Monday, November 14, 2005

Twas not always so

Dr Peter Jensen is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. He wrote an article for the Melbourne Age on the weekend in which he lamented the fact that "Jesus is slipping out of memory and imagination" and that "we seem to have become very modest about our own past, very nervous about identifying who we are."

And yet in the same article he declares that "I know we have embraced multiculturalism, and I myself am delighted by the new and different Australia that is emerging from our immigration policies."

Huh? On the one hand he is delighted by the new, non-Christian Australia being created by current immigration policies, and on the other he laments the fact that Jesus is slipping out of view and that we don't value our past.

There is a fatal inconsistency in this view. Dr Jensen is on the conservative side of Anglicanism, and yet he seems to want to find a niche for his church and religion within the liberal order. This is a mistake. If the Anglican church is to survive it will have to do so in resistance to liberal secularism, and not as a junior partner of it.

Nor is this a problem confined to Anglicanism. In August the speaker of Italy's senate spoke out against foreign immigration. He was attacked by leaders of the Catholic Church, one of whom, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, made the astonishing comment that,

A person who comes to our country to work does not only have worth because of how much he produces and how much his salary is, but also because of his identity, his culture, his religion.

This is similar to how secular leftists think. Cardinal Bertone assumes that the enemy is right-wing liberalism, in which people are thought of in terms of their economic role. In opposition to this, he asserts the value of identity, culture and religion, but only for "the other", and not for Italy's majority population. It never occurs to the cardinal that the speaker of the senate might have been defending the place of identity, culture and religion - but for the existing population of Italy.

It was not always like this. For instance, in the nineteenth century one of the most prominent Anglican theologians was F.D. Maurice. Maurice was not a conservative, but in the mid-nineteenth century you did not have to be a conservative to defend the patria.

Maurice believed that there was a spiritual component to the existence of distinct countries. He himself put it as follows:

"Let us be sure that if we would ever see a real family of nations, such as the prophets believed would one day emerge out of the chaos they saw around them ... this must come from each nation maintaining its integrity and unity"

"an Englishman has as much right to speak of his own nation as holy as had the Hebrew patriots of theirs"

"the Nation has lived, lives now, and will live in Him, who was, and is, and is to come"

"no man has ever done good to mankind who was not a patriot"

These quotes do place Maurice at odds with those modern church leaders who so readily accept the loss of the distinctive Western national traditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment