One should distinguish between Christianity as the cultural backbone of Western Civilization and Christianity as religious belief and commitment. You can acknowledge the cultural force of the stories of the Old and New Testaments – like the stories of Job, Daniel in the lions den, and the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son – without committing oneself to the doctrines of the various Christian confessions.
That is not to discount the indispensable place of Christianity as a religion in Western Culture. Edmund Burke claimed (in the Reflections) that man is a religious animal and warned (with great prescience) that if people get rid of Christianity something else, more than likely evil, will come to fill the void. No, the Edmund Burke Society is primarily concerned with culture and proposes that the Christmas period is the time to reflect on the second greatest event – the birth of Christ – in the New Testament for its cultural importance. We can connect this reflection with the English language as its vehicle.
Continue reading Christmas Culture – the King James version of the Nativity
Victor Orbán’s landslide electoral victory on Sunday, gaining 134 seats out of 199 in Hungary’s parliament, increases his governing supermajority and endorses his tough policy of excluding illegal immigrants, especially from the Middle East. His success dramatizes a new reality across Europe and in Australia: a novel kind of party has emerged, disturbing the political scene and arousing impassioned debate.
Examples of this phenomenon include the other three members of the Visegrád group (Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia) as well as Austria’s four-month old government. Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, sees western Europe following the Visegrád group: “In the Eastern part of Europe, anti-Islamification and anti-mass migration parties see a surge in popular support. Resistance is growing in the West, as well.” Read on…
Until now I have not felt the need to place my fiction writing into any particular genre, happy to let the novels speak for themselves. I adopted this attitude even though the three novels I have written fit into the genre of the Catholic novel.
I did not want to put any limitation on them. I was convinced that the stories’ framework would not inhibit the interest of the discerning reader. I was right about this. A number of readers said that the Catholic characters and circumstances did not prevent them from liking the novel.
I have changed my mind and think it best that I ‘come out’, so to speak.
First, I don’t see myself writing as anything other than a novel in the genre. I have two novels planned, one already at 45,000 words, and they will be in this market. There is no point in hiding the fact. Indeed, it will link me to that market.
Second, there has been such a polarisation in Australian society that I feel I must make an explicit stand on where we are heading. The issues of ‘same-sex’ marriage, the Safe Schools program, and euthanasia are just a few of the issues that have, and will continue to polarise Australian society.
Third, in coming out, I would like to promote the market and encourage readers and writers to have a closer a look at the novels and novelists in the genre of the Catholic novel. To this end, I will make comments and provide links to writers and their works.
What does the genre of the Catholic novel entail? I have devoted a page to explaining what is it and who are its foremost proponents.
It has always intrigued me that feminists have claimed Jane Austen for their own. Even a brief study of Jane Austen’s books and her background would reveal a woman devout in her Christian faith and in unwavering acceptance of the society she was born into. Of course, that did not stop her satirising people in that society or of highlighting the social faults she perceived. Indeed, there has hardly been a more brutal satirist of human foibles and weaknesses in all of English literature. She especially targeted people who were pompous, hypocritical, obsequious, nasty and selfish – all in the context of her late 18th and early 19th century English society. Continue reading Romance and marriage in Sense and Sensibility
By Peter Fisher
We cannot return to the days of the ‘white picketfence’. But we should recognise that there were many virtues and human qualities proper to that era that we are now the poorer for having jettisoned.
THESE DAYS, any reference to an era of the so-called ‘white picket fence’ is often accompanied by scorn and derision from modern ‘progressives’. The period in question is the 1950s and early-to-mid-1960s, prior to the coming of age of the baby boomers and the sexual revolution that came in their wake. Continue reading The Era of the White Picket Fence
One of the most enjoyable features of Christmas dinner in Australia has been the Christmas plum pudding. The first settlers to Australia brought its ritual and tradition. It was to be expected, of course, that my family whose ancestors came from the British Isles before 1840 would follow the ritual and tradition with much joy and enthusiasm. The reader will find an excellent description of the plum pudding and its cultural background on the most informative of the many websites on Jane Austen and her world: The Christmas plum pudding and old English foodie tradition.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother helping my grandmother prepare the Christmas pudding for Christmas dinner. It was pretty much as described on Jane Austen’s World website, including the stirring of the bowl.
That tradition has carried on. Until my mother passed away well into her nineties, she used to watch on as daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stirred the pudding mixture. An indispensable part of the ritual was the mixing in of thruppences, sixpences, shilling and two shilling pieces which my parents had kept after the cultural destructive introduction of dollars and cents in 1966. Those lucky enough to find pennies and shillings in their slice of plum pudding could exchange them for higher value but colourless cents.
One is not usually conscious when reading the Scriptures that there are many different translations. One simply reads the text endeavouring to follow the narration and understand the meaning. I must admit, though, that the style and language usage of what I am sometimes reading comes across as wooden, fractured and archaic without the grace of some ancient writing, all of which makes the meaning obscure. I have been in the habit of thinking myself lacking understanding rather than blame the text.
Some years ago I was reading some passages from the New Testament when I suddenly became aware that my mind had come on the text as a train rides on the perfect fit of the railway track. The language was my language and I was inside the narration. There was none of that woodenness or forced rigidity of language that I often experienced. I had no way of knowing which translation it was. Sometime later, I picked up the New Testament edition I had been given back in 1959 when starting secondary school. Upon reading I realised it was the same translation that had engaged me so naturally. It was Mgr Ronald Knox’s translation. Continue reading The Christmas story according to St Luke, translated by Mgr Ronald Knox