A typically thoughtful and honest post from "trad" Roman Catholic blogger "Bonald" at The Orthosphere has had me mulling over his arguments and implications.
As purpose and meaning are being, decade by decade, leached from public discourse and major institutions and the world (especially The West) descends into ever more explicit and aggressively imposed value-inversions -- is it really conceivable that such a situation is what we need for our spiritual well-being?
Maybe this is not so far-fetched, if I consider the specific instance of myself.
I grew-up into early adulthood in a much better world - more honest for sure, with a better appreciation of beauty; and a definite sense that the various social systems (law, academia, science, education) ought to be trying to perform these functions for the long-term benefit of everyone.
Yet the fact was that living in this better world, even when living by the highest standards of this better world; was grossly insufficient in terms of ultimate realities. To take my own field of science in the context of academia: in actual practice - in my own life - the fact that science and scientists in the UK sought truth and spoke truth; and that academia broadly supported this activity (or, at least, did not actively dis-courage it); had the effect of my life and work being a partial satisfaction of profound drives.
Because these profound impulses were partially satisfied in actual life, the fact that my life and world were ineradicably insufficient was for long concealed from me. There seemed to be (but actually was not) a valid hope that the inadequacies would be cured by some future change, some reform or improvement in the conduct of science and universities.
My life was Not satisfying, despite its many satisfactions; there was Not a genuine purpose to my life in context of humanity, nor adequate meaning to my work in context of reality - because I believed (in line with my culture, the Western Civilization I inhabited) no purpose or meaning to reality-itself. The universe was a mixture of blind-determinism and randomness, and was utterly indifferent to humanity in general, and me-personally in particular.
To summarize; the better world of my youth was At Its Best an only-partially-effective mere-palliative for a fundamentally inadequate world-view and a fundamentally meaningless public world. Yet the palliative was, for many years, good enough to prevent me seeking for anything fundamentally better.
Therefore, I did not acknowledge the reality of a God, a Creator, until my late 40s, and did not become a Christian until I was nearly 50.
And why did this truth eventually dawn upon me, after so long in this world? Probably the main proximate stimulus was the corruption of science and academia, such that their inadequacy was At Last forced upon me.
In other words, it was the world getting worse that made me realize the nature of the world, and led eventually to a grateful acceptance of Jesus Christ's offer of everlasting resurrected Heavenly Life.
My point is that it is at least conceivable that in some broad and general sense, the same may apply to many other people; and it may be that many people are led away from mainstream materialistic atheism and to conversion only by the worsening of the world, and the removal of partial-palliatives.
It may be that - in some average sense - a worse and worsening world may be the best hope for many or most people.
Not that God wants a worse world for us! Of course not. God desires the best world for us, and our highest happiness in this (inevitably flawed and corrupt) mortal life - followed by the choice of immortal resurrection into Heaven. God desires us to be born-into and develop and be nurtured, in a context of loving relationships and Godly ideals.
But Western humanity won't do that, does not even want that, and (increasingly) chooses the opposite; and therefore God (as creator) is able-to and does make the best of the evil choices of sinful Men.
For me, the decline of The West made me recognize that - even at its best - our secular civilization was not merely inadequate, but actively harmful. My own strong distress that the top-down imposition of corruption and lies on the once relatively 'pure' worlds of academia and science, actually functioned as a trigger to deeper reflection and a fundamental reorientation in what I desired for myself and others.
It seems that I actually, in practice, in real-life - actually Needed a worse this-world to be induced to desire a better next-world; and maybe there are (in very different ways, mostly) many other people in a similar situation? People who will not be cured of this-worldly materialism, except by the withdrawal of this-worldly gratifications?
It is not, of itself, an improvement in the world that real science has been (all-but) eradicated from professional "science"; and that the activity is now reduced to careerist bureaucrats striving to impress their official superiors rather than seek the truth; seeking funding rather than answers to real problems; publishing deliberately misleading deniable-dishonesties rather than the truth as they see it...
None of this is Good; and it comes from the short-termist expediency of modern Godless Men. yet from it; God can lead some Men (me, for instance) to recognize that even science at its best and noblest, is a radically-incomplete and dangerously-distorted human endeavor when made primary; an activity that cannot satisfy the needs of our soul; and a discourse which does not deserve to be the basis of a Man's mortal life.
Therefore, perhaps this "sorrowful" world that Bonald well-describes, may be God's way of making the best of modern Man's innate and accumulated evil - and maybe, therefore, this actual world does what is most necessary in ways that are actually more effective than the actually-available alternatives?