Virtue Flaunting in a London Church

October 11th, 2021 3:26 PM

Washington -- I have been in London visiting old friends, keeping up with changes in our alliance system -- among which were last week's developments in the alliance of the English-speaking peoples called Aukus -- and going to church. Yes, church! Seriously, I am at that age when I hear Him calling. I have actually been at that age for a while now, but in recent years, His calls have become more insistent. So I stop in at beautiful edifices raised over the centuries to our Lord and let the chips fall where they may. Some people refer to it as taking Pascal's wager. That is to say I am betting that there is an all-powerful God, living a good life as He desires us to and accepting the reward he offers us. If there is no reward, what have I lost? I still led a good life, minus a few insults along the way.

When I am in London, among the beautiful edifices that I visit is the Farm Street Church in the heart of London. It is a Roman Catholic Church and formally called the Church of the Immaculate that the great historian Paul Johnson introduced me to. It has beautiful stained-glass windows, stunning spires, classical statuary and gold everywhere on the altar -- though never overdone -- and gorgeous music issuing from an organ that is among the best in London. 

However, this time when I visited the Farm Street Church, I found an incongruity. Someone had left a park bench near the main altar. Worse still, the park bench had two naked feet protruding from a bundle of rags that were left at the right end of the bench. What the h---? No, I shall restrain myself. What the heck was this all about?

Well, apparently some doltish sculptor got it into his head that he should depict a modern-day Jesus, and this is what he came up with. The modern-day Jesus is a vagrant, sleeping without shoes under a pile of rags in a park. There were no disciples nearby. There was no Blessed Virgin and no large crowds to listen to his sermons. No blind man to be cured, no lame man to pick up his pallet and walk, no loaves and fishes to be multiplied. The pile of rags could have been the work of Britain's Labour Party, or better yet, the work of the ignoramuses at the Democratic Party or more likely of the work of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Does the birdbrain who created this modern-day Jesus have any idea what the modern-day homeless are really suffering from? Does he think a pile of rags on a park bench can cure mental illness? Does he think his imbecilic portrayal can treat drug addiction? And does he really think a modern-day Jesus would fool around with fentanyl or any of the other poisons that today's homeless have defiled their bodies with? Or does he think his artistic rendering of the Christ will at least pry more money away from governments to be wasted on a problem neither money nor expertise can solve, given how we have screwed up our mental health treatment centers and our legal system?

I have looked into the homeless problem many times, and I have to admit that if there is one social problem that defies a solution, it is the problem of homelessness. Large numbers of people who claim to care for the homeless do not even try to identify the causes of homelessness. Consider what I discovered in the Farm Street Church. The causes are mental illness and drug addiction. Once there is a consensus on those matters (which is most unlikely), what are we going to do about the legal system that attempts to adjudicate these issues? Will we attempt to limit the freedoms of the poor souls who are victimized by mental problems and drug addiction? I cannot imagine it. 

What I can imagine is that the birdbrain who created this nonsense in the Farm Street Church expended his energies not on behalf of the homeless but in pursuit of virtue flaunting. My guess is that he is very proud of himself.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.