Sunday, September 16, 2007

Allan Trafford on Cultural Amnesia

In tonight's "get through the blogging backlog", I came across Alan Trafford's fine little post about Clive James talking about his book Cultural Amnesia. James used the interview on the Bill Moyers show to defend our need to preserve our cultural heritage, but then he takes pot-shots at the idea that faith in a living God has any part of the heritage that needs to be preserved. Alan writes:

What surprised me about Clive James was the arrogance of his laughter. To be fair, Bill Moyer did not invite him to debate. James was never challenged. It was not put to him that his position is as much an act of faith as is that of the theist. The difference is, of course, that James has faith in his own mental faculties, not in God. He does not see that "the fallenness of humanity," one of the key ingredients of Christian anthropology, has warped him, just as it made a demon out of Adolf Hitler.

James fails to grasp that Western Civilisation requires Augustine, not just Aristotle. Culture, we are told, depends upon a humanist intellectual inheritance, derived from Enlightenment thinkers from Rousseau to Voltaire. In one sense, this is true. The seeds of optimistic modernism have blossomed, but they have become the poisoned plant of postmodernity. Instead of Diderot we are left with Derrida. Yet the culture that gave birth to Erasmus also produced Martin Luther. We cannot lament the loss of cultural icons without recognising the part played by the Christian faith.

That's why James' laughter is dangerous. He, and many like him, already have selective cultural amnesia.

Wow! Alan packs a punch in his posts. Thanks for a real winner.

Soli Deo Gloria