Monday, August 15, 2005

Theology Matters

Commenator wildiris, who reposts a comment he made over at The Belmont Club, nails it:
The Reformation, as I have come to understand it, was not just a religious event, but a cultural/political tranformation of western European society that took several generations to work through. The important point, for the purpose of discussions here, is that the early Protestant Christians, by trying to return Christianity to its roots, brought back into being, a form of Christianity that was not only tolerant but fully supportive of the new political/social/cultural changes that were occurring across western European societies at that time.

Once I started to think about the Reformation in this manner, it became clear that, unlke Christianity, Islam has no "there" there to go back to. In fact, just the opposite would be true, Islam by returning to its roots could only turn into an even more intolerant and hostile force against modern western cultural ways; which apparently is what is actually happening these days.
Read the whole thing.


Blogger wildiris said...

Krishna Kirtri.
If there is anything good to come out of the current conflict between the Western world and the world of Islam is that many people are now working to rediscover their own cultural history. Nothing is a better antidote to P.C. thinking than a good working knowledge of one’s own cultural heritage and that’s why I’m encouraged to find web-log sites such as yours and Gates of Vienna. Since my limited knowledge of Eastern religions comes mainly from my hippie days in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I welcome the opportunity that your postings will give to learn more about the cultural history of India and the Hindu religion.

One of the greatest tragedies for modern western society to result from the kind of political correct thinking to be found in our universities, has been that, in the minds of many, “culture” is now synonymous with “race”. Because of this, it is now impossible for any academic discussion to occur that involves comparing cultural values from one civilization or society to another. The spectra of being first labeled then attacked as a racist has proven to be an incredibly effective means of censorship in this area of intellectual discourse. The inevitable fallout from this attitude has been the dropping from university course work any subject that would have dealt with the cultural histories of the many civilizations and societies that have come and gone on this earth over the millennia. It’s not just the classic literature of Western Civilization and the collected works of dead European white males that has been banished from the classroom, but the classics of all of the Eastern Civilizations’ literatures are gone too.

Thanks to the Internet, the politically-correct-academic-elite of our universities can no longer co-opt and then control, like some priesthood, the intellectual debate on the cultural issues that affect us as a society. Hopefully, sites such as yours represent a revival of the tradition of “teaching the classics” that has been lost from the halls of our colleges and universities.

As a short note, the wild iris is one of the flowers native to the coastal redwood forests of Northern California. That moniker is a reference to my days as a logger, not my gender.

4:55 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger krishna_kirti said...

Wildiris, thank you for your kind words.

James Kurth once wrote an influential essay titled "The Real Clash," wherein he argued that name Western Civilization, or just plain "The West", was itself a sign of the West's decline. Before 1910, he argues, the term was not used to refer to the West, which had been formerly known as Christendom, and in the interim was dubbed "Civilization."

Kurth further suggests that the West differs in name from other civilizations such as Hindu, Orthodox, and Islamic, in that these civilizations are identified with religion, whereas the West is simply a direction. In other words, the West, as a name, symbolizes its disassociation with religion and simultaneously identifies the nature of its decline.

So I think that happenings in academia are a more progressive form of what happened long, long ago.

The essay is worth a read:

To restore the West, it may take some sort of catharsis, perhaps something like 10 or 20 cities around the world getting nuked by the Islamic Bomb before such a revolution can take place.

I think what the Internet does to communications is it has bypassed the normal information loop of the academy, where the newest ideas would be imparted to the young without less impressionable outsiders being much aware of the new ideas being imparted to their offspring. In other words, although societies change a generation at a time, the Internet enables vast amounts of knowledge to be disseminated much more rapidly and outside the bounds of the academy. This short-circuiting of the generational cycle makes the objectives of progressive academic elites more problematic, and it makes the rest of society perhaps a bit less stable.

I still think, however, that many of the ideas held by acadmia are still largely inaccessable to the general public because many of the ideas still require a high degree of education and proficiency with abstract thinking to grasp correctly. That could also be short-circuited somewhat by a small group of rebel academic peers, who can (and some do, I think), explain the big ideas in such a way that a moderately educated person can understand them. The Internet would be a great equalizer in the matter of disseminating the countering views of the rebels.

Also, sorry about misgendering you. I've made the correction.

9:40 PM, August 15, 2005  

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