Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Christianity

There’s little question that Christianity is a religion in retreat. Even in the United States practising Christians are today a minority, and a steadily dwindling minority.

While I am not myself a Christian I feel that the decline of Christianity is, on balance, a bad thing.

But how did it happen? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because something has happened it must have been inevitable. I don’t buy that. There is no particular reason why religion cannot survive and even thrive in a modern society. As recently as thirty years ago Christianity was still in a fairly healthy state, in terms of numbers at least, in the US.

I do not think Christianity has died a natural death, nor do I think it has been murdered. I do not believe that the vicious attacks of bigoted atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins could ever have done any serious harm to Christianity. I think Christianity has to a large extent committed suicide.

There has always been a potential weakness in Christianity. The emphasis on turning the other cheek has always carried with it the danger that Christianity could become an excessively passive religion. Combined with an excessive zeal for the weak and downtrodden it could, to put it crudely, become a religion for losers. Until fairly recent times this danger has been kept in check.

Compassion has been a strength for Christianity but it is important to understand that there  are different types of compassion. One type of compassion can lift people up while the other kind can keep people in misery. Compassion can lead us to show people how they can turn their lives around, or it can encourage them to continue in the behaviours that got them into trouble in the first place. Compassion for sinners is fine but it’s supposed to go hand in glove with encouragement to change their ways. Jesus didn’t tell the woman taken in adultery to go on merrily committing adultery - he told her to “go, and sin no more.”

In the past century Christianity has tended more and more to favour the negative kind of compassion.

And while it’s all well and good to reach out to those in need it would be nice if occasionally Christian churches reached out to those people who are doing the right thing, who are making a success of their lives and are living by their faith. It would also be nice if the churches occasionally reached out to white people, other than homosexuals, drug users and criminals.

The strength of Islam is that it rewards those who play by the rules and live according to their faith, whereas those who live by Christian principles have been increasingly marginalised by modern Christianity. Not surprisingly Islam thrives today while Christianity is a dying religion.

There’s also little doubt that the Anglican and Catholic churches have been to a disturbing extent infiltrated by homosexuals. As Christianity has seemed to have less and less to offer to healthy heterosexual men the ranks of the priesthood were increasingly filled with homosexuals and assorted sexual misfits, with tragic but predictable results.

It was not always this way. In the 19th century, the era of so-called “muscular Christianity,” healthy heterosexual men were highly likely to be devout Christians.

The Anglican and Catholic churches in particular have been feminised to a degree that leaves them with little appeal for heterosexual men.

Christianity has become wishy-washy mealy-mouthed do-gooder socialism with a very thin spiritual veneer. Sometimes without even the spiritual veneer. As such it has no future. Time is running out for the churches to change direction and to make Christianity once again a religion that appeals to decent ordinary people.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the politics of self-disgust

An interesting comment to an interesting post at Vanishing American.

The commenter mentions that Gertrude Stein was quoted as saying, about 75 years ago, by Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast: "The main thing is that the act male homosexuals commit is ugly and repugnant and afterwards they are disgusted with themselves. They drink and take drugs, to palliate this, but they are disgusted with the act and they are always changing partners and cannot be really happy.”

I think this self-disgust explains much of the anger and defensiveness of the militant gay lobby. They demand acceptance from others for the simple reason that they cannot accept  themselves.

It also explains why, no matter how much tolerance and acceptance they gain, they remain  miserable and self-loathing. Their lifestyle will always be unhealthy.

And it also helps to explain the shrillness with which politically correct heterosexuals support the LGBT lobby. Most of us, if we were honest, would have to admit to being disgusted by the thought of sodomy. If you're fanatically politically correct the only way to deal with this is to over-compensate, to become pro-homosexual to an extreme degree. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

keeping one's sanity as a conservative

Being a conservative in today’s world can be at times a very stressful and draining, not to say depressing, experience. The greatest danger is burn-out. One has to find ways to stay sane without compromising one’s beliefs.

I find that the best way to do this is to have other, essentially non-political, interests.

In my case there are three main interests that help to keep me sane and help  to keep me going. They are my interests in old movies, in the genre literature of the past, and the art of the 19th century.

The one thing that all these interests have in common is that they are focused on the past. Deliberately so. I consciously avoid having anything to do with either the pop culture or the high culture of today. That’s another of my strategies for staying sane. Modern culture is so deeply permeated with political correctness that it’s simply not worth bothering with. And since there are so many wonderful movies from the past, so many terrific books from the past, and so much great art from the past that I need never worry that I’m missing out.

My interest in old movies is more or less self-explanatory. My interest in the fiction of the past focuses mainly on genre fiction, everything from detective stories to spy stories, science fiction and horror. I have an especial enthusiasm for pulp fiction from the 1920s and 1930s and for novels and stories of adventure and of the supernatural from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As far as art is concerned I confine myself to pre-modernist art. I’m particularly find of Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist art, and the much despised academic art of the 19th century. It’s despised by the politically motivated drones of the modern art establishment although it’s slowly but surely gaining more and more of a  following among people who believe that art can concern itself with truth and beauty. In other words it’s popular with people who actually love art rather than those who see art as political propaganda.

I blog about all these things. If I confined myself to political blogging then there’s a danger that blogging would become something of an ordeal, that it would be something that was always emotionally draining. Blogging about other things means that blogging remains fun.

On my non-political blogs I mostly avoid overt political content although I do slip in political points from time to time.

For those who might be interested my old movies blog is Classic Movie Ramblings, my book blog is Vintage Pop Fictions and my art blog is Strange Tears.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

death of a terrorist

While world leaders seek to outdo each other in expressing admiration for Nelson Mandela it’s worth asking the question - what kind of legacy has he really left?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described the African National Congress government in South Africa as being "worse than the apartheid government."
The African National Congress were of course Marxist terrorists and they have not changed. Margaret Thatcher expressed the view that anyone who thought the ANC could govern South Africa was "living in cloud-cuckoo land.” As usual she was right. It is depressing that no conservative leader of today would have the courage to express such a view.

The ANC were terrorists, albeit incompetent ones. Mandela was a terrorist and a doctrinaire Marxist. He has left a legacy of hatred and violence. He was not a great man. He was not even a flawed great man. He was simply a terrorist.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

US foreign policy disasters - a great tradition

The Democrat-controlled Congress’s betrayal of South Vietnam, mentioned in my previous post, was of course only the latest in a long line of US foreign policy disasters. Curiously enough these disasters always seemed to occur when the Democrats controlled the White House, or at least the Congress.

The first and most spectacular of these catastrophes took place at Yalta in February 1945. The Second World War had been fought over the issue of the invasion of Poland by a brutal totalitarian dictatorship so naturally Roosevelt thought it would be a fabulous idea to had Poland over to a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. The rest of eastern Europe would soon follow.

Roosevelt’s Democrat successor Harry Truman continued the good work by handing China over to the Communists.

Truman did his best to lose South Korea as well, removing Douglas MacArthur from command when it became frighteningly apparent that MacArthur might actually win the war.

Jimmy Carter was to prove himself as a fine example of the grand tradition of Democrat Presidents. Iran had a strong stable pro-western government. Obviously that situation could not be allowed to continue. Thanks to Carter Iran got a new government. A fanatically anti-western government of mad mullahs. Most of the US’s subsequent problems in the Middle East can be laid at the door of Jimmy Carter. The fact that the word now faces the threat of a nuclear Iran controlled by mad mullahs is not the least of Carter’s legacies. Harry Truman would have been proud of him.

John F. Kennedy was something of an aberration, being a Democrat president who was actually a sincere anti-communist. Unfortunately he was also a weak president and allowed the opportunity of ridding the world of Fidel Castro to slip through his fingers by failing to provide air support to the Cuban rebels in the Bay of Pigs invasion attempt. Kennedy’s weakness would provide a major encouragement to the expansionist aims of the Soviet Union.

In fact it’s difficult to to see how communism could have achieved the success it did achieve from the 1940s to the 1970s without the assistance of the Democrats.

That would of course all change once Ronald Reagan, the only conservative president in living memory, came to power.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Better War - US success and failure in Vietnam

Most books on the Vietnam War concentrate on the early years of United States involvement in the conflict. They see the Tet Offensive in 1968 as the climax of the war and take little interest in subsequent events. As Lewis Sorley points out in his 1999 book  A Better War: the Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam such a focus is dangerously misleading. It concentrates attention on the largely unsuccessful early years of 1965 to 1968 whilst ignoring the extraordinary successes of the period from 1969 to 1972.

The US commander in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968 was General William C. Westmoreland. Westmoreland believed the key to victory was to use the superior mobility and firepower of US forces to win a war of attrition. His aim was to inflict losses on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese at a rate that would be unsustainable for the communists. Unfortunately he failed to take into account the total indifference of the communist leadership to losses, and the fact that the communists maintained discipline in their forces through a mixture of fear and relentless indoctrination. They would keep fighting regardless of losses because they had no choice. The war could not be won by attrition but Westmoreland was unwilling to accept this and change his strategy. Westmoreland continued to put his faith in large-scale search and destroy operations that failed to pay dividends commensurate with their costs.

General Creighton Abrams had been slated to take over the command in Vietnam in 1967 but President Johnson had painted himself into a political corner and felt he had to leave Westmoreland in command for another year. This was to be a costly mistake.

Abrams knew how the war should be fought and he knew how it could be won. Unfortunately by the time he took over the command in June 1968 the political climate was changing. Abrams would be forced to conduct the war with ever-diminishing numbers of US troops and ever-diminishing resources. In spite of this Abrams achieved extraordinary successes. Abrams felt the key to victory was to deny the villages of South Vietnam to the communists. Such popular support as the communists enjoyed in the South was entirely due to fear and intimidation. Without access to the villages that popular support dried up completely.

By 1969 the Viet Cong was effectively destroyed. The war would from this point on be largely a conventional war against the North Vietnamese invaders.

Once Nixon came to power Abrams found himself having to implement the policy of Vietnamization. The South Vietnamese would gradually have to take over the ground war, supported by US airpower. This was a policy that Abrams was in complete agreement with. He knew that the only long-term hope for South Vietnam was for their military to be strengthened and improved to the point where US ground forces would not be needed. The policy succeeded beyond Abrams’ expectations. By 1972 the South Vietnamese army was strong enough to smash the North’s biggest offensive to date.

By 1972 the war was in fact won. South Vietnam was prosperous and largely peaceful. The South Vietnamese army was tough and efficient. The Thieu regime was popular. There was no longer any need whatsoever for US ground forces. All that was needed was the political will in Washington to continue to give South Vietnam two things - sufficient financial support to maintain their armed forces, and the promise of US airpower if North Vietnam violated the terms of the cease-fire.

Tragically that political will was not there. Had Nixon remained in power things may have been different. As it turned out the US Congress achieved what the communists could never have achieved on their own - the destruction  of South Vietnam. Estimates of the number of people subsequently killed by the victorious communists range from 400,000 to 2.5 million. Every single one of those deaths can be laid at the door of the US Congress (and the anti-war activists who helped to create the political climate of cowardice and treachery. It was one of the great betrayals of history, and one of the mist shameful moments in US history. 58,000 American servicemen lost their lives to win a victory that was simply thrown away.

The British counter-insurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson (who spent a good deal of time in Vietnam and who greatly admired Abrams’ achievements) remarked, “perhaps the major lesson of the Vietnam war is: do not rely on the United States as an ally.”

Lewis Sorley’s superb book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand one of the greatest tragedies of US foreign policy in the nation’s history.