Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Medieval vs. Modern


'In our world a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.' said Eustace 'No,' replied Ramandu 'Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.' - C.S. Lewis 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader'
There is a famous essay by Michael Ward, a chaplain at Peterhouse College at Cambridge “C. S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem,” .In it Ward explores Lewis's view that something essential was lost when 'Modernity" took over. What was lost was the sense of wonder, the sense of the sacred, the sense that to exist on earth was to inhabit a Cathedral, not to be cast adrift in the meaningless ocean of space.
The knowledge that the world has meaning and life beyond only what we can see was part of Mankind's experience for untold millennia. It is only in a relatively short span that it has been discarded. In its place has been put a practical atheism, a requirement that, in public, at least we must all act as though God, even if he exist, is irrelevant. To do, advocate, or analyze anything from a purely religious perspective, is considered at best illegitimate, at worst a downright dangerous attempt to force your views on others.
The problem is as Chesteron said: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything". The growing rise of neo-paganism is a slam-dunk testimony to this truth. Christians have railed against these “witches”. Harry Potter and Twilight have been pilloried. The tree-hugging pantheists have been ridiculed as being too deluded to worship the Creator, they worship creation instead.
But is this a bad thing? I contend that these are merely the birth pangs of a people rediscovering the sacred that has been forcibly withheld from them by the cultural elites for the last two centuries. One of the greatest obstacles to evangelization in recent decades has been that most consider the spiritual to be unconnected from their “real” lives. The pagan revival is doing exactly this, reminding them that the spiritual is more real than the world around them.
But they will not find their hearts desire in paganism, for it can only be found in God Himself. That is our opportunity. The day will come when we will hear words like those spoken by an Earl at the court of the pagan Saxon King of Northumbria upon hearing a missionary preach:
"I have long since been sensible that there was nothing in that which we worshiped, because the more diligently I sought after truth in that worship the less I found it. But now I freely confess that such evident, truth appears in this preaching as can confer on us the gifts of life, of salvation, and of eternal happiness"
These people yearn to worship, and the time is coming when we, Like St. Paul will reveal to them the Unknown God, whom they had been worshiping all along, though they knew it not.
Be sure and read my other posts and learn more about the links between the ancient, the sacred, and the modern world.
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