Thursday, January 11, 2018

Reformations and Transformations

A new year calls for a reassessment of one's direction. If it is -- nay, if it even appears -- unsatisfactory, the first month of the new year is the time to change it.

As readers here may have gathered, my enthusiasm for the topics formerly covered on this blog has waned markedly. The reason is also, I trust, equally apparent: this Curmudgeon finds no Schadenfreude in the decline of the West in general, or of America and her mainstream churches in particular. The road to perdition has been so well traveled over the centuries that chronicling its latest lost wayfarers engenders nothing new under the sun, no new lessons to instruct, no new dangers to warn against, and no new means of slowing or countering the decline. People who are fallen continue to fall, regardless, and there is nothing uplifting to observing (or reporting) man's never-ending attempts to replace, or to do without, God.

Indeed, to focus on man's efforts to "progress" is to look through the wrong end of the telescope. The concept itself is an illusion: thus an ant that crawls around and around on a giant sphere might be imagined to be driven by the notion that it is making "progress", i.e., getting somewhere. From the ant's limited grasp of the situation, it has indeed gone at one stage from point A to point B on the surface of the sphere. What it is incapable of perceiving, from its surface-bound perspective, is that both A and B are nothing more than points on a great circle that returns always to the point of "beginning", wherever that might be said to be.

Similarly, man with all his scientific instruments extends his reach through the physical universe farther and farther every year, but what he sees is what his instruments feed back to him -- which is something very dim at first. Then as the details grow sharper, he finally realizes that what is being reflected is the image of his own face, staring back at him from a mirror. Until he can enlarge his perspective to encompass the idea of things which he cannot see directly, he can discover, no matter how far he "sees," only himself.

For the new year, therefore, I resolve no longer to dwell upon (or complain about) events, institutions and people who illustrate, serve, or advocate that we (mankind) can do it all by ourselves. Such a misguided notion blinds us to the necessary humility occasioned by a proper and due respect for the unarguable (and highly uncomfortable, to many) realization that we are not here alone.

To the contrary: we are (and will be held) accountable to our Creator -- because the only alternative is to conclude that God's only son was either a liar or a madman, that his horrific death upon the cross was just another pointless act of man's unspeakable cruelty to man, and that all worship of the divine  is in vain. Those who have read my previous posts on the evidence that history and science offer in support of a divine Creator know that I reject that alternative as far more unlikely than the probability that Jesus was exactly who he said he was.

I speak as one who has been left behind by what I used to think of as a church to which I belonged, but which now I can no longer recognize. Its actions over the past forty years, as catalogued on this site, have become more and more un-Christian, to the point of suing innocent vestry members in court for punitive damages, worshipping Mammon more than Christ, and embracing abortion as a "holy sacrament." Most recently, it has adopted rites of same-sex "marriage" that openly and unashamedly liken such a relationship to that between Christ and his church. The rites have been provisional until now, but soon will become official and then later mandatory -- an episcopally sanctioned blasphemy that renders the denomination's entire purpose and function in this world null and void.

Looking back, I know how we got here: by focusing on man's needs and inclinations to the exclusion of God. Thus was it ever in the Church's history. Yet as G. K. Chesterton observed in The Everlasting Man (an ironic title, if ever there was one):
Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave. But the first extraordinary fact which marks this history is this: that Europe has been turned upside down over and over again; and that at the end of each of these revolutions the same religion has again been found on top. The Faith is always converting the age, not as an old religion but as a new religion.
This passage places the emphasis on where I want to be over the coming year: taking courage from the resiliency of God's church, and not carping on the shortcomings of man's attempts to replace it. As I continue my search for a way to worship Him as I was taught so long ago, I have undertaken a study of where things went wrong, and why. Since this is the 500th anniversary of the start of the various Protestant Reformations, I began my study with Martin Luther's break with the church in which he grew up, and have branched out, forwards and backwards in history, from there.

I have no inkling, as yet, where this study will bring me out. But I think I could do worse on this blog than share with readers what I am learning as I make my way through it. At the very least, it promises fare that is more healthy and appetizing than what daily assaults each of us in the various media.

With the next post, therefore, we will start to try to understand the steps that led a theretofore faithful (but insecure) Augustinian friar to conclude that the Church in which he had both learned and taught had become one in which he could no longer discern a secure path to salvation.




6 comments:

  1. I look forward to your posts. It's far better, and far healthier, to try to find where God can still be found than to complain about places in which He has been rejected by foolish humans.

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  2. Thank you Mr. Haley - I suspect that many of your readers (myself included) have struggled with the same issues you have raised, albeit on different trajectories. I am fascinated by the various ways we work to "discern a secure path to salvation". I appreciate your willingness to allow a glimpse into your path.

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