WITH Christianity currently prohibited in many pastoral and liturgical realms, humanist squatters move in …
There are two schools of thought on this: the association of self-sacrifice, healing and service with Christ – the “Divine Physician” – is testament to the ingrained, enduring Christianity hiding in the psyches of Frenchmen, Brazilians and other Westerners. Even the ridiculous NHS applause ceremony Britons have been cajoled into embracing may be thought of as the canonisation of virtue over selfishness.
The second school would argue the laser garbing of the Redeemer, the tolling of Notre Dame’s blessed bells (for solemnly blessed they were) and the waving of palms for the saviours of socialised medicine are a mockery of faith. The ‘prayer’ being offered via these gestures is not truly one of thanksgiving, much less one for God-given deliverance. It is, rather, an inversion of a famous entreaty The Who – not the WHO – made long ago. “I hope I get old before I die,” today’s Daltreys pray. Hence, the medicos and technocrats thought to be capable – alone capable – of realising this hope are being deified as shaman-sentinels warding off death itself.
I think the second school has it. For the Christian, only faith in the one who sacrificed himself on Calvary to secure dominion over death can purchase for us the rewards of eternal life. All other stays – though very welcome! – are so much magazine reading and phone-surfing in a doctor’s waiting room. That’s not to say the longevity science makes possible isn’t wonderful but, physiologically, there can be no victory over death.
The difference matters right now because, spooked largely by Italian chaos, the world’s leaders decided it would be far better to “shut down” society than “allow” people to die of a novel flu whose severely afflicted victims cannot be cured. Their fear of electoral retribution (or historical judgement) and individuals’ fear for their own marginally threatened mortality coalesced to justify the cloaking of hysteria and cowardice in robes of science and heroism. Real science and real heroism are at work against coronavirus, certainly, but no more so than they are in a dozen other fields of medical research or in thousands of other hospitals treating cancers, drugs carnage or – yes – even generic influenza during one of its more implacable seasons. The difference is not one of degree but one of me.
If Britons can applaud NHS workers, why can’t they applaud right-to-lifers who risk arrest and prosecution to save the life of a baby with a club foot? One of the most nauseating things about the Australian shut-down is that the state Premiers overseeing it like giddy gauleiters have all taken steps in recent years (if not, months) to legalise the killing of the most vulnerable human beings alive. Christ the Redeemer clothed as a doctor isn’t the quick-change act of our time. The transformation that stands out – and will deceive for years unless rights are re-asserted – is hypocrites dressed as guardian angels and statism disguised as faith.