Note: the title was written before I wrote the article, when I only had the ideas.
I guess this is it – my first “Hello, everyone!” on this blog.
I am writing this article because I thought of a few things while coming back from my classes today. Interestingly, I thought of of a few random things. The first is the rejection of revelation and argument from authority by secularists, due to a few videos I watched on the Internet with Anne Morelli and a few others. I thought about (illegal) cults, and about the “neutrality” of secularism, and I thought to myself – their premises are false – namely, that a God who can reveal himself does not exist. So, if He exists, He is able to reveal himself, and so it is irrational to reject revelation. Then I almost face-palmed myself – they can deny my premise, so the debate should take place if it is to be attempted to find truth. And I will come back to my conclusion on this in the end of the article.
Then, I looked at Morelli’s videos and found her criticism of the anti-cult (sometimes statist) movement. And she does make a point – people do have ethics, in these ethics all the major religions fit in, and so those who don’t fit in (namely illegal cults) are to be directly excluded. I usually, based on my Grand Inquisitor philosophy, reject this thing and say that ethics come after the formation of the world-view. But I thought of the Socratic method – and I think that honesty (as critical thinking and as an uninterested objectivity) is indeed important, and that is part of people’s honest criticism of cults, and of Morelli’s honest criticism of major religions. Let’s call it epistemological honesty, in contrast with ethical honesty. While there are sectarians in everything (including atheism, but I ignore organized secularism and other humanist organizations), we should be careful and not go too quickly to repudiate a world-view if we encounter someone who is promoting it in a sectarian way. In religions such as Islam, for example, where questioning of God is impossible due to his predestination of the universe, we have an unfalsifiable God. I am not saying that it proves that Islam is wrong, I say that it does, at least, betray the Judeo-Christian tradition of questioning God. So Islam’s stance on epistemological honesty will be different than the Judeo-Christian one.
My third point comes after a class in university, in which my teacher takes for given that gender egalitarianism and secularism are good. And, to some extent, it is our (the conservatives’) fault. Neoconservatives and libertarian cons are actually also taking (at least to some extent) these things for given. I sometimes have some compassion for liddites, but even if (when sane) I see the utility and good of industry, I still think that we have forgotten to reject the myth of Progress. That’s where I differ from the two types of cons I cited above. The liberal system, and the one it gave birth to – Marxism, exists under the premises of metaphysical naturalism. That was the point Peter Hitchens made in a debate with his brother I watched. And these philosophies, contrary to all the (mostly partial, but at the core) lies we have heard, are incompatible with Christianity. And pre-dechristianized Europe had been run by those for a very long time.
Very long time the liberty that liberalism left us was the liberty to be happy. But under Christianity, the basic expression of love consists in seeking the person’s ultimate good – the Salvation of his soul. And a Christian society is the one who should facilitate that, and surely not go against it. That is where Puritanism enters the picture (as G. K. Chesterton wrote about it in 1910) with its strict legalistic Sola Fide (Salvation by faith alone, and for Puritans – uniquely and only alone). Salvation is no longer part of practical life, and so politics must be reorganized. “The difference between Puritanism and Catholicism is not about whether some priestly word or gesture is significant and sacred. It is about whether any word or gesture is significant and sacred.” (golden words from Chesterton). And we have liberalism precisely there – God is no longer part of politics, and just as the English king is now under the Constitution, so (as Bl. Seraphim Rose says) “it is, in the Liberal view, the people who rule, and not God; God Himself is a “constitutional monarch”. ” So we have a system that is, step by step, in opposition to clergy, to established churches, etc. And things, to this day, remain interesting – historical radicals (liberals) and Marxists, base their view of society on ideas, and what is in opposition to tradition – they take their ideas for universal! (If you didn’t read the Grand Inquisitor, my main idea is this (quote from The Brothers Karamazov) “the state turns into the Church, it rises up to the Church and becomes the Church over all the earth.” And that is the heresy of chiliasm – that heaven is to be on earth. So liberalism and, in its very roots, Marxism are replacing the One Holy Catholic (i.e. universal) and Apostolic Church.
That is why I am (a sort of) a traditionalist conservative – I think it simply comes naturally from my Orthodox Christian faith, and that liberalism and Marxism don’t, and even go against it. But C. S. Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, said it rightly, that we must not “substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.” That is why traditionalism comes second, but Christ comes first. “A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him.” (A. Schmemann, For the Life of the World) And politics is what I have decided, bit-by-bit, to abstain from during Lent, having become obsessed with it more than with my Salvation.
And again, epistemological honesty comes and says why do I accept the authority of the Church? I accept it as given by Christ, and as examined by epistemological honesty, which, like Socrates’ honesty, is nothing else but thirst for the Truth, which is the person of Christ. And I accept Christ because He has divine authority, and this doesn’t contradict reason. So, a “moderated religion is as good […] as no religion at all” (C.S. Lewis, ibid.)
Now, remember the second paragraph, the one about false premises? Well, it seems to me pretty much clear that this debate is to take place, since I think that there are some secularists who actually care about these questions. Because, after all, we should decide what culture we belong to – the Judeo-Christian one, the only one from which Liberalism could have come, given the epistemological sense of honesty; or the Hindu one, with reincarnation logically leading to social casts that liberals try to destroy; or the Muslim (and also Calvino-Puritan) one, where we cannot question God and revelation and the enemies of God must be punished by death? We don’t have debates about whether or not the external world exists, whether the past really happened, and we don’t even know that these things are not proven. We could at least have debates about culture, right? And stop taking any of them for given…