BLASPHEMOUS?

If We Don't Worship God We Will Worship Anything At All John Rogers

I believe it was the Roman Catholic, G.K. Chesterton, who made the above remark many years ago. And he was right. Religious talk is growing among us in leaps and bounds with the growth of new-age spirituality. But even rationalists or just plain, old-fashioned secular moderns cannot get away from it. God testifies to Himself within us and, if we don't acknowledge that and worship Him, we will worship someone or something else. Anything. It doesn't really matter - but usually that which gives us either pleasure or power.

I remember some years ago when someone in the crowd at Eden Park threw a can of beer at a member of a visiting cricket team. It was the latest in rather a line of such incidents. The President of the New Zealand Cricket Council was interviewed on TV about his concerns about that sort of behaviour and I remember seeing and hearing him describe the act either as blasphemy or desecration. Oh dear; someone had touched a sacred cow! What added a real irony to the situation was that the game was being played on the Lord's Day! I am still trying to figure out how it is possible to desecrate something that is itself a desecration.

It's Just Not Cricket!

We can, to some extent, laugh at the silliness involved in the above incident. I read of a much more serious instance just this week in an article entitled "Euro-Court Outlaws Criticism of E.U.," by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Brussels, in the American historian and social commentator, Otto Scott's latest Compass (Vol.11, Issue 128, April 1, 2001). Evans-Pritchard says:

The European Court of Justice ruled yesterday (viz., March, 6th) that the European Union can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties.

It would be good for you to read that paragraph again and let it sink in. As the subject of that court ruling, Mr Bernard Connelly, said, "We're back to the Star Chamber and Acts of Attainder: ... the offence of seditious libel has been resurrected." He is right. This is part of what the English revolution 400 years ago was fought over. England's entry into the E.U. appears to be heading for just what some people feared it would; the overthrow of many of the freedoms the Puritans stood and fought for in their stand against the Catholic autocrat, Charles I. Add to this that there are moves afoot in British political circles to annul the Elizabethan settlement and lift the restriction that the occupant of the British throne be Protestant. Prince Charles himself has said that, should he become king, he will be a "defender of faith", but not necessarily a "defender of the faith."

But what did Bernard Connelly say that was so terrible? In 1995 he wrote a book critiquing European monetary union called, The Rotten Heart of Europe. As it happens, I read the book soon after it came out. I'm not an economist or a banker so I didn't understand it all but he was severely critical of the process leading to monetary union. Furthermore, he had the temerity to suggest that the politics involved in bringing that single currency about were simply another chapter in the centuries-long struggle between Germany and France for dominance in Europe, and suggested that monetary union "was a threat to democracy, freedom and 'ultimately peace'."

According to Evans-Pritchard, "The ruling stated that the commission could restrict dissent in order to 'protect the rights of others' and punish individuals who 'damaged the institution's image and reputation'." For being such a naughty boy, Connelly was sacked from his position in the E.U. bureaucracy. Even if one could grant that action, Evans-Pritchard goes on to say that "The case has wider implications for free speech that could extend to EU citizens who do not work for the Brussels bureaucracy." The court ruled the book "aggressive, derogatory and insulting." Sounds to me as though Connelly raised some serious arguments that the proponents of union did not know how to answer: so paint their author black! But now, hear this: "the advocate-general (of the E.U.), Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer," put forward one argument in the case, et al, "which implied that Mr Connelly's criticism of the EU was akin to extreme blasphemy, and therefore not protected speech."

Divine Right To Rule?

We'll leave aside the fact that we all hear extreme blasphemy every day - and it is certainly protected! While we may chuckle at the disruption of a cricket match being called blasphemy (or desecration, whichever), this, on the other hand, is serious stuff - even frightening! But let me continue. To criticise the E.U., or any other human institution, (and it matters not to me how derogatively or even insultingly), can never be called blasphemy. Unless, of course, the institution or person is divine. That is what that argument implies: that the divine state is rising, phoenix-like, out of the ashes again. If this continues, it is not just a revolution within Christendom as we might perhaps view the English revolution. This is a revolution that has its aim (consciously or not) of officially overthrowing Christianity! For the divine state is a pagan idea, paganism in all its forms - primitive/animistic, ancient Babylonian or Egyptian, Roman under the Ceasars, or modern. If Europe doesn't pull out of this one (and if Europe doesn't, none of us will avoid its effects), we may hear again meal-time prayers like the following written for children at a party meal in Cologne:

Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, given to me by the Lord, protect and preserve me as long as I live! You have saved Germany from its deepest distress. Today I thank you for my daily bread. Stay with me for a long time, don't leave me. Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, my faith and my light! Hail to you, my Fuhrer!

And after the meal:

Thank you for this abundant meal, Protector of youth and friend of old age! I know that you have your cares, but don't worry. I am with you day and night. Lay your head in my lap. Be assured, my Fuhrer, that you are great. Hail to you, my Fuhrer! (quoted from Louis Praamsma, The Church in the Twentieth Century, p.100)

Fore-warned Is Fore-armed

As Chesterton said, "Man will worship, and if he doesn't worship the living God, he will not cease worshipping; he will simply worship something else, anything will do." We ought to be aware of what is going on around us so we can know our enemy, so we can pray intelligently, so we can steel ourselves and our children for whatever may lie ahead. Fore-warned is fore-armed, as they say. The process has gone so far it will probably have to be played out to its end now.

But let us look to ourselves whether we serve the Lord with an undivided heart, or whether we too are, being compromised or are perhaps, compromising ourselves. And while we look to our duty and "keep our powder dry", let us never cease to "trust God." (Oliver Cromwell told his men before they went into battle, "Trust God and keep your powder dry.") For even though the foundations be destroyed and we wonder what can the righteous do? let us never forget:

The Lord is in his holy temple,

the Lord's throne is in heaven;

his eyes behold,

his eyelids test the sons of men.

The Lord tests the righteous,

but the wicked and the one who loves violence his souls hates.

Upon the wicked he will rain coals;

fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous, he loves righteousness;

his countenance beholds the upright.

(Psalm 11)

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