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A short episode in the pursuit of truth, or, how society fails to work

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  • louise
    Since all my life I have lived in England, and for more than half of that period have felt keenly the unity of our kingdom, and the importance of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 7, 2008
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      Since all my life I have lived in England, and for more than half of
      that period have felt keenly the unity of our kingdom, and the
      importance of the Protestant religion, my comments are with reference
      to British society. Given the universal features of the human
      condition, in spite of the differences implied by nation and class,
      it would hardly be surprising if a good deal of what I have to say,
      if valid, might apply, mutatis mutandis, to other societies across
      the world.

      If one were to imagine oneself as a kind of benign Big Brother
      figure, a theorist of society, charged with observing the communal
      life on this island, in the early twenty-first century, the salient
      fact is a fracturing of custom and belief. Culture and morality are
      distinct, and always have been. Good taste and virtue are not the
      same. Even excellent manners may be a cover for moral turpitude. I
      have long known this, and it is one of the factors which make me more
      susceptible to spiritual influences, render me "the natural prey of
      the incarnate Christ", to borrow a phrase from the poet C.H.Sisson.
      Returning to the more general picture, many of the towns, cities, and
      even the smaller settlements of this country exhibit a bewildering
      array of communities, not by any means easy to identify outwardly.
      The leaching away of any coherent sense of nation, the taboo on
      linking the concept of nation with race, which constitutes its
      historic meaning, and the parallel (though not necessarily connected)
      enfeeblement of long-established Christian belief, has left a vacuum
      into which all manner of hedonistic chaos and primitive religious
      practice have flowed. Religions, of course, may be theistic,
      atheistic, humanistic, pantheistic, and the rest. Where is the
      principle for unity, for a decent respect toward the human image and
      the entire panoply of creaturely life?
      Complexity and habitual contact with duplicities justified by nothing
      more than a supposed majority interest (really a kind of refined
      lynch law) wear down so many citizens, attack health and vitality.
      We are our own worst enemies, and yet some are more the enemy than
      others. Who are the criminals, and who are the cops? How many
      unwritten laws operate?
      In a way, these musings represent some sort of response to Wil's
      incomprehension of why anyone should believe in God. What can words
      do, in the end, except name our loves, hates, dilemmas? God is a
      very particular word, and meaningless except in context. Truly
      convinced, genuine, responsible and loving men and women with
      different doctrinal positions, Roman Catholics and Anglicans, for
      instance, may be said meaningfully to worship the same God. There is
      an overlapping heritage to argue or agree about, and theological
      language with which to engage one another's intellects without vanity
      and pretension. Politics complicate the dialogue, however, and even
      more so in the case of disagreements arising with Islam, Judaism, and
      the non-Abrahamic faiths. One of the prevalent cults in Britain
      today has evolved from Socialist struggle and the feminist striving
      to counter the age-old conflict between the sexes, which certainly
      flourishes within socialist circles, as anywhere else. In truth the
      conflict may not be resolved, only sublimated. Christianity is
      certainly not the only creed to recognise this fact, but any other
      remedy lacks historical credibility. I trust that this statement of
      my opinion does not read like an attempt to proselytize, which would
      be quite contrary to the spirit and rules of the list. All
      endeavours to communicate indirectly by pseudonymous philosophical
      play were defeated by self-righteous zealotries and my own inability
      to tolerate the pain of these assaults. Philosophy with me is a
      passion, not a romance, and in conflict with more naturalistic forces
      it leads into a war that may not be won. Louise
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