What can an Irreverend podcast contribute to the gospel?

Podcasting has grown into a Big Thing over the last few years, particularly though not exclusively amongst younger people. My children are constantly recommending podcasts to me—though to little avail, since I have enough to listen to on the radio!

Daniel French is the vicar of Salcombe, Malborough and South Huish, Devon, and is a regular podcaster, and I had the chance to ask him about this ministry and its impact.

IP: What is the name of your podcast? What sorts of issues do you cover, and how many people listen? How did this all start?

As it says on the label ‘Irreverend’ covers faith and current affairs, mostly but not exclusively from a UK/Anglican perspective. Listenership is around 4,000 downloads a week and is more if you add YouTube and Rumble viewerships. In the past two years we’ve had just under half a million downloads. Our January 6th episode on the transgender priest Rev Bingo Allison had near 13,000 downloads, which highlights how contentious the trans issue has become.

Revs Tom Pelham and Jamie Franklin started it from scratch during the autumn of 2020 and then a couple months later invited me to join their duo. Jamie is currently a curate in Nottingham, Tom is a vicar in Burwash near Tunbridge Wells, while I am the vicar in Salcombe near Plymouth. Tom and Jamie trained together for ministry at Cuddesden, Oxford. Jamie administers and edits the podcast and with an upcoming part-time appointment to a vicar in Winchester hopes to give more time to this.

For me the trigger point was after I befriended the American writer Rod Dreher on the back of an article I published in the Spectator which touched upon his seminal The Benedict Option (2017). The article went viral perhaps because I controversially claimed orthodox Christianity could soon find itself barred from the public space and marginalised with the established liberal churches. In the midst of a Brave New World we could end up with much of the parish system collapsing and end up operating as a subterranean discreet network. The hierarchy of the Church of England’s enthusiasm for Covid theatre and the lockdowns confirmed in my view that much of Anglicanism could easily capitulate to the secular culture and even self-immolate to an emerging digital technocracy. Dreher got in touch with me and introduced me to a number of people, and from there I got to know Jamie and then Tom.

IP: How do you choose the issues you seek to cover? Do the drivers here come from within—your own concerns and interests—or from without—what you see going on in the world around you?

I have to keep reminding people that we are an amateur outfit and so this podcast is gloriously unscripted. We do not have the production resources of a big operation. This is very much an iPhone-in-a-basement thing. Yet, our meagre outfit is having impact and making waves. I think we are saying things that a lot of people in the church feel too worried to voice.

As for the show structure, weekly planning involves thinking and praying through some of the big new stories while also picking up ecclesiastical news. There’s always some drama to report and the Anglican world keeps on giving. Our reputation is to argue the news from a non-woke basis and look at theological issues from a small ‘o’ orthodox viewpoint.

The initial driving force was our antipathy for the lockdowns. Tom, Jamie and myself are united in seeing this as a fundamental attack on our God-given human rights and liberties. Within weeks of Covid arriving something changed in the way western supposedly liberal governments regarded their relationship with citizens. The response illustrated not only disproportionate overreach but also a new appetite for authoritarianism and scapegoating. Who cannot be worried that the police who had bemoaned how overstretched they were in chasing criminals in 2019 could now find time to close playgrounds, stop birthday parties, patrol joggers with drones, and rush into places of worship to do headcounts?

Each of us were seething about the lacklustre response of the official Church. Justin Welby’s decision to lock priests out their own churches and not fight to keep these buildings open did irreparable damage. The day that announcement was promulgated I sat outside my church weeping. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown and nearly quit then and there. Something snapped within me, and though my faith is strong I struggle to have any enthusiasm for our denominational structures. I have ceased to be a ‘company man.’

IP: Did that lead to asking more questions of wider actions and attitudes?

A few episodes in and our podcast began to question much of the official government narrative. It’s been interesting to see this week how Big Brother’s Watch report to Parliament on 77th Brigade vindicates what a lot of us were picking up, namely that the propaganda machine went into overdrive and now saw voices like us deemed as enemies of the State. I suspect that on YouTube there was evidence of shadow banning of our podcast, likewise the same goes for my personal Twitter account (until Elon Musk bought the platform.)

Other issues include questioning vaccine mandates and highlighting vaccine injuries. We heard terrible things from Canadian Anglicans for example about how their local bishops were writing off the truckers’ protests as ‘alt-right’ from their pulpits and doing petty gestures like banning protesters from using toilets. So when faced with a genuine working class movement the Canadian hierarchy showed itself up and declined to get involved. So much for a church for and of the poor! Similar pattern happened in the UK where no prominent clergy attended the lockdown protests but were all too quick to join the more fashionable rallies, BLM or Just Stop Oil. It is not an overstatement to say many of us as lockdown sceptic Christians felt deeply let down by our church leaders.

Another concern is climate alarmism and it’s too common anti-human sentiments. It seemed clear to anyone that an ideological rush to Net Zero would kill more people than Lenin’s Five Year Plan, forcing millions globally to choose between heating and eating. To us it seemed that Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, and Insulate Britain were quasi religious apocalyptic cults feeding off young peoples’ desire for meaning in the face of a declining Christendom. It’s tragic that so many clergy are sympathetic, some have even taken part in glueing themselves to roads and obstructing traffic. It beggars belief!

Ironically, our harshest critics come not from militant atheists but from other vicars. One residential canon Tweeted, that “Irreverend is a Post-modern conspiracy freak show”—whatever that is? Perhaps the clerical kick back betrays an incandescent rage that we dare to defy the official liberal narrative taught in almost all theological colleges since 1968, namely that God is actually behind the times and if only He would drop some of His more demanding commandments the public would flock back. Yeah right, as if!

IP: All three of you are ordained and in parish ministry. How does the work you do on the podcast relate to parish ministry?

Part of the podcast USP is that we are working vicars. Modern priests have got a reputation of being politically Left-of-centre and progressive, so our voices are a tiny way to offer a bit of a rebalance. However, in parish ministry I remain discreet about all of this, mindful that I don’t want to alienate parishioners. On the whole Salcombe is mostly a town of Daily Telegraph readers so those who know my take on things are not too bothered. I think it would be harder to get any sympathy if I were chaplain to some red brick university.

IP: Perhaps in line with your podcast title, you don’t appear to work too hard at tip-toeing around those with whom you disagree. Does that matter? Does it make a difference to the persuasiveness of your arguments? Is there sometime value in satirising the views you disagree with?

The show’s bombastic style is no doubt part of our appeal. I know that we are expressing what a lot of people are shy of voicing or struggle to be heard by those in power. Sometimes in the heat of the culture war you need to be a bit shouty. Theological disputes which are seemingly resolved solely by ‘good disagreement’ don’t always produce the most helpful or noble outcomes. We know Nicea in 325 didn’t emerge from bishops being nice to each other. Passions flared. The orthodox side had to fight hard to win the day, and then it took centuries of resisting the semi-Arian fudge before this all settled. Thank God, the orthodox bishops were pushy, otherwise we’d have an inoffensive bourgeois religion without the incarnation or the Trinity.

However, I don’t think Irreverend is in anyway as aggressive or unforgiving as woke progressivism even in its churchy iterations. But, let me underline how rattled folks are of getting cancelled or disciplined for wrong-think. Small ‘o’ orthodox ordinands feel especially vulnerable and the stories I’ve heard are hair raising. I remain astonished that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not put his foot down on this. Does he not see what is happening? Perhaps he genuinely believes he can “manage” the progressivists in the Church and keep the peace. This in my view is impossible when the tactics of the hard Left are in play.

I want to add that though we do lampoon and laugh at stuff Irreverend isn’t all bluster and rants. We aim never to be cruel. Above what we try to do is explore issues at a high resolution, and unpack complex theological issues as far as we can and make those ideas user friendly. So in our recent show on Rev Bingo it would have been all too easy to charge in and get personal but instead we invested a hour unpacking traditional Christian understanding of biology, the soul, matter, and so on. Bingo made an unusual claim about the imago dei in Genesis 1.27 that deserved closer examination. Having gone on Breakfast TV to make very particular claims about the Hebrew text this needed testing. Just because Philip Scofield is purring “Oh that’s a lovely way to look at the Bible,” doesn’t make it true. What our show encourages is ordinary people to push and test some of these woke philosophisings because most of it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I think ordinary people instinctively know this, almost in a subliminal way. Our show is about encouraging a confidence to question this stuff.

IP: Why is this medium relevant to the proclamation of the gospel in contemporary culture? What kind of people do you find engaging with it, and why is that significant?

People listening to podcasts are looking for content in contrast with the majority of the Internet and the legacy media because podcasting is more in-depth and less combative. Most social media platforms are about saying it in a 10 second sound bite or revelling in others being caught out. I think these fast n furious platforms drown out sustained exploration of any issue and make it intimidating for the majority of church leaders to participate. Few of us would volunteer ourselves on the mainstream news to play these ad hominem games and I suspect the public are increasingly bored with that kind of output. Podcasting in this way suits those of us familiar with the craft of preaching and delivering lengthy speech. I believe that the podcasting phenomenon highlights that there is an appetite for something completely different and that stretches our attention spans. I suspect that the invention of wifi earpods and smartphone compatible stereo in cars has also helped. Long car journeys or trips to the gym are a common way to listen and are supplanting commercial radio and the BBC.

I have observed that when it comes to evangelisation, women tend to belong before believing while men do the opposite—they are more comfortable believing before belonging. Of course, this is a bit of generalisation but we also forget just how intimidating the initial prospect of belonging to an unknown mysterious gathering is to a lot of men. My experience is that guys want to go away and think about Christianity and chew it over in their own mind. They are less naturally trustworthy than women and need to be personally convinced and invested before making a commitment to attend. Podcasting is the perfect medium for men to quietly take it all in and in the privacy of their homes make up their minds. Fans of our show have said that it is like Top Gear done by vicars. This was not a conscious thing on our part, but we have noticed that the show does seem to effortlessly engage with men and their concerns.

IP: What stories do you have of seeing people engaging with faith issues? Do people actually come to faith as a result of engaging with it?

“Dear Rev, your podcast Irreverend is a lifeline. Since finding faith I’ve struggled to find a church nearby that isn’t woke and your show is keeping me sane.” These lines were scribbled in a Christmas card from a listener who tells me he is the owner of a car sales dealership and is typical of regular letters and emails that find their way to us. This is typical of the hundreds of letters and emails we get.

Certainly the three of us are seeing a significant number of people who can articulate either a religious experience or intellectual conversion. In two years we’ve been privileged to hear several thousand such stories. Something seems to have happened spiritually under the surface since the first lockdown in 2020. A lot of these new Christians have migrated from New Atheism on the back of the Jordan Peterson Bible series. Another interesting constituency would describe themselves as “awakened” to the prospect of digital technocracy or what Rod Dreher calls ‘soft-totalitarianism’. I would put myself in that category though I think it is less the product of a shadowy cabal as the sinfulness and vanity of Man.

It also highlights for me a nagging feeling that the Church of England in its current liberal guise has chosen the wrong apocalyptic narrative by going full gung-ho with Greta Thunberg and climate alarmism. A more theologically correct apocalyptic lens would be that of the French philosopher Rene Girard or Benedict XVI who foresaw the winter of civilisation due to the breakdown of social cohesion and the unmasking of raw power. But, I think for the Established Church to grasp this it would need to reconstruct its moral theology to something more than a tribute act to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. This as we know cuts right through the Culture Wars inside the Church because such an apocalyptic reading of the times asks believers not to be victims in some Freudian-Marxist sense but to take personal responsibility for our inner lives, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Ephesians 4.23) while also seeing our ultimate salvation in a saviour, Jesus Christ.

Much of the current posturing from the official Church puts the salvific work of Christ on the edge rather than in the centre. When did you last hear a bishop go on the airwaves and talk about Christian conversion, salvation, repentance, sin, and so on? Sadly the Church’s intellectual gravity well remains overly middle class and so it is theologically far safer to argue that we need to save the planet than save souls. I suspect that the Church doesn’t want to talk about our souls because it fears consumer resistance and so offers little bar constant affirmation rather than the hard work of conversion. My point is that the wider public and enquiring Christians pick this up, and truth be said they want a denomination motivated by a concern for the inner life and our salvation.

Tragically, I have lots of stories of new Christians braving their local parish church only for their conversion stories to be scorned by the vicar as he or she rolls their eyes, “We don’t do that supernatural stuff anymore.” Well, Irreverend does and people appreciate it.

IP: What would you say to something who is interested in developing this kind of ministry? What do you think the institutional Church should be doing about it?

I would encourage Christians (clergy or otherwise) to have a go. The most basic secret to success is regularity. At the very least make a commitment to do a short series and upload it at the same time every week. Unlike trying to do YouTube, the basic equipment need only be a smartphone or laptop, and a subscription to a platform. We record our podcast conversations by ripping the sound off our Zoom account. It’s all easy enough to pull off.

As I am not a fan of the institutional Church delivering relentless corporate output I am not sure what advice I would give. My worry is that those within the engine room of the Church of England would airbrush out controversial voices or make their own versions not very meaty. In my view it would be best if they stepped back and let podcasting be the grassroots movement it already is.

IP: Daniel, thanks so much for your time—and for your ministry through the podcast!

Ordained 25 years ago, Daniel French is the vicar of Salcombe, Malborough and South Huish, Devon. He is married to Frances who has recently been ordained too. Since 2020 he has written for various publications including the Spectator, unHerd, Mallard, Country Life, and the North American Anglican.

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37 thoughts on “What can an Irreverend podcast contribute to the gospel?”

  1. Some interesting points here. Of course the division in the Church of England is not just on homosexual marriage and gender between evangelicals and liberals but also as the author points out on congregations. Leftwing urban congregations in inner London or Birmingham or Liverpool or Bristol or young student congregations in Oxford and Cambridge or Manchester or Leeds would be more pro net zero on climate change, anti austerity, anti Brexit etc than older more conservative congregations in market towns and rural areas who will want traditional services with less left liberal politics.

    Albeit during the lockdowns younger people would have been more likely to come to church still in person rather than online than older people as they would have been less at risk from Covid

    • Your point about young people attending church “in person” during is valid. Indeed, some of this did happen to me.. in the second lockdown we drew them in as film crew.

      • Not so in our church.
        During the mask wearing, no singing phase, when the service was pre-recorded put up on the screen in church and put out on zoom, initially I could not see the purpose of turning up just to view the screen.
        But decided to do so. Just eye-balling and nodding to each other made the difference.
        Those of us who attended were of older generations. 50 +. Nevertheless, my average age is 36 along with my wife’s.
        We are an orthodox Anglican church, 39 Arts, with an average Sunday attendance in 280’s over two services. It is multi- cultural, multi- generational with a heartgladdening children’s ministry.
        It takes 41 people to minister over the two services. Our two presbyters are approachable, family men, sound in
        reformed doctrine, (wide ranging in theological reading and influence)
        and much younger than I am, but not younger than my average age!
        A perfect church? Hardly. A growing church? Yes. A learning church? Yes. An outward looking -sending church? Yes.
        A Gospel church? Certainly.
        Climate change, any politics, is not part of the church curriculum. It does rum CAP courses and has great relationship with a local Catholic school, an a significant middle eastern ministry.
        It has been said that there is a preponderance of women believers in some churches. Not so in the church I’m part of.
        The difference between men and women coming to faith, belonging, as articulated in the interview, at first blush, generally, seems to ring true.

        • “my average age is 36”

          That’s encouraging Geoff… My average is also 36. I’d never thought of that mathematical ploy to fight ageing… Sum of the parts, averaged… Brilliant!

          As is your church… Encouraging…

        • “It has been said that there is a preponderance of women believers in some churches. Not so in the church I’m part of. The difference between men and women coming to faith, belonging, as articulated in the interview, at first blush, generally, seems to ring true.”

          Have you ever thought, Geoff, why your congregation is marked out as predominantly male? Could it be because of your message being more macho than inclusive. Thank God for the B.V.M., who was not at all discouraged by the masculine preponderance of those showing up for sermons at her local synagogue. Some; like Elizabeth, The Magdalene, Anna, and other unassuming Anawim, might have preferred to stay out of the limelight, in order to be of pastoral service to others in the community, who may feel neglected by the Church?

          Did you know that, in the Con/Evo Diocese of Sydney, Australia, women are not even allowed to preside at the Eucharist – even though its bishops may soon be ready to commission a layman to perform this sacred duty. Has it ever occurred to you that women may not feel very welcoime of male dominated congregations?

          • Has it ever occurred to you that women may not feel very welcoime of male dominated congregations?

            And men may not feel very welcome in female dominated congregations… probably it would be best if congregations were balanced, yes?

          • Ron,
            You have read into it what you want to and something I didn’t write.
            The congregation is evenly spread. Male and female.
            Minister are family men. Church council evenly spread male and female. There are singles, male and female.
            Please stop and think, and try to read things through myopic lens. A change in your reading glasses is needed. But more, a change in heart is needed.

          • If your idea is right, then it seems strange that the Roman Catholic Church, led entirely by men, is attended by more women than men.

    • Albeit during the lockdowns younger people would have been more likely to come to church still in person rather than online than older people as they would have been less at risk from Covid</i

      In my experience, fear of coronavirus was often inversely correlated with actual risk. Even now the only people I am aware of still sheltering are young and healthy.

  2. What is meant by ‘left of centre’? It has been argued that politics falls on two spectrums: liberal/authoritian for the social axis (but perhaps currently might be better seen as woke/traditional); and free market/socialist for the economic axis. It is possible to be economically left-wing and socially traditional.
    Indeed the social conservatism is perhaps why the CofE is known as ‘the Tory party at prayer’.
    Meanwhile my own study of the Bible – which in hoping to bring out in a book – indicates to me that when the choice is between a rich person’s ‘rights’ to ‘their’ property Vs a poor person’s needs, God is very much in favour of the poor person. His focus for social justice is to maximise the welfare of the poor. Empirically, we know that free markets are terrible at this and it is the social democrat countries with lower inequality that do much better on a wide range of measures of welfare for everyone, not just the rich. If CofE bishops are advocating for left-wing economic approaches then I would hope that it is because they have studied and understood the Bible.
    This does not mean that they have to be culturally woke, which seems to be what the Irreverent podcast hosts are actually concerned about.
    Having said all that, I remember being very concerned about the outdated and right-wing views that the bishops in the House of Lords took about people in poverty during the 2010-15 welfare debates.

    • ‘Indeed the social conservatism is perhaps why the CofE is known as ‘the Tory party at prayer’.’

      I don’t think it has been called that since Faith in the City! When did we last hear a pronouncement that we might call ‘socially conservative’, for example, speaking up for the importance of marriage, faithfulness in relationships, or the importance of parenting?

      • The average person in the pew may be more socially conservative, but I get the impression that the Bishops and much of the clergy are not.

        There seems to me to be a big disconnect between the two.

        • Depends which pew. Go to a university Chapel and the students and lecturers will be mostly social liberals, as will most liberal Catholic inner city or suburban churches, go to a rural or evangelical church and they will tend to be more socially conservative

      • From Jacob Rees Mogg or Danny Kruger or Kemi Badenoch for instance. There are social conservatives in the Conservative Party, even if the Tory leadership tends to be more socially liberal

    • Economically left but socially conservative Christian voters normally vote Labour but went Conservative in 2017 and especially in 2019, when Boris won the normally Labour Roman Catholic vote as well as traditionally Tory Church of England, Church of Scotland and Protestant
      evangelical vote. However they now seem to be going back to Labour.

      Those who want Nordic style high tax and high spend and social liberalism will generally be voting Labour or Green and particularly prominent in inner cities and university towns. Though of course plenty of more capitalist nations with even higher gdp per capita than most Nordic nations eg Australia, Switzerland, the USA and Singapore. It depends if you believe in Christian self reliance and charity or Christian paternalism, high welfare and a big state

  3. I enjoy the podcast, as it makes me feel less isolated as a Christian worshipping in a Liberal church.
    But I don’t know how Tom puts up with Jamie, who is pretty disrespectful towards him.

  4. This couple of laddos sound very much like the crowd that marched onto New Zealand Parliamentary grounds lighting fires and causing mayhem and some hospital admissions – in a form of violence against ‘Covid Vaccination’ and Lockdowns (which, incidentally helped us to make a quicker recovery that most other democracies). I suppose, by their own admission, the two from friends (like your good-self) of American Rod Dreher are not too fond of the trajectory of the C. of E. at this moment in time – for its inclusive acceptance of LGBTQI people as part and parcel on the ‘Great Unwashed’ of the Church.
    I suppose that you, in your ivory tower of academic macho Con/Evo theology have little, if any, understanding of the gulf that has been bridged by the Mother Church in her admission that Gay people are still capable of reflecting ‘the Great Love of God as revealed in the Son’. If that is ‘woke-ness’, perhaps it’s time you and your friends were woken up to the reality of the diversity of the Body of Christ- then you might be able to be less dismissive of about the despised 10% of its membership who happen to be ‘different’.

    • ‘you, in your ivory tower of academic macho Con/Evo theology’

      I am associate minister of a multi-ethnic city church which has grafted into other congregations and continues to grow, in a city where all the healthy, growing churches uphold the Church’s doctrine of marriage.

      But I am not sure how much actual facts matter to you…!

      ‘despised 10% of its membership’

      Gay people are not ‘despised’ in our church and they comprise about 1.5% of the population.

  5. ‘the Church of England in its current liberal guise has chosen the wrong apocalyptic narrative by going full gung-ho with Greta Thunberg and climate alarmism.’

    Why is it ‘liberal’ (or woke) to take climate change seriously? Why should Christians not be alarmed by the effects climate change is already having, especially by its effects on the poorest and most disadvantaged communities on the planet? ‘The breakdown of social cohesion’, foreseen by Benedict XVI cannot be divorced from this. Climate change is a good reason for the church to ‘reconstruct its moral theology’.

    Apocalypse means unveiling. I would say we need an unveiling of the vested interests opposed to serious action against climate change.

    I think Greta Thunberg is amazing. What an extraordinary young woman of intelligence, reasoned conviction, perseverance, and integrity.

    • I guess I would say, not wishing to get into much of an argument around the core issues:
      1) Climate change has always happened, will keep happening. Has probably been influenced by human emissions.
      2) Doesn’t necessarly lead to alarmist outcomes – the combining of climate change with climate alarmism is rather more controversial – the majority consensus re. the first doesn’t hold nearly so much with the second, scientists are much more split.
      3) even if extreme and dangerous climate change caused by humans is true, is the net zero stuff helpful to avoid it, or is it beggering ourselves (and our churches!) and thus avoiding a high wealth exit ramp without achieving much.
      4) even if that isn’t true, what does all the focus and cost of net zero churches (and there is a considerable cost in time and money to carbon neutralise our churches) have to do with the core aim of the church which is to grow disciples of Christ?

      As a soft climate skeptic (I believe the climate is changing, I believe humans have caused some but not all change, I believe that much of the ‘localised’ effect you talk about are actually local mismanagement of resources rather than a global issue, and all in all I don’t believe it’s a huge issue) all of the apocalypic narritive is buying into something I don’t believe and can’t follow.

      Also, reasoned conviction? She just howls at people

      • “Scientists are much more split.” I don’t think so – at least those who are actual climate scientists. The basics are not that complicated and it is not hard to see why increasing atmospheric CO2 by 50% over pre-industrial levels will cause a reduction in heat loss from the planet’s surface, and therefore a consequent increase in temperature to compensate.

        Yes, there are a number of ways in which the climate can change. However, these drivers, such as the Milankovich cycles, were reckoned to be pushing the climate in the other direction. There was discussion about the climate reverting to an ice age. The other significant difference from the current situation is the speed of change. Other drivers cause change over timescales of thousands or tens of thousands of years. Natural systems cannot change in the timescale in which climate change is now happening.

        The role that carbon dioxide plays in the atmosphere has been known about since the 1850’s. That burning fossil fuels (coal in this case) could cause significant climate change was realized by some early in the 20th century. Margaret Thatcher raised the issue in a speech to the UN in 1989. It is probably significant that she was a very rare politician in that she had a background in real science.

        I first learnt of the issue at a talk given at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity in the early 1990’s. It was given by Sir John Houghton. He was very public about his evangelical Christian faith. If politicians and others had listened to his warnings 30 years ago, and taken more decisive measures then, they would not be in such a panic now.

        • The basics are not that complicated and it is not hard to see why increasing atmospheric CO2 by 50% over pre-industrial levels will cause a reduction in heat loss from the planet’s surface, and therefore a consequent increase in temperature to compensate.

          No indeed, that’s pretty obvious. It’s the apocalyptic predictions about what that temperature increase might lead to — the stuff about no more polar ice, entire countries disappearing beneath the waves, mass starvation, all the way to people who seem to honestly got the impression that scientists think that the extinction of the human race is on the cards (spoiler: no real scientists think that) — that’s the problem.

    • Why is it ‘liberal’ (or woke) to take climate change seriously?

      That’s a very good question. When you see a correlation between things which are not necessarily logically connected, it’s always good to ask why, because the answer can be illuminating (take for example the one one about the correlation between ice-cream sales and drownings).

      So when we see, for example, the almost complete R=1 correlation between advocates of same-sex marriage and universalists, we should ask what’s going on there.

      In this case, though, what is it that causes the correlation between climate alarmism and ‘liberalism’ (in inverted commas because this is ‘liberal’ in the sense of modern American political discourse, something which would have been unrecognisable as liberalism to, say, John Stewart Mill)?

      Well, I have a theory, and it’s basically that ‘liberals’ (in the modern sense) are committed to an ever-larger state, which takes more of an interest in and regulates ever more of its subjects’ lives. So for example we see ‘liberals’ trying to use the state to control its subject’s diets, using sugar taxes and bans on food advertising, to pick just one example.

      And the best way to justify the expansion of the state is through a crisis. The state always expands in wartime, for example; or during the recent viral ketfuffle that some readers may have noticed.

      Hence if you want to expand the state and there isn’t a war handy, you need to either manufacture a crisis out of whole cloth, or (better) find some real problem that you can exaggerate into a ‘crisis’.

      So this is how we get ‘the obesity crisis’ and ‘the climate crisis’.

      So to answer the question, ‘Why is it “liberal” (or woke) to take climate change seriously?’: because the aim of the ‘liberal’ (or wokist) is to expand the state, and exaggerating the effects of climate change to make it appear to be a ‘crisis’ which requires giving sweeping powers to the government to alter the lifestyles of its subjects is a good way to justify such an expansion.

    • It is not possible to be too alarmed, simply because
      (a) everything is interconnected, so if one measure changes significantly, so does everything else;
      (b) the difference between earth as inhabited by humans and their industries and earth not so inhabited is colossal – humanity has changed the face of the planet;
      (c) humanity is inclined to downplay its effects because it would rather go lalala than stop the juggernaut which is the system in which we all exist and which we presuppose, within which all of our lives adhere;
      (d) people alive today grew up on waste not want not, and self sufficiency, and those are precisely the things now being recommended. It shows how profligacy can change the planet in a single lifetime, unnecessarily;
      (e) the fact that we have got so close to the brink as we are shows how little people care – but if they do care that little, then we should be all the more worried.
      Alas, most people are conformist, and will not say things unless the majority is already saying them. Even if they believe them, or even if they are obvious.

    • Geoff – thanks – revival is a great thing. Meanwhile, with reference to the video you posted and the worship style, I was asking myself, `what if Ira Sankey were alive today – what sort of songs would he be writing? And what about the music?’ And – how would D.L. Moody preach?

    • Hi Geoff
      carefully watching this space, in hope.

      Currently lots of Christians at a Christian college with a tradition of little renewals getting renewed – always a good thing! Would that all the Christian students in my city were devoted to prayer and worship.

      Social media fuelling traction and lots of interest and the inevitable pilgrimage. No indication yet the filling in church is spilling out into the community with conversions & transformations, which is how I understand true revival – but its very early days. I like the way the college authorities are gently stewarding this: I like the lack of hype & circus, I like the focus on prayer and worship, I like the lack of celebrity. I hope and pray the embers catch fire. And me along with it.

      Any testimony of Revival should cause us to examine ourselves and where we are lukewarm, and bring us to Jesus for renewal of our first love.

      • Thanks, Simon.
        Some more here. It chimes with your last two sentences, as the burning question:
        Do we really want revival? What is our, the church’s, my, greatest need during these times? Revive us, LORD, we plead…. do not snuff out a smouldering wick , lead justice to victory- may the nations put their hope in your Name.
        Psalm 51:17
        The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

        “I do not understand Christian people who are not thrilled by the whole idea of revival,” Martyn Lloyd-Jones said.


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