Monday, 1 March 2010

A Book for Our Times

I went tonight to the Church of Christ the King (CCK), which sounds as if it could be a Catholic Church, but is not. It appears to have more money than all the Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton put together, but then, hey, Catholics have traditionally been skint. Discuss.

Still, credit (and I could do with some, hence I was there to eat too) where it is due, they do feed the poor and homeless of Brighton, once a week on Monday. Yet, there is so much more that CCK could do. It is not often that the homeless gather in one place with tables and chairs in the warm, in a safe, friendly and loving environment.

"The Monday night meal at CCK is an incredible opportunity missed," I said to Austin, a volunteer at the church. We had just listened to the preacher, called Peter (Oh, the irony!) expounding upon the Gospel passages in which Our Lord heals and cleanses the lepers. He very briefly told us that Our Blessed Lord had reached out to the lepers because no amount of 'unpleasantness' was too much for Him and that He loved the outcasts. He then proceeded to say that sin is like leprosy so he was going to ask the Lord Jesus to come into the lives of all the homeless people who need to invite Him into their lives and change them as if Christ, somehow, is absent from their lives totally by virtue of their homelessness and poverty. He then told us that he was happy because he knows that when he dies he's going to Heaven because Our Lord took his all sins upon Himself on the Cross. Unlike his holy Patron and the first Pope, I don't think he has made many converts for all his efforts and I cannot, for the life of me, see where he is going wrong. I'm always astonished by how charitable the homeless are to him. Anyway, er...

So I said to Austin, the Monday meal with a microphone was an opportunity missed since the homeless probably had more to tell the volunteers about God, Love, Justice and Mercy than do the volunteers to them. What is more, it would give the homeless more confidence in themselves if they were able to stand up and say something about themselves, say a prayer or somehow feel like they have a voice. He seemed interested. Here, CCK have nearly the whole homeless population of Brighton in the palm of their hand and all they do is preach at them and give them some fish and chips. "Perhaps the homeless have something to offer as well", I said to Austin (great name, classic car). After all, it is they who experience derision, are mocked, or even crucified in a way. "Christ suffers in them," I said. "They have something to say about society and the way in which dignity and respect is given to some, but not to others."

I talked with one regular soup run recipient afterwards who lives on the streets in Brighton. He is a fascinating man. He became homeless, or made himself homeless, after he had, ironically, lost his job as a temporary worker with Brighton and Hove City Council, so that was something we both have in common. In a room of homeless men and women, I asked him whether he believed there was any way in which the homeless community of Brighton could give expression to a political voice, even a union, or a magazine for Brighton which would help people and especially local Government agencies to understand the needs of homeless men and women. He was very sceptical.

"Trying to get a unified voice for the homeless," he said, "would be very near impossible." I talked about the way in which the homeless are treated by police, local authorities and the rest but he was adamant. "The life of the homeless in Brighton is too transient and chaotic," he said, "there isn't a community solid enough or concrete enough to be able to speak with any effectiveness. I was disappointed by his response but glad that we talked. Having talked to him a couple of times, he urges volunteers on the soup run as well as many others to read the book pictured above, 'Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning'.

You can read the first chapter here. It does appear to be a book for our times. The State is on the rise again and the book, by Jonah Goldberg, suggests that no matter which side of the extreme political divide of the 20th century, be it Stalinism or Nazism, or even Mussolini's brand of 'national fascism', the rise of the totalitarian state is essentially an ideal of the left, is obsessed with the State's ultimate responsibility for usurping the autonomy of the individual, is inherently eugenic in its mindset and views individual liberty within the context of the rule of law as a threat to a political ideology of total control which dominates and crushes societies within its reach. All this is done in the name of a modern 'progressive' movement. "It is," said the homeless man, "the 'modern progressive' political force which we should give us most concern."

I asked the homeless man, whose name I have not given because he said he didn't want to be identified, whether he has decided to be a 'transient' permanently and whether he would consider going back to living in a flat and all that. Incredibly, he responded by saying that he was waiting to see if a Conservative government was elected and to see if they were truly Conservative or a watered down version of New Labour before he made his decision! Now that is hardcore!

I tried to explain to him my frustration as a Catholic at a political class for whom issues such as abortion, graphic sex education, accession to the demands of the LGBT movement and soon, no doubt, assisted suicide were, if you like, a closed book. He replied that he wasn't so passionate about abortion, though he had never met a woman who hadn't 'regretted it' but that in the US the abortion industry has firm ideological and political history in the eugenics movement of the 1920s. "The abortion industry in the US", he said, "is directed at black populations". The other features which the Church opposes, of State indoctrination of children and the LGBT agenda," he said, "are hallmarks of the modern progressive ideology, which, again appears to come from the left." He maintained that although he isn't a Catholic and doesn't agree with the Church about everything that he sees the Catholic Church as a natural ally in the fight against a totalitarian State which craves ultimate power over the individual. Scary, eh?

As we have seen from the past week or two, it is vital that the Church is just that, lest not just religious liberty, the freedom to worship but the liberty and freedom of all be undefended. This is what the Church did in the defeat of Communism in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. We must gird our loins, for the rise of a totalitarian State with, fundamentally, the same ideals, is staring us in the face and you don't need binoculars to see it. 'Bloc by bloc' it is being built and the homeless man I was talking with has noted it not just in this country, but the US and of course, the EU...See, I told you the homeless had plenty to tell us!


Physiocrat said...

"He then told us that he was happy because he knows that when he dies he's going to Heaven because Our Lord took his all sins upon Himself on the Cross."

Hmm. Is he a saint already, then? It's Purgatory for the rest of us.

We need a political movement based on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. Which would have to follow not just a pro-Life programme but also the economic and social policies that are needed to sustain pro-Life policies. It would be an updated reincarnation of the Distributist movement. Look up "distributism".

The Bones said...

Unfortuntely, that's the evangelical line. No wonder the homeless can't take it seriously.

Anonymous said...

Do please tell me where in the Bible it mentions Purgatory? In my mind it is a concept invented by the Catholic Church to scam money out of the poor peasants of society- and everyone else for that matter- by selling indulgences and the like.
And as for CCK being a rich church, we as a congregation are very generous in our giving. However, the church is extremely transparent about how it spends its money and doesn't- as you may think- pocket any of it. If members of CCK live by faith and give more than they can afford then this principle more than applies to the Church's finances as a whole.
As for the preaching on a Monday Night, if you are a Christian then surely you are aware of the fact that Jesus himself said that no one comes to the Father but through Him. The message of Jesus is the only hope for all of us regardless of our status, background or current situation. We have all sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. It is therefore of absolute importance that the Gospel is preached at every opportunity. Truly, no man will ever find freedom without it.

Physiocrat said...

Anonymous - The bible is a book that was compiled by the Catholic church and is to be interpreted in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic church. Why do you use our book but ignore our traditions, ceremonies, statements of creed, dogmas, etc? That is illogical and inconsistent.

Purgatory is a logical development following reflection on scripture. One goes to heaven when one is unstained and entirely with God in a condition of grace. Who is in that state when they die? Therefore a period in purgatory is necessary to cleanse one of the stains of the sins one has committed in one's lifetime.

Anyone is of course perfectly free to interpret the bible how they wish, and I have come across some pretty whacky ideas on the subject over the years.

What precisely is the "Catholic Church", other than the same church that was founded by Christ Himself? If it is not that, can you please say when and how it came into existence?

In my experience, it is not a good idea to proclaim the gospel at people almost as if it were a condition of them being fed, which is what sounds as if it is happening, and I have come across such before. Jesus engaged in discussion with people and healed them. He was not at all "preachy".

Physiocrat said...

Anonymous, there is one other thing. Read St John, chapter 6 all the way through. It is clear from that, first that one must eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, and second, that it is real flesh and real blood. This is clear because it says that people were offended by the statement, which they would not have been if the flesh and blood were merely symbolic. the chapter is clearly intended to be taken in its literal meaning.

Can CCK feed those who go there with the body and blood of Christ? If not, should you not be coming along to St Mary Magdalen's for instruction? In that church you receive food in accordance with the scriptures.

You will be most welcome, I can assure you.

Jan said...

Dear Physiocrat,

I hear you! We do need such a political program! I have tried to write about it myself in somewhat more detail--'Perhaps it's not the end,' you'll see it on my blog. It isn't exactly a big movement yet. In fact, I haven't had a single comment. But I'm in the US, we're the poster child for secularism, and for the Liberal Fascism in the post. In fact, I think we have a whole heresy named just for us, Americanism, or something like that.

You did a wonderful job answering Anon on Purgatory. I hope he came back to read it.

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