Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Child sex-abuse: blaming the victims

Who will do reparation for the crimes our society so casually
sweeps under the carpet?
LMS Mass of Reparation for Abortion, Bedford

My latest on Life-Site. A key passage:

...while the official message is that everyone has the right to say “no”, saying “no” is the mark of being uncool or actually a bad person. Schools have handed potential rapists a new and powerful arsenal of psychological techniques they can use to put pressure on their victims.

Of course, few teachers believe this message themselves: in its implications, it is an extreme form of sexual libertinism incompatible with long-term relationships and family life. What they actually think of the child-victims of the intense social pressure to agree to sexual acts is revealing. One testimony on Everyone’s Invited described how when boys shared nude photos of the girls with each other, it was the girls who were blamed from creating the images in the first place, at the insistence of their boyfriends. 

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Strange Survival of Conservative Christianity

I've written a piece for the magazine The European Conservative. It's available online, and begins as follows.

Just over two years ago, Daryush Valizadeh—better known as known as ‘Roosh,’ the ‘pick-up artist,’ and enemy of feminism, who had slept with thousands of women and written ‘how-to’ books so other men could emulate this achievement—announced that he was reverting to the Armenian Orthodox faith of his upbringing. He renounced his past life, publicly repented his sins, and ‘unpublished’ most of his books. Many of them had been banned from Amazon anyway; you could only buy them directly from his website.

More recently, Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay alt-right provocateur who had tried—with varying success—to build a career from generating outrage, reverted to the Catholic faith of his own upbringing, declaring himself ‘ex-gay’ and ‘sodomy-free’ to the conservative Catholic website LifeSiteNews.

It is fair to assume that none of these four men have much interest in liberal Christianity. It is towards the beleaguered Helm’s Deep of conservative or traditional Christianity that they are heading. The embattled garrison may well have mixed feelings as this particular contingent of reinforcements crest on the horizon, but as their worst enemies would, perhaps, agree, they do need Jesus.These two individuals are—or (in their previous personae) were—among the most toxic and hated figures on the planet for feminists and others on the social-justice bandwagon. In a somewhat different category, though still heartily loathed by the woke Left, are Jordan Peterson and Laurence Fox. It seems increasingly possible that Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist who has won fame as a life-style guru, is moving towards belief in—and not just respect for—the Christian religion. The divorced actor-turned-campaigner Fox, in turn, who had been ‘cancelled’ for claiming that Britain is not a racist country, has revealed that he has become more ‘outwardly Christian,’ and says prayers with his sons every night.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

The 'Managed Zone' of prostitution in Leeds closes

My latest on LifeSiteNews. Some good news from Leeds.


Since 2014, the local police and city government have allowed a slab of the city of Leeds in England to become a crime-ridden nightmare, in the forlorn hope that other parts of the city would benefit. This bizarre policy has finally been scrapped.

The U.K.’s laws against prostitution are far from satisfactory, but they do exist. It is illegal to solicit for paid sex, and this includes what is known as “curb crawling.” It is also illegal to “live off immoral earnings”, which outlaws brothels. The city council and the police of Leeds announced that these laws would not be enforced in a certain mainly non-residential area of the city between 8pm and 6am. The area was nevertheless heavily monitored — or so it was claimed — and the scheme cost the city and police around £300,000. It should have come as no surprise that the designated area, and increasingly areas around its borders, became a kind of enterprise zone for criminals engaging in rape, sex trafficking, drugs, and even murder. I hesitate to reproduce descriptions of what it was like, but a lot of physical cleaning-up had to be undertaken every morning at the city’s expense, the problems continued 24-hours a day, and people who lived nearby were far from happy.


Read the whole thing there.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Liturgy, Abortion, Doctrine: entwined crises

Latin Mass Society's annual Mass in Reparation for Abortion,
at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bedford, 2019.

My latest article for Calx Mariae, the magazine of Voice of the Family, is available online. Here is a key passage.

The liturgy is the holiest possession of the Church: it contains God’s very presence, and those things most intimately associated with that. It is the frame for the familiar ways we engage with that presence, in the intimacy of our souls. What progressives were claiming, and continue to claim, is that the Church had got the liturgy seriously wrong, and had done so for more than a thousand years.

This message destroyed the faith of many Catholics, including many priests and religious. It was resisted by others, and this created a bitter internal conflict in the Church which is still continuing. For many Catholics who were not especially well-informed or ideologically committed, it simply caused confusion. Above all, for those inside and outside the Church, it did the opposite of what the Vatican II reforms were supposed to do. Instead of sending the Church on a renewed mission with greater confidence, it filled her children with self-doubt and made the Church look, to outsiders, disunited and unsure of herself.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Do Traditional Catholics deserve a good kicking? A reply to M.W. Davis

Bishop Rey of Frejus (France) celebrating the EF in the
Chapel of the Throne in it Peter's Basilica, Rome

Michael Warren Davis has, again, attacked Catholics attached to the Church’s traditional Latin liturgy. His repeated, embittered criticisms of this particular group within the Church (see here and here) are invariably motivated by a deep fraternal charity—so he tells us, anyway. The headline writer at the American Conservative, trying perhaps to discern exactly what the point of Davis’ article might be, subtitles it ‘Do liturgical dissenters deserve whatever sanctions the Vatican is preparing? Do they need them?’ The confusion between the two questions permeates the article. How are we to understand possible restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Mass as something which is going to help the situation Davis describes? The maxim ‘Beatings will continue until morale improves’ comes to mind.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

LMS Sponsored side altar at St Bede's, Clapham Park

St Bede altar

Last Saturday Fr Marcus Holden at St Bede's, Clapham Park, celebrated a High Mass of the Ember Saturday, for the repose of a benefactor of the Latin Mass Society, John Edward Arnell. The LMS has also sponsored a new side-altar at St Bede's in his memory, complete with a specially commissioned painting of St Bede, by the Catholic artist James Tildersley.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Last call for June: More Socratic Seminars: read Plato's dialogues with me

I'm arranging days and times now: last chance to join us for June-July.

My seminars on the early dialogues continue, and the current series concludes next week. 

Plato's dialogues are literary and philosophical masterpieces, exposing the limitations of common sense and setting out the philosophical attitudes and methods which have set the tone of the discipline from Plato's day to the present. I started these seminars during the lockdown, but the possibility of teaching anyone interested, and without regard to distance, suggests that they may have longer to run.

The premise of the series is that pretty well anyone with the necessary time (not very much is needed) and interest can engage profitably with the short early dialogues. Doing so is sufficient preparation, for those who want to, to continue with some of the slightly more complex and longer ones.

Just now I have been leading two seminars: one on four short early dialogues, and one on two longer ones: Protagoras and Gorgias.

With a view to starting in the week of 14th June, I am offering

Series 1: for those new to this.

1: Euthyphro (on piety), Ion (on poetic inspiration), Lysis (on friendship), and Laches (on courage).

Series 3: for returning students.

3: Hippias Major (on beauty), Meno (on virtue), Euthydemus (on the eristic method), and ClitophonTheages, & Alcibiades (different takes on the Socratic method, attributed to Plato).

Plus Series 5: for returning students who have done both beginners' and intermediate seminars.

5: Phaedo (on the afterlife); Phaedrus (on the nature of the soul): each divided into two parts.

So far I've continued to have enough students to justify two seminars running in parallel. We'll see if numbers stretch to three at once.

It has been a fascinating project for me, re-reading these dialogues often after many years, and discussing them with mostly mature students from all over the world. And the students clearly get a lot out of it, with many of them returning from one series to another.

I'm game to carry on, if you are! More information here.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Nice guys finish last?

I've written before about how men sometimes categorised as 'jerks' seem to have more success with the opposite sex than those described, often in a patronising tone of voice, as 'nice'. Two recent articles have been grist to my mill.

First is a review of When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault by David M. Buss, Little, Brown Spark, 336 pages (April 2021), bRob Henderson

Henderson ends his review with a particularly interesting observation:

A popular idea is that men who are desperate or deprived of chances for sex will be more likely to use coercion. This is known as the “mate deprivation hypothesis.” However, studies suggest the opposite is the case. Men who have more partners report higher levels of sexual aggression compared to men with fewer partners. Furthermore, men who predict that their future earnings will be high also report greater levels of sexual aggression relative to men who predict that their future earnings will be low.

One contributing factor may be an empathy deficit—the book reports that high status is linked to lower levels of empathy. Men high on Dark Triad traits are viewed as more attractive by women, are more likely to have consensual sexual partners, and are more likely to engage in sexual coercion.
Were it susceptible to logical argument, and not merely the product of ideology, the idea that the Church's championing of chastity leads to sex abuse would receive yet another blow from this.