Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marlin - Political Religions

George J. Marlin writes at The Catholic Thing:

In two remarkable books, Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes, British historian Michael Burleigh, has traced the clash of religion and politics from the French Revolution to our own times. Burleigh shows that modern materialist creeds – Jacobinism, Fascism, Communism, and Nazism – had these common traits: They viewed man, not as a person created Imago Dei, but as a speck within mass society devoid of freedom, self-responsibility, and conscience; and to supplant organized religions, these secularists portrayed themselves as pseudo-divine and elevated their revolutions to religious status.

The French Jacobins suppressed the Church (by 1794 only 150 of 40,000 churches were offering Mass) and replaced it with a civic religion. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was a political gospel. Baptism was redefined “as the regeneration of the French revolution begun on July 14, 1789.” Communion: an association of French people “to form on earth only one family of brothers who no longer recognize or worship any idol or tyrant.” Penitence: “the banishment of all those monsters. . .unworthy to inhabit the land of liberty.”

To eliminate the Lord’s Day, a calendar was created with ten-day weeks. Holydays were replaced with secular feast days called Virtue, Genus, Labor, Recompenses, and Opinion. Notre Dame Cathedral was converted into a “Temple of Reason.” An opera singer was worshipped as the “Goddess of Liberty.”

Mussolini described Fascism as “a religious conception in which man in his imminent relationship with a superior law and with an objective Will that transcends the particular individual and raises him to conscious membership of spiritual society.” More>>>
Secularism is one of the most insiduous heresies. Invariably as we have come to see, to paraphrase Our Lord's parable, secularism sweeps out the storehouse and seven demons come in to dwell. Old Testament prophets would spot our age's versions of paganism in a heart beat, replete with child sacrifice in all of its "legal" abortuarial splendor.


David Nybakke said...

From On War and Apocalypse Girard writes:
(Europe) has been the battlefield of the entire world. Europe is a tired continent that no longer puts up much resistance to terrorism. This explains the stunning nature of the attacks, which are often carried out by people on the inside.

He continues: We are witnessing a new stage in the escalation to extremes. Terrorists have conveyed the message that they are ready to wait, that their notion of time is not ours. This is a clear sign of the return to the archaic, a return to the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, which is significant in itself. But who is paying attention to this significance? Who is taking its measure? Is that the job of the ministry of foreign affairs? We have to expect a lot of unexpected things in the future. We are going to witness things that will certainly be worse. Yet people will remain deaf.

I am sure we have much to gain from the insights to these Burleigh books but as Girard is trying to do we need to challenge our historians and alike to really explore all the religious and political clashes and their significance to today especially as it relates to violence from the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries.

This seems to be a most important study if we want to understand what is going on in our world, at least in the West.

Athos said...

Aramis, I think the key to u. what Girard means by referring to the 7th-9th centuries AD can be found in his insights here:
this religion has used the Bible as a support to rebuild an archaic religion that is more powerful than all the others. It threatens to become an apocalyptic tool, the new face of the escalation to extremes. Even though there are no longer any archaic religions, it is as if a new one had arisen built on the back of the Bible, a slightly transformed Bible. It would be an archaic religion strengthened by aspects of the Bible and Christianity. Archaic religion collapsed in the face of Judeo-Christian revelation, but Islam resists. While Christianity eliminates sacrifice wherever it gains a foothold, Islam seems in many respects to situate itself prior to that rejection.

This is to say, Islam rejects the Xtn reversal of the "flow" of sacrifice, so to speak, from sacrifice of other-as-scapegoat to sacrifice of self. Islam presupposes the veracity of its scriptures which nullify the OT and NT as "misinformation" which their prophet corrects. This, in turn, sends packing the entire movement away from scapegoating first formulated by the Psalmist, portions of Wisdom, and of course, the Prophets. It culminates at the crux of history - the Cross of Christ. But all this is re-visited in the sixth century by the writer(s?) of the Koran and nullified.

How does one argue about whose presuppositions about revelation of God's will are true? I haven't a clue.