As an Englishman living in America, I keep a watchful and often wistful eye on events in Britain, lamenting the decline of my country as it sinks in sin and cynicism.
Take, for example, Tessa Jowell , the UK government’s secretary of "Culture," whose official "Christmas" card omitted any reference to Christmas itself, opting for the anemically meaningless "Season’s Greetings." As if to add insult to injury, the card displayed an image of a mosque and a photograph of Hindu dancers. There was no trace of a church, or of a cross, or of the Virgin and Child anywhere on the card. Even Santa bit the dust, no doubt on the basis that Santa, etymologically, is tainted by its association with Christian "sanctity" or "sainthood."
The same meretricious spirit regularly pervades the queen’s Honors List, with rock stars vying with comedians and TV quiz-show hosts among those whom the government considers worthy of "honor." The knighthood of Mick Jagger is a case in point. Sir Mick’s reputation as a serial fornicator was seemingly no obstacle to his elevation to the highest echelons of "honorable" society. Modern England, it seems, does not know the difference between chivalry and chicanery and prefers to see its knights in white satin than in shining armor. What a dishonor it must be for any Christian gentleman or lady to appear on such an "Honors List."
All is not doom and despondency, however. As the proverb reminds us, every cloud has a silver lining, or as Samwise Gamgee prefers to express it in The Lord of the Rings , "above all shadows rides the Sun." It is, in fact, The Lord of the Rings itself that provides us with the silver lining, reminding us that the Dark Lord cannot prevail and that the Shadow will pass. Two examples of its influence upon members of the cast of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s epic will illustrate the edifying nature of Tolkien’s work. Andy Serkis , who plays the morally corrupted Gollum (sharing the role with a computer-generated image), was asked what he thought of the character he portrayed. His answer was as sublime as it was succinct: "There but for the grace of God go I."
Such a combination of wisdom and humility is rare indeed in modern England. Rarer still is the courageous exposition of wisdom and prophecy, as exemplified by John Rhys-Davies , the actor who plays Gimli the dwarf. Reflecting on the deeper meaning of The Lord of the Rings , Rhys-Davies said, "I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged, and if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization."
Then, with that gift of "applicability" that Tolkien himself proclaimed was the way in which his work should be read in relation to events in the world, Rhys-Davies drew some sobering conclusions. As with the civilization of men in Middle-earth, our own Western civilization was in a "precarious" state, said Rhys-Davies, because of a "collapse"’ in population: "Western Europeans are not having any babies," he lamented. "There is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe which nobody wants to talk about," he continued, "that we daren’t bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural thing as well. . . . By 2020, 50 percent of the children in Holland under the age of eighteen will be of Muslim descent." This combination of declining European birthrates, coupled with huge-scale Muslim immigration, constitutes not so much a racial threat as a threat to Western culture, he concluded.
"There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western civilization in Europe that we should think about at least and argue about," he said. "If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn’t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with a different civilization, with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss. . . . True democracy comes from our Greco-Judeo-Christian Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world."
Such comments are not likely to find Rhys-Davies a job with Tessa Jowell’s department of "Culture," nor is he likely to find himself "honored" with Sir Mick on any Honors List, but his words of warning and wisdom, and the courage of the conviction with which they were proclaimed, will win him many friends among those who value the preservation of Christendom. He might not have the opportunity to enjoy (or endure?) the company of Jowell or Jagger, but as a veritable giant in dwarf’s clothing, he has earned a place in the fellowship of those heroes who have defended Christian civilization in the past. He is in good company¯the company of Charlemagne, El Cid, and Don John of Austria. He is on an Honors List truly worthy of the name. Gimli, son of Gloin, would be proud of him.
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