Friday, 31 January 2020

Significantly; I had to leave The Establishment (or be ejected) before I became a Christian

For some reason it has not previously been something I noticed; but as a matter of historical sequence I had to leave the Establishment* before I became a Christian.

The reason that this was not obvious, was that my conversion was a rather gradual and incremental (one might justly say reluctant and unimpressive) matter - going from a New-Agey subjectivism and neo-Platonic deism (spirituality as therapy), via real theism, to Christianity; and involving many  writers and people as personal influences.

2008 was a crucial year - at the beginning I was pretty solidly an insider, with ambitions within The System; by the end I was a Christian. In May of that year; I was subjected to a brief but intense political correctness international media firestorm, related to a publication on the effects of different intelligence between social classes on the then-topical theme of university admissions.

The effect of this was considerable, because it was an academically unambiguous matter of straightforward truth telling. The Establishment response was, however, solidly hostile: I was publicly slammed by my University Vice Chancellor, privately by the central administration; got zero verbal and personal support from, and was cold-shouldered by my colleagues; and criticised widely (including dishonestly and with made-up lies, of course) by thousands of outlets in the mainstream international media; and suffered an aggressive, threatening, hostile e-mail onslaught.

What this made absolutely, undeniably, crystal-clear to me was the true, innate, solid nature of the Establishment: that it was based on lies, that it used people for evil purposes, and that it was unrestrainedly hostile to truth, beauty and goodness. Also, that it comprehesively pervaded the personnel of politics, the global media, civil administration and universities (down to a low level)

I was also aware that the only even-theoretical conceptual refuge from this evil was Christianity.

Now, this is not the best, or even a sufficient, reason for becoming a Christian - but apparently, for me, it was a necessary step. I had to choose between honesty and professional acceptance. My psychological rejection of, revulsion for The Establishment/ The System cleared the way to make a step which, here-and-now, puts someone outside of the possibility of anything like success, status, accolade.

It would have been considerably more admirable if I had become a Christian somewhere nearer the peak of my reputation when there were possibilities of more of the same. That would have been heroic, in its way.

But all I can say in my favour is that, unlike everyone else I know (and I know plenty!) who have experienced what is currently called an SJW/ Woke firestorm; I did learn from the experience. Eventually. And not many people attain even that modest level of common sense achievement... 


Note: Maybe the peak of my Establishment acceptance came when - in 2000 - I was a Visiting Distinguished Millennial Fellow at Kings College London. I was surely the least in status of these Fellows, probably a substitute for someone who dropped out; nonetheless the other Fellows included political scientist Kenneth Minogue of the LSE, Melanie Phillips the journalist (a panellist, not Fellow), Julia Neuberger (then the most famous UK female Jew - reformed liberal 'Rabbi'), Robert Winston (University of London, doctor) and Colin Blakemore (a panellist - Oxford, scientist) who both fronted major BBC TV series, Kay Redfield Jameson of Harvard (the star of bipolar disorder), Rowan Williams (later Archbishop of Canterbury). I gave a lecture to some hundreds of people at Southwark Cathedral, London; an extract of which was reprinted in The Independent newspaper. Oh! - I nearly forgot to mention the most significant 'evidence' that I was part of The Establishment (albeit on the fringe): my original debating opponent in Southwark Cathedral, was, until a late-ish stage of planning, Jimmy Carter. Yes, him. I really was scheduled to speak as one of only two lecturers, with the ex-President of the USA. In the event, he cancelled; but still...

5 comments:

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Plus ca change... “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?”

JMSmith said...

My experience was not as spectacular or notorious as yours, but it was similar in substance and timing. I published an article that gently mocked the pretensions of "critical geography" and suggested that it was a conformist cult. To prove how wrong I was, the system spat me out like a bad oyster. I actually had a book review that was in press rejected, and I was cut by people I had long known as personal friends. It may be that I could have "repented," but the degradation of repenting what I still believe was truth-telling disgusted me. The world does not look the same after you have been punished for truth-telling and refusing to lie.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JM - So it goes. I find that most people simple cannot accept how indifferent/ hostile to truth is academia - including science. I suppose because truth is being regarded as something like 'exact adeherence to standard and agreed procedure' instead of 'how things really are'. A truthful academic creates exactly the same kind of panic and concerted action as would a truthful politician. Luckily for the college system, the species of truthful academics are near extinction, thus very seldom a problem.

JMSmith said...

My experience was not as spectacular or notorious as yours, but it was similar in substance and timing. I published an article that gently mocked the pretensions of "critical geography" and suggested that it was a conformist cult. To prove how wrong I was, the system spat me out like a bad oyster. I actually had a book review that was in press rejected, and I was cut by people I had long known as personal friends. It may be that I could have "repented," but the degradation of repenting what I still believe was truth-telling disgusted me. The world does not look the same after you have been punished for truth-telling and refusing to lie.

Jake said...

Wow. I have gone through hell in academia, too, for different reasons.
Regardless, touching story. You are a brave and honest man.