Roger Scruton Quotes

“Deprive young people of a rite of passage into the social order and they will look for a rite of passage out of it…The effect of current policies has been to subsidize out-of-wedlock births, to remake marriage as a contract of cohabitation, and to drive religion, which is the true guardian of rites of passage, from the public sphere. Those policies have been embarked on with the best of intentions, but with a remarkable indifference to what we know of human nature.”

“When everything is permitted, it is vital to forbid the forbidder.”

“Popular culture today is bent on exalting the trivial, the indecent, the sarcastic, over the deep, the committed and the virtuous. It is difficult for us to envisage that Mozart’s music, in its day, was part of popular culture”

roger scruton

“The misuse of drink in our society is one aspect of the general misuse of pleasure…Public drunkenness, of the kind that led to prohibition, arose because people were drinking the wrong things in the wrong way.”

“We must recognize that liberty is not the same as equality, and that those who call themselves liberals are far more interested in equalizing than in liberating their fellows.”

“It is impossible for modern adolescents to regard erotic feelings as the preliminary to marriage, which they see as a condition of partial servitude, to be avoided as an unacceptable cost. Sexual release is readily available, and courtship a time-wasting impediment to pleasure. Far from being a commitment, in which the voice of future generations makes itself heard, sex is now an intrinsically adolescent experience. The transition from the virgin to the married state has disappeared, and with it the ‘lyrical’ experience of sex, as a yearning for another and higher form of membership, to which the hard-won consent of the other is a necessary precondition. All other rites of passage have similarly withered away, since no social institution demands them – or if it does demand them, it will be avoided as ‘judgemental’, hierarchical or oppressive.”

“Beauty is assailed from two directions – by the cult of ugliness in the arts, and by the cult of utility in everyday life.”

“That is what religion promises: not a purpose, necessarily, but something that removes the paradox of an entirely law-governed world, open to consciousness, that is nevertheless without an explanation: that just is, for no reason at all. The evangelical atheists are subliminally aware that their abdication in the face of science does not make the universe more intelligible, nor does it provide an alternative answer to our metaphysical enquiries. It simply brings enquiry to a stop. And the religious person will feel that this stop is premature: that reason has more questions to ask, and perhaps more answers to obtain, than the atheists will allow us. So who, in this subliminal contest, is the truly reasonable one? The atheists beg the question in their own favour, by assuming that science has all the answers. But science can have all the answers only if it has all the questions; and that assumption is false. There are questions addressed to reason which are not addressed to science, since they are not asking for a causal explanation.”

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Three Reasons Why the Pro-Choice Position Appeals to Cowardly Men

1. For the pro-choicer, the issue of abortion is primarily about women’s rights. For the pro-lifer, it’s primarily about the rights of the unborn. A cowardly man will always defer to the former, for the simple reason that he will never be personally confronted by the unborn. He will accept the narrative that entails the least personal risk to himself. Cowardly men would rather turn a blind eye to injustices against the voiceless than risk offending those-who-have-voices. 

The cowardly man need only convey an acceptable combination of faux-humility and faux-generosity when delivering the line, “I support a woman’s right to choose.” With one stroke, he dehumanizes the unborn child and asserts his support for the fairer sex.

2. Those who support legalized abortion often cite social and economic factors – essentially making a utility argument: “Better for a child to be aborted than born into a life of poverty and crime.”

Pardon my frankness, but utilitarians are pansies. Cowardly men are enamored with this kind of thinking, because it avoids the awkwardness of standing up for the weak against the interests of “the rest of us”. It allows Principles to be compromised in order to ensure “more total happiness for everyone”. Better the Lower Classes kill off their unborn, rather than jeopardize society’s physical and financial security.

Some cowardly men will even argue that it’s “in the child’s own best interests” to be aborted. Which seems awfully presumptuous. In that case…why not just kill all infants, toddlers, and schoolchildren who are born into lives of poverty and crime?

3. Abortion doesn’t only impact women. In the aftermath of the recent controversy surrounding the 20-week abortion ban in Texas, the term “bro-choice” gained a good deal of traction on social media sites. It turns out that banning abortion would cramp the style of cowardly men looking for consequence-free sex. According to bro-choice activist Ben Sherman, “[your] sex life is at stake…don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”

Cowardly men dread the thought of being held accountable for what they do sexually. Primarily concerned with their own hedonistic goals, they naturally favor policies that make it easier to coerce pregnant women into dismembering their unborn offspring. Collateral damage is acceptable, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the cowardly man’s own selfish interests.

Brief Thoughts on the Texas Abortion Bill

Full disclosure: I believe that abortion is wrong at any point in gestation, and should only be permitted to save the life of the mother.

But I frankly find it appalling that anyone could defend the right of a woman to have an elective abortion after 20 weeks. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they’re just ignorant of what a 20-week fetus looks like (and what an abortion at this stage looks like). Abortions after 20 weeks are gruesome, messy, and undeniably evil. Regardless of how one might feel about early-term abortions, a 20 week ban is something that *anyone* with a shred of decency and humanity should be able to get behind.

Contrary to the claims of certain demonstrators down in Texas, this isn’t about “what a woman does with her own body”. Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the body inside of a woman’s body isn’t the woman’s body.

This also isn’t about a bunch of inbred religious hillbillies from the south trying to hijack the political system. The large majority of “enlightened and progressive” European countries prohibit abortions after 12 weeks.

The video below is testimony from HR 3803, a similar 20-week ban that died in the US House of Representatives last year. Another such bill (HR 1797) recently passed in the House on a party-line vote, but is unlikely to ever make it out of the Senate.

Reckless Self-Endangerment and Christianly Courage

“The rise of the internet must ultimately kill off organized religion”…or so the common wisdom goes. Thanks to a new generation of fedora-clad Redditors equipped with Microsoft Paint and rich imaginations, new Bible loopholes are being uncovered that threaten to expose the absurdity of Christianity. These Valiant Defenders of Truth and Reason are sagely raising critiques that somehow escaped the attention of two thousand years of systematic theology. Or something. Take this gem:

20090223reckless

The image makes three implicit assertions. I’ll respond to each.

1. The Christian belief in heaven ought to entail an eagerness to die. (Corollary: Since most Christians don’t appear eager to die, their belief in heaven lacks sincerity.)

This assertion baldly ignores Scripture’s robust teachings on virtue, suffering, sacrifice, and meekness – opting instead to project a simplistic brand of secular hedonism onto the Christian’s conception of heaven. The idea seems to be something along the lines of, “heaven will be pleasurable, therefore Christians should be trying to seize this pleasure as quickly and directly as possible.” This kind of reasoning may be the marching song of our modern age, but it is so bluntly at-odds with the teachings of Jesus as to be an absurdity.

2. A Christian can conceal his motives from God. (Corollary: Reckless self-endangerment with the sole intent of achieving death isn’t, therefore, equivalent to suicide.)

Psalm 139:1-6. And I think that about covers it.

3. Scripture is silent on the matter of “reckless self-endangerment”. (Corollary: Reckless self-endangerment isn’t immoral.)

Scripture actually does touch on this issue (Matthew 4:5-7).

Tightrope walking over shark-infested waters for the purpose of dying cannot be justified on the Christian view. Even so, this assertion raises some interesting questions. Under what conditions, if any, can reckless self-endangerment be morally justified? How do these conditions differ from those of an individual who lacks a belief in the afterlife?

Again, Scripture provides us with answers. Christians are called to emulate Christ (Matthew 16:24-25), who himself laid down his life for humanity (Mark 10:45). In stark contrast with the man who believes that existence ceases with death, the Christian actually has rational justification for placing his life in peril to aid his fellow man. He feels compelled – joyously compelled – to throw himself into a churning river to save the life of a stranger. He fights for noble causes and he bears the burden lightly, knowing that life is a precious yet fleeting thing, and that everyone will ultimately be held accountable for their actions. The Christian must, in the words of Chesterton, “desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.”

Many are quick to point out how faith can be perverted (“religion flies planes into buildings” and so forth), but slow to acknowledge the abundant examples of faith being harnessed to advance the causes of liberty, justice, and equality. Genuine faith entails a love of life and peace with death. Hence the soft-spoken Christian woman who casually purchases a one-way ticket to a leper colony.

Of course, none of this is to say that nonbelievers can’t also act heroically (or that Christians will always act heroically). What it does show is that Christianity, by its very nature, lends itself to heroism.

And speaking of heroism, happy Independence Day!