The Canadian Red Ensign
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Religion and Politics
Worship on Earth as it is Where?
The Church is the society of faith that Jesus Christ founded through His Apostles on the first Whitsunday (the Christian Pentecost, the successor to Succoth the Jewish Pentecost) when in accordance with His promise given on the eve of the events through which He established the New Covenant that would become the basis of that society, the Father sent down the Holy Ghost upon His disciples, uniting them into one body, with Christ as the head. Into this one organic body, was joined the Old Testament Church, the Congregation of the Lord within national Israel, whose faith looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ and who were taken by Him, from Hades, the Kingdom of Death, in His Triumphant descent there after His Crucifixion, and brought by Him into Heaven when He ascended back there after His Resurrection. The Church does many things when she meets as a community but first and foremost among them she worships her God. In this, the Church on earth, or the Church Militant as she is called, unites with the Church in Heaven, also known as the Church Triumphant.
Throughout her history those who have led, organized, and structured her corporate worship have been guided by the principle that our worship on Earth should resemble than in Heaven. It is a Scriptural principle. The Book of Hebrews discusses at length how the elaborate religious system given to national Israel in the Mosaic Covenant was patterned on Heavenly worship, the Earthly Tabernacle (the tent that was the antecedent of the Temple in the days when Israel was wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land), for example, was patterned on the Heavenly Tabernacle. Indeed, Hebrews uses language strongly suggestive of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to describe the relationship between the Earthly Tabernacle and the Heavenly Tabernacle. Since Hebrews also uses this kind of language to describe the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New the only reasonable conclusion is that if the worship of the Old Testament Church was to be patterned after worship in Heaven, how much more ought the worship of the New Testament Church to be patterned after the same. Now the Bible gives us a few glimpses of worship in Heaven. These are generally found in visions in the prophetic and apocalyptic literature. The sixth chapter of Isaiah is the classic Old Testament example. The vision of St. John in the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation is the classic New Testament example. In these chapters we find a lot of praying, a lot of singing, a lot of incense, an altar and a lot of kneeling. The Scriptural depiction of worship, in other words, is quite “High Church”. Indeed, since the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, in His role of High Priest, entered the Heavenly Holy of Holies with His blood, which unlike that of the Old Testament bulls and goats effectively purges of sin and the New Testament elsewhere tells us that Jesus on the eve of His Crucifixion commissioned the Lord’s Supper to be celebrated in His Church until His Second Coming, which was practiced daily in the first Church in Jerusalem and which is Sacramentally united with Jesus’ offering of Himself, the way the pre-Reformation Churches – not just the Roman, but the Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Assyrian and other ancient Churches as well – made this the central focus of their corporate worship is also very Scriptural.
In the Reformation, Rome’s abuses with regards to the Sacrament and her neglect of the preaching ministry, led many of the Reformers to de-emphasize the Sacrament and make the sermon the central focus of their corporate worship. The more extreme wing of the Reformation confused the New Testament ideas of a preaching ministry in the Church, which is a didactic ministry, teaching the faithful, with that of evangelistic preaching, which is the Church’s external ministry of proclaiming the Gospel to the world, and worse, developed unhealthy ideas about the preaching ministry, such as that the Word is inert and lifeless unless it is explained in a sermon, which are susceptible to the same charges of idolatry that the Reformers themselves made against Rome’s late Medieval views of the Sacrament. More to my point, however, the glimpses the Scriptures provide us of worship in Heaven do not mention a Heavenly pulpit, and, indeed, the closest thing to a sermon in Heaven I can think of in the Bible, is the reference to the everlasting Gospel in Revelation 14:6. The same verse, however, specifies that while the angel carrying it is flying in the midst of Heaven, it is to be preached “unto them that dwell on the earth”. Curiously, the Bible does make mention of a sermon that was preached to an otherworldly congregation. St. Peter, in the nineteenth verse of the third chapter of his first Catholic Epistle, talks about how Jesus “went and preached unto the spirits in prison”. There is, of course, a lot of debate about what St. Peter meant by this. Did he mean that Jesus preached the liberty He had just purchased them to the Old Testament saints when He descended into Hades? Or that He preached to those who would be left in the Kingdom of Death when He took His saints with Him to Heaven? If the latter, as the verses following might suggest, to what end? We cannot answer these questions dogmatically, interesting though the long-standing discussion of them be. My point, with regards to sermon-centric worship, is best expressed in another question. Whoever thought that worship on Earth as it is in Hell was a good idea?
I prefer the term Tory to the term conservative as a description of my political views, even if that always requires an explanation that I do not mean “big-C party Conservative” by the term, but Tory as Dr. Johnson defined it in his Dictionary, a pre-Burke conservative if you will. Today, the word conservative in its small-c sense, is mostly understood in its American sense, which is basically the older, nineteenth-century kind of liberal. I don’t disassociate myself from this out of a preference for the newer, twentieth and twenty-first century types of liberalism over the older. Quite the contrary, the older type of liberalism is far to be preferred over the newer. I disassociate myself from it because the older type of conservatism, the British Toryism in which Canada’s original conservatism has its roots, is to be preferred over either type of liberalism.
Some explain the difference between a Tory and an American type conservative by saying that the Tory has a high view of the state, the American conservative a low view of the state. While this is not entirely wrong – Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary mentioned earlier defines a Tory as “One who adheres to the antient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of England, opposed to a whig” – it can be very misleading, because “the state” has several different connotations.
The basic error of liberalism – classical liberalism – pertains to human freedom. Classical liberalism was the theory that man’s natural condition is to be an individual, autonomous with no social connections to others, that this natural condition is what it means to be free, that society and the state were organized by individuals on a voluntary contractual basis in order to mutually protect their individual freedom, and that when society and the state fail to do this individuals have the right and responsibility to replace them with ones that do. Liberalism was wrong about each and every one of these points, failing to see that man’s natural is social not individual – an individual outside of society is not a human being in his natural condition – that society and the state are extensions of the family, the basic natural social unit, rather than extensions of the marketplace based on the model of a commercial enterprise, and that attempts to replace old states and societies with new ones, almost always result in tyranny rather than greater freedom.
Nor did the liberals understand how their view of things depersonalizes people. “The individual” is not Bob or Joe or Mary or Sam or Sally or Anne or Herschel or Marcus or George or Bill or Leroy or Susie, each a person on his own earthly pilgrimage, distinct but not disconnected from others, but a faceless, nameless, carbon copy of everyone else, identifiable only by the rights and freedoms that he shares equally with each other individual, in other words, a number. When our primary term for speaking about government is the abstract notion of “the state” this tends to depersonalize government in the same way liberal autonomous individualism depersonalizes people. In twentieth century liberalism, which envisioned a larger role for government than the earlier classical liberalism, and in that offshoot of liberalism that has gone by the name “the Left” or “progressivism”, “the state” is very impersonal, a faceless bureaucracy which views those it governs as numbers rather than people, a collective but a collective of autonomous individuals rather than an organic society/community. I would say that the traditional Tory view of “the state” in this sense of the word is even lower than that of an American style, classical liberal, neoconservative.
What the Tory does have a high view of is government in the sense of traditional, time-proven, concrete governing institutions, particularly the monarchy and Parliament. Note that Dr. Johnson spoke not of “One who adheres to the state” but “One who adheres to the antient constitution of the state”. What monarchy and Parliament, which complement each other, have in common, is that they are both very personal ways of thinking about government. The king reigns as father/patriarch over his kingdom(s), an extension of his family, as his governing office is an extension of the family as the model of society and state. Parliament is the where the representatives of the governed meet to have their say in the laws under which they live and how their taxes are spent. The conversation between these two personal governing institutions has contributed greatly to the most worthy accomplishments of our civilization, and both have long proven their worth, so it is of these that I prefer to say that I as a Tory have a high view, rather than the impersonal state. I have a higher view of the monarchy than of Parliament, and not merely because those who currently occupy the seats of Parliament leave much to be desired, but for the very Tory reason that if the Church should be worshipping on Earth as in Heaven, government ought to be modelled after the Heavenly pattern as well. God is the King of Kings, and governs the universe without the aid of elected representatives. Monarchy is the essential form of government. Parliament accommodates the model to our human condition.
Capitalism or Socialism?
There is a popular notion that unless one has no opinion on economics at all one must be either a capitalist or a socialist. Those who have studied economic theory will point out that that this is a little like the dilemma posed in the question “Did you walk to work or take a bagged lunch?” – a capitalist, in the terms of economic theory, is someone who owns and lives off of capital, whereas a socialist is someone who believes in the idea of socialism. Since, however, for most people, the term capitalist now means “someone who believes in capitalism” we will move on. A more nuanced version of the popular nation postulates a spectrum with capitalism, in the sense of pure laissez-faire with no government involvement in the market whatsoever as the right pole, and pure socialism, where the government not only controls but owns everything, as the left pole, with most people falling somewhere between and being identified as capitalists or socialists depending upon the pole to which they are the closest. The terms “left” and “right” in popular North American usage have been strongly shaped by this concept even though their original usage in Europe was quite different – the “left” were the supporters of the French Revolution, which, although it was the template of all subsequent Communist revolutions, was not a socialist undertaking per se, and the “right” were the Roman Catholic royalists, the continental equivalent of the English Tories. To complicate matters there is the expression “far right” which is usually used to suggest the idea of Nazism, which makes no sense with either the old continental European or the new North American usage, although the less commonly used “far left” for Communists makes sense with both.
The conservatives who think civilization began with the dawn of Modern liberalism and have little interest in conserving anything other than classical liberalism tend to accept this idea of a socialist-capitalist, left-right, economic spectrum and to identify as capitalists. This makes sense because it is liberalism they are trying to conserve and the Adam Smith-David Ricardo-Frédéric Bastiat theory of laissez-faire that we commonly identify as capitalism is more properly called economic liberalism.
With us Tories it is a bit more complicated and this has led, in my country, the Dominion of Canada, to the idea held by some that classical conservatives or Tories, unlike American neoconservatives, are closer to socialism than to capitalism. To come to this conclusion, however, one must accept the American notion of a socialist-capitalist economic spectrum and the idea contained within it that any move away from laissez-faire is a move in the direction of socialism. That idea is nonsense and does tremendous violence to the historical meaning of the word socialism. Historically, several different socialist movements, popped up at about the same time. What they all had in common was a) the idea that the private ownership of property, meaning capital, any form of wealth that generates an income for its owner by producing something that can be sold in the market is the source of all social evils because it divides society into classes, some of which own property, others of which must sell their labour to the propertied classes in order to make a living, and b) the idea that the remedy is some sort of collective ownership of property. In the Marxist version of socialism, this collective ownership was conceived of as by the state, after it had been seized in violent revolution by the proletariat (factory workers). In other versions of socialism, such as that of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the state was viewed as unnecessary – Proudhon, as well as being a socialist, was the first anarchist – and collective ownership was conceived of more in terms of workers’ co-operatives. Socialism, in both its diagnosis of the cause of social ills and in its proposed remedy, is fundamentally at odds with orthodox Christianity, which tells us that sin, the condition of the human heart as the result of the Fall of Man is the cause of social ills, and that the only remedy for sin is the grace of God, obtained for mankind by Jesus Christ through His Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, and brought to mankind by His Church in its two-fold Gospel Ministry of Word and Sacrament. From the perspective of orthodox Christianity, socialism, therefore, is an attempt to bypass the Cross and to regain Paradise through human political and social endeavours. Even worse than that it is Envy, the second worst of the Seven Deadly Sins, made to wear the mask of Charity, the highest of the Theological Virtues, and institutionalized. It is therefore utterly condemned by orthodox Christianity and Toryism, the political expression of orthodox Christianity, in its rejection of laissez-faire liberalism does not step in the direction of socialism. Even when Toryism supports state social programs for the relief of poverty, unemployment, and the like, as it did under Disraeli in the United Kingdom in the Victorian era and as it historically did in Canada, it was not for socialist reasons, not because it believed that inequality was the cause of all social ills and wealth redistribution society’s panacea, but for counter-socialism reasons, because it did not want poverty, unemployment, etc. to because the opportunity for recruitment to the cause of socialism which it correctly saw as a destructive force that unchained leads to greater misery, especially for those whom it claims to want to help.
The main way in which Toryism has historically envisioned a larger economic role for government than laissez-faire liberalism has been that the Tory recognizes the genuine economic interests of the entire realm, such as the need for domestic production of essential goods so as to not be dependent upon external supplies that may be cut off in an emergency, along with the economic interests of local communities, families, and individuals. Adam Smith argued that individuals are the most competent people to look out for their own economic interests rather than governments, especially distant ones, and Toryism doesn’t dispute this as a general principle – obviously there are exceptions. Rather it agrees with this principle and adds that families are the most competent at looking out for their interests as families, and communities for their interests at communities – this is what the idea of subsidiarity, rooted in Christian social theory, is all about. Toryism doesn’t accept Smith’s claim that individuals looking out for their own interests will automatically result in these other interests taking care of themselves, much less those of the entire realm. The government, although incompetent at making economic decisions for individuals qua individuals, or families qua families, communities qua communities, for that matter, is generally as an institution, the best suited for making economic decisions for the realm.
This is compromised, of course, if the person selected to lead His Majesty’s government as Prime Minister is an incompetent dolt, imbecile, and moron. The government of Sir John A. Macdonald, protecting fledgling Canadian industries with tariffs while investing heavily in the production of the railroad that would facilitate east-west commerce, uniting Canada and preventing her from being swallowed up piecemeal by her neighbor to the south is an example of government making the best sort of economic decisions for the realm. Unfortunately, His Majesty’s government is currently led by the classic example of the other kind of Prime Minister.
Which Branch of the Modern Tree?
Not so long ago, when the fashionable, progressive, forward-thinking, and up-to-date began to tell us that boys or men who thought they were girls or women and girls or women who thought they were boys or men should be treated as if they were what they thought and said they were instead of what they actually were in reality, rather than indulge this nonsense we ought instead to have treated those making this absurd suggestion the way we had hitherto treated those who thought they were something other than what they were, that is to say, called those fellows in the white uniforms with the butterfly nets to come and take them away that they might have a nice long rest in a place where they would be no harm to themselves or others. Instead we left them among the general populace where they proceeded to wreak maximum harm.
It had seemed, at one time, that this madness had peaked when people started introducing themselves by their “preferred pronouns” rather than their names but, as is usual when one makes the mistake of thinking things can’t get any worse, they did. The past few years have seen a major backlash finally starting to take shape against the aggressive promotion of this gender craziness in the schools, and no, I don’t mean the post-secondary institutions that have long been home to every wacky fad under the sun, I am talking about elementary schools. It seems that teachers, with the backing of school board administrators, have taken to treating every instance in which a boy says that he is a girl, or a girl says that she is a boy, as a serious case of gender dysphoria rather than the passing phase it would otherwise be in most cases and responded with “gender affirmation” which is a euphemism for indulging and encouraging gender confusion – and forcing everyone else in the classroom to go along with it. To top it off, they have been keeping all of this secret from the parents.
The state of California in the United States has just taken this to the next level, as a bill has passed in its legislative assembly that would essentially make “gender affirmation” a requirement for parents to retain custody of their children. It is worth bringing up at this point that there is a very similar and closely related euphemism to “gender affirmation” and that is “gender affirming care”, which refers to using hormones and surgery to make someone who thinks they are of the other sex physically resemble that sex. The same lunatics that I have been talking about, think it appropriate to offer this “care” to prepubescent children. In every single instance where this is done – every single instance – it is a case of child abuse. Period!
It is this aggressive war on the sexual innocence of childhood and the rights and authority of parents that has sparked the backlash on the part of parents who have had enough and are fighting back. Some jurisdictions, like the state of Florida in the United States, and the provinces of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan here in Canada, have responded by requiring schools to notify parents when this sort of thing is going on. The government in my own province of Manitoba has promised to do this if they are re-elected next month. That, I would say, is the very least they ought to do. I think that teachers that twist the minds of young kids in this way ought to be severely punished – a case can be made for bringing back the stocks and/or public flogging to do this.
The progressives, including both Captain Airhead, Prime Minister of Canada, and J. Brandon Magoo, President of the United States, have denounced the policy of informing parents as if it were placing kids in mortal danger. Progressive spin-doctors have even coined a new expression “forced outing” with which to vilify the sensible idea that teachers should not be allowed to continue to get away with this ultra-creepy business of sexualizing little kids and encouraging them to keep it a secret from their parents.
Those whose conservatism seeks primarily or solely to conserve the older stage of the Modern liberal tradition tend to view this sort of progressive cultural extremism as a form of Marxism or Communism. There is truth in this perspective in that sort of thinking among progressives in academe that leads them to embrace such nonsense can be traced back to academic Marxism’s post-World War I reinvention of itself along cultural rather than economic lines, albeit through the detour of a few prominent post-World War II thinkers who were heirs of Marx only in the sense of following in his footsteps as intellectual revolutionaries rather than that of having derived their ideas from his in any substantial way. The phenomenon itself – the idea that one has the right to self-identify as a “gender” other than one’s biological sex, to expect or even demand that others acknowledge this self-identification and affirm it to be true, and even to force reality itself in the form of one’s biological sex to bend to this self-identification – does not come from Marx, and those countries that had the misfortune of having been taken over by regimes dedicated to his evil ideas seem to have been partly compensated for this by being inoculated against this sort of thing. This is the autonomous individual of Locke, Mill, and the other classical liberals taken to the nth degree and it is the countries where liberalism has had the most influence that have proven the most vulnerable to this gender insanity. — Gerry T. Neal