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Spengler

As my friend Daniel Pipes wrote some days ago at National Review, the Middle East Forum is debating whether one can speak meaningfully of “moderate Muslims,” with Dr. Pipes defending the affirmative and Raymond Ibrahim the negative thesis. I respect both Pipes and Ibrahim, but I am not satisfied with the content of the debate. The first issue to be settled is what moderation might mean in the case of adherence to a religion, which is after all not a list of positions but an existential stance towards life. One can speak of a moderate Communist (e.g. Gorbachev) or moderate conservatives, but not quite as simply about moderate faith. Below is an essay I published on the subject in Asia Times in 2006 that attempts to set a theological context for the question.

The West in an Afghan mirror
By Spengler

Death everywhere and always is the penalty for apostasy, in Islam and every other faith. It cannot be otherwise, for faith is life and its abandonment is death. Americans should remove the beam from their own eye as they contemplate the gallows in the eye of the Muslims. Philistine hypocrisy pervades Western denunciations of the Afghan courts, which were threatening to hang Christian convert Abdul Rahman until the case was dropped on Monday.

Afghanistan, to be sure, is a tribal society whose encounter with the modern world inevitably will be a train wreck. The trouble is

that the West has apostatized, and is killing itself. There turned out to be hope for Rahman, but there is none for Latvia or Ukraine, and little enough for Germany or Spain. That said, I wish to make clear that I found the persecution of Rahman deplorable.

The practice of killing heretics has nothing to do with what differentiates Islam from Christianity or Judaism. St Thomas Aquinas defended not just the execution of individual heretics but also the mass extermination of heretical populations in the 12th-century Albigensian Crusades. For this he was defended by the Catholic philosopher Michael Novak, author of learned books about the faith of the United States of America’s founding fathers (seeMuslim anguish and Western hypocrisy,  November 23, 2004).

Western religions today inflict symbolic rather than physical death. One’s local priest does not like to preach such things from his post-modern pulpit, but the Catholic Church prescribes eternal hellfire for those who come into communion with Christ and then reject him. Observant Jews hold a funeral for an apostate child who is spiritually dead to them (retroactive abortions not being permitted).

The last heretic hanged by the Catholic Church was a Spanish schoolteacher accused of Deist (shall we call that “moderate Christian”?) views in Valencia as recently as 1826. Without Napoleon Bonaparte and the humiliation of the Church by the German and Italian nationalist movements, who knows when the killing of heretics would have stopped?

“Where are the moderate Muslims?” sigh the self-appointed Sybils of the Western media. Faith is life. What does it mean to be moderately alive? Find the “moderate Christians” and the “moderate Jews”, and you will have the answer. “Moderate Christians” such as Episcopalian priests or Anglican vicars are becoming redundant as their congregations migrate to red-blooded evangelical denominations or give up religion altogether. “Moderate Jews” are mainly secular and tend to intermarry. There really is no such thing as a “moderate” Christian; there simply are Christians, and soon-to-be-ex-Christians. The secular establishment has awoken with sheer panic to this fact at last. In response we have such diatribes such as Kevin Phillips’ new book American Theocracy, an amalgam of misunderstandings, myths and calumnies about the so-called religious right. [1]

The tragedy of Abdul Rahman also is the tragedy of Western religion. Islam differs radically from Christianity, in that the Christian god is a lover who demands love in return, whereas the Muslim god is a sovereign who demands the fulfillment of duty. Christian prayer is communion, an act of love incomprehensible to Muslims; Muslim worship is an act of submission, the repetition of a few lines of text to accompany physical expression of self-subjugation to the sovereign. The People of Christ are pilgrims en route to the next world; the People of Allah are soldiers in this one. Contrary to all the ink spilled and trees murdered to produce the tomes of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, Christianity and Islam call forth different peoples to serve different gods for different reasons.

But the fact that Christianity and Islam educe different peoples for different gods should not obscure that one cannot be either Christian or Muslim without belonging to a People of God in flesh as well as spirit. Christianity demands that the gentile, whose very origin is redolent of death, and whose heathen nature is sinful, undergo a new birth to join God’s people. Whether this second birth occurs at the baptismal font for a Catholic infant or at the river for an evangelical adult is another matter. The Christian’s rebirth is also a vicarious death – the death of the Christian’s heathen nature – through Christ’s sacrifice. No vicarious sacrifice occurs in Islam; the Muslim, on the contrary, sacrifices himself (The blood is the life, Mr Rumsfeld!, October 5, 2005).

Where is the moderation? The Christian either joins the People of God in its pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Heaven, or he does not; the Muslim either is a soldier of the ummah, or he is nothing. Religious conversion is not mere adaptation to another tradition. It is a change of people. If God is “able of these stones to raise children of Abraham” (Matthew 3:9), Christians are the Gentiles made into sons of Abraham by miracle. In Islamic society, the convert to Christianity instantly becomes an alien and an enemy.

God may be able to raise sons of Abraham from stones; that is not necessarily within the power of earthly churches. European Christianity, as I have argued often in the past, made a devil’s bargain with the heathen invaders whom it made into Christians in the thousand years between the fall of Rome and the conversion of the Balts. It permitted them to keep one foot in their national past and another in the Catholic Church, under the umbrella of universal empire. The peoples revolted against church and empire and reverted to their pagan roots, and then fought one another to a bloody standoff in the two great wars of the 20th century.

In parallel to Christianity, but in a different way, Islam made its own compromise with the nations it absorbed. It would defend the pure traditional society of tribal life against the encroachment of the empires that encircled them: first the Byzantines and Persians, then Christian Europe, and now America. Traditional life inevitably must break down in the face of globalization of trade and information, and the ummah closes ranks to delay the time when the descendants of today’s Muslims will look with pity upon ancestral photographs, as they turn momentarily from their video game.

Europe’s Christians could not summon up the “moderation” necessary to tolerate their Jewish neighbors until after 1945, when Europe was conquered and rebuilt by the Americans. Once the ambitions of Europe’s peoples were crushed in the world wars, European Christianity became “moderate” indeed, so moderate that Europeans no longer bother about it. They also do not bother to reproduce, so that the formerly Christian populations of Europe will disappear, starting with the captive nations of the former Soviet Union.

No Christian People of God emerged from Europe. In a century or two, few European peoples will exist in recognizable form. Americans, by contrast, arrived in the New World with the object – at least in the case of the Massachusetts Bay Colony – of becoming a new People of God in a new Promised Land.

In a December essay in First Things titled Our American Babylon, Father Richard John Neuhaus argues that the United States itself is not the Promised Land or the Kingdom of God; it is still another place of exile. In Christian theological terms that is quite true. But the stubborn fact remains that if the English Separatists who founded Massachusetts had not deviated from Christian theology, and set out to become a new chosen people in a new Promised Land, we would not be talking about the United States of America to begin with. Christianity drew the notion of a People of God from the Jews, upon whose trunk it proposes to graft the reborn Gentiles. But the graft did not take except where radical Protestants emulated the Jews, and set out to make a new people in a new land.

Kevin Phillips, author of American Theocracy, warns that America’s religious right is “abetting far-reaching ideological change and eroding the separation of powers between church and state”, giving the Republican Party “a new incarnation as an ecumenical religious party, claiming loyalties from hard-shell Baptists and Mormons, as well as Eastern Rite Catholics and Hasidic Jews”. On the face of it, this is a nonsensical statement, for how can a coalition of Baptists, Mormons, Catholics and Jews oppose separation of church and state, a doctrine promulgated by dissenting Protestants to protect their own religious practice against the persecution of an established church?

The fact that the US boasts roughly 200 major Christian denominations, none of which can aspire to a plurality of members, ensures that no possible theocracy ever could emerge. When Phillips uses the word “theocracy”, he simply means the emergence of a religious vote on such issues beloved of the secular left as homosexual marriage, abortion, or censorship of pornography. But there is nothing theocratic in people of faith forming occasional coalitions to impose what the law calls community standards.

American Christians are migrating en masse to denominations that preach Christ crucified and the saving power of his blood, eschewing the blancmange Christianity of the old mainline sects (‘It’s the culture, stupid’, November 5, 2004). But the United States is unique among the nations, an assembly of individuals called out from among the nations, where Christian identity is compatible with a secular definition of peoplehood. Even in the US Christians find that one cannot be half-pregnant: either one is saved, or one is not.

Islam does not know moderation or extremism: it only knows success or failure. Unlike Christianity, which prevailed only through the improbable project of abandoning its old center to create a new land altogether, Islam cannot exist outside of traditional society, which by definition knows no doubt. Nowhere else but in the United States has personal conscience rather than religious establishment succeeded as the guiding principle of Christianity. “Moderate Islam” is an empty construct; the Islam of the Afghan courts is the religion with which the West must contend.

Note
1. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips. Viking, US$26.95, 462 pages.

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The French Philosophers chiefly promoted atheism in the 18th century for which the french revolution was its principle expression and confirmation. As everyone knows the french revolution stripped the catholic church in france. Again where did the french philosophers get their atheism from? They got their atheism from the century earlier Descartes. Why? Because he built his academic departments on the tree of knowledge that placed theology as a sub branch of philosophy. As everyone knows, philosophy begins with the premise that Man is the Measure of all things. Logically this then must include God. If God is measurable by man then he is not God--by definition. Therefor there can be no God. God is a fantasy, a delusion.

In the anglo saxon world Descartes made his way into the modern world through he auspices of Issac Newton the demigod, the prophet of the modern age for England and America. Issac Newton not only created the foundations for modern math and physics and laid the foundations for the innovations after 1750 that culminated in the first industrial revolution of the 1830's--but he also was a Unitarian. He believed that Jesus was just a nice/wise/prophetic man. Why? Because of Descartes-- Greek borrowed idea that man is the measure of all things--Newton believed he was able to measure God's natural order and thereby produced the Principia. However, the corollary to that is that there is nothing supernatural. That means there are no miracles. While God set the universe into motion. This was the clockwork universe. Having once set the universe in motion God did not subsequently intervene. This meant that God could not have returned to earth in the person of Jesus. Therefor Jesus was just a man.

The enlightenment founders of the country including Jefferson and adams were followers of Newton in this regard. The strictly Calvinists founders like Madison--whose cohort wrote the constitution -- did not.

Now having summarized the way France and England responded to Descartes -- its important to finish with the Germans and through them the rest of protestant Europe.

Once again Descartes systematized academia by breaking it out into all the disciplines that we have today. So that academics get major masters and phd's in biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry etc.. Descartes also provided the philosophical underpinning for the academic world. That is: man is the measure of all things.

The Germans from the Tübingen School in the 1700's began to adapt Descartes --man is the measure of all things and applied his dictates to the bible. That meant that they treated the biblical texts as if they were norse myths or greek myths: that is allegorical fables. Stories that are not meant to be interpreted literally but rather allegorically. That is, they treated the bible not as the word of God but rather as a representation of the human condition. In the same way, a great novel--while it may not be literally true--does a good job of representing the human condition.

If the bible is a giant allegory then everything from the creation of the world in Genesis to mana from heaven in Exodus to holy fire brought down from heaven by Elijah to Jesus as God himself and part of the Godhead-- then must be allegorical in nature.

This low view of Jesus gained ascendance in the protestant divinity schools of Europe after the revolutions of 1848. Now understand that this low view of Jesus at the time was considered to be completely modern. Why? -- because --since the philosophical premise that went into it --man is the measure of all things -- also produced the modern scientific and technological advancements of the day--people's low views of Christ were confirmed by the modern inventions of the day.

People in the pews were none the wiser. They did not know that their pastors had changed their views of Christ. The leadership would say and mean one thing and the listeners would hear quite another. The problem here was that Jesus as fully God (as well as fully man) is central to Christianity. Make Jesus just a man and Christianity has no power. No power to save. No power to do anything. As St. Paul put it: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."1 Corinthians 15:17-19

Small wonder it took only a 4-5 generations of this low view of Christ to completely empty the protestant churches of Europe. (The same thing happened in the catholic seminaries byo of Liberation Theology.)

Higher Criticism School jumped the pond to American seminaries in late 1800's. Buy 1940's--all of the mainline denominations had embraced the higher criticism school. They were pumping out pastor who didn't actually believe that Jesus is fully God--as well as fully man. Basically the liberal protestant seminaries were pumping
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
But Newton also promulgated something else. He was Unitarian. He promulgated Unitarianism. Unitarianism is the belief that Jesus is just a man. He is not fully God.
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How did Newton come to believe that Jesus was just a man? Easy enough. If man is the measure of all things then everything is explainable. There is a natural reason for everything. Supernatural reality, that is God's ultimate reality exists but it does not intrude on our world. Therefor, there cannot be miracles. Therefor he would not intrude on our world with the likes of his Son. Jesus talked wisely about God but was not God himself. God exists but having once set things in motion he lets things go on the course that he preordained. This was clockwork universe of the enlightenment.

Among Christians this view of Jesus as just a man is a heresy with a very old pedigree. Its called the Arian Heresy after an Egyptian named Arias who lived in the early 300's AD. It was anathematized by the Council of Nicea in 320 AD. From that council comes the Nicean Creed which is recited in Catholic Protestant and (I think) Eastern Orthodox Churches to this day. However, there were plenty of churches in the Roman world especially in North Africa and the near east that continued to practice this form of Christianity in the centuries after the Council of Nicaea.

It is thought that when Muhammad visited Jerusalem the form of Christianity that he encountered was Arianism. Certainly the Islamic interpretation of Christianity looks very much like the Gnostic Gospels which were dug up in Egypt in 1946. The Gnostic Gospels have the low view of Jesus. That he is just a man.

What is not understood in Catholic history particularly is that the Arian Christians totally rolled over for the Moslems in North Africa in the 700's AD. Arian bishops in Spain invited the Moslems into Spain because of their disputes with the bishops in the Church who believed that Jesus was fully God as well as full Man.

What modern Archaeology is showing is that Moslem raiders pretty much flattened all the coastal towns of France and Italy and trucked off all their wealth and killed the old Roman Mediterranean trading system that had remained intact even after the empire died.

A great intolerance that is attributed to the Catholic Church is the inquisition against the Albigensians/Cathars in today's southern France in the early 1200's. What's not generally known is that their heresy was the Arian heresy--to which Catholics of the period would have considered to be a fearful dangerous stepping stone to Islam. (Yes I know that the Cathar's prince participated in the Crusades. But these were the last losing crusades before the Christian knights were driven from the holy land.)

Michael Servetus was a learned man at a time in the early 1500's when there was little enough information available that a learned man could still master all the disciplines. He was anathematized by both Calvinists and Catholics and burned at the stake. His was the last recorded death for this heresy.

When Newton embraced unitarianism/arian heresy 200 years later, the Arian heresy became the in thing in the anglo saxon world. Harvard university which was founded as a strictly calvinist school in the 1600's by 1750 had become thoroughly unitarian and remained so. As did Yale (except for a brief period after 1800,)

American Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft were Unitarians. Why? Unitarianism was considered to be an enlightened man's denomination because the Albert Einstein of the 18th & 19th centuries in the anglo saxon world-- Issac Newton evangelized it and he was in effect the prophet of modernity. If he was right on the physics and math therefor it made sense that he should be right on the religion.

The great American Novel of the 19th Century was Herman Melville's Moby Dick. After completing the book -- he began to attend a unitarian church.

Newton's views even crept into theological tracts of the 19th century. Several denominations in the USA jumped off from the low view of Christ (that he is just a man)including the Mormans and the Jehovah witnesses.

Now, having given all that history its important to know note that there is a terrible problem with Unitarianism/Arianism. The problem is this. It leaves as the central mystery of Christianity a....wait for it...human sacrifice. Never mind that a human is no better than a chicken or pig to turning away God's wrath. The very greatest accomplishment of Jesus in the 2000 years since his presence on earth has been that he abolished the practice of human sacrifice. Human sacrifice was done by every people group on earth. You don't have to believe the theology of Christianity to get that Jesus stopped the practice of human sacrifice. Jesus is responsible for this great achievement. Literally every people on earth who practiced human sacrifice --that included ev
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spengler writes "The People of Christ are pilgrims en route to the next world; the People of Allah are soldiers in this one." then asks "Where is the moderation?"

The former answers the latter. Moderation consists of letting others be - NOT being a "soldier in this life".
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The moral dilemma represented by Don Juan came to fruition in the Khlysty, a Dionysiac Russian sect that believed that only sinners can be saved so salvation must come first through sinning. Jews had a similar sect that believed that only a Jewish apostate can be a true Jew – they were known as Shabbateans. The fake conversions of Shabbateans drove Christians nuts, and was probably a factor in leading some Christians to become paranoid about Jews.

One wonders what would have happened if the Khlysty had been known for terrorism rather than ritualistic orgies of sex.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The next question will be how did this [pagan] tree grow?
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Well if you recall from yesterday;
Descartes Tree of Knowledge was considered for hundreds of years to be revolutionary. Why? Because by making theology a subset of philosophy--which it is not --Descartes put man on the throne of grace. That means that ---since Man is the measure of all things--then all then all things must include God. Therefor man is the measure of God. (and NOT God is the measure of man -- as it should properly be.)

This was a slow 100 year 200 year cogitation. Consider. If man is the measure of God...then he is not God. Why not? Because the characteristic of God is that he is beyond our measure. But the 18th century scholars and literate men did not know/like/acknowledge that. Rather they concluded that if God could be measured--then of course he isn't God but just a fantasy. This is the logical conclusion--given the premise that man is the measure of all things. This was the view of 18th century Atheist French philosophers.

Descartes worked his way into English and German higher ed byo two different routes.

In the Anglo Saxon world of the 18th and 19th centuries Issac Newton was considered something of a demigod because of his magnum opus "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", often referred to as simply the Principia first published in 1687. Literate educated men of the anglo saxon world for two centuries simply deferred to his judgement. It was a matter of logic. If the master said it--and we are better off because of his work--then it must be true. And they were better off. Newton's math and physics work laid the ground work for an for waves of innovation that came after 1750 and culminated in the first great industrial revolution in the 1830 that took place first in the anglo saxon realms of England and America.

But Newton also promulgated something else. He was Unitarian. He promulgated Unitarianism. Unitarianism is the belief that Jesus is just a man. He is not fully God.

That's enough for one day.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
PadraigBen
The reason we have a kind of modern paganism is because people no longer believe in Christianity
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You have this exactly correct.

The question is why not? What happened? How did an entire civilization abandon the faith that nurtured it for more than a millennium.

I'll try to answer that in this next section.

As late as 1500 an educated man could absorb all the knowledge that was available.

But by 1600 the explosion of knowledge had become so great that some kind of classification scheme was needed so that scholars could focus on their disciplines. A French Philosopher provided it in the early 1600's. His name was Descartes. He gave the academic world the famous Tree Of Knowledge. He borrowed from the Greeks in order to construct it. For over 300 years every young scholar in the west was exposed to it.

Descartes Tree of Knowledge put metaphysics at the root, Philosophy at the trunk, and all the scientific disciplines in the branches. Out on one tiny branch were theology and witchcraft. This was flat out wrong. While witchcraft is a primitive form of science, theology does not belong on the tree of knowledge at all. Why? because theology starts with a different premise than philosophy. Philosophy begins with the premise that man is the measure of all things. Theology begins with the premise that God is the measure of all things. In the Garden of Eden--God was not contained in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Descartes Tree of Knowledge was considered for hundreds of years to be revolutionary. Why? Because by making theology a subset of philosophy--which it is not --Descartes put man on the throne of grace. That means that ---since Man is the measure of all things--then all then all things must include God. Therefor man is the measure of God. (and NOT God is the measure of man -- as it should properly be.)

If you were going to be a modern man and embrace the scientific revolution--then you also had to acknowledge Descartes Tree of Knowledge. All the great men of letters on both sides of the pond during the 18th century did so.

You can still go into the history of philosophy classes today and Descartes tree of knowledge will be carted out at some point and freighted with all kinds of meaning. That freight has been loaded onto students for 100's of years all over the West.

That was the seed that was planted that flowered into the huge pagan tree we have today.

That's enough for today. The next question will be how did this tree grow.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
You write wonderful essays Spengler but I think when comparing Islam, Judaism and Christianity, you have done something of a disservice to Christianity.

I have been struck for some time about a kind of "fuzzy" quality that Christianity has in comparison to the other two.

It is noticeable in the foundation documents of the different faiths that explicit commands are far more evident in the Torah and Koran than in the New Testament.

The Old Testament is an incredibly varied and rich guide, however there is nothing that really compares with Jesus, and his oblique parables and allusions. The meaning of his words are forever under interpretation. He may on occasion say something approaching clarity, but usually the meaning(s) is never quite clear.

I hear you thinking Spengler that Jews have made an art form out of disputation, and so they have, but if they choose they can lead a Jewish life in accordance with strict guidelines laid out in their most sacred text.

This is not available Christians, indeed the most astonishing article of Christianity "The Sermon on the Mount", is so impossible to reconcile with reality I doubt anyone one but the greatest of saints has ever been able to live up to it.

My point is that this "fuzzy" quality has made Christianity and Christians a most introspective lot, constantly reassessing their beliefs in the service of a search for truth. And this quality has fed a culture very open to change and revolution. A culture which seems to resist the development of fixed static social systems.

And so Christian culture may have executed some heretics, but also contains perhaps moreso than Judaism and Islam the ability to reform its thought and practice throught reflection and comtemplation of the words of Jesus.
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unmerited grace is the bright line between Judaism and Christianity; God requires of the Jews to be his partners with clearly defined obligations and creative responsibility. The trouble with unmerited grace is shown in the "Don Juan" paradox of salvation: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/music/81821/divine-justice.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who are the Don Juans of the other side of "unmerited grace"?

He may have been mad but he was free and so was the God he believed in. Those who prefer "clearly defined obligations" drift toward automata, and the GOd they end up believing in becomes of a like kind, in the end who is running the show, God or the believer who keeping his obligations, expects God MUST fulfill his side of the bargain.This leads to fatalism and predestination and destroys our freedom.
The monsters produced here could be far worse than Don Juan.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hence the emergence of "Progressivism" in Christian civilization, which now threatens to replace its parent faith. The very fuzziness of Christianity, and what I perceive as a kind of hippy mentality, otherworldliness and weakness, has become its liability. Do you see Christianity advancing anywhere in the world against either Islam or militant Progressivism? To me, Christianity seems memetically unfit to survive in the modern world, in comparison to Islam, Judaism, or the more militant forms of paganism.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I take the opposite view that Christianity will succeed where the others fail, because of its fuzziness.
Being a Christian I can do no other I suppose as I am bound to trust in God's salvation history, and conclude that Jesus knew what he was doing when he created these new men.
The key in the end is truth. Christianity is true in its essentials in a way others are not, even with its schisms and reformations.
Of course if you're not interested in truth or freedom feel free to become an atheist or Islamist, but be prepared to subjugate yourself in return for their certainties.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
This post probably needs to go on for awhile. What I read here is the deep question. How in God's name did the west come to the point where its now ready to punch back into pre Judeao Christian paganism? That is, how do you track back to the source of this paganism.


I think it important to answer this question in a way that's apparent to everyone.

So lets ask a series of questions.

The first question you ask is "who is in the forefront of this reversion to paganism": the North America or Europe. The answer has to be Europe. By about 40 years. But the USA is moving fast to catch up with Europe in this regard.

The second question goes like this--is this reversion to paganism a top down or bottoms up. That is are the pagans coming out of the countryside and small towns to change society. Or are the changes coming from the top. From city centers and elite institutions. The answer to this has to be that the changes are coming from the top. From city centers and elite institutions. After all, the changes are made not by a change of customs but rather by a change of law in the courts. While the Europeans made these changes byo the courts earlier than the USA -- the USA is rapidly catching up.

The next question is more subtle. Is there any denomination or religion that seem most responsible for this change. The answer is no. All Christians and Jews seem to have apostate groups. It doesn't seem like the paganism is originating directly from the religious groups but rather from the society itself--and the upper echelons at that. The apostate denominations never had a core. They merely reflected society. So when society went bad so did the apostate denominations.

So we can gather from this that the paganization of society originated in Europe (and quickly jumped the pond)among the non christian/jewish elite cultural institutions.

What would these elite cultural institutions be. The schools of course. They are the only other place of learning. Some new ideas have moved into higher education sometime after 1600 or so because before that all schools were solidly Christian (or Jewish) of one order or another. What's more there wasn't enough knowledge around to make for a univeristy. One person could absorb everything there was to know.

What are the two main themes of the 1500's. The Reformation and The Renaissance. The reformation was the protestant reformation but the renaissance was the Greek Renaissance.

What is the principle idea of the Greek Rennassance? Answer. Man is the measure of all things.

What does this philosophical (bottoms up) man centered idea (Man is the measure of all things)-- stand in contravention to? What indeed. The answer is Roughly 1500 years of Christian theology and 3000 years of Jewish theology that is top down God centered and says God is the measure of all things.

anyhow that's a start.
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you have come up with a potted history here which is somewhat confused.

The reason we have a kind of modern paganism is because people no longer believe in Christianity and therefore seek meaning in many different things.

The main reason people no longer believe in Christianity is because of the schism and the Reformation. After the Reformation a wide variety of believers called themselves Christian but could not agree on basic beliefs. This pluralism in Christianity led to scepticism and then outright disbelief. The process has been going on for centuries and scepticism has now grown to be the dominant belief. The live and let live attitude to Christianity evident in 17C Nethelandish society has taken over the world. And so people call themselves Christian but are sceptical of other types of Christianity, a situation bound to create a decline in faith about matters of truth, such as the divinity of Jesus.

Spengler is right, there is no such thing as half a Christian, you can be Jewish for instance by race or religion, but no so Christians who can only be Christian by belief.

The great majority of people these days are sceptics and only call themselves Christians because they are horrified by the alternative social chaos which threatens us all if Christian culture fell.

That is the reason I believe we have become more secular, and pagan. The challenge for Christians is to find the truth and hold fast.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've seen Catholics in other forums dump the problem on the protestant reformation rather than Greek Renaissance. But I don't think this quite gets how tightly wedded the Greek thinking was to the scientific/technological revolution from the beginning--and how this bled out into other area.

I'll get into this in future posts. This is enough for one day.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Observant Jews hold a funeral for an apostate child who is spiritually dead to them (retroactive abortions not being permitted)"????
No, Mr. Goldman, "Observant Jews" do NOT hold a funeral for an apostate child....
You are a great wordsmith and you appear to love facts. I suspect that you would not claim that observant Christians believe that homosexuals should die. Nor would you claim that observant Buddhists burn themselves alive.
So please - add the qualifiers or simply don't bother with the statement.

There are a tiny minority of "observant Jews" who hold a funeral for an apostate child.
Just as there is an even tinier minority of Christians who believe that "homosexuals" should die or Buddhists who burn themselves alive.

You do your thesis no good by extrapolating falsehoods.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
That which some people call “traditionalism” has had another term for it since the eighteenth century – the Dark Ages. The “Enlightenment” made it possible to think in new ways. Islam does not have its Voltaire or its Locke yet, but it may. “Moderate” is not the right word – “enlightened” is.

An enlightened Muslim would be no less a Muslim and no less dedicated to Islam than any other Muslim – he understands that the customary death penalty for apostasy can be suspended for practical reasons. If such a death penalty undermines Dawa (the obligation of all Muslims to spread their faith), that penalty could be suspended. If such a death penalty leads people who convert to Islam to get killed by non-Muslims, there is a rational Islamic argument to suspend such a penalty. To call an enlightened man “moderate” is an insult – there is nothing moderate about enlightenment.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The roots of the “Enlightenment” go back further than Christianity and further than ancient Greece – they go back to the life of Elijah. Jews – and by extension, Christians – went through a horrific trauma when Jezebel made it her life's work to eradicate Judaism root and branch. The accusation of Naboth must have caused a sense of vertigo – lies at the behest of the Queen. A foreign queen, but still someone who would normally have been obeyed without question. What Judaism and Christianity have in common is a questioning spirit, a deep uncertainty about who is friend or foe.

Egyptian paganism was threatened by Akenaton, but the old regime reasserted itself. Roman paganism was challenged by Elagabalus. While Elagabalus was put to death, his cult of Deus Sol Invictus (also known as Baal) endured as Rome's official religion until Christianity became the Roman Empire's new flag of convenience. The effect of Jezebel was more far reaching – against the threat she represents, the tradition of obeying those in authority must be balanced against the moral necessity of disobeying false authority.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Islam's unquestioning certainty in its own virtue places it with paganism. Reading the Quran is rather like reading a pagan commentary upon Jewish and Christian writings. The Quran has no existential sense of betrayal from within; it is considerably more naïve than the Jewish law, prophets, and writings. Islam never had a queen who made it her life's mission to eradicate Islam and replace it with some other religion. Islam has not been tempered the way Christianity and Judaism have been – Islam is hard, but it is more brittle than religions that must rely upon their wits rather than brute force.

Within Christianity, the “Enlightenment” came in reaction to the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly the Thirty Years' War and the English Civil War. Judaism was visited with the trauma of Shabbatai Zevi. Islam has not gone through such trauma, at least not yet. The Syrian Civil War may yet become the kind of trauma that kills off the zealots and forces those Muslims who survive to see where they are headed so they can choose another path.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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