Friday, March 31, 2017

Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the "Cause," in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, politics, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours- and the more "religious" (on those terms), the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.
-The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 27, 2017

If university faculties are not in the business of TRUTH -- if they are, as many not only admit but boast, in the business of political action, then the people as such have no stake in their continued existence, just as the people can survive without this or that other political action committee.

I understand, though I do not agree with it, the rationale for denying to a church its tax-exempt status if the pastor should turn his pulpit into a regular political soapbox. I'd like to note, though, that what applies to the occasional political objurgations of the minister must apply in spades to the constant, planned, and usually highly partisan political activities of teachers and professors.

Three things, moreover, make the politicizing of the lectern worse than that of the pulpit. First, the teacher has a captive audience, and has the power to make miserable the lives of those who dare to oppose his politics. Second, the teacher -- at a public school, or at any but a small handful of colleges -- is taking the taxpayer's money. Third, the preacher AS a preacher may in certain circumstances have a duty to urge his congregation to act in the world in ways that he deems to be required by their faith; but that is not the job of the teacher, who can claim no authority delegated to him from God, or from the state, for that matter.

I see that many of the departments and programs at my school are dedicated, as they themselves claim, to the producing of political activists. Why should Joe the Carpenter have to pay a single dollar toward the salaries of the professors? He does not have to pay a dollar toward the salaries of the heads of the DNC or the RNC ..
-Anthony Esolen
H/T Leila Miller (via Nicole DeMille)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Dogmas may fly out at the window but congregations do not come in at the door."

When "the failure of the Churches" is discussed in public print, our well-meaning advisers always insist, with a somewhat wearying reiteration, on the need for a more comprehensive Christianity, which shall get away from forms and ceremonies, from dogmas and creeds, and shall concentrate its attention upon those elementary principles of life and devotion which all Christians have at heart. Each prophet who thus enlightens us makes the curious assumption, apparently, that he is the first person who has ever suggested anything of the kind. As a matter of fact, the brazen lungs of Fleet Street have been shouting these same directions at us for a quarter of a century past. And have "the Churches" taken no notice? On the contrary, as I have suggested above, the pilots of our storm-tossed denominations have lost no opportunity of lightening ship by jettisoning every point of doctrine that seemed questionable, and therefore unessential; hell has been abolished, and sin very nearly; the Old Testament is never alluded to but with a torrent of disclaimers, and miracle with an apologetic grimace. Preachers of the rival sects have exchanged pulpits; "joint services" have been held on occasions of public importance; even the inauguration of a new Anglican cathedral cannot take place nowadays without a fraternisation of the Christianities. In hundreds of churches and chapels everything has been done that could be done to meet this modern latitudinarian demand. And the result?

 The result is that as long as a man is a good preacher, a good organiser, or an arresting personality, he can always achieve a certain local following; and among this local following a reputation for broad-mindedness stands him in good stead. But the ordinary man who does not go to church is quite unaffected by the process. He thinks no better of Christianity for its efforts to be undogmatic. It is not that he makes any articulate reply to these overtures; he simply ignores them. Nothing, I believe, has contributed more powerfully to the recent successes of the "Anglo-Catholic" movement than the conviction, gradually borne in upon the clergy, that the latitudinarian appeal, as a matter of experience, does not attract. Dogmas may fly out at the window but congregations do not come in at the door.
-Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics
(H/T Nicole DeMille)