Sunday, October 12, 2008

MEPs: ‘The EU is of a secular and neutral nature’

The news that the EU has ‘re-adopted’ the symbols of statehood it set aside while the Constitution for Europe was morphing into the Lisbon Treaty comes as no surprise. Anthems and flags are political, however much one pretends they are not. It remains to be seen how many MEPs will actually stand for Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the beginning of each session, and how many flag-burning occasions it will take for our secular Caesar to realise that there is no European demos.

But all this fuss about symbolism is utterly peripheral to the very real and immediate tensions Europe faces. And Cranmer purposely distinguishes the EU from Europe, because Europe is an undeniable geographic, cultural, and religious entity which has been forged through and endured for millennia, while the EU is an artificial political construct of just fifty years, which will go the way of all ephemeral empires. And while Europe includes the EU, there is no sense in which the EU is synonymous with Europe, whatever politicians may tediously intone.

Tom Holland writing in The New Statesman has an excellent article on the tensions faced by Europe and the EU. He looks at the turbulence in the financial markets and the West’s decline relative to China and India. And also to ‘increasing tension with the Muslim world’, the only antidote to which is that ‘Europe must come to terms with what we owe to our Christian past’.

The whole article is worth reading, so Cranmer shall not reproduce great swathes. Mr Holland’s essential thesis is that many of the defining crises of the 21st century ‘have emerged from a swirl of identities and misunderstandings that reach back ultimately to a distant, medieval past’: the Crusades come back to haunt us in the attacks of September 11th and July 7th, and anti-Muslim sentiment rumbles on as publishers of books about Mohammed get fire-bombed, and parties rise to power in Austria which are pledged to ban the building of minarets.

It is in this context that EU designated 2008 as its official Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Yet, as anyone with a brain knows, ‘intercultural’ has to be ‘interfaith’, for the two are fused at the deepest level of personal and national identity. But this is somewhat at variance with the EU’s assertion that that ‘the religious and political spheres should be rigorously ring-fenced’. As one group of MEPs protested, in an official letter of complaint to the president of the European Parliament: ‘The EU is of a secular and neutral nature’.

Cranmer is with Pope Benedict XVI in his opposition to the EU’s militant secularism. One cannot be ‘neutral’ in matters of religion - pretending to broker between ‘equal’ faiths and impartial in arbitration between competing worldviews - for that neutrality presupposes a higher level of knowledge and constitutes itself an article of faith. There is no neutrality to be had because neutrality needs as much justification as any other position. Pope Benedict asked last year: ‘Is it not surprising that today's Europe, while hoping to be seen as a community of values, more and more seems to contest that universal and absolute values exist?’ Yet he ought to have made it clear that the EU has developed its own universal and absolute articles of faith which are not neutral, but decidedly anti. If a state seeks to be neutral in the effect of its policies then it requires a greater level of state intervention to ensure that inequalities are negated.

It is curious indeed that the Constitution for Europe included in its preamble the EU’s indebtedness to the all that was bequeathed by ancient Greece and Rome, but then jumped straight to the achievements of the Enlightenment as though ‘everything between Marcus Aurelius and Voltaire was to be reckoned mere backwardness and superstition’.

Mr Holland notes: ‘The question of what precisely Europe owes to its Christian past may be neuralgic for many - but that is precisely why it needs to be aired, and not closed down’. While Brussels is intent on rendering unto Ceasar that which belongs to Caesar, it seems to forget that Caesar himself ended up a Christian. And this opened a theological can of worms in the interpretation of the coming of the Kingdom of God which endures to this day.

But the EU secularists are lost in their own myths. There is an assertion that the Enlightenment emerged like Dawkins' origin of the universe - ex nihilo - while, in fact, all that is best within it is fundamentally of Christian origin. Interactive pluralism had its genesis in the Enlightenment through the questioning of authority which gave birth to political liberalism, but what is best in liberalism is what is best in Christianity, since ultimately interactive pluralism is founded on a Christian heritage. There is therefore a continuing role for the Church of England in the defence of liberalism as a natural consequence of what began with the Protestant Reformation. But instead of a paternalistic imposition of morality or a doctrine of God, its primary function should be the acutely political one of calling the state to account by obstinately asking the state about its accountability and the justification of its priorities – at both a national and EU level.


Anonymous len said...

Copnstantine wanting to prop up his failing empire decided to bind his people together with religion.
So he accepted all religions and mixed them together (to keep every one happy.)
Christianity was mixed with pagan religions hence the ungodly, apostate church we have today!

12 October 2008 at 13:49  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12 October 2008 at 14:04  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

"One cannot be ‘neutral’ in matters of religion - pretending to broker between ‘equal’ faiths and impartial in arbitration between competing worldviews - for that neutrality presupposes a higher level of knowledge and constitutes itself an article of faith. "

A subtle point which is likely to be lost on them. These people who have no understanding of Christianity, yet believe they have intellectually evolved beyond it. Their article of faith is a new revelation:

"the new age, which many call a "post-Christian" age, is at the same time the age "beyond Nihilism"--a phrase that expresses at once a fact and a hope. The fact this phrase expresses is that Nihilism, being negative in essence even if positive in aspiration, owing its whole energy to its passion to destroy Christian Truth, comes to the end of its program in the production of a mechanized "new earth" and a dehumanized "new man": Christian influence over man and over society having been effectively obliterated, Nihilism must retire and give way to another, more "constructive" movement capable of acting from autonomous and positive motives.

The god of Nihilism, nothingness, is an emptiness, a vacuum waiting to be filled; those who have lived in this vacuum and acknowledged nothingness as their god cannot but seek a new god and hope that he will lead them out of the age and the power of Nihilism. It is such people who, anxious to draw some positive significance from their situation, and unwilling to believe that the Nihilism through which our age has passed can be entirely unfruitful, have constructed an apology in which Nihilism, however evil or unfortunate it may be in itself, is seen as the necessary means to an end beyond itself, as destruction preceding reconstruction, as darkness preceding the dawn. If the present darkness, uncertainty, and suffering are unpleasant--so this apology continues--they are at the same time beneficial and purifying; stripped bare of illusions, in the midst of a "dark night" of doubt and despair, one can only suffer these trials in patience and remain "open"."

12 October 2008 at 14:05  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Juno, its occurred to me this fine afternoon, sat down with tea and digestives, reading this, that we don't have any clue where in the hell we have come from, where in the hell we are going, and how in hell we are going to get there.
Now I have heard it said that the Bible is nothing more than desert scribblings, and I will admit that you can be forgiven for such opinions. But I will say this with full confidence (even though lacking any great testimony of research) that you will be dam hard pressed to find any body of writings that will come close to the wisdom that can be found therein.
If you like the scribbling theory, then it has to be said that the Bible is an ancient collection of such that has shaped the whole human world, whether you like to admit it or not. There is no escaping this fact even if you like to hark back to the Greek and Roman eras: the chosen people have played a major role in it all, right up to the present day.
So, whether we like it or not, the old desert scribblings are gonna continue to shape the human world for a long long long time to come, whether you like it or not. Putting your head up your ass is a purely subjective thing to do and will limit your vision some what. A pilgrim's progress can also be helped as well as hindered by the people around them. So all I can say is that if you see someone with such a predicament, pull their head out, wipe away the shit and wave some flowers under their nose. We are all in this together, and where ever it is that we are going, or where ever it is that we have come from, let's appreciate what it is that has been our past, our heritage, our guiding light.
Let's appreciate why need to avoid pissing on it, and why doing so is bound to have an adverse effect on us all. Continue to debate and grow (grow up even), but it's major folly to consider our heritage to be worthless, and piss on everything that has brought us to where we are.
And that's it basically.
Almost: all you loony Liberal Leftist fools, you need to now grow up, you are behaving like spoilt rebellious children! All your mantras and ideologies man made dreams, tried and tested failed projects. You're stuck in a loop, making the same mistakes over and over, doing the same things and expecting different results: time to punch a different number in the juke box and hear a different tune.

And as for this credit crunch, Holy Mother!
You couldn't make any of it up. We have been living down the rabbit hole for too many years. People are scratching their heads asking where has all the money gone? It never existed!
Trillions in stock market value -- gone. Trillions in retirement savings -- gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you're saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll -- gone, gone, gone.

Whether you're a stock broker or Joe Six-Pack, if you have a 401(k), a mutual fund or a college savings plan, tumbling stock markets and sagging home prices mean you've lost a whole lot of the money that was right there on your account statements just a few months ago.

But if you no longer have that money, who does? The fat cats on Wall Street? Some oil baron in Saudi Arabia? The government of China?

Or is it just -- gone?
If you're looking to track down your missing money -- figure out who has it now, maybe ask to have it back -- you might be disappointed to learn that is was never really money in the first place. Stock shares are just best guesses, imaginary money. Now the confidence has been zapped in the markets because banks refuse to lend, which translates into lots of failing stocks, people are dumping their shares at a free fall pace.
So how does pumping money into the system help? In the long run, it doesn't. At best the whole process will start again after a long haul of pain and growth, but is this the best we can do people?
Any one have any flowers?

12 October 2008 at 17:23  
Blogger McKenzie said...

People, we can keep employing new engine drivers for the Gravy Train, and although it does only go round and round on the track, which as far as we can see, seems to be a safe but Nihilistic journey to continually make, unfortunately the Indians are getting wise to our methodology, and even the wolves have worked out the futility of our dilemma.
So should we be looking for a new engine driver for the Gravy Train, or should we be looking for a new transport system all together?

12 October 2008 at 17:44  
Blogger McKenzie said...

If I were an aspiring new leader now, I would be drawing up a new system that would be all about the future. Forget this futile system we now have in place, yes it has worked fairly well, until now which was inevitable, but we need to start a system which focuses on the future not the short term greed of the few, but the long term prosperity of posterity. Capitalism II. Investment for the future. All these councils that invested their (our) money in stocks have the right idea (sort of). Except that we the people expected the money to be put to good use locally, not invested for short term profit which was to be used else where. Short term greed, which looks after the few will simply do just that, look after the few.
If a certain DC was anything else than a Gravy Train driver in waiting, he would be making suggestions instead of doing just hat, waiting to take the 'controls'.
Capitalism II, the sequel! a Brave new journey with vision and investment for all in the future, based on investment and growth, with very tight and strict rules about who gets what. Sod this idea of half owning the Banks - I have heard it said that a woman can not get half pregnant. Do we trust Gordon and crew to hand over vast tracts of our money to the banks so they can start again...fuck this! Seeing Ms cooper on the Mar show this morning looking and sounding clueless and hopelessly inadequate was enough to convince me of the grave futility of this idea. Talk about making bad life choices, we would never live to regret this one, but our kids will!

12 October 2008 at 18:18  
Blogger McKenzie said...

The beauty of this new system would be the obvious diametrical parallel it would have with the old desert scribblings: ie The Parable of the Talents.

Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version)

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

12 October 2008 at 18:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While Brussels is intent on rendering unto Ceasar that which belongs to Caesar, it seems to forget that Caesar himself ended up a Christian."

Well said, Your Grace. The historical amnesia of the EUtopians is astounding. Are they aware also that slavery and polytheism were pervasive in much admired classical Greece and Rome? And you are right that a good deal of the inspiration of the Enlightenment, at least initially, was Christian (it was never an atheist movement, though later it took on unitarian, Deistic tones).
Europe only ever existed a concept of Christendom, not as an ethnic, linguistic or geographical entity, for it is none of these.

12 October 2008 at 19:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The religion of man is known by many names:Communism,Socialism, Fascism,Secular Humanism, and The New World Order.
It parades under the slogans:Human Rights,The Rights Of Man,The Dignity Of Man,Humanism, Reason, Enlightenment,Political Correctness,and Social Democracy.
They prevail because of the ignorance and apathy of the populus!

12 October 2008 at 19:45  
Anonymous a nonny said...

Yes, Anon @19:45. And, of course, the religion of man and its slogans foster that ignorance and apathy. Christianity does the opposite.

Your Grace - your final point about the CoE calling the 'state' to account at ... the eu (my typo) level - you have me there!
Whichever way I look at the problem, I can't find a way to justify turning my back on the euSSR and ignoring it - just because of the state we're in! Very subtle; very wise. Thank you.

12 October 2008 at 21:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by Anthony Stevens

Published in hardback by Allen Lane, The Penguin Press (1998) and by The Princeton University Press, New Jersey (1999). Published in paperback by Penguin in June 2001.

Publishers Description
Symbolism is the most powerful and ancient means of communication available to humankind. For centuries human beings everywhere have expressed their preoccupations and concerns through symbolism in forms of myths, stories, religions and dreams, and the meaning of symbols has long been the cause of argument among philosophers, antiquarians, theologians, and, more recently, anthropologists and psychologists.

In Ariadne's Clue distinguished analyst and psychiatrist Anthony Stevens explores the nature of symbols and explains how and why we create the symbols we do. Taking the ideas of C.G. Jung a stage further, Stevens asserts that we not only possess an innate symbol-forming propensity which exists as a creative and integral part of our psychic make-up, but also that the human mind evolved this capacity as a result of selection pressures encountered by our species in the course of its evolutionary history. Stevens argues that symbol formation has an adaptive function: it promotes our grasp on reality and in dreams often corrects deficient modes of psychological functioning.

From the ancient symbol of the serpent to the archetypal masculine and feminine, from the primordial landscape of the savannah to the mysterious depths of the sea, Stevens elegantly traces a host of common symbols back through time to reveal their psychodynamic functioning and looks at their deep-rooted effects on the lives of modern men, women, and children.

"Stevens has a unique capacity for relating myths and symbols to the way our minds function today, thus bringing them alive rather than dismissing them as historical curiosities. He has demonstrated that symbolization is an essential part of the creative process and is neither primitive nor escapist. If I had to pick out one outstanding feature, it would be this capacity for integrating ancient and modern.

"Ultimately, as Stevens says, this is a book for browsing in rather than for reading straight through; but anyone wishing to enlarge his knowledge of symbolism will find what he needs in this original and interesting book."
Anthony Storr, The Literary Review.

"One need not be a Jungian to appreciate this fine book as both a reference and a contemporary introduction to symbolism. Psychiatrist Stevens treats the specialist or lay reader to a brilliant integration of psychological archetypes with Darwinian theory. Symbols, a 'natural Esperanto', transcend ethnic and linguistic boundaries while absorbing and reflecting cultural (as well as biological) influences. Stevens draws heavily on Jung but goes beyond him, making effective use of philosophy, semiotics, biology, and dream research. His 'Thesaurus' (over 300 pages) is divided into four parts: Physical Environment; Culture and Psyche; People, Animals and Plants; and The Body.

"Stevens presents vast learning easily and precisely in prose that is at once calm and exciting. A bibliography rich with recent references, a glossary, and a separate symbol index combine to make this a standard - if not the standard - in the field; essential for most libraries."
E. James Lieberman, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC., in The Library Journal.

"Considering symbols 'living entities with a life-cycle of their own' (that is, their meanings evolve rather than remain fixed), Stevens (a Jungian analyst and psychiatrist) begins this reference by exploring the origins, psychology, and use of symbols. The Thesaurus that follows is arranged thematically, and individual symbols are examined in detail. But the author offers the caveat that individuals should examine their own personal meanings for a particular symbol before reading what he has to say about it. Small pen and ink illustrations enhance the presentation."
Reference and Research Book News.

"Ariadne's Clue is probably the best available book on how to approach our dreams. It is a look at the world of symbolism (the landscape our dreams inhabit) and takes us deeply into the myths and traditions which make various animals and plants, heroes and heroines, objects and subjects, important to our inner selves. [Stevens] aims to show how our understanding of the symbols of our dreams can actually make waking reality more real, and how the dreams themselves help to adjust and fine-tune us and the way we function."
Derek Parker, The Good Book Guide.

12 October 2008 at 21:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the great seducer

12 October 2008 at 21:25  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Understand the beginning; understand the temptation; understand the battle; understand the promise; understand the HOPE

12 October 2008 at 22:23  
Anonymous Brita said...

Anonymous 21:25- What were we to look at on u-tube?

Anonymous @ 21:10 - If you're the same anon - then might the eu devils think they can seduce (i.e. rape) us with symbols via fr(eu)d and jung? Doubtless their confidence increases in view of successful campaigns of 'softlee softlee catchee' in the UK (and possibly the US)!

His Grace's link does work, however. The picture of our masters in all their literacy could well be part of their symbolism campaign. I only wonder if they're signing off on 'euthanasia centres' for those of us with incurable gag reflexes!

It's enough to put a person off Beethoven forever.

12 October 2008 at 22:53  
Anonymous judith said...

Let's face it, the European Union is just a new version of the Holy Roman Empire - without the good bits.

Why can you never find a Hapsburg Emperor when you need one?

12 October 2008 at 23:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On another blog I saw something about a riot in London that got hushed up. This emboldens me to mention the eu 'flag-burnings' to which His Grace refers. I must have missed those in the media, too.

I'd love to go to some, though. Maybe we could make nice British garden parties out of them; or use the flames to boil soup-kettles for the new-poor, or something. Or, if the bobbies refuse us the right to a cuppa in public, just use pictures of burnings and tear the bunting into ribbons- and donate similar pieces in candles: for those who can't afford electricity. Play the Misery Owed backwards; use a bull-image as a target or refuse receptacle of some sort; etc...

I think we should have such (absolutely non-violent) image-making near every so-called eu 'polling station.' I mean, no sensible person would waste time voting there, would they? And we could get our symbolism across without our faces ever appearing in the media.

12 October 2008 at 23:53  
Blogger chris said...

I cannot help but wonder, having noted the many agreements that now exist between His Grace and Pope Benedict, if our beloved leader is not contemplating a radical leap in the dark, a John Henry Newman, a fall into the arms of Rome.
This would sadden me greatly, since Rome is both mourning the loss of and working actively to recover its once malign influence over its lost secular empire.
Yes, many Caesars have clothed themselves in Christian symbolism and espoused the Christian faith, but almost invariably to the detriment of the evangelical faith.

13 October 2008 at 12:20  
Anonymous narcissa said...

judith said... the European Union is just a new version of the Holy Roman Empire

It really is: north-eastern France, the area that is now Belgium, the southern part of the Netherlands and the Rhineland are all far more like one another than the rest of their own countries. Even today, when travelling between Aachen, Liège and Maastricht the sense of a shared past, a common outlook, is inescapable. The pooling of sovereignty means far less to those countries than it does to us. Belgium, in particular, has absolutely nothing to lose.

Although I was in favour of EU membership at the time of our own referendum I can see now that we should never have joined. But since we have also quite independently effectively destroyed our own heritage and culture, perhaps Europe is all we have left. My only hope is that it may yet prove to be our strongest defence against the Caliphate.

13 October 2008 at 15:15  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Chris,

His Grace is delighted that Pope Benedict is journeying increasingly nearer to the Protestant understanding of the importance of Scripture.

Have you heard such a statement emanate from Lambeth Palace over the past century?

13 October 2008 at 17:08  
Anonymous len said...

Religion is all about power and control.
God hates mixture!
Truth and error are now so mixed it is almost impossible to separate the two without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Religion must be satans greatest weapon,because it gives the illusion of being self righteous, not the righteousness that come through faith in Jesus Christ.

13 October 2008 at 18:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“When the Lamb opened the third seal … I looked, and there before
me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.
Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:5-6, NIV).

13 October 2008 at 21:45  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Narcissa - re: "But since we have also quite independently effectively destroyed our own heritage and culture, perhaps Europe is all we have left. My only hope is that it may yet prove to be our strongest defence against the Caliphate."

I wonder how you respond to the suggestion that marxism has engineered our cultural deconstruction, and that the euSSR has contributed by encouraging the 'caliphate.' After all, we contended with no such thing until the eu brought in their anti-Christian (er.. "PC") edicts on racism, multiculturalism, and diversity; immigration quotas; elimination of national borders; secularism, etc.

My problem remains in wondering how the euSSR plans to deal with conflicts between the RCs and the caliphate. I daresay they have ideas, though-probably in favour of the arabs. I've noticed that the french and the arabs have some mutual admiration - perhaps others in eutopia concur.

It could work out, I suppose, if we count 'the Caliphate' as one of the ten heads of Revelation's Beast and euSSR as another! And if you think the reference silly - I'm encouraged by today's references to Armageddon on a respectable finance programme on NPR, from the US! Apparently the signigicant number 777 on the Dow Jones coincided with the eve of Roshhashanah (?spelling)....

14 October 2008 at 04:34  
OpenID berenike said...

Leo XII architect of the EU (well, sort of):

Book out end of this month/beginning of next.

14 October 2008 at 08:56  
Blogger chris said...

I am grateful to Your Grace for your further contribution to the discussion.
I fear that all may not be well with Pope Benedict's decree on the importance of scripture. I was forty years a Roman Catholic and am well aware of the Roman interpretations of Scripture. They have permitted, amongst many other dogmas, the doctrines of Purgatory, Transubstantiaion, the primacy of the Papacy, the sacrifice of the Mass, the worship of images, praying to the dead, the Immaculate Conception, and the elevation of both the Teaching Authority and Sacred Tradition to such great heights, that both are enabled to look down on the Holy Scriptures. Hence the doctrines listed above, none of which can be found in the Bible.
This Church has recently felt itsself qualified to state which biblical passages are to be taken literally.
I hope one day to hear some statement from Lambeth Palace on these matters.

14 October 2008 at 18:18  

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