“it isn’t hate to speak the truth”

And there you have the heart of the matter:
‘it isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Dr. Gavin Ashenden


(the surge of the storm / Julie Cook/ 2020)

The truth isn’t always pretty but it is, in the end, still always the truth.

I just read our dear friend, Dr. Gavin Ashenden’s latest post
“Cancel culture attacks people rather than ideas”

He begins his post by examining the latest brouhaha that has engulfed the famed Harry Potter
author J.K. Rowling along with the quagmire she stepped into when she chose to defend the idea
of biological sex.

This time, Mr. Rowling’s issue is not about witchcraft and anti-Christian rhetoric
but rather it’s all about biology.

Biological sex to be specific—meaning that a male is a male and a female is a female.
It seems that that basic biology lesson is oh so passe in our current culture.
Forget that there are males and females…we are all now one big hodgepodge of this and that.
Who and what ‘this and that’ may be is totally up for grabs.

Say you are a 9-year-old little girl who decides you should be a boy.
Our current culture will say “Great!” “You may get a sex change
(even without parental consent mind you) or, if you prefer,
you can simply call yourself a boy despite being still a girl.”
“It’s all totally up to you. Forget biology!”
And tomorrow if you change your mind, no problem…except that is,
if you went through with the surgery then there’s a bit of a problem.
Oh well…

And yet this is not to say that there is not a tiny percentage of people who actually do
have a disorder known as gender dysphoria where they actually feel trapped in the wrong body.
But that percentage is minuscule compared to the wave of pick and choose we’re currently
witnessing.

In his post, the good doctor examines the bizarre growing trend against biology
along with those who still cling to the obvious notion of male and female.
Something I suspect most of us do.
A notion Ms. Rowlings opted to defend despite her being quite the feminist.

Yet it appears that even feminists are not exempt from the mob.
This current cancel culture mob has proclaimed itself to be the gatekeeper
to all things choice…and if you dare veer from their view, woe be unto you.

Dr. Ashenden explains,
“Cancel culture’ is a new phrase.
It’s only been around two or three years.
It represents something as horrible as it is dangerous.
It involves the mob closing someone down, and taking away either their freedom to speak,
their job or their place in society.

What is so odd about it is that we have become sharply concerned as a society
about hate and bullying.
You would think that if there was any consistency around,
anything that acted as a weapon for bullying and hatred would be found repulsive and rejected?

But the opposite has happened.

A lot of small vulnerable people have been ‘canceled’.
They have lost their jobs, and had their reputations as decent people trashed.
No one seems to have been willing to stand up against this politically correct bullying,
until they targeted JK Rowling.

It’s just possible she is rich enough and powerful enough and admired enough to see off
the mob, but it’s not guaranteed.
Amazon is full of fake hate reviews trying to trash her latest book and stop it being read.

He continues:
But I found myself asking how we got here?
Just in case there is any chance of escaping from this cultural mob violence
in which no one is safe.

A psychologist called Jonathan Haidt found himself asking the same questions and wrote
a very perceptive book about it.
‘The Coddling of the American Mind.”

He suggested that three very well-intentioned but utterly disastrous attitudes
had been slipped into the education system in America and the anglophile world.

The first was about suffering and took the form of
‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.”

The second was about the relationship between feelings and thoughts or analysis;
and became “whatever you really feel is really true.”

The third was that the world was made up not of good and bad ideas,
but good and bad people, and you had to destroy the bad people to be made safe.

So we now have a generation who are terrified of suffering and feeling hurt in any way.
In fact Haidt felt that the constant catastrophizing in the media,
was bringing a generation close to a state of almost clinical mental illness.

One of the most powerful antidotes to depression has been found to be
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT.
At its center lies the skill of recalibrating feelings so they come second to a more
sane and well-judged mental analysis.
If that’s true, you can see what emotional paralysis we face by being unable to
discipline or re-inform raw feelings in a counseling obsessed culture where getting
in touch with feelings has become paramount, and trumps everything else.

Most mature philosophical and religious traditions recognise that it’s ideas rather
than the people who hold them, who are good or perverse.
So you fight the ideas, and try to change peoples’ minds.
But cancel culture settles very happily for destroying the people.

How do we escape these three disastrous attitudes?
We may need to find a philosophy or religious tradition with deep roots that exposes
them for dangerous charlatans they are.
If schools and universities won’t or aren’t doing it, that just leaves the churches.
It may be that the sanity of our civilisation depends on a group we have spent the last
century ridiculing; to our cost.

Naming but not shaming. Fighting back against ‘Cancel Culture’.

And so there we have it.
The cure for our ailing society and the antidote for our failing educational system…
It all goes back to the teaching of The Chruch.
Back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The very One our culture continues to attempt to cancel.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake
that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:8

it’s all metaphysics…or is that Greek??

I devote my very rare free moments to a work that is close to my heart and devoted
to the metaphysical sense and mystery of the person.
It seems to me that the debate today is being played out on that level.
The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation,
indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person.
This evil is even much more of the metaphysical order than of the moral order.
To this disintegration planned at times by atheistic ideologies we must oppose,
rather than sterile polemics, a kind of ‘recapitulation’ of the
inviolable mystery of the person.

(In his continuing struggle against Marxism in Poland after the Second Vatican Council,
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla identified the doctrine of the person as the Achilles’ heel of the Communist regime.
He decided to base his opposition on that plank.
In 1968 he wrote to his Jesuit friend, the future Cardinal Henri de Lubac

John Paul II and The Mystery of The Human Person, Avery Dulles)


(detail of Socrates and Aritstole from the School of Athens by Raphael / The Vatican)

Metaphysics: noun, plural in form but singular in construction
1. a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of
reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology
metaphysics … analyzes the generic traits manifested by existences of any kind

When it comes to metaphysics, well, it’s all pretty much Greek to me.
get it…Greek?? HAHAHA…

In all seriousness, it is such thinking, those of the various schools of philosophy,
that can push my poor brain to the limit.

That whole ‘if no one is around to hear it when a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?’
Well, duh…yes, yes it does…
I think we call it vibrations and sound waves but I digress.
Why even waste breath and time debating such??

However, man has always debated the world around him as well as debating his
very own interior being.

My son was a philosophy minor…and yes, I thought he was off his rocker.
But philosophy is very connected to the study of religion so I took pride
knowing that he was there to defend the faith of the Triune God in today’s very very hostile
area of thought regarding Christianity.

The pharse Cogito, ergo sum comes to mind…
I think therefore I am…uttered by René Descartes,

But I say no to that thought…it’s more like when I get poison ivy…I itch therefore I am.
That’s how you know.
A physical reaction to and from an outside source…but again, I digress.

I was afforded a bit of uninterrupted quiet time yesterday morning and I actually listened
to a brief podcast offered by the British periodical The Spectator.
The podcast was a discussion between my newest favorite Catholic, Dr. Gavin Ashenden (aka our dear
favorite former Anglican Bishop) and British journalist, Damian Thompson

This is the written intro for the discussion:
Boris Johnson’s package of Covid restrictions announced this week included
a rule that weddings will be limited to 15 people and funerals to 30 –
numbers plucked out of thin air that will have questionable effect
on the transmission of the virus.
You might think that a ruling that affects only weddings and funerals
isn’t such a big deal for the churches, but that is to underestimate the fanatical zeal
of their leaders for implementing, and expanding, restrictions on their own worship.
The control-freak Archbishop of Canterbury, predictably,
seemed quite thrilled by the government’s intervention.
My own reaction, informed by conversations with many clergy outraged by their
bishops’ baffling willingness to accept any curtailment of church life,
was to wonder whether some Christians will be forced to ‘go underground’ –
that is, find a way of worshipping that quietly disobeys their own leaders.
To an extent this is already happening: at the height of the pandemic,
Catholics were holding secret Masses that reminded me of their ancestors’
defiance of Protestant penal laws.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want them hunted down by their own ‘fathers in God’,
the local bishops.
So that’s the subject of this week’s Holy Smoke,
a very wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Gavin Ashenden of the sort that you
would never hear on the BBC.

What I took away from listening to the discussion was that our friend Dr. Ashenden
finds that this whole control and resist mindset regarding the restrictions
placed on us by our leaders regarding COVID boils down to something quite
simple…

We can go out to eat, we can go to stores, we can get a haircut, we can visit a liquor store,
and in limited numbers, we may attend a wedding as well as a funeral…
however, only 15 can go celebrate a wedding while 30 can go celebrate the passing of a life—
odd numbering given life vs death, but I am obviously not in leadership.

And yet…our worship services are being curtailed, canceled, or simply
shut down.
And therein lies much of the frustration.

Will the faithful eventually find themselves in the underground?
Worshiping in secret?
Shades of the early days of Roman persecution?

Dr. Ashenden notes that it seems
we are either prioritizing the immediate power structures of our day or we
are prioritizing the teaching of the Gospel…and sadly it seems as if it is our power
structures that are receiving the total focus.

The good doctor notes that this seems to be a power struggle between the secular, or non-supernatural,
vs the Metaphysical, that being the Spiritual

Secular vs Spiritual…and sadly— secular is winning.

Here are the links…enjoy exercising your brain…

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/57442176/posts/2929431852

https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/is-it-time-for-christianity-to-go-underground-

the power of color

The problem with racism as the new thought-crime is that it’s not really about race,
or skin colour, it’s about power using colour.
When I look at someone, I see character not colour.

Dr. Gavin Ashenden


A page from Moses Harris’s The Natural System of Colors. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As a high school art teacher, I always taught a color theory unit to my Art I classes
before letting everyone jump right into using color…be it colored pencils, pastels, paints, etc.
Color was much more complicated than just grabbing some paint and a brush…
and my anxious charges needed to understand such.

We would explore the whole physiology of how our eyes and brain see color and perceive color.
We talked about prisms, refraction and the bending of light.

We would talk about what it meant to be color blind…as several of my students were color
blind and how’d we’d work with that.
We even had blind students come to talk to those of us who could see about
how they actually perceived color.

We studied Joseph Albers, the father of color theory.

We talked about warm /hot colors, cool/cold colors, monochromatic colors,
polychromatic colors.
Even beginning with the simple word, chroma.

We studied the effects that color played in our psychological wellbeing and
how colors could actually affect our emotions.

And so yes, color is much more nuanced than simply consisting of primary and secondary colors.

I would place three cups of clear water on a desk.
Next, I would use food coloring and drop in enough drops to have a solid red cup
of water, a solid blue cup of water, and a solid yellow cup of water—our primary colors.
I would then put three empty cups on the table.
I would pour equal proportions of yellow and red into a cup to make orange,
blue and red to make purple, then blue, and yellow to make green–our secondary colors

I’d next pull out a new empty cup and pour a bit of each of the second set of colored water cups
into the last empty cup—coming up with a muddy brown yucky color what is known
as tertiary.
Something that happens when a bunch of colors are blended into one.

I’d explain that sometimes when we’d paint and mess up a color we were going for,
we would unintentionally make things worse when we kept trying to add more and more
different colors thinking we could ‘fix it’…less is more I would implore…

And so when I was reading Dr. Gavin Ashenden’s latest post, Resisting Group Think,
this whole business of color theory came racing back to my thoughts.

Our dear friend from across the pond is just about as baffled as I am
with the new intense obsession, our culture is now having with color.
But rather than paint, our culture is obsessed with skin…
and the color of that skin.
And that obsession with skin color has a dubious name…Racism.

Dr. Ashenden notes that…“racism morphed.
It moved from doing something to thinking something, and then much much worse,
it became someone thinking you thought something.
This summer everyone is guilty, if the new anti-racist posters are true:
“silence is violence.”

But I have three reasons for not believing in racism as people now accuse one another.
It’s not easy to tell what race someone is; there is a sliding scale of skin colour;
and there is a better, healthier way of describing why some people don’t like some other people.

The races are mixed for most of us. Last year I was bought a DNA kit for a birthday present.
It turns out I am roughly 30% Anglo-Saxon’ 30% Celt; and 20% Jewish
(with a bit of Russian thrown in -!) God forbid one racial bit of me should ever fall out
with one of the other bits. Does the Celt in me deserve reparations from my Anglo-Saxon
invader bit?
Don’t even start with the Jewish persecution stuff, the massacre in York in 1190,
the mass expulsion in 1290 by Edward 1st. Luther? Hitler?

And I’m white. But I have never thought of myself as white. This skin tone stuff is
equally confusing and on a sliding scale of pigment.
Megan Markle looks white to me. My more remote Aryan ancestors came from India.
When I look at someone, I see character not colour.

The problem with racism as the new thought-crime is that it’s not really about race,
or skin colour, it’s about power using colour.
It’s the imposing of the American cultural crisis on the rest of the world,
which has different cultural issues. It seems to be about transferring power
from ‘white’ (whatever that is) to black (whatever that is).

The worst thing about the new racism is that it uses a prism through which everything
and everyone are assessed through the lens of power.
This new language of power-relations replaces one moral world with another.
It changes our worth from what we do, and replaces it with what group we belong to.

We face a crossroads in morals and culture, and the new racism is
the tool used to shift the direction.

We are losing a simple and direct morality which invited you to love your neighbour
as yourself, and held you accountable if you failed or refused; we are replacing it
with thought-crime, collective guilt, censorship and the re-writing of history.

Resisting ‘group-think.’

And so we see that today’s culture indeed uses a prism in which to see…
but rather than bending light waves to see color…this prism bends peoples perceptions
to that of power and control.

I’m beginning to wonder if being color blind might not be the way we need to proceed…
yet we know that we have tied so much baggage to our ideas of societal color that we will
never be able to offload such a burden that we have created.

Unfortunately, I will never look at a color wheel the same, ever again.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,
with palm branches in their hands,

Revelation 7:9