Return to the Faith

By Fr. Michael Heidt (2011):  

Some American observers of the recent riots in London and other U.K. cities might be forgiven a sense of shock, or even surprise. After all, pictures of feral youth rampaging against a backdrop of burning buildings aren’t necessarily unexpected in, say, Detroit, or Watts, but London? Surely not. Surely yes, unfortunately, but for different reasons than the urban upheaval that America experienced during the 1960s and ‘70s. Those riots were concerned with civil rights and racial injustice, Great Britain’s latest disturbance seems to have been little more than an outbreak of mass criminality and lawlessness.

The U.K.’s chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, writing in the Wall Street Journal, goes to the heart of the matter, “Britain is the latest country to pay the price for what happened half a century ago in one of the most radical transformations in the history of the West.” Then, in the 1960s, Western society jettisoned Judeo-Christian values and norms, all in the name of freedom seen in terms of individual autonomy. As events have shown, this has proven to be a toxic recipe for societal collapse or at the very least, dysfunction.

For example, why should a generation that has been cut loose, or “freed”, from the supposedly oppressive concept of objective truth, of right and wrong, be expected to act as if these existed? Minds schooled in the vapid philosophy of “I’ve got my truth, you’ve got yours” are hardly likely to develop any great degree of social conscience, to say nothing of civic responsibility. After all, why should a person value their culture when all along they’ve been taught that value, in and of itself, isn’t real and that all cultures are the same anyway – with the exception of classical Western culture, namely their own, which is assumed to be worse than all others.

Again, does it really make sense to believe, in the name of personal freedom, that we can walk away from institutions that are protected by the values in question and emerge unscathed. The Christian ideal of marriage and the family is a primary case in point. Lifelong monogamy, the bearing of children and, recently, the restriction of marriage to men and women, have been seen as a hindrance to personal freedom and something to be attacked and eroded. Those who see this attack as beneficial should congratulate themselves on their success, especially in England.

60% of all children in the U.K. are now born out of wedlock, the divorce rate is high and around a quarter of all families in the United Kingdom with dependent children are single parent, 90% of which are now headed up by mothers. Regardless of the financial stress of family breakup, with two homes being more costly than one, and the emotional trauma caused to children in particular, the dissolution of the Western family unit has had a disastrous effect on young men. With the absence of fathers, these increasingly have no positive male role model.

Given this, is it any wonder that 95% of U.K. rioters charged at the end of August were young males, between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that 25% of those charged were involved in the U.K.’s growing gang culture; has this provided a surrogate “fatherhood”? Maybe, and it’s worth noting that 25% of those charged during the riots were involved in gang activity, an interesting correlation with the single parent percentile.

Percentages aside, the truth in all of this is that we would be foolish to suppose that people born and raised outside the values made normative by Christendom should somehow be expected to live by those values. England’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has rightly said that the riots in his country are evidence of a “moral collapse”. They are, but what’s the solution? A reversal, obviously, of the “radical transformation” that lead to the moral collapse in the first place. In other words, a recovery of the Judeo-Christian conscience, or to put it more simply still, a return to the Faith which makes that conscience possible.

This leaves mainstream Western Anglicans in a quandary because they have been part of the problem. Belief in God Himself, the unique divinity of Christ, the tenets of the Creeds and the revealed Word of God in Scripture, are called into question with such regularity that the spectacle of an Anglican clergyperson doubting the fundamental beliefs of Christianity is no longer newsworthy.

In the same vein, successive Synods and General Conventions have endorsed secularism’s radical agenda until that is now the English-speaking Anglican norm. Individual autonomy, the metaphysic of “choice”, has become our part of the Church’s new orthodoxy and with it inevitable compliance to the spirit of the age. “Abortion is a sacrament,” said The Episcopal Church’s Rev. Carter Hayward. She wasn’t wrong, the right to end life in the womb, as a matter of personal choice, is surely an outward sign of that inward triumph of the will which has become the hallmark of Western Anglicanism.

This August, the world saw with technicolor clarity where such thinking and the actions it produces lead - to masked hoodlums burning and looting in the center of once civilized cities. This was the direct result of the U.K.’s abandonment of the values that made that civilization possible, the values of Christendom. Until this is addressed, we should have no doubt that the fires will continue and Cameron’s “moral collapse” will escalate to the point at which the cultural deposit of Christianity is erased from the West. We have seen, doubtless in embryo, what this means and it is unacceptable to all right-thinking men and women. 

There is, ultimately, one solution, a wholesale return to the Faith which made Europe and, by extension, the Western world. We must pray that Anglicans, not least in the U.S., will rise to the challenge.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.