Everybody's Got One A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
As modern men and women - to the degree that we are modern - we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasten to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives.
[W]hat is the consequence, then, when Christianity, as a living historical force, recedes? We have no need to speculate, as it happens; modernity speaks for itself: with the withdrawal of Christian culture, all the glories of the ancient world that it baptized and redeemed have perished with it in the general cataclysm. Christianity is the midwife of nihilism, not because it is itself nihilistic, but because it is too powerful in its embrace of the world and all of the world's mystery and beauty; and so to reject Christianity now is, of necessity, to reject everything except the barren anonymity of spontaneous subjectivity. As Ivan Karamazov's Grand Inquisitor tells Christ, the freedom that the gospel brings is too terrible to be borne indefinitely. Our sin makes us feeble and craven, and we long to flee from the liberty of the sons of God; but where now can we go?
[T]he only choice that remains for the children of post-Christian culture is not whom to serve, but whether to serve Him whom Christ has revealed or to serve nothing - the nothing. No third way lies open for us now, because - as all of us now know, whether we acknowledge it consciously or not - all things have been made subject to Him, all the thrones and dominions of the high places have been put beneath His feet, until the very end of the world, and - simply said - there is no other god.
(Selections from a very long and finely argued instruction.)
More and more, the sign of Jonah seems to me an inescapably apt one for Christians in a post-Christian world. If we run from Nineveh, where can we go?
But what if the sailors on this foundering ship truly believe in nothing? They don't cast lots to discover our responsibility for the storm that threatens us all, and sacrifice us overboard to restore their gods' moral economy; we're not swallowed up, and then spewed out on the very shore we sought to avoid. What, not just of ourselves, but of that great city, and of the thousands that don't know their right hand from their left?
Do we have cause to be angry?
posted by Kelly |