Friday, May 11, 2007

The World Changes, Religious Impulses Remain

The Weekly Standard has an excellent article by John Delulio called "Spiritualpolitique," on the place of religion in understanding global politics.

Here are some of the high points for me:

  • As previous posts indicate I have been much taken by the "Islamification of the West" and the "Westernization of Islam." Also, by the "death" of Chrsitianity in Europe, and this death as a prophetic pre-echo of Christianity in America. But Philip Jenkins of Penn State (author of the modern classic analysis of global Christianity The Next Christendom) is a voice speaking against these ideas. So, personally, I am re-evaluating "religion" in Europe and North America.

  • The current "decades-in-the-making European vacation from Christianity is not a permanent vacation from religion itself. From Scotland to France, Christianity's slide has been accompanied by growth in other faith traditions including Islam. And it is not entirely clear that Europe's Catholics have fallen so far from the cradle that their children or grandchildren (if they start having some) will never return."

  • The "religious impulse," I think, will never go away. If persons are "hard-wired for religion" the atheists are fighting a losing battle. I am now thinking of this kind of research in light of Plantinga's work on noetic structures and, if the Christian theistic noetic structure is true, then we are made in God's image, God wants us to know him, and has placed in us a "sensus divinitatis" from which we cannot get away. For me this interprets the recent post I made on the rise of religion in American universities.

  • My work on what I call "ontological dualities" is supportive of this Plantingian direction. In my teaching and spiritual coaching of 500 Christian pastors and leaders over the past 30 years, plus my own prayer life and journaling and my study of Christian spirituality and religious spiritualities in general, I have discovered seven ontological dualities that lie at the base of all persons. For example, every person struggles with Trust vs. Control. My own belief is that atheistic protests will not calm down the surging in what Proverbs 20:5 calls "the deep waters of the heart." (See my post below on Metallica and Ontological Dualities.)

  • "Totalitarians, secular or religious, who know what they are about have always gone beyond merely banning this or that religion or establishing a state religion (Mao's little red book and cult come quickly to mind) to killing religious leaders, gulag-ticketing or terrorizing religious followers, and destroying (physically in many cases) religion's last traces (books, buildings). Religion, however, almost always proves resilient, often reasserting itself in its very pre-revolutionary or dictator-forbidden forms."

  • This is a long article, well-written, and gives one much to think about and avenues to pursue.