The observant may have noticed a change in the blog’s icon, as well as in its subject matter, so a word might be in order. Jessica, the ‘onlie begetter’ of AATW, will continue to contribute as the Spirit moves her, but isn’t going to do so on a regular basis. That leaves things up to those of us who think it worth continuing to do so. I am grateful to Neo and Nicholas for filling gaps this last week, and am more than happy if others can do so.
We have been through some travails in the past four years, and latterly some of our Catholic commentators withdrew, feeling that the tenor of some posts was not something with which they wished to associate. Whilst not agreeing with some of the conclusions in those posts, they seemed to me to raise questions well worth discussing, and since their author was not a member of the Catholic Church, it seemed, as it still seems to me, fair enough that those posts did not reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church. As with all blogs, tone can be hard to get right, but we move on – and since my Church, like many others, values symbolism, I thought having the famous Newman portrait by Millais, a good symbol of that. I have updated the ‘About’ section to make it more up to date.
The change in subject matter reflects my own somewhat different interests. Jessica is interested in theological debates and knotty problems of Apologetics, which whilst not alien to me, are not my natural home. The teaching of the Catholic Church satisfies me, and I am happy to defend it when it is challenged and misrepresented, but feel no urgent need to test it myself; I did that before, as it were, signing up. The intersections between history, theology, politics and international relations are, however, my natural home, and as recent posts suggest, I feel that the Church, and Christianity in general, has an important part to play if our society is to survive the perilous experiment of trying to create one without an agreed moral base. Catholic social teaching has much to offer those who are dissatisfied with our political groupings, and who feel that existing political parties have more to say about past trends than they do about future needs.
My own political views are broadly conservative, but in the older sense. I found Mrs May’s words on entering Downing Street much to my taste, and if she can follow through, I shall feel happier than I have of late voting Conservative. I am not blind to the moral appeal to the young of some of Mr Corbyn’s positions, but having spent many years watching the virtue signalling of his type of left-wing politics, am impressed more by the chasm between rhetoric and practice than by the practicality of what he proposes. Were I am American (and I am a great Americanophile, having had the great good fortune to live there for a while) I do not know for whom I would vote. Mrs Clinton seems to embody much of what is wrong with the current system, whilst Mr Trump seems to me to show why it needs real reform; he channels the anger of the many who feel they have been left behind and forgotten – but I am unconvinced he offers any solutions in the real world. Yet it is plain that ‘the people’ cry out for ‘solutions’. As a conservative, I am sceptical of long-term solutions, and of too much State intervention; but, as Catholic social teaching suggests, there are sometimes areas in which the State needs to intervene – Christ did not say to ask whether the poor and the needy were ‘deserving’ before feeding and clothing them.
The values on which Western civilization have been built owe much to Christianity, and in abandoning the latter, it remains unclear to me that we shall be able to retain the former. Christians should beware of thinking that their faith offers any policy proposals, but it does offer broad ethical and moral considerations which ought to inform a decent political system. Recent posts have offered various riffs on that theme, and I have no doubt future ones will do the same. I look forward to your comments, and, I hope, your continued readership.