Upcoming Events
  • Mon
    17
    May
    2021

    Join us for a Christian Heritage zoom webinar

    +++

    Obedient Subversiveness:

    How the Bible Creates Cultural Critics

     

    with Dr Chris Watkin

    on

    Monday, May 17th at 7:30pm BST

     

    Christians have not always had a reputation for their depth and breadth of engagement in culture and the arts. Where they have fallen short of practising discerning cultural engagement, Dr Chris Watkin argues that it is because they have wandered away from the nature and teaching of the Christian Scriptures. In this webinar, we will see how the Bible embodies and encourages cultural engagement of the broadest and most penetrating sort. We will note that the Bible is peculiarly able to furnish favourable conditions for a cultural criticism which is expansive in scope yet disciplined in analysis, warmly affirming, acutely critiquing and subversively fulfilling the aspirations of our cultural life. Indeed, we will explore just how it is that the Bible creates wise cultural critics.

     

    After a presentation from Dr Watkin, there will be the opportunity for discussion and Q and A on the topic of the Bible and cultural engagement.

     

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Author: Kevin Moss

Kevin Moss is Director of Operations at Christian Heritage and a PhD candidate in intellectual history. According to Oliver Wiseman, The Critic’s US Editor (‘Out of this world?’, March 2021), 66% of Americans believe that there is life on other planets, 57% believe there is intelligent life on other planets, and just under 50% believe that UFOs exist and have visited the earth.  This tells us a great deal about how beliefs are now formed in a postmodern world. Firstly, one is reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s famous quotation: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’  Our culture supplies an apparently inexhaustible stream of examples of what happens when we dispense with the only external objective benchmark of human identity or morality, and morph overnight into a generation of selfie-obsessed narcissists without the faintest clue as to what we actually are. Secondly, the presumption in favour of the inevitability of life on other planets is palpable evidence of the way in which evolutionary theory has become the vehicle for advancing the unscientific philosophy of Naturalism.  Despite everything that is now known, quantifiably, about the vanishingly minute probability...

Kevin Moss is Director of Operations at Christian Heritage and a PhD candidate in intellectual history. I’m afraid I was a bit of a late developer when it came to reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus, The Gulag Archipelago. In the end, won over I suspect by Jordan Peterson’s emphasis of its significance, in 2017 I bought the condensed volume which incorporated all three instalments of Solzhenitsyn’s monumental treatment of the phenomenon of the Soviet Gulags. My review on the page linked above will hopefully convey my sense of the utter relevance of what is described here. There are several layers to a work such as this. One is as a record of a particular period in history, describing a cultural phenomenon which happened on the other side of the world, and which, in its sheer scale and brutality is almost beyond Western comprehension. The Wikipedia listing of the Gulag camps is a helpful first point of reference, as it powerfully conveys the scale of the whole machinery of oppression, reminding us that this is very far from being the kind of minor consideration that is of little relevance. Solzhenitsyn makes it clear that there is a very specific kind of human pathology...

Kevin Moss is Director of Operations at Christian Heritage and a PhD candidate in intellectual history. In the wake of the recent insanities on Capitol Hill, I have taken to re-reading Gertrude Himmelfarb’s excellent book, On Looking Into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society. Published in 1994, it is perhaps unlikely that Himmelfarb (who died towards the end of 2019) would have anticipated these events, as unlikely as it would have been for John Stuart Mill to have anticipated the outworking of his thesis, On Liberty, the book which has been a foundational influence on modern liberalism. Mill’s work benefits from a very clear-sighted critique in Chapter IV of Himmelfarb’s book, entitled Liberty: “One Very Simple Principle”? which demonstrates that the kind of reductionism at the heart of On Liberty has not weathered the passage of time very well. Indeed, the clue to the fundamental weakness in Mill’s optimism about liberalism is to be found in another of his essays, Nature, written only a few months before he commenced On Liberty. It would be difficult to find two views of human nature which had less in common, but it was the naïvely optimistic one which prevailed, because it was...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. One of the many joys of historical research is that one gets to meet great minds that have somehow fallen through the cracks of popular history.  One such, for me, has been Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88), a profound German Enlightenment thinker with a propensity for dark and enigmatic writings.  In recent years, there has been a gentle flourishing of translations of his literary contributions (many remain untranslated from the German), and I have recently benefited enormously from John R. Betz’ After Enlightenment, the Post-Secular Vision of J. G. Hamann (2012, Wiley-Blackwell). Hamann’s is an unusual mind, given his context.  He turned from the sterility of continental Enlightenment to a robust, evangelical Christian faith – and in that turning became something of a focus for secular acquaintances who regarded his sincere faith as an affront to their values.  Through their influence, he was introduced to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) in the hope that the great philosopher would reclaim this errant Enlightenment heretic, but what actually emerged was an improbable friendship, one where Hamann certainly gave as good as he got.  Essentially, Hamann provided one of the best, and certainly one of...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. Earlier this month, I wrote a short piece about the toxic impact of ‘cancel culture’, especially as it is impacting upon higher education.  It is worth noting that the introduction of reductionist ideologies within the secondary school system means that we are churning out undergraduates who are ill-equipped to cope with the free intellectual environment that hitherto characterised our Universities.  Analogically,  ‘Foot-binding‘ was a historical and disfiguring practice conducted in China, only finally abolished in the early 20th century: its victims were no longer able to walk naturally and freely.  It is quite likely that the shackles of reductionism may have a similarly constraining impact upon intellectual development, but labelling academic freedom as the ‘problem’ misses the point by a wide mile.  Academic freedom can only be a ‘problem’ to students who are suffering from a societally-induced pathology, disabling the exercise of critical faculties, and subverting the capacity to tolerate opinions other than their own. Of course, those who have the greatest interest in fostering or supporting cancel culture are the same people most likely to deny that it exists.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago documents the painstaking lengths to which the Soviet...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. ‘Cancel Culture’ may not be new, but it’s suddenly gone mainstream.  Perhaps it’s a secondary symptom of the COVID-19 virus. It seems that those who are doing the ‘cancelling’ are keen that our awareness of what is going on needs drastically paring back.  Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist, has written at quite some length, in order to document his own experience at the hands of the mobs who seem to control social media.  The irony here is that scientists who are Christians have, for many years, found themselves ‘cancelled’ (or existed under the threat thereof) for any public dissent from the presuppositional naturalism which has been used to weaponise the biological sciences against the very (theistic) worldview which gave rise to them.  Suddenly, those of atheistic or agnostic persuasion, are discovering that this toxic ideology has quietly morphed into something that is far more dangerous to Western intellectual culture, and has the capacity to bring the whole house of cards down. Well, evolution’s a bit like that. Of course the intellectual viability of the scientific project was always wholly dependent on its theistic foundations.  To mix my metaphors;  since Darwin, the...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. Like most organisations, the implications of some kind of post-COVID-19 reboot for a charity I support are enormous.  Running a visitor centre, where people have the temerity to move about, requires immensely detailed precautionary measures.  Visitors have the right to feel safe, but so do our staff, and therefore how does one introduce sufficient structure and control to limit undesirable social contact, when the whole point of the exercise is to welcome people and interact positively, constructively with them?  That’s not going to happen whilst wearing hazmat suits, or by steadfastly hiding behind polycarbonate screens, or by spraying anti-viral agents on anything that has a pulse. And so, we plan, we plan . . . The precise content of new instructional signage.  The location of the automatic hand-sanitiser dispenser.  The types of masks to be stocked, and who gets to wear them.  How we get people in and out of the Visitor Centre through the same door, whilst at the same time minimising contact.  How we manage movement around an open, round, internal space.  How we deploy new signage or barriers without at the same time completely vandalising the unique experience...

In today's guest post, Kevin Moss, Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history, sheds light on the threat posed by a largely unchecked culture of death. It’s never very far away, that opportunistic nihilism, venturing forth under cover of COVID-19 in order to bulk up its trophy-bag.  Whilst the NHS and even the Government, are beavering away to save as many lives as possible, it is odd to think that there are organisations that exemplify radically different ideological commitments.  BPAS, one of the biggest providers of abortion services in the UK, has (according to media reports) been agitating for perhaps the biggest liberalisation in the regime, since 1967.  And, very likely they’ll succeed, given that our attention is quite naturally focused on sustaining and protecting life, rather than snuffing it out. And, last Saturday, as I opened the little plastic bag that contained my weekend newspaper supplement, what should drop out, but a flyer promoting the services of ‘Dignity in Dying’ (DID), the ultimate expression of cultural nihilism.  The usual pampered celebs looked earnestly out of the leaflet, attempting to convince us that, only through the administration of a lethal cocktail of barbiturate and anti-emetic, we may have any hope...