New-Age Froth and Feel-Good Ethics Come to the Fore
LONDON, OCT. 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Western Europe and the United States are decadent societies because they have abandoned a morality based on the traditional virtues. So says a book just published by the London-based Social Affairs Unit, "Decadence: The Passing of Personal Virtue and Its Replacement by Political and Psychological Slogans."
Edited by Digby Anderson, the volume brings together authors from a variety of backgrounds and views. A first section contains essays on the "old" virtues, such as prudence, love and courage. The second deals with the "new" virtues, centered on the environment, caring, therapy and being critical.
The book does not pretend to give a complete analysis of any of the virtues, and the authors of the chapters differ in their approach to the subject matter. Readers could also disagree about some of the interpretations of the virtues. Overall, however, the book provides a stimulating reflection on the dangers of discarding the tried-and-true virtues for passing fads.
In the introduction, Anderson explains that the old virtues were genuine ones, in that they demanded of people specific types of behavior. The new ones, in contrast, often fall into the category of slogans or rhetorical appeals. Or, if in some cases they do contain elements of true virtue, they tend to elevate a trivial aspect into the main virtue.
(Read the whole thing here; Zenit tends to recycle it’s articles pretty often.)
I’m not sure this is a whole lot different from what people have been saying for years. The underlying basis of modern liberal Protestantism has more to do with removing any demands on the congregation than it does with whacked theology. Revisionist theology may have provided an entry point for moral slippage, but is no longer the driving force.
The desire for the elimination of moral restraints now appears to be what is shaping revisionist theology. One only has to look at what has happened in ECUSA, PCUSA, the UCC, and similar bodies. The American Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor report
was basically an attempt to cherry pick arguments to justify what people had already decided they wanted to do.
2000 years ago, the Church was born into a pagan world where the gods were propitiated in the service of human lusts, “automation” consisted of a bunch of slaves turning a crank, involuntary sexual servitude was commonplace, abortion and the abandoning of children to die was a standard practice, sexual perversion and adultery were a normal part of life for Young Urban Romans, and punishments for real and fabricated crimes were both brutal and arbitrary.
In a few brief centuries, the Christian Church changed all that. And here we are 2000 years later, where the shepherds of many a flock gleefully participate in the repaganization of those same societies. You can leave your wife for the boy next door, just don’t buy fur. Kill your own baby; just sign this petition to divest from Israel. It’s a pity that slavery has reemerged in Africa and South Asia, but what we really need to do is protest globalization and Wal-Mart. And live however you want; after all, Jesus accepts you just the way you are.
I guess there’s nothing surprising about this; it’s not like we weren’t warned a long time ago.But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
(2Pe 2:1-3, NIV)
But of course, we have to contextualize
that, and realize that it was never
intended for us