The Gospel of Progress – and the New Jerusalem

American fans of Monty Python will be familiar with the opening lines of William Blake’s poem, “Jerusalem” (and I apologize to my British readers for such an introduction). The poem was set to music in 1916 and became deeply popular in post-war Britain. The Labour Party adopted it as a theme for the election of 1946. It recalls the legend of Christ’s visit to England as a child (taken there by St. Joseph of Arimathea). Blake spins it out into a vision of the heaven to be built in the modern world:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

King George V is said to have preferred it as a national anthem over “God Save the King.” It is, indeed, used as an anthem in a number of contemporary settings.

It has to be heard and understood in the context of its times. It was first published in 1808. Blake, interestingly, was an outspoken supporter of the French Revolution and a critic of the many darker elements of the industrial revolution that was, as yet, in its early days. That struggle is something of a theme that has continued through to our present day.

Though we often welcome the innovation and conveniences brought by industrialization and technological advances, we also lament the frequent tragedies found in their wake. The present environmental movement seems torn between a green world of naturalism and a super-technological world in which the digital age marries convenience to a tiny carbon footprint. The jury is still out on this latter possibility.

In Blake’s time, industrialization was new and often had the effect of displacing traditional workers. As a child, he lived near the Albion Flour Mills in Southwark, the first major factory in London. The factory could produce 6,000 bushels of flour per week and drove many traditional millers out of business. When the factory burned down in 1791, the independent millers rejoiced. Some have suggested Albion Flour as the origin of Blake’s reference to “Dark Satanic Mills.”

At the very time that industrialization was bringing prosperity to some, it created new forms of poverty among the “unskilled” (or “wrongly skilled”) poor. We live with the same thing today. The abandoned factories of the Rust Belt, where poverty and drug-addiction have replaced a once thriving industrial world, point to how intractable this aspect of modernity has become. Two-hundred years after Blake, our Dark Satanic Mills are generally off-shore. Their Jerusalem, our Satanic Mills.

The tremendous success of industrialization (for some) also created a deep, abiding confidence in the power of science and the careful application of human planning. As problems increased, so, too, did various plans and efforts to manage them. There grew up, as well, a sort of modern, industrialized eschatology. The Christian faith believes in the coming Kingdom of God. Already, various reformers and off-shoots of the Puritans had imagined themselves to be creating an earthly paradise. Their utopian visions became powerful engines of change and revolution. As the heads rolled in Paris, the crowds imagined them to be harbingers of a new world. They were – but not paradise.

A name deeply associated with the Christian adoption of this progressive thought is Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918). An American Baptist who taught and pastored in New York, he put forward works that would become foundational for the notion of the “social gospel.” The 19th century had seen something of a collapse in classical Christian doctrine in many of the mainline churches of Protestantism. The historical underpinnings of those doctrines had faced increasing skepticism. Rauschenbusch was not immune to this. He dismissed the notion of Christ’s death as an atonement for sin, seeing in it, rather, an example of suffering love whose power was to be found in its ability to encourage people to act in the same way.

He described six sins which Jesus “bore” on the Cross:

Religious bigotry, the combination of graft and political power, the corruption of justice, the mob spirit and mob action, militarism, and class contempt – every student of history will recognize that these sum up constitutional forces in the Kingdom of Evil. Jesus bore these sins in no legal or artificial sense, but in their impact on his own body and soul. He had not contributed to them, as we have, and yet they were laid on him. They were not only the sins of Caiaphas, Pilate, or Judas, but the social sin of all mankind, to which all who ever lived have contributed, and under which all who ever lived have suffered.

These “powers of evil” were embodied in social institutions. The work of the Kingdom of God consisted in resisting these institutions and reforming society.

Liberal Christianity adopted Rauschenbusch’s vision in a wide variety of ways. That his vision was largely political should be noted. Interestingly, he saw the Church as a problematic institution and preferred to speak, instead, of the “Kingdom of God,” by which he meant the political project opposed to the six sins.

It is, of course, an interesting approach to the faith and has been a well-spring for many of the Christian social movements of the past century. It is also a jettisoning of the ontological and spiritual content of the faith traditionally associated with classical Christianity (such as Orthodoxy). It is also the form of Christianity favored by the cultural elite of our time. It needs none of the messiness of doctrine, only the clarity of moral teaching. Indeed, it would be possible to practice such a Christianity believing Jesus to be merely human.

Another aspect of the modern social gospel (endemic, I think, to its so-called “demythologized” approach to the Scriptures) is its adherence to Utilitarianism as a moral principle. That principle is a results-oriented philosophy, described best as a moral model in which all efforts are managed towards a desired end. It presumes the control of outcomes.

None of this needs a God, nor a Savior. As such, it is ideally suited to a secularized Christianity. In large part, it provides a Christian slogan for otherwise secular ends. In Rauschenbusch’s time, the place of the institutional Church was strong, almost unassailable. Over time, the secularization of the Church, married to his vision of the gospel, has resulted in the death of the very institutions that gave it birth.

The rhetoric of “building the Kingdom,” made popular by Rauschenbusch, is a deep distortion of the phrase, despite its best intentions. Christ is far more than a good man who set an example, and more than a victim of social wrong-doing. The Christian story is far richer. The nature of sin is death, not mere social oppression. Death reigns over us and holds us in bondage to its movement away from God. It certainly manifests itself in various forms of evil-doing. But it also has a cosmic sway in the movement of all things towards death, destruction, and decay. Our problem is not our morality: it is ontological, rooted in our alienation from being, truth, and beauty – from God Himself. Broken communion leads to death. Immorality, in all its forms, is but a symptom.

However, God, in His mercy, entered into the fullness of our condition, our humanity, taking our brokenness on Himself:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrew 2:14-15

This is not the language of Christ as exemplar – it is Christ as atoning and deifying God/Man and Savior. The Kingdom of God as improvement, regardless of how well intended and managed, is still nothing more than a world of the walking dead. The Kingdom of God, as preached by Christ, is nothing less than resurrection from the dead.

We have been nurtured in a couple of centuries of Utilitarian rhetoric and thought. Nothing seems more normal to us than setting goals, making plans, and achieving results. It is not surprising that we might imagine God working in a similar manner. This is not the case.

Consider the story of the Patriarch Joseph. Betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, thrown into prison, where he meets other prisoners and interprets dreams, thus coming to the attention of the Pharoah, whose dream he interprets and offers wise counsel, whereby he is made Regent over Egypt, saving his family from famine.

What people in their right mind would ever consider such a plan as a means to reach the goal of saving themselves from a famine they had no idea was coming? No one. Indeed, event after event in the story appear to be nothing but ongoing tragedies. Joseph himself would later say of these things: “You [my brothers] meant it to me for evil, but the Lord meant it to me for good.”

That is the inscrutable nature of providence – as illustrated repeatedly in the Scriptures. The mystery of God’s providence, the working of the Kingdom of God in our midst, is inscrutable.

“He has exalted the humble and meek and the rich He has sent away empty.”

In these latter days, the masters of machines and money have imagined themselves to be “building the Kingdom” (Blake’s Jerusalem) with plans, intentions, goals, and utopias. [Such language was the bread and butter of public speech in my time among the Episcopalians]. The plans generally seemed to involve the rich helping the humble and meek so they would no longer need to be humble and meek. With every success they became even greater strangers to God. Their Churches stand empty, their children having forgotten God and looked towards other dreams.

It is the nature of the humble and meek to be clueless about the management of worldly affairs. They are generally excluded from management decisions. It is instructive in this regard to consider the nature of Christ’s commandments: they tend to be small and direct. Give. Love. Forgive. Take no thought for tomorrow. Endure insults.

As is true in the story of Joseph, the work of providence is largely seen only in retrospect. Its daily work in our lives will, more often than not, find us unjustly imprisoned by the lies of a wicked employer, or nailed to a Cross while being mocked. St. Paul describes the providence of God:

“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” (1 Corinthians 4:9–13)

If we are to speak of “building up the Kingdom of God,” let it be restricted to that work within us of “acquiring the Holy Spirit.” And then, speak with humility. Again, St. Paul says this about such things:

“For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”(1 Corinthians 4:4–5)

Our hearts long for “Jerusalem,” indeed. But the city we long for is not the project of William Blake’s dreams. It is ironic that Blake lived in a culture that had intentionally destroyed all of its monasteries, murdering many of its monks. And then it wondered where Jerusalem had gone.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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38 responses to “The Gospel of Progress – and the New Jerusalem”

  1. Alec Clelland Avatar
    Alec Clelland

    Some have thought that the “dark satanic mills” were in fact the Church of England, which Blake despised. I fear he might well have felt the same way about many of our churches today.

  2. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    I had read that speculation, as well. That would probably fit how Rauschenbusch saw the institutional Church. A strong aspect of all of this is the tendency to do theology from the point-of-view of the managerial class. Sort of by definition, those who study theology in schools are already part of that class and read things from that point of view, often without ever stopping to think about it. My Anglican years slowly helped me to hear what was going on around me.

    I recall being in a Coffee Hour one Sunday in my Episcopal years and hearing a conversation that revolved around “trailer park trash.” As I stood there, I thought, “My parents live in a trailer.” I realized that I had spent my entire adulthood “trying to pass for white” as the old phrase has it. Of course, racism would have been quite forbidden as something that belong to the lower classes. But the classism that is a hallmark of the mainline Churches certainly abounded. Even the term “fundamentalist” in those circles was code language for “ignorant, unwashed, trailer park trash.”

    Given the context of the gospel, we should likely place ourselves in just such positions if we are to have a hope of hearing what Christ is saying.

  3. Brian Prince Avatar
    Brian Prince

    Father, please bless and forgive — in the final paragraph, did you mean to write “William James” or “William Blake”?

  4. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Thanks a million for the head’s up. By the time I got to the end, proofing, my brain was fried.

  5. Joseph Galiano Avatar
    Joseph Galiano

    Thank you for writing this!

  6. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    One of the criticisms of a providential approach to the Gospel life is that is “passive”. “God does everything”.

    It is fundamentally a utilitarian objection, I think. It ignores the spiritual work of repentance and love.

    The utilitarian approach is also the architect of the second storey.

  7. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    I strongly suspect that those who criticize a providential approach to the gospel life are living one. Keeping the commandments will keep you very busy. Of course, a non-providential approach keeps you busy – but busy about everybody’s business but your own.

  8. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Father thank you for this.

    I believe I should make a print for future reference.

    There are occasions that I hear Rauschenbusch in the ‘tone’ of other writers, but can’t identify what it was, which is to say its source. Sometimes all that I can do is acknowledge that I’m aware of the sense of the Orthodox life, as I have learned to live it, hasn’t been represented in the writing. I sincerely do value our Orthodox theological teachings to support our understanding. I immerse myself in the Fathers and saints lives as much as I can. Bu it is one thing to talk about Orthodox theology and another to live the Way. Orthodox Christianity, what our life is in Christ, isn’t a ‘intellectual’ movement, nor an exercise in reforming our social structure and economies. It is the entire body and mind and soul, and our very life blood.

    I’m very grateful for the priest who was my catechist. I too wanted to enter Orthodoxy through intellectual acumen (such as there is of it in this old head). Such hubris was brought gently to a halt, although it does, as an old habit, come back into play from time to time. Coming bodily weekly to Liturgy with an open heart allowing Christ and the Holy Spirit to do their work was the recommendation given to me.

    It is interesting also that it was quite a long time before I actually had a bodily sense of Christ’s presence. It seemed to be more related to a gradual saturation from being an active participant in the Liturgical services and the physicality of maintaining the Orthodox life (prayer rule, fasts) at home. Weirdly perhaps, I didn’t try to convince myself, or to listen to someone else’s attempt to convince me. I’m too much of a trained skeptic to trust such mental shenanigan’s. I just waited for the Lord, believing He would come when my heart was ready. In essence this is what entering the Kingdom as a child is like. This is what I was taught to do. And this I do now. And sometimes the wait is painful.

    Michael Palanyi said something similar about chemistry. Sometimes a chemist is aware something is happening in the lab that is unusual. And the chemist has a sense of what is happening, but hasn’t yet on hand the means (ie a form of ‘verbal knowledge’) to articulate it. Palanyi referred to this phenomenon as the tacit dimension. And sometimes as chemists we might report what we sense in the ‘tacit dimension’ but unless another chemist has ‘been there’, that is bodily in the moment, conveying what is happening can be quite difficult.

    A reference to this sort of learning is revealed in the prayers before communion, which refer to the nourishing of the body and nous:

    Tremble, O man, seeing the deifying Blood;
    For it is coal burning the unworthy;
    The Body of God both deifies and nourishes me;
    It deifies the spirit and marvelously nourishes the nous.

    It doesn’t seem to me that this prayer attempts to present a theological perspective, per se. Rather it sings to us, to rivet our eyes (our nous) to what is, that is, our ontological reality.

  9. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    The great American historian, Henry Adams, in his essay, “The Law of Phase as Applied to History” looks at technological change as a dynamo. The faster it spins, the more energy it generates…. until it tears itself a part. To prevent that, a governor is necessary. He was not sanguine about the future. In fact he saw the United States in political and cultural decline in the mid to late 19th century. A possibly apocraphal remark attributed to him sums that up: “No one of my caliber can get elected President any more.”
    Interestingly enough he names the pre-industrial age ” The Age of the Virgin” and speaks quite highly of her and the quality of the time.

  10. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Excuse me. It is “The Rule of Phase as Applied to History.”
    It is contained in his book: The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma.

  11. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    The mechanistic description is apt Michael.

  12. M E Avatar
    M E

    Just a small point. William Blake was living at a time when French revolutionaries broke up monasteries and killed the religious… England had been protestant since the reign of Henry VIII. This king ,who died in 1547 ,was trying to free land from the “dead hand of the church” . Land which had been left empty but which could not be sold as it had been dedicated to God There had been plague and famine when he came to the throne but the deserted land could not be used even though the monasteries were vacated by their Orders when too many monks died. ( Monasteries were hospitals and places of resort for the poor so monks were infected more than others,)

    A very different England in the Tudor period . Protestant and not under the Pope ,who was almost captive to the French, but very religious.
    The view of Henry VIII in the Church of England is mostly a Victorian one, I think.The politicians were determined to take money and lands from the Church of England of their own day.!

  13. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    I’m a student of Brit. history – for many years. The dissolution of the monasteries (a very polite term) is, obviously, something done under Henry VIII in the first half of the 16th century. It is not Blake’s generation. But, that same society, over time, became bitterly anti-Catholic in a way that is a troubling part of British history. The “dissolution” – to use but one example – the Abbey at Walsingham – the monastery lands were confiscated – the monks were drawn and quartered. Henry was a butcher. To this day, the amount of land that is in the hands of a fairly small number of people is quite staggering. It had nothing to benefit the poor – it benefitted the Royals and the peers.

    The industrial revolution not only displaced many (millers, weavers, etc.) it came on the heals of things like Enclosure, etc., that had dispossessed many already. That England managed to avoid a revolution like the one in France is actually fairly surprising. Blake supported the French revolution (and got in a bit of trouble over it). But the critique of the industrial world was, to my mind, incomplete. By the time his poem became a hymn (a century later), the secularization of Britain was well under way – and the only Jerusalem that could be built was one that had no spiritual content.

    Having spent so much time among the various groups that comprise Anglicanism – I can only say that it lacked depth – form without substance – pageantry without piety. The monasteries are but a symbol in a way – but very telling. In truth, Anglicanism had failed by 1600. The Civil War, 40 years later represented a near collapse of Anglicanism altogether, with but a political solution at the end. But the centrifugal forces that we label “Puritan” became the seedbed of the thousands of denominations and the madness of later Protestant Christianity – often at its worst.

    I stirred the pot up a bit in the article – making of that whole stretch something of a single pie.

  14. Paul Campbell Avatar

    The Kingdom of God as improvement, regardless of how well intended and managed, is still nothing more than a world of the walking dead. The Kingdom of God, as preached by Christ, is nothing less than resurrection from the dead.

    This phrase, I must remember! It is precisely the literary antidote to the worldliness of secular mankind. Thank you for this gem!

  15. Justin Avatar

    Fr Stephen,

    I have worked in, and continue to do so, the Satanic mills, at least the Rust Belt and Western versions. Even recognizing their misanthropic character, I have observed something that might make heads explode. I have found the Kingdom within the factory and plant walls. The “progressive” desire to rid our world of these places hits me as a failure of imagination, and a rejection of some truly “thin” places that don’t meet our scrupulous preconceptions.

    Regardless of appearances, my mill is far from Satanic, and even appears at times to be a type of monastery. And I love my brothers and sisters there. That seems to me the Kingdom within.

    Father Bless.

  16. Laurie Wolpert Avatar
    Laurie Wolpert

    Richard Beck is the author of The Slavery of Death, which makes some of the same points you make. He draws on Ernest Becker’s work The Denial of Death.

  17. Kevin Combes Avatar
    Kevin Combes

    Father Stephen,

    I find my faith increased a little more every time I read one of your blog posts. I’m particularly interested in hearing more about what you have to say on the subject of Beauty. I tend to see beauty as a superficial quality, but it is clear that there is something more to it.

  18. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    If you’ve got fifty bucks, invest in Timothy Patitsas’ The Ethics of Beauty. It’s a wonderful series of essays with some rich thoughts on the matter. Or, if you’re patient, I’ll continue to dribble out my thoughts here on the blog. I’ll get back to beauty soon – it always heals my soul to think and write on it.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    I have saved this very important Orthodox article on garments of skin that I like to look back to from time to time (especially these days). I find true beauty in not moralizing garments of skin in and of themselves. They can be received/used as a God given gift or an idol, always. I am learning repentance consists of giving thanks to God for them, and taking personal responsibility for oneself that one seek God inside of God given garments of skin to the best that one can personally seek Him, His Kingdom, and one’s personal repentance. I am learning that the garments of skin will fall away some day either way, but it is truly about my personal repentance unto God, and thanking God for their gift in as much as they are, and learning to live more and more towards glorious garments than merely garments of skin.

  20. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman
  21. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Father Stephen: I spent the money for “The Ethics of Beauty” sometime back but I have yet to make it out of the Preface. There he makes a comment that written Christian came as a response the theophany. I find that highly significant because there seems to be a significant amount of more recent theology as speculation on the possibility of theophany.
    Responses to actual theophany are generally beautiful. Speculations are, generally not.

  22. Sebastien Avatar

    Merci, merci, merci, merci, merci!

  23. Drewster2000 Avatar

    Reading Justin’s comments about working in the mills and finding the Kingdom there reminded that I continually see God accomplishing things all around us, in us, through us, despite of us and so on. My imagination shows people working in factories where the Modern project is miserably failing to establish the supposed kingdom – except for the elite few – while God is busily building His Kingdom secretly inside the hearts of those workers who fit into the category of “those who have been despised by the world.”

    God always has a miraculous way of never being thwarted by the most nefarious plans of both men and angels. In fact I see Him going around full of peace and joy, not sitting there weeping about His poor children and how His designs aren’t coming to fruition. “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” That’s SO right!! It’s Him working with the hidden hand again.

    The Kingdom is getting built in the only place it has not yet been fully established – our hearts – and not by us except to the extent that we say “yes” to His work. Glory be to God for all things!

  24. Byron Avatar


    Your comment reminds me of Psalm 138. “If I go down into hell, Thou art there present”. He is in the mills, no matter that the world may attempt to keep Him out. Glory to God in All Things, indeed!

  25. Scott Shipman Avatar
    Scott Shipman

    Dear Fr Stephen,

    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    Wonderful essay, thank you!

    By any chance, have read Eugene Vodolazkin’s novel. Laurus? Many of the themes of this essay are illustrated in this excellent book.

    In Christ,

  26. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Yes, indeed. It is one of my favorites.

  27. Michael Baker Avatar
    Michael Baker

    Father, it is no exaggeration to say that your wonderful writings have become foundational in my understanding of Orthodoxy and modernity. Your thought has remarkable consistency, and I keep wondering if there is a source text or author that informs your critiques of modernity?

  28. Reid Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, your post puts me in mind of Dorothy Sayers’s instructive address from 1941 “The Other Six Deadly Sins.” She addresses pride last, saying

    “Because we do not recognize pride when we see it, we stand aghast to see the havoc wrought by the triumphs of human idealism. We meant so well, we thought we were succeeding, and look what has come of our efforts! There is a proverb that says that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions. We usually take it as referring to intentions that have been weakly abandoned; but it has a deeper and much subtler meaning. For that road is paved with good intentions strongly and obstinately pursued, until they have become self-sufficing ends in themselves and deified.”

    By the way, the hymn “And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time” (Jerusalem) is a beautiful hymn. It closes the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” which takes its title from the line in Blake’s poem.

  29. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    In large part, it’s the fruit of a conversation that began for me back in the late 80’s when I was studying with Stanley Hauerwas. Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self, Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, and a number of others were early parts of that. There are a number of other books and articles out there. I’ll take some time tomorrow, if possible, to put together a small list and post them in the comments.

    It’s sort of been a handful of insights drawn from a number of places – it’s been a topic in the philosophical world (or certain corners of it) since the early 20th century, apparently. CS Lewis has a good bit to say (The Abolition of Man). Chesterton is another source.

    Much of what I’ve done is to hold all of those things in mind and bring them into the conversation of contemporary Orthodoxy. I personally think we should talk a great deal about it, at least under the heading of “discerning the times.” There is a small handful of Orthodox writers who seem not only unaware of the issues surrounding modernity, but to actually be seeking to bring modernity into the life of the Church – which would be tragic. God will not permit this, I think, in the long run.

    But, I’ll see what I can do to suggest a few things. Glad the blog is of help to you!

  30. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Father, I have run across a few folks who truly think that modernity is the way to “fix” the Church making it more attractive. There are so many resources that show modernity for what it truly is. For me the pivotal moment was as a senior in college. I read all of Nietzche’s work evaluated him as “an historian”. I was not yet officially
    Christian but it was only a matter of time.

    So many other influences laying bare the lie of modernity but Nietzche remains the most potent because he is so honest in its genesis and aim.
    The Transvaluation of all Values is what we are seeing.

  31. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Modernity is the water in which we swim. I suspect that everybody believes in it to one extent or another – certainly aspects of it – unless and until they are disabused of the notion. There’s a sort of logic about “making the world a better place” and the notion that with science and technology we’re learning so much more and the problem is just people who don’t want to accept change.

    The critique of modernity to the ears of some, sounds like you’re expounding some sort of conspiracy theory. It’s not – only in that it is believed by so many, so thoroughly that they don’t have to conspire.

    But, it is a lie, or a bad myth. The evidence in many ways is all around us – the justified killing (which is always blamed on someone else, or excused because the victim was not really a “person”). On and on, the management of history is littered with bodies. The American military/intelligence world, as run by the neo-cons, imagines that just a few more wars, a few more color revolutions, and the world will be fine. And by “fine” they mean safe for profits.

    One of the most interesting reads I’ve done of late is The Enchanments of Mammon – which traces the role of profit-making in the birth of modernity and its growth – and the myths wrapped up in it. Perhaps it’s as they say, “Follow the money.”

  32. Alan Avatar

    Reid, thank you very much for your comments and the quote. Outstanding!

  33. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Ay, Father. Modernity is living apart from God — hiding from Him as He looks for us.
    The only fix: repentance. Still somehow in the midst of all the evil, there is still love and the human heart rejoicing in it, being changed by it despite the offal soup in which we marinate.
    For some reason God still wanders the Garden in search of we who are lost. Personally, I have seen Him most clearly in the times when “my life” was brought low. Everytime I have cried out “Lord, save me, I sink” He has reached out His hand and grabbed hold even as He chastises me for having “little faith”. As if I had any.

    When, sixteen years ago on Pascha with my heart raw form having it ripped in half with the death of my wife just 40 days prior, He restored me as He showed me His Ressurection and that of my wife as well as we sang the Paschal Troparion: “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

    Beyond that, He has poured into my heart even more–pressed down, running over. Yet wayward child that I am, I still go my own way in doubt, fear and self-will kicking against the pricks having time and again to cry out as I sink, “Lord save me”.
    The storm of modernity is nothing.

    Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

    As you proclaim, as Dee has seen, as the Holy Scripture testifies I too can say that at the heart of all things is the Death on the Cross and the Resurrection of our Incarnate Lord– fully God and fully man. Anything else is a lie.

    Christ is Risen!

  34. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    BTW: For those who are of the Reformed persuasion I can heartily recommend the blog Orthodox, Reformed Bridge. You can access it through the Ancient Faith drop-down box above. The author, a Hawaiian native came to the Church after a lifetime in the Reformed church while attending a Reformed seminary.
    While he is not publishing much new right now as he has many other irons in the fire, there is a great deal of material there to read and ponder. His ministry is quite gentle. A bridge the is safe to walk on.

  35. Anonymo Avatar

    Michael, Amen! I found his work there to be invaluable. Robert is a very pleasant or friendly chap which could also be seen when certain comment sections got a bit heated. I am persuaded that one can know another person with great intimacy just be reading their writing.

  36. Michael Baker Avatar
    Michael Baker

    Thank you, Father, I look forward to such a list if you find time. I gift _Everywhere Present_ to new parish members every chance I get, but I think I’ll save Charles Taylor for my own bookshelf!

  37. DAVID WAITE Avatar

    “It is ironic that Blake lived in a culture that had intentionally destroyed all of its monasteries, murdering many of its monks. And then it wondered where Jerusalem had gone.”

    Amen to that.

  38. Eric Lundberg Avatar
    Eric Lundberg

    Amen, brother! Fantastic article. I stumbled on this when talking to my son about the new Jerusalem. I liked the picture and once I began reading I was hooked. We’ll, put. I’m sure these ideas a percolating in many Christians minds. Thank you for putting the work in!

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