Thursday 24 August 2023

Paganism takes back the lands it lost

Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974, was asked whether he thought the Church of England would survive into the next century and replied, ‘Well, you know, that is not certain, not certain, not certain at all. Not certain. It might easily, easily, it might easily, quite easily, just fall away after twenty years or so. Just fall away.’

I just visited St Mary's Episcopalian (Anglican) Cathedral in Edinburgh, built by Sir Gilbert Scott, who here builds a rather fine cathedral from scratch rather than ruining mediaeval ones. 

A poster invited me to a discussion about Christa. The woman who stood in the nave answering questions answered mine and told me Christa was the feminine form of Christ, which I did not understand, and the discussion would be led 'by someone who is trans'. 

Another poster spoke of the importance of ecology and climate to Christians. 

She told two men in their thirties who were holding hands that the Episcopalian Church was "Very liberal, I'm pleased to say, about gay marriage and women priests". 

To me all these things seemed pagan rather than the thinking of the first century church. 

I quoted before the first century Didache or Teachings of the Apostles, "Do not commit pederasty". It also forbids abortion, enjoins long fasts and says nothing about climate, ecology or women priests.

In a bookshop I dipped into a book on the rise and fall of Christianity in Ireland. I had not remembered how many dreadful things priests and nuns did. 

Catholic Ireland is gone. Anglicanism, as Edward Norman predicted, is falling into the sea.

I saw this today by a new friend I made in Budapest this year.


  1. see the article in FirstThings by louise perry.

  2. Thak you very much, anon. This article is wonderful.


    There’s a very short and very brutal poem by the Scottish poet Hollie McNish, written in 2019 and titled “Conversation with an archaeologist”:

    he said they’d found a brothel
    on the dig he did last night
    I asked him how they know
    he sighed:
    a pit of babies’ bones
    a pit of newborn babies’ bones was how to spot a brothel
    “It’s true, you know,” said the writer and lawyer Helen Dale when we had lunch in London last year and I mentioned this poem, which I chose as one of the epigraphs to my book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. Helen was a classicist before she was a lawyer, and as a younger woman she had taken part in archaeological excavations of ancient Roman sites. “First you find the erotic statuary,” she went on, “and then you dig a bit more and you find the male infant skeletons.” Male, of course, because the males were of no use to the keepers of Roman brothels, whereas the female infants born to prostituted women were raised into prostitution themselves.

    I realize that this is not a nice thing to think about. Personally, I find that if I let my mind rest for more than a moment on these tiny extinguished lives, and on the cruelty of the society that regarded their suffering as an acceptable consequence of the need to satiate male lust, I experience a painful, squeezing, swooping sensation in my chest that I’ve discovered only since I became a mother myself—an involuntary physical response that I felt for the first time during my third trimester when I read an article on abortion that included a graphic description of what the procedure actually involves. I recalled that moment as I spoke to Helen, and it occurred to me that I had no idea what modern abortion clinics do with fetal remains. The answer, I’ve since discovered, is that the remains are usually burned, along with other “clinical waste.” There will be no infant skeletons for archaeologists of the future to find.

    To mention abortion and infanticide in the same breath is a provocation. A majority of voters in Britain and America regard abortion as permissible in some circumstances, whereas very few are willing to say the same of infanticide (with some notable exceptions, as we will see). But this distinction has not been made by all peoples at all times. The anthropologist David F. Lancy describes the “far more common pattern”:

    Among the ancient Greeks and Romans sickly, unattractive, or unwanted infants were “exposed” or otherwise eliminated; the Chinese and Hindus of India have, since time immemorial, destroyed daughters at birth, to open the way for a new pregnancy and a more desirable male offspring; the Japanese likened infanticide to thinning the rice plants in their paddies; among foragers such as the Inuit or the Jivaro, unwanted babies were left to nature to claim.

    ....It was the arrival of Christianity that disrupted the Romans’ favored methods of keeping reproduction in check, with laws against infanticide, and then abortion, imposed by Christian emperors from the late fourth century. Christians have always been unusually vehement in their disapproval of the killing of infants, whether born or unborn, and their legal regime prevailed until the mid-twentieth century when we experienced a religious shift that will probably be understood by future historians as a Second Reformation. Christians are no longer in charge, and their prohibition of abortion—unlike their prohibition of infanticide, at least so far—is regarded by most pro-choice secularists as archaic, illogical, and misogynist.