All posts tagged: modernity

97 Aphorisms and Apothegms Inspired by Reading John Henry Newman

Pascal is right in much of what says about grace, right in some of what he says about sin, and entirely wrong with regard to what he says about their relationship. The “average man” elevated by self-pronounced realists is a lemming, not only a symptom of the failure to thrive but even to begin. Whether we want it or not a human being is the tensile string between saint and sinner. The “average man” is a modern construct. He arises in an age of capital, when one man wishes to exploit another and feel good about it. The best way of complimenting Adam Smith is to ignore what he says about money, and listen to what he says about the affections. The “average man” is a fiction that institutes the power of number. The mediocre many can be adduced against the few who are excellent.  Lacking in the modern view of the “average man” is the sense of scale. Historical Christianity certainly recognized mediocrity and gave it cover. What distinguishes it from modern or liberal …

The Return to Ancient Traditions After the Death of God

The “traditionalists” among conservative Christians are surprised when we show them how relatively modern and extremely limited is the form of Christianity that they wish to conserve, and what enormous intellectual and spiritual wealth resides in much older traditions of the church; suffice it to recall the desert fathers, the Greek patristics, the negative theology of Dionysus the Areopagite, the medieval mystics, etc. Maybe what some called secularization and the decline of religion and others “the death of God” marked the beginning of theology’s inability to respond creatively to the changing picture of the world and mankind on the threshold of modernity, having exhausted itself with interdenominational conflict. Theology in those early days of modernity adopted unthinkingly, inadvertently—and hence uncritically—modernity’s division of reality into subject and object and to a great extent adapted the medieval dichotomy of the order of nature and the order of grace, the natural world and the supernatural world, to that new division. Emphasis on the “objectivity” (now the antithesis of subjectivity) of God and the order of grace also meant …