Sunday, August 20, 2006

Religious Passion and Modernism

Last week as I traveled across a land entry to the United States I noticed that the officer seemed tense and preoccupied. Amazingly American Customs/Immigration officers are usually relaxed and friendly. Perhaps it is part of putting a person at ease so that more truthful answers come – I’m not sure. After my journey was complete I learned of the disruption of the terrorist plot in London. Was I ever glad I was driving that day, and not flying!

On cue the head scratching began in the media. These were young men who were born in England. And one was not of foreign extraction, but was a convert to the religion. Then, the now too commonplace talk about extremism and youthful alienation, but underneath one hears an unsettled befuddlement.

Truly the transformation of young British lads into terrorists is sad. But perhaps sadder still is the fact that our ruling elites, in government and media, operate on an assumption, a myth if you will, that modernism is so attractive that anyone who comes in contact with it, anyone especially who is raised in modernism, will be infected by it. But perhaps the infection works the other way.

The bacillus of tuberculosis is surrounded by a waxy substance that protects it from being killed even by many harsh chemicals. For this reason it can survive and slowly multiply in many environments. The waxy shell can even preserve the bacillus from the digestive capacity of human white cells, so that, when it first enters a human the white cells ingest it, but, inside the white cell it may live, and even multiply, and eventually eat the white cell from the inside.

The medieval religion has a strong, almost impervious shell around it, which, for want of a better word I will simply call religious passion, an absolute single minded conviction of being right.

Our elites have smugly assumed that the white cells of modernism can mop up this--and other--religious passions. Progress, modernism teaches, is inevitable. Hence, a medieval religion, with its belief in the supernatural, a code of conduct, authoritarian government, and a rejection of the very category of the secular, will, when exposed to modernism, be assimilated. But, to our elites' horror, the medieval religion is eating away at modernism from the inside. And the toys of modernism, its cell phones, chemicals, and its airplanes, are used to mock it by turning them into weapons.

So, if we, the evangelical elite, are sitting back hoping that these folks who have immigrated will just wake up and smell the coffee in our wonderful land, we too have bought into the myth of modernity. Do we think that if they just hang around long enough eventually they will wander into one of our rock and roll praise services and accept Jesus? Perhaps its time for us to wake up and smell the coffee.

What is to be done? Well, to start, I am right now reading the holy book of the medieval religion. I hope to have read it cover to cover by late fall. That is how I am starting. Why? Because I need to get serious about having intelligent, meaningful conversations about God with these folks. And I suspect that when others, perhaps hundreds our thousands,also begin such conversations,we will discover how shallow our modernist and our post-modernist apologetic are, and then perhaps we will begin a new hermeneutical journey and the design of a relevant apologetic.

In my blogs I am trying to raise questions, rather than give solutions. I am thinking out loud, which as I understand it is part of what blogs are for. I invite any who stumble across this to join in this thinking.