The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Considerations of religious issues in general

The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Michael » 06 Jun 2013, 02:26

I want to pose a hypothetical and ask forum members what they think:

What if the Christian religion (all denominations from Church of England through Dissenting sects) underwent a massive upsurge in the next twenty years in the UK - would you be favourable or unfavourable to such a change?

By an upsurge I mean much more regular church attendance and professed allegiance to Christianity - people attending church regularly on Sundays, religious figures being asked more regularly to comment on current social issues, and much more regular discussion among your extended circle of chuch matters, Christian doctrine, and people wondering/worrying about the state of their immortal souls. I am imagining that such an upsurge is non-coercive: atheist and agnostics are left to their own for the most part, though you may more regularly encounter people asking "why didn't I see you at chapel on Sunday?" and suchlike.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Elliott » 06 Jun 2013, 02:36

I'm sorry to give such a predictable answer (given my previous posts on the topic), but...

I would be broadly for this, as long as it didn't create any expectations on me to go to church and so on. I certainly wouldn't want to be living in a "wicker man" setting, where there was (any) pressure to join in with what everyone else was doing.

Basically I'm one of these so-called hypocrites who thinks that religion is good for most people but doesn't want it for himself. (I say "so-called" because I don't think it is hypocrisy; I'm simply observing what people are like and concluding that most of them would be better with some fear of God in them.)

I daily live with the unceasing sanctimony of people who follow the secular religions of diversity, NHS, egalitarianism and climate change. Next to that, the sanctimony of peaceful Christians seems like - if you'll pardon the phrase - a godsend.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Jonathan » 10 Jun 2013, 07:15

Michael wrote:By an upsurge I mean much more regular church attendance and professed allegiance to Christianity - people attending church regularly on Sundays, religious figures being asked more regularly to comment on current social issues, and much more regular discussion among your extended circle of chuch matters, Christian doctrine, and people wondering/worrying about the state of their immortal souls.



Michael, I suspect that the scenario you're describing is unrealistic, not because a religious revival per se is impossible, but because they don't happen in a vacuum, and the form of worship they create is often quite different from the one that is claimed to be their inspiration.

I would like to postulate the following scenario, and ask you what you think:

If a religious revival happens in England, it will be a reaction to the current Islamic resurgence, and modeled on it, though only to a degree. When Britons see Muslims banding together around their religion, and growing in strength and influence, they will look for something to bind themselves together, some bonfire to gather around in the darkness.

If they choose to resurrect an echo of their ancient faith, you will get a religious revival, but it may be quite different from the religion of their great-grandfathers. I suspect it will be nationalistic, chauvinistic and militant, short on doctrine and long on sentiment; its members will come from the lower classes, not those with many years of schooling to teach them to mock religious belief. It will look to the Crusades as a model, not to the occasional grandmother who still attends church every Sunday.

It will conduct loud and noisy rallies; it will force Christian and English symbols upon the public space; it will try to wrest control of Churches which have been converted into Mosques; it will proselytize amongst the native English population, with varying degrees of bullying, depending upon local conditions; it will organize Christian schools to save its children from the public schools system; it will seek to counter initial infiltration of Islamic elements into native towns and neighborhoods.

What do you think?
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Nick » 10 Jun 2013, 11:08

Dear everyone; below you find enclosed a philosphical discussion on religion and zeal that took place on facebook in 2010. It explores the link between faith and reason, asks the question "what forces a man to value anything at all?" and connects this to the mass-consumerism society. It's quite a lengthy read but then contains a wealth of knowledge for those who want to go to the bottom of the religious question.

DeHeerser:

Think for a moment, what you usually do throughout the day. What do you do whenever you have some hours for yourself? How much time of our life do we occupy ourselves with 'futilities'? Have you ever hypothesised a world in which man's life is made pretty much futile? Well that seems to be the future of most Western nations.

In consumerism, people found a new religion. It doesn't teach them that their existence is special and that they have to make something important out of it. It doesn't celebrate that every man has a unique task to fulfil in society. Consumerism is the religion in which people celebrate the triviality of their lives: That they have accepted their lives as futile, and in doing so freed themselves from the weight of their Herculean Mission. Instead of to bear the burden of that Mission proudly.

A person now represents an interchangeable, anonymous X, where X stands for an amount of purchasing power. Even jobs are interchangeable; most do something in an office behind a computer. Man barely has contact left with the soil that bore him, and real craftsmanship seems to diminish.

The majority of people act out of two motives: Fear of punishment, and hope for reward.

A third motive would be the Character - this is the part of man's 'Spirit' that can admire, appreciate and value a certain Virtue or Ideal for its own sake. It is our Character, that allows man to act from the (sometimes selfless) appreciation of an Ideal.

This is what sets us apart as a species, and makes us the most noble, if we choose to be. But we can also choose to ignore our Characters, and degenerate to the level of hedonist swine. This is the road our current political parties - both left and right - seem to be leading us to. Understanding 'Freedom' as indulgence, embracing mediocrity as 'Equality'.

I pointed out that our Character enables us to recognize the values and beliefs we find Worth fighting for.

Let us imagine a complete rationalist - what would make him different from a nihilist? How often have I not encountered a person who I could discuss with for hours and days; a person critical to all of my arguments, until the point he could not refute them, and then acknowledged the truth. Acknowledged that what I said was right - but in the end, although he could see that my cause was Just and Worth fighting for: He could not be made to take a stand for it. He understood what was Worth fighting for, but the passion was not aroused in him to do it. A true rationalist might think of all the best ways to accomplish anything - But in the end, he would be a nihilist, because he could not answer the question: "But what compels me to uphold reason?" "But what compels me to value rational thinking, or anything at all?"

Therefore it is the Character that says: "I refuse to be defeated!" and then fuels the person to use reason, and do so proudly. It is our Character that is susceptible to all Worthiness.

Hence the name: "the characterless society". Because a society can be very rational, but if it lacks men of Character, it is spineless and slavish.

Our society today is ruled by bureaucracy, technocracy and 'expert systems'. Those aim to reduce people to: [1] Fear of punishment and [2] Hope for reward. And these 2 motivations only. Because that would make things infinitely easier to calculate, and in that sense make the system more stabile and predictable, so that it could keep turning as it does. The aim of these expert systems: To make society more controllable, and thereby more 'manageable', has become an end in itself. Hence that issues such as sexuality and religion have been brought back from matters of morality to private concerns, or 'individual tastes'. And you are being POLITICALLY INCORRECT if you criticize the sexual or religious tastes of others, because those are considered no longer to be topic of public debate, but matters belonging only to the private sphere. Regardless, we find that other groups are pressing their sexual or religious preferences into the public sphere; such as education material at schools. But if you criticize that, then you are regarded as ''intolerant towards vulnerable minorities''.

Everything you read above are the essentials of what a person in the 21st century needs to know: To feel at home in it, or not! Learn it by heart, so that you understand what's going on.

This is not an opinion, not a personal preference, and not an indoctrination. This is not a perspective upon the state of the world, this is the state of the world as it is: That politics nowadays is dominated by the idea "costs and expenses" - "how much do I gain or lose in terms of taxes, wages and salary if I vote for this or that party?" Politicians today present themselves as 'managers of the public life' rather than charismatic leaders. They try to present politics as if it is a matter of complete objective management rather than an ideological struggle. Questions of values have been pushed back to the private domain. And someone who says: "But what you say is a matter of personal preference" by saying that only proves that he already has been pushed back.

It is characterless to follow a thing without properly understanding it. And a proper understanding of a thing requires reason. -to think it along as it makes the steps to arriving to its conclusions- So! Character and Rationalism are tied up. And Character is needed to make the leap to Rational Thinking AKA ''What compels me to think that rational thinking is valuable? Can rational thinking alone inspire me with enough feeling to fight for it to preserve it if necessary?"

From a 100% rational stance, what compels you to value anything at all? But still you find yourself searching for arguments why to value a thing or why not. So at this point, you have already embraced Reason. This is because of your Character. The Character is the part of man that doesn't want to accept his life as trivial. We want some things to matter for us regardless of whether or not we can rationally justify them, and so the first thing of which we choose to let it matter for us is Reason. People have even shown themselves capable of fighting and dieing for the things that mattered to them. A Roman soldier could sacrifice his life to keep the battle standard out of enemy hands. Would an animal be prepared to die for a symbol of greatness? I know people who tried to commit suicide because they couldn't accept trivial lives. They would rather not exist than to exist in a state of unworthiness. For a man of Character, it is more important to have something to live for (and be prepared to die for it if necessary) than just to exist without anything to live for. A man of Character doesn't accept living for the sake of merely surviving as our days drift by. - Anyone who calls this 'fascist' has absolutely no idea what he is talking about, because these ideas were worded by Plato and Cato before nation states and fascism even existed. Plato said that a dictator is the first to destroy all philosophers, and in the process get rid of the most valuable and creative elements of society for the sake of his own need for power and luxury. After which the exploitation of the people would begin. And we have seen in history that it often went this way, and it goes on today in many African countries for example. Cato struggled his whole life against the dictator Caesar, and decided to kill himself rather than live in a Rome controlled by a reign he thought too unworthy to govern him.

And about the Herculean Mission. It's rather simple, and I don't think this is incompatible with rationalism at all. I think that a rationalism that is incompatible with the Herculean Mission is a rationalism too narrowly defined to be rationalism in the proper sense. Remember that your life is a brief moment of existence in an eternity of emptiness. Imagine the time that has passed since the creation of the universe until your time of birth. Picture the darkness of our galaxy once life on earth has vanished and the sun has gone cold. Think of the vastness of time and space and situate your life, that flicker of your sentience, within this. Do it! Now close your eyes. Close your eyes - and I'm serious, just do it for at least a minute and forget everything else - listen to the ticking of the clock. Listen to every second as it passes by. Concentrate! Think ''this is my life, I can only spend every second once''. Do it please it's a very healthy exercise. Only then read further.

Have you opened your eyes again? Do you now conclude that you have to make everything out of life you possibly can? Do you realize there can be no excuses - no holding back whatsoever! Have you? That means you made contact with your Character. That means that you have to make your life into something that matters. And if this vastness of the emptiness, this enormous amount of effort that this Mission will take you, overwhelmed you, that means you are characterless. It's characterlessness that brings people to think things such as: ''I might rationally be able to prefer this or that life, this or that mode of existence, but why? What grounds do I have to value reason itself? Isn't it all trivial and pointless what we do? Aren't all human goals set up on the basis of preferences between which our choices are ultimately arbitrarily selected?" They think this way because this is the only way for them to survive without crumbling beneath the weight of the Herculean Mission. Most of us aren't half-gods after all; most of us are mere mortals. And that's why we spend increasing amounts of time behind the TV watching dancing with the stars. Triviality appeals to many people, and it's spread in mass culture, leading to an impoverishment of the Human being, no longer Human in the full sense.

If I had to consider myself anything, I would consider myself a Humanist.

Alexander Dodd:

The Character: our content. But I am curious, what is the origin of the Character? All records of humanity clearly evidence the existence of this Character within certain members of its ranks. What of the washer-lady of the 18th Century? Was she Characterless? Her endeavours were almost certaily trivial, and common thought would patronizingly have that she did not think at all. What I ask is whether the Character is something we may expect of every human, or whether we must consider it to be pertainably only to a certain class. Of course, the latter must be true? I only ask because you illuminate the fact that mass consumerism and, thus, the inevitably triviality eats away at our Character. When was our Character born, also? We will not want to say, if we believe in evolution, that those stages leading up until human were similarly able of having a Character? We will not want to say this if we consider our prior evolutionary stages to have been animals, if we are also to say that animals are not capable of Character. If animals are capable of Character, where did their Character originate (for their Character's origin is likely to be our Character's origin). If we deny animals Character, I am obsessed with the reasons for we humans having one, and with the location of its origin. I am aware of my Characterful nature of this line of inquiry. I decline to proof-read or paragraph, just as I have declined to write properly as you have now observed. I await response.

DeHeerser:

Inevitably triviality eats away at our Character. Yes, that's true, but you see like I said, I never indoctrinate. So, I cannot tell you what your Herculean Mission is. I also cannot tell the washing lady of the 18th century what her Herculean Mission is. It is likely to be different per person, because a person's talents and potentials decide what you are most suited to do. A Just society allows you (stimulates you even) to do the thing you are most suited to in such a way that you derive satisfaction from it, and that you experience appreciation for it. A Just society gives you space to do the thing you are most suited to do (because it matches with your talents and interests) with room to improve yourself while doing it, and enables you to make a modest living out of it.

So, no. Character is not hung up on a certain class. For example it could be a bicycle mechanic who considers it his Herculean Mission to know everything about every bicycle model and who prides himself in giving good service to his customers. You can extend this idea to a lot of professions. What I do encourage, is that all these people of Character try to gain influence on society. So that they, in a sense, would form an 'upper class'. Right now, men of Character are really thin spread and some can be found in all classes of society if you look really carefully and have the luck to find them. What they should do, is to try to rise in Power, so that they can slowly reform society and push back against the triviality celebrated in 'mainstream culture'. The bicycle mechanic could do this by for example joining a labour movement and trying to rise in it and inspire others with his influence.

Remember! I never indoctrinate, so I am not in the position for anyone to tell him/her what his Herculean Mission is. At best I can give hints, tips and suggestions. But I do think that everyone should do the thought experiment! And I think so because I'm sick and tired of being surrounded by empty people. I'm sick and tired of having to listen to such much emptiness. I'm disappointed to find so much triviality in the people I would otherwise familiarize with. It's extremely stimulating for me to be in contact with people who follow their Herculean Mission. These people are usually inspiring to listen to. They are enthusiast for an opportunity to talk to someone who understands what it is to be truly driven by something.

Which ties into the thing I said before about truth claims. I have the talent to engage in exchange of thought with people, and even though I may know nothing of their expertise, I keep asking questions. And the things I don't understand, I ask for clarification. And I keep doing this until I arrive at the fundamentals of their craft or field of expertise, and at this point I can start up a serious reflection. They answer all my questions because they are enthusiast to talk about their subject, because it's more than that, it's one of their goals in life. I have the ability to not know a thing about a subject, but to gain very thorough knowledge about it the moment I encounter someone who does have very thorough knowledge about it, and is willing to answer questions truthfully. At a birthday party I met a Moroccan who works as a salesman for a power supplier. He was extremely enthusiast about everything that has to do with salesmanship. So the whole evening I spoke with him about the subject. At the end of the evening, he told me: "You have a way of conversing that made me wonder at some point 'is this man maybe an expert in electricity supply? Does he maybe know much more about the subject and is he merely toying with me, testing me out?'". To which his colleague said: "See, this guy is owning you." Then the Moroccan told him: "This has nothing to do with being defeated. He is asking me questions, and if I answer them truthfully, how does that make me defeated? If he concludes things from this that he says, and I cannot but agree with, that anyone, ever, would have to agree with, how does that make me defeated?" And ever since I'm friends with him and he even helped me by gathering votes for me in my local political campaign.

I don't know at which point in time the Character came into creation. For that to be answered, first a biologist or some comparable scientist has to embrace the things that are said here and use his knowledge to investigate fossils and micro-organisms. I mean, animals are known to be willing to die to protect their young, they go along with instincts. But people are wiling to go against instinct for the sake of ideals, principles, sometimes very abstract. It's the Character that summons this energy necessary to go through with that. Because it has the capacity to value things and in doing so make a certain commitment. This summoned energy doesn't come from Reason alone - because very often we find ourselves thinking "I should really do this or that" but the Strength of Will to do it doesn't automatically follow.

That's what I mean by craftsmanship. This is what Adam Smith had in mind when he invented Liberalism; the fruit of labour is true self development and that is given shape in a physical reward, because good quality work is worthy of good pay. And this is a rationale that no longer applies in the world of today (think of everything I said in post 1). Blame globalism, capitalism, luxury and what else you will. What we should do is reflect upon the core principles of the economic science that governs the world today.

Russell Campbell:

Let me preface my comments with this, I am not an expert on any of these matters. I'm simply a man that likes puzzles, and the condition of the world today is like an epic puzzle. But I think the direction this debate has taken fails to address a major issue... faith and religion.

Your first statement calls consumerism the peoples new religion. Religion gives people a set of moral codes to live by and a goal to strive for that is usually bigger than themselves. This is where I think the break down in society stems from, a lack of a common religion. Many may argue religion inhibits freedom, I contend it doesn't. Even though certain things are forbidden by various religions, one is still free to do them, you will just suffer consequences for doing things forbidden. Religion gives people a "greater good" to look to, something that may not be necessarily provable, but it cannot be disproved either. Don't you see where this is important in driving character for the common man?

All major religions have one thing in common. They all have a version of the golden rule.. treat others as you would have them treat you. This one rule creates room for differing belief systems and ways of life. The fact that these various systems may be incompatible within the same community for creating laws to live by is the reason why globalism ultimately will not work. People must learn to "live and let live". Stability or prosperity will flourish in most societies that have a common set of values, and some societies will have both stability and prosperity.

The great thing about having different countries is that there are many different ways one can live. The countries can look at each other and see what they like and don't like in those societies and then can decide if they want to adopt some of those ideas. There are those that like the idea of collectivism and there are those that value individualism, neither is right or wrong, they simply represent a different set of values. The two ideologies cannot flourish in the same society. This is why I do not take issue with nationalism. Some belief systems are simply incompatible. This is what many western societies are facing with the influx of islam as most are based on judeo-christian values.

John McNeill:

Well said Russell! :)

Indeed, nationalists can present a paradigm where diversity is both welcome and protected... on an international scale.

Alexander Dodd:

In response to Campbell, perhaps you're right in saying that religion doesn't inhibit freedom. However, my counter contention is that is certainly does little to promote freedom. Imagine if one religion were able to dominate absolutely, eradicating all other forms of religion and, further, implanting itself in the consciousness of every human being. In such a scenario, any actions that people may perform which does not fit into the world view of this religion would (provided this religion is formatted similarly to ones we are presently acquainted with, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc) be rendered unimaginable as far as possible. For instance, various sexual acts usual considered perverse by the Church, which can be relatively easily rejected by in the individual would most likely see a massive decline in this hypothetical, mono-faith world. Quite, the individual may well be able to perform such an act, but he doesn't have the liberation in mind to even conceive of such an act. Carrying on with the sexual theme, more uncontrollable sexual urges such as sexuality are not so easily tamed, but, if continued to be renounced by the Church, must inevitably become repressed (considering the Church's world-view), as has happened in the past. Although individuals in the case may well be aware of the diversity of sexuality (and thus may be considered to have a certain amount of liberation of mind), the Church's dominance will induce them to impose restrictions on people's actions to deter instances of unacceptable displays of sexuality. Faith, in this instances, serves to diminish a person's liberty in some respects. I accept, however, that a devote faith can also liberate one in alternative ways which is bypassed by the confusion and nihilism of the agnostics and atheists.

You make the interesting point of suposing that the major religions serve to promote diversity rather than serve to diminish it, as I have suggested. I wonder if, for the religious humanist, whether it is conceivable to allow other children of God to persist in the worship of a false God and to allow them to observe a mistaken code of laws. Should not the Character of this religious humanist obligate him to put this fellow human being on the right path of life rather than passively allowng him to embrace damnation. DeHeerser here wants to act in a similar way: he considers humans to be on the wrong path but won't simply allow them to continue in their error, and instead his Character demands that he aid humanity by redefining their lifes' paths towards something more meaningful. This is the humanist in him. In this sense, to be a humanist involves imposing restrictions of liberty rather than promoting it, although DeHeerser denies this at present. I would be interested in further clarifying this point with him and yourself.

'Again, my posts have nothing to do with indoctrination. I am only trying to open your mind'

Here DeHeerser denies intending to impose restriction on people's liberty, instead only hoping to offer an alternative way of thinking for those reading. Is not this imposition of a new way of thinking serving to alter the way people act afterwards, and so denying readers the freedom to act in the way they originally would, because now that opportunity to act in that such a way has become impossible even to conceive. This might seem a rather inconsequential point to make, but the point is this: slavery is other people. In fact, absolutely liberty is necessarily impossible, because the myriad possibilities available to a man at each moment of his life means that they can't all be undertaken by the individual. Simply, there are infinite possibilities but the number we may undertake is finite. But then, this means that there is really only a finite number of possibilities because of the impossibility of making the infinite possibilities available to oneself. If this is true, then already we have found our liberty to undertake whatever direction in life is already made an impossibility, due to the now finite number of possibilities available to us which are only a fraction of the infinite. It is clear, anyway, that we all do not, and will not ever have the same chances in life as one another, and so this is an example of the impossibility of absolute liberty.

Rather than to undermine your point about faith, I wish merely to undermine the commonly held reverence of liberty. Liberty as a goal is an impossibility, and as far as religion is concerned, unnecessary. God may congratulate the Man who, despite having freewill, has chosen to serve Him, but he will not reject the Man who has always served Him due to his having no freewill whatever and, thus, no choice in the matter.

This post is not meant to be a critique, but rather an exercise in considering the validity of your previous post. Therefore, it has, admittedly, been rather poorly structured and thought out. Let me summarise my the thoughts which have been stimulated by your post:

Are the major religions of today really able to support diversity in the way that you claim? I think back to acts involving much of what DeHeerser names 'Character', such as the Crusades of the middle ages, and wonder if someone who considers himself both religious and a humanist is able to reconcile himself to allow people to worship in a way that he must believe to be in error.

If so, then your post is obviously valid thereafter: with diversity comes liberty and choice. If not, then should one religion come to dominate I do not think that the choices and liberty you have outlined here are possibilities.

Is liberty that essential for Man anyway? It is clear that freedom not a basic necessity of life, as evidenced by Man's continued survival. Further, is liberty a possibility anyway? I obviously have thoughts beyond these questions, but I'll refrain from lengthy discourse for the present seeing as much of this post has been of a rather substandard quality so far, implying that my rational abilities are somewhat impaired at present.

Thank you for reading.

Russell Campbell:

In response to Dodd, I've never studied logic, but I think some of your reasoning may be flawed. You pose some interesting ideas of which I would like to offer a counter. I will agree that if only one religion were to come to dominate the world then pressure to suppress individual liberty in some aspects would come along with it. This is the problem with any form of total global domination, not just religious domination. This is why I say nationalism can be a good thing when approached the correct way.

I don't view the promotion of different ideas as restricting freedom. First of all, DeHeerser is not forcing anyone to accept his position. He is presenting his perception of the world today and follows with reasons for his perception. It is then up to the reader to either agree or disagree. If he disagrees, it would make sense for him to present his reasons why. But let's suppose he agrees and accepts this new concept as your example states. I contend the reader still has the freedom to act in a way that contradicts the newly found position. If the reader chose to act in contradiction, then he creates problems for himself, but he could choose to do it nonetheless. Furthermore, most people accept that there are consequences to each choice one makes. The consequences quite often eliminate some of the alternate choices from that point forward. For instance, if I have a fine bottle of aged single malt scotch I have many choices as to what I can do with it, however, whichever choice I make will eliminate my ability to make some of the other choices.... If I choose to keep the bottle sealed, then I cannot enjoy a glass of that scotch right now. If I choose to have a glass, I can no longer choose to keep the bottle sealed. The point of liberty is not to retain all your options, for that is an impossibility. The point of liberty is that I am the one that chooses for myself. I get to decide my actions, and must accept the consequences. Being that I have a belief in a Greater Power, and try to follow the teachings of a major religion, I must consider how my choice will affect others because I would want others to consider how their choices affect me. Now, I can choose NOT to consider how it affects others, but that could present problems when I'm faced with others doing the same. If your definition of liberty is the ability to make any choice possible without losing the ability to make other choices, then yes, liberty is an impossibility. I contend liberty is the ability to make any choice for oneself with the understanding that along with that choice comes the consequence of eliminating the possibility of other choices.

I also submit your argument is flawed about absolute liberty being impossible because people do not have the same chances as one another. That seems to me more of an argument about egality. Understand my point of view is that of one who believes in individualism over collectivism. I feel my rights end where an other persons rights begin and vice versa. I cannot simply travel to Mars because I do not possess the means to get there, but I CAN choose to TRY to make it happen. A man with the financial means and technological know how to travel to Mars may very well be able to do it, but what he can do has no effect on my choice, only HIS choice. This is where I think religion helps to cope with situations such as this because it teaches one not to envy. Why is envy considered wrong by most religions? I submit it is considered wrong because one's rights end where another's begin.

I take issue with the statement 'to allow people to worship in a way that he must believe to be in error' in that it is not up to one man to "allow" others to do things that don't infringe on said man's choices. A religious humanist will most likely make an effort to show another man the errors in their beliefs, but it is up to that other man to decide whether the humanist's arguments are valid for him.

As far as liberty being essential for existence, no, it is not essential for existence. Slavery, in one form or another, has existed at least as long as written history, and still exists today. But I think liberty is essential for mankind to reach its fullest potential. One can exist on bread and water for quite some time, but the body needs other nourishment to reach peak physical fitness. Liberty is one of the essential nutrients the "body" of humanity needs to reach its fullest potential.

Please forgive me if my style of writing is difficult to follow. I do not consider myself to be skilled in expressing myself with the written word. I attempt it simply because I thoroughly enjoy exploring subjects such as this. I am glad I have found others to discuss these things with.

DeHeerser:

Exactly! My posts have nothing to do with indoctrination. How to conduct thought so that it is most likely that those thoughts are true. That's what I'm interested in. And, these words will sound more familiar to some of you, "I hold the truth to be self-evident." Especially if sufficiently explained. I reject the idea that there are ''certain kinds of truths'' that are only accessible to persons partaking in an accessory symbolic universe. Because whoever claims that, already claims to transcend each of such universes.

Although the claim "there is a God" is itself not provable or disprovable, religions don't stick to that particular claim. Instead they claim things such as saviours walking on water, prophets climbing the sky on a ladder of light, and saints turning water into wine. Also they claim that their rules aren't man-made, but passed down directly by God. It has been proven that the religious writings were produced over the course of the years within societies under specific circumstances. The old testament is the product of merging the lore of two different Semitic tribes when those decided to join and live together. This can be seen in the story about the great flood, where there are several repetitions of contradictory statements. In addition, there are historical mistakes in the Bible (for example with the birth of Christ, Marcus and Lucius, one says that Quirinius was governor of Cirius and the other mentions Herod. Also one says 6 before Christ and the other 4 after Christ; this is historically incorrect). And with regards to the "miracles": Now why would an all-powerful, omniscient God at a point in time interfere with the immutable laws of nature He himself created at the beginning of time? Unless of course he found it a necessary response to some unforeseen event, which is in contradiction to his omniscience.

But obviously that wasn't your point. Your point was that common religious beliefs bind people together. If society shares the same values about what's right and wrong, this stimulates stability and cohesion. Now let's connect this with the thing that was said about different countries being able to go through separate developments and being able to look at each other for learning. Then it turns out that in America, where about 99% of the population is religious and 1% is atheist, and religion plays a major role in society, about 1% of the population is in prison. And of these prisoners about 99% is religious and 1% is atheist. On the Scandinavian countries however, where a much larger % of the population is atheist and religion plays a much smaller role, crime rates are also much lower. So the idea that the Christian values of humbleness and politeness make people better to get along with and society a better place to live in, I don't buy that for a second.

I myself had experience with this a few years ago when I was still teaching history in high school. There was one class that was divided between a group of Christian pupils and a group of atheist pupils. Both groups were capable of doing mischief. Then I had to teach them about the prehistoric age. So I taught them that there are two visions upon this, Creationism and Evolution, and I explicitly said it was irrelevant to me which of the visions one follows, but that it was important to me that they knew them both for the sake knowing what's going on in society. The Christian kids made a huge problem out of this and spread bad rumours about me and tried to manipulate their parents and my colleagues. With other words, they moved less in the open to thwart me but used sneaky and underhand tactics.

The image of religion that I deduced from the previous posts struck me as: "Believing it not because you find the religious claims particularly convincing but one ascribes to it because of certain benefits it brings (Values, Stability, Frugality)." This I call "Instrumentalism of Religion".

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were the first to see the moral codes at their time were undergoing change. This had to do with changes in social mobility as Athens increased in naval power. Traditions were shaken by its rise as a merchant city and the instalment of democracy which opened the way for a new elite. These philosophers thought about the questions: "What is the best way to live? What is a good way to act? How to constitute a society that encourages good behaviour?" They never took recourse to a divinity that punished the wicked and rewarded the righteous. For them, doing the good thing was worth doing in itself, because it was good. They held that as soon someone truly realizes what is the right thing to do, nothing would stop them from acting accordingly. This philosophical project failed, because people still found their best intentions hindered by their more instinctual desires. Christianity also aimed to bring peace and tranquillity to society, just like the philosophers. Only they taught people to fear the wrath of their Creator in case they were bad. There was the image of Hell's ever lasting torment to hold them in check. People were taught that they were puny compared to their God. Augustine preached that their wills were impotent without Him. That's when the Medieval age set in. They were taught to give up their Herculean Missions, and only to endure, while looking out to the afterlife. Today we have the same phenomenon in consumerism. Here it aren't the whims of fate (Will of God) that they think prevents them from being all they could be, no. Now they accept the pointlessness of life itself. Because this relieves them from the weight of the Herculean Mission. Instead of Cathedrals and Churches, people now have Starbuckses and MacDonaldses, erected as monuments to celebrate the triviality of their lives. Instant gratification is the new opium.

Religion is deeply connected with the Character. Reason investigates a thing and decides if it is plausible or not. This is a rational calculation, Reason itself being indifferent about the outcome. The Character goes beyond that. It says: "I want this to be true".

"Treat others as you would have them treat you" is indeed said to be the golden rule for all religions, or as Ghandi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world"... For example the Islam allows for the stoning of women when their conduct is (allegedly) impure. And this ties in directly to what I said in post 1. About society pushing back religious ideas to the private sphere, and then finding you "intolerant" if you criticize the intolerance of such a religion. And add to that that with our schools and education, we aim to give people knowledge of the laws of nature and their workings. But then if people want to think water spontaneously changes into wine, that's fine too. The politically correct will say: "Yeah, but that's freedom." But to what extent can an attitude that clearly contradicts the facts of reality be called Free? And the point about stoning women is not trivial at all, because this conflicts with the (previous) stressing of universal human rights and natural rights. You can say that every culture and each country has its own developmental trajectory with its own legal customs, mores and religions which evolved under the influence of historical and environmental circumstances upon human nature. But then you can't talk about natural rights. Because these are either universal, or not.

Kant may have said: "Always treat others as goals in themselves, and when you act, do it according to a principle that you would agree with if it were made into an eternal law." That's the categorical imperative. And against that I quote The Prince: "Because there is such a vast difference between how people live, and how they ought to live, that someone who neglects what one does for something one should do, faces his demise rather than his success. Because a man who always and at any cost proves himself good, will inevitably perish at the hands of so many who are not good." Clearly the golden rule of Christ and Kant is not proof to masochism and sadomasochists; these appreciate doing and receiving pain. If I would live according to Christ's and Kant's principle, then someone would start mustering my services for his own cause while pretending to see me as a goal in myself, but discard me the moment I would no longer be necessary. That way he\she would work his way up in society, using the naive followers of Kant as steps. And eventually we find such persons introducing policies that alter the public spirit. Personally I am always open to new people and behave friendly and helpful to them. And that way I hope to become friends with those who have the same stance, and I try to collect friendly people of Character around me who are willing to learn. Loyalty is very important to me, and I hold that friends must be rewarded, and enemies punished. You've got to do what you've got to do, and do unto others as they do unto you.

The Character is what allows us to make a "leap of faith" to accept a certain idea. For example the transubstantiation, a Christian ritual in which bread (hostie) is eaten up. But because of the blessing the bread is not just bread, but its substance is changed to the flesh of Christ. This is a case of belief, because we hold it as true not because it logically follows but because we want it to be true. Our adherence to this doctrine is not as much an outcome of rational deliberation as it an act of Will. Reason just goes with the explanation with the most explanatory power, discarding it as soon as it is sufficiently refuted by logically consistent reasonings and clearly observable facts. The reasoner has no problem rejecting or accepting anything, because he does not value any explanation above another, he just goes with what's most understandable. He is convinced of a certain explanation until a more rational one takes its place. I speak of conviction here. In the case of the transubstantiation I speak of a belief, because the Character leads the reasoner to value a certain explanation above the other, making him reluctant to let it go regardless of how many contradicting facts and counterarguments present itself. He wants it to be true, after all. That's why religions are all about belief, not about certainty, because if a religious doctrine was indubitable it wouldn't require any matter of faith. Yet religious people are proud of their capacity to have faith. They want their principles to be true and one reason for this is that they want to get into heaven after their death. But if there wasn't a shred of doubt to it, then accepting God and the religious teachings would be a trade for the afterlife. A matter of hire and salary, not belief. There wouldn't be a thing to be proud of for a believer. They are proud for their ability to believe a thing that can never be completely certain. And this makes perfect sense, since the emotion of pride is funnelled by the Character: And being proud of a thing often comes along with valuing it.

However we must be careful that the Character does not completely dominate the human psyche, because then you get: "I accept this command, not because I can understand it, but exactly because I can't understand it. I am acting out the Will of God, and the Will of God transcends human reason." The conclusion is that, as stated in previous posts, the product of a lack of Character is nihilism. The result of an overdose of Character is irrationalism or the fundamentalist Islam. For a moment take away that person's holy book and he wouldn't know what to do. Beneath the need to relege all moral principles and ethical choices to a holy book of written revelations, is a deeper nihilism: A mistrust towards reason and the human potential.

Now that this post draws to a close, I would like to make a few short comments about what I called "the instrumentalism of religion", and raise some new ones. Simplified, religion is a good thing, because it makes people reflect upon eternity. And once they do that, they are more likely to accept and bear privation in the earthly life. There will be less envy, hatred and greed, more obedience, resignation and solidarity. This idea was incorporated by the national socialists when planning to expand their 'Lebensraum' to provide Germany with agricultural products. They had no need for other nations (their vassals) to be proud of their unique cultural identities. No, they were content with wide stretching Eastern European fields, worked by simple and obedient Catholic peasants. And it was to be seen to that they always remained very Catholic.

I'm not trying to compare religion with national socialism. Instead I intend to accentuate this intuition, that people are harsh, that societies' moral values are decaying, and that things would be better if only people were more religious. Like in the days past. This seems more like a strategy to keep minds at bay who can't think for themselves, than it is to subscribe to doctrines because one really finds them convincing. That's the point where one says: "We already know what's ethical and what's Just. All we need to do is to look back." But that's not ethics, that's restoration. Mores change because circumstances in society change. Doing ethics means you reflect upon the circumstances, and try to decide: "What would be the most fair and Just thing to do?" And this answer is different per situation and requires rational deliberation. The law is not Just in itself. Applying a law that's Just in situation one can be unjust if applied to situation two. That's why we need Enlightened judges who look at individual cases and not bureaucrats who follow procedures. That's why returning to the original Constitution is good because it will cut back the bureaucracy. But it is not the answer the everything. In the time of the Founding Fathers there was colonialism, not globalism. There wasn't an industrialized society. The World Wars and the information revolution hadn't taken place. The decisions of national governments weren't influenced by mass media, immigration and finance capitalism the way they are today.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Michael » 10 Jun 2013, 20:37

If they choose to resurrect an echo of their ancient faith, you will get a religious revival, but it may be quite different from the religion of their great-grandfathers. I suspect it will be nationalistic, chauvinistic and militant, short on doctrine and long on sentiment; its members will come from the lower classes, not those with many years of schooling to teach them to mock religious belief. It will look to the Crusades as a model, not to the occasional grandmother who still attends church every Sunday.


Nick, I believe you are quite right in this picture of what a religious revival would really be like. Revivals happen in relation to specific pressures and circumstances, and tend to burn quite hot. I started with the moderate, unrealistic position as a leading question. If forum members would accept that level of religious revival, would they also accept the more fervent (likely realistic) portrait you have drawn?

If it meant widespread civil strife? If it meant the intrusion of religion into the public square? If it meant stopping the advance of Islam and stopping cultural replacement?

Thank you for posting that Facebook discussion as well - I found it most interesting. I am very much in agreement with DeHeerser in my own personal outlook.

Speaking of which I would like to invite you to join the reading group I am setting up on the forum to read through Kenneth Minogue's "The Liberal Mind". We will cover many topics brought up in that Facebook discussion, and explore both the underpinnings of the 'modern' liberal mindset and what an alternative to that would be like.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Joe » 13 Jun 2013, 01:10

With respect to religion, my experience is that most of those of agnostic, skeptical and atheistic bent know so little about true religion that their pontifications about the topic are practically valueless.

I am a Protestant Christian because I am unabashedly under the belief that it is rationally, spiritually and physically true. Without apology I judge Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Animism, Pantheism etc. to be false and idolatrous.

A revival of true Christianity in Britain today would do immeasurable good and if extended over time pull it back from the abyss. With a Christian revival would come restraint of most of the urges of man that make present day English society coarse, un-civil and dangerous and the advancement of those that promote integrity, civility and respect for ones fellows. The reason that modern civilization is guided by a punishment or reward mentality is simply because it has abandoned the worship of God in confession, profession and behavior. Christians have built more hospitals, more schools and fed more unfortunate people than any other group that has ever existed. More general human good has come from the Christian faith than all others combined and including all secular philanthropies. It is Christianity that eliminated the African slave trade. The gentle minions of secularism murdered 100 million people in the twentieth century alone

I could now try to answer some of the insipid questions that humanists have for the believer but I could not exhaust the set. So I will wait for the deluge and attempt to take them as they come.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Nathan » 26 Jun 2013, 23:14

I'm trying not to simply link together a Victorian-style religious revival to a return to Victorian levels of cultural self-belief as if the latter would necessarily always follow the former, but I actually think a religious revival such as that in the nineteenth century is about the best thing this country can hope for, though I'm struggling to see where it would come from.

So many of the ills of our society, be they home-grown or imported, have come from the fact that we have no moral backbone any more and nothing to justify saying no to anything. Christianity used to be that backbone. I hope it is not to facile a point to link the decline in our society with the decline in Christianity as if there were no other factors involved, but I believe a reverse in the latter would be the quickest and most painless way to reverse the former.

When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.


A hundred years after Chesterton supposedly said the above, it seems more true than ever. The spiritual needs are still there, but the void left by religion has been filled with materialism, celebrity worship, substance abuse and a cult-like devotion to football teams. It has been said many times on this forum that liberalism is a religion in itself: it has political correctness in place of blasphemy and heresy, a simplistic good-versus-evil way of looking at the world, and its adherents have a self-righteous belief that anybody holding an opposite opinion to their dogma, whether on feminism, race or environmentalism is not only incorrect but morally suspect. Another quotation, this time from Solzhenitsyn, which I think could easily have been written to connect the decline in Christianity with the decline in the characteristics which were long thought to embody this country:

To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.


Our Christian roots have been severed so thoroughly that even relatively well-educated people can no longer understand the references in many of the great works in Western art and literature, which a few generations ago would have been 'accessible' to a much wider population. Things have even got to the stage where there have been African missionaries leading the way spreading the Gospel in the very countries which once felt confident enough to spread their beliefs to them.

I cannot think of any examples of societies, past or present, that have managed without some kind of belief in a higher power, or at least in something bigger than themselves. Providing the premise is true that to remain cohesive, a society must have some guiding orthodoxy and ideology, considering Christian beliefs are woven into every aspect of our heritage then Western society is at least in safer hands with Christianity than with whatever else is on offer. With a grounding in Christian values, so much of why our culture, values and history is the way it is then at least makes more sense.

I identify as a Christian, and though can't quite bring myself to truly believe in the supernatural side I see the virtue in the stories as allegories, the message of which, if followed, in essence protect us from ourselves. Overcoming the inbuilt cynicism in many people towards anything that says "no" may be the harder part in any religious revival than overcoming the implausibility of many of the supernatural elements.

For many decades now, Western thought has been guided by ideas such as that if you reduce the financial incentive to work then people will continue to work anyway, and the idea that gender and race do not in fact exist but are mere social constructs. I suspect very few people truly believed or still believe any of those things if they stopped to consider the weight of evidence against them being true, but such viewpoints have still managed to set the tone in the most scientifically advanced societies in history, simply because most people are followers who will pay lip service to whatever is the prevailing orthodoxy of the time.

If some of the most educated citizenries in history have willingly voted for the dissolution of their own society by sheer weight of demographics, then I am tempted to believe that given the right social conditions you can get the masses to go along with almost anything. My preference for Christianity to be the guiding force for our society might not be a true conviction, but there need not necessarily be many true believers. My said preference would really be for the maintenance and preservation of a society based on Christian principles out of a belief that such a society would be in safe hands.

One reason why I distrust atheism is that it undermines morality, since if there is no Judgement Day and no afterlife, there is nothing to fear and no ultimate accountability for anything. "You must not do this because it's wrong" becomes "Do only what you can get away with, something is only wrong if Man says it's wrong". The very idea of there being something bigger than any of us, all-powerful and all-knowing may not be very logical to the way most of us think, but is at least a humbling experience, and one which I believe many of us would greatly benefit from.

Lastly, a widespread religious revival would provide our fragmented societies with something else that is solely needed in this era of weak families, weak communities, weak ties to the places where we live: shared experiences and a sense of purpose formed by belonging to something.

Those good old Victorians understood the benefits of institutions forming the background to life and creating social bonds: political parties, working men's clubs, co-operative societies, charities, trade unions, public schools, organised sports teams, gentlemen's clubs and religious organisations in practically every neighbourhood in the country.

We have thrown away this glue binding people together - judging by the Girl Guides' recent decision to change its oath, this is because membership of a club requires a level of exclusivity and the belief in the necessity of rules, two things which our modern society lacks the courage to justify, preferring instead to be 'inclusive' and stand for nothing. A religious revival would at least give our society back the confidence to stand forsomething, and by extension against something else.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Gavin » 27 Jun 2013, 14:25

I found that post very interesting, Nathan. Lots of sounds points. But on the issue of atheism:

Nathan wrote:One reason why I distrust atheism is that it undermines morality, since if there is no Judgement Day and no afterlife, there is nothing to fear and no ultimate accountability for anything. "You must not do this because it's wrong" becomes "Do only what you can get away with, something is only wrong if Man says it's wrong". The very idea of there being something bigger than any of us, all-powerful and all-knowing may not be very logical to the way most of us think, but is at least a humbling experience, and one which I believe many of us would greatly benefit from.


I think all may not be lost on this. The disagreement I most regretted to see so far was that between Dalrymple and some of the "new atheists", because I don't think they're entirely wrong. He seemed to think Sam Harris is motivated by spite whereas I don't think that's true at all. Harris has mixed views and I don't agree with all of them but some I think are certainly plausible. He is also distinctly conservative on some matters, such as gun control. Anyway in The Moral Landscape he examines rational reasons for people to behave morally, or at least not like complete psychopaths. It's a quasi-Aristotelian approach and I found it appealing.

So I'm still on the fence somewhat on this issue of whether religion will be required. Perhaps it is for most people, perhaps I'm unusual! Maybe most people are never going to read and appreciate the reasoning in a book like The Moral Landscape. I think them replacing religion with the religions of socialism and impossible egalitarianism have been big mistakes though.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Caleb » 28 Jun 2013, 02:15

I agree with Jonathan that I think for Christianity to really become successful again, it would have to be something quite zealous. The traditional churches are all fading away precisely because they are so wishy washy. People rightly can't tell the difference between those churches and secular humanism. Any revival of those churches would just lead to a backsliding into liberalism again within a few generations. They're probably irrevocably tainted now.

Yet I most definitely would not want a bunch of zealots running around forcing themselves on me, which is exactly what they would do. They would wield massive social, economic and political influence. Why do people here think that they would somehow be granted exceptions on the basis of not being religious? We are precisely the people they would target. Be careful what you ask for.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Michael » 28 Jun 2013, 15:31

I think them replacing religion with the religions of socialism and impossible egalitarianism have been big mistakes though.


Unfortunately, that is precisely what happens. The old religions (even Islam) have the benefit of being 'time tested' - we know what they produce and how bad they can be.

I don't want revived religion for the good it can bring - Roger Scruton has noted correctly that it can inspire greater goodness than mere humanism - but because of its capacity to remove the worst. I would welcome its good effects for family cohesiveness and social stability, but I don't religion to make people into saints, I want to use it to destroy devils.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Caleb » 29 Jun 2013, 04:22

Why not simply cut out the middleman and destroy the devils?

The West has been pussyfooting around Islam for too long. They'd only need to bomb Mecca once and say, "If you can't play nicely, we're taking away your toys." It worked with Imperial Japan, though nukes wouldn't even be needed this time. Just bomb the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. If that wasn't enough, bomb the second most important venue, and so on down the list. The U.S. has the world's most powerful military. No one could stop it. Even Britain could probably pull it off (even if it had to resort to stealth). Or, if you think that's too harsh, make it a law that ten random mosques within the U.K. would be closed and bulldozed (or converted to other uses if they had architectural significance) for every terrorist attack, not just within Britain, but in any Western nation or against any Western target.

Stop immigration from Muslim countries (if not all third world countries). Place severe limits on Islamic institutions within Britain. Make them preach in English and prosecute them heavily for hate speech. Make them remove the hate speech from the Koran. Deny visas to radical clerics or deport them. Impose heavy penalties (including deportation) for hate crimes inspired by Islam. Racially profile those of Middle Eastern background. Outlaw Sharia Law, halal meat, and so on. Outlaw any form of head coverings for women. Force their children to attend mixed schools and classes, including P.E. classes.

Basically, force them to clean house and/or clean it for them, and cut off all the medieval parts of their religion, root and branch. If that completely killed the religion, then so be it. Good. It has no place in any civilised nation in the twenty first century.

Many other ills would disappear if the welfare state were scrapped or heavily revised.

None of the above would require Christian revival.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Gavin » 29 Jun 2013, 09:27

To be clear to passers by, Caleb is not publicly suggesting the West should carry out these effective, un-PC, measures, but saying they could, without a revival of Christianity. I do agree, but it would also require deserting the faith in left liberalism and embracing realism instead. It might also have some knock-on effects: civil war, oil supply issues.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Michael » 30 Jun 2013, 04:08

I do agree, but it would also require deserting the faith in left liberalism and embracing realism instead. It might also have some knock-on effects: civil war, oil supply issues.


Not to mention the anger of a billion Muslims directed against Great Britain, and a restive, angered internal Muslim population. I don't think Britain as a state would survive the backlash, internal or external.

As for bombing Mecca or Medina, let us not forget that (at least) one Muslim nation has nuclear weapons and loose command and control over them.
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Re: The Revival of the Christian Religion in the United Kingdom: For Or Against

Postby Caleb » 01 Jul 2013, 00:40

If there really were a civilisational war, Islam would lose. I'd like to think that if the entire Muslim world ganged up on Britain, the rest of the West would come to its aid. If not, we might as well all just fold up the tent now and convert en masse because otherwise they're going to cook us all like frogs in a pot, only just one at a time, in separate pots.
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