How Current Christianity Can Deal With The Current Culture

I’ve discussed here before the recent book, The Benedict Option, by Rod Dreher. Dreher has become a celebrity writer speaking at such power spots as the National Press Club. A national columnist calls it the most important book on religion is recent decades

The link explains some of his thinking. He studied a prominent figure from back in time named Benedict.  (Not the recent Pope) That Benedict lived during a similar time when the culture was bombarding church. His theory was that to preserve what was left of the faith the faithful needed to isolate themselves from the culture. This preserved faith would then reemerge when times changed again. Without this preservation there would be no faith to return to.

Author Dreher has concluded the faith’s so called culture wars, wars against gay equality, abortion and atheism have been lost. The most productive thing is not to continue a lost cause but to preserve the faith as it stands now.

We know monasteries were the answer in other times. Isolation and study tried to preserved the faith.

Today, Dreher does not see that happening. Instead he longs for small communities, even within big cities, where the faithful live next to each other and attend a church in their midst. He personally wants to live in such a place where he is accepted.

Say what you will about Dreher’s book and ideas, he is doing what needs to be done. Someone in the faith needs to find a way to deal with change. Few are doing anything.

37 Responses

  1. entech

    Someone in the faith needs to find a way to deal with change. Few are doing anything.

    Jon, sorry to have to keep correcting you like this. There are a few that write to your blog that are doing there best, they want to deal with change by reversing it – Matt would probably bring back the inquisition if he could.

    1. entech 8:23 here are a few that write to your blog that are doing there best, they want to deal with change by reversing it – Matt would probably bring back the inquisition if he could.

      I admit I did not recognize the valiant effort of those like Matt who are of the party called, “Stop Change By Demonizing Those Who Accept It.”

    1. Ervin 9:30 Secularism and relativism are totally fleeting, after our brief blip of mortality, only faith in God is significance

      I’m afraid you have it backwards. So far as we know, secularism has been here since the beginning of human beings. Nonbelief never changes. People just don’t believe there is an invisible god or gods floating around somewhere.

      It is religions like you Catholics which are fleeting. There has been a Catholic god for only about 1/2 of one percent of the entire time humans have been here. The other 99+% of the time people who worshiped gods other than the Catholic god.

      Experience is a great teacher. It teaches us any one particular god is fleeting.

      1. nemo82

        secularism has been here from the beginning? come now, Jon, even you can’t really believe that. Secularism is a modern, largely 18th century notion (altho. one could argue that it had its roots in the render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s injunction). I doubt that any ancient tribe has even the vaguest idea of what we now call secularism. As far as we know they all seem to have had gods of some sort, pantheist gods mostly, myths (in the strong sense of the word) that explained the universe and the tribe’s place in it. Sure there were avowed atheists in the Greco-Roman world (e.g. Lucretius) but they were the exception not the rule. And sure gods come and go, as you say. Does that mean that atheism will someday disappear as well?.
        .

        1. nemo82 10:14 secularism has been here from the beginning? come now, Jon, even you can’t really believe that.

          Yes I can. I’m afraid the Catholic dogma you like to read has misinformed you. Before written material we can’t be sure of many things. From cave drawing we believe people believed in spiritual beings. Since from the written material there were atheists it is fair to project backwards there were doubters from the beginning. That is to say, ever since people made up gods in the heads there were other who could not find them in their own heads.

          “The exception rather than the rule.” Of course it was and remains the exception. Atheists are outcasts. Duh?

          A simple look at Wikipedia shows your Catholic dogma is incorrect:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_atheism

          1. nemo82

            I really haven’t the slightest idea as to what “Catholic dogma” has to do with this discussion. Seems to me that the presence of atheists in pre-historic or ancient societies is highly conjectural. Certainly, there may have been doubters around in the Stone Age: if so, they didn’t leave any records for posterity. There is also some reason to believe that there may have been proto-atheists in Jewish society. And, of course, many functional atheists in Greco-Roman society (e.g. Pilate may have been one of them). Be that as it may, all the archeological evidence that I have been privy to indicates that early/ancient man had some sort of what we would now call a pervasive “religion”. And please knock off the Catholic dogma crap. Apparently you think that I am some kind of idiot who has no knowledge other than spoon fed by the church. (BTW, I may be an idiot but certainly not in your sense of the word).

          2. nemo82 I agree when we talk of what rattled around in the brains of prehistoric man we are speculating. We do know that since the written word became available we have had humans who saw a god in their minds and others who did not. I was projecting that backwards in time.

            Now, when we get to the sentence, “In the beginning there was the word,” we have nothing, not even current experience, to justify such a statement. So, I give myself a passing grade about prehistoric atheism, though it is speculative.

          3. nemo82

            read your Wikipedia piece. nothing new there. many of the folks that you call atheists were mostly Deists (to use the now accepted term), Aristotle among them. Moreover, most of the early tribal gods were pantheistic gods, not transcendental gods in the modern sense of the word. There is also some question as to whether there was some sense of a transcendent god behind the ancient myths (as in the Native American notion of a Great Spirit or the Greek notion of an unknown God. As to the Buddhism a I think that the jury is out on that one. Got to run now.

        2. nemo82

          If gods come and go (as they obviously do) why can’t we think that atheism might someday disappear as well. Seems logical to me. Unless, of course, you believe– that as the poor benighted Christians believe (Christ will reign in the end)– that atheism will inevitably triumph in the universe.

          1. nemo82 5:06 If gods come and go (as they obviously do) why can’t we think that atheism might someday disappear as well.

            Of course it might. But, who would notice? If Christianity dies or becomes a small version of its present self, it would be an understatement to say things would change.

            For several years the demographics of Christianity have changed and continue to change. It is getting smaller. The decline looks like it is increasing. We can’t predict for certain the future but by any objective observation it looks like the decline will continue.

            This blog is about someone who is trying figure out what to do. He is working on this because no one else is doing much. Here on this blog discussion page none of our Christian posters is interested in addressing the cultural change in any meaningful way. This is the national approach by Christians, put blinders on and pretend nothing has changed.

  2. nemo82

    BTW Jon. were you referring to St Benedict as Pope Benedict. Or to Benedict 16?. If the former, you are in error. St Benedict of Benedictine monasticism fame was not Pope.

    1. Jinx II

      I got a warning from my computer system about your linked website kev, so no thanks. I don’t believe your statement anyway.

      1. Jinx II

        Thanks for the note.

        I linked it from the post on my phone.

        I’ve had it beta tested on smart phones and from my computer no issues yet.

        The probability of GOD is based on a cosmic energy analysis involving dark energy, dark matter, visible energy, and visible matter down to humans. What results is the probability that aliens don’t exist, but some supreme energy or power does. It’s up to each of us to define what that post is.

        The new physics model also resolves several other issues in current theory.

        kev

      2. Jinx II

        My computer won’t even let me open it from the post. I can cut and paste it to google and it uploads without issues.

        Thanks again,

        I’m new and all this website building. Two professional website builders declined to help me.

        kev

        1. Jinx II

          There is new Google Docs. virus popping up in the last few days. I have a sophisticated, Linux system computer system set up by my hacker relatives and when it warns me about a link I listen.

          I will not attempt to open it in any way.

    2. entech

      If as you say “in all probability GOD exists and existed before the big bang”we have two scenarios:
      1. The universe was created by some creator entity; the creation of the universe was the beginning of space and time. The creator must necessarily exist outside of space and time. Unless we have succession of creators creating each other and universes back to the beginning of ‘whenever’??? This creator must in itself be eternal.
      This can only speculate on the nature of such an entity and goes nowhere towards justifying any given religious/theological theory. It is a long way from here to fish on Friday.
      2. Whatever the substance of the universe is it has always existed. The substance, some kind of matter/energy combination that can change from one to the other (E=Mc2 ). Whatever the laws governing the interchange are is partially known and may or may not be knowable.
      To state that “The probability of GOD is based on a cosmic energy analysis involving dark energy, dark matter, visible energy, and visible matter down to humans. What results is the probability that aliens don’t exist, but some supreme energy or power does. It’s up to each of us to define what that post is.” (“post”? position perhaps, or accept whatever we think is the most plausible explanation) is rather close to begging the question in that the probability of God is taken as given and then physics is stated to point towards it being the most likely answer.

      Although I am happy to live with the standard model of physics as being the best explanation available at the moment we need to recognise that we can know nothing before the “Big Bang”. My own view is that whatever the matter of existence is it has always been there, there are many problems with this materialist view I agree. The alternative is that some creator started it all of with a “big bang”. Although we know nothing, can know nothing, before the beginning of the spatio/temporal relationship in which we live the possibility that it suddenly sprang into existence from nothing and nowhere is incomprehensible.

      A universe created by an eternal creator or a universe as one way of being for an eternal energy (for want of a better word) are equally improbable but one of them must be reality. I admit there may be possibilities I cannot imagine or am unaware of.

      PS. Your site does not seem to have legs or wings, it does not reach Australia at all.

      1. entech 9:07 PS. Your site does not seem to have legs or wings, it does not reach Australia at all.

        It is not reaching many, or any, areas. I think God decided against showing it to people.

        1. Jon,

          I think it’s the Bill Gates philosophy of business. Sell people programs that are 60% functional and then charge them upgrades for the next 40%, but launch a new version at 80% upgraded. It makes billions!

          kev

  3. nemo82

    Jon 1249. I am puzzled by your reference to the opening lines of John’s gospel. In the beginning was the Word is certainly a reference to Jesus. Moreover, “word” is a reference to wisdom, reason, etc. It is properly translated as Logos, the meaning of which is expressed in the frequent appearance of “ology” in so many of our words, scientific, theological, philosophical and otherwise. And in the word logic.

  4. Catcher

    Topic title; ” How current Christianity can deal with the current culture”: Stick with the Ten Commandments, and the Nicene Creed.

    1. Catcher 5:21 Topic title; ” How current Christianity can deal with the current culture”: Stick with the Ten Commandments, and the Nicene Creed.

      I think that is what is being done. No one sees it as a successful challenge to cultural change.

      1. Catcher

        @ 5’37; Why do you say :challenge”? It need not be a “challenge”. There has always been diverse beliefs. Do you feel challenged? I don’t feel challenged by non-belief, even on this adversarial site.

      2. Catcher

        @ 5;37; “I think that is what is being done.” Actually, in some circles, it isn’t being done at all. Some of the most “challenged” are non-creedal. In fact, about ten years ago, a retired Baptist minister moved in about three houses from me. We had many interesting conversations. He told me at his last church, they had never heard of the Nicene Creed, and were barely familiar with the Apostles Creed and their content.

  5. nemo82

    Jon 535. Fundamentally, I don’t disagree with your latest post. Of course, Christianity is shrinking in the so-called developed world. But growing in Africa and even in China. Not the first time something like this has happened: Christianity mostly wiped in No. Africa in the 7th century. The real issue, however, is how Christians are to “deal” with the increasing secularism in the western world. The short (but long term) answer is to go underground in much the same way that Catholicism went underground in England during Elizabeth’s time. And I can see a time, perhaps a generation or two hence, when Christianity will be actively persecuted in western society. Now, I am sure that this gloomy forecast (gloomy from my perspective, that is) will warm the cockles of your old atheist heart. But we can’t duck what appears to be the reality of things, now can we?

  6. Rob

    Shocking that a religion wouldn’t turn to an atheist for advice on how to run the religion.

    1. Rob 8:37 Shocking that a religion wouldn’t turn to an atheist for advice on how to run the religion.

      Interesting you should say that–I’ve often had the same thought about religious people. I’ve had advice about 36 times here from Christians on what I should do about my religious life. I did not ask for this advice, it was given because those Christians thought it would be helpful. It is, of course, that I should repent before I die.

      Then there are the millions of Christians who want to be helpful by insisting meetings by government entities should start with a prayer to Jesus.

      Actually the links I refer to, such as the one in this blog, when I write articles critical of Christianity are written by Christians. There are wise Christians who can see the faith needs to change in order to reach new “post Christian” generations.

        1. Rob 8:57 If it’s any consolation, I don’t care if you repent or not.

          That’s progress. Now, it only all your Christian colleagues would agree we need no prayers to Jesus at public meetings nor references to a god in our pledge and on our money we would get somewhere.

          1. Jon,

            I agree no need for a god in the pledge, on money, prayers at public meetings. We need gods completely out of government, but let our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights stand so that our Republic lives on.

          2. kev 9:52 I agree no need for a god in the pledge, on money, prayers at public meetings.

            That’s great. Catcher would agree–most other Christians like to put religion into our laws, national symbols and ceremonies. I think if there were a nation-wide vote to super impose the cross on our flag a majority would vote for it.

          3. Jon,

            I’m not a christian. I despise all religions just like GOD does.

            As far as the flag vote, Trump didn’t win by much, and if you combined all that didn’t vote for him it would lose.

            I was not allowed to vote because I wouldn’t enter a christian fortification to vote, I was forced to choose between religion and GOD. I chose GOD.

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