An insomniac Scots Calvinist looks at the Church and the world and wonders where it all went wrong

Generation Y (those born after 1981) are sometimes known as ‘generation fear’. Lily Allen’s songs often express what others of her generation are feeling. One of her most popular songs is called ‘The Fear’. She sings:

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore …
I’m being taken over by the fear.’

Once it was different. As long ago as 1968 students were prepared to confront the world. Then we were committed, idealistic and yes, misguided. But we were confident enough to take on all-comers. Students in France confronted the tear gas, water cannon and batons of the riot police, the CRS, and nearly brought down the government of de Gaulle.

Here in the UK we were, thankfully, less successful, but just as committed. I have vivid memories of an anti-apartheid demo against a Sprinboks tour, resulting in an encounter with the Lothian and Borders Police which was not altogether amicable.

Today’s students, however, instead of taking on all comers in pursuit of their ideals cry out for protection. With great feeling, they describe the anguish of being called by the ‘wrong’ pronoun, or the trauma of a professor using a ‘legal name’ instead of a ‘preferred name.’ They are such tender hothouse plants that they describe being ‘unsafe’ if, despite their sex, they can’t use the bathroom they want to use, or if they get ‘stares’. Oh, the horror of it all.

The height of absurdity was perhaps reached in England last year. Oxford students prevented Brendan O’Neill from taking part in a debate on abortion because they claimed that allowing someone ‘without a uterus’ to discuss abortion would harm their ‘mental safety’. This in what is consistently ranked amongst the top ten universities in the world.

The infantile inhabitants of our universities give every appearance of being terrified that someone will disagree with them or say something which they find upsetting. They even demand ‘safe spaces,’ havens where they will be free from the intrusion of ideas other than their own. South Park brilliantly exposes the pathetic nature of those who demand that the world wraps them in cotton wool.

The latest childish tantrum is the recent petition from students at Cardiff University which demanded that Germaine Greer be banned from speaking.

The veteran feminist had been due to speak at the University on Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century. Rachael Melhuish, women’s officer at Cardiff University students union, like a prudish Victorian gentlewoman, had a fit of the vapours, alleging that Greer has ‘demonstrated misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether’.

Melhuish took the time honoured ‘courageous’ action of starting an internet petition against Greer appearing: ‘Hosting a speaker with such problematic and hateful views towards marginalised and vulnerable groups is dangerous.’ Hundreds of Cardiff students dutifully lined up behind the idea that Greer’s views are ‘dangerous’, ‘discriminatory’, and cause ‘hatred and violence’.

It’s remarkable how supposedly educated students casually use the language of violence to describe and denounce the expression of an idea. Greer wasn’t planning to turn up with a machine gun and force transgender women to wear jock straps and get drunk at the rugby club; she just wanted to be free to present her ideas to an audience of thinking people. Big mistake at today’s universities.

Thankfully Greer has refused to be bullied by the frightened children and maintains her position. Her view of transgender surgery, expressed in somewhat more robust terms on a radio programme, is that: ‘Just because you lop off your penis and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a ******* woman… I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that won’t turn me into a ******* cocker spaniel.’

She hits the most important aspect of the furore when she highlights the difference between words and actions, ‘What they are saying is that because I don’t think surgery will turn a man into a woman I should not be allowed to speak anywhere… I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through that [sex change] procedure. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion. It’s not a prohibition.’

Truly the revolution eats its children. Now that the homosexual cause has triumphed the social revolution moves on to the next cause. The new poster children for social chaos are the transgendered and anyone holding an opinion contrary to progressive orthodoxy must be silenced. Greer, once a major force in progressive thought, just doesn’t get with the programme, she obstinately refuses to give up the right to think for herself.

Given the minute number of troubled people who self-identify as ‘trans’, changing the social structure in order to enforce radicalism is far more exclusive than it is inclusive. It privileges the demands of a minute minority of confused people at the expense of the considered views of tens of millions.

But that is the whole point. The transgendered are merely the latest ’cause’ to be employed in undermining society. Once the transgendered have triumphed the circus will move on to the next emotive ’cause’.

It is of course convenient that the likely targets of the inevitable discrimination complaints are those Christians and other cultural conservatives the Progressive loves to hate.

WordPress Again

It seems that at present when notification of a post automatically goes out by email WordPress is failing to include any embedded videos. Anyone getting Grain posts by email would be advised to go to the main blog site for the video, or follow Grain on Youtube, at least until I can get this sorted out.

Sorry about this.

There is no such thing as neutrality. This includes art.

Towards the end of WWII, Picasso, probably the artistic genius of the 20th century, was goaded by an interviewer on the relationship between art and politics. He interrupted the interviewer, grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a mini-manifesto so that there could be no possibility he would be misunderstood.

What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How is it possible to be uninterested in other men and by virtue of what cold nonchalance can you detach yourself from the life that they supply so copiously? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.

Art is always ideological, that’s what makes it art, it carries a message, it communicates a view of the world. The message of much contemporary art is one of scorn for the virtues and values of the ordinary people who, through their taxes, subsidise the galleries, competitions and awards which promote contemporary art.


In another matter John Allman, a paralegal and long time reader of Grain is currently involved in a serious court case in Cornwall where he is representing a father in a custody case. The implications of the case go far beyond the issue of custody and touch on freedom of belief and the nature of justice itself. Go to

to learn more about this case.

At last, after much enquiry, planning, and not a little work Grain has returned in an upgraded version. This includes video material. As you can see from this video it has been uphill work, especially from one who has never owned a camera before.

In this video we outline just why progressives are such a relentless bunch: never satisfied, as soon as one demand is met they move on to the next. This is why even what appear on the surface as sometimes meaningless fights are still worth the struggle if we are to slow or halt their inexorable march.

Hopefully there will be other innovations as we go along.


It passed almost unnoticed but a few days ago we saw the anniversary of the execution by beheading of some of the greatest heroes of WWII.

In 1942 Hans Scholl (24), a medical student at the University of Munich, his sister Sophie (21), Christoph Probst (22), Willi Graf (25), and Alexander Schmorell (25), founded the ‘White Rose’ movement, one of the few German groups that spoke out against Nazi genocidal policies.

Hans and Sophie Scholl with Christophe Probst, March 1942

Hans and Sophie Scholl with Christophe Probst, March 1942

As children Hans and Sophie had, like most German youngsters, been members of the Nazi youth organisations. Their father Robert, who was later imprisoned for anti-Nazi remarks, tried to teach them that Hitler was leading Germany to destruction. Gradually Hans and Sophie came to understand that their father was right.

With the outbreak of war the great majority of Germans rallied around their country believing that in time of war it is the duty of citizens to support their country. Hans and Sophie thought otherwise. They believed that it was the duty of the citizen to stand against evil.

At great risk, ‘White Rose’ members transported and mailed mimeographed leaflets denouncing the regime. These were distributed to wherever they thought they might be effective, especially the universities. ‘We will not be silent’, they wrote to their fellow students. ‘We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!’

After the German army’s defeat at Stalingrad in late January 1943, the Scholls distributed pamphlets urging students in Munich to rebel. But in the next month, a university janitor who saw them with the pamphlets betrayed them to the Gestapo.

After a show trial, headed by the notorious Roland Friesler, Hitler’s favourite judge, the regime executed Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst on February 22, 1943. Before walking to the guillotine, Sophie observed: ‘How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?’ She went on: ‘Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?’

Others members were also executed. Amongst them philosophy professor Kurt Huber, who had guided the movement. Huber’s widow was later sent a bill for 600 marks, twice his monthly salary, for ‘wear of the guillotine’. Alexander Schmorell was executed on the same day as Kurt Huber.

These young people saw evil, saw that the great majority of their fellow citizens either supported or acquiesced in it, or were cowed by it. They could not be silent. They would not excuse themselves by saying it was the fault of society, which was true; or that any action they took would have little effect, which was true; or that to stand against Hitler was a path to death, which was true. They accepted personal responsibility for their own actions despite the cost.

Momentous events or movements, actions beyond our control, shape the actions of individuals. What the members of the White Rose, practically all committed Christians, realised was that ultimately it is down to the character and choice of the individual as to how they react to those forces and what they personally choose to do.

The repellent Roland Freisler, rabid Nazi judge, would find few supporters today, few who would argue that he was a product of his upbringing or that he had been radicalised a Nazi by his experiences as a prisoner of the Russians after the Russian Revolution. Freisler was responsible for the man he became and the actions he committed, including the beheading of members of the White Rose.

And yet we find people attempting to ‘contextualise’ the murders committed by the serial killer Mohhammed Emwazi,otherwise known as Jihadi John. Spokesmen for CAGE, a Muslim human rights organisation in the same way that Vladimir Putin is a human rights activist, claimed that the blame for the radicalisation of Emwazi lay solely with the British security services. Seemingly they had the temerity to question this ‘kind’, ‘gentle’, and ‘beautiful young man’, concerning his intent to go to Africa and fight jihad.

This is in part because to claim otherwise would be to admit that he was taught by other Muslims to hate any non-Sunnis, that it was legitimate to enslave Yazidi women, and that beheading aid-workers was an act of piety.

Perhaps it is the doleful legacy of Marxist analysis which see the individual as a grain of sand washed about by the tides of history. Perhaps it is our culture of victimhood which ever seeks to absolve the individual of personal responsibility. Perhaps it is our therapeutic progressive culture which refuses to judge even the judgemental who behead people.

More likely it is the demise of Christianity in the West with the idea that eventually we all have to stand before God as individuals responsible for our own actions. Societal sin exists as does collective responsibility, but ultimately we are responsible as individual for the actions we commit, or allow to pass unopposed.

The White Rose shows us that it evil has to be confronted, named for what it is, and unrelentingly opposed.

Due to the range of his abilities Leonardo is known as Renaissance Man. We would be equally justified in calling Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper, Reformed Man.

Pastor, church leader, professor, newspaper journalist and editor, founder of Holland’s first mass movement political party, a university and a denomination, he was an MP and Prime Minister, all the while he was a prolific writer on many subjects, the list of his activities goes on. A macro thinker he was concerned not only for the conversion and sanctification of his parishioners, he wanted to reform all of Dutch culture and society.

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)

Kuyper is perhaps best known for the statement which encapsulates his world-view: ‘There is not a thumb’s breadth of all creation of which God does not say, “Mine”’. His astonishing drive was powered by a burning desire to explore and apply the implications of God’s revelation to all of society.

What is often forgotten is his deep concern for ‘de kleine luyden’ or ‘the little people’. The ordinary people of Holland who lived their lives, worked hard, attended their churches, and wanted to see their children get a decent education. The common people whose desires were ignored by the political and social elites who ran the country according to their own values, standards and interests.

Despite his upbringing and education Kuyper was a man of de kleine luyden. He spoke in a way they could understand, his newspaper columns have been described as ‘a night school for the common people’. Throughout his life he sought the spiritual, material and political welfare of the little people. Much of his church and political life was a struggle against the vested interests of the elites.

Today the Western elites have the same contempt for the common people as the Dutch elites of 150 years ago. The contempt shown for popular expressions of political and social concern evidenced in UKIP in Britain and the Tea Party in the USA knows no bounds. Occasionally it comes to glaring light.

Last week Channel 4 in the UK screened UKIP: The First Hundred Days a docudrama purporting to outline the events surrounding the first hundred days after a UKIP election win. Basically it outlined the fears of the elites of what would happen if ordinary people actually got hold of the levers of power. Britain, a once mighty, tolerant nation would become a hell-hole of bigotry and racism run according to the wishes of beer swilling, fat working class nobodies and their Little Englander bourgeois middle-class counterparts.

As Roger Scruton wrote: ‘The socialist ideal of equality has led to the idea that patriotism is racism, and that the attachment to an established way of life is merely discrimination against those who do not share it.‘ 

In attempting to expose the bigotry of the kleine luyden of the UK our elites and their acolytes exposed their own bigotry, prejudice and innermost fears. In their outlook society is divided into two groups: the educated, multicultural, pro-EU, deep thinking and sensitive people who wish to see society progress; and the knuckle dragging, homophobic, racist, incompetent, unhealthy masses who need enlightenment. The elite’s disdain for the little people is boundless and leads to a potentially dangerous split in society.

Supposed UKIP Map of the World

Supposed UKIP Map of the World

We find the same inherent prejudice amongst the elites of the USA and their camp followers in their attitude to the Tea Party. An orderly, thoughtful expression of the concerns of working and middle class people, mainly social conservatives and Christians, who think they have been ignored by the main political parties, was demonised by the mainstream media and subject to vile abuse. Through such attacks the progressive coterie can safely express their prejudices and bigotry in an acceptable, political manner.


Just as ‘fundamentalist’ is the favoured epithet to be thrown whenever someone expresses a theologically orthodox position so the favoured epithet tossed around whenever a policy or movement has an instinctive response amongst the little people is ‘populist’. In the eyes of the bien pensant liberals and aloof self-satisfied cultural elites if something is popular amongst the general population it is automatically suspect. The little people apparently lack the mental apparatus and common decency to do politics in a mature and civilised fashion.

Yet, as Abraham Lincoln said, ‘God must love ordinary people, he made so many of them’. The frightening thing in the UK, and increasingly in the USA, is that it is not only the political elites who are losing touch with the little people, it is also the church. It becomes ever more pronounced that the church too is losing touch with working class communities, whilst its automatic soft-left political stances and pronouncements are catering to the perceptions of a shrinking number of the middle classes.

Unless we recover the trenchant theological analysis and Christian drive of a Kuyper and his associates our society will pay a heavy price.

Moral equivalence is a fancy name for ‘Whatabouterry’, the playground debating tactic of countering any argument with ‘What about …?’ with the automatic assumption of an equivalence between the two propositions. Silly enough in primary school children, not so amusing in a supposedly educated person like Barack Obama.

Speaking of IS atrocities at a National Prayer Breakfast President Obama said:

Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

Obama makes the fatal errors of all addicted to Whatabouterry, the omission of historical context, the passage of time, and the comparison of the everyday with the rare.

Terrible deeds were committed by Christians during the Crusades, deeds roundly condemned by every Christian. But consider the context. The Crusades were not imperialistic wars launched by vicious Christians against pastoral Muslims interested only in leading peaceful lives cultivating their crops and living in harmony with the environment.

The Muslim history of religious war begins during Muhammed’s life time. Within 60 years of his death Islam had swept through the Christian lands of North Africa and had taken Jerusalem. In another twenty years they had conquered Spain. Was this the result of a particularly effective campaign of tract distribution, or a violent military campaign? The ‘religion of peace’ spread by the sword. Subjugated peoples were given three choices: convert, live and pay ‘jizya’ a tax for the privilege of living under Muslim domination, or die.

The Muslim invaders of Europe were finally stopped by the Franks under Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. Finding their northward drive halted imperialistic Islam consolidated its grip on Spain and then turned eastwards, as well as focussing turning the Mediterranean into a Muslim lake.

It was only in 1095, after nearly 400 years of violent Muslim imperialism that Pope Urban II preached the first Crusade and the religious war appears in Christianity.

The Crusades began almost a millenium ago, when Obama says ‘people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ’. He ignores that in the succeeding millennium some religions grew, others remained mired in the past.

If the detestable crime of slavery was defeated in the West it is largely due to the activities of one group, evangelical Christians. In Britain and the UK the driving force behind the movement to outlaw slavery was evangelical Christianity, embodied by the Clapham Sect in the UK and the abolitionists of the USA. Last century the Civil Rights movement amongst blacks in the USA was largely led by the evangelical black churches and their ministers.

In the meantime slavery remains an integral part of the social programme of IS, Boko Haram and their affiliates. It is moral cretinism to excuse or downgrade the crimes of today because of the crimes of 200 years ago.

It is not only in the USA that such self-loathing inanity is current. In the Guardian, where else, there appeared a column saying we shouldn’t consider the West superior to IS because of the Chad Evans case.

Evans is a footballer given a two year prison sentence for rape. Following his release and a Twitter storm denouncing his attempts to return to football some argued that having served his time Evans should be given a second chance and be allowed to play football. According to Guardian columnist Deborah Orr, Evans and his supporters ‘each and every one of them’ have a ‘good deal of common cause with the ideas of… the Islamic State’.

According to this argument those who believe that having served his time a man should be allowed a second chance in life are the equivalent of a vile pseudo state who have thrown out due process in favour of killing and maiming any it considers criminals. Only in the Guardian.

Such is the terror of making a moral judgement that some progressives claim that we in the West today are no different from IS who burned to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh because Thomas Moore had Protestants burned at the stake more than 450 years ago and Servetus was executed in Calvin’s Geneva.

Perhaps Obama and other progressives should ask: Why does barbaric violence persist amongst Islamic extremists today to an extent unknown in other religions? Why search the distant past for instances of moral equivalence, unless the present doesn’t offer suitable instances?

Parts of Central America are as poor as the Middle East, yet with the exception, nearly 50 years ago, of the Marxist-Christian priest Camillo Torres we do not find liberation theologians taking up the gun in the cause of redistribution. The Dalai Lama is not sending suicide bombers into China to avenge the takeover of Tibet. Jews are not machine gunning cartoonists in Paris. Hindus are not flying airliners into high rises in Britain as revenge for the exploitation of India by the Raj. Prussian Lutherans are not beheading Russians because of the mass rapes by the Red Army in 1945.

Our progressives should be asking why radical Islam is spreading terror all over the globe rather by denying it, employing euphemisms to cover it, or attempting to excuse it by citing supposedly morally equivalent examples from the distant past.

This is more than a trendy posturing by progressives congratulating themselves on their ‘sensitivity’ and ‘understanding’. It is destructive of the hard won advances toward freedom made in Western society over the centuries. If all is equivalence why should we urge Islam to reform? If all is equivalence why should we, how could we, defend Western freedoms?

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