Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gordon Brown’s moral purpose

Having to contend with fires, floods and pestilence within his first weeks of becoming prime minister, Gordon Brown endured a baptism of biblical proportions, and (it has to be said) passed with flying colours. He was the embodiment of competence, and manifested serious moral purpose. Following John Smith and Tony Blair, he is the third consecutive leader of the Labour Party to place his faith at the heart of his politics, to formulate policy based upon a distinct spirituality. And he has around him a Cabinet with a Christian-Socialist bent, even if any mention of this is deemed to be utterly irrelevant by vast sections of the media. One could be certain, if this were the Conservative Party, that every trivial connection of its leading figures to a religious ideology would be pored over and paraded as the ‘religious right’ to the point of tedium.

While the Christian faith is derided and sidelined in society, it remains the inspiration of its present Prime Minister and Government. Secular humanism is not on the ascendancy at the expense of Christian political philosophy: on the contrary; Christian political philosophy beats at the heart of the nation’s politics. It may not be overt, but the solution to the ages-old problem of how one helps one’s neighbour is indeed to ‘do God’, but only in private. The public policy no longer has to give him credit, but he has been there throughout, manifest in the personal faith of the political animal.

While Mr Blair emoted in a Roman fashion, Mr Brown is the epitome of the restrained Puritan. His Christian orthodoxy is fused with his Socialist orthopraxis; his Scottish Presbyterianism consists in finding ways to support individuals and communities through the hardest times, which is an intellectual assent with an intensely practical commitment. It is no surprise, therefore, that he passionately advocates the Protestant work ethic, and unashamedly exalts the type of social capitalism that can only be achieved through the nation state, accountability, and democracy. It is no wonder that he eschews the social-Catholic supranationalism manifest in projects like the euro. He is all for the interdependence of corporate confession, but not if it supplants the individual responsibility to get down on one’s knees and choose to humbly submit to one’s maker. It is in the resolution of these dilemmas - the relationship between the body and member, between the market and morality, and between the citizen and the state – that Gordon Brown has found his religio-political vocation. Caring for widows and orphans, feeding the starving, and clothing the naked, are at the very heart of the man.

It may be adduced that the subliminal attraction of Mr Brown to the British people is that his political house is built upon the rock of Christianity. The wary caution that they manifest towards Mr Cameron emanates from the perception that his political house is built upon the shifting sands of a thoroughly postmodern and utterly nebulous spirituality. The people just know, somewhere deep down, that ultimately salvation lies only in the stark offence of the cross; it will never be found in crystals or tree-hugging, however shiny, green and fluffy the wrapping may appear.


Anonymous Abandon Ship! said...

Although a Conservative supporter, and a Christian, I too find this side of Gordon Brown an attractive quality.

11 September 2007 at 09:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown a Christian he was part of a government that passed laws meaning that pastors could have to carry out gay marriages or go to law.
And he is responsible large amounts of muslim immigration

11 September 2007 at 09:14  
Blogger Greg said...

Hmmm. 'By their fruit ....?'

For the time being. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but he says a number of things that, IMO, he must know are downright lies. Maybe he believes them.

11 September 2007 at 09:42  
Anonymous Terry said...

9.14 anonymous covers the point. The issue is not what you claim to be but what you actually do. The promotion of homosexuality by this government and the possible forced closure of Christian B & Bs that don't want homosexuality on their premises will no doubt go through without a protest from GB.

We are better off in government with a good atheist rather than a misguided "Christian".

11 September 2007 at 13:10  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

While the Christian faith is derided and sidelined in society, it remains the inspiration of its present Prime Minister and Government.

Not a point in their favour. As Mencken says:

"The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression."

As C.S. Lewis says in Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

"All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so sucessfully as on the very steps of the altar."

If you want to understand why terms like "pious", "sanctimonious" and "casuitical" have acquired pejorative meanings in European languages, Blair and Brown are excellent places to look.

11 September 2007 at 15:32  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

This sounds starry-eyed. Brown and his gang, apart from making homosexuality almost compulsory, undermining marriage and promoting promiscuity among children, have done more than any previous Government to extend the death-culture of abortion and euthanasia. With Christians like that, who needs atheists?

11 September 2007 at 16:02  
Anonymous dirtyducky said...

Cranmer, this most delusional post. Are you well?

11 September 2007 at 16:48  
Anonymous Voyager said...

As C.S. Lewis says in Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

You should not confuse the words of Screwtape with the thoughts of C. S. Lewis

11 September 2007 at 17:43  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

A very unexpected post, your eminence.

11 September 2007 at 19:17  
Anonymous Alexandrian said...

As Little Black Sambo says, this sounds rather starry eyed.

"Christian orthodoxy?" I know of no particular evidence that suggests that Mr Brown is orthodox rather than heterodox.

I too, have been quite impressed with the tone he has set on in these early days of his premiership, and I too feel that he seems to have more gravitas than Mr Cameron, but I must confess that it is difficult to be enthusiastic about someone who has been part of the Labour government that we have had for the last decade.

There is however, one thing that fascinates me about Gordon Brown. It is the fact that he has managed to avoid most, if not all, of the recent votes on issues of homosexual rights in the House of Commons - and to the best of my knowledge, has never explained why this is.

11 September 2007 at 20:35  
Anonymous Sir HM said...


I wish I'd made that comment.

11 September 2007 at 22:37  
Blogger Cranmer said...

There is however, one thing that fascinates me about Gordon Brown. It is the fact that he has managed to avoid most, if not all, of the recent votes on issues of homosexual rights in the House of Commons - and to the best of my knowledge, has never explained why this is.

Mr Alexandrian,

This has intrigued His Grace also. It is a factor in what inclines him towards the benefit of doubt.

11 September 2007 at 23:12  
Anonymous 4micah said...

"Christian-Socialist" the most risible of all the accepted oxymorons. Socialism cannot be Christian. States cannot be Christian. Christianity is a condition of the heart and thus can only be practiced by individuals. Those politicians who make a public display of their faith are no different than the Pharisees that Christ preached against.

11 September 2007 at 23:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have ye to see concrete evidence that Brown is anything other than a socialist, who believes in the re-distribution of wealth.
As a Christian who has learned the value of tithing, I too see the value in giving to others. However, when I give what the Lord has given me, I am doing it that the Father may be glorified. How does the socialist concept of re-distribution glorify the Father. Who will bask in the glory when Brown stands before the cameras boasting of the largesse of his government.
American Christians give more to charity than the British government give to the Third World, yet they get precious little recognition from the likes of the BBC, since the state controlled media only likes to see the state handling the money. If our Church leaders had the faith to teach about tithing, perhaps British Christians would have more opportunity to reflect the Father's glory.
Brown was asked what his favourite hymn was. His answer was, "Jerusalem". It is a hymn which promotes the secular battle rather than the spiritual and, as such, has no place in Christian worship. If Brown has read the Bible he has certainly not understood it.
On the subject of Blair, whilst I acknowledge that he knows there is a god, I doubt that he has met the Saviour at the foot of the cross. I have the same doubt about Brown.

12 September 2007 at 11:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgive me for signing myself as anonymous in the above post. I seem to have forgotten my username and password. My name is David Lonsdale and was the name I originally registered. I shall try another registration.

12 September 2007 at 11:07  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Voyager -- don't be stupid. Corruptio optimi pessima is one of Lewis's big themes.

This has intrigued His Grace also. It is a factor in what inclines him towards the benefit of doubt.

The archbishop's brain seems to have gone AWOL. If Brown disagrees with pro-homosexual legislation, he should speak out. Otherwise he's complicit in it. What does the arch-b think when he looks at Brown's photo? That he's a humble servant of Christ snapped by chance when about his work of comforting the afflicted? Or a liberal narcissist exploiting someone as a prop in an ostentatious display of concern'n'compassion `a la Diana?

12 September 2007 at 17:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You speak a load of absolute bollocks.

13 September 2007 at 15:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The teaching of our Lord is not to let your left hand know what your right is doing. Good works towards widows and orphans are the result of the Spirit's activity in guiding and enabling our lives - they are not the result of informed doctrine or basing our actions on some puritan ethic or other idealism. Brown is a charlatan who sees christianity as a means to an end, his end, his own glory. Anyone who mutters in public about humility, ever so humble etc, is clearly a fake.

17 November 2007 at 09:48  

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