Comment // Faith

Non dominate nos—a mangled plea

Lord, now lettest thou thy surpliced depart in peace,
According to thy word;
For mine eyes have seen their deception,
Which Davos has prepared, behind the backs of all people.
Now send thy light to shine on their idols,
And restore thy scripture to thy faithful Christendom.

The cathedral I attend has turned into a grandstanding space for wokery; if it hadn’t, nothing would have possessed me to think, let alone write and publish, such a parody of the Nunc Dimittis*—the song of Simeon, who asked to be released from life once he’d seen the Messiah. I would like us to be spared the ongoing spectacle of the apostasy of the Church—in my case, the Church of England, but I would imagine this sentiment is valid for worshippers of other denominations. I’m tired of seeing treachery in this place, and I’d like to see the perpetrators banished.

If you think I’m continuing to subject myself to witnessing the car-crash ending of Christian worship as we know it, and of the faithful transmission of the Gospel by the leaders from altar and pulpit, in some attempt to influence these professed people of God to turn away from their treachery of their master, then you’re being generous. As a Christian, I should be challenging their turning from God to another, collegiate and nebulous, body led by who knows who (the WEF? What would I know?). The truth is, I don’t feel equal to this task, and attend worship at the cathedral for more mundane reasons: my son is a chorister there.

In case you’re not sure what I mean by God’s house being used to grandstand wokery, I refer not only to the pagan art exhibitions held in the sanctuary but also to the silent disco, whose poster in 2022 featured two rather toned men dancing, and to the highly dubious topics aired in sermons and prayers, and the geopolitical topics discussed at evening meetings. A giant effigy of Gaia is currently suspended over the nave, which has succeeded other exhibits in that space, such as a psychedelic light projection to the interior of the nave, and a lunar bauble. The moon, exhibited a few months ago, was uncannily similar to the giant earth: one trait of corporatism is that it kills true innovation, in its drive for efficiency of manufacturing processes, and the search for synergy of concepts.

I’m reminded of a line in a French song from the 2000s:

On voudrait que l'inconnu ait un goût de déjà vu

—from Tous Pareils by Florent Marchet—“We like the unknown to be oddly familiar.”

Rather than scoffing that both exhibits appear to have been made in the same factory and look like installations for a children’s birthday party, people, in their droves (say the cathedral’s accountants), flock to gaze upwards in awe, at the majesty of creation. Perhaps the Dean and Chapter feel they can rely on a gaslighted public to have forgotten that the previous exhibit was exactly the same size and shape; though quite how vast numbers of the public might have come to experience collective cognitive decline is beyond me. (Ahem...)

If people looked beyond the neon-lit plastic tat, they’d see the majestic building in which they stand—constructed, moreover, by the faithful to the glory of the Almighty. If they stayed past closing time (5:15 or so), they’d be able to participate in Choral Evensong, which still takes place, six days a week, according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer format.

This brings me to the reason I’m taking the risk of writing this piece.

I wasn’t a Christian, really, when my son started his five-year tenure as a chorister. I’m a classic conservative person, repatriated from Continental Europe as a single mother—for good reasons—but with neither the financial nor, I’ll admit, the psychological means to raise my children to standards that would, from my perspective, be worthy of them. It’s hard enough to hold my own as an anachronistic personage in the contemporary British workplace without managing their lives, minute by minute, to ensure that they acquire the skills and attributes not only to navigate the modern world but to bear the torch for all that’s great about our culture.

The choristership, aside from the travesty of the lockdown period, hasn’t been a disappointment: my boy has worked, from the age of eight, as a professional musician (apprentice). As I listen to choir rehearsals, it’s clear that here is the last bastion of true instruction: if the choir sings without care, they’re told so, and sometimes this brings on not a pep talk, but a meticulous disquisition on commitment, effort and the difference between success and failure. Many times, I’ve thanked the Director of Music for this. In no other domain are teachers allowed to correct children, not in such plain terms; elsewhere, guidance is couched in language that leaves the child’s ego intact, along with his misconceptions.

It’s a shame the rest of us are not treated with the same respect. Under whose watch were we all recast as fragile individuals who can’t withstand criticism? I need not, of course, answer this rhetorical question, for we have all witnessed the long march of Marxism through the institutions—or, if we’re too young to have seen much of this, we’ll have received the watered-down education that has been its consequence. For my part, I’m halfway along this continuum.

For many of us, the now-past era of liberalism was more positive than negative: it was “live and let live”. Christian or agnostic, left or right, classical musician (cheer) or rocker (thanks for the party music, my friends), we have celebrated difference, but we have had our own place to go, to render homage to, immerse ourselves in, or transmit to younger people our respective passions and persuasions; good, bad and ugly. Those of us who have forsworn the ugly have had confidence that good would prevail. We have also had enough respect for others to leave them to their ugly pursuits and within their circumscribed domains.

Society has been set out by some in a Venn diagram: each domain being governed by rules, some guidelines being stricter than others. For example:

  1. Library. Golden rule: silence. Lesser rule: put the books back where you find them. Aim: make the place conducive to learning.
  2. Hospital. Golden rule: primum non nocere (First, do no harm). Lesser rule: medical staff must be competent,  patients must sit quietly and wait their turn. Aim: to make people better.
  3. Gay bar. Golden rule: sit by others I don’t understand. Lesser rule: none of my business.
  4. Sports stadium. Golden rule: play/support the game with full enthusiasm. Lesser rule: be good-natured.
  5. ....and so on.

As my point 3 illustrates, not all of us are meant to understand each circle in the Venn diagram of our society. Most of us will be equally comfortable in several circles (library, hospital, church); others will be comfortable in a different overlapping subset (gay bar, hospital, supermarket). None of us will be at ease in all of them. However, each vessel will do, as the ad goes, what it says on the tin.

Marxism, whose mantra is Inclusion, sells itself on the basis that we should all be open to, and accepted by, everyone else. It would be an insult to your intelligence if I were to point out the consequences of every space, club and group being opened to everyone else. I need only say that a library that abandons its golden rule and instead opens up to the central mission principles of the sports stadium will be good for neither learning nor the playing of sport.

The cathedral is being turned into a social and municipal exhibition and performance space, making it a canvas for the images, sounds and ideas of society at large. It has widened out, to the point that it includes everyone and soon—if this continues—includes every practice known to man, to celebrate it and to give it exhibition space. A grand exhibition of all that it is to be human, be it noble, base or indifferent.

Given recent events at the Synod, where it has been decided that blessings of homosexual relationships are now to be permitted in church, and where God is now being said to be genderfluid (well, not exactly, but I’m not going to set out their thesis), the endgame will be the banning of many of our prayers. I expressed to others, during lockdown, that I feared for the future not only of our choir, but of a thousand years (or so) of choral tradition. People thought I was mad. I’m not going to set out the trajectory I fear—again, this would not be in the interests of the choir, present or future. I can write, another time, about my efforts to challenge the clergy on their lockdown policies...

So why and how did I turn to Christ? I won’t bore you with details, it’s all been said. Just look to James Delingpole, and many others, for eloquent testimonies de nos jours. Look no further than the passage of before us of the devil in plain sight, with not just his tongue but every appendage sticking out at us in a way that would have provided Chaucer with inspiration for a litany of stories (note to self: “collaboration with Alex Thomson on a rewrite of The Canterbury Tales, 2023 edition”.....). Satan is at large, on our TV screens, smartphones, and whispering in the ears of our children. Something has to be done. Just ask the Irreverend boys how many people have written to them saying, “I wasn’t a Christian until lockdown”.

I’ve seen the worldly manifestation of the Antichrist in this place, the cathedral. I can’t leave, yet, but I ask the Lord to spare us all, not by letting us go, but by showing the corrupt leaders the door. Let them go, in peace, according to Thy word.

I would pray to God, “Let our Cathedral live again”, but fear that Rod Dreher may be right, in that Christians may have to go elsewhere to keep the faith alive for future generations to restore to the mainstream. Please refer to The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies, both by Rod Dreher—and both discussed on YouTube on several channels, including Irreverend—and to various talks by Mr Dreher. Not that I’m recommending you live your life online. Quite the reverse. Seek me out in real life; let’s start talking.

Thanks for reading.

*The Nunc Dimittis (from Luke 2):

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.