Kumbaya Christianity

Atheism is a failed belief system. It fails because it is ultimately unsatisfying. It provides no hope, no inspiration and no moral foundation for society. At both the personal and social levels it is a failure.

Unfortunately if you happen to live anywhere outside the United States that doesn’t leave you with much of a choice. I have always despised the practice of borrowing the spirituality of other cultures. That is equally unsatisfying.

That only leaves Christianity. But in Australia, as in most of the West, the dominant strand of Christianity today is a wishy-washy Kumbaya Christianity. The mainstream churches, without exception, have made so many compromises with secularism that they are no longer recognisably Christian. What they have to offer is Christianity watered down to make it acceptable to non-Christians. Even worse, it is Christianity watered down to make it acceptable to anti-Christians. It is a Christianity that has embraced political correctness and that has adopted all of the assumptions that underlie the dominant belief system of today, secular socialism. It is warm and fuzzy and non-threatening, but it is not Christianity.

Part of the problem is that modern church leaders seem to be embarrassed by the Old Testament. The Old Testament cannot be made politically correct, so they simply ignore it. The danger of ignoring the Old Testament is that you end up with a religion that is unbalanced. The New Testament is too easily interpreted as a vaguely spiritual form of socialism. That is not the message that Christ delivered, but by cherry-picking the New Testament you can come up with an interpretation that politically correct Marxists will accept, and that is what has been done.

Modern church leaders feed us platitudes about tolerance and diversity, the same platitudes we get from our politicians. This is not Christianity. Christianity is uncompromising in the duties it enjoins upon believers, duties that are not compatible with today’s secular society. Christianity does not say it’s OK to be gay. In fact it says the opposite. Christianity does not say that adultery is OK. Jesus may have offered forgiveness to the woman taken in adultery, but he also told her to go and sin no more. He did not tell her it was acceptable to continue in her sin.

Sin is another big problem for modern churches. It makes them very uncomfortable. The very idea of sin implies that there are moral rules, and that upsets anyone who is committed to moral relativism, diversity and modern notions of tolerance.

Kumbaya Christianity is doomed to failure. It is doomed to go on compromising with the Left until it becomes entirely indistinguishable from secular socialism.

Romanticism, Shelley and the rise of the teenager

The Romantic movement in art and literature arose in Europe in the late 18th century and would to a considerable degree dominate those fields until the mid-19th century. While the Romantic movement would produce some notable artistic achievements there’s no question that on the whole its influence was as disastrous as it has been far-reaching.

Romanticism has left three catastrophic legacies that have contributed towards the decline of western civilisation – the cult of Nature, the cult of self-pity and the cult of feeling.

The Romantics had a remarkably silly view of Nature – sentimental and hopelessly idealised. Nature was seen as a kind of atheistic Garden of Eden in which cute little furry animals frolicked happily and people lived as noble savages until civilisation arose. The Romantics were the first Europeans to indulge themselves in self-hatred and hatred of their own civilisation. If only Nature had been let alone! The fact that animals in a state of Nature live lives of constant fear and misery never occurred to the Romantics. They simply ignored unpleasant things like reality.

The self-pity, which has now become the outstanding characteristic of our culture, can be seen quite clearly in the sordid lives of Byron and Shelley. Shelley took things even further than Byron. His whole life was a flight from responsibility and an indulgence in selfish pleasure. But of course being a Romantic he still managed to be miserable. He championed free love, and treated the women in his life appallingly, leading at least two to take their own lives. Shelley was in many ways the first teenager, and he remained a teenager until his death. He displayed the combination of self-pity and arrogance and of selfishness and starry-eyed idealism that have become such characteristic features of the modern teenager.

The third dismal legacy of Romanticism is the cult of feeling. The Romantics were suspicious of reason. Thinking can be hard work! They decided that it was unnecessary to think – all one had to do was to feel. We’ve seen what that has done to our society.

Shelley again provides a telling example. He cultivated the image of the sensitive poet who courageously denounced injustice. His political ideas were naïve and adolescent but that didn’t matter. They were based on feelings, and that’s what counts.

Shelley was one of the first examples of the arty champagne socialist, a type that is all too familiar to us today.

The various isms that have blighted our civilisation since the 19th century – socialism, atheism, feminism and environmentalism – were all part of the baggage left behind by the Romantics. Again Shelley provides a fine example – his second wife Mary was the daughter of the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Shelley was an atheist, a socialist and a vegetarian. He managed to be equally irritating on all these subjects.

Shelley was the James Dean of the early 19th century. He was the first whining obnoxious teenage rebel. Romanticism did not encourage one to grow up. It instead encouraged a self-indulgent wallowing in phony emotion. In this respect it has been the most influential of all movements in art and literature, and its influence is today stronger than ever.