It is the great season of Easter.
Well, for me and mine it is – and we have just celebrated the great Christian days: Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ; Good Friday, the commemoration of His death by crucifixion; and the vigil of Holy Saturday-Easter Sunday when we celebrated His Resurrection from the dead, His harrowing of Hell, and the whole history of the great things God has done for us – and is still doing. And now, in Easter Week, we bask in the glory of these wonderful deeds.
My much admired cousins throughout the Orthodox world will begin to celebrate the same stupendous events today (12 through 15 April) and in a ritual style of deep mystery and symbolic purity almost entirely lost in the churches of the post-Christian west.
Far be it from me, however, to exploit these happy Christian days to proselytize. My culture, after all, is but one among many and my God, so I am cautioned to understand, is also but one among many - and these all equal, though with this caveat: that the Holy Trinity is less equal than all the others.
Well, I suppose a God who can let Himself be put to death on a Cross is big enough to accept meekly the demotic decrees of modern multiculturalism and religious syncretism. For a certain time, at least.
But I crave the grace of latitude.
May I, for a moment, give deferential expression to my – how shall I say - my perplexity over the credulousness which one so often finds on unashamed exhibition in speech and writing today?
I can understand why people reject Christ, His Church, and Christian civilisation: the whole box and dice. Their representatives and adherents - myself included – are often not very convincing as models. But the rejection of God in the West has not been accompanied by great rationality or discriminating judgement. In fact, so long as it is not Christian, we westerners seem to be ready to believe almost anything. Rejecting Jesus Christ has not proofed us against credulity.
Granted, it is a strange thing that some of us still believe in 2012 in a miraculously-born God who died on a cross and rose again on the third day. But there are things to which people give credence today compared to which faith in Jesus Christ appears, if nothing else, as a rich, three-dimensional conviction laden with great moral influence and manifest cultural achievements.
Let’s take, by way of counter example, the highest thoughts on offer from a man considered a prophet in our day. He delivered them in a speech in the Hobart Town Hall on 23 March this year: Dr Bob Brown, leader of the Greens, at the Third Green Oration – an address delivered to great applause from his disciples there gathered together.
Little green men
“Fellow Earthians,” the speech began.
We don’t need to dig too far beyond the sci-fi idea of “Earthians” to realise that in the person of Bob Brown we have struck a deep vein of fantasy. You see, we are “Earthians” because Dr Bob believes in Martians and Venusians.
No, I don’t mean Martians and Venusians in our immediate solar system. Dr Bob didn’t come down in the last shower. I’m not suggesting that. I mean that he believes in Martians and Venusians living in other solar systems. Much more plausible, you think? Well, only a little.
Because there are other suns, and evidence of other solar systems with their planets, Dr Bob, like a lot of other folk, has drawn a very long bow, and concluded, that, out there somewhere, there are sentient beings somewhat like us.
Not a skerrick. It’s no more than a hypothesis prompted by the slimmest of observations and buttressed by a huge leap of faith: millions of other suns; evidence of other solar systems; the odd planet spotted here and there with the possibility of finding more. Nothing else. Dr Bob tacitly admits it:
“So why isn't life out there contacting us? Why aren't the intergalactic phones ringing?”
Umm, because these sentient beings are, contrary to a well=established sci-fi tradition, much more primitive than we are? Or because they simply don’t exist?
Well, Dr Bob has thought of the latter possibility. But our great green guru is much too attached to his far out speculations to concede the idea that the Martians and the Venusians are not sending us urgent greeting calls because they are a figment of his imagination.
Far from it.
The reason why the intergalactic telephone lines are dead is because our neighbours in the far starry distances used once to exist but no longer. They’ve “extincted” themselves, says Dr Bob.
“That's why they are not communicating with Earth. They have extincted themselves. They have come and gone. And now it's our turn.”
Hypothesis, upon hypothesis.
Bob Brown reckons we are ‘extincting’ ourselves (Premise 1), so the lack of evidence for “person-like animals” elsewhere in the universe (Premise 2) just goes to show that they reached extinction, by their own hand, sometime in the dim galactic past (Conclusion) … so long ago, in fact, that communications from those lost civilisations have yet to reach planet Earth.
Or, to draw out the logic of the Brown Theory of Life and the Universe, if the Martians and Venusians were extant civilisations, we would certainly know about them: the “intergalactic phones [would be] ringing.”
Funny what some people will believe.
Now I would never want to suggest that Bob Brown is a loony tune who should be dismissed. Far from it. I mean, his Premise 1 prognosticating doom has much to be said for it. I would want to differ, however, as to the manner and the extent.
Probably we won’t exactly ‘extinct’ ourselves. It looks pretty much inevitable, however, that, before this century is out, we are likely to experience a population collapse of huge proportions.
The collapse, moreover, will take place not because of the things Bob Brown allegedly opposes (environmental catastrophe) but because of the very things he and his Greens support: among others, a reduction in the birth rate to below replacement level by state propagated and subsidized mass resort to abortion, and by the state funded mass practice of sterilized sexual concourse – nowadays represented as an ideal in the cult of homosexuality and the drive for “gay marriage” of which Brown is Australia’s No.1 public representative and exponent.
I do not speak here of the rights and wrongs of abortion, of intentional infecundity in sexual relations, of homosexuality, or of conceding a moral equivalence between traditional families on one side and homosexual couples on the other. I would hate it to be said that I am “pushing” my values onto people.
I only want to point out where all this ends: in death. There is death for unborn human beings; there is death stored up for the future in the famine of infertility; and there is demographic death at the end of the road for the society that lives by the Bob Brown programme.
The vision thing
And yet even Bob Brown wants to escape from the implications of the Green project. That is why, in this same Green Oration, Brown posits “eternity” – yes, “eternity” - as one of the top four priorities for the global democratic government he proclaimed in the speech - a vision of which, he reports, flashed into his mind under the inspiration of fiery comet.
As a self-commissioned Old Testament prophet given to fasting on mountain tops, it is not surprising that Dr Bob should be granted revelations about an escape route from the human condition. For, much like us ordinary mortals, Brown also fears death and the extinction of the race. Thus he waxes lyrical in his Hobart oration about the creation of new generations to whom he might pass on his “candle” and find his own eternity through them:
“In this stream of life, where birth and death are our common lot, the replenishment of humankind lights up our own existences. May it go on and on and on...”
Hope without reason. How will Dr Bob pass on his candle if he and his own movement are set to extinguish the generations upon which this pale-flickering-light kind of eternity depends?
What we find in the Third Green Oration is a pigmy messiah peddling a pigmy, post-christian Christianity. It is replete with beings from beyond the stars, with inspirations and revelations, a message of salvation, and universal secular ecclesia all “strung together” – if I might so reverse the meaning of words – by a frail chain of logic from which untold links are missing.
Give me a break! Spare me Bob Brown’s sputtering tapers!
Give me the real thing any day. Give me its Virgin Mother and Risen Christ, its mysteries, rites and sacraments, and complex internal consistency. Above all, give me its joy and the blazing light of its Hope which can send a man sprawling like a guard at the tomb.
*Gary Scarrabelotti is Managing Director of the Canberra-based consulting firm Aequum: Political & Business Strategies.