religion, sex and craziness

Audacious Epigone has an interesting graph on religious affiliation, sex and mental health. What makes it interesting is that there really aren’t any surprises there at all. Women are crazier than men, Christians are slightly less crazy than atheists, Jews are crazier than Christians. Muslims are the least likely to have mental health problems, which makes sense since their religion isn’t a dead religion.

And the craziest group of all? Jewish women. Which pretty much explains the entire history of the feminist movement.

It’s not very often that one has the pleasure to see a graph that confirms all of one’s cherished stereotypes!

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the future of religion, part 2 – Islamised Europe or a European Islam

On the subject of the future of religion another post at A Political Refugee From the Global Village asks Will the future see an Islamised Europe or a European Islam?

Personally I’m not convinced that either is inevitable because I’m not convinced that even Islam can stop the steamroller progress of the death cult of secular liberalism.

I also fear that a European Islam might be a bit like modern Christianity – in other words basically secular liberalism with a few quasi-religious trappings. Of course Islam does lack some of Christianity’s worst weaknesses, such as the masochistic turn the other cheek stuff and the cult of hugs and feelings. Islam might be better able to resist the feminising tendencies.

What it comes down to is a religion’s ability to fight off the poison of feminism, and it’s an insidious and deadly poison indeed.

A European Islam, or even an Islamised Europe, would certainly be preferable to the sewer that liberalism has in store for us.

I should make the point (and this applies to my previous post as well) that these speculations about the religious future of society do not represent the future I would like to see. The future I would like to see is a return to something very like the pre-Reformation unity of Christendom, and something very like pre-Reformation Christianity. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Of the futures that are actually likely to happen, or are at least possible, most are rather unpalatable. The religious fascism I speculated about in my previous post and a Europeanised Islam are not the futures one would have hoped for. It’s a matter of choosing the least worst option. Secular liberalism offers a never-ending descent into degeneracy and decadence and despair. Any alternative would be better than that.

the future of religion

A recent post at A Political Refugee From the Global Village tackles the question of finding a substitute for belief in God. This is a question that people like Jordan Peterson seem to be grappling with, although in Peterson’s case without any success.

The first question to ask is whether any society has managed to survive without religion. The answer is, it depends on what you mean by religion. Did the classical Greeks and Romans actually believe in their gods? Or in any god at all? They seemed to be pretty sceptical but the fragmentary nature of the sources makes it difficult to know just how much the average person in the classical world believed in religion.

One of the strongest arguments in favour of religion is that it provides the only viable foundation for morality. I think it should be noted that if the classical world was characterised by scepticism it was also characterised by depressingly low levels of morality.

What about Asian civilisations such as Imperial China? Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Shintoism don’t seem to be religions in quite the same way that Christianity or Islam are religions. Nonetheless they seem to have worked fairly well as the basis for building civilisations and they seem to have done rather better on the morality front than the Greeks and Romans.

It might therefore be possible to base a genuine civilisation on a religion that is more like a civic or communal faith than the relationship with a personal God that is the way most of us think about Christianity. It has to be stressed however that the great danger is that such a religion will be wishy-washy and vague and woolly-minded and hopelessly feminised, just like modern Christianity. That just isn’t going to work. What is needed is a civic religion that is strong and virile and hard-headed.

There has to be a focus of devotion and if it’s not a personal God then there seem to be only two alternatives – the focus has to be worship of the state or worship of a king. Kings are hopelessly out of fashion and the ridiculous and pathetic constitutional monarchies of Europe have discredited the idea of monarchy altogether. The focus of devotion is therefore going to be the state.

That sounds like plain old totalitarianism but it isn’t, or at least not necessarily. The totalitarian societies have that so far come into being have been little more than slave states, with ordinary people being nothing more than anonymous cogs in a machine. A state religion could, perhaps, offer a great deal more. It could offer a genuine sense of purpose with the people being part of the state rather than servants of the state. It would be a very difficult trick to pull off but it might be possible.

Such a system could be described as a kind of religious fascism. It could incorporate some elements of Christianity and of paganism.

The question is, is there a viable alternative? Liberals like Jordan Peterson would like to think we could have a kind of touchy-feely secular religiosity that is compatible with liberal democracy. This is mere delusion. Liberal democracy is a dead end. It offers nothing but futility, emptiness and death. It is a death cult. What is needed is something that would allow us to sweep liberal democracy into the dustbin of history. Whatever the future turns out to be like Jordan Peterson is not going to like it. He’s going to be doing a lot of crying.

stability and order vs dynamism and progress

There are many different axes which can be used to describe political positions. There’s free market vs central planning, libertarian vs authoritarian, globalist vs nationalist. The one that doesn’t get considered so much, but which seems to me to be the most important of all, is that I would call the stability/dynamism axis.

This is more than just a political alignment. Where a person falls on this axis has much to do with both personal psychology and cultural traditions.

Some cultures have always seen stability and order as being the most important objectives  of government. China for most of its history is an obvious example, Ancient Egypt being another. Other cultures have seen stability as a weakness. They have valued change, dynamism, expansion, growth and what they like to call progress.

Western society since the Reformation has been a spectacular example of a culture that has chosen dynamism at the expense of stability. Whether this is actually an inherent feature of western culture is debatable. Western Europe during the Middle Ages certainly seemed to put a fairly high value on stability.

Obviously some individuals are also psychologically more inclined to favour either stability or dynamism.

Overall though western culture has become so focused on the supposed advantages of progress that it is difficult to find any mainstream political party in any western country that genuinely stands for stability and order. Self-described conservative parties are in reality, almost without exception, liberal parties that fetishise growth and progress. One of the few institutions that truly stood on the side of stability was the Catholic Church. Since Vatican II even the Catholic Church has tended more and more to favour the liberal concept of progress. Christianity in general has become, if anything, a destabilising force in the West.

The fact that those countries that were formerly part of the communist bloc are now more socially conservative and less inclined to make a fetish of progress seems puzzling at first. The usual explanation offered is that the citizens of those nations were so horrified by their experience of communism that they reacted by becoming ardent conservatives. That’s probably partly true. It is however worth considering a curious fact about communism in practice. Once a communist revolution succeeds the revolutionaries themselves tend to become very suspicious of change. They start to focus on preserving the revolution. They start to put a very high value on stability and order.

It is of course difficult to reconcile stability and order with democracy. Democracies quickly become obsessed by the idea of change for the sake of change. Democratic governments want to to be seen as doing something and doing something invariably means changing things, and changing things invariably undermines stability and order.

I have to say that I’m basically a stability and order kind of guy. Society is a fragile thing. If you try to change society the odds are very high that you will end up changing it for the worse. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. Not only are changes more likely to be harmful than beneficial, they also tend to make society even more fragile, so the next time you try to change things the risks will be even greater.

Since I favour stability and order it’s not surprising that the one political ideology that really terrifies me is liberal democracy. It’s probably also not surprising that I take a jaundiced view of free markets. Liberal democracy combined with free markets seems to me to be a guaranteed recipe for long term chaos. My inclination is to support any political ideology that stands for stability and order. I guess I’m just a natural reactionary.

is the USA already post-Christian?

One of the more astonishing phenomena of our times is the speed at which the United States is becoming a post-Christian nation.

Of course Christianity has been declining throughout the West for at least a couple of centuries. The decline has however been a gradual one. Until three decades ago it seemed like the United States was bucking the overall trend. In the 1980s the Religious Right still had immense political clout and this was based on the fact that conservative Christians (especially Evangelical Christians) really did form an enormous voting bloc. They had power and that power was based on numbers.

Since the 80s it seems to have been all downhill, at a very rapid pace.

It’s worth taking a look at Pew Research’s Religious Landscape Study. They did two very extensive surveys seven years apart, in 2007 and 2014. In that short time span the percentage of the American population identifying as Christians fell from 78% to 71%. It was not just a relative decline – the absolute numbers fell from 178 million to 173 million.

Mainline Protestants fell from 41 to 36 million. Evangelical Christians are holding their own in terms of absolute numbers but declining as a share of the population. Catholics have declined in both absolute and relative terms.

And this is in just seven years.

If you’re a Christian there are other even more disturbing trends in the survey. The number of people identifying as out-and-out atheists has jumped sharply. These are people who are not merely irreligious, but anti-religion. And the decline in Christian belief has been most dramatic among Millennials, and most dramatic of all among the younger Millennials.

Of course there are always problems with surveys such as this. If the US was still 71% Christian then everything that has happened in the past thirty years would have been impossible and incomprehensible. Obviously the vast majority of those who identify as Christian for the purpose of surveys are not Christian in any meaningful sense. That has almost certainly been the case for at least a century. The difficulty is to estimate how many of these people are genuine believers who actually practise their religion and it’s a formidable difficulty. It would also be useful to know not just how many supposed Christians are merely nominal Christians but how this compares to other religions.

It’s also possible that being a Christian doesn’t mean what it used to mean. We’ve seen the hierarchies of most churches become more and more liberal and secular in outlook but does this apply to the ordinary rank-and-file church members? While I would suspect that most members of the rank and file are considerably less liberal than their leaders I would also suspect that they are a lot more liberal than the general run of church-goers half a century ago. If the latter is true then the prospects for any genuine revival of Christianity are grim.

It’s also worth noting that the churches that have tried hardest to survive by compromising with liberalism are the ones that are dying out most quickly. I have very mixed feelings about the Evangelicals but they do seem to be doing significantly better than the other Christian churches.

There’s another interesting conclusion to be drawn from all this. There was a popular idea a while back that Christianity would survive simply because Christians have more children than secularists. That idea is clearly completely wrong. Christians almost certainly are having more children but a very large proportion of those children end up being secular liberals. This is a subject I addressed a while back in my post conservative delusions – the War of the Cradle.

Catholic converts vs cradle Catholics

There’s an interesting post at A Political Refugee From the Global Village, Anthony Burgess on Catholic converts, on Catholic converts vs cradle Catholics. I’m not a Catholic so I’m not really in a position to have any kind of dogmatic opinion on this subject. I was intrigued though by the suggestion that cradle Catholics tended to react to Vatican II by shrugging their shoulders and accepting it, while Catholic converts like Evelyn Waugh saw it as an unmitigated disaster.

My instincts tell me that the Catholic converts were probably correct in this case.

Converts do seem to be generally speaking more zealous than those raised in a particular creed, whether that creed is a religion or a political ideology. Converts to communism back in the pre-World War 2 period tended to be very extreme, sometimes even to the extent of becoming Soviet spies. Were they more zealous than the so-called “red diaper” babies of the postwar period, who absorbed communism with their mother’s milk? I’m not quite sure.

Converts to cults and fads (such as veganism) are of course usually very gung-ho.

And social justice warriors are often converted to the cause at university so that might explain some of their fanaticism.

The various dissident right groups (alt-right, neo-reactionaries, whatever) are of course comprised entirely of converts, which might have interesting consequences.

Getting back to religion, perhaps one reason for the weakness of modern Christianity is that it’s just not making converts on a large scale any longer. Perhaps a religion needs the zeal of converts to keep it vital and alive?

unlocking the power of hate

Never underestimate the power of hatred. Or more specifically, never underestimate the positive effects of being hated.

Take the Jews. How on Earth could they have survived as a distinct ethnic/religious/cultural group through the 2,000 years of the Diaspora? The answer is simple. They survived by being hated.

The Jews maintained their own traditions and beliefs and ethnic identity because they were regarded as outsiders, and regarded with suspicion and dislike. Most of the time they weren’t actually persecuted or even hated but simply looked upon with suspicion. But there were times when they were actively hated and persecuted and this proved to be their salvation as a people. They were not only considered to be outsiders, they thought of themselves as outsiders.

This was a powerful incentive to avoid what was in fact the greatest threat to their survival – marrying outside their own community.

It strengthened their faith and it made their traditions seem very precious indeed.

Other cultural groups have benefited from being hated, although none so spectacularly as the Jews. For centuries the Irish Catholics maintained their faith and jealously preserved a distinctive cultural identity. The force that bound them together was the oppression they suffered at the hands of the English. Then in the latter part of the 20th century the English did something very terrible. They gave up oppressing the Irish. The Irish response was immediate. They abandoned their faith, they abandoned their identity and they set about committing national suicide. Within a few decades from now the Irish will have disappeared as a distinct people.

It’s not necessary to be oppressed to enjoy these benefits. Having an external enemy who hates you and wants to destroy you can be almost as good.

It’s worth taking a bit of a look at the history of Christianity. In its early centuries it suffered sporadic persecution at the hands of the Romans. These were boom times for Christianity.

By the 4th century AD Christianity was the official religion of the Empire but luckily there were still plenty of enemies. Most of Europe was still pagan. Even within the Empire paganism was down but not out. When the Empire in the West collapsed it was by no means certain that Christianity would triumph. The surviving Empire in the East had plenty of very real non-Christian enemies. And would soon have a new and very formidable enemy in the shape of Islam. Islam would even threaten the territories of the now-defunct western Empire.

For centuries to come Christianity would have real enemies and Christians with a taste for martyrdom could find endless opportunities for indulging that taste.

The boom times came to an end at the end of the seventeenth century. The Islamic threat to Europe was over. European Christianity had no viable enemies. And Christianity began its long slow decline.

The interesting bit is that the boom times might soon be back. Liberals (and I use liberals as shorthand for the globalist elites and their SJW foot soldiers) have hated Christianity for a long long time but up till now they’ve been content with harassment. This is clearly going to change, probably within the next decade. They’re going to move towards full-blown persecution.

This may be the salvation of Christianity. Being a persecuted minority once again might lead to a Christian revival. At the very least it should eliminate most of the mainstream churches, and that would be a very good thing indeed for Christianity.