CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A review of Still Not Sorry. By Andrew Bolt.

May 24, 2006

New Custom Publishing, 2005.

Andrew Bolt is arguably the nation’s foremost conservative columnist. While there are others around, in many ways he stands out. He writes for the most widely read newspaper in the country – the Herald Sun – and is a courageous and dogged defender of most traditional values. Moreover, with a razor-sharp mind and an excellent writing style, he is well-suited to take on so much of the nonsense of the left, of political correctness, of cultural decrepitude, and of left/liberal social engineering.

This book is a collection of some of his many opinion pieces that have appeared over the years in the Herald Sun. There are well over one hundred opinion pieces featured here, broken into twelve main subject headings, ranging from the trouble with Islam to the crisis in ethics.

He covers most of the contentious issues of the day in these columns: feminism, religious vilification laws, abortion, the arts, toxic television, the so-called Stolen Generation, terrorism, the rise and fall of Mark Latham, green exaggerations, euthanasia, media bias, and so on.

On a number of controversial subjects, Bolt reveals that he has changed his position over the years. For example, he has gone from supporting abortion and euthanasia to being quite concerned about the pro-death camp. What was that line by Irving Kristol?: A neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.

So it is good to see Andrew Bolt leaving behind some of his youthful left/liberalism and embracing a more fully conscious and consistent conservativism. Of course Bolt is – in the estimation of many fellow conservatives – not fully conservative on every issue, especially some of the cultural conservative issues. But he certainly rates highly in most areas of conservative concern. For the most part he is a pro-family, pro-life, and even pro-faith conservative.

Now that last phrase, “pro-faith” needs some qualification. The really interesting thing about Bolt is that he makes no bones about the fact that he is a non-believer. Perhaps not a thorough-going secularist, but he certainly is not religious – not a person of faith. Yet the ironic thing is how often Bolt comes out in defense of pro-faith positions, particularly the Christian faith, when he himself is not part of the faithful.

Consider a piece not found in this collection, because it just appeared in today’s Herald Sun (May 24, 2006) as I write this review. In it he denounces Hollywood for so consistently taking a radical left and anti-Christian stance. He cites The Da Vinci Code as a good case in point. He asks why “no Hollywood director dares make a movie that trashes Islam the way The Da Vinci Code trashes Christianity”. Good question.

Indeed, in many of his columns he comes across as a leading Christian apologist in Australia. He certainly writes many columns defending pro-faith values which many believers should be writing. Indeed, one wonders why so many Christians are silent about defending their own faith, and why it is left to a non-believer to rally to the cause – to their cause.

We find ourselves in the quite awkward and untenable position of having many “believers” trashing their own faith, bagging their own beliefs, and renouncing their own truth claims, while a professed agnostic comes to the church’s defense. Quite bizarre really. But then again Jesus did say something about if his disciples kept quiet, “even the stones would cry out”. Thus many people are thankful for this stone crying out in the Herald Sun.

Of course as a non-believer he does not always get it right, at least in the eyes of some believers. One of his more controversial pieces (certainly as far as believers were concerned), was his scathing attack on Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion. Perhaps wisely, he did not include that column in this book. While many Christians themselves were divided over the film, and many somewhat concerned by it (usually Protestants unhappy with aspects of Catholic Gibson’s portrayal), many – including myself – felt that Bolt really did go over the top in his assault on the film.

But no one is perfect, and as I say, Bolt more often, more consistently and more fearlessly stands up for faith and family values than most believers do. If even a fraction of believers were as forthright and active as Bolt is, we would be doing a whole lot better in this secular wilderness that we live in.

Because this is a collection of opinion pieces, there is little or no referencing and footnoting. That is not the stuff of newspaper opinion pieces. But Bolt always does his homework, and his columns are generally well-thought out, well-written and well-researched. Thus the reason the loony left gets so infuriated with him.

Indeed, as one who has also spent many years engaged in the culture wars, I know how much foaming at the mouth and gnashing of teeth can be expected from the other side. The radical left can often shout the loudest about tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness, while at the same time being the most hate-filled and nasty of customers. Thus it takes a lot of courage to take on the radicals, social engineers and purveyors of political correctness, of which there are many.

Thus I for one am most grateful for Andrew Bolt and the tireless work he does to defend most values I adhere to. True, we do not agree on everything, and I certainly wish that he would “taste and see that the Lord is good” as the Good Book puts it. But I nonetheless am much in debt to him for his continuing efforts to stand up for what is right, what is true, and for what is good.

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14 Responses to A review of Still Not Sorry. By Andrew Bolt.

  • I’m afraid Bolt’s attack on Mel Gibson (for that is what it was, rather than an attack on The Passion per se), not merely “[went] over the top”; it was – and I use this word in its literal sense – diabolical. There is a limit to which we should cover up for the sins of atheists who find it convenient to champion us sometimes, because they will readily enough kick us in the teeth at other times. Not through malice necessarily (I have no reason to believe Bolt is malicious) but simply because their moral values are, basically, pure emotive whims.

    Another Bolt column which mercifully eluded Still Not Sorry was his attempted defence of former Liberal NSW leader John Brogden, when the latter was entirely guilty of half-witted and boorish sexual shenanigans. By all means support Bolt when he does write accurately; but do not pretend that he can be relied on.

    I gain no pleasure in saying this, but unlike the average newspaper pundit, I don’t believe that “duty” is a four-letter word to be avoided at all costs.

    R J Stove, Melbourne

  • Slightly off-topic, but I noted with interest two very different reviews of the film “Kingdom of Heaven” when it came out.

    Basically (& I haven’t seen the film, so I may be misreading the whole issue), the Kingdom of Heaven is set in the time of the crusades and the conflict between Richard Lionheart and Saladin.

    A review in the Herald Sun accused the film of unjustly painting Christianity in an unfavourable light whilst perpetuating the misconception of Islam being a religion of peace.

    At about the same time, a review appeared in The Melbourne Anglican. It praised the film and mentioned nothing of the assault on Christianity that the Herald Sun pointed out.

    It goes to show, that newspapers printed by denominations that have been totally hijacked by liberalism are less of a worthwhile read than our secular papers.

    James Forsyth, China

  • Thanks Bill,
    Andrew Bolt is certainly a clear thinker. I was concerned that in defending Christians against the Da Vinci Code he went overboard in attack. Perhaps that just show I’m a coward. As I said in a letter to the Herald Sun I first heard of Andrew Bolt when one of my husband’s country parisioners said she bought the Herald Sun because of his column. (I’d been overseas for much of the previous 20 years and had grown up in a family that regarded reading the Age as mandatory.) His column is usually the most thought-provoking article in the paper. I don’t agree with all he says (I wonder if he does) but it is good to have someone challenging people to think.
    Katherine Fishley, Melbourne

  • Firstly, let me say thanks to Bill for running a website that seeks to enagage with and discuss issues pertinent to us all. Whenever we raise public debate over issues we ensure deep thinking and searching that leads to greater understanding. However, I am somewhat disturbed by the opinion that I keep running into that somehow if you come down on the right/conservative side of politics as a Christian you are in the right and if you are on the “loony left”/liberal side of politics you must be anti-Christian. For me (as an evangelical Christian) I find myself with a foot in both camps in the spirit of Pauls writing in 1 Cor 9:19-23 so that I am all things to all people. There are things on the supposed “left” that are in agreeance with the Gospel and things on the right that agree as well. Even Jesus was considered a “loony liberal” by the religious authorities of His time and His followers were in the same boat as well. In the same way that right winger Andrew Bolt has shown that non-Christians can have values in keeping with the Bible, surely it can be said of some people on the left as well?

    James Sutherland, Sydney

  • Many thanks indeed James

    Believe it or not, I actually mainly concur with your thoughts. Ultimately Christianity transcends left/right politics and cannot be contained within either. In fact, if you don’t mind, because it is such an important issue you raise, I have written a whole article on this and have posted it on my site. Please have a read of it and let me know what you think.

    Blessings,
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Splendid linking of Andrew Bolt with Jesus saying if his disciples kept quiet even the stones would cry out. Many thanks for your review of his book.
    Stan Fishley, Melbourne 

  • I’ve just read Andrew Bolt’s latest column on “We thee wed.” He seems to have the gift for seeing the logical end of something. The only problem is that maybe many of those wanting gay marriage would support all the other propositions. If so why bother to call something marriage? Why give the name of one institution to another? If the sign says Fruit and Veg you don’t expect to find stationary and if it sells meat you don’t complain when there are no stamps for sale. It seems akin to conterfeit trade marks and that is still illegal.
    Katherine Fishley, Melbourne 

  • Thanx for that review. I purchased a signed copy of his book, and it is very handy to have his best columns in one place. I also find Bolt most refreshing and well-informed. I’ve only had to take him on about the Passion, but on most other issues he is right on the mark.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Brisbane

  • Andrew Bolt’s book is really just a compendium of his Herald Sun ramblings. Will he however write a book from scratch with a coherent argument or narrative over a couple of hundred pages like some of those he despises like Richard Flanagan or Tim Flannery for example? I doubt it.
    Gerard Hennicke

  • Thanks Gerard

    And how many published articles, let alone books, have you penned?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill.

    I find it interesting that Bolt’s passion for conservative values is so popular amongst middle class Australians today. It is odd that he has found favour with a largely secular, relativist Melbourne readership.

    I disagree with you Bill in asking Christians to stand side by side with Bolt in taking up the fight for middle class values and I would like to know your thoughts on the following:

    As Christians I believe we are not to simply argue for a moral code to transform society, (vis-à-vis Ravi Zacharias) – in fact it is this kind of legalism that Jesus appeared to be against when talking with many Jewish leaders. At the heart of his message is so much more than picket fence values.

    In contrast to such thinking, I believe the first duty of Christians is to fight for Jesus himself, and to proclaim him as Lord. At the heart of his message is relationship, not purely values.

    This generation of drifting gen y’s is pining for something more than abstract moral codes which they’re parents are handing down without substance or meaning.

    Jesus offers them transforming relationship. His social reformation transcends Andrew Bolt’s moral agenda. Unlike Bolt for instance, he lives amongst those he regnerates and empowers us to embrace and not reject the aliens amongst us, he enabes us to love, care and engage in genuine text based dialogue and not isolate people.

    When you get at the heart of Bolt’s column, the cynic in me says he is an outdated (albeit logical) dogmatic baby-boomer. His morals and values, though refreshing in an age of inclusive relativism offer little to reform society. As an Evangelical Christian I sympathise with much of what he says, but I do not hold to the values of middle class morality. It is great that Bolt can argue for values we may hear from the pulpit, but as Christians let us voice a higher cause than morality. Let us voice the cause of Christ!

    Nathan Clarke

  • Thanks Nathan

    I more or less agree. I have said many times on this site that Christianity cannot be reduced to one political or ideological position. I agree with CS Lewis when he said we must guard against “Christianity and…,” whether it be Christianity and capitalism, Christianity and socialism, Christianity and liberalism, Christianity and conservatism, etc.

    Having said that, we still live in this world, and we all find ourselves somewhere on the various spectrums, whether political or social or cultural. Nothing wrong with that. We are to take our responsibilities as citizens of this earth seriously. In my own journey, I have moved from the radical left as a non-Christian to a more conservative position as a believer. Other believers may align themselves differently.

    As to your concerns about moral codes, etc., it is not fully clear what you are getting at. If you mean that you think it amiss to argue that we can simply impose moral values on a recalcitrant society, and expect that to be sufficient, then I agree – people need Jesus. But I do not see dichotomy here. I can proclaim Christ, and I can also stand up for certain values in society. I see no conflict in telling people about their need of Christ, and also seeking to see clear biblical values such as the importance of the family or the importance of the sanctity of life be argued for in the public arena or seen enacted in legislation.

    I reject any dichotomies here. Wilberforce saw no conflict in letting Christ be preeminent in all things, and in working on a political and social level to fight for justice for slaves and work for emancipation. In the same way we can have a clear Christian witness both in proclaiming Christ and in working against that which destroys us, be it drugs or pornography or rape or abortion or what have you. And I certainly wouldn’t dismiss those very biblical concerns as mere “middle class morality” as you put it. This is simply wholistic Christianity.

    If we really love our neighbour, we will not want them destroyed by drugs, sexual addictions, false beliefs, dangerous lifestyles, etc. That is biblical love, not middle class morality. But many of these themes I have written extensively on elsewhere in this site. But thanks for sharing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill,

    I whole heartedly agree with what you’ve said in your added comments about Wilberforce and wholistic Christian mission.

    What I am referring to as middle class morality is your article about Andrew Bolt – or what I see as conservativeness without conviction.

    When we argue for a moral code without any substance we are just moralists. This is why I would be careful in aligning myself to Bolt. All he has driving his convictions is that which opposes the left. We have something far greater, far more substantial. A biblical worldview. It is this that is worth fighting for, not Bolt’s conservativsm.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Nathan Clarke

  • Australia is blessed with many outstanding Journalists and radio announcers, but the most who care about Australias future are Alan Jones in Sydney and Andew Bolt in Melourne. Recently they have been rubished by the PM Kevin Rudd for disclossing the truth about the Copenhagen conference. Sigining the 200 page document there will cost Australia seven bilion dollars every year. Australias PM Rudd never told a word about this committment to Australian People. Hope he breaks his neck before commiting Australia to such missery.
    A.Kramilius

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