by Danny Kruger
Sunday, 17
April 2022
Dispatch
08:00

Eastern Europe shows the power of a Christian society

The strength of community in Poland and Ukraine is best explained by faith
by Danny Kruger
A woman lights candles during a Holy Mass in Krakow, Poland. Credit: Getty

Dominican Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Krakow. 

Plainchant is surely the proper music of old churches. As the voices rise and echo in the stone spaces, at 11 o’clock on Good Friday night, a line of ordinary Krakowians of all ages queue patiently down the aisle to take their turn kneeling on the flagstones before a small crucifix. Each person spends some minutes in prayer. 

The Adoration of the Cross is perhaps the purest rite of the European Church, as simple and direct as plainchant. In this quiet gesture all our ideas are gathered and tethered to their source: the catholicity of Christendom (including its bastard offspring, secular liberalism) returns to the foundational fact that God took on flesh and died for us. This improbable belief, and the history it has made, is what binds us on this continent together. At Easter, at the turning of the year, we take hold of it again. 

In February 1941, when Germany occupied the whole of mainland Europe, Winston Churchill quoted Arthur Hugh Clough to remind people to look to America for hope: 

And not by eastern windows only,
     When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
     But westward, look, the land is bright.

Today the land to westward shines only dimly, shrouded in the fog of its own religious conflicts. But here in Eastern Europe we see the strength of communities still held together by a common idea of themselves. 

Ukraine is perhaps the most Christian country in Europe. And in the resistance of the Ukrainians we are witnessing what strong families, communities and nations are capable of. Surely only a country where people have a sense of living for a purpose outside themselves, who feel there is something sacred about the relationships of life, would fight so hard, and take so much punishment. 

The social resilience of Ukraine, or Poland, or Hungary, is an asset not to be counted in the GDP tables or the measures of how ‘open’ a country is. Resilience like this is civilisation’s best hope against the threats that assail us: barbarous godless nationalism like Russia’s, but also the emerging biostate, justified by Covid and enabled by technology, of which the current lockdown of Shanghai is a grotesque harbinger (“Control your soul’s desire for freedom”, warn the tannoy drones flying between the tower blocks: “Do not open your window to sing.”) Only a resilient society will withstand what tech and power will try to do to us.

Christianity remains the best basis for social resilience, as well as the best foundation of religious tolerance and political pluralism. In the UK we are doing a good job of undermining the place of Christianity in our public morals, however. In the last month we have effectively legalised abortion on demand; abolished the marriage vows, or at least reduced marriage to nothing more the status of boyfriends and girlfriends; and announced a law that could make traditional teaching about sex and sexuality, and counselling for people who wish to follow that teaching, illegal. This is a poor basis for the stronger families, stronger communities, and stronger nation that we need.

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Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
1 month ago

Some good points by an MP who supports the Conservative government which is doing these things. In summer 2020 Danny Kruger was a vocal defender of Dominic Cummings, the fanatical advocate of the hugely damaging lockdowns, even if he ignored them in his own life. Defending one’s principles means refusing to act as an enabler of those who would destroy those principles, even if that refusal is politically inconvenient.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stephen Walshe
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Cummings is a fascinating, perceptively and extremely talented individual – look at his Substack posts. However his uncritical support of lockdown indicates that intelligence focused on the wrong ends, or maybe ones that can be abused – can go badly awry. I suppose you could say the same about the entire history of socialism.

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
Samuel Turner
Samuel Turner
1 month ago

Danny Kruger can f**k off for supporting this government that cares nothing about supporting families. Our government is conservative in name only. What do you think happens when welfare is cut and not enough housing is built? Without financial means of course people have fewer children and more abortions. The only way to save British society is through proper investment in housing, communities and the economy.

T Doyle
T Doyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Turner

Oh dear the usual clueless lefty mantra of more public expenditure and jobs for unemployable middle class socialists. The family unit is the foundation stone of society.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Turner

The alternative is Keir Starmer and Labour, probably in coalition with the SNP….

The conservative Right is split between those who don’t think 50% of the population should be able to claim benefits, and those, it seems including you, who think we should have the highest spending welfare state since 1945…… How do we actually pay for that – we already have the highest tax take since 1945.

Isn’t there a conservative case to be made that those people who raise families should be expected to pay for them?

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
Jason Highley
Jason Highley
1 month ago

Only a resilient society will withstand what tech and power will try to do to us.
And if the reaction to attempted hostile takeovers of Twitter is any indication, they will indeed try and try again, until their coffers are empty.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

 Stronger families, stronger communities, and stronger nation – traditionally communities with a common religious setting.
And yet to claim that religious beliefs are foundational ignores those places elsewhere in the world that have different religious beliefs or none yet still have strong communities.
Strong religious communities can also foster intolerance to ‘others’, which is generally regarded as a bad thing.
So shared religious beliefs can be a good thing, a bad thing, or no thing at all. Perhaps ‘religion’ has highjacked and branded our ordinary human social inclinations?

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The most successful societies in the world history have been western Judeo-Christian, or places which copied them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stephen Walshe
Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Yes, like Japan and China. And Ancient Egypt. Etc. Etc.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

You think China is a successful society?

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

If Mao had lost the civil war it might have been. Taiwan and South Korea are doing ok.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
1 month ago

They are. And heavily influenced by the West in doing so.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago

As is Christianity there

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

It is very effective at imprisoning and silencing its population. Also, producing shoddy goods.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

A little behind the times…Now, not so shoddy…. A huge proportion of the stuff we buy is made in China.

(For the avoidance of doubt, I do not their political system!)

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
T Doyle
T Doyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Ancient Egypt was very religious and racist. Like Japan and China. What’s your point?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  T Doyle

Was Egypt ‘racist’? But what is YOUR point? Was medieval Christian Europe particularly noted for its religious and social tolerance?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Japan was a feudal society until the end of WW2, Egypt was a slave state devoted for millennia to building burial places for the pharoahs. Learn some history before you cite it.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

It is well, and now widely, known, that the pyramids were not constructed by slaves, but by a well paid and fed workforce! So, not very different from.the cathedrals of western Europe. So, yes, learn some history!

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

The ‘Pax Romana’ was far superior.
‘Judeo-Christianity was both a major disaster and rather parvenu when all things are considered.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

The Pax Romana ?

Slavery, crucifixion, gladiatorial and other cruel spectacles, street-corner brothels, military despotism…

Do you lament the disappearance of those things ?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Some, but not all.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Quite possibly, at least until now, when western societies may now becoming so polarised they will destroy themselves..,.

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Quite, these arguments about religiosity in the Ukraine situation continue to baffle me when they have the Russian Orthodox church and its millions of Russian adherents squarely on the side of the aggressor.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

All of whom are betraying Jesus Christ by supporting Putin’s invasion.

You are confusing cultural religion with sincere Faith.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

God is always on the side of the ‘Big Battalions’*

(*V.)

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

I don’t recall the Archbishop of Canterbury castigating those 412 MP’s who voted for Mr Blair’s Iraq War.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
1 month ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Precisely bc he is one of those rice christians..only in it for the benefits and staying stumn about his agenda

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Ukraine’s is now a separate Orthodox Church, plus they have about 10% Catholics. I’m not a believer, but I do understand how believing in something greater than yourself, which, let’s face it, hardly any of us, Right or Left do on here, can give people a huge moral strength.

Prof Mitchell
Prof Mitchell
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Countries that “have different religious beliefs or none yet still have strong communities.” What countries did you have in mind?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Prof Mitchell

The Wikipedia article “List of countries by irreligion” has a list of countries and their (various definitions) levels of irreligion. The Wikipedia article “Importance of religion by country” is another way of presenting the issue.
Some of the countries on these lists also have low GINI indices indication higher equality of income (Wikipedia “List of countries by income equality”), so for instance the Scandinavian countries are typically lower on the importance of religion but higher on income equality.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The Scandinavian countries are non-religious because very sheltered, affluent and smug

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Erm, well that is just sweeping name calling, which doesn’t even try to explain anything!.Do you have any particular insight into Scandinavian culture?

Scandinavian societies developed from their Lutheran and no doubt previous ‘roots’. Were the Vikings smug…?!

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Prof Mitchell

Doesn’t China? Certainly they show a very much greater degree of support and care for family than the vast majority of westerners.

Lindsey Thornton
Lindsey Thornton
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This argument is an old chestnut which has been debunked successfully by Tom Holland in Dominion The Making of the Western Mind, an excellent read. Tom is a Classicist and argues that we in the West have Christianity so deeply embedded in our DNA that we are completely oblivious to it. It is Western Christian culture that created the very notion of a secular society.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

Yes, this is what I tell those who are antipathetic to Christianity. They assume that we got so ‘enlightened’ and dignified all on our own without recognizing how Christianity made us all equal under G*d.
Kenneth Minogue describes this better than me in ‘The Servile Mind’, a book I highly recommend.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Shared political beliefs can foster intolerance and hatred of the “others.”

Who is more intolerant than those opposed to religion ?

Today’s US liberals being a case in point.

The only strong non-religious nations are the Nationalist ones, notably China and Russia.

And perhaps political and social considerations have hijacked religion ?

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
1 month ago

The ‘torch’ of the Russian Orthodox Church is certainly illuminating many Ukrainian cities and towns, though they are what is doing the burning.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Well. No – since Putin and his military guys aren’t religious.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Putin is heavily involved with the Russian Orthodox Church, who seem to fully support his actions in Ukraine

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A cult, if ever there was one. It is laughable that they can consider God is impressed by their iconoclastic dressing up and incense waving. Sad, really as Putin obviously hasn’t read the Bible.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Putin is an admirer of the Russian Orthodox Church on cultural and political grounds.

He isn’t devoutly religious.

It looks as though much of the Russian Orthodox Church isn’t either.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
1 month ago

I remember reading something a few years back on the responses to various natural disasters. The author had spent time researching various kinds, mostly tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. Based largely on interviews with the people in areas affected, they insisted that nearby churches always provided the most effective disaster relief (and the author did not come across as a religious type). Being part of the community, the churches knew what people needed. Not being awash in resources, they were not prone to throw away money on unnecessary/unwanted things the way government organizations did just so a politician could brag how much they had spent, and thus how much they had ‘accomplished’ for the victims.
That churches ranked better than FEMA or other government organizations was not surprising. FEMA of course can’t be local to every disaster, and government bureaucracy would hamper even the most dedicated of their members. What was disappointing was how the article indicated the Red Cross had become ineffective. Back in the day I would give yearly donations to them because I knew people who had been helped by them in natural disasters. But, as with so many things, it sounded like they had been ruined by social media. Too many people were saying RC just showed up, took selfies of themselves handing out water bottles, then vanished. The selfies would go on social media and for funding drives.

Lionel Woodcock
Lionel Woodcock
1 month ago

Isn’t it odd that an organisation that vehemently insists there is life after death, that people can be born from virgins, that an invisible being can converse with you, etc also claim they are wise enough to pronounce on political and moral issues.
All religions are useful as social constructs, the adherence to which provides cement for community identity. But they must not be allowed any longer to hijack moral and spiritual ownership; we can do that ourselves without the magic bit.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago

No, because without a belief in the supernatural, morality is empty words, mere human opinions, propped up (as in China) only by immense social and political pressure – and labour camps.

And, without a belief in the supernatural and life after death, society collapses into Despair, mitigated by addictions – money, drugs, screens, shopping etc etc.

Look at today’s West if you doubt this.

But I don’t want to interfere with your belief in a magic universe that created itself !

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Yes, the big bang goo to you proponents seem not to realise their illogical edifice is built on sand.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

I’ve lived in the very poor parts of the rural South where opioid addiction is rife. Many people get out of that lifestyle by turning to Jesus. It’s a religion that has helped people greatly turn their disastrous lives with its concepts of mercy, forgiveness and redemption, which is one of the reasons I support Christianity.
When you are comfortable and wealthy it is very easy to discount religions as fanciful notions, but most humans need something more than to see themselves as bags of meat that react to and rationalize their impulses and desires. For me personally, Christianity reminds me that we are all possessed of a divine spark and to look for this even in those who most antagonize us.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 month ago

What, are those Eastern European nations composed entirely of children then? Isn’t the very definition of maturity and adulthood, that you don’t need the fairy tales of religion to behave in a responsible and ‘socially resilient’ manner?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Alternatively one could suggest that it is the wisdom of religion that leads to success.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 month ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Religion isn’t fairy tales, though.

That’s Irreligion. With its self-created universe ! LOL.

And after being mature, adult, responsible, socially resilient etc – you DIE ; and turn into dust.

So, if there’s nothing true in religion, thus no after-life: why were you such an absolute, blithering imbecile as to BOTHER being mature, adult etc ?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The slow descent into nihilism – your last sentence is a question I have grappled with for pretty much the entirety of my adult life, on a daily basis.

I will let you know when I have an answer. Or not, as the case may be.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I mean, we do have an instinct to survive and reproduce like all animals. Doing those things within a human tribe entails those things so not as to get exiled or (in modern societies) sent to prison, so it hardly seems surprising we have evolved to act that way and exert social pressure on those who don’t and try to cheat the system. Religion is of course an effective way to manage this if people actually genuinely believe it, and create an ability for self-regulation and resilience among the population but this has to be organic otherwise it just becomes a brittle shell of meaninglessness. And some religions have more positive social pressure effects than others. See prosperous and enlightened Protestant countries like England vs benighted countries afflicted with Islamic and Catholic backwardness.
And most irrelegious people I know, the intellectually honest ones, would say we don’t know if the universe was created or not, indeed we have no knowledge of anything outside the universe, our cognitive faculties being so deeply embedded within in, so we can’t even speak coherently of a before the universe in the first place – and any attribution of entities outside the universe creating the universe seems to create an infinite regress problem. Believing in a personal creator is a jump of irreason, but most religious people would say this is the whole point.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ferrusian Gambit