Reports from the Ent Wald

"I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me." -- Treebeard

"Who can stop what must arise now?
Something new is waiting to be born" -- Robert Hunter

Dreher writes:
It would be absurd to claim that Christian civilization ever achieved a golden age of social harmony and sexual bliss. It is easy to find eras in Christian history when church authorities were obsessed with sexual purity. But as Rieff recognizes, Christianity did establish a way to harness the sexual instinct, embed it within a community, and direct it in positive ways.

What makes our own era different from the past, says Rieff, is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.

Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.
Rieff, a secularist, understood the point I have been making here. In my estimate, the old order is not coming back, because old orders never do come back. And there are reasons they fade: what was once living faith turns into dogma, what was once a natural unity turns into persecution of those who question it, and so on.

But the Enlightenment is only a reaction, an attack on the old order. It is the analogue of the skeptical philosophies that arose as the pagan world order ceased to attract belief. It has no new order to put in the place of the order it is tearing down. That new order is waiting to be born.


  1. It sure seems to me that our benevolent, politically correct rulers have picked out a individual-impulse-restraining cultural framework to replace Christianity a few generations down the road, although not immediately (presumably, these grandees don't want to have live under it themselves). No prize for guessing what it is.


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