|The Way of Education||Living Under Law|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 01, 2005 at 12:18 pm
WHEN PEOPLE make the great migration from the country to the city, how do they acquires the skills of the city? How do they adapt from the life of the sun to the life of the clock? How do they change from a life in thrall to a noble lord to a life in thrall to the almighty dollar? It is clear that one road is faith, the monotheistic faith of Judaism and Christianity that encourages its believers to cast aside the life of instinct and impulse and build instead a life of faith and purpose.
But werent the people in the countrysidethe peasants and farmersreligious, and didnt they lose their faith as they came to the secularized city? That is the received paradigm of the secularized elite that experiences the Enlightenment as a moment when modern man awoke from the superstitions of the past and learned to base society on rational principles. In God is Dead, British British sociologist Steve Bruce experiences western Europe beginning in the religious era of the Protestant Reformation and gradually secularizing through individualism, rationalism, and relativism to the present European disinterest in religion. But American sociologist Rodney Stark and his collaborators disagree. From their research, they conclude that the pre-modern era was not religious. In revolutionary North America, only 15 percent of the population were church adherents. But by 1850 after the rise of Methodism over 35 percent were church adherents. Today, over 60 percent of Americans are church adherents.
Perhaps both sociologists are right if we understand the Christianity of the agricultural era as a top-down affair. The lord was Christian, the church was established, and the peasants got with the program. In the United States, where there is no lord and no established church, the people build their own churches. In Peru, for instance, where Pentecostalism is growing rapidly, the Catholic church is usually located in the central Plaza de Armas alongside the government buildings; the Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostes is a hole-in-the-wall on some side street.
Christianity answers the need of the person who is learning how to take responsibility for his life in the rough and tumble of the city. That is why the Wesley brothers found a ready population for their Methodism in England and colonial North America. That is why the Methodist circuit-riders of early nineteenth century United States doubled the church adherence of Americans in 50 years. That is why Dagger John Hughes, first Catholic archbishop of New York, energized the Irish and Italian immigrants of mid-nineteenth century Gotham to a new revivalist Catholicism that had learned from the Methodist revivalists. That is why Christianity is booming in Africa and South America, and reportedly spreading in China against firm repression. That is why Christianity is booming in the striver suburbs of North America, and why a new Pentecostal church opens in New York City every three weeks. And that is why Christianity does not thrive in Europe, where the welfare states relieves the people of the need to take responsibility for their lives.
In Latin America, writes David Stoll, Penecostalism characteristically empowers and frees women from their subjection to the humiliation and depredations of the Latin machista culture of the street, bar, brothel, football stadium, and drug culture... The restoration of the family as a viable moral, cultural, amd economic household, largely through the reformation of the male and the elimination of the double standard of morality for the two sexes is the key result of converting to Pentecostalism. And the Protestant movement easily accommodates the prosperity gospel, as a celebration of the improvement in material prosperity that follows the abandonment of machista culture.
The urban sophisticates who have mastered the life of the city have forgotten the power of Christianity. They see its rigid rules and its personal relationship with God as superstition. Advancing beyond rules and traditional roles; they believe in creativity and universal community. Their faith extols the right to experiment and to pursue the demands of the creative life, and their most authentic experience is the heroic break with their strict Catholic or Protestant childhood. Knowing only their own needs, and blind to the other plodding along the road to the middle class, they declare war on so-called Christians, and support pressure groups organized to drive religion from the public square.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier.
Gen. Hans von Seeckt, quoted in MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America