Another terrorist attack, another candle

Candlelight vigils will be held in numerous cities in wake of the terrorist attack at a Quebec mosque.

As Theodore Dalrymple put it about a prior attack:

A moment used to be defined as the amount of time between a Mexico City traffic light turning green and the sound of the first car horn, but now it might be defined as the period between a terrorist attack in a Western city and the first public appearance of a candle.  Every terrorist attack, including the latest one in Berlin, is immediately followed by the public exhibition of lighted candles.  It is almost as if the population keeps a store of them ready to hand for this very purpose.


The candles, then, are a manifestation of modern paganism, a striving for transcendence without any real belief in it.  They are also a somewhat self-congratulatory symbol of our own peaceable temperament: the violent are not great candle-lighters.  We cannot, for example, imagine Genghis Khan lighting many candles for the souls of the departed (not that we really believe in souls).

I think Dalrymple is correct when he says the candles signify a striving for transcendence without any real belief in it. It is only fitting, then, that Anglican bishops and lesser clergy will be well represented in Quebec, London (Ontario), Halifax, Edmonton, Toronto, Hamilton and, no doubt, many other locations.

Why Aurora

Theodore Dalrymple ruminates on why James Holmes committed mass murder in Aurora and comes to the conclusion that Naturalism provides no answer and can never provide an answer. He is right, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer outside of Naturalism.

Holmes is not unlike a Dostoevsky protagonist who does evil to prove that he has free-will unconstrained by God, is his own master and, thus, is a god himself. The ultimate expression of this brand of “free-will” is to kill oneself – as Kirillov in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed – since it is the indelible denouement of the rebellion against what God intends for us; it is a popular choice for many mass killers, although not James Holmes.

None of this is new: it is as old as Eden when the serpent said to Eve concerning the apple: “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” It has been downhill ever since.

The simple truth is, people do evil for the sake of doing evil, for the sake of demonstrating that they can, for the sake of falling again for the serpent’s fatal lie – that it will make them free.

From here:

By a strange irony, alleged Aurora mass murderer James Holmes was a doctoral student of neuroscience—the discipline that will, according to its most ardent and enthusiastic advocates, finally explain Man to himself after millennia of mystery and self-questioning.

But what could count as an explanation of what James Holmes did? At what point would we be able to say, “Aha, now I understand why he dyed his hair like the Joker and went down to the local cinema and shot all those people?” When we have sifted through his biography, examined his relationships, listened to what he has to say, and put him through all the neuropsychological and neurological tests, will we really be much wiser?


We seek a final explanation, but cannot reach one because, as Haitian peasants say, “Behind mountains, more mountains.”

UK: Police should get more tattoos

From here:

A police leader has called for officers to sport their tattoos at work – claiming it could be an ‘icebreaker’ when dealing with the public.

All 43 police forces in England and Wales ban their officers from having rude, lewd, discriminatory, violent or intimidating tattoos that could cause offence to colleagues or the public. Even innocuous tattoos are expected to be covered from public view and body and facial piercings are banned.

But Ian Pointon, chairman of the Police Federation in Kent, has slammed the official rules, saying the Kent force needs to ‘get over’ its problem with tattoos and allow officers to show off their body art.

As Theodore Dalrymple has noted, tattoos are an emblem of the criminal class and those who enjoy exuding an aura of dangerous criminality without having to actually take the risk of committing a crime.

In fact, more than 95 percent of imprisoned white British criminals are tattooed. The statistical association between tattooing and criminality is very much stronger (with the exception of that between criminality and smoking) than that with any of the more conventionally investigated factors, such as broken homes, drug addiction, low intelligence, and poor educational attainment.

I’m sure a police officer exposing his tattoos will be a real icebreaker when mingling with criminals; but why don’t the police arrest them instead?

What next, police nipple rings?