Miscellaneous thoughts on religion, modernity and society

  1. Leftists have always seemed heroic and humanistic, saviors of humanity and rebells against tyranny. But once they get in charge, they show that power is power is power: whoever is in charge dictates the rules and the order.
    So, the conclusion is not that the government must go away. It is that the ordinary people must mind their own lives and that the State should mind its own business of protecting social order. The people should also mind that the State doesn’t get in their business, while the State should mind that the people continue to live in the same way as they always have so that evil brainwasher doesn’t appear and promise them an earthly heaven; and for this, they need to believe in a God’s Heaven. The people should be pious and resist a government that imposes heresy and impiety, and the government should protect the Church and the piety of the people against heretical or revolutionary intellectuals and ideologues.
    • Something like the Enlightenment was inevitable. (I sound so liberal!) We cannot reject pragmatism entirely – only/mostly its impiety. Its practicality is very useful. That’s especially true of worldly governments. A solution was necessary to the wars of religion that had arisen. Either (a) the total destruction, through violence and politics, of all except one forms of religion, or (b) the international policy of peace between nations Cujus regio, ejus religio, with the risk of uprisings and separatism, or (c) a similar scheme but on the local level – such as the Ottoman millets, or (d) a multi-confessional society. Obviously, (a) is inhuman and would  never really work except if Deus vult, and I think the Gospel wouldn’t really agree. The problem, in this fallen world is that (b) and (c) have led to more wars and separatism, and everybody sooner or later accepted the practical solution (d) of the impious Enlightenment thinkers.
    • Hilaire Belloc, in The Protestant Heresy, where he examines the political and socio-cultural consequences of the Reformation, says:

      while within the Protestant culture, where there was less definite doctrine to challenge, there was less internal division but an increasing general feeling that religious differences must be accepted; a feeling which, in a larger and larger number of individuals, grew into the, at first, secret but later avowed attitude of mind that nothing in religion could be certain, and therefore that toleration of all such opinions was reasonable.

      Thus, the fragmentation of Christendom ends up in liberal democracy (d). And in such societies, religion doesn’t matter – unless the piety and doctrines of the religions is very close. Violence doesn’t cease – because of the Fall, and particularly of the national vices and of irreligiosity. Wars of religion are no more – the moderns prefer wars of ideologies.

    • We (the politically/socially/culturally involved Christians) must, however, in this fallen world, do what we can so that stumbling blocks don’t become fashionable in our societies, like it is the case today with irreligion, drugs, pornography, consumerism, propaganda, sentimentalism, post-modernism, relativism, etc. Old popular habits die hard, and it is individual’s soul that is saved – but there are cultural and social entities about which we must be moralistic and authoritarian.
  2. We cannot talk about morality only in terms of “good vs evil”. In a sense, we can see things from a utilitarian or hedonistic point of view. It sounds somehow Chestertonian-ly confusing to say this, but I think that we can see God as the ultimate desire of the soul – and fasting is simply the abstinence of that which is only a sacred means to the end of tasting Saintliness in Heaven. The end justifies the means can be spiritually useful too – the end is obedience to Christ’s two commandments, and the means are man’s struggle with the passions, with doubt, etc., but also our patience and love towards the ungodly.
    I am not, of course, suggesting such compromises as the World Council of Churches or the Second Vatican Council, because they compromise our relation with the Good, the True and the Beautiful. I simply suggest that similar language, if used prudently, may make it easier for the Church to communicate with young people and even make it easier for them to learn that about that which sounds more dogmatic, authoritative or legalistic. We must not forget the practical just because the modernists misinterpret and dehumanize it.
  3. The true Christian should redeem humanism in a different way than “Christian” humanists and Secular humanists do. We must simply show that humanism can only be humane if we give up the humanism of today – which is based on utilitarianism and liberalism. I mean, utilitarianism? Humane?! Come on, give me a break…
    Abortion is inhuman, since it either doesn’t recognize as the fetus being in human, or either because it recognizes man as only an animal.
    What’s evil about this is that we tend to see humanism as the idea that man should conquer everything. But a man who thinks that man, made in the image of God, is the measure of all things, would certainly be able to define the word humane in another way than simply a sentimentalist word.

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