In a recent Link of the Day post here at Church ReWired I linked to Bruce Ledewitz at Hallowed Secularism. I quoted from a succinct post titled "What is Wrong with Liberal Religion?"
In my last blog entry, I asked whether ... liberal religion....is sustainable in the long run. I answered, no.
...the problem with [liberal religion] ... cannot really be that it is destined to fade away, which is what Mark Lilla wrote in his book, The Stillborn God. .... I think what bothers me about liberal religion—that is, people who don’t really believe in the supernatural claims of a religious tradition but who go on attending and practicing more or less as if nothing had changed—is that they are blocking the future. (rewired has added the emphasis.) [A liberal ] apparently attends church and continuously translates what is being said there into some sort of acceptable alternative. Or, worse, he just lets it all wash over him as what he calls a mystery even though he does not accept what is being claimed. That is not a sustaining way of life. Religion must be a full, passionate commitment, including the viscera, as William Connolly puts it in Why I am Not a Secularist. Religion must include the nonrational elements of awe, wonder and worship. Religion must be something worth dying for....
... a human life of tepid materialism... is not a life.... I admit that I do not yet foresee this new way of life that replaces religion in a way that is humanly satisfying. But, liberal religion is not it and currently siphons off energy and intelligence that should be devoted to helping us find a way into the future. That is what is wrong with liberal religion. Read on >>>>
If you have been reading Gretta Vosper, or our pages on Progressive Christianity, these words may hold some resonance. Also worth reading is Ledewitz's Welcome column on the right of his pages.
The pages in this series make many points about the unsustainability of the liberal religious position. Vosper's With or Without God does the same thing. In the chapter I am currently reading, she suggests that a century has been wasted since the insights of Albert Schweitzser's work showing the impossiblity of being able to rediscover the historical Jesus. (pp150-152). In an earlier post I wrote about the psychic energy needed to maintain faith in the face of a failing metaphor.
However, there has clearly been the loss of a metaphor. Christian belief is no longer compelling for most people. In its traditional form it does not provide helpful answers to the work of living. It does not work.
For Christians there are three responses to this loss. One is to put up the shutters and refuse the loss. Life is somehow compartmentalised so that an agricultural scientist does his research whilst rejecting the Theory of Evolution which largely underpins the discipline. I found the psychic energy required to do this destructive.
The point Ledewitz makes clear to me is that this is not just energy I expend. It is energy I do not expend on finding a sustainable expression of faith. I leave the field to the New Atheists and the Same Old Fundamentalists. In maintaining something for those who want nothing to change, I get in the way of those looking for new ways. Anyone resisting change can point at me saying, "Well, he's a minister, and he doesn't think we need to change." I block the future.
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