering his clear lack of support, apart apparently from a couple of the references to a book written in 1907 however pertinent and insightful it may have been.

    I agree with you there Geoff. Nick Donnelly points out an interesting comparison Pope Francis has made to the general apostasy in the Church (re RHB’s prophetic novel of 1907), but the Holy Father’s lack of encouragement to Irish Catholics in the run up to the referendum, total absence of re-stating how SSM is an abomination (and that to vote for it is a serious mortal sin), and his failure to correct the numerous traitors among the Irish clergy, especially their cowering leaders, is truly scandalous.

    One of my favourite Irish bloggers defines the outcome of the Irish referendum as:
    “the darkest day in the history of Irish Catholicism.”
    He goes on to quote many of the treacherous statements made by so-called Catholic priests before the vote, and also where he believes the root of the decline of Irish Catholicism lies.

    http://allpassingthings.blogspot.com.es/2015/05/the-long-goodbye-to-catholic-ireland.html

  21. toadspittle says:

    Yes, Michael, “marriage” was the word I refrained from using.

    “In the case of marriage though, this is a word that has to do with one of the most fundamental issues in society – the family – and the very core of its meaning has been altered.”
    Then what do we make of this: “The marriage between jazz music and dance has always been a passionate one.”
    …or this: “What does the marriage of these two elements, tin and lead, produce?”Perhaps, though, these examples don’t mean “marriage,” to you, Michael?
    What then, do they mean, do you think?

    Thought-provokuing line from Our Damian, via JH.
    “…But supernatural belief is hard to sustain once plausibility structures collapse.”
    Note that he said it, not Toad.
    Who has “taken it out of context,” naturally.

  22. kathleen says:

    It may well have been an “anti-Catholic vote”, but not because there is anything wrong with true Catholicism (impossible) but because catechesis in the last 50 years or so has been so abysmal and lacking – in fact, like everywhere else in the rest of the world after VII. It is estimated that the majority of the ‘Yes’ voters were the younger section of the Irish population, and these are the ones who have suffered the consequences of this poor teaching of Catholic Truth.

    “There are not one hundred people in the United States [or anywhere] who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” (Ven. Fulton J. Sheen)

  23. Michael says:

    Then what do we make of this: “The marriage between jazz music and dance has always been a passionate one.”
    …or this: “What does the marriage of these two elements, tin and lead, produce?”Perhaps, though, these examples don’t mean “marriage,” to you, Michael?
    What then, do they mean, do you think?

    Yes Toad, as I mentioned with reference to other words, there is very often a range of possible meanings to any one word, and this can be added to. But my point was that in the case of marriage, the fundamental meaning of the primary definition of that word has been altered. The fact that the word ‘marriage’ can be employed in other ways (which, in fact, depend on the primary definition in order to give them meaning) is beside the point.

  24. toadspittle says:

    “…it cannot be absurd so long as educated and virtuous people continue to hold it.”
    Well, that’s a point of view.

  25. toadspittle says:

    “..the fundamental meaning of the primary definition of that word has been altered.”

    Yes, that’s a correct analysis, I think.
    So, unless we can somehow alter it back, we’ll just have to get on with it, won’t we? And we might as well look cheerful about it.
    Because what we think doesn’t matter. If I protest that “chauffeur,” is the wrong word for the man who drives my limo, tough luck.
    That’s what he’s called now. And permanently – not “momentarily.”

  26. kathleen says:

    Yes, I agree with Michael, this is a very perceptive article. The reason for the decline of ‘British Christianity’ can all be boiled down into these words of Damian’s:

    “The deadliest enemy of western Christianity is not Islam or atheism but the infinitely complex process of secularisation.
    Or, to put it another way, choice“.

    Once you think you can pick and choose what to believe just as it may suit you (and that is the prime attribute of Protestanism and ‘liberal’ Catholics too) then the Devil will squeeze his way into your soul and your Faith will gradually weaken… and finally disappear!

    All the same, this grim prediction for the future of Christianity in the British Isles does not take into account that among traditional (and hence faithful) Catholics, who adhere to the fullness of all the Church teaches, they have large numbers of children, and are definitely not on the decline.🙂

  27. Michael says:

    So, unless we can somehow alter it back, we’ll just have to get on with it, won’t we? And we might as well look cheerful about it. Because what we think doesn’t matter. If I protest that “chauffeur,” is the wrong word for the man who drives my limo, tough luck.
    That’s what he’s called now. And permanently – not “momentarily.”

    Not at all, no. I really can’t understand this indifferentist – just because things have changed, we might as well ‘go with the flow’ and get on with it – attitude, and it is the one thing I really disagree with in Damian Thompson’s article (he also seems to think we should just accept the way things are and move on). Apart from the fact that anyone who cares about truth for its own sake can never readily accept the deliberate welcoming of gross error into such an important aspect of public life, it is worth remembering that there have been many times in the history of Western civilisation that the future looked decidedly grim, and yet truth was victorious in the end, precisely because people didn’t capitulate to the spirit of the age.

    It may well be the case that things continue as they are, that Christianity dies out completely in the West, and that our view of things like marriage has been altered permanently. But to simply give up because that is the way things are going at the moment is a bizarre attitude to take for anyone that cares about all that has made Western culture what it is. Saint Benedict of Nursia, Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, pray for us!

  28. Michael says:

    All the same, this grim prediction for the future of Christianity in the British Isles does not take into account that among traditional (and hence faithful) Catholics, who adhere to the fullness of all the Church teaches, they have large numbers of children, and are definitely not on the decline.🙂

    Amen to that!

  29. toadspittle says:

    Either you misunderstand me Michael, or I misunderstand you. Both, most likely.

    “(Damian) also seems to think we should just accept the way things are and move on)”
    I doubt if that’s how he thinks. There’s no need to accept unacceptable things. Anyone who believes the word “marriage” is set in stone(!) should go on protesting. The opinion of the rabble appears to be that it is not. The rabble is generally wrong, and anything popular is generally no good. So, don’t move on. Stay exactly where you are. They can call marriage, “zigspon,” for all I care.

  30. toadspittle says:

    This ought to be Toad’s final word here (we shall see.) The “Gay Marriage” decision didn’t happen in spite of it being ‘Catholic’ Ireland, it happened because it was ‘Catholic’ Ireland.

  31. Michael says:

    Either you misunderstand me Michael, or I misunderstand you. Both, most likely…I doubt if that’s how he thinks. There’s no need to accept unacceptable things.

    I think you may be right Toad – I got the impression that Thompson was suggesting that because the increase of secularisation, both in Western culture and within the churches themselves, was so rapid, that extinction was inevitable, and that we in Europe (and those in the USA) should therefore not bother trying to turn the tide. I got that impression from this part of his article:

    However, he’s equally unimpressed by conservative Christians who persist in the delusion that their ‘witness’ can overturn laws on gay marriage and abortion. They are wasting their time, he says. I agree. Last time I looked, gay marriage was sweeping the United States and grotesquely late-term abortions were still permitted.

    Upon re-reading the piece (particularly the context of the above excerpt) I am not quite so sure that he thinks Europe and the USA should just hold up their hands and give in to the inevitable, but the phrase ‘they are wasting their time’ does suggest so.

    As for your own opinion on these things, I’ve just looked back at what you wrote and I still get the same impression – that you’re indifferent to the decline of Christianity in the West and/or see no real point in resisting that decline. They can call marriage, “zigspon,” for all I care. reinforces that impression.

  32. johnhenrycn says:

    “As for your own opinion on these things, I’ve just looked back at what you wrote and I still get the same impression – that you’re indifferent to the decline of Christianity…”

    I think he’s got it. By George, he’s got it! Yes, the Pain in Spain laughs off the Stain of Cain.

  33. johnhenrycn says:

    “Only a theory, however. …And very likely quite wrong.”
    Most definitely wrong:
    What is true [“however”] “…is that almost nothing in our culture applies itself to offering an answer. Nothing says, ‘Here is an inheritance of thought and culture and philosophy and religion which has nurtured people for thousands of years.’ At best the voice says, ‘Find your meaning where you will’.”
    http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/6042/full

  34. Michael says:

    Excellent article from Mr. Murray there. Really very good, bang on the money, top drawer, etc.

  35. toadspittle says:

    Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
    That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
    But on earth indifference is the least
    We have to dread from man or beast.

    How should we like it were stars to burn
    With a passion for us we could not return?
    If equal affection cannot be,
    Let the more loving one be me.

    Admirer as I think I am
    Of stars that do not give a damn,
    I cannot, now I see them, say
    I missed one terribly all day.

    Were all stars to disappear or die,
    I should learn to look at an empty sky
    And feel its total dark sublime,
    Though this might take me a little time.

    Auden, 1957,(Gay.)

  36. Michael says:

    Funny chap W. H. Auden – full of contradictions, and one always gets the sense that he wished he could commit to one side of his character, but the other would always pull him back. Perhaps his art was, in part, born out of this tension, perhaps not. A tragic case, in many ways, nevertheless.

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