Monday, May 21, 2018

Some Thoughts à la Thomas Howard on Secularism

Chance or the Dance?
2nd Edition: A Critique of Modern Secularism 
Howard, Thomas.  
Ignatius Pr. Kindle Edition. 

"In any case, there is the situation: the old myth saw the world as image; the new sees it as a chance concatenation of physical events. This book is an attempt to describe how our experience might look if we looked at it once more under the terms of the old myth. Or, put another way, to observe some of the regions in which, probably unaware, we keep the old myth alive by acting as though it were at least useful in organizing our experience. In the way we handle experience, from ordinary conversation to social custom to poetry, painting, ceremony, sex, and ritual, we do obeisance to the old myth. Whether that obeisance is fanciful and superstitious or is an authentic index of the way things are is, of course, the big question. The modern world supposes that it is the former. This book supposes that it is the latter. God (or somebody) will have to let us know which is the case." (Kindle Locations 229-235). 

I have never really liked or understood the appellation "dark ages" as a designation of times pre-Enlightenment in Europe. While in my mode of living I would never think about going back to horse-and-buggy or dressing in the Victorian style, I still abhor much of the trajectory which the so-called Enlightenment has given to our world as ambivalent and without direction, if not therefore simply chaotic and dark. Thomas Howard's book lends words and tales to much of the disdain which is mine when it comes to the scientific or progressive. Even so, don't ask me to be as enthusiastic about the "master" as Eric Metaxas is in his foreword.

That said, I would like to encourage people to pick up this book, which despite its profundity reads very lightly. It is a playfully serious contribution to the cause of restoring poetry and thereby light, joy and real depth to our going in and going out. Now I know that there are a lot of said atheists out there who anxiously or wickedly cling to a worldview which is flat and scattered, for all its pretense at being scientific. The Apocalypse warns us of such, who remain attached to the Beast. They will be judged and go their way. If Howard has a gift to give in his prose, it would be to reassure those who waver on the path to glory, uncomfortable in being cloaked in what he calls the "old myth".

Give me my microwave, but give me my angels too!


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