Religion in America is Losing its Mind—Which it May Never Have Had
by Gregory Drobny
That’s a click-baity title, I know. But I hope it works.
I hope it invokes a great deal of emotion that makes you bring an already-held belief into this article and that you’ve already made up your mind that you’ll either hate it or love it and act upon that.
Because that’s what we do with religion in this country, right? Whether you’re a believer, an agnostic, atheist, or somewhere in between all of that, the U.S. of A. is a fantastic place of pre-held notions of “truth” in the matters of religion—I know I’m right and you’re wrong, so I just have to prove it to you, probably by shouting and calling you stupid (which seems to be most effective).
Reason? Rational thought? Nuanced understanding? Pssshaaaw, that’s lame. Why would I do that when we all clearly know that Catholics/Protestants/Atheists/Jews/Muslims are WRONG! And I obviously know I’m right—because I was taught better!
Or so it goes, anyway.
I’d like to think the above is me being sarcastic. But the honest truth is that this type of thought permeates nearly all discussion in this country when it comes to religion, but even more so when politics mixes in with it.
The recent event with Covington High School is just the most recent example of an ongoing problem in this country the human condition—we do a pretty fantastic job of making up our minds before we even have them and then ruling out the possibility we could be wrong a priori.
Scott Faith already did a fantastic job of highlighting the lunacy of that story, so far be it from me to steal any of that thunder. It’s perfect. But being who I am, I like digging even deeper and noting the cultural significance of all of this.
We like to think we’re all “tolerant” on religious matters in this country. After all, it was way back then that people were burning others at the stake, launching crusades, or holding inquisitions. Those were barbaric times and we’ve evolved since then. We have the First Amendment!
Right? Can I get an amen? Or an atheist high-five equivalent?
Except we really haven’t changed that much. Even those who ought to know better are heading down the path least redeemable.
The “leadership” at the Catholic school in question showed just how deeply modern, progressive values have entrenched in what is arguably one of the most ancient and conservative institutions on earth. They so rapidly pounced upon the Social Justice narrative that they forgot their own past.
As I indicated above, however, this is indicative of something bigger. Look at Roman Catholic leadership as a whole over the last several decades—they can’t decide which way is up. There is so much information out there that easily disproves most of the myths about Roman Catholicism over the centuries, but Catholic leadership is far more concerned about appearing hip, cool, and covering up a nasty problem than they are with fulfilling its role while educating people about its past.
But isn’t this the problem in America writ large? We’d rather get on board the current bandwagon than have any kind of nuanced understanding of our past that helps us be better both individually and as a country.
We would rather cave in to pressure at even the slightest accusation of “racism!” than understand the dangers of what that type of mentality has led to in our own past.
We would rather acquiesce to demands for “separation of church and state” at every possible turn than to gain a historical appreciation of that concept’s origin and what it should have meant.
We would rather blame some made-up bogeyman like “white, patriarchal Christianity” for the supposed evils of “toxic masculinity” than have any knowledge whatsoever about ancient teachings on this very subject.
Sadly, religious people are at the heart of many of these problems. Protestant’s discrimination of Catholics and Christianity in general perverting its own purpose for the sake of social movements has a long history in this country. From Baptists becoming T-totallers for the sake of marketing to a Pope more concerned with climate change and the supposed evils of Capitalism than with the traditional teachings of his own Church, Christian leaders have often spearheaded the very movements that become the Church’s undoing.
Religion seems to be more about populism than it does about, well, what it’s supposed to be.
And this is where it gets tricky because I use “religion” in the title of this article in the broad sense—because, rest assured, progressivism, SJW-ism, and a whole host of others most certainly are religions. We are, at our core, religious in nature, and we behave religiously—even atheistic and supposedly “liberal” activists who claim otherwise.
Skeptical? Would learning that one of the prominent leaders of modern Progressivism has issued “11 Commandments” make you look at it differently? How about if you found out that they are crucifying people as heretics for speaking the truth (and obvious ones, at that)? Or what if there is ample evidence of ignoring the sins of their leaders simply because they are not “the other”?
We could go on, of course, but I think the point is clear, and I think it indicates a direction that we don’t really want to admit—namely, that along with the rise of the “nones” (those who claim “none” affiliation with any religious body), we have seen a simultaneous rise in religious, zealotry-like devotion to political and social causes, costs be damned.
The kid in the MAGA hat supposedly smirking at a Native American is merely an example of an ongoing phenomenon. We see an icon (religious symbol), we fit it into our pre-existing narrative (mythos and logos, as it were), and we either venerate it or crucify it (sacramental actions). Whether it’s a Christian baker refusing to make a cake, a Trump Tweet, or a Supreme Court nomination, we dive in with the conviction of transcendent truth while believing that we’ll be a genuine martyr if rebuked.
So what’s the answer to the madness?
I was recently conversing with some Christians who are avowed Democratic Socialists about their reasoning (without arguing their points, I simply sought clarification). They informed me that, because the Apostles in the Book of Acts lived communally and shared their wealth, we should embrace this concept of socialism.
It apparently never occurred to them to start with their own parishes and local churches or the people on their own street. Have you talked to your neighbors about your ideology, or are you simply shouting about it on social media and seeking to use the All-Mighty Government to force it down their throat so you don’t have to have conversations with actual people who may change your way of thinking?
In other words, if you’re not attempting to enact change on your street, then I’m not going to take your religious convictions seriously. If you are only using anonymous interwebz preaching and by-proxy force, your faith is a sham, and I’m going to call you out on it.
Therein lies the difference between actual Transcendent Truth and the modern American faux fide—the former enlightens us of deep, timeless wisdom regarding the human condition and underlies the greatest thinking in the history of mankind. The latter is a flash in the pan that accomplishes little more than the incitement of emotion for a short period of time and leaves its adherents hollow and less than human.
Work toward becoming a human who understands the human condition. The truths that will lead you to will be profound, and that Anthropos goes beyond our Modern Project and its religious affectations.
In other words, do less shouting and more deep thought. But I’m sure you already know that, or you wouldn’t be reading The Havok Journal.
In a time of hyper-specialization, Gregory is an accomplished and educated generalist who understands that knowledge from a multitude of disciplines is necessary for true wisdom. A continuous wanderer and seeker of knowledge, he has worn three different colors of beret for the US Army and worked in everything from metal fabrication, music, and bar tending to politics and publishing while on a constant search for life’s meaning.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal January 24, 2019.