Monday, 18 September 2017

The Reign of Western Idolatry

The Last One Hundred Years

All mankind is incurably religious.  Man is a worshipping creature.  The distinction is not whether mankind, cultures, or nations worship, but whom they worship.  A second proposition is this: either individual human beings will worship the one, true Living God, or they will worship an idol--a god manufactured by men.

Some religions claim to believe in no god.  Buddhism--at least in its Theravada form--is an atheistic religion, for example, believing in no god, but in the eventual annihilation of the human soul.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the West, professing belief in no deity, would end up manufacturing a veritable workshop of idols.

One of these is economics.  Filthy lucre has been cast in the light of a pure god, able to bestow upon mankind a millennium of prosperity.  Now to those who have missed it, these doctrines of the religion of economics have been seriously proposed.  It has not been intended as a metaphor.  Nor is it offered as hyperbole to make a point.  It has been (and continues to be) argued as a literal proposition.  Money is the god of Western man.

William T. Cavanaugh, in The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) cites Robert H. Nelson's 2001 book, entitled Economics as Religion in which the author argues:
. . . the replacement of Christianity and other religions by the religion of economics has ushered in an age of freedom and prosperity.  Nelson shows how market economics exactly parallels the earlier role of Christianity in Western society, with its own providential god (the invisible hand of the market), sacred texts, priesthood, and plan of salvation for the recurrent problems of human history: "The Jewish and Christian bibles foretell one outcome of history.  If economics foresees another, it is in effect offering a competing religious vision." [Op cit., p. 108f.]
Thus, one example of a modern atheistic Western religion is economics.  There are others.  Socialism is another.  Fascism is a third.  All three exalt Man to the status of a god, to the same extent as other religions exalt their deities.

Ludwig Feuerbach, writing in 1842, significantly influenced Karl Marx in this regard.  He wrote:
We must start to  be religious once again; politics must become our religion, but it can only do so if we, in our perceptions, have a supreme value that makes our religion of politics. [Ibid., p. 111.]
It is ironic that when Marxism was failing as a religion that six former Communists, Arthur Koestler amongst them, would write essays published in a volume entitled The God That Failed, (1949) arguing that Communism--the most pure form of Marxist ideology--had betrayed its followers.

We provide one more example of the ubiquity of religion and religions throughout the West.  In the earliest days of the United States, Benjamin Franklin had argued for "a cult of the nation and the duties of the citizen" [Emphasis, ours.].  From the beginning the United States sought to promulgate a civil religion.  And so the nation-state serves as a deity in the United States, more so than in any other Western country.

Here is a significant quotation from one who has been called the greatest American novelist:
We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people--the Israel of our time. . . . Long enough we have been skeptics with regard to ourselves, and doubted whether, indeed, the political Messiah had come.  But he has come in us, if we would but give utterance to his promptings. And let us always remember that with ourselves, almost for the first time in the history of the earth, national selfishness is unbounded philanthropy; for we cannot do a good to American, but we give alms to the world.  [Herman Melville, cited in Cavanaugh, op cit., p. 116]
Continuing the theme, Cavanaugh cites author Carlton Hayes on the deification of the American flag:
Nationalism's chief symbol of faith and central object of worship is the flag, and curious liturgical forms have been devised for "saluting" the flag, for "dipping" the flag, for "lowering" the flag, and for "hoisting" the flag.  Men bare their heads when the flag passes by; and in praise of the flag poets write odes and children sing hymns.

In America, young people are ranged in serried rows and required to recite daily, with hierophantic voice and ritualistic gesture, the mystical formula: "I pledge allegiance to our flag and to the country for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  Everywhere, in all solemn feasts and fasts of nationalism the flag is in evidence, and with that other sacred thing, the national anthem.  [Cited in Cavanaugh, op cit., p. 117.]
Cavanaugh adds:
If we think that Hayes is exaggerating the function of the Pledge of Allegiance, we need only to consult the author of the pledge, Francis Bellamy, who said that the pledge was meant to sink into schoolchildren through ritual repetition, and added, "It is the same way with the catechism, or the Lord's Prayer."  [Ibid.]
 The point is that all these examples make manifest the truth that secular modern man is incurably religious.  Western man has festooned his existence over the past 150 years with multitudes of idols, most of them covered with sacrificial blood.

Herein lies the fundamental cause for the twentieth century being the bloodiest yet in recorded human history.  Idols need to be worshipped.  They require blood-sacrifice to  be honoured.  The West's secular religions have delivered up an unimaginable abundance of the stuff.

Against all these abominations stands the King of the world, Jesus Christ.  He has declared, "No more shedding of blood".  The sacrifice of his own blood obliterated all other blood sacrifices.  No blood sacrifice from that point on has had any legitimacy nor claim.  "It is finished" was (and remains) his cry.

The implicit warning is both clear and dire: if we do not bow down to the Lord of all the earth, we will end up bowing down to idols created by our imagination.  And they will require our blood to signal our devotion.  How long will the West continue in its ignominy?  How many more must die at the altars of our idols?

From mass abortions, to ceaseless wars, to self-facilitated terrorist murder, the gods of the "secular" West continue their reign of terror.

No comments: