Civilization Goes Better with Christ

That is yet again the message of Joseph Pearce after the trial of Britain’s first Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, “who is accused of ‘subverting democracy,’ running a ‘den of iniquity’ and ‘systematically stealing votes’ as he turned the London borough of Tower Hamlets into his own private fiefdom.” But it turns out that the abuses of which Rahman is apparently guilty are no worse than those of the “hell-hole” into which British society has descended (cue David Robertson):

I see nothing worse about Islam than I do about modern Britain. It is a choice between false gods and godlessness. It is akin to choosing between the arrogant stupidity of the Montagues and the arrogant stupidity of the Capulets. Asked to make such a choice, we should echo the words of Mercutio and call down a plague on both their houses.

And as Mr. Pearce is wont, the origins of the descent are the abandonment of Roman Catholicism:

Heresy has not been a sin in Britain for almost five hundred years, ever since the days of Tudor “savagery” that she rightly condemns. What has been a sin ever since the time of Henry VIII is not heresy but orthodoxy. [Allison Pearson] does not mention, and probably does not know, that Catholic priests were hanged, drawn, and quartered in Britain for a period of 150 years. Without going into the gory details, it could certainly be argued that this form of execution carried out by the secular state against its Catholic victims was as slow and tortuous as being burned alive. And while it is true that we do not burn people alive in Britain any more, we do threaten to imprison them for the public expression of traditional views on marriage and sexuality. It is no doubt a mark of our “civilized” times that it is now considered a hate crime to suggest in public that there is nothing gay about being “gay.” And, of course, there is the question of the millions of unborn babies being slaughtered in the womb, an abominably barbaric practice that would never have been condoned by our “savage” ancestors.

Pearce adds:

Need we remind Ms. Pearson of Chesterton’s quip that when people stop believing in God they do not believe in nothing but in anything? Need we remind her that the replacement of God with godlessness has led to the Guillotine, the Gas Chamber, and the Gulag Archipelago? Do we need to remind her that the last century, the most godless in human history, was also the bloodiest and most barbaric? What, one wonders, would Ms. Pearson call the horrors of trench warfare or the development of poison gas? What about Blitzkrieg, the Holocaust, or Hiroshima? Perhaps these deplorably modern things, unknown to our ancestors, are examples of “the slow, patient development of what we call civilization.”

Cherry picking alert. How civilized were the Crusades? Maybe you can justify that by lower numbers or just-war theory, but then what do you do with European explorers and settlers of South and North America? For whatever reason, western Christians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, assumed a kind of superiority that allowed them to conquer the planet and make civilization global. From the first encounter during the fifteenth century of native Americans, to the carving up of the world after World War II, Europeans — with all sorts of encouragement from the global pretensions of both Rome (think papal universal jurisdiction) and Amsterdam/Washington (think w-w and seeings thing whole or some version of the universal rights of man) — have felt called to run the world often times without the consent of the people being run.

Determining how much of this owes to European self-conceit or Christian overreach is why they pay historians modest bucks. But for Mr. Pearce not to notice the problems of Christian civilization (both in thought and deed) is itself of the sort of pride that comes with the rise of thinking cult or w-w is the basis of culture.