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.

     

    Sign up here

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Articles

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...

As modern people, we like to think that we have got things firmly under control. We don't do well, as a rule, with those aspects of life which defy our management - the great realities which resist being tamed. Take the seasons, for example. Traditionally, the ebb and flow of creation's 'appointed times' - seedtime and harvest, summer and winter - ruled our movements, our activities and even our entertainments. These days, our drive to manage everything, coupled with our use of technology, leaves us less aware than any generation before us of the movements of the seasons. If you don't believe me, just ask yourself the following questions: when was the last time you cancelled a trip because of an inauspicious wind? Has your conscience ever smitten you for buying strawberries in January? Has a bad wheat harvest ever ruined your holiday plans? I could go on, but trust that the point is made. Our indifference to the seasons is part of a more general attitude change in regard to time. We see ourselves, we moderns, more or less as 'Time Lords': de facto owners and organisers of time. The suggestion that our activities, entertainments or diets should be constrained by...

Contemporary Western culture sees itself as broadly liberal, a value framework which has given us democracy, the rule of law, toleration, human rights and a market economy – all things to be grateful for. With the collapse of Communism, there was an air of self-congratulation.  Some spoke of the ‘end of history’, since we in the West had the best system and nothing could improve on it. But then came Islamic terrorism, the financial crash, Brexit and Trump - the rise of populism, and much elite angst. To address this, Patrick Deneen, an American academic at Notre Dame, has written Why Liberalism Failed and it became the basis for one of our lunch discussions. Deneen’s project is interesting, since his thesis has gained traction on both the political left and right, with many agreeing across party lines that there is a crisis afoot.  Deneen first describes how the crisis of liberalism has come to the fore. First, there is the economic insecurity and inequality brought on by globalisation – factory jobs lost to China, for example. Then we see social dislocation brought on by family breakdown and immigration. There is then a need to deal with the consequent distrust in government....