As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart. ~ Proverbs 25.20
When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America, many of the artistic types in my social media feed merged into a single repetitive voice: On the one hand, they thought the world had come to an abrupt end; on the other hand, they believed that the inevitable misery would be good for Art.
You see, they believe that Art comes from suffering. (By having their will crossed in a political verdict, they think they are suffering.) They also believe that, if they make music, recite poetry and tell stories in the face of evil, then their Art will atone for the sins of the world.
After the terrorist attacks in France last year, a man was praised for playing the piano in the streets, as though his "good" music would dispel the evil spirits that had been there only a day or so before. Then this week, in the aftermath of the wicked murders in Manchester, we have seen the same phenomenon again. There was poetry at the vigil:
The music came from Chetham pupils singing Oasis:
Now I would not think differently if the poetry had been Shakespeare and the music composed by Beethoven. The fact is that as artistic people have made themselves high priests in society, who can redeem us by songs, flowers, communal hugs and poetry, so the populace has bought the lie. We look to artists to make us feel better, to make us feel anything other than scared to death. We have been told that music, words and sports can unite us across religious differences, political distinctions and ethnicities.
It is a lie. It took over 100 years for England to swallow this lie. There was a strong resistance. Germany sold it. Europe bought it. England did not. In Music Mania I explain how England changed from a country of Christian principle and character to one led by sentimentalism and feelings manufactured in the imagination of the artist.
I am not a stoic. I have feelings. Tommy Robinson displays feeling appropriate to the murders in Manchester.
But when we lean on the feelings stimulated by music and poetry, we are easily controlled because for the last hundred years we have relied on these "arts" as a replacement for religion. They are not sufficient. They do not help. They do not ease the pain.
King Solomon was the wisest mortal who ever lived. He wrote:
As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
Another generation was bound together by the same Christian beliefs and in the face of such national judgments, dedicated time to prayer. If we can sing, we should sing Psalms in praise of the God who can spare and save us - not a God who comes out of the box when we feel bad, but the God of the Bible:
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. ~ Psalm 9
In the same Psalm we also read:
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.
The Christian religion that once made England great has not gone away. It has been buried under a slurry of humanistic faith in poetry, the power of stories and the influence of surreal paintings. The English have been told for generations that these are enough. But they are not. On a national level, we want peace and we need justice. We want to produce it without God and we will not. On a personal level, if we should face a murderous attack ourselves, it will be no comfort to think of a painting no matter how fine, or a poem no matter how pretty. In that moment of fear, we can be alone, or we can be in the hand of our Maker.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.