Tuesday, April 03, 2007

“A Slow Bleed”

Lower and middle class Americans have always seemed so naïve to nuanced European sophisticates. Those church-going, bible-spouting, conservative hayseeds - what could they possibly have to say that anyone beyond the borders of the US would want to hear?

Yet now cultured and refined Europe sees its fragile worldly wisdom beginning to fracture as the cherished truisms of statist economics and devout scientism hit the stone floors of reality.

Take the headline in Pajamas Media yesterday, “Slow Bleed.” It links to a New York Times article about the stormy transition of a Methodist church in Lancaster into a mosque (a smug essay on the travails of England which was probably written by an American journalist who wouldn't be caught dead in church herself).

Wait! It’s not what you think. For more than thirty years before this church became a mosque, it had been turned into a factory making scarves for export to the Middle East. There simply weren’t enough Methodist church-going citizens in Clitheroe to keep Mt. Zion open. [Methodists have declined into marginal numbers in Britain: about 500,000 the last time they counted themselves. The number has probably decreased even further by now.]

Only five percent of England walks through the front door of any church on a Sunday morning. Ninety-five percent do something else, including sleeping it off, reading the Sunday papers, or using their time for sports or gardening or any other more meaningful pastime than the pointless boredom of church services.

But that indifference doesn’t mean they welcome the frequent mosque-going habits of their moderate Muslim neighbors. “Not in my backyard” is the rallying cry when it comes to Allah’s crowd.

Nor do their Muslim neighbors much respect the habits of a goodly number of the natives, what with their teenaged mothers, absent fathers, and savage Saturday nights (now there's a ritual practiced religiously by its followers). In other words, life as lived by the members of the underclass. This creature is one of the progeny — another unintend consequence — fashioned from economic entitlement nightmares which include the dole. A part of the parasitic life-style of living off the earnings of others seems to be a hypersensitivity to having their indolence pointed out. That happens in America, too.

Meanwhile, the small minority of Muslims in Clitheroe - some three hundred people, many of them professionals born in Britain - are determined to have a house of worship.

The leader of the movement for a mosque has simply taken up the cause of his father before him:

- - - - - - - - - -
“We’ve been trying to get a place of worship for 30 years,” said Sheraz Arshad, 31, the Muslim leader here, his voice rattling around the empty old Mount Zion Methodist Church that will house his mosque. “It’s fitting it is a church: it is visually symbolic, the coming together of religions.”

Fitting? Perhaps. But I wonder how long it will be before the cross, high atop the church, comes down? Religions “come together” in a limited way, especially when one of them is Islam. Just ask the dwindling numbers of Christians in the Middle East - who “dwindled” not through indifference but because of active persecution.

With a population of 14,500, a Norman castle and an Anglican church established in 1122, Clitheroe is tucked away in Lancashire County [sic] in the north. People here liked to think they represented a last barrier to the mosques that had become features in surrounding industrial towns. But Clitheroe had not bargained on the determination of Mr. Arshad, a project manager at British Aerospace.

The city fathers like Mr. Arshad. Born and bred in Clitheroe, he is one of its citizens. And since the formerly Mt. Zion Methodist Church was no longer making scarves, and was already zoned for a church, why not give the petitioners what they wanted? After all, they have been exemplary citizens:

Mr. Arshad decided to get organized and demonstrate that he was a moderate Muslim who could take part in all the town’s affairs.

He formed an interfaith scout group — Beaver Scouts — that honored many religious occasions, including the Taoist and Jewish new years. He established the Medina Islamic Education Center as an interfaith group for adults, and persuaded the local council to allow the group to lead a key committee. He organized a series of lectures on global conflict that attracted important academics.

Meanwhile, in a musty afterthought, Clitheroe’s Christian remnant reconciles itself to its own decline and death:

At St. Mary Magdalene Church, where the first stone was laid in the 12th century, the congregation has dropped to about 90 people on Sunday, and the average age of congregants is 75, said the Anglican vicar, Philip Dearden. Christenings are now rare, and he has only seven weddings booked for the year.

“Lancashire is the last place to see secularization in Britain,” Mr. Dearden, 64, said. “We’re seeing it now quite drastically. People don’t have a conscience about religion; they don’t come anymore.”

Leaving aside the questionable theology of people "having a conscience about religion" (I'd flee from such a proposition myself), it is interesting to ponder that first stone, laid in the Middle Ages. This was long before the bloody sectarian wars which would sunder the fabric of English faith. It took nine centuries for Mary Magdalene’s to find itself on life support, and England to find itself with neither faith nor reason sufficient to maintain a robust identity when faced on its own soil with the fact of so many - so very many - former colonials bound to have their day in the sun.

Remember that sun? The one which never set on the British Empire? It is sinking now, even as the Sun of Allah rises on its green swards. Hearing British citizens speak about this, one feels the bitterness. Yes, it is galling, this recognition that religious faith, once tossed away in the name of the higher gods of science and rationality, cannot be reclaimed. Or, as One Cosmos so bluntly describes the situation, what results is…

…the kind of spiritual nihilism we see in a supine UK that cannot rouse itself in the face of absolutist Islamic barbarians who mock the hyper-sophisticated moral paralysis of the neutered Eunuchs even as they use them for their own ends.

Meanwhile, in America, firmly Judaeo-Christian despite the determined incursions of enemies like the ACLU and CAIR, or the publication by ignorant academics of indignant and poorly written screeds on the death of faith, the hayseeds continue to throng their churches on a Sunday morning. Insulaar and clueless, academia has been churning out those books breathlessly proclaiming the latest God obituary for three generations now and yet church pews continue to fill, new congregations and splinter denominations continue to form.

Of course our agnostics and atheists have always been with us, and some of them are quite orthodox and earnest in their beliefs. They found their own anti-churches and preach sermons about the evils of religion. Our atheists are firm believers and staunch supporters of their own cult, code and creed. As Chesterton said, “if there were no God, there would be no atheists.”

Meanwhile, in those places not inhabited by Muslims in Europe, the dust of spiritual indifference settles like a pall. Nature - including spiritual nature - abhors a vacuum. Islam is simply filling the vast empty space created by the demise of scientistic belief as a systematic faith.

C. S. Lewis, anyone?

19 comments:

Concerned Citizen said...

I have selected The Gates of Vienna as one of the sites that I awarded my Thinking Blogger Award. A site well deserving of it in my opinion.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

This is just appalling...

As someone descended from numerous lines of Brits, et al, I am horrified that yet another church is being overtaken by Islam.

My (geneological) question: What are they planning to do to the graves within & around the church AFTER they remove the cross???

Nick said...

Dymphna,

Utter bilge.

I (a)know Clitheroe quite well and (b) I am a (former) scientist.

What precisely are you suggesting? That we ought to abandon science, math and rationality and go back to the old ways of blind faith? Isn't that what the muslims are guilty of?

"Science & Rationality" are not "Gods" and agnostics like me don't worship them. They are tools for finding stuff out.

We are not gonna win this one by fighting a battle of tradition. We have to fight this one on secular grounds because it's only on secular grounds that I can happily go on ignoring the idea of God and you can worship him/her/it in whatever way you desire.

It is posts like this that alienate the potentially huge groundswell of opinion contra-Islam that exists within secularists like myself.

Has it not occurred that the vast majority of (overwhelmingly) secular Europeans haven't awoken to the perils of Islamization because it has not yet directly affected them? As it gets worse it surely will.

It is a proven, demonstrable fact that a wide variety (though not all) of religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) can co-exist. Don't piss off your allies so lightly.

You might need us.

We may even need you.


PS. I was appalled to hear about your son and I wish him a speedy recovery. I got some cracked ribs and my wife got a broken nose from a mob of kids a few years back. I can imagine how utterly upset he is that he wasn't in a position to fight back. Neither was I and that, of course, is why they attacked us at that time and place.

Shahar said...

As a scientist, I find the following insulting:

"Yet now cultured and refined Europe sees its fragile worldly wisdom beginning to fracture as the cherished truisms of statist economics and devout scientism hit the stone floors of reality."

There was no devout scientism.
There was wishful thinking.
As bruce bawer notes in his blog (I think), one article compared his book "while europe slept" to a questionnaire sent to muslims, and concluded that the questionnaire must be more accurate than the facts on the ground -> pure "science".

In science, it is very easy to fool yourself, especially if you come with a theory in advance.

for example: poverty causes terror.
Was it ever under scientific scrutiny? Did any scientist record the amount of africans who die of real starvation that want to go blow themselves in the middle of London?
Yet you hear this daily from everyone, to the point where a self repeating lie becomes another "truth".

It always makes me mad when socialists say "let's look at the facts at an unbiased way" and then ignore facts that do not fit with their analysis.

Nick said...

shahar,

Issues like "poverty" or "terrorism" are never suitable for scientific study.

Oh, and you always have to come to the party in science with a theory. Without outlining a theoretical structure you've got no way of testing it. You don't even have a system within which to test it.

Let's assume I came up with a really neat idea for a high-temp superconductor. Well, it's gonna have to be tested? That testing pre-supposes amongst other things Ohm's Law...

You do the math.

Shahar said...

True,

you need a theory that has predictions.
But you can't come to it with intent to prove your theory no matter what, as you already know it is true.

the theory of povert resulting in terrorism is testable.
You look at poor groups and chekc if they all produce terrorism in the same scare regardless of factors like religion.

PGP said...

My sense is that the decline in faith is correspondent to the increase in liberal/socialist activism in the churches.

Nobody needs to go to church to be insulted for not caring enough about pet causes of the privileged or to have their traditions tossed out like so much garbage because of the wants of the politically correct.

Yet that is what is happening as the morally self righteous and domineering scolds of the left poison our society from within the rocks of tradition.

Dymphna said...

pgp--

You bring up a point I ought to have covered: the takeover of mainstream denominations by the left. It has caused an implosion and the end result is a mass exodus, though many leave to join other denominations. For example, the Greek Orthodox Church has taken in many new converts.

And Africa will shortly be in command of the episcopacy of the Anglican Church. Probably within the next ten-fifteen years. The CofE will become decidedly more conservative.
___________
shahar--

You are seeing insult where none is intended. Science, by definition, is the use of strict methodology to arrive at a conculsion re a particular hypothesis. Once resolved one way or another, the conclusion often creates a new hypothesis, no?

Scientism, on the other hand, is the belief that science has all the answers, that it can be absolutely objective, and that the results it reaches are superior even in cases where the emphasis ought to be on, say, the ethics involved. Scientism stands apart, reducing itself to the notion that the use of science to solve a problem is always and everywhere appropriate.

A real scientist keeps his humility.

Because of its far reach, science must consult ethics in many cases. And even then, the result can be full of ambiguity.

Science is a sacred precinct.

Scientism is the hubristic push of the scientific method into categorical errors. It demands that sociology and psychology and economics be treated as science. While they can make partial use of the scientific method to test some theories, in the end they are fields based on human behavior and thus remain beyond the reach of pure science.

The human brain is science. The human mind is behavior. Confusing the two leads to scientism and things like lobotomies and sterilization of the unfit.

Science, used the wrong way, has done as much harm as religion used the wrong way.

Meanwhile, I think one of the differences to be considered between America and Europe is the large numbers of citizens in the former who have maintained a robust identity as "Americans" first and foremost. And part of that identity is church attendance. It's hardly an original theory, given that de Tocqueville surmised that this part of the American character was one of its important differences from the character of Europe. America was founded on religious dissidence of various persuasions, thus its looming importance here, and thus the often supercilious approach to naïve Americans. It’s an old argument.

I addressed that one small piece of a much larger issue because the NYT article led naturally to doing so; it featured the sharp cultural change that begins when a formerly Methodist church becomes a mosque.

Meanwhile, does church-going produce --in general -- happier, more generous people? Some social "science" studies seem to suggest this. Science would say there is need for more study. Scientism would say "case closed."

The essay is not meant to be a final answer, just an exploration. I was looking for differences, pointing out the world-weariness of a nation that seems to be sinking of its own sad weight. I was exploring *one* possible reason for that decline. It was not meant to be a book-length treatise.

Notice that my essay ends with a question.
________
Nick--

Unfortunately, an education in science can leave one deficient in the uses of rhetoric. Since what I say is "utter bilge" we'll leave it at that. Your insult trumps my desire to discuss the matter with you.
_________
kafir k --

Your question is perceptive. Since the mosque is now Allah's holy ground, the remains of dead infidels must be removed. We'll have to see what the City fathers have to say about that. It certainly won't happen within the lifetime of anyone there...such a move would have to wait until Mt. Zion's existence as a church faded from all memory. Another factor might be how quickly the number of Muslims increases in Clitheroe, which of course it will. Finally, one must take into account whether or not a *robust* sense of English identity survives the cultural changes that are evolving...

By the way, the Baron has a fascinating program he created that outlined strict parameters for how people choose whom they will live near. You could set the group preferences and let the program run to see what would happen. When he wrote it years ago, we were using a primitive computer and it took the thing all night to run. We'd get up in the morning to see the results and inevitably, like groups "clumped." No matter how low you set their preferences, eventually there came a tipping point and the populations would have separated out almost wholly into their own little enclaves of blue, red, yellow, etc. My intuition told me that we are attracted to similars and will make sacrifices to be among them...but I have only those endless experiments. No solid proof. That doesn't make it any less interesting...or any less provocative.

One idea that those who study human intelligences have suggested is the idea that in order to pursue a particular discipline, one must disable or bracket certain emotional/mental ways of thinking. Scientists, no less than others, have to do this in order to fully immerse themselves in their work. To take another example, soldiers must do the same. It's kind of like choosing an operating system.

And as much as I admire those who choose science as their calling, I do not go to them for advice or information outside their profession -- some questions I have cannot be stated, much less answered, in their operational language.

Profitsbeard said...

As an agnostic (who found the hypocrisy of the big organized faiths a bit absurd and left them) I would rather see a former church, temple, or circle of druid stones razed than allow Islamic imperialism to engulf them and claim them for their own.

The jihadist terrorists, inspired by the pedophile warlord Mohammad, are coming for the secular first.

This is the fatal flaw in all "liberal" "multicultural" wishful thinking from the extreme left in the West: they assume that just because they welcome the invaders (as peaceful ecumenicals / AKA useful idiots) the intolerant theocratic despots will spare them, for some reason.

Having little grasp of real human nature (and not the sanitized fantasies of the ideologically-slanted "sociologists", etc.), and only a simplistical and distorted view of history ("colonialism, bad; poor oppressed people, good"), they fail to examine the behavior of Islam for its 1350 bloody years.

And pay for its resurgence now by having gutted their own civilization of its healthiest insticts for self-defense by vilifiying every achievement of the West to the point that the entire enterprise of Greco-Roman / Judeo-Christian culture seems "hardly worth fighting" to preserve ("it was so racist, and bigoted, and genocidal, in the first place, wasn't it?").

Not recognizing that the lavishly-lamented flaws of our side pale in comparison with the still-unrepented-for depredations of Mohammadism on the march.

If the "religious feeling" in Europe and the West has withered (and it may be more a disillusionment with organizational corruption than a real loss of "faith"), that doesn't mean that the organism's innate sense of self-preservation should go with it.

Mine is as strong as ever.

I'll fight to preserve this lovely world, and need no heaven to back me up.

Islam has utter contempt for this earth, and its 'paradise' is a whorehouse with a permanent open bar.

I'll pit the enlightment of Heraclitus to Voltaire, Praxiteles to Rodin, Anaxagoras to Einstein, Hero of Alexandria to Tesla, aginst the willed nescience of Islam.

And they can have their 72 virgins.

I'll take fresh air and lively music and free art and unchained joy, here, and now.

Their faith offers a cages for the spirit, soul and intellect.

If the West doesn't fathom its own liberty, it will lose it to the stronger will of the more ignorant.

The contest has begun again.

Give me the fluid 'faith' of the Taoist Lao Tzu', in such sayings as: "The emptiness of the vessel is as vital as its walls." over every petrified preachment of death and submission and hatred by Mohammad.

Amen.

Voyager said...

My (geneological) question: What are they planning to do to the graves within & around the church AFTER they remove the cross???

4/03/2007 2:59 PM


I doubt it has a cemetery since most burials as such take place in local authority cemeteries.

In Victorian times they would lift the bodies and reinterr them in a mass grave as our Anglican Cathedral did when the road was widened.

The local supermarket simply had the graveyard walled up and grassed over and happy campers now picnic on the grass which had one large headstone in the centre. People seem to like relaxing in the son on top of graves....

Or you culd consider what Methodists were - especially in areas like Clitheroe, but so few Americans know about John Wesley, Temperance, and the Working Class offshoot from the Church of England. Methodism ws about Social Class - about "Chapel vs Church" and working class communities have died out in many areas.

Methodism was the cornr stone of The Labour Party which eventually switched to the Sceular Religion of Socialism so Methodist Churches gave way to Community College lecturers and alcohol drinking liberal arts types who became journalists and did not attend chapel.

Or they were like Margaret Thatcher who ceased to be a Methodist as she married into money and became Church of England

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Meanwhile, in those places not inhabited by Muslims in Europe, the dust of spiritual indifference settles like a pall. Nature - including spiritual nature - abhors a vacuum. Islam is simply filling the vast empty space created by the demise of scientistic belief as a systematic faith.
I was thinking about this just minutes earlier, but in a different way. It seems to me that people really need to believe in something, so when you remove Christianity something else has to take its place. I don't think Islam is taking its place. Rather, what's replacing Christianity is just allowing Islam to settle in here. The religion that's replacing Christianity is, of course, multiculturalism, or whatever you want to call it. People need something, but they hate Christianity and the West, so they need something else.


I was recently debating some very devout atheists, and it occured to me that modern Western atheism has actually nothing at all to do with atheism. The way these atheists perceive things is completely dogmatic, irrational and fanatical, which is exactly what they claim they don't like about religion, and they never criticize religions other than Christianity. If they were genuinely opposing a religion for its real and imagined trangressions, shouldn't they be oppossing Islam as well, and not just Christianity? They never attack Islam in any way, and they will in fact defend it by saying that Christianity is equally horrible if not worse. At best they'll say that all organized religions are equally vile, so they can have their cake and eat it too by not saying anything bad about Islam while still claiming to oppose all religions. By opposing all religions they also oppose Buddhism, but they never say anything about it and can't even come up with anything negative if anyone asks.

So, these atheists oppose only Christianity, and their reasons are not really related to what Christianity has or hasn't done today or in the past. I believe that they simply hate Western civilization and anything associated with it, like so many others. Since Christianity is such an obvious, visible and tangible part of the West, they attack it. They also furiously defend Islam, an enemy of not only the West in general, but Christianity as well.

Maybe they don't even consciously realize what they're doing, just like so many people don't realize that they are contradicting themselves by droning on endlessly about tolerance and equality while championing a belief system that's the antithesis of tolerance and equality.

Of course, many Christians believe in multiculturalist ideals as well, but their cultural self-hatred is at least limited by their adherence to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

"Religions coming together"

One word - Tashlan.

ZionistYoungster said...

I have no problem with atheists bashing my religion so long as they do the same for Islam. I think I can handle it. But it's because the Muslims can't handle it that they react, to use a recent headline from Hot Air, froggy. And it's because of that reaction that many intrepid religion-bashing atheists make a magnanimous exception for Islam. Out of respect for this blog and its patrons I won't bring my obligatory link on the subject for the umpteenth time.

As for me, I bounced like a ball 'til I found...

"Tradition!" (Sorry, couldn't resist compensating for the link I abstained from. It's not me, it's the symptoms of Leavened Bread Withdrawal! I have a legitimate grievance that must be ad...)

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 04/04/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

gun-totin-wacko said...

I'm of 2 minds on this story. (I won't address any of the Great Debates on religion from the comments). On the one hand, Mr. Arshad does seem like one of the mythical "Moderate Muslims" of which we've all heard. But on the other hand...

From what I've read here, it seems that there is a legitimate need for a mosque in the area, and those that oppose it are merely anti-Muslim. Of course, fear of Islam is legitimate- I don't know that I would want a mosque going up in my neighborhood either.

But let's face it, they're making an issue of a building that has not been a "church" in years, granting that it's still sanctified.

So you have moderate Muslims wanting to have a mosque for their community. Doesn't sound unreasonable, on paper. If you refuse to allow it, fight it, or protest it, then doesn't that risk sending the message that Muslims truly are second-class citizens? I doubt the locals would protest if a CofE congragation tried to take over the building.

But still, there's the legitimate fear: is Mr. Arshad fronting for a different group, one that is more extreme? Even if not, isn't there a chance that his little mosque will be usurped by the folks that control the larger mosques in places like London?

So what should be done? On the one hand, if you fight them, you risk turning moderates against you. On the other hand, you also risk allowing the terrorists a base in your town.

Hard call, but having given it some thought this morning, I think the chance has to be taken. Allow it, if for no other reason than the likelihood the Muslims will be moving in anyway. When they do come, do you want them to have a grudge, or do you want them to feel like part of the community?

Besides, worst case scenario is they'll go someplace else to blow things up. Don't think they'd attack their own town, would they?

Wow. Almost feel like I should be breaking out into a chorus of "Kumbaya". But I'll refrain.

Archonix said...

One word - Tashlan.

Twas funny in the end, all pretence was dropped and they simply called him Tash.

Anyone who doesn't know what all this is about, read CS Lewis's narnia books, specifically The Last Battle. It's allegorical without being an allegory.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

I doubt it has a cemetery since most burials as such take place in local authority cemeteries.

Voyager - That may or may not be the case. I've been in numerous churches that still maintain the markers within the church (even assuming they've interred the bodies).

I'm seriously concerned that those markers of national, regional, local, or familial history will be lost permanently.

I guess I need to check each time a mosque decides to buy if I have any ancestors I need to research and record before they destroy the interiors.

Oy vey...

vscoles said...

No need to get your cassock in a twist. It may have been a methodist chapel many years ago but as the article notes, it has more recently been a factory.

Such buildings rarely included burials, which took place at civic (state) cemeteries.

Since the Church is not stones but people, surely it is possible to see that what the islamics have purchased is a scarf factory?

No doubt the cross will come down from the roof (why did the methodists leave it up there in the first place?) but the muslims have promised not to install a dome in its place.

The priority now for Christians in Clitheroe is to teach the good news of Jesus - not to worry about a long disused place of worship.

Les said...

Thre are no graves only Ghosts.
The cross is a lightening conductor to protect the house of God from acts of himself