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Globalism & Christianity

The strange (but necessary) ecumenism of anti-modern Christians

From the Perceptio blog, these challenging remarks about how the Catholic Church leadership embraced globalism. The blog’s author says that Catholics who think their Church’s embrace of globalism at the senior level is something that arose with Pope Francis are mistaken. Excerpts:

Francis is following along John Paul II’s trajectory. The historical record does not leave much room to interpret otherwise and only carefully applied amnesia can help us find any other conclusion. What is unique is that where previously neo-conservatives found the Roman Church open to globalism, Francis has successfully presented globalism as aligned with the concerns of liberals who opposed it a decade and a half ago.

It is advisable to avoid any allegations of conspiracy in this area, where incompetence can easily provide explanation. In virtue of the developments under Pope Pius XII, the Roman Church finds itself fully participating in globalism through its financial holdings. It is not a conspiracy that Catholicism offered an open avenue for full acceptance of globalism. Rather, it is the inability to step back from the institution’s stakes in the venture to provide some prospective.  Much like the adoption of modernity at Vatican II, the Roman Church believes it can pick and choose what it wishes from globalism. Sixty years ago the dominant thought was that there was “good modernity” and “bad modernity” and the Roman Church could become thoroughly modern and safeguard itself from disruption be choosing the “good modernity.” Soon thereafter it would be discovered that “modernity is modernity” and once you open an entire religion to that perception of reality, you effectively adopt modernity in toto. Similarly, the last three pontiffs have operated on the presumption that  Roman Catholicism could pick and choose what it likes from globalism.

Much like modernity, globalism is an all or nothing proposition. The difference, perhaps, is that in this instance we are living contemporaries with the engineers of globalism. We live among the entities and interests that have forged globalism and end point of society and economy it envisions – it is one in which the traditional religions of the West are increasingly obsolete and  are opposed to the new definition of humanity presented in this new system of things. It is a profound indication of failure on the part of ecclesiastical authorities that adherents (in large part) have so thoroughly succumbed to many of the greater cultural propositions embedded in globalism, both material and (even) spiritual. It is a thorough condemnation of the poor reasoning among ecclesiastical authorities that gambled (once again) on being able to mediate the impact of all encompassing worldview which seeks to displace any remnants of the former cultural paradigm and, in so far as it can, create a new referent for matters of religion and spirituality as part of a redefinition of humanity and culture.

The author goes on to say that this is not simply a problem in the Roman church, but also in Mainline Christianity, and, among the Orthodox, the Greeks in particular.

The adoption of globalism and (among Western churches) the prior adoption of modernism, test notions of the indefectibility of the church. Although doctrinal statements may not necessarily be at issue (in so far as it is not a matter of mass apostasy), nevertheless, the notion that ecclesiastical authorities could willingly choose to adopt systems with embedded hostility to Christian dogma and anthropology, and furthermore persist in failing to recognize the impact such adoption has had upon their religion, brings most adherents to a crisis point in relation to their ecclesiastical structure. The perception that comes to mind seems to suggest that the ecclesia can err and err severely. The institutional structure is either bereft of the surety that the adherent expects for continued observance, or the surety persists, with culpability being assigned to external factors or select elements in the institutional structure (the passing of which will enable revitalization of the institution). More often than not, it is a cross denominational segment of believers who come together in their willingness to deviate from the institutional line and persist in the criticism of failure in leadership that has resulted Christianity being engulfed by a system that would displace it as it seeks to displace every remnant of the older of things.

This is not to say that future of Christianity involves a loss of its institutional make-up. That is simply not how religions work. It is to suggest that Christianity has no future worth pursuing if the cross-denominational criticism of globalism and modernity does not result in a cross-denominational movement to rediscover and re-implement the praxis of Christianity.

Read the whole thing.  In other words, the Benedict Option, and an antimodern ecumenism particular to the Ben Op. The idea of an “antimodern ecumenism” is a weird one, given that the ecumenical movement is an expression of ecclesiastical modernism. Ben Op ecumenism, as I see it, involves traditionalists (or at least anti-modernists) within the various churches choosing to hold to their denominational and ecclesial particulars, while at the same time working together, when possible, to support each other, recognizing that in the post-Christian West, we all face a common threat that’s much greater than any threat we pose to each other.

Christianity, obviously, is a global religion. God does not love Americans more than He loves Russians, or Chinese, or any other people. Christianity understands itself as having a mandate to convert the world. So what is “globalism” then, if it’s a threat? Broadly speaking, it’s “globalism” in the sense of the old customs, traditions, and verities being abandoned for the cause of assimilating into a global order hostile to Christianity (and to traditional religion in general). Are there racists, hysterical nationalists, and various far-right nuts among anti-globalist Christians? Yes, just as there are plenty of far-left nuts among Christians who generally embrace globalism. This fact, however unpleasant, does not settle the very real issues that globalism and modernism — religious and otherwise — pose the the survival of the Christian faith.

I think we should all recognize, at the very least, that the present cultural and geopolitical moment, and the age we are now entering, pose rather different questions than the one we have very recently left. The main questions are: Can modernist Christianity survive in liquid modernity? If not, what form, or forms, of Christianity can?  And how can they avoid their Christianity being destroyed by reaction? 

Again, very broadly speaking, and jumping off of the Zygmunt Bauman essay I linked to in that last paragraph, it’s going to have to be a Christianity that teaches us, not only abstractly but in our practices, that we are not tourists in this life, but pilgrims. We Christians used to know that.



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