It’s odd really, I found the book to shake me to my very core and open up my eyes to situations and a variety of perspectives of the world that I have never recognised are there before. Being a white English male in their early 30’s and being raised in a predominantly white area for most of my life, I really don’t know what it is like to live in places where other ethnicity’s or races have begun to call home. But I have seen the change to Europe in the news and politics. I have never really stopped to think about it before though.
I have seen news articles about immigration, about the effect of Europe slowly changing over the decades, and very quickly in the last decade. I have seen the photos of bodies on the beaches, washed ashore because the vessels they set out in didn’t make it to their European destination. There was no one to save them as they sink. I have seen the refugee camps; the poverty and I have seen a couple of cities in the North of England change in the last five years alone due to immigration.
But I have also been told two things my whole life. Multiculturalism is vital and that this country should answer the call of those fleeing their country, for whatever reason. This book has made me question both of these things.
Now, this blog post might very well piss a lot of people off, what I need you to realise is that this blog is just my reflection on what I read and engage with.
Mr Murray has been labelled a racist, a xenophobe, a liar and a Nazi many a time because of the perspective he shares with those he engages with through his talks, writing and works (like The Strange Death of Europe). What is interesting is that I really don’t think he is any of those things. Rather I think he has seen an issue that affects the very core of our society and has decided to make his voice heard.
I first came across him as he hosted a conversation with Sam Harris and Jordan B Peterson a couple of years ago. I found his wit, insight and way with words to be very powerful. I also found him a very interesting character. He is a Gay man, he is English, he is middle-aged, he has a voice into the world about topics that few dare to attempt to tackle. Interestingly, other than the aforementioned what hit me really hard at the time of discovering him was that he calls himself a ‘Christian Atheist’.
I told my wife that I had found someone who calls themself a ‘Christian Atheist’, and she just laughed. How could anyone call themselves something so contradictory? It took me a while to work it out as well.
I think this book does a really good job of laying the groundwork to Mr Murray’s religious (or lack thereof) worldview. He explains how the basis for many of the things we claim are ‘self-evident’, such as women being equal, sexual fridge groups being included, democracy and the separation of religion and state, are no longer as ‘self-evident’ as we used to think they were.
You see, we have spent the last couple of centuries allowing the religious ideologies of our forebears to no longer hinder us and hold us back. But in this process, we have lost the answers these beliefs held to the massive existential questions every generation ever has asked. ‘Why am I here?’; ‘What is the purpose of this life?’, and ‘What is morality based on?’ (just a couple of examples off the top of my head). Sure, every generation has asked them and come to different conclusions, but for the past few centuries, the answers have still been anchored in a belief in a deity.
We find Europe today, lost after two wars at the start and mid of the 20th century that crippled its idea of human value and human atrocity. This Europe is (arguably) without a soul and the distinctive element that makes Europe what it was a hundred years ago. Our countries and worldviews have become a void of confusion and purposelessness. We desire current consumerism to grant the current inhabitants’ reasons and goals, as well as a whole host of new and different peoples, who have travelled to our lands. These ‘others’ hold other worldviews and different ‘self-evident truths’, which are beginning to tip the balance of what Europe is today and what it will be in the future.
As you can see, these sorts of conversations are things that very few pew-sitting individuals would ever engage with, as rather than assessing the current political and social climate, we are more interested in praying for the return of God to end all suffering and spending our time singing to Him in worship. Even the nonreligious within our societies are more interested in consumerism than they are in the tipping climate mentioned above.
I won’t go much further as this book is well worth the read and I really wouldn’t do it enough justice if I tried to explain it anymore. Rather I will leave you with a few quotes, to get a flavour for the style, insight and prose of Mr Murray.
‘Across some rather surprising learning moments – a terrorist attack here, an ‘honour’ killing there, a few cartoons somewhere else – the awareness grew that not everybody who had come to our societies shared our views. They did not share our views about equality between the sexes. They did not share our views on the primacy of reason over revelation. And they did not share our views on freedom and liberty. To put it another way, the unusual European settlement, drawn up from ancient Greece and Rome, catalysed by the Christian religion and refined through the fire of the Enlightenments, turned out to be a highly particular inheritance.’ Murray, Douglas. The Strange Death of Europe (p. 261). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
‘A country that believes it has never done any wrong is a country that could do wrong at any time. But a country that believes it has only done wrong, or done such a terrible, unalleviated amount of wrong in the past, is likely to become a country that is inclined to doubt its ability to ever do any good in the future.’ Murray, Douglas. The Strange Death of Europe (p. 169). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
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Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
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When Belief Dies #67 – 'Psychedelics, History & Hope' with Pat Smith – When Belief Dies
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