Most people in the world seem to be materialists who deny-by-assumption the reality of the spiritual realm. By which I mean they assume the non-reality of entities such as God; spirits such as the Holy Ghost, angels and demons; the soul; and the possibility of life after biological death.
It is not that these have been sought and found to be absent - rather they are metaphysically-assumed to be absent, and therefore cannot be detected.
This is normal and mainstream. The materialist assumption is built-into the institutional discourse of all powerful social functions such as politics and government, the mass media, law, science, the arts, education, the military etc.
This is a post-religious world because once a person has adopted the materialist assumption; it is not refuted by any institution - not even by any church.
When the materialist looks for religion in 2021, he sees church organizations whose behaviour where it most matters (by materialist assumptions) is fully explained with materialist assumptions.
The churches themselves will state and behave on the basis that 'health', antiracism, equality, climate etc are more important than the spiritual - these take priority in their functioning.
If one is mainstream leftist; this means that where it most matters the churches are superfluous and offer nothing extra; but, if one is anti-left materialist; then it means that where it most matters the churches are wrong.
The mainstream materialist simply cannot perceive anything that the churches actually do which is at odds with what other kinds of institutions do.
In a nutshell; churches are institutions; institutions are part of The System; and The System is materialist by assumption; therefore churches are materialist by assumption.
This is a problem, unless you are already a Christian!
It means that, so long as people are already materialist yet seek to become Christians via a church - there is no compelling reason to become a Christian. Yes or no; it is merely a lifestyle choice.
This is why it has become so spiritually-damaging (so damning) that so many Christian churches insist that one can only be a real Christian within their church.
...When the actual situation seems to be the opposite: that one can only become a Christian outside the churches.
After one has become a Christian, then one can choose to join a specific church; if and when this is helpful to one's Christian life.
But one must first become a Christian; and as of 2021 that is a matter of each individual taking full responsibility for his ultimate personal destiny in this world.
If someone looks to any external authority or institution to tell him what to do - then he will merely remain in the materialist fly trap; he will merely continue to be-processed-by The System of Damnation.
"The churches themselves will state and behave on the basis that 'health', antiracism, equality, climate etc are more important than the spiritual - these take priority in their functioning."
--What we had been led to believe since the 1960s was that equality, antiracism, etc. were among the 'good works' to be done. From many outside the faith it has become an emotional and social blackmail tool almost Calvinist in its intensity and worse for being in constant flux.
It was like being over a virtue barrel; one must keep the commandments but at the same time be ready to defend those who advocated or did things we found wrong, as long as they didn't hurt anyone. 'Do it, or else we'll call you witch-burners, racists, patriarchists!'
"If one is mainstream leftist this means that where it most matters the churches are superfluous and offer nothing extra; but, if one is anti-left materialist, then it means that where it most matters the churches are wrong."
--That reminds me of one of Christopher Hitchens' arguments against canonization for Mother Teresa, that she was too focused on her "Medieval superstitions".
This is an important insight. A corollary for me in my situation: Speaking as a church person raising my children in the Church, I try to remember that children cannot become true believers if the price of exit is high. This doesn't come easily to me, as I am a mom.
The churches treat Christianity as membership in a club not as a philosophy. Or not even membership in a club but being a sort of unpayed employee (an intern perhaps) who must simply believe the company's line and do what it says or be fired.
Charles Kingsley's novel, Hypatia, or New Foes with an Old Face (1853), is interesting in this context, with its imaginative reconstruction of Fourth-century Egypt and North Africa, with its variety of - for the most part, variously dubious - Church leaders in a context of aspiring totalitarian neo-paganism willing to exploit sincere but insufficiently critical science and philosophy, where the truth of Christianity within the Church appeals successfully in spite of, rather than thanks to, efficiently institutional hierarchs, all under the shadow of a violent looming lively northern paganism (with some solicitude for its heretical convert kinsmen).
Charles Williams comments interestingly and sympathetically on its favourable treatment of St. Augustine of Hippo, in his early Arthurian Commonplace Book.
David Llewellyn Dodds
Post a Comment