Sunday, June 2, 2013

Western Decline - The Evangelical Factor

I freely admit that yesterday's post pushed the upper limit of broad generalization, but my intention was to look far ahead into the future. Barring a real awakening of Western thought and a restoration of its values, the people of the West are likely to cling to the pitiful fragments of their national identities,or of Western Culture in general, until the end. This too has occurred time and again in history. Like the Romans and Greeks that went through the motions of their timeworn ways as the entire system devolved into something barely recognizable, the French nobility and Church kept a firm grip on the statuses of their familial titles and lands even as the economy of their nation clearly needed reform. Big changes were on the horizon but they were ignored. A lesser noble could easily be more mired in poverty than his peasant neighbor, but a status derived from the days when a cheap system of administration (Feudalism) was the rule, was too much to give up. Many of the nobles who had it really easy thought that they and their descendants would always be able to fritter way their lives in frivolity (With occasional military service) at Versailles. The consequence was a revolution that slaughtered more peasants than well-off people and has ultimately given France no less than five constitutions in less than the time that the US has had one.

Father's and Mother's Day, along with Easter and Christmas, are on the way out of school observances in the US. Filling in the void left by the gradual but steady abandonment of Catholicism and Mainline Fundamentalism, the rise of Evangelical and Fundamentalist ("Evangelical" will be used here to mean both) Christianity brings an outlook that strikes at the core of Western Culture almost as thoroughly as do Leftism, Atheism, and Islam. While the former certainly does not engage in suppressing Christianity itself, it does in fact create a  quite different picture of Christian thought, one that changes core Christian beliefs and has no room whatsoever for any cultural practice or tradition that is not directly related to Christianity. The annual campaign against Halloween is one example that illustrates how Evangelicals will use their growing  influence to bar yet another tradition from schools. This occurs even oustside the schools. A few years ago, one church group successfully petitioned a town council in New Jersey to prohibit trick-or-treating on October 31st since it fell on a Sunday that year. Bowing to the pressure, the town council decreed in Newspeak that trick-or -treating would be allowed on Monday November 1st.

-For the record, there in fact an number of Evangelical who are more than reasonable in how they treat other Christians and civil society as  whole. This is intended to look at the general Evangelical mindset in how it applies to Western Culture..

Although most Christians have no idea of this fact, Evangelical Christians speak a quite different language from that of the Orthodox, Mainline Protestants, and Catholics. When an Evangelical speak of being a Christian or born again, what he means has a world of difference from what is imagined. The doctrinal separation of  Baptism from the act of becoming a Christian (Derived from a 16th century concoction,  this makes Baptism only a mere post-belief formality to Evangelicals), tears the outlook of the believer from two millennia of Christian belief and tradition. Imbued with  fiercely proud attitude that he made his decision to become a Christian on his own, he is also strangely locked into a world in which his local pastor functions with more of a practical infallibility than the Pope (The Pope only very rarely exercises infallibility). This "my pastor says" stance is not to be challenged by anyone; that is of course, until he and only he decides that his pastor is wrong and starts going to another Evangelical church.  This attitude, coupled with the position that to be a believer one must hold that his belief is permanent and guarantees heaven (If you hold that God allows you to depart from a state of belief, then to an Evangelical you were never a Christian in the first place), makes for a bully-like personality - one that gives the believer license to dictate terms to just about everyone with whom he is in contact. Neighbors, coworkers, supervisors, school and civic traditions - none are out of his jurisdiction.

Evangelicals have no use for anything that predates Christianity. Childrens stories of mythical creatures are anathema, and pre-Christian heroes and historical figures, or even Christians from history that did not expressly promote the Evangelical manner of Christian teaching, are treated as if they did not exist. The only exception to this is the peculiar 1984-like affinity among certain Evangelicals for relabeling Classical-era Christians as their own. St. Augustine of Hippo, St, Patrick, and St. Athanasius of Alexandria are three of their favorite choices for makovers - their actual writings notwithstanding. Like the Inner Party newspaper editors of 1984, too many  Evangelicals also display a willingness to recast all sorts of Christians, Christian groups, or pseudo-Christian sects from centuries past as old versions of them - the histories of Saint Patrick, the Donatists, Albigensians, Bogomils, and others are treated as if they can be changed like the color of paint in your kitchen.

With a Puritanical disdain for anything that "is not in the Bible" (What is said the Bible is also only what they allow it to mean), joined with a bizarre type of false witnessing for people and events of history, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists tend to constitute a group that plays little or no part in preserving Western Culture. Indeed, their outlook makes many of them quite averse to secular contributions. Western art (A Michelangelo or Greek nude is a scandal to them) , music (They don't dwell much on the great composers), legends and literature (Try talking about Beowulf,  Xenophonpre-Christian beliefs in Europeor Alfred the Great versus the Danes with one), political theory (they have no real use for Locke, Tocqueville,  Burke, or Montesquieu), actual history (Atheists paint virtually all of our Founders as semi-Atheistic Deists and Evangelicals make almost all of them devout and practicing Christians), and other facets of Western Culture that do not fit with the Evangelical world view are not worth any effort to discuss, let alone defend. Western Science? - They spend millions trying to prove that Evolution did not happen in any way, shape, or form.

As last note before I try to sleep, we must also take into account widespread Evangelical belief in a pre-millennial- pre-tribulational Rapture, a belief that is barely two hundred years old but in that time has become a core part of Evangelical thought. If the believer is actually a true believer, then he or she will never have to face the events that shake the world when it reaches its end. The Rapture doctrine (The word itself  is not in the Bible) teaches the believer to see himself as so separate from non-believers that he will be taken away body and soul with the low-profile Second Coming (Also a two hundred year old belief - The actual Second Coming will not be simply to rescue believers from the period of suffering). This tends to truly give the Evangelical not only an tremendous attitude of superiority, it also leaves him utterly unconcerned about the deterioration of his society and culture -these are merely the harbingers of the Rapture.

He has no appreciation for Western Culture in the first place, and he will probably be taken up before its collapse anyway, so why should he care?

As Western Socialism and creeps on and more leave Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism and flock to the Evangelical manner of Christianity,  there will be fewer and fewer defenders of Western Culture to meet the threat

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