Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Not noticing the consequences and implications of the end of religion

Why are so many people so reluctant to deny the obvious fact that Man cannot function without religion: without a shared basis of meaning, purpose and relationship?

Well, in the first place, Man can function without religion in the sense that he does not immediately die, and many aspects of life can continue. There are and have been over the past century, many examples of irreligious societies which were powerful.

But at the level of daily interaction, it is - or should be - obvious that a society without religion has no concept of what is Good. This means that we cannot even begin to discuss what it true, beautiful or virtuous - there are no actual public debates or discussions on these matters - just agreements or clashes of assertions and preferences.

Modern morality, the discourse which goes on in the public space - from the mass media and government, down to every committee in every organization and every casual conversation - is a gigantic fraud and evasion.

Consequently, life has no purpose or meaning or even coherence - but we have decided not to talk about it anymore.

We have given-up.

(Contrast the writings of the fifties 'beat' generation or sixties radicals - with their, admittedly tedious and tenuous, but obvious - strivings for a new spirituality and meaning; contrast this with the hollow aspiritual nihilism of modern progressives, whether in the establishment or on the fringes.)

Why?

On the one hand 'because we can' - we are addicted to distraction, and the distractions are pervasive - so we can always escape from the difficult questions by filling our minds with something else.

On the other hand, because we don't like the implications. As well as being addicted to distraction, we are addicted to the sexual revolution - in many and various ways - to keep us going as a 'hope' or aspiration.

The powerful emotions of both idealism and hatred which are evident in the warriors of the sexual revolution make clear that this is about far more than regarding sexual identities and preferences as a matter of 'personal choice' - it has become the arena of the greatest hope of which modern people are capable.

The sexual revolution is now the nearest we have to a state religion.  Sexuality has displaced economics, politics, class as the basis of Leftism, which has been the dominant world view for fifty years.

(Even the modern discourse on race and ethnicity seems to be underpinned by an ultimate justification in sexuality insofar as it has any positive content, and is not merely the expression of underlying self-hatred and willed suicide.)

It ought to be obvious that the sexual revolution never has functioned, does not and never can function, as a religion - that it is a fake and ineffective, incoherent and dishonest religion.

Even worse, that it is (literally) pathetic for people to pin so much weight upon something which is at the same time defined as utterly arbitrary, contingent, change-able - so un-important that sexual choices can be regarded as purely personal.

(Like the movie actress Elizabeth Taylor's on-set behaviour; modern sexuality has a whim of iron. Whatever it wants now is absolute and urgent; then it wants something else...) 

But this is the weight sexuality bears, and the secret function it serves, and the self-contradicting ineffectuality with which it operates in innumerable lives.

The nearest to 'salvation' is some more-or-less vague utopia of personal and social sexual 'gratification' - in this world now, or as a hope for the future.

And I would hazard that this fake semi-religion is now the greatest obstacle in the path of the absolutely-necessary revival of real religion; because all real religions have taken a very different and subordinated view of sexuality; a perspective from which the current language of liberation/ freedom/ rights is utterly alien and nonsensical.

So we don't notice because we are distracted; and we don't notice because to acknowledge reality would be to end our highest hopes - and yet our highest hopes are pathetically inadequate.