Friday, December 17, 2021

A Future in the Catacombs


Karen Wong had a conversation with Dr. Gavin Ashenden, with the title, Taking a Stand for The Truth Costs Everything.  The conversation was held in March 2021.  Wong, in the show notes, introduces Ashenden as follows (and it is all valuable, so forgive the length):

A near death experience caused him to begin searching for truth and meaning and for the source of all light, loving and stern, singular and plural who first judged then forgave him. This led him through Buddhism to Jesus Christ. However, during his academic career and study of psychology, he became fascinated with Carl Jung, and it was only after an experience of the reality of demonic evil that he realized that Jung was really not a solution, but rather led people away from the truth because he posited that the self is God and substituted the Shadow for the reality of evil.

His need to speak truth at all times in regard to his faith ultimately led him to resign all of the many positions of power within the [Anglican] Church that he had held and ultimately to convert to Catholicism. Reading the Apostolic Fathers was an important step in this journey.

He was a priest in the Church of England, and an Anglican bishop.  He was Honorary Chaplain to the Queen, until he resigned in 2017. 

Several comments caught my attention, and the entire conversation (just over an hour) is worth considering.  Here I will touch on what were for me some highlights; all cites are from Ashenden unless otherwise noted:

Our obsession with racism is keeping us from a knowledge of God.  Racism is only one sin.  The idea that you can attribute all sin to a bad attitude from one to another is so under-ambitious, because it is only a small part of the appalling bad attitude that human beings have to all other human beings.

We can see this in the violence and aggression committed by those who are supposedly against racism.  Burning, looting and killing are acceptable bad attitudes, apparently, given that there is only one sin – racism (meaning, in today’s West, the sin of being white).

We are in a period of immense cultural crisis.  It is quite spiritual as it is political as it is psychological as it is philosophical. 

Yes.  But don’t look to the one institution that has the means to heal the wounds for any support:

But one of the things you can’t help but notice is that the church is not standing up to it.  In Europe and America, it’s very badly wounded.  Astonishingly, it’s on the rise in Russia and China.

I just read a very interesting piece about Russia: Russia’s Greatest Weapon is not a Weapon, by Dmitry Orlov.  He writes:

… the stronger becomes the hurricane of woke transformations that is raging there, the more attractive Russia becomes for hundreds of millions of Europeans and Americans.

He notes the mass insanity that has consumed the West, destroying what many in the West still hold dear (and more used to hold dear).  He cites something from the Daily Beast as an example of the left’s desires and hatreds:

“…The Kremlin intends to attract Western converts with… bigotry—turning Russia into the land of ultimate political incorrectness, the world’s anti-woke capital.”

Bigotry defined as “the West’s gender dysphoria and other psychiatric symptoms.”  Apparently believing that gender is assigned along with sex at birth is now a “psychiatric symptom.”  We truly live in a nut house (forgive my hate speech).  Continuing with Orlov:

What’s important is that the world has flipped to its mirror image: no longer is the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Russia now is, in the eyes of the Americans themselves!

Ashenden makes a complimentary point, noting that when he was younger and in the Soviet Union, if someone had told him that within a few decades something like seventy percent of the Russian people would identify as Christian, he would have thought the person a loon.  Yet, here we are.

Returning to the video:

Why is it that Europe and America have collapsed in a terrible way?  I expect to go back to the catacombs in my lifetime.

He is in his mid- to late-sixties…so, you know, the next few years.

He then made some comments about Jordan Peterson, how Peterson’s Jungian bridge can’t stand across this divide of militant atheism and fallen Christendom.  Jung is insufficient for this.  He then went on to discuss the Islamization of Great Britain – not his comments, but reflecting on what a Muslim colleague said…something like…

I am tired of doing these inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogues.  I don’t need to do them anymore.  We’ve won: democracy plus demographics.  Great Britain will soon enough be Muslim.

To which Ashenden said…he’s right!  Britain’s fall into wokeness, and the same for the Anglican Church of which he was a part.  His BBC radio show…he was banned from reading the Bible during the show – which was the biggest Sunday morning radio show at the time.  He was the target of a death threat.  He was pushed to resign from his role advising the Queen, because there was fear that it was perceived he was speaking for her (you know…Christian stuff).

And this is when the Catholic Church reached out to him. 

He returned the conversation to Peterson, noting how powerful and courageous Peterson has been.  If he ever takes the leap and gives himself up to Jesus, however, he will be giving up his whole intellectual career, which he has given to Jung. 

Even with this, he finds Peterson, paradoxically, better at expositing Scripture than most Christian leaders.  Yet…

…his relationship with Jesus is that he [Peterson] is in control.  Jesus is a subject to study. 

Then, after commenting on the struggles that Peterson is working through (this discussion was done in March, just as Peterson was coming out of his physical and emotional depths), Ashenden offers, “As a Jungian, Peterson is carrying burdens that no one is designed to bear.”

He offers that Jung has opened many valuable doors, but also has many shortcomings.  Plato opened even more.  But the only complete view is in and through Jesus.

At the end, Wong asked him if he is open to come back for another conversation (which he did, and I have previously written on here).  He said yes, “as we are still allowed to have conversations, so we better have them while we still can.”

Hopefully we will be able to do so in the catacombs as well.


  1. I don't think the Church was prepared to fight a more political battle in the US. The focus has been on gospel preaching, personal sanctification, and defending itself from secular atheism. All the intellectual endeavors were strengthening itself from the mounting attack on the faith from post-modern science and also responding to the rising popularity of sexual deviancy.

    Government and politics has been seen as a safe space or a neutral space. Many people I know in the church still think that way or don't know how to really fight the violation of rights we have lived through the last 2 years. It has mainly be a reaction to vote for Trump. But actually fighting against the government to protect natural rights isn't even on the radar for most.

    I have a small group of confidants that I help nudge in the right direction. So the remnant is out there, but we are just now starting to realize who we are.

  2. I went and watched the video (for a change). This guy, Ashenden, seems like the real deal... according to his story, when the forces of evil put the squeeze on him, he recognized them for what they were, and refusing to play along came naturally. Truly inspiring.

    If there's anything that made me feel some minor pangs, it's that his focus on personal spirituality and psychology doesn't quite get to the issue of social order. But that was helpful, in a way... it suggests that the likes of Peterson have a hard time getting to the point of natural law because they narrowly focus on the individual, and his struggle with the objective universe at an abstract level.

    Considering man as an integrally social being would be a substantial shift in the conversation. A necessary shift, as you've pointed out often, because it's rather silly to talk about man's mind and search for meaning without taking his fellow men into account.

    Still, even though it's not a very big leap, it's a leap into unpleasant, politically charged territory. It requires talking about mine and thine, borders, walls, guns. The people in these YouTube conversations seem way too sophisticated and good-natured to risk going there.

  3. Good thoughts, likely because I agree with them.

  4. This isn't in the right place but what do you think about this?

    1. Two thoughts, one short, one longer:

      First, the way I understand things, he confuses natural law and natural rights.

      Second, while I agree that one can go a good way toward discovering natural law without “revelation,” I don’t think one can go all the way there. A natural law ethic requires, ultimately, love (beatitudo) as the highest value. Can reason alone get us there? I think not: I think we must accept the revealed truth that God breathed into man – all men, all women. Otherwise, why love them – why not kill them and take what we want?

      I think even sound, solid Christians do not understand how much the Christian culture that they swim in influences their reason and rationality. Aristotle offered knowledge and experience as the basis of natural law (per the judge); yet he fully supported (as I recall) the slavery of ancient Greece.

      Aquinas recognized that his reason was influenced by the Christian culture he lived in. even many atheists today recognize the cost of losing Christian culture and tradition when it comes to our liberty.

    2. My thoughts too.

      He says Natural Law and he may have that in mind but he talks about Natural Rights.

      I think experience, revelation, and reason can all work together to inform our consciences. I also believe that revelation is the priority.

      I like the talk though.

    3. I also appreciate his talks. For a wide audience, these are excellent introductions to the concepts of natural law and natural rights.