Peter Hitchens takes the Church of England to task for its treatment of the memory of Bishop George Bell [here from 'The Spectator']
It is, of course, difficult, if not impossible, to make an informed comment on this, due to the lack of detail about the allegation, or knowledge of any kind of additional corroborating evidence, being made available by the Church authorities. If an institution really wants to be considered as being beyond reproach, then its processes need to be completely transparent; otherwise the suspicion will remain that this is really about atoning for more recent terrible abuse in the Diocese of Chichester rather than taking responsibility for what may or may not have happened over seventy years ago.
There's a comment on due process and the rule of law from Robert Bolt's film 'A Man for All Seasons' which needs to be taken to heart, even when we are speaking of the dead and their so easily trashed reputations. In Britain we can point to the recent accusations, some of them demonstrably false, made against Lords MacAlpine and Brittan and Sir Edward Heath, as illustrating the dangers of making public lurid allegations which are based on inadequate evidence or patently false testimony. In an information age, mud sticks, and the reputations of the dead are permanently tarnished. It's hard to see how the well-being of the living can ever be safeguarded by the needless traducing of the memory of those no longer alive. 'The balance of probability' cited in the statement made about Bishop Bell falls far short of the required evidentiary test for the living that guilt should be 'beyond reasonable doubt.' If there are more allegations against Bishop Bell, that fact should be made public.
Some cases, as we know from the monstrous Jimmy Savile scandal, are very much easier to determine due to the huge number of well-attested and consistent allegations that have been made over a long period of time, but in a culture now so dominated by a demand for 'instant' justice, driven by emotional reactions and subjective feelings, we may be in danger now of inverting the principle Bolt's Thomas More voices so eloquently:
"More: What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man's laws, not God's– and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."
I used to think that the greatest contemporary danger to the values of civilisation came from militant Islamists themselves; now I'm not so sure: others seem to be doing the work for them ...
We've written before about the 'Benedict Option' [here] as a response to illiberal secularism's attempt to exclude faith - Christian faith in particular, it seems - from the public square. Here is a post which discusses its application to the Anglican context:
"... The hope of Alasdair MacIntyre at the end of After Virtue is that new Benedictines would construct “local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages.” The Benedictine Rule is certainly a starting point for chartering these kinds of communities. Benedict sought to teach those first brothers how to live in community, to cling to their brethren, in a sense, as the means to their own sanctification. As Anglicans, we believe that this can be translated beyond the monastery, particularly to the parish church. But, what happens when Christian community is forced to subsist outside the congregational forms of Christendom? What happens when Christians meet, spontaneously or out of necessity, as naturally in a living room as in a parish church? What happens, when, as is becoming normal today, Christians demand a common life beyond what the parish church can provide?We can agree that Anglicanism (and, of course, that itself needs far greater definition) - in common with the Catholic traditions of Latin and Orthodox Christianity - certainly has the means by which to embrace the Benedict option. Whether in its mainstream forms, rather than in 'leavening' communities within them, it will ever recognise the necessity is open to more doubt ...
What is needed is a charter for extra-parochial communities of prayer, life-giving fellowship, and solidarity in the midst of marginalization, a charter for a new rule of life – not for the individual, but for whole multi-generational groupings of Benedictine Option Christians. We need communities oriented towards the pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful, communities in which virtue can flourish. Let me put all my cards on the table. I believe that Anglicanism offers just such a charter. We have forms for daily prayer and common intercession, forms for confession, and litanies for ourselves and for the world. We have an emphasis upon the domestic church and family catechesis. We have in our DNA a way for families to join together in their neighborhoods for evening prayer and cookouts, for students to come together for morning prayer and intercession for one another, for baptismal promises to become enfleshed in sacrifice for the sake of our brothers and sisters. In one of the great ironies of Anglicanism, what was intended for the chapel works best in the home! What was intended for the parish church comes to life outside her four walls! Thanks be to God, for we have a goodly heritage... "
When does a national church designed to proclaim the faith and values of the Gospel to the State, become without question an institution compelled to proclaim the State's values to the nation...? In Iceland's case the answer seems to be 2015.
And on the wearing of Remembrance poppies...
In the view of this blog, wearing a poppy is a wholly good, noble and a-political thing to do, and moreover, done in support of a valuable charitable cause.
But should we all be shamed or coerced into it? Dissenting views from the current herd mentality, of varying credibility, from left and right.
On the whole, it's hard to quarrel with this comment:
"...As I read these words I see a lighted doorway in a small terraced house on an autumn evening, and a slight man in his twenties, in army uniform, embracing his wife and small children as he sets out on a journey from which he will not return. It does not seem to me to be an occasion for telling other people what they should feel, think or wear."Like so much else in these narcissistic days, this essentially manufactured argument is ego- driven and more about signalling one's own virtue than honouring the fallen, or the freedoms for which they fought and died ....