Sunday 18 September 2016

Problems in Christianising Albion - Christianity lacks spontaneous intuitive appeal for the non-religious

Christians are prone to suppose that the appeal of Christianity is obvious - but this is an error. Re-Christianising Albion is therefore going to be difficult - and perhaps something which can only be done indirectly, in steps...

It is necessary to recognise that (for most people, for average people) Christianity labours against the disadvantage of lacking a spontaneous appeal: being too complex compared with other monotheisms, and not complex enough compared with paganisms.

This comes especially in terms of the necessity and centrality of Jesus. 

CS Lewis argued this superbly, from his own experience and knowledge.

Edited from Is Theology Poetry? by CS Lewis

Considered as poetry, the doctrines of Christianity seem to me to fall between two stools. It has neither the monolithic grandeur of strictly unitarian conceptions nor the richness of Polytheism.

The omnipotence of God is not, to my taste, a poetical advantage. Odin, fighting against enemies who are not his own creatures and who will in fact defeat him in the end, has a heroic appeal which the god of Christians cannot have.

There is also a certain bareness about the Christian picture of the universe. A future state and orders of superhuman creatures are held to exist, but only the slightest hints of their nature are offered.

Finally, and worst of all, the whole cosmic story, though full of tragic elements, yet fails of being a tragedy. Christianity offers the attractions neither of optimism nor of pessimism. It represents the life of the universe as being very like the mortal life of men on this planet — of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

The majestic simplifications of Pantheism and the tangled wood of Pagan animism both seem to me, in their different ways, more attractive. Christianity just misses the tidiness of the one and the delicious variety of the other.

For I take it there are two things the imagination loves to do. It loves to embrace its object completely, to take it in at a single glance, and see it as something harmonious, symmetrical, and self-explanatory. That is the classical imagination; the Parthenon was built for it. 

The imagination also loves to lose itself in a labyrinth, to surrender to the inextricable. That is the romantic imagination; the Orlando Furioso was written for it.

But Christian Theology does not cater very well for either. If Christianity is only a mythology, then I find the mythology I believe in is not the one I like best. I like Greek mythology much better, Irish better still, Norse best of all... 

Lewis is surely correct. From the perspective of a non-religious, post-religious person or society - Christianity occupies a middle ground - indeed the only reason for being a Christian is because it is true.

The truth of Christianity is much clearer to those who are already religious - both to 'simple' monotheists (with one God, no divine Jesus) and to polytheistic pagans; if these are serious in their religions, then they can fairly easily 'feel' the benefits of Christ - they can feel how Jesus solves the deep and intractable problems of both mono- and poly-theism.

This is why I talk of a 'spiritual' revival for Albion - I really can't imagine any way that the British can jump all the way, in one jump, from the nihilism we currently inhabit and all the way to Christianity.

I couldn't; although the several steps from postmodernist style New-Agey unbelief to Christianity probably took less than a year - nonetheless there were steps - as there were for CS Lewis himself.

So IF there is a mass spiritual awakening in Albion it would  - necessarily - initially start-out as not-Christian; maybe it might be partially-Christian but certainly not fully-Christian.


Grigori said...

Could the alt-right be a Pandora's box of sorts, unleashing chaos but at the bottom is hope?

I see a significant number of them tiring of nihilism and then searching for something to fill the emptiness. For many this is Christianity, even if they take it up for the wrong reasons.

One commenter on an anonymous imageboard was wondering why a board with subsections for pornography and anime had its politics board dominated by right wing politics. He had a profound conclusion, "The world has become so filthy and evil the only way to rebel against it is to become a conservative Christian."

Bruce Charlton said...

@G - Did you comment in the wrong section? - it looks like it may be referencing another post.

Nathaniel said...

I think he is hoping the alt-right might somehow be and indication of a spiritual awakening.