Friday, May 01, 2009

Red Tory, Blue Labour and Roman Protestants

Postmodern politics is absorbed with reaching the nebulous ‘middle ground’, so much so that the dialectic of principle is now utterly subsumed to sophistry. The campaigning creed is obsessed with seeming instead of what is, with justified hypocrisy instead of reasoned conviction. There is an infatuation with forms and moods, with promises and feelings, with actions that a man might play, instead of the reality of the principles within.

So intrinsic to postmodern politics is the notion of being all things to all people that one may no longer hold strongly to any orthodoxy for fear of being labelled ‘extremist’. And God forbid that anyone in the Conservative Party might be too dogmatic on any particular traditional doctrine, for that irredeemably renders one a ‘Thatcherite right winger’. Like the Tory ‘Ultras’ of a bygone era, one risks being relegated to the peripheries of political activity, if, indeed, one is permitted to be active at all.

With the news that David Cameron is to become the first Conservative Leader to participate in a ‘Gay Pride’ march, Cranmer wonders why Margaret Thatcher or Norman Tebbit never perceived the value of such pursuits. Lord Tebbit would have doubtless been literally embraced by people with a certain fetish for leather. Of course, the character of the Conservative Party is forever changing, yet forever the same. It has always been prepared to abandon whatever seems exhausted and to dress itself in new attire. But they have always been recognisably Tory and Whig clothes. We are now in the era of the ‘Red Tory’ – just as Tony Blair was frequently accused of forging ‘Blue Labour’ in his infatuation with the ‘Third Way’.

And speaking of the next Emperor of Europe, there has been some discussion recently about precisely what religion he is. He knew the position of the Roman Catholic Church on homosexuality before his conversion. He has long been married to a Roman Catholic, with children brought up in that faith, so he could have been in no doubt about the Church's principled teaching on marriage.

So why did he cross the Tiber?

If he preferred an à la carte, pick ‘n’ mix type of Christianity, it is curious that he ever left the Church of England. If ever there were an expression of the faith which officially endorses the gospel of YouGov and canonises worldly wisdom, it is the Established Church. Mr Blair is now in open conflict with Pope Benedict, accusing him of being 'out if step with public opinion'. He is very publicly dissenting from the Church's moral teaching on such issues as divorce, abortion and homosexuality, so much so that it appears that he entered the Roman Catholic Church without actually becoming a Roman Catholic at all. At his reception into the Church, he would have had to declare: ‘I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God’.

Yet what Rome teaches apparently now constitutes unpalatable ‘entrenched attitude’.

Lumen Gentium warns that a person may indeed be in the bosom of the Church ‘in body’ while not ‘in heart’. In his inimitable ‘Third Way’ fashion, Tony Blair has forged a new religion, for he is a Roman Protestant. And Cranmer thinks he shall find more than 12 disciples to follow him along his revelatory path as he preaches a gospel which is certainly not that proclaimed by St Paul.

But speaking of Roman Protestants, Cranmer has come across another one – right at the heart of the ‘extremist Catholic’ IRA.

It transpires that Gerry Adams is also a ‘Third Way’ type of Roman Catholic, having given his confession that his religious beliefs are ‘more compatible with Protestantism than Catholicism’. The Sinn Fein president has revealed that he has not gone to confession ‘in years’, preferring to speak directly to God.

He says: “I have formed an opinion — and it’s probably a Protestant thing — that the notion of having some sort of middleman isn’t altogether necessary.”

Dr Paisley must be rejoicing over the sinner who has repented, and jubilant that his Christian witness has evidently had such a profound effect on the former terrorist.

Mr Adams expresses admiration for Protestant churches, and reveals: “I think the Methodists are the best, but I love the democratic nature of the Presbyterian church.” He adds: “I also think it’s downright nonsense that Christian churches are so divided. I think it’s madness.”

He loves the democratic nature of the Presbyterian church? Is he actually praising the achievements of Dr Paisley, under whom all divided churches should be united?

On a central tenet of Rome’s teaching – Transubstantiation (the belief that the host and wine at holy communion become the real body and blood of Jesus Christ) – Mr Adams replied: “Who knows?”

Yet he still attends Mass because he ‘wasn’t going to stop being a Catholic’.

There are those in another place who would doubtless assert that, holding these heretical beliefs, Mr Adams has certainly ‘stopped being a Catholic’.

With Tony Blair, there is a liking of the gospel story, an admiration for Jesus, an appreciation of the parables and teachings.

But these things a Roman Catholic do not make.

Cranmer welcomes these Roman Protestants to the never-ending concentric circles of the infinitely-diverse Protestant family.

Perhaps one day there will be a pope who might join them?

22 Comments:

Blogger The Young Oligarch said...

Is it really true , Your Grace , to define Dr Paisley as a Presbyterian ? He certainly defines himself as such , yet his role as Moderator for a period of decades and his total domination of his church , until recently , surely go against the Presbyterial form of government ?

1 May 2009 at 14:52  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Your Grace,

On the subject of religious crossovers, there is a rumour that Mehmet Ali Agca, still in prison in Turkey, claims to have renounced Islam and embraced the Catholic faith. Not an easy story to believe, particularly as it turns out to be difficult to trace the rumour to its source. The French site “7 sur 7”, aka “7s7”, attributes it to an Italian women’s magazine, Diva e Donna. The Diva e Donna website, however, is totally devoid, as far as I can tell, of Turkish converts to Catholicism, whether of a murderous disposition or not. Furthermore, it looks hardly the kind of magazine that would be the first to break a news story of this kind:

http://www.cairoeditore.it/Diva-e-Donna/

1 May 2009 at 14:55  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Young Oligarch,

Without doubt, there was a sense in which Dr Paisley, rather like King Henry VIII, was a pope in his own dominion.

However, he is no more. So Presbyterian democracy triumphed in the end.

1 May 2009 at 15:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

You are in a position to advise Cameron.

If he goes on that march it will be seen by religious communities as a betrayal of their values.

The British people are moving to the Right and Cameron is moving to liberalism.

Go on that march and he will be preached against in churches up and down this land.

Go on that march and an essentially morally conservative blogsphere will trash him.

1 May 2009 at 15:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

Excellent musing.

I must again take issue with Your Grace's use of 'shall/will', viz:

'And Cranmer thinks he *shall* find more'

Why the emphasis?

Pedant.

1 May 2009 at 16:22  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Anonymous Pedant,

The "shall" for "will" is, I believe, a sign of what the archbishop's fellow theologians would call his ipsissima vox.

1 May 2009 at 16:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I've been a Roman Protestant for donkey's years, originating from a taste in ecclesiastical architecture that found the purity of plain whitewashed mediaeval walls was more conducive to spiritual reflection than any number of exposed hearts or Byzantine gilding. And I'm almost comfortable with the thirty-nine articles except as below. I'm quite happy attending services in Anglican churches, albeit that the sacraments are missing, and hardly anyone notices that I recite the Nicene Creed with its Roman nuances.

Confession? The last time was just before the baptism of a Godson, when I confessed to a young American priest. Despite the list in my head, it was my disobedient heart in the anonymous darkness that spoke to him of my true transgression - a failure to love my fellow man, a hardening with age of my charity and hope, and my failure to do good. Christ's absolution allowed me to make renunciation of the devil and all his works and a pledge to oversee the wee man's Christian life a true promise that I have carried with me always.

And yes, the mystery of transubstantiation is no arcane secret to gnostics. The potential for Christ's real body and blood are within all bread and wine.

Anglicans are almost like real Christians - close enough anyway to overlook the doctrinal differences that arise from admirable English pragmatism and the lack of native mysticism that serves this country quite well. I wouldn't want to change a thing.

1 May 2009 at 16:44  
Blogger Demetrius said...

Is Cameron a Cameronian?

1 May 2009 at 16:59  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

I've never thought of Tony Blair as accepting everything the Roman Catholic Church professes. He's more inclined to be a Feral Catholic or a Peripatetic Catholic because his moral compass is aligned with a magnetic force that has passed most of us by.

He could well have stayed in the Church of England. In fact he could have attended a church like me that has the Mass of Paul VI. No problems!

His views change with the wind. He was apparently against the appointment of the new poet laureate ten years ago as her being a lesbian could put off Middle England. Now he is preaching to the Pope about appointing such persons to church positions!

As for Gerry Adams, his catholicsm was always a lapel badge. Most priests' hearts sank if he ever went near their churches. It's not surprising he's in favour of a "democratic" church. Making it up as you go along is more to his liking, I'm sure!

1 May 2009 at 17:55  
Anonymous not a machine said...

it is a little bewildering but not unexpected , for this labour governement has brought this country to a very volatile position , in its complete disregard for democracy.

it is not so much that i hate the liberal techno fascist state control , it is that i have an awful feeling that it ends in a society running on sex video games and guns .

That is why when here of Tony Blairs desire to change god into a more socialist concept , i wonder if his legal mind hasnt got the better of him .

legalistic christian faith progresses to a very hard heart and turns the spiritual into the factual.

i do how ever think there is somthing called christianity which neither of the churches can fully own.

protestantism is perefectually understandable when you understand what the roman catholic church was in the 16th century , the fact that it is quite different today does not take away , the need for protest against men seeking all power to be deemed gods only spokesman

1 May 2009 at 18:16  
Anonymous len said...

Religion is inevitably the result of men taking that which is of God and forming it, formulating it, in such a way that men end up 'playing God'.
Men can form idols out of wood or stone in an attempt to represent God, or they can formulate idols( belief -systems, doctrinal definitions, theological thesis).
These men who thus form and formulate become the" chief priests" of the new religion because they are regarded as knowing the most about what God is like as well they should because they formed" it"
The are three features which seem to be basic to all forms of man-made religion. Religion involves absolutism,authoritarianism, and activism.
Now there is nothing wrong with absolutes , authority, or activity.God is absolute, authoritative, and active. But when any man or group attempts to establish themselves as the arbiters or the regulators of Gods absoluteness, authority, or activity,they then begin to "play God" and religion is the result as they impose their perspective of absolute, authority, and activity on others.
( from God hates Religion, Christ in You Ministries)

1 May 2009 at 18:38  
Blogger Fred Preuss said...

"Doctor"Paisley? Is he an MD?
How is he a doctor?

1 May 2009 at 18:50  
Anonymous the recusant said...

If Alan Duncan is an example of the kind of MP Cameron fancies as home secretary, (see his tolerant, inclusive remarks about Miss California on last weeks ‘Have I Got News For You’ for the real character of this man), then I am not surprised at his eagerness to wave the rainbow flag.

What would be a surprise is that the Conservative party attracts enough traditional Tory votes to avoid a hung parliament, so long as it persists in removing the likes of IDS, Haig or Davis from the leadership.

As for Adams, please keep him, special offer one free McGuiness with every purchase. We want to return the T Blair action figure for a refund, it’s defective, you sold us a broken one.

1 May 2009 at 19:12  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Great post Your Grace. Well reflects the postmodern belief in 'fragmentation' - and its corollary about making 'something new' with the pieces. Who is to make what has always concerned me. Especially as the deconstructionists make it perfectly clear that I'm allowed to think, say, and do, nothing!

I agree with D. Singh. And if Cameron goes on that march .. I'll be too nauseated. I WILL never again consider taking him seriously.

And I highlighted that WILL to indicate volition - not just a future state of being. That's clarity and assertion - not pedantry.

1 May 2009 at 19:18  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Recusant,

We did not sell you Mr Blair: he was free. Returning gifts is quite an affront to decency, etiquette and good manners.

1 May 2009 at 19:27  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

If Blair cannot be returned, it seems neither can he be flushed down the toilet of history. Like a great turd he keeps floating to the surface. With the rest of the atheist, socialist excrement.

1 May 2009 at 20:06  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

They have fragmneted the British People themselves, ( Camerons March is part of this agebda) the Elites now want to Fragment even Christianity.

The words Divide and ConqEUr spring to mind.

1 May 2009 at 23:46  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Well that does it!
If Cameron goes on a gay pride march the tories wont have my vote. I'll either spoil it or vote for the Monster Raving Looney Party should they deign to stand in my constituency.

2 May 2009 at 09:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not quite understand the surprise about Cameron's decision. The man has never demonstrated much principle in his politics, let alone conservative approaches to basic social values. He is, by and large, just a liberal. You write that it is due to his pursuit of the middle ground. That assumes some careful strategising. I think, on the other hand, it is simply what he stands for -- nothing.

2 May 2009 at 12:34  
Blogger killemallletgodsortemout said...

I'll vote BNP if Cameron struts his stuff with the homosexuals.

2 May 2009 at 17:59  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I'll vote BNP if Cameron struts his stuff with the homosexuals.You mean in the parade or when his future Ministers come out once in office ?

3 May 2009 at 06:35  
Anonymous jw said...

It's an old joke:
What is the difference between papists and presbyterians? The latter have a pope in every parish.

3 May 2009 at 14:09  

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