Guest Notes

Redemption notes

Decline of Australia

21 March 2020

9:00 AM

21 March 2020

9:00 AM

In these extremely trying times for everyone in our world, I refer to an article which appeared in the December edition of Quadrant which caused me – at least metaphorically – to leap from my chair and cheer. The article in question was by retired Federal Court justice Stuart Lindsay who very tellingly used the word malign to describe Australia’s current post-Christian dispensation.

In spite of the second world war, I was born and grew up, by contrast, in England into a world which was essentially benign in character. Tragedy, hardship and misfortune could all still occur – and frequently did – but hope for the future remained for most people even on the darkest of days and even for non-believers and irregular as well as regular church-goers. Hope and stirring words by those such as Winston Churchill meant the post-war years were also a good time for many to be alive in spite of continuing rationing and compulsory military service for all of us once fit young men.

I spent a proportion of my service face to face with the Russians in the pinewoods of northern Germany. When spring came and the deep snows finally melted, I can well remember laughing with joy at the antics of squirrels playing regularly outside my billet in the forest. My twenties were likewise mostly a time of fun even as I tried desperately to establish myself as a professional artist in the heady beauty of the West Cornish countryside. Being truly good at what I did rather than rich remained a powerful priority. To some extent I subsidised my career by playing and teaching sport which was also a source of great pleasure. Post-modernism, which is simply Marxism or neo-Marxism in disguise, began to establish itself strongly from about 1970 onwards and by the middle of that decade I first started to succeed in my desire to oppose such influence strongly as an art critic. I was received into the Catholic Church in 1962. But enough about me: let me tell you the words of Stuart Lindsay which so inspired me: ‘I say that the political, educational, cultural and media ascendancy in Australia, as elsewhere in the West to a greater or lesser degree, have set out deliberately in the last half-century to make our own land uninhabitable to practising Christians or even to those who merely wish the Christian character of their polity to subsist (one might refer to the last group as auxiliary Christians). I say uninhabitable because I can’t read a newspaper, watch the television or visit the cinema or ride a bus or walk the dog or enter a store or pay for a licence or listen to parliament  or visit a school or a gallery or prison or enter a courtroom or call the police or speak to my neighbour without confronting the unutterable vulgarity and conceit of this post-Christian dispensation.’

In short, our once largely benign world in Australia and much of the rest of the West has come to seem to Stuart Lindsay and to me to a large extent as malign. I was sacked by the Australian after about six years of work there as national art correspondent – essentially because I absolutely oppose every single aspect of post-modernism.

I have turned my attention in the past fifteen or so years increasingly to political, educational and media matters by serving on the editorial board and writing every month for the recently closed Catholic magazine Annals, as well as writing occasionally for Quadrant and other international magazines and of course regularly for The Spectator Australia.

I could not be more disappointed by the changes I have witnessed in Australia in the past 25 years. Here we are living on the sole inhabited planet in our boundless universe – and an extraordinarily beautiful and varied one at that – turning our back contemptuously on its Creator who so loves us that He still  probably hopes to redeem us all.

Plague and pestilence have swept our planet many times before – to say nothing of famine and war. Karl Marx himself saw the destruction of Christianity and the traditional family as an imperative means of achieving the triumph of left-wing totalitarianism which – lest we forget – caused our world one hundred million deaths in the 20th century alone. Might there have been a lesson there for humanity to learn? How stupid can we possibly get?

During the recent record, epic bushfires in Australia no rain at all was due to appear until April at least according to the ‘experts’. Strangely and even without the permission of our official forecasters we nevertheless had 800mm where we lived in just 4 days and nights of continuous downpour, flooding parts of our previously intact 100-year-old home. Did our experts perhaps forget to tell God that no rain was supposed to fall before April? We are increasingly losing the plot.

We mere mortals may never be privileged to know the precise origins of the virus which currently threatens our physical world and its extraordinary achievements in the arts, science, medicine and the development of human life. Listen to the music of Mozart – as I did this morning – wander the streets of Venice (if we are ever able to do so again) and perhaps contemplate the wonders of Venetian painting. The population of greater Venice in its pomp was roughly that of present-day Wollongong, yet we insist continuously in Australia that the human race is inevitably ‘progressing’ even if we manage now to survive at all. The University of Wollongong has at least consented to acquaint itself with the wonders of Western civilisation through the Ramsay Foundation. Even if we discount  the wonders of our divinely-created physical world, should we not fill our minds with the wonders of human achievement? Sport apart, which is cancelled for the present, I cannot watch a solitary Australian TV programme – but of course they are not meant for me – or people like Stuart Lindsay. If we escape annihilation it is high time now to raise our game.

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