Anthropologists have classically identified four rites of passage that exist within every culture on earth. The analogy often used—attributed to a French ethnographer, Arnold van Gennep, in 1909—is that of a large house which has a long hallway leading to successive rooms. As such, a member of society leaves one stage of life and enters into another at: birth, puberty, marriage, and finally, death, each of which are marked by important cultural ceremonies.
In the past decade or so, each one of these four sociological stages have, especially in the West, been systematically undermined by ‘social progressives’. As has been increasingly acknowledged, this is part of a much broader revolution commonly referred to as Cultural Marxism. For an excellent explanation of this movement, see Rob Smith’s review of Melvin Tinkers’ That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost.
Pope John Paul II labelled this trajectory as a “culture of death”. And sadly, that is precisely what it is. Let me briefly outline how each of these four rites of passage have been radically altered throughout Western Civilisation:
Firstly, at birth with the decriminalisation of abortion. One of the chief characteristics of paganism historically was its complete disregard for unwanted children, and especially those unfortunate enough to have been born with a physical or intellectual disability. As Georgi Boorman writes in The Federalist:
As Tertullian recounted, believers in the early Church would search through the heaps of refuse in Roman cities and rescue infants from among the refuse and broken pottery. There is archaeological evidence to support the fact that infants were thrown in the trash or into the sewer, sometimes deliberately killed instead of being out left to die by exposure. That children should never be trash was a revolutionary concept in the early centuries after Christ.
The fourth-century Roman emperor Constantine, who is generally believed to have converted to Christianity and was at the very least influenced by it, considered infanticide a crime. Later, Emperor Valentinian, also a professed Christian, officially outlawed the practice by requiring that all children be reared.
Tragically, one of the most dangerous places for a child today is within their mother’s womb. All legal protections have been stripped away under the Orwellian, and truly deceptive, title of ‘reproductive rights’. As a non-person, a baby now has no legal rights before they are born, and in a botched abortion not even then.
Second, at puberty with the promotion of transgenderism. Many cultures celebrate the transition a young boy or girl goes through at puberty with elaborate ceremonies and poignant rituals. In the West, this is often expressed through a secular twenty-first birthday party, or in a more religious context, First Holy Communion or profession of faith.
However, no longer does a child become something as simple or as binary as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ when they come of age. Now they can be whatever gender they subjectively perceive themselves to be, regardless of their biology. For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission has just released its “Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport“, which has also been endorsed by David Gallop, the Chairman of the Coalition of Major Profession and Participation Sports (COMPPS), which is made up of the following member organisations:
- Australian Football League
- Cricket Australia
- Football Federation Australia
- National Rugby League
- Netball Australia
- Rugby Australia
- Tennis Australia
Sadly, it’s young girls and women who will be the most negatively impacted by all this. Because the impetus will be for men who are transgender to be given the right to play on female teams, rather than vice versa. This will not only contribute to the death of women’s sport, but will also place a significant threat to their physical safety.
Third, Cultural Marxism has redefined the institution of marriage. Whereas from the beginning of time it has always been between a man and a woman, now it is between people of the same sex, even if they can’t naturally reproduce or sire offspring of their own. Sociologically, kinship relationships are broken with the addition of surrogate mothers and fathers.
What’s more, it undermines the fundamental right of a child to be raised by their biological mother and father. As Dr. David van Gend writes in his classic work on the subject, Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of Marriage Equality (Connor Court, 2016):
Injustice against the child is the central offence of ‘marriage equality’. We are guilty of stealing a child’s birthright when we institute motherless families and fatherless homes as an ideal in our law.
Finally, the fourth rite of passage that has been distorted by the Left is that involving death. Sadly, it seems likely that it won’t be too long before every state in Australia has legalised euthanasia. Whereas laws are ideally put in place to protect people, especially the most vulnerable, they are being increasingly weaponised to get rid of them.
Dr Hannah Graham (Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sterling) and Dr Jeremy Prichard (Associate Professor at the University of Tasmania) have produced an excellent report which outlines the numerous ethical and pragmatic reasons as to why legalising euthanasia is so problematic.
For instance, while it starts with the individual being given the opportunity to die, it quickly results in them being pressured into fulfilling their obligation to do so. As Dr Pritchard, in an op-ed for The Examiner writes:
“In coming decades we face a rapidly aging population, a shrinking tax base and increases in health problems like dementia… euthanasia could form part of government planning for service provision for people nearing end-of-life… If that sounds far-fetched, consider two cases from Oregon where patients’ applications for medical treatment were rejected, but followed by departmental notifications informing the patients they were eligible for assisted dying.”
All of which is to say, Pope John Paul II was entirely correct. We have imposed upon ourselves a ‘culture of death’ since the four main pillars holding up the ‘house’ of Western Civilisation have been systematically dismantled and undermined.
a. Abortion = death of babies
b. Transsexuality = death of gender
c. Same-sex marriage = death of procreation
d. Euthanasia = death of the inconvenient
I would say welcome to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian Brave New World, but I don’t think that even he would have believed we would have done to ourselves what we have. Or so quickly. And as such, Western Civilisation is now on the brink of collapse.