A secular book accurately describes the thought of contemporary society, which is essentially anti-Christian.
A book that accurately sums up today's secularistic society
Charles Taylor wrote a thought-provoking book a few years ago which has aroused much of the Intelligentsia’s comments. A Secular Age addresses the problem that, if in 1500(AD) no one could disbelieve in God, in today’s age many find it inescapable to disbelieve in Him.
Our Western society has seen the incoming phenomenon of science, quickly raised to a divinity. Religious spirit gave way to scientific fact! But Taylor rejects this and opts for a balance of power under the name of secularization, where our nature has been revealed and enriched by all the cultural advances in science and art, including theology and religious practice (yes!). For him, these achievements did make it possible to construct a purely humanistic account of the meaningful life, free from God.
But this humanism brings up more demands on personal choices. Man does not fit docilely into a place in the cosmos under God’s providential eye, as described by Dante and our Catholic catechism. Set now in a world undisturbed by God, each one is made to take sides, to opt for faith as a personal choice, which leads to believing while doubting, like Thomas. Thus, while their ancestors were connected to an enchanted, transcendent order, the new generation feels trapped in a flat landscape with diminished dignity: Is this all there is? And so, they are like forced to recognize the “yearning for eternity”, in the cultural background of a galloping spiritual pluralism.
While the hardcore seculars still feel the pangs of the vacuum of God, the Orthodox believers suffer from a different tension: how to combine the main tenets of humanism with the central mysteries of their own faiths. Strangely enough, Taylor concludes triumphantly that their overcoming the stultification of the age of fundamentalism will bring about a magnificent spiritual achievement.
Obviously, this very secular and—to our Catholics ears—a scandalous piece of literature is describing the fast growth of laicization and Godless culture which has overtaken the West in the last decades.
But Taylor rightly recalls the Quincento—what happened in 1500 is the break of the Christian order, the Protestant revolution which had one single deranged monk challenge the Faith and the integral secular traditions of Christendom (that is, the various cultures were fully Christian—or informed by the Catholic Faith).
Luther’s great victory is to have turned half of Christendom away from what it had accepted until then without dispute, as a brilliant orator holding out the attractive offer of a free and automatic paradise, and to have compelled it to embrace this doctrine of a gratuitous salvation simply because he said he understood things better than anyone had before him. Private judgment therefore emerged as the source and origin of the Reformation, upon which all else depends. The arrival of Protestantism obliged Catholics to defend their faith and to protect the Bible and sacred traditions against the heretical incursions waged with pen and sword over the Western world.
The other major attack on our civilization and Christian culture was the one waged by the politicians and masterminds of the French Revolution (e.g., Freemasonry managed to gain influence even into the king’s court). It adopted the principles laid down by the false dreamer from Geneva, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, advocating liberty first without any rights or any limitations from society as if this was ever possible. Far from believing as self-evident that all men are created equal, it does not take much time for us to realize how unequal babies are even when only two days old: some are healthy and will be bright like their parents, some are born rich, others are the opposite.
The errors of the French Revolution continue...
But once the revolutionary trilogy was set as the new trinity—Liberty, Equality, Fraternity—the road was open to utter destruction of the established order, of both natural and acquired distinctions in society. No apprentice needed to obey the master, no child was obliged to listen to his parents, no ignorant pupil required a teacher: all were equal in rights and power, symbolized by democratic and universal suffrage. Thus, we have achieved the final goal of individualism, we are all mere atoms in the face of the all powerful State: the Leviathan of Hobbes.
The troublesome choices which our Catholic leaders have to make today are the consequences of the revolution basis of our present society, at the antipodes of Christian society. Our Catholic bishops have spoken against Obamacare (and rightly so) but argued from the standpoint of the liberty of conscience, that is to say, a liberty which defies God’s rights over human conscience and society. Now, speaking against the same-sex marriage (and rightly so), we are asked to defend marriage as recognized by States—thus because they accept the legitimacy of civil divorce, a flawed notion of matrimony. So we seem to be always fighting for a lesser of two evils.
There is little doubt that Catholics today are cogs in a huge wheel which is anything but the society created by God, restored by Christ and promoted by the popes of the last century. The wheels are turning fast and tighten surely the little remnant of natural rights and voice which are left to those who worship the only true God.