Monday, 26 September 2016

Serious talking: What could and should people actually *do* in a Christian revival?

In an essay entitled 'God in the Dock', CS Lewis comments that the British working class men he lectured during the 1939-45 war were impervious to historical arguments: they did not really believe history, did not believe it was known or relevant.

On top of this, he mentions that discussions of the meaning of words created suspicion rather than clarity; and instant turn-off. I would add to this that for most people multi-step logical argument creates a mixture of boredom and hostility; people find it excruciatingly dull and suppose that they are being hoodwinked with verbal trickery.

I suspect that these negatives relating to history and logic are even more strongly and widely the case now, after 50 years of political correctness; so that arguments in favour of religion that depend on the validity and relevance of history are likely to be ineffective.

By contrast, looking at the relatively high continued effectiveness of evangelism from Pentecostal and Charismatic churches; I suspect that the approach to modern evangelism needs to be through personal revelation, direct spiritual experience, and the seeking of guidance by meditation (inner) and prayer (outer) communications.

On top of this: If there is a spiritual revival afoot or imminent, I think it will be fuelled by a revulsion against The System; and will therefore include a revulsion against both history and logic (which have long since been captured and perverted by The Establishment).

So. The path to revival...

1. The true path is intuition (but not instinct)

2. Seeking and gaining Revelations from the divine (but not 'what you will' and not 'gut instinct')

3. Anti-materialistic (not economic, not socialism in any form, not focused on worldly action)

4. Concrete - not abstract (again, because abstraction - like logic - has been captured by The System)

Then what should people actually do? (in a world where the old instructions are seldom possible - they cannot be asked to join a church, because probably that church will stop them being a Christian; they cannot be told to 'read the Bible', because that experience will probably also be counterproductive.

(But I might venture to suggest that someone read with care the Gospel of John in the King James Version, and then pray and meditate as to whether it is true. It might work. But there is really no 'method' either to prayer or meditation - so even such a simple instruction might be counterproductive.)

If Christian revival is to be more than something happening in people's head; people need to talk.

That is how I think a modern revival might be perceived - in terms of talk. People talking about spiritual and religious matters. Talking among husband and wife and in families, among friends; teachers, doctors, therapists being asked questions serious questions, and then being judged on the seriousness of their answers (and impatiently rejected if they are unable to respond, instantly and directly, with commensurate seriousness).

People in private, at work, in cafes or bars - having (or trying to have) serious talks about ultimate matters; impatiently shrugging-off the artificial and manipulative concerns of the mass media and the daily psychodramas and sexual strategising, the mind-numbing restrictions of political correctness. 

And a reck-less-ness about all this - because it will need to overcome the inculcated fear to keep people on track and in line; supplemented by engineered crises, contrived states of 'emergency', persecutions disguised as philanthropy...

But all such matters thrust-aside with a single gesture as worldly system stuff...

Spiritual awakening therefore first evident in the form of Serious Talk.... Who will be able to respond, and feed the spiritual hunger?


U_rant said...

I am of the opinion that technology, or the worship of Science, has pushed aside traditional Christian motif's and attitudes. The prevalent atitude from the Universities on down seems to indicate that to believe in God is a belief in mysticism. Spiritual reality is no longer cherished by the general population as we are constantly chided that to believe in supernatural events is some sort of foolishness. Commonly, many people demand some sort of sign from above in exchange for their belief in god, Yet they have forgotten that Jesus warned about those that seek signs from above.

Spiritual revival, Christian or some other, requires from the people a demand for truth. Until this thirst for truth becomes widespread, I am afraid we are stuck with a materialistic world consumed with Narcissism, Egomania, and Fraud. I am at a loss to concieve of any other salvation.

Anonymous said...

I read your "impatiently" as 'determinedly' - which is likely to be very patiently, persistently focusing on the Matter of Concern, as U_rant says, on Truth, which can be done (Inklings-wise) with lots of humour (and varying degrees of satire) as part of being Serious - which ("It's all in Plato") can both work wonderfully well, and get you beaten up, imprisoned, killed (Socrates, Our Lord, St. Paul).

That attention to Serious Talk (without over-calculating how propitious the times and circumstances - indeed, rather assuming they're not) seems very much the approach of the Inklings and Dorothy L. Sayers and T.S. Eliot, and also, variously, of Eric Voegelin, George Grant, and Illtyd Trethowan (to speak of writers and thinkers I've been delighted to encounter). I was struck reading yesterday by Elizabeth Goudge's characterization of her father (a scholar, teacher, and priest of the Church of England): "While my mother was quite sure that everything would turn out all right he was privately very much afraid that it would not; yet he was able nevertheless to place disaster in God's hands and leave it there; a condition of mind that he described as being 'an optimistic pessimist'."

Perhaps also appropriate to mention, here, is Tolstoy's wonderful little story, "The Three Questions". (And at the same time to recall how much tosh Tolstoy sometimes seems capable of swallowing and serving up: we must be always a-winnowing, with respect to others and ourselves! The freedom to try to winnow is one of the things very much at issue, too.)

David Llewellyn Dodds

Nathaniel said...

I think you're right. Very few people follow philosophical arguments to faith. Even if the argument seems legitimate, we are so used to being taken-in through sales, marketing, politician, and them media these days that being skeptical and cynical about all information is almost a necessary defensive mechanism.

I think the first step is for individuals to become simply tired of meaningless, to stop putting their faith and hope in the next entertainment product or distraction - to perhaps go through depression of sort that causes them to seek something-else (though here something like half the population medicates this away). Having children and simply seeing the apparent importance and utility of religion in keeping them out of evil influences was important for me, but that requires actually accepting even a basic gut-level response and rejection of sickness rather than ignoring your hating your instincts.

It, as you say, all comes down to making a primary personal decision.

pyrrhus said...

Christianity must be spiritual to be effective, because that element is what is missing in today's society, as it was missing 2000 years ago. People need spirituality, and they need the love and kindness that comes with it....