In Arthur C. Clarke’s The Songs of Distant Earth, the SF writer imagined a human society expunged of religion. It was worth it, Clarke claimed in a thinly-disguised self-insertion, despite conceding that the richness of human experience, particularly literature, had been all but erased.
Lost in the great purge were virtually all the great works of the supreme novelists, poets and playwrights…Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy, Proust…Future generations on many worlds would wonder about Mozart’s first thirty-eight symphonies, Beethoven’s Second and Fourth, and Sibelius’ Third to Sixth. At the same time, Clarke concedes that his imaginary utopia would produce almost no original literature of its own.
Still, Clarke optimistically claims that his culturally stunted “paradise” of highly intelligent dullards would be worth it.
Science fiction is the genre of the Thought Experiment, the great What if? It’s worth considering such fictional scenarios because they may not be so fictional for very much longer. In the West, at least, the powers-that-be are embarking on a grand scheme to eradicate religion altogether.
Well, one religion, anyway.
While certain other religions are practically fetishised by the political-cultural elite, Christianity is under such threat as it has hardly been since the darkest days of its infancy. In some regions, such as Africa and the Middle East, the threat is violent and genocidal. In China, the authoritarian Communist party crushes Christianity ruthlessly (as it does indeed all religion: the Chinese, at least, can alone claim not to play favourites). But in the West, the greatest threat to Christianity is from the puritanical worshippers of Mammon.
Certainly, Western governments are enacting an increasingly constraining legislative chokehold on free expression, targeting Christianity in particular. But it is the post-modernist plutocrats who are leading the fascistic march of intolerant globalist social engineering against Christianity. As I have previously written, the gruesome coupling of the previously antagonistic monsters of Marxism and globalism, has produced a hideous, Lovecraftian monstrosity of gibbering megalomania.
This power-hungry monster seems uniquely bent on eradicating Christianity from the Western consciousness.
While the Israel Folau saga has been criticised as “the first step to eradicating religion entirely from public life”, more insidious examples abound. Where Folau’s persecution has highlighted the particular threat to individual freedom of consciousness, the eradication of Christianity from the cultural sphere proceeds with poisonous stealth. A new biopic about The Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien is but one example.
The movie depicts Tolkien’s youth and, supposedly, the formative influences that lead to his most famous creation. That this flies against Tolkien’s own assertion that the novel’s “basis in experience” was “slender” is of less importance than how the “influences” selected – or, more importantly, neglected – give the cultural game away.
Firstly, the film supposedly references Tolkien’s literary influences, yet neglects arguably the biggest: the 9th century Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf. Tolkien was an eminent Beowulf scholar: in many ways, it was as much his life’s work as Middle Earth.
Worse, though, the film completely neglects Tolkien’s religious faith.
Yet, Tolkien was a lifelong devout Catholic who wrote that The Lord of the Rings is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. Although religion is absent from Middle Earth, religious themes infuse the book. The climactic scene as the Ring is cast into the fires of Mount Doom, Tolkien wrote, embodied the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”. It is no coincidence, too, that Tolkien’s carefully constructed chronology sees the Ring (and the Satanic Dark Lord) destroyed on March 25th: the traditional date of the Crucifixion.
Excising Beowulf and most of all, Christianity from Tolkien diminishes his life’s story. Religion infused both Tolkien’s life and work with meaning. Without his religious faith, the story of Tolkien’s life becomes merely a kind of boys’ own adventure. Some people did something, as it were.
As such, this palimpsest of Tolkien is symptomatic of the larger cultural erasure crippling Western life. Like the inhabitants of Clarke’s Thalassa, Western society is being made clever, perhaps, but unbearably dull. The modern West is, as one Catholic writer described such bowdlerised treatment of Tolkien, “paddling in the shallows of the shadows”. Small wonder that a trite dirge like John Lennon’s unspeakably dull Imagine has become the go-to for the empty, virtue-signalling ritual of ghastly modern “public vigils” that pullulate in the wake of everything from terrorist atrocities to the self-inflicted demise of petty criminals. This is the world the left and their plutocratic pals have decreed: not so much Abide with me as Why don’t we do it in the road?
“Imagine there’s no heaven”? We don’t even have to try. We see its stultifying presence all around us.