Conversations: Featuring Os Guinness, Author and Social Critic
You're listening to conversations with John featuring Guinness. Those welcome. Today's conversations terrific have you back in Australia and to have this chance to tool. I am deeply invested in this country. Loved very dearly on deeply worried. I have to say to see that the data reflects something happened seems out there. We're living in Tom's of unprecedented to breakdown in trust the trust deficit, no strategy now in parliament's in our politicians in major institutions financial. And otherwise is in uncharted waters. At the same time, we send to be polarizing the research shows that more strandings than ever are denting with the political extremes, particularly the left, but also the rod and the middle in the land of the fig with a would always believed that Jackson's good Aziz might the middle Bank squeezed. And I don't think this is just a strident what's happening to the western democracies? What are you touching on a whole number of things as yamba just start with trust? You can see the reasons of various levels, the one hand, many of our institutions from the political ones to the church ones have misbehaved, and they've squandered whatever credibility and trust. They should have had, but then at a different level altogether. We've got contemporary philosophies like post modernism, nothing is what it appears to be those always an agenda behind what's being done or said. So with Postmodernism, we're all schooled in suspicion and cynicism and mistrust or gain at the very simplest level. Trust is a matter of each one being person if there would nine don't mean huge things like say marriage vow till death to us pot. That's massive. But I mean, simple things see you tomorrow. All let's have lunch if I don't turn up or Moore's an hour late. I will not be seen as a man of my word. But. When in the simplest things, we do what we say we deliver. What we promise them. We become predictable to other people and that creates the social capital of trust. So trust is broken down in our modern societies at all sorts of levels. And those those who follows Jesus have to know how to begin, you know, not very simple things like being people would turning up only say and delivering an provinces and so on. What aspect of this particularly interesting concerns may because spent a lot of time in the Australian federal parliament is it when trust breaks down when people don't do what they ought and feel others are not doing what they should do. One of the responses that inevitably you end up with more laws and more regulations and more control, which seems to strike at the height of freedom load Multan well, put it the freedom is Abedian since to the unenforceable. In other words, freedom requires a framework and the only appropriate framework for freedom is self restraint. Not external restraint restrained by bustle. And I side you, you know, free. But the trouble is when freedom breaks down license, permissiveness, whatever it is people think, oh, we're going to have new rules and regulations. And then you lose freedom you've got to teach truth and character and virtue loyalty honesty, and so on to really know that people are living free, and they don't need external regulations. We live in a country where one of my neighbors. So to me other day said well. Well, freedoms heated stay, we're a strategy. And that's the way we do it. And it has been we've had a very laissez faire approach. We've always taken the view, even if I disagree with might down the right if he wants to do something unusual audits long as it doesn't interfere with me. That's fine. But it reflects something we live in this wonderfully free country. We didn't have to fought fort, we fought vigorously, and we're very proud of the way we fought to defend freedom, but unlike many cults, we didn't have to fought fort in the first place, we didn't shit Aaron blob in terrible cataclysmic events to establish freedom. If you look at the English, speaking world, America's rather different their revolution was buying tension, and by ideas, but if you look at Britain, Australia, Canada and much of the rest of the English speaking world, it just sort of came organically. It was there, and we accepted sort of in the water supply or whatever. But now, we've got ideas that are really Lian. So if much of English speaking freedom, basically came out of the bible and the Christian background today. Many of the radical ideas on the liberal left come from the enlightenment and the French revolution. And its as such as nature and Michel Fuko, and they have very different ideas. And they are undermining all that we used to accept and we got to be aware of that. Because if they win finally and at the moment, they are winning Sutton's phys. Such as the university world, the press and media and the entertainment world, but if they win culture wide freedom as we've known it, the English speaking world will be thing of the past. And that brings me to the point. And you've written a great deal about this. The it seems right to say, well, we've taken it for granted. We don't think about it. It's been like, I swat it's just there, and it's wonderful. And we assume it a little ways be there. The press we need to ask ourselves some hard questions. What is in the classical western Judeo, Christian and enlightenment? View the nature of freedom. What he's freedom. You know? It was one said a roses Rosas arose. And people think freedom is freedom is freedom, but you can see there are many many different views of freedom and many of them unsupported, and they lied in very disastrous directions. And so you haven't time to go into great depth. But one of the differences is freedom internal or external most modern freedom external only, whereas Jews Christians, most people in religion would save freedom has to start internally in the hot Jesus would say that or another huge distinction is routine negative positive and Isaiah Berlin negative freedom is freedom from an anyone constrained by anyone or anything outside themselves is not free. Whether it's alcohol or drugs or a bully or colonial power. They're not free you need negative freedom freedom from and we Christians say that. Redemption and salvation freedom from sin and its power. But then positive freedom is freedom full freedom to be that requires an issue GMs truth, which your gayness an unpopular topic today, but a strong biblical view. Freedom includes both the negative and the positive and not just one or the other whereas Mudan views tend to be the negative only libertarian views and people think that's enough. It isn't. So we've got to contribute to the discussion saying what actually is freedom. Let's be clear about what we mean. And where's it grounded? For example. The Greeks the Romans the Syrians and the Babylonians and the Old Testament say or modern atheists so determinist through naturalistic science. They have no grounding of freedom for the Greeks. We want free. We were fated, you know with. Modern naturalists we're not free. We're determined re to think alike, say Sam Harris on the so-called new hist freedom is a fiction, and that's very common among secularists. In fact, it's only Jews and Christians because of the bible that have strong grounding for freedom. God is sovereign. He's truly free. We're not sovereign with significant though and freedom is that gift of God through which we most resemble God himself. I had a very vigorous discussion quad recently with a young man product of one of bit universities in this country. And he was very angry with me said you're being incredibly exclusive saying that's only the Judeo Christian creed that is committed to the idea of freedom. And if you like the the concept. It's based on we in Judeo Christianity of the individual value the worth and dignity of every individual says, it's common to all of the great, creeds and religions. That's absolute nonsense. I mean, I just mentioned Sam Harris, you go to Jamie Watson bef skin numerous others. I mean, Jack, no chance and assess ity, you know, you cannot find freedom in the new atheists and tell your friend to look read the books while he did, you know, what he said what it's a standard thing. He said to me. Well, I've got my tablet here. I'm going to look it up right now. And so he tapped in freedom in a certain other religion. And of course, nothing came up. But that didn't discourage him there was a mindset was reluctant to engage in the debate. I started into guru. And I was in my twenties. You know, the Hindus talk of Mark Shaw. That's the sense would for freedom. But what does it mean it's freedom from individuality not freedom to be an individual almost they talk and freedom, but it's transcending this life and just assault nudges in water the. River flows into the sea. So we lose our individuality, which is caught in the world of allusion. And we go round and become one with the ground of all being well that is freedom as they understand it. But that's a very different thing say from biblical freedom, which is freedom for the individual to be whoever got his created them to be very solid view, which gives you also political freedom, you know, and I'll western freedom owes a huge amount to exodus let my people go. You know, the first example of the consent of the governed in exodus all the load says we will do the first separation of church and state you had the monarchy the priesthood and the prophet and the prophet was the counter cultural social critic holding the other leadership people and their feet to the five you down the line, many of the things that are basic to western freedom. You can find in the. Hora and particularly in the book of exodus. So the nonsense that everyone believes the same thing. It just collapses when you actually look at the differences. So to dig into this a bit more, it seems to me that this modern sort of view that's taking hauled. It's been pushed for educational systems, and so forth and young people little awareness, Avera, cultural history, and so forth. The actual results again in the data concerning if we talk negative freedom freedom from forget about political oppression or not having the rule of law for amendment talk about freedom from in a personal sense. The data suggests that an awful lot of young people are now note fray, tragically anxiety depression. Fear addiction and has many guises. To be bound any of those. I would have thought is to not be free classically. So it said the first danger to freedom is X tunnel. You find someone stronger than you a country or a person is out to beat you up or whatever. But the second danger of freedom is internal and it comes through the corruption of freedom. So freedom becomes permissiveness becomes license becomes addiction or free people love to be safe secure. So they wanna be so secure they surround themselves with it one nation under surveillance. They're no longer free big brother, watches, everything or they love freedom so much. They will fight to the death for freedom sacrifice for freedom. And they'll do anything even things that country freedom. So Americans say in Iraq, you think of the incredible things they did have. During the Iraqi prisoners things that were opened an I'll of American freedom. But I I say to my American friends, they call themselves the land of the free, but they're the land. They have more addicts. They have more recovery groups and any other nation in the world because their freedom has spiraled down to addictions. I've not using the Australian parliament representing a rural electric one of the things that people used to often side of me, I think it's a way of expressing the same thing. I don't know whether they still do it my success as get it. But very often if I had a meeting in the Bush, so to speak, which is what we call the country in this out of the will someone would say, I'm really wide. Now about the way we never stopped talking about rights, but you've got to balance it with our responsibilities. Isn't that a way of saying that if you want you to continue to be responsible in how you use them personally, and in society, Noah's rights assume required duties and responsibilities, and you can see in the book of exodus, the heart of the covenant system that they signed onto was a mutual responsibility of everyone for everyone you love your neighbor as yourself well out of those responsibilities. The neighbor had rights, but today, it's all rights. No responsibility, and the notion of entitlement is incredibly selfish. And so rather dangerous position. Yeah. I do worry about this idea of identity politics, where it seems that it's very easy now to be somehow elevated above the pack if you can describe yourself as a victim. And when you're a victim, you owed somebody else would fix it up for you usually starts with the government's Golder if the government doesn't then the victim says we'll I'm hated. I really am victim. You'll confirming it if someone does try and make that made there's thankfulness because it was an entitlement Novick. Tim politics is catastrophic and you think of Jewish friends they would genuinely victims six million under Hitler. But they realize to play the victim cod was self defeating because those who perceive themselves as victims and then. Portray themselves as victims victim politics, eventually paralyze themselves as victims, and that's the danger. So certainly those follows Jesus, you know, they talk about homophobia is I'm a phobia. And there was a group in the US who said Christians when they're attacked should play the Christophobia cod. And I've seen us dreadful. You know, Lord told us to pick up our crosses and follow him. Christians should be broad-shouldered through crust carrying. So we should never play the victim. 'cause if we catch in the neck because we're faithful he called that pot of what it means to follow him. So victim politics is absolutely self-defeating and disastrous that use understood that quickly and Christian should follow them. It's a terrible way of approaching. You know, the background is used say, though, is the ideological multiculturalism knows people are individuals. But the members are group's multicolor. Tras and things only in groups, and then you have tribal politics, and then you have victim politics. So so you is the difference rather than the things we have in common. Yeah. Which is a disaster. I think listen to an individual's so I'm a white male, and although white male so me you'll put in a category. And then you say is dismissed as you're bound to be that I might have used quite different. But no matter your immediate. They put like that. And so it's a dreadful way of discussing society. We are individuals people have voices, they should be given a hearing there, right and wrong, listen to and so on so we should crack the political correctness of victim, politics and identity politics. Whether they interesting things about these conversations, we're putting together a library. If you like of a hook quality content that people can access easily as we're talking to people from a variety of backgrounds, and I recently spoke to a man of the left in this country. Respect very greatly very clear thing it's been rotting extensively on the importance of freedom of speech, for example. And he made the observation to me that the labor party that he joined many many years ago. It was committed to universalism and saying that the weak the oppressed, the disadvantaged should be fully if you lot bought into the family of straightens, and I'm on this universalism, and he decries identity politics because it says it's creating a new elite, and as part of that often we missing the most marginalized of all the people who really need the help. It's sort of the squeaky wheel gets the oil Noah in the post modern world a world without truth where the principal is now power. And so what we're talking about it identity politics. And so on is a power tool to silence voices. They don't like, and they will look the marginalized, and I always say who were the first strong voices on behalf of the press. And the poor and the people know kid about they were the Hebrew prophets Amos and mica Hosea and Isaiah Jeremiah and Sonal. Thank god. They tackled it. In other words, they tackle the elite the kings and various people like that. Because they had no the who cared for a widow. God did and the prophet speaking in his behalf they cared to. So Christians should be in the forefront of those things because they are the forgotten people in the marginalized people, and there are many on the left who still care for that. But left wing politics as a lodge simply doesn't well to come to another man of the left who thinks very very clearly England's Frankfurt. He Saint a lifetime of left wing activism on campuses and says it in the sixties we were about expanding people's minds young people with testing the boundaries. Now, they're being pushed into a cookie Katamon. All where they may not differ. An indeed hall courses Saint to be designed and universities to avoid offending. So they're not about teaching and exploring and expanding our understanding truth there back if you like avoiding offense and staying Saif, but he made a very interesting observation coming to the issue of how we think about the framework. Religiously framework full societal freedom. And he said that the first freedom wasn't the way we often talk about the right to speak. He was quite adamant about it. Now, the first freedom was conscience, we lent to stop doing terrible things to people who held a minority view. I e said, I think he was very unwise anyway because one day the people with the minority of you might be in the majority, and you don't want them to turn around and due to the new the old majority minority what what what off suffered. But I think this idea of banning people at the stake because I had a minority view. We write these as repulsive said preps, the definition of or an understanding a starting point for understanding the legislative framework for free to Mr. say that it ought to seek to ensure that no one faces sanctions for holding expressing a minority view is that a workable concept, of course. And you know, the American alternative town for freedom of religion. And conscience is the first liberty knows you take the basic three conscience speech. And assembly or association. There's no hierarchy and they're all into locked, but freedom of association, assumes, the you want to get together with people to speak to them about something that matters and equally freedom of speech, assumes the while you could if you get together talk about the weather if you want to you want to talk about things that matter to you sue prematurely because you're convinced of them based on the dictates of conscience. In other words, the one that's the deepest logic cly. And also the first historically is freedom of conscience. It's the first liberty. But in a secular society Bill people believe freedom of the press freedom of speech. That's the first no conscience is the first. Now, if you look at it, historically, and we will follow Jesus have to be honest of this. The First Voices were Christian to Tallinn, the second century them, lack ten tears who's very. Very important because he was the tutor to the emperor Constantine son, and the Embry constant times the man who gave the edict of Milan. Which was the first grade edict of toleration probably affected by like Tanzania's. In other words, their idea was simple a free God invites people to believe in him freely and worship him freely. So you grunt freedom of conscience. But then sadly when the church came into power. There were terrible notions. Like era has no rights and later practices like the inquisition, the false baptism and the Jews horrendous and evil, although that notion era has no rights you hear among the new atheists today, but modern freedom of conscience came in the seventeenth century from the nonconformists Thomas house, Roger Williams, William Penn people like this. And so Christians should be proud of the fact that freedom of conscience, which came from these great people have faith is one of the contributions to modern human rights, but freedom of conscience is the first freedom. This is Putin in Australia at the moment because following the legalizing of same sex marriage. The prime minister determine that in his words freedom of religion was even more important than the marriage question on he was supporting same sex marriage, and we'd have an inquiry into it. So we've had an inquiry. And and as you, and I tool that's before the government, and they're going to consider it, many Australians might say. Well, we agree with freedom of religion. And in fact, the survey show, I think it's important. But I wonder whether they would say, well, actually, it's preps. If you like underneath this inquiry lies, fundamental issues that are even more important than the right policy debates at the moment when they think about their jobs, and the security and economic terms and all of those sorts of things in other words. Freedom of religion, really copy separated in my view from freedom of conscience and belief. The me many Australians who might say, I'm not actually religious for their no strategist who would say, I don't have a conscience, and I'd have beliefs. They really all belong together. This inquiry guys to the hot I would have thought of that right to speak to the things that I must deer and important to us and to be heard with respect and to keep in mind that my view might be a minority today, but it might be a majority view tomorrow. These things change I always referred to freedom of religion, and conscience and put the two together because the problem is the would religious freedom, which obviously includes conscience was coined at a time when pretty well. Everyone was religious, but in our society with the diversity of religions and the growth of atheism religious freedom sounds like or can be made to sound like freedom for the religious. And it's not it's freedom for everybody at that level of conscience because everybody believes something. Well, there are certainly those who would say then that religion should be acutely private matter and not be allowed into the public square. So to speak. I would argue that. Yes. It certainly true that there are stains on the record of Christians and they behavior down through the centuries, but the rule so magnificent things so there's enormous opposition site William Wilberforce who active at the time. It'll strategy was settled and the views that he was expressing in public. And yet, he's legacies extraordinary. The abolition of slavery and day, the tiny round of the audio that slavery was acceptable education for the poor even humane treatment of animals, the IRS PCA was active on so many fronts had he and he met very pine that he's might have. I was deeply Christian had he chose to remind private had he chosen not to be active in the public square. I would argue we'd be the losers. So I actually think there's a great interest in allowing a free and open and robust discussion around deep issues of belief motivation. Good naval how we should live. That's essential. I with you. But today, we have three very recent attempts to remove religious freedom. I reduced them to three hours. One of the reduces who claim religious freedom just freedom of worship and every dictator office that in other words, what you believe between your two years so long as you're keeping a mouth firmly shot they'll allow that. But that's nothing and the UN declaration is very expensive comprehensive view the right to to espouse and practice and share and change your belief. Is it can't be reduced to freedom of worship the second little hours the removes and someone like Richard tokens classic example, we want to remove religion from public life because it's messy extremist violence. And he said he got coming as a new atheist after. Nine eleven when he saw the ugly face of Muslim extremism in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the third law those who call themselves or a call by others as the rebrand us. In other words, religious freedom is not a positive chew, it's a way of weaponising discrimination. So people are hiding behind religious freedom. They say in order to be against the gays or whoever, and you can see the reduces the removers and the rebrand does are all over the place in the left now so religious freedom, which is incredibly positive idea. And it's for everybody's you said is now painted darkly. You interestingly talk about the two extremes Asikin public square and a naked public square identity. Either of us would see those two extremes as desirable. Can you explain what you mean by the naked public square, and every time she has to choose a model an option for how they put together religious, freedom and diversity and so one extremely of the sacred public square. Well, some religion Christian faith, Islam Buddhism, or whatever is either preferred or established or even a heavy monopoly, and you go mild form so that the church of England is a sacred public square. You've got very extreme forms of that Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, people that don't share that faith. They're in trouble for their lives. Take say the fate of the buy in Iran, or you even have Buddhist. Versions take the fate of there. Inga who are Muslims in Myanmar. The former Burma so that's the sacred public square, which is not just unworkable for everybody. If you don't share the faith the other extremists. The naked public square all religions removed in a strict separation kind of like the French-style. But of course, most of the world is religious eighty percent. Who knows what religion they believe, but they are religious. And usually when you have a sacred an kid public square you smuggle in secularism and give it a preferred place that you smuggle them in through the back door. So I reject both of those and argue for civil public square, which is a vision of public life in which everyone is free to enter public life engage public life based on the dictates of their conscience that's freedom of conscience. But within a broadly agreed understanding. Of what is just and free for everyone else too. So I am a Christian a right for Christian is a right for eighth. Easiest is a right for Jew is a right for a moment or a Muslim. All God bless Emma Scientologists like Tom Cruise a right for one is the right for another and responsibility for everyone. Now, you got to teach the three RS is that cold of religious, freedom rights, respect, and responsibility. And if you teach them, then people know, how to negotiate for example, I expect anyone's right to believe what they believe that doesn't mean I have to accept what they believe, particularly if they argue for it in the public square 'cause it might be very damaging to the public good. It might be intellectually muddled, it might be socially disastrous. It might even be morally evil. So I respect the person's right to believe it. But I have a right to challenge it and its political implications. If necessary. So you need a tough minded robust abate along with this acceptance of the the three RS is a very important point in that because we've loaned the by on that tough-minded civic square in this country to say we're getting to the country the point now, and this is across the west Frankfort. He's talking about it where we don't want to offend people. But actually in any robust civic square dedicated to freedom. The clash of ideas, surely means whilst we should always be against any physical Hammo violence. They're going to be times when some people are going to be offended. And in fact, I would say the times in my life when I've had the greatest wakeup calls. I think have probably been frankly felt pretty off Zog with some remarkable even hooked I we in danger of in the name of political correctness. So. Constipated in the public debate by. Trying to restrict cycle hate speech, and so forth that in France, we kill freedom for those who order speak, no unquestionably in the last two years. I've twice being the university of Berkeley. And I reminded them. I've I went the fifty years ago, and I met Mario Savia who led the free speech movement in Berkeley in one thousand nine hundred sixty four he would be horrified to see what's happening today because you can see two faces of political correctness one is what I call Milken water. And so you have these areas safe areas where students Eliaba to be offended. They can play with play Doh and stuff like this. What absolutely pathetic we don't have tough binded robust discussions. But then you have the sort of blood and iron response and thugs coming in beating up voices, they don't like and even tackling professors. And so on in the American campuses, you can see both and many Americans have become highly a frontal. Are you offend me? You dismay you can't raise anything. This is pathetic. We should have a tough minded robust debate. Jefferson says truth truth wins in debate. And we should have confidence in that struck me was a great hypocrisy here. In the many of the people who are pushing this long, we kinda faint anyone and you sit in our universities, mockery aggression warnings trigger warning Saif places platform denying you can't be subjected to any that modified you at the same time often, the very people pushing that using social media and using disgustingly the way they sometimes talk about people have different views reflect a deep hatred and a deep projection of respect for other people, and as Neil Ferguson point Saudis frighteningly class to the sort of level of distaste for others that can spill out into violence. So there's a double standard guy Christian contribution. We have to think through everything Biblically today. Right down to national things like truth. A what you're describing is the biblical view words words are incredibly creative. They created the universe. But in. The Fulham world words can be incredibly creative, and they can be incredibly destructive. And the idea the sticks and stones may break, my bones. But words, never Humby is actually not right at all. And we're the social media the destructiveness navene months of the ad hominem. Insults. And so on is a disgrace. And again, we'll follow Jesus we have a high view of human dignity, a high view truth. We should also have a very high view words watching words. I mean in America, the crew the lewd, and the re rude have just become common that people think this is freedom and I'm appalled. You take something. Like, the f word it means nothing in terms of content, but it many Christians headed in this sentences routinely, which is appalling. So we've got to think through our words, and speak with woods, truthful and gracious and constructive and so. Oh on we've got to make a contribution in America game where I'm living. Currently it was always said that the election of eighteen hundred was the worst and how bad things what they wanted us bad as eighteen hundred but twentieth. Sixteen was worse than eighteen hundred and twenty sixteen wasn't an election. Now, we're beyond that we're back to normal. It's continuing and the daily viciousness of the assaults is absolutely appalling. In Washington DC in America America is tearing itself apart. Well, that's not Benny Australian way we need to be for Warren forearm. I think in this country and just close off by saying, thank you very much. And if anyone doubts that it's real in this country. We need to be alert. It was in the woods that young fine. Young man that you and I met while you're in Sydney who said he now feels absolutely afraid. To speak. He's mind in his educational setting for fear Bank, condemned and hectic paces per social media. That's not the sort of a strategy. We want to take food you've helped us think they sings for you in your visit here, and in this conversation as your true friend who has all thank you very much. Now, it's a privilege, but you remember the words of pasta Monte niemoeller after the wall, you know, we all know people like Bon her for another's, but new Mullah said, they came first for the trade unionists, and I wasn't a trade union sudden speak up, and then they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish. So I didn't speak up, and then they came for the Catholics, but I was Protestant. So I didn't speak up, and then they came for me and those no one left to speak up so things from the left. I'll getting worse and it's time for everybody with confidence and the goal. Spool and courage to speak up. Now, whatever it takes. Thank you very much. And thank you, for example, in the model that you've said my privilege. You've been listening to conversations with John Anderson, the further content. Visit John Anderson dot net dot you.