Douglas Murray’s latest book, The War on the West, has catapulted public awareness of the severity of the culture wars into a new gear. Hopefully it will help the Church clarify what’s going on under its nose as well.
“Wokery” has after all caused widespread confusion throughout the West. Some liberal Protestants love it. Some liberal Catholics love it. Perhaps in part because it appears to support attractive contemporary ethical values, while offering to bestow an effortless moral superiority on its supporters at very little cost.
But the ideas behind it are not at all straightforward; and worse than that, words don’t mean what they pretend to mean, in particular “diversity, inclusion and equality”.
But what may be more important than grasping the nuances of lexicographical slipperiness, however, is waking up to the way in which wokery targets Christian values more than any other. Is this an accident or should we take notice and pay attention?
It is suddenly beginning to strike people that the Church may not just be collateral damage, but may actually be the main target of this new ethical movement – at least by inference if not directly.
Murray quotes a Black American professor called John McWhorter (pictured), an associate professor of linguistics at Columbia University. McWhorter has given some focus to a suspicion that was growing among observers that, although there were no overt gods and no overt organisation, somehow the woke movement had morphed into becoming a religion. That is, it behaved like a religion. Its followers behaved as though they were passionate fundamentalist believers, practicing a religion.
It was almost like a semi-conscious parody of Christianity. We have original sin, the eating of the apple and the rebellion against the will of God constituting “original sin”. They have “white privilege” as their original sin. Both share the same characteristic as being hardwired into the human condition. Original sin is universal; no one can escape it. White privilege isn’t explained, it isn’t justified, it just is. It is the flaw that runs through all human beings and all human history. We have a day of judgement. The day of judgement for wokery will happen through the long-term effects of psychological self-mortification combined with the transformational political activism that whites will be moved to effect upon being morally shamed and verbally muzzled.
The Catholic Church dealt with heretics by excommunicating them. The church of wokery also does excommunication, but calls it cancellation. One immediate and striking difference between the two religions is that in Christianity there is a way back, with the promise of forgiveness and restitution. But in wokery, cancellation is permanent. It is ruthless. There is no mechanism for redemption.
In Catholicism there are a some very specific liturgical rituals. Each believer genuflects before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. In wokery, each devotee takes the knee and genuflects in order to recognise the great god of anti-racism. The more public the place, the more grand the occasion, the more potent and worthwhile the genuflection.
Murray delves behind the façade of wokery to imitate St Ignatius and begins an exercise in the discernment of spirits.
Surprisingly but perceptively he turns to Friedrich Nietzsche. It was Nietzsche who suggested that the presenting virtue of seeking for justice was in fact something much less pure and noble. Instead it was driven by resentment. At its root was a fury and a jealousy wanting nothing less than the complete destruction of anyone or anything that embodied higher values. This enraged resentment cloaked itself with public virtue pretending to be a wholesome quest for equity, but was instead a desire for revenge sanctifying itself in public, by claiming it was a quest for justice,
Christians will recognise a metaphysical source for these psychological traits. And if we are right, that would go a long way to explain the particular animus against orthodox Christianity. For the other side of the coin, Murray turns to Dostoevsky, and in particular his novel The Brothers Karamazov.
There the devil explains that gratitude is an attitude that is wholly and completely inaccessible to him; and so, delicately and by implication, Murray suggests that this new religion, pretending virtue but drawing on bitter wells of jealousy, blame (it must be someone else’s fault, never mine) and revenge, has a diabolic origin, and its antidote is a celebrated Christian virtue: gratitude.
For Murray, this comes to him as a mixture of psychological trait and metaphor. But for practicing Catholics with a deeper metaphysical experience than Murray can lay claim to, it becomes clearer that a social justice movement that has spread like wildfire, burning through the dry spiritual brushwood of a secular age, has more to it than meets the eye.
It is not just as Chesterton warned that ceasing to believe in God would not result in believing in nothing, but believing in anything. This movement of soi-disant
Anti-racism, which is deeply racist in its anti-white hatred, is a diabolic parody of the real thing, with just enough virtue signalling to cloak its real origins.
So if Murray is right, the Church had better beware of bending the knee and adopting the DIE (diversity, inclusion, equality) mantra. For in doing so it is supporting a deception intent on censoring speech and thought, and of rewriting history.
The need for effective discernment and accurate analysis could hardly be more pressing. The stakes have suddenly become unexpectedly high.
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