Some Junk I Posted on FB Today…

Thomas Fleming

By

March 17, 2020

First:

I used to have a Greek friend from Alexandria. Alex was a businessman who became a professor of business. He used to say you couldn't argue with communists, because after you had refuted every argument of theirs from A to Z, they'd say, "What about A?" as if it had never been discussed. It is the problem with all ideologies, and I do mean all, including especially anti-communism.
People who are unfortunate enough to have lived under communism cannot escape the conviction that everything from self-selection of gender to the current ChiCom plague is the product of Marxism. I only wish life were that simple, but we here in the great and good USA have done evil the Marxists never dreamed of. Of course, it is ridiculous to exempt the Chinese government from the lesser charge of failing to contain the plague in its initial state and lied about everything all along the way or even from the greater charge of creating the virus in a laboratory, which is perfectly possible, but toilet paper shortages and the panic that causes them cannot be laid at the door of t he nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu.

PS Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu books are junk--though the late Sam Francis loved all that stuff about the Yellow Peril--but like a cheap beer and bag of Cheetos, they have their charm, even if they do leave a yellow stain on your greasy fingers.

Second, in response to a little squib from Jim Easton:

"If your church has a fog machine, it’s time for a new church.

Change my mind.

Followed by someone who sort of defended his own church's multi-media spectacles, I replied:
If a "church" showed porn movies during the Sunday service, would it really be a church? Or substituted a production of The Phantom of the Opera for a traditional service? Or a reverse raffle? Or Bingo instead of the Eucharist? A church = assembly, which refers to the assembly of the people who worship the God Who sent his beloved son to suffer and die for sinful humanity. The purpose of the assembly is not to be entertained, get rich, or even hear edifying thoughts from a pastor of limited knowledge of Greek Hebrew, and Latin--the subjects they haven't taught seriously in most seminaries for the past 50 years. (I've had pastors, who claimed to have had at least two years of Greek in seminary, as students in my Greek II course, and they simply could not cut it. They did talk a good game about church development, though. ) The purpose is to worship God. That is what we are there for, and that is what a liturgy is, an obligatory service of praise and thanksgiving. This is true for Catholic and Orthodox Christians, for Lutheran and Anglican, and for every Baptist and Presbyterian church I have attended. This an't sectarian. A church with fog machines and rock bands is no more a church than the those pseudo-Christian organizations that pay for their pastorettes elective infanticides
Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

9 Responses

  1. Avatar Konstantin Solodov says:

    “People who are unfortunate enough to have lived under communism cannot escape the conviction that everything from self-selection of gender to the current ChiCom plague is the product of Marxism.”

    Mr. Fleming, what are the roots of Marxism?

  2. Avatar Vince Cornell says:

    This could become a thematic list like Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a Redneck” series.
    Friends, does you church have a fog machine?
    Is the word “Mega” at the beginning of your church’s name?
    When it’s time for praise and worship, does your church fire up the PowerPoint slides and projector?
    Does your pastor read to you from the Book of Osteen during his sermon?
    Does your church provide complimentary bagels and coffee for you to eat BEFORE and DURING the service?
    Does your church constantly brag about how it’s non-denominational?
    Has the phrase “A church alive is worth the drive” ever been used in conjunction with your church?
    Then your church just might not be a church!

  3. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    I like the ones that say they’re spiritual, not religious. Are they open to all spirits, even the evil ones?

  4. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Ken, a more practical question is whether or not they are open to good spirits. The fruits of the spirit, Paul tells us in Galatians, include: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance. Consider only “temperance” This is not the usual Greek virtue of sophrosyne, prudence, but enkrateia, self-control. Preachers who set out to whip up their flock into a frenzy, either by film, licentious music, or melodramatic preaching, are going not just against the admonitions of the best authorities–Protestant as well as Catholic–but against Saint Paul. Martin Luther and John Calvin both had strong things to say about what should be done with enthusiasts, e.g. the Anabaptists.

  5. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Mr. Solodov is asking for a book or rather several books. Much depends on whether we look at Marxism as a theory of history, a political philosophy, or a program for revolution. Most immediately it was one of many poison streams flowing out of the later phases of the French Revolution. Babeuf and his pals planned for the extermination of the responsible classes and a realm of perfect equality under the guidance of a revolutionary elite. Indeed, it is of Babeuf’s followers that the word communist began to be used. The French Revolution also inspired the recognition that without some binding principle of unity, nations could not survive and men could not find contentment, hence the utopian socialist movements of St. Simon and Fourier, which gave a sort of secular vision of the heavenly kingdom to revolutionaries. Marx provided a pseudo-scientific theory that gave his movement an air of inevitability, much as Darwin provided the theory to consolidate the ideology of atheist secularism that was already a dominant force among Europe’s scribbling and chattering classes. Here is a principle I am thinking of advancing generally, once I work it out: Ideology precedes the scientific and philosophical theories that originate in the need to prove what people already believe. Darwin did not persuade the world that man was simply an ape descended from a long line of bestial ancestors–his own grandfather had made that point. He did provide a clever, even brilliant theory to explain the mechanism. Marx recognized the brilliance and wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin. The difference is that Darwin was onto something important, while Marx and his disciples pursued power. In a long-forgotten book WH Mallock predicted what would happen if Marxists ever seized country of a country. Ignoring what Marxists said about themselves and their plans, Mallock looked at how they ran their movement–with a ruthless totalitarian rigor.

    To do the question justice, many volumes would be needed. I have not even touched upon an element as important as any, the development of the anti-Christian and anti-Western ideology that precedes Marx by several centuries.

  6. Avatar Konstantin Solodov says:

    Marxism is one of many poison streams flowing out of the later phases of the French Revolution.

    Anti-Christian ideology
    Anti-Western ideology

    Mr. Solodov would like to clarify the source.

    Babeuf (1760-1797) – the life with idea of equality.

    One more step – Rousseau (1712-1778)

    One more step – Locke (1632-1704)
    Empiricism; knowledge from senses

    Who is next – Hobbes (1588-1679) and Bacon (1561-1626)?

    So, we are speaking about streams which have names: Humanism, Rationalism, Empiricism.

  7. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Affixing labels or making lists contributes little to understanding. If anything, it does the opposite by persuading the labelers and listmakers that they have understood. For example humanism is a virtually meaningless term. Petrarch was a Humanist, and so were More and Erasmus.

    I very briefly indicated a very few sources to which one might add the millennialist aspirations that began erupting openly during the Reformation and the inherent instability–as Marx recognized–or liberal capitalist institutions. But none of this gets anyone anywhere. A proper reliance on reason and empirical methods can always be misapplied and not just since the Renaissance. On the other hand, they are very useful tools against superstition and irrationalism.

  8. Avatar Konstantin Solodov says:

    Is “knowledge from senses” a virtually meaningless term? If not, we can use such form and not to use “isms”.
    It’s strange strange because you use Marxism, but ok.

    I don’t see a necessity in millennialist jumps, if there is not understanding for last 800 years.

    Is there the following stream?

    Babeuf (1760-1797) – Rousseau (1712-1778) – Locke (1632-1704) – Hobbes (1588-1679) – Bacon (1561-1626)

  9. Avatar Sam Dickson says:

    How I miss the churches of my childhood and youth!

    Even in our Presbyterian Church (the bete noir of Dr. Fleming’s existence) most parishes (and they actually called themselves “parishes”, an important thing that has disappeared from the English language) we had what were basically low Anglican services. In many parishes and in virtually all parishes in Scotland even the somewhat popish Kyrie Eleisons and Angus Dei were included.

    Services were quiet. Old hymns with moving, comforting melodies. Sermons focused on real sins…adultery, idolatry (admittedly with a lot of self righteous finger-pointing at other denominations), bearing false witness, theft (I remember the congregation being reminded that taking towels from hotel rooms was an example of such sinful conduct), etc.

    Now church services are poisoned and poisonous.

    Invariably, the only sins addressed are ones that have never been heard of before….”racism”, “sexism”, “homophobia.”

    Never, never, never do you hear a sermon on the sins listed in the 10 Commandments. A clergyPERSON who gave a sermon on divorce to a congregation half of whom are divorced would be run out of the pulpit.

    Many churches now have what they call “praise services.” These consist of clappy, happy-talk carnivals. The music is execrable.

    The last time I attended a Presbyterian service was 6 months ago in Highlands, N.C. The priestess/preacherette gave a sermon on the shoot-’em-up in the synagogue up in Pennsylvania. She blamed “White nationalists” and “White racists” for the actions of this mentally deranged nut case. She informed the congregation that she could not love or forgive a White nationalist or White racist and since she seemed pleased with herself in saying this, I gather that she believes that Christians are under no moral duty to waste any love on such people and are authorized to regard them with unmitigated hatred because, as St. Hillary Clinton said, they not only are “deplorables” but also “irredeemable.”

    After the service mercifully ended I told her as I left that I was one of the people she could not love or forgive so it was pointless for us to speak. However, I went on to tell her that it was the most awful service I had ever attended in my lifetime and that she would be spared ever experiencing any encounter that might evoke love or forgiveness because I would never darken the threshold of that parish again.

    [The preacherette clammed up…literally. She clutched herself with her arms, shut her eyes and became catatonic.]

    Fortunately, as the Prophet of Geneva instructed us, I am predestined and nothing I do has any impact on my ultimate salvation. Therefore, I could be as mean as I wanted to be to this woman and didn’t have to play nice and be good like the poor Roman Catholics have to behave.

    I will never have the kind of church services I like. It’s part of living in the Enlightened Age.

    One last comment:

    I enjoin everyone to ponder in his heart Fleming’s fatwa against affixing labels and making lists.

    The importance of this idea is difficult to stress too much.

    And it applies to ourselves – most importantly to ourselves.

    We should eschew labels like “right-winger”, “conservative” or “racist.”

    That’s not what we are. Applying such labels to oneself or accepting them when other apply them to oneself is to accept suffocating limitations.