The Incarnation: Greater than “Christmas”

incarnation

At this time of year, nearly every Christian writer and his dog is talking about rediscovering the “true meaning of Christmas”, as if Christmas is primarily a cultural artifact that needs to be rescued – even chiseled away – from the commercial, material and fictional elements in contemporary Western culture. Meanwhile, among Christians there are frequent debates as to whether Christmas is really a pagan festival and whether it should be observed by Christians at all. Some of these exchanges can descend into acrimony, with mutual excommunications of other people for being either Pharisees or fundamentalists.

In an age of politics – where even the personal has become political – there is a widespread belief that it is within policies themselves that man may find the keys to the kingdom and the road to heaven. But whether or not the cashier says “happy holidays” or “merry Christmas”; whether or not Muslims oppose the raising of communal Christmas trees; and whether churches sing carols or host special services is to a great extent immaterial to what the Faith has always been about. These are appendages to the trunk, or expressions and symbols of the Faith, but not the Faith itself. Yet the encrustations – the shell – seems to dominate everything, while the substructure withers.

Christmas was meant to honour the incarnation of God. Originally a far more simple ceremony, it has now been dialed up into a mere simulacrum of abundant Christian joy – the lavish giving of gifts, singing of songs, and charitable donations – an external carapace without the wellspring that gives rise to true joy itself. The external expression of joy has been magnified due to a loss of genuine faith in the teachings of scripture, for where there is no inward life, worship must always be exported to greater and greater external expression.

The incarnation of God has lost its majesty and inner joy in our world because people have come to believe that the most elementary and consistent teaching of the scriptures no longer applies to them. It is a democratic age, so surely God’s kingdom must operate on principles of equality and egalitarianism as well? All that talk by the Prophets and the Apostles of the ark and the few, the chosen people, the Promised Land, the faithful remnant, the pilgrimage through a hostile and barren land, and the solitary narrow gate through which many shall want to enter and not be able – all of this has faded. In a prosperous age, it has become easy to forget that man does not live by bread alone. In a comfortable age, it has become easy to forget that at the heart of Christianity is no plush easy chair, but a cruel death and the intersection of righteousness and evil, the clash between God and Satan.

The incarnation becomes an occasion for true inner worship, only when seeing our need and the true condition of the world around us. But who are the true believers whose eyes have been anointed to see such a thing?

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The Anatomy of a Law: Same Sex Marriage in Australia

ABC

In some ways I feel like I write this blog post for posterity – to someone who may stumble across this small website in the distant future – where they can then read about a Christian’s viewpoint of a momentous occasion in Australia’s legislative history.

Australia passed same sex marriage into law this week.

The vote was proceeded by a non-binding marriage “survey”, which was mailed out to every household by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The “survey” was a compromise of a compromise. Originally the government wanted to hold a plebiscite on the issue, however a coalition of left-wing parties opposed the idea of putting the question to the people. They argued that allowing people to vote on same sex marriage put homosexual people in danger of violent actions and hurtful thoughts or ideas. Besides, politicians were elected to make the law so they ought to “just get on with it”. This attitude would be expressed frequently by both the public and by politicians themselves.

This appeal appeared with notable frequency in the literature and the speeches given on this issue. Argumentum ad novitatem. An appeal to novelty. Whatsoever things are new and recent must be better than those things which are traditional and old, and since same sex marriage has been enacted in most of the Western world in recent decades, and is new – the latest move in social progress – it must be proper and fitting. Alongside of this fallacy, perhaps the most frequent argument of all was an appeal to egalitarianism or equality, which has become the inescapable and basic argument given by politicians and activists alike for any legislative action at all.

Equality, on the same grounds that Orwell once criticised the use of the term “democracy”, has become a slippery and oily word with a fluid definition. Its meaning is seldom clearly defined in the context in which it is used, and so its true intent is left veiled. Nowadays, the word “equality” is mostly a synonym for “good”, and it generally goes even beyond this. Equality is “the highest good” in our culture, a holy word; a magic talisman before which all contrary arguments melt; an unquestioned assumption; part of the philosophical mixture that is so present it is invisible. The alleged goodness of all forms of equality is so self-evident it is not even thought about anymore, just as ancient Babylonians probably did not ever stop to think whether leaving mountains of tormented dead outside of conquered cities was an aberration in the human condition.

G. K. Chesterton once proposed what he called “the gate test” for social progress. Imagine, Chesterton said, that there is a country road. Across the road is a fence and a gate. A progressive person walks the road, sees the gate and views it immediately as an impediment and an obstacle to the smooth passage of traffic. Like Reagan, he thunders, “Tear down this gate!”

But, said Chesterton, there may well be a reason for the existence of the gate that is not immediately obvious.  In fact, there would almost certainty have been a very good reason for the fence and the gate to exist, since human societies tend to discard what does not work. So, argued Chesterton, the progressive person ought to first determine why the fence and the gate were built across the road. Once he can cogently explain the reason for its existence, only then will he be in a proper position to determine whether tearing down the gate and fence is the right thing to do.

During the voting period, I spoke to numerous supporters of same-sex marriage. In some cases I asked “Yes voters” to explain the arguments of “No voters”. Without exaggeration or even the tincture of hyperbole, I can honestly state that not one of them was able to do so. On the other hand, I found “No voters” generally had a very clear idea of the arguments of the “Yes campaign” for two reasons.

Firstly, “No voters” had a much more difficult task. They had to work against the cultural bias, so ignorance of the opposition was not an option. And there is some comfort in recognising that there is enough cultural reserve for arguments to still shape people’s behaviour: the “No” campaign is documented to have caused at least 1,000,000 people to change their votes. Secondly, “No voters” were able to describe the views of the “Yes voters” simply because their arguments were the only ones really circulating through the media. The arguments in favour of same sex marriage were represented in public discourse at a ratio of at least 10:1.

Throughout the campaign I frequently heard “Yes voters” – even well-educated people (which, of course, is not the same thing as being an intelligent person) – state: “I don’t even know why it’s taken this long!” or, “I can’t understand why people are against it“. They always said such things with an air of wonder and puzzlement, like a motorcar enthusiast in the early 1900’s shaking his head over the strange attachment of retrograde people to their horses, carriages, and bicycles. “I just don’t understand,” the goggle-clad motorist might have been heard to exclaim.

I usually responded to those sorts of remarks by pointing out that if you cannot articulate the other side’s viewpoint, then you cannot properly be called an informed voter. This came as a tremendous shock to many people who prided themselves on having political nous that was superior to other people. It did not shock them enough, of course, to go and research the issue thoroughly. They remained ignorant of the alternative views, secure in the confidence that they were on the most popular team, and one inhabited by smart and successful people, and the most glittering celebrities.

Not a Majority

When looking at the statistics in countries where same-sex marriage was put to a popular vote, it appears in many instances that there was overwhelming support for the measure. However, these ballots are highly misleading and this is particularly true of the vote in Australia.

Unlike electoral voting, the “marriage survey” was not conducted under the same rigour of a typical election. Firstly, the ballots were mailed out to electors who were required to complete them and mail them back in. A large number of Australians did indeed complete their survey forms but the total number returned was less than half of Australia’s national population, and 20% of the eligible population did not vote.

Let’s look at a breakdown of the figures. These need to be followed carefully. I have broken them down in an hierarchy.

According to the ABS, there were 16,000,000 eligible voters out of a population of 24,000,000. Of the 16 million eligible voters, 12.7 million submitted a response. Of that 12.7 million, 7.8 million voted “yes” and 4.8 million voted “no”. That means, that less than half of the eligible voting population, and less than a third of the national population voted in favour of same-sex marriage.

Despite nearly 40% of participating electors rejecting the measure, at no point has this been reflected in the discourse and behaviour of legislators or the media. That 40% have not had their concerns addressed or been represented in parliament in any meaningful or significant fashion. Nearly all of their viewpoints have been delegitimised by the legislative process which has been hammered out largely in a welter of emotionalism.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, theoretically a neutral state-funded media organisation but in practice decidedly left-wing, has all but ignored the substantial minority. It has not reported their views with anywhere near the same energy as it has reported the views of “Yes voters”. On its website, it has hardly documented their reactions and a substantial number of articles have been published which could only be described as soppy and sentimental (in one article the journalist implied he or she was crying with joy). The output has been more suited to a college student blog than a purveyor of world-class journalism. But many Australians no longer expect the ABC to function as anything other than the propaganda arm of the effete, urban socialist left.

One must conclude from the results and the subsequent reaction that same-sex marriage is largely driven by the social elite: people who are primarily located in influential urban centres and have custody of some aspect of culture or are invested with some level of social authority.  Thus the move has been most supported by a quadrilateral of powerful stakeholders: university professors and students, politicians, journalists, and a number of high profile corporations or businesses that have built an image for themselves of being cutting edge with services or products largely marketed to urban groups.

To great fanfare, tears, and “spontaneous” outbursts of patriotic song in the public galleries, the legislation was passed. The ABC celebrated the development in article after article. This link takes you to one example. Check out the sidebar for the other news stories and articles the ABC has run, and see whether it constitutes neutral, impartial and representative broadcasting on any conceivable level. In fact, the ABC has functioned not as a disseminator of news, but as a creator of it. It has taken the role of an activist group, and the campaigning in favour of the change has been palpable and undeniable. There will be no penalty in law for this. As I have discovered, few politicians are courageous enough – or shall we say, few politicians are so sufficiently lacking in a craven instinct for survival and self-importance – to take the almighty ABC to task.

Interestingly enough, the districts that voted against the change in overwhelming numbers, tended to be populated by immigrants, especially Muslims. Since Australia has not produced enough children of its own now for nearly thirty years to even hit replacement threshold, immigrants are necessary for its growth and continuance. If Australia continues to source immigrants from the Middle-East and Asia – two continents in which no country has ratified same-sex marriage – and Africa, where only very few have ratified it, then it raises some questions about the longevity of this this law with ongoing cultural change. Of course, holders of a certain flavour of evangelical multiculturalism particularly reverence cultures from those parts of the world who are most conservative and least like to support same-sex marriage. And they are most likely to replicate and impart their cultural values to their children, mainly due to a strong concept of family values which is often accompanied by a robust, muscular religiosity, both of which are severely eroded in the host population.

This is why Muslim immigration is not to be feared. If anyone desires the roll-back left-wing values and radical liberalism that has now taken hold on our institutions, and if anyone wishes to see a conservative cultural shift, then all they need do is celebrate and support the immigration of Muslims. It will happen by steady cultural displacement, since Muslims tend to have robust families, large families, and ironclad conservative social instincts and values.