The truly staggering behaviours of modernity go unremarked.
That decent well-meaning people can find nothing they regard to be valuable to do with their lives in their own country and culture (which they say they favour), and their bureaucratic and mass media saturated environment (which they always end-up supporting); and so they feel compelled to travel thousands of miles in search of real poverty abroad (clearly not really believing the propaganda that the West is full of material poverty) so as to find something they regard as 'worthwhile' to do.
And all the time this supports the idea that real important poverty is material, and the spiritual famine and mass mental deaths from religious starvation in the West is not really real or significant.
And these same people who - if they don't exactly approve, can think of no compelling reason why their own nations should not obliterate itself by mass and indiscriminate immigration. Perhaps aiming at a kind of moral leverage by which 'people' (their own people, their own families and children - if they have any) will be forced to change their ways by the tide of alien and demeaning humanity; and will be coerced to act altruistically in giving up land, housing, resources, jobs, tax money, time and effort to support this self- displacement.
Presumably they think unilateral state extraction and compulsion is and will be good for people?
How worthless do people feel, how worthless do they regard their own society as revealed by their actions and inactions! - Yet how tenaciously they cling to their ideology: their mushy, leftististic, democratic, feministic, diversitistic slop - a systemic poison - so deep, so pervasive as to be ineradicable by any external agent.
How solidly they resist their own ancestral religion - such that the only fixed cultural conviction is 'Anything - any-thing at all! But Not Christ! Anything but Him.'
People seem willing to do anything to go along with anything - but not to examine and change their fundamental beliefs - somehow, in a world of palpable change, the fundamental nonsense they base their lives on is regarded as sacred.
Sometimes there are so many bad choices that they become mutually self-reinforcing. Clear, simple opportunities and possibilities for change and repentance come along, from time to time; but are rejected using complex and tendentious arguments based on a deep and self-aggressive suspicion.
Read Tolkien's legend of the rise and downfall of Numenor, and you will see the whole thing set out, the whole process of lies built on lies; corruption feeding on corruption, evil and incoherent hopes fuelled by self hatred - and its end. The facts are different, the shape is the same.
The conclusion of all this is that people are making really massive and counter-productive errors in terms of deploying their effort - and directing everything at manipulating their external environment as if that was going to address their main problem: which is the meaninglessness, purposelessness and disconnection of their lives.
What they need to do is seek genuine connection (with people and with things) and deep motivation - and this can only come from purpose: and that purpose must be spiritual not material.
To find this requires an opening of the heart - an opening of channels of communication now kept firmly sealed; and this requires a recognition that their own most fundamental assumptions are wrong: very wrong indeed. The facts of the world can always be disputed - but the evidence of spiritual malaise ought to be clear because personally experienced.
In trying to help this situation - there must always be a positivity - an imaginative depiction of a better state - which is better in the necessary ways.
It is NO USE AT ALL to depict and promise a world that is more comfortable, convenient, safe, peaceful, prosperous, free, exciting and so on. These have been present in gross abundance (by world historical standards) and they are the backdrop to the current spiritual collapse.
Thus any form of Leftism and Secular ideology is irrelevant - whether it be mainstream political correctness, socialism, social democracy, communism, libertarianism, conservatism, republicanism - or whether it be New Right/ Alt-Right/ Neoreaction/ or overt Fascism.
What we absolutely must have is extremely spiritual, romantic, imaginative - something that addresses the malaise in the deepest possible way, that taps into profound wellsprings of meaning and purpose, that offers the potential of reconnection in a way that goes beyond the normal channels of communication.
I say 'offers' - whether such offers can actually be delivered is a second problem: but if such necessities are not at least on the table, then they will not be attempted and certainly will not happen by accident.
We need, spiritually, to shoot for the stars even if we must be prepared to settle for the moon - but we must at all costs escape being earth-bound and crushed; suffocated by our own clinging to our own pathetically mundane aspirations.
So true, so relevant, so powerfully stated, so tragic, so hopeless without Christ.
It's no exaggeration, in my academic role, to say that I see Satan enthroned everyday. The extent to which the secular discourse you refer to enjoys complete intellectual dominance is truly chilling. The funny thing is that the proponents of this ideology paint themselves as 'underdogs', doing their best for social justice and equality in a profoundly conservative, hierarchically-structured, theocratic world. As one lecturer said to general approval last term, 'Christians control the media.'
The example of Numenor is a telling one. There's one part of that story which I feel is particularly prophetic: how those who stay true to the original Numenorean metaphysic - loyalty to the Valar - are at first marginalised, then 'tolerated', and finally actively persecuted.
Malcolm Muggeridge was another twentieth century giant who saw deeply into the nature of this mindset. His 1980 essay, 'The Great Liberal Death Wish', based on a deep reading of Dostoyevsky's, 'The Possessed', is astonishing in its perspicacity.
The problem of the offer being perhaps undeliverable is a very profound one. It could be the primary problem: The lack of conceptual foundation is being driven by an inaccessibility of spiritual experience and communication. Conceptual foundations would be altered by more genuine spiritual connection manifesting in this world.
If this had a particular flavor or quality for Western Europeans, much better (which does in fact exist though it is only expressed weakly, rarely if ever explicitly, in legend and fiction).
I believe due to the mystery of God not eliminating or at least significantly reducing the power that blocks what could be called psychic manifestation that we have something like a subconscious knowledge among Western Europeans that there's not enough There.
It's like Western Europeans - and I am only speaking of well-meaning potential vanguard, not the current bullying PC elite or the materialist masses - are throwing up their hands and saying 'well, we've come this far, we can't really go back to ritual obedience even if we die as a result; and it seems we can't really connect with the spiritual dimension without severe interference, so we're done for'.
Satan is ego. Evil is ego. Leftism is ego. Self-importance is ego. All delusion is ego.
God is anything that is not ego.
Ego is manufactured by the mind.
God is not mind.
@Obs - "It's like Western Europeans (...) are throwing up their hands and saying 'well, we've come this far, we can't really go back to ritual obedience even if we die as a result; and it seems we can't really connect with the spiritual dimension without severe interference, so we're done for'."
That strikes me as an encasulating an important insight.
@Obs I think that's right. In my Church - Catholicism - there's far too much of a legalistic mindset. For conservatives, it's all about upholding and maintaining the rules, while for liberals what matters is softening the rules to accommodate the current zeitgeist. Both approaches, in my view, are not as important as their proponents think. The emphasis should be much more on spiritual experience, spiritual contact and tapping into the imaginative wellsprings that can make this happen. If this doesn't happen, then religion becomes a very dry affair, as you suggest, that won't animate or motivate anyone.
This is why I rate the Inklings so highly. Their works tap into exactly this Western imaginative stream - still largely unconscious - that you speak of. They are apostles of the contemporary imagination.
It's also why I think Colin Wilson will one day - in a less benighted age - be regarded as the most important British thinker of recent times. Though not a Christian, he saw rght to the heart of the matter - the lack of meaning, direction and purpose Bruce speaks of in his original post - and set out doing something about it.
@John F - A guest post on that theme - long or short as you like, perhaps with some specific examples relevant to the Roman Catholic situation - would be very welcome here.
@Observing - the invitation is open to you as well, IF you are prepared to reveal your identity to me via e-mail -- because I have reservations about anonymous/ pseudonymous posting, so far as this blog goes.
(I already correspond with John F, and 'know' him.)
@John F - A further thought - I don't recall seeing any discussion of Colin Wilson from a Christian perspective i.e. Wilson's work put inside a Christian framework.
That would be an important contribution - if it could be done reasonably well.
It is, of course, more or less the way that I have come to (re-)read Wilson in recent years;
however, I am probably NOT the man to do it for a general audience, since my type of Christianity is so far from the mainstream. As an RC, you might be better situated.
"It's like Western Europeans (...) are throwing up their hands and saying 'well, we've come this far, we can't really go back to ritual obedience even if we die as a result; and it seems we can't really connect with the spiritual dimension without severe interference, so we're done for'."
And I will add these sentences: "This is why we're so nostalgic and admire so much these non-Western peoples. As much as we posture as enlightened brights that have rejected all these nonsense, when we see people having a strong sense of family, community and faith, we can't help being attracted.".
"How solidly they resist their own ancestral religion - such that the only fixed cultural conviction is 'Anything - any-thing at all! But Not Christ! Anything but Him."
This was a thing that surprised me long time ago. When a Muslim has spiritual longings, he starts exploring Islam and, if this is not satisfactory, then he explores other faiths. When a Jew has spiritual longings, he starts exploring Judaism and, if this is not satisfactory, then he explores other faiths. It is normal to start with your own spiritual tradition.
But, when a Western wants to start a spiritual quest, the last faith to examine is Christianity. You see them trying Buddhism, yoga, New Age, Islam and, if this does not work, silly things like the power of crystals, LOL.
I eventually realized that modernity is built against Christianity. They spent centuries fighting against the establishment, which was (nominally) Christian. Now, that they are the establishment and Christianity has marginal earthly power, they cannot stop pretending they are the underdogs fighting against Christians authorities, because this is their basic worldview (see John Fitzgerald's comment above). In short, modernity is the polemical ideology that the revolutionary movement employed in order to justify a revolution against Christianity.
"What stands out for me, and for other writers I have learned from, is that the assertions those enlighteners make about how the mind works, and about the nature of the human being, are intimately tied to their political project to liberate us from the authority of kings and priests. In other words, it is epistemology with an axe to grind, polemical at its very root.
Yet this original argumentative setting has been forgotten. This is important, because Enlightenment anthropology continues to inform wide swaths of the human sciences, including cognitive science, despite that discipline’s ritualized, superficial ridicule of Descartes. We need to be more self-aware about the polemical origins of the human sciences, because those old battles bear little resemblance to the ones we need to fight." http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416469/world-beyond-your-head-nr-interview
If you have swallowed modernity's poison, you cannot be a Christian. Firstly, Christianity is painted with the darkest colors because it is the enemy to fight (the way anti-Semites paint Jews).
Secondly, the concepts on which modernity is based (equality, Descartes' method, etc) make Christianity impossible to believe. We are brainwashed with these concepts since the kindergarten and even most Christians see them as "the Truth".
I am a teacher living in Latin America. In my church, I teach to make Christians wholesome so they don't serve two masters. In my (secular) University, I try to demolish these false concepts so students are open to Christianity as interpretation of reality.
@Imn - Thanks for that.
I should add, which you probably already know, that when I make these descriptions of modernity (e.g. 'Anything but Christ'), I am describing myself - as I was for most of my life and until a few years ago, and of course the mind set has not been wholly eradicated.
Yes, I am describing myself until a few years ago too. I guess ours is the typical path to Christianity for intellectual people (that is, for these people for whom is more difficult to end up Christian).
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