Nothing new under the sun

On the tidal wave unleashed in the Reformation after Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Catholic church. Described by Roger Kimball in a review of Jacques Barzun’s book Dawn to Decadence.

And what a tidal wave:
Manners are flouted and customs broken. Foul language and direct insult become normal, in keeping with the rest of the excitement — buildings defaced, images destroyed, shops looted. Printed sheets pass from hand to hand and are read with delight or outrage —Listen to this! Angry debates multiply about things long since settled: talk of free love, of priests marrying and monks breaking their vows, of property and wives in common, of sweeping out all evils, all corruption, all at once—all things for a new and blissful life on earth… .
Voices grow shrill, parties form and adopt names or are tagged with them in derision and contempt. Again and again comes the shock of broken friendships, broken families. As time goes on, “betraying the cause” is an incessant charge, and there are indeed turncoats.

This entry was posted in Cultural Issues, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Nothing new under the sun

  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Plus ca change, Rafe. Turmoil follows any iconoclasm until order reasserts itself.
    We even saw it with the original iconoclasm, in Byzantium.

  2. Michel Lasouris

    I really wonder just WHAT the Russians and Chinese hope to achieve with their ‘planned joint naval exercises’ off the east and West coasts of North Korea. Is it intimidate the short fat dictator, or the United States of America. Has anybody got any logical answers?

  3. Rafe Champion

    Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    An aside in the Barzun review, one of his quotes “Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because some other power is trying to destroy it” Jean-Francois Revel, 19970.

  4. C.L.

    To be sure, Luther the constipated terrorist was the forerunner of ISIS and Antifa.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    October 31st will celebrate 500 years of theological argument a week after 25th October which celebrates 100 years of another theological argument, which if you use the Western calendar actually occurs a week after Reformation Day, on 7th November. Which means more theological argument over whether the October Revolution was really the November Revolution.

    Sadly the Communist religion is still busy. I hope that wretched ideology will be long dead before the 500th anniversary of the October/November abomination.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Oh and 19 October is the 30th anniversary of the 1987 Stock Market Crash.
    October is a fun month.

  7. egg_

    I really wonder just WHAT the Russians and Chinese hope to achieve with their ‘planned joint naval exercises’ off the east and West coasts of North Korea. Is it intimidate the short fat dictator, or the United States of America. Has anybody got any logical answers?

    Shoring up support for Li’l Kim?

  8. Rob MW

    I’m struggling with the point here other than Luther heralded in an aquatic centre of effluent where self dignity became optional and religious communism became a baby boomer’s fad. Other than that, I’m not a big fan of burning witches or pulling out peoples tongues under any sort of inquisition, so the Catholic Church has a few own goals that sort of pissed people off.

  9. 2dogs

    Yes, what we are seeing is like the early days of the reformation. We need a new Peace of Augsburg.

  10. Bruce

    “October is a fun month.”

    Oktoberfest?

    They even have it in Japan. I was there last year and wandered into a “temporary” beer hall in a huge park, and there was an Australian Oompah band playing.

    Beer was pretty good, though.

  11. one old bruce

    More than Luther, from Calvin the path leads directly to Nietzsche.

  12. Brian

    The momentum for reformation was quite strong due to the corruptions of the catholic church. The centre piece of the 95 theses Luther nailed at Wittenburg was the money raising endeavour of the indulgences, whereby poor, superstitious folk were assured that each coin they threw in would be delivering loved ones from torment. This was of course to build some of those grand artistic buildings that today we would marvel at. Church leaders lived in great luxury at the expense of the poor.
    The monasteries were also often centres of sexual activity – with the scandal of many babies being secretly buried another sore point.
    The great scholar which the church chose for its defence was Erasmus. But he also was agitating for major change due to the common stench of church corruption. He just could not bring himself to a clean break with Rome, but advised a slow and steady approach from within the system. [Remind you of any issues today?]
    So without having read the book, it does seem a bit misleading to describe it as the Dawn of Decadence?
    It was more like the shift from Decadence to the Maelstrom. The decadence though was institutionalised and well ordered. What you might call respectable crimes. Much like today where if you are in the right social strata the law tends to be irrelevant and you can always plead that you have never been convicted of any wrong doing.
    But as I say – I have not read it, so it may well be that it is an expose of the corruption and decadence that led to the rapid release and chaos of the reformation period.

  13. John Constantine

    Going to the wedding of a previously divorced mate in October.

    He is marrying a divorced chick.

    Both very happy, the world isn’t ending.

    Divorced people remarrying hasn’t been a bad thing.

  14. one old bruce

    To paraphrase the Irishman, Mere anomie was loosed upon the world.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anomie

  15. I’m not a big fan of burning witches or pulling out peoples tongues under any sort of inquisition, so the Catholic Church has a few own goals that sort of pissed people off.

    Fair comment.

    However the Inquisitions have received a pretty unfair assessment by modern assumptions.

    The medieval inquisitions actually executed less than 100 people, and established the principle which came in to common law, that it is better to let a guilty person go unpunished than to punish an innocent person. The Spanish inquisition probably only executed between 1000 and 5000 people in a 200 year period, many of which were for criminal rather than religious offences.

    Sure the numbers are ugly and rubbery, but they were tiny compared to the bloodbath of the 30 years war, not to mention the rivers of blood that religious communism felt necessary to shed in order to make the world a better place.

    Your chances of getting a fair trial and an acquittal under the supposedly cruel Torquemada were incalculably better than under one of Stalin’s or Mao’s tribunals.

  16. Don’t you lot want a reformation of Islam, and thus reformations are good things? Not sure where Rafe is going with this one.

  17. JC

    You’re an expert on reformations of global religions now, Monst? Wow! You’ve come a long way from fantasy football, fatboy.

  18. Hugh

    Thanks, Rafe, for this post. Good stuff, as usual.

    Re. the title “Nothing new under the sun” and noting the impending centenary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 (13 October) – less than a month away now – what do hard-nosed Cats make of this event?

    I’ve been rereading the reports in the atheist/anti-Catholic Lisbon daily “O Seculo” of the time. They seem to support the notion that something extraordinary occurred.

    Even those who scramble to attribute the event to some sort of freakish weather or space phenomenon have to explain how it was three uneducated peasant children could several weeks in advance have predicted the occurrence, and why they stubbornly insisted on its inevitability in the face of widespread cynicism and even threatened persecution.

    And how they got it right.

  19. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Don’t you lot want a reformation of Islam, and thus reformations are good things? Not sure where Rafe is going with this one

    You just can’t control your compulsion to lie. It truly is a sickness.

    Reformation of Islam rarely ever gets mentioned here because it’s impossible. People with functional logic and a rudimentary understanding of the religion and its history grasp this.

    The desire for reformation is coming from your side – a bizarre fantasy that you won’t lose your heads once the goons have done your dirty work.

  20. mareeS

    “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

    WB Yeats, from “The Second Coming” an elegy on the devastation of WW1, but could be a commentary on the West today.

  21. Garry

    If this supposed to be an analogy to the current debate on the vote for homosexual marriage it is an abject failure. There is no comparison what so ever! If it is however an analogy of the demise of our culture and society as the left cohesively causes the removal, one by one, each moral pilar that once made us great thus rapidly reducing our values to the lowest common denominator in the quest for so called equality!

  22. JohnA

    Hugh, the full quote is from Ecclesiastes 1: 8-11

    8 All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
    The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
    9 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    ‘Look! This is something new’?
    It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
    11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
    will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

    Humanity hasn’t changed much in 3000 years, nay 6000 years of recorded history.

  23. Boambee John

    fantasy football, fatboy.

    Love that alliteration JC.

  24. Chris M

    Don’t you lot want a reformation of Islam, and thus reformations are good things?

    There is an Islamic reformation underway already, but it is not a good thing.

    Many Mohammadans are returning to the literal teachings of the Koran, hence the massive rise in jihad – violence, killing and the destruction of all non-Moslems is what the Koran espouses.

  25. Tel

    Reformation of Islam rarely ever gets mentioned here because it’s impossible. People with functional logic and a rudimentary understanding of the religion and its history grasp this.

    Indonesia was fairly moderate for a long time, interested in integrating with the global economy. More worried about improving their standard of living than following every letter of some holy book.

    Then the Saudi money started supporting schools to teach not only the Koran but also the Wahhabi strict interpretation… now the Indonesians are happily beating up gays and persecuting Christians. Soon they will shut down their tourist trade entirely.

  26. Leo G

    I really wonder just WHAT the Russians and Chinese hope to achieve with their ‘planned joint naval exercises’ off the east and West coasts of North Korea. Is it intimidate the short fat dictator, or the United States of America. Has anybody got any logical answers?

    Russian and Chinese don’t offer logical answers.
    Beijing complains about the US-South Korea joint military exercises which “keep sending threatening messages … in deeds that include warnings of military action”.
    “These kinds of actions don’t help solve the problem but further complicate the situation”
    Moscow says Washington must “stop escalating tensions that accompany each new cycle of responses and counter responses”.

  27. Hugh

    Maree, I agree:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one reciting those lines from Yeats just about every time I catch up with the news du jour. Also “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

    And when I see the West in its self-inflicted death throes here, in the UK, in the U.S. and Europe, another post-WWI poem asserts itself:

    “We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men …

    This is the way the world (not excluding the Turnbullite Liberal Party) ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.”

  28. Rafe Champion

    Thanks Maree. A bit more..

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  29. And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  30. Tim

    WB Yeats, from “The Second Coming” an elegy on the devastation of WW1, but could be a commentary on the West today.

    Fairly sure it was actually a elegy on the rise of communism in Russia and socialism in post WW1 european countries.

  31. Jannie

    No, it was written in 1919.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *