Thursday, April 12, 2018

Compatibilism?

Rod Dreher draws our attention to a war on Christianity, signs of which are stronger in some places and at certain times.

He is highlighting the problem of (in)compatibilism between Christianity and the liberal West as a hegemony over society and culture.

Our Kiwi question might be: is this worse in the States than Down Under? (Is there a different situation in Aotearoa NZ compared to Australia?) Or, is the state of "war" in the States coming our way, where we feel it is mostly peaceful with the odd skirmish here and there?

Thoughts?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this the incident at Harvard that inspired Rod Dreher's jeremiad?

http://freebeacon.com/culture/harvard-sanctions-christian-student-group-religious-principles/

BW

Anonymous said...

On the Kiwi question, Peter, my fallible guess is that the tension between religion and secularity is gentler there down under than it is here up yonder.

Why? Because fundamentally, the American conflict today is not between Religion and Secularity, but among historic regions. Do your religious disagreements also have a geography?

The social values of, say, New England and Appalachia do differ on religion, but also on sex, politics, immigration, inequality, etc. That is, a militant secularist may sincerely believe that her position is purely an intellectual one about Religion, but if her social imagination is informed mainly by eg Boston's Beacon Hill or Manhattan's Upper East Side then her incomprehension of churchfolk in eg Harlan County, Kentucky or New Orleans, Louisiana is less intellectual than provincial.

BW

Jonathan said...

I particularly thought this bit good:

" it is illiberal for Harvard to do what it’s doing to Evangelicals — by the standards of earlier liberalism. But liberalism is not a revealed religion. It is what the power-holders in a liberal order say it is. For that matter, even revealed religions work like this too. It would have done Jews in 15th century Spain no good at all to tell them that true Christianity opposes their torture at the hands of the Inquisition, and their expulsion. That may be the case, in theory — certainly I believe it is — but actual, existing Christianity was burning Jews at the stake. If a Jew wanted to save his own life, he had better take measures to protect himself from the Church and the State, and not rely on the goodwill of the power holders, who believed that they were on a mission from God."

and

"A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness."

Bishop Stephen preached at the opening of last year's synod on Moses' loss of his place of privelege - a loss which lasted 40 years presumably with no expectation or plan for change. I think also of Abraham's odd journey, his stopping short of the promised land at one stage; having to leave it at another; when he was in it there wasn't much to see of fulfilment. And, in different times and contexts Daniel, Esther and the period of the Acts were all contexts with some similarity to our own. What strikes me in the second quote is the word community. What strikes me when I ponder church is that the words "congregation" and "church service" spring to mind.

Steve McNabb said...

Before or after GS?
Steve

Jonathan said...

I particularly thought this bit good:

" it is illiberal for Harvard to do what it’s doing to Evangelicals — by the standards of earlier liberalism. But liberalism is not a revealed religion. It is what the power-holders in a liberal order say it is. For that matter, even revealed religions work like this too. It would have done Jews in 15th century Spain no good at all to tell them that true Christianity opposes their torture at the hands of the Inquisition, and their expulsion. That may be the case, in theory — certainly I believe it is — but actual, existing Christianity was burning Jews at the stake. If a Jew wanted to save his own life, he had better take measures to protect himself from the Church and the State, and not rely on the goodwill of the power holders, who believed that they were on a mission from God."

and

"A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness."

Bishop Stephen preached at the opening of last year's synod on Moses' loss of his place of privelege - a loss which lasted 40 years presumably with no expectation or plan for change. I think also of Abraham's odd journey, his stopping short of the promised land at one stage; having to leave it at another; when he was in it there wasn't much to see of fulfilment. And, in different times and contexts Daniel, Esther and the period of the Acts were all contexts with some similarity to our own. What strikes me in the second quote is the word community. What strikes me when I ponder church is that the words "congregation" and "church service" spring to mind.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dreher's article sounds very much like what might have happened in the Sanhedrin when they heard about this man, Jesus, whom the people were calling 'Messiah'. Was Jesus attacking the conservative religionists of his day? Was he extending the idea of a merciful God too far? Oh dearie me, what a problem.
Seems to me that Mr Drehers may have a persecution complex - similar to some of those self-described 'orthodox Christians' in Brittain and elsewhere (NZ?).

Andrei said...

It is not a war on Christianity in the West Peter

It is a full scale rebellion against God and his creation

And if you don't realize the Judgement is fasy approaching...

Anonymous said...

Rod Dreher the integrist and Jorge Bergoglio the accommodationist are both helping Catholics et al to adapt to being, not the majority in their societies, as they once were, but the plurality. The admirers of each loathe admirers of the other. But, today as in late antiquity, both integrist and accommodationist strategies attract faithful Christians. Romans 14.

BW.

Father Ron Smith said...

If I may, Peter, offer today's reflection from the Jesuits, re 1 Cor.13:15 -

"This scripture passage offers us a chance to reflect on our priorities. It tells us that, at the end of the day, it won’t be the school we graduated from, our annual income, or our zip code that matters. Rather, we will be judged by our fidelity to God, our hope in Christ and the power of his Resurrection, and the love that we show ourselves and our neighbour. It’s as simple as that."

I think that, added to the qualifications here that do NOT help along our way are; our clinging to a particular school of theology or the social milieu. All depends on the way in which each of us reflects 'The Great Love of God, as revealed in the Son'. Love is the primary weapon against egotistical pride and self-centredness which are the enemies of God.

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Anonymous said...

https://www.christianunion.org/ministries/universities/harvard/harvard-recognition-blog

BW

Andrei said...

""This scripture passage offers us a chance to reflect on our priorities. It tells us that, at the end of the day, it won’t be the school we graduated from, our annual income, or our zip code that matters. Rather, we will be judged by our fidelity to God, our hope in Christ and the power of his Resurrection, and the love that we show ourselves and our neighbour. It’s as simple as that."

That is all well and good Fr Ron - lets all go and live on Mt Athos and not confront the Servants of Satan in their mission to drag as many poor souls as possible to Hell.

We live in an age of abominations Fr Ron - vile perverse abominations where everything decent and Holy has feces smeared over it and blasphemies are enshrined in law

Anonymous said...

Creepy things are always happening somewhere. Surely the godspell is God's reign rather than our feckless sword-waving?

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Bowman, for your link provided on the Harvard situation (Apr.13).

From this link I extracted the following comment by Mr Breher:

"As for the rest of us, understand that this is how it’s going to go for all orthodox Christians. Pray for these Harvard believers … and prepare for how you will handle it when it happens to you. Because the LGBT movement and its supporters will tolerate nothing."

Apart from down-putting those who support justice for LGBT people - whose specific interests are safeguarded by Harvard's own insistence on committing its institution to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual-orientation - those who seek to continue discrimination against such people (as has been evidenced in the present furore) are clearly offending against the actual declared ethos of Harvard University. The lack of 'toleration' here seems to be a 'sin' of the self-righteous; rather then the LGBT community.

Claims to be 'orthodox' does not allow immunity from established rules.

Anonymous said...

Disclosure, Father Ron: as recently as five years ago, I dealt with all of the parties and procedures involved in the dispute at Harvard. Compared to the views of Rod Dreher, you may judge my views to be more biased, better informed, or both. All can test them against the links provided.

I agree with Dreher that the case has clues about life after Christendom, but deny his claim that it has proved that liberalism has become so illiberal that Christians should regard persecution as inevitable. Thus far, it instead shows what we might have expected in any situation where an ideology once hypothetically held by all comes to be held by a plurality: adherents have to explain their actions in public in ways that are somewhat intelligible to the public, they will not be immune to *etic* critiques that make no *emic* sense, and what they cannot or will not explain in public they may have to do in private. But first the story.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

Harvard deans view campus organizations as student-led collaborations for advancing local purposes, and they view the university as a place where ideas can be held and exchanged without penalty. Hypothetically, given that all members support an organization's purpose, and that the group belongs to the university, they do not understand why any opinion of a member in good standing could warrant a change in his status. For example, if someone joined a liberal organization, was given an office in it, and performed its duties with due diligence, it is not obvious to the deans that his private support for one or more conservative principles could justly warrant the loss of his office. In the real world, things may not work that way, but a university is by Harvard's definition a place where things do work that way.

In this instance, a lesbian student with a somewhat *Side A* theology of (homo)sexuality belongs to Harvard Christian Faith and Action (HCFA), which accepts a *Side B* theology of (homo)sexuality and indeed many homosexual members who live by it. She herself is an enthusiastic evangelical who works for HCFA's aims, and has been commissioned to lead bible studies for the group. However, she decided to date another woman for companionship, but to remain celibate until marriage. Her decision, presumably mutual, is a *tertium quid* since Side A students seldom reserve sex to marriage and Side B homosexuals do not usually marry.

Unsurprisingly, several parties on campus have viewed both her decision HCFA's response through lenses too stereotypical to see the whole of it. Each has had some resort to hearsay not acknowledged by others in trying to explain these events. Official Harvard administration communications about the case have not been pellucid.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

To HCFA's student board, and presumably to the pastoral staff supplied by Christian Union, she had decided for "extramarital sex," which is contrary to scripture. They revoked her commission to lead bible studies.

To the deans, that revocation is a change in status that cannot have been warranted by any opinion she might have, and also looks as though it was unduly influenced by an outside group; they denied HCFA the right to meet on campus so long as it is supported by the Christian Union. This, for comparison, places HCFA on the same footing as the campus ministries for Roman Catholics, Jews, Episcopalians, Baptists, Unitarians, etc, which all meet in their own buildings elsewhere in Harvard Square.

To the editorial board of the student paper, the Undergraduate Council, and the main LGBTQ organization, the revocation was an unmistakable sign of hatred for homosexuals. The Crimson wanted HCFA to do more than the deans had demanded; the UC cut off all funding for the HCFA; the SJWs wanted Harvard to ban HCFA altogether. These are the responses that persecution theorists like Dreher regard as the new norm. But followed in practice, they would mean that an evangelical group is not given more privileges than a denominational one.

But other Harvard students, like the lesbian herself, seem less willing to polarise positions on sexuality. Few support the revocation, but many see it more as a blunder in a confusing situation than as true discrimination on the part of classmates they know well. Others note that HCFA is almost the only sanctuary for often conservative Side B homosexuals, and see the conflict as driven by the antipathy of usually left-leaning Side A homosexuals. Of course, HCFA does have members from inland regions who likely voted for Trump, but because evangelicals at Harvard come from many other nations, the organisation as a whole fits the Harvard cosmopolis well.

Many would also judge HCFA by its fruit. Some believe that a religious group run by students rather than by denominational ministers is worth whatever mistakes its leaders may make. Others have praised HCFA for an unusually robust emphasis on pastoral care for students.

Christian Union continues to thrive. The future of HCFA is uncertain.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you all for careful, insightful commenting on matters of great importance to all Christians, yet which have nuances and subtleties which do not admit of simple "either"/"or" solutions.