Oliver Stone’s Edinburgh speech and his worldview

StoneYesterday I encountered Oliver Stone in person. BAFTA and Oscar winner, producer/director of JFK, Nixon and most recently a documentary series of interviews with Vladimir Putin, he was picking up an honorary doctorate at our daughter’s graduation ceremony in Edinburgh. As a revealing cultural moment, I thought it deserved a post here dissecting his narrative of the world.

Oliver Stone is a great film director, who makes serious films that tackle the big narrative of geopolitical issues. He isn’t a Spielberg mass entertainer, nor does he paint the dream world of Richard Curtis. He does grit.  Like the best he is a big personality. I imagine he isn’t easy to please on set. But my first impression of him was of studied disinterest. As the honoured guest he sat front and centre in the McEwan Hall, the eyes of all upon him. His presentation and speech was in the middle of the programme, so half the graduands walked up to be ceremonially doffed with the famous cap immediately in front of him. Yet he spent the time very obviously writing his speech! Around him ranks of academics clapped each person as they passed. Oliver looked down and scribbled. How important do you have to think you are that you can’t enter into the occasion and congratulate their success? Even when his speech was finally ready, he couldn’t bring himself to clap. But this is the culture of pride and self-obsession, and Hollywood is its summit. What a tragedy that great men who shape the culture have forgotten how to walk humbly in public.

His speech was unforgettable. Like the preacher at a wedding who majors on the evil of divorce, he addressed a gathering of arts students on the certain imminent threat of nuclear apocalypse, all within a secular liberal framework.  Sobering stuff for graduation day. Yet strangely, I agreed with some of what he said. Allow me to unpick his narrative of the world, to find the truth, and expose the fundamental flaws. Continue reading “Oliver Stone’s Edinburgh speech and his worldview”

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Trump as the logical absurdity of secular liberalism

donald-trump-1301259_1920Most of the great worldviews have something going for them, but the key question is: where do they lead? When followed, where do we ultimately end up? You may not think of Donald Trump as the expression of secular liberalism, but I think he is where liberalism leads us. Surely not, you say. He’s a Republican (allegedly), apparently elected by the religious right, and he defeated Hillary, the high priestess of liberalism. How can he be the outworking of secular liberalism? Yet the more you think about it, he is the logical absurdity you arrive at if you buy into the worldview that denies the existence of God, idolises democracy and puts self at the top of the pile. Think about these key tenets of Trumpism and ponder where they come from.

I am amazing. Trump is an exhibitionist, from the bling of Trump Tower, to his TV career, his resort empire, and his trophy wives. His long nomination campaign was geared to promoting himself. Policy mattered very little at all, if it ever featured. It was all about The Donald and everything about him, we were told, is amazing. If you take God out of the picture and deny that he exists, then you are top of the pile. Secular liberalism has enthroned mankind in the place of God, and replaced divine revealed wisdom with human reason. Of course, Trump made great play of possessing his mother’s Bible, and would not claim to be an atheist, but does God really matter to him? When your universe revolves around planet you, God is practically irrelevant, or tame at best. Continue reading “Trump as the logical absurdity of secular liberalism”