Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Youthful Maturity vs. Aging Adolescence

In my talks this month, I am repeating something I said in one of the talks last year, namely that in Christianity maturation and rejuvenation go hand-in-hand. We grow in wisdom and age and we grow more childlike at the same time. The secular parody of this -- to grow simultaneously older and more adolescent at the same time -- is on full display in a myriad of ways.

This came to mind this morning when I read over a few things I saw on the internet.

In a morning column, the economist Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University said:
"Experience" is often just a fancy word for the mistakes that we belatedly realized we were making, only after the realities of the world made us pay a painful price for being wrong.

Those who are insulated from that pain-- whether by being born into affluence or wealth, or shielded by the welfare state, or insulated by tenure in academia or in the federal judiciary-- can remain in a state of perpetual immaturity. . . .

Even people born into normal lives, but who have been able through talent or luck to escape into a world of celebrity and wealth, can likewise find themselves in the enviable position of being able to choose whether to grow up or not.
This morning as well, Juan Cole, an American professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history, as if to prove Sowell’s point, wrote an article for the widely read online journal Salon, entitled:

What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick

The rambling and predictable article ended with the following sentence:
You can't say you are waging a war on religious extremism if you are trying to put a religious extremist a heartbeat away from the presidency.
It’s the moral equivalency instinct that is triggered by any sense that the ideological bubble is being threatened by realities the ideology can no longer wish away.

Alas, however, Professor Cole is himself a religious man. In the middle of his article, for instance, he puts his professional erudition on display by observing:
As for global warming, green theology, in which Christians and Muslims appeal to Scripture in fighting global warming, is an increasing tendency in both traditions.
Green Theology.

His mistake here, as his co-religionists will have pointed out to him by now, was to use the now-retired term “global warming.” Statistics now show that the earth has been cooling for the last number of years, and, not to be deterred from their faith by facts such as these, the green theologians have renamed the apocalypse. It is now called “climate change,” a way of hedging one’s bets as to which direction that change might take.

On the question of “climate change,” I’m neutral, but on the question of “Green Theology,” I’ll go out on a limb. It’s further evidence of the spiritual crisis among those who fall under G. K. Chesterton’s withering observation that: “When a Man stops believing in God he doesn't then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

1 comment:

Kevin said...

To make this a bit more even handed let me begin by stating clearly and without reservation that Abortion is an evil. It is the destruction of a human life and the circumstances of conception or the physical defects of the child change nothing. On this Dr. Cole is sadly mistaken and shows a lack of understanding of why abortion is so abhorrent to many people of faith.
Other than that I happen to firmly agree with him. Teaching Creationism/Intelligent Design in schools is teaching religion. You have said yourself that all Christianity asks of it's host culture is the freedom to obey the word of God. We cannot demand for ourselves what we will not provide to another. Therefore I want taught what can be deduced from evidence or proven by experimentation taught as science. To set the teaching of a 6,000 year old Earth alongside science is to deny the truth contained both in our faith and in science.
Religion and government have been linked before and we have seen the evils that can bring forth. Perhaps it is up to us Christians alive now to find a way to allow for faith to guide us to proper care of our fellow humans without enforcing canons with cannons. If there is a way, Palin's way is not it.
Finally may I suggest then as one who agrees with you on a great deal, that perhaps the distaste for modern "thoughts de jour" might be colouring your judgement with regards to climate change? If you do not wish to enter into the fray on global warming that is fine. If you wish to enter into that issue please consider that the same firms who once lobbied on behalf of tobacco companies are also working to muddy the waters on climate change. I doubt their reasons for helping here are altruistic.

Take care Gil. Congratulations on your daughter's wedding. St. Paul said it all, said it well and we would do well to remember.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,