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.