Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology
b) that’s what religion claims to give us, therefore
c) a secular state fears that this connection, however indirect, will pollute politics and thrust us back into the period of religious wars, which was ended by the separation of church and state.
Does this sound exaggerated? Think about how often people who defend traditional values are accused of hearkening back to “the Middle Ages.” Ask yourself how long in any argument about the Catholic Church does it take a progressivist to mention the Inquisition? It’s worth timing this phenomenon on your watch.
There is also in modern man, despite his protestations of independence, individualism, and autonomy (or perhaps precisely because of this) a deep, unacknowledged desire for conformity to the Zeitgeist, “the spirit of the age,” “what everybody knows.” It is surprisingly difficult to think for yourself, but only those who try to do that, know that.
This is actually a mild form of possession. For those who have become possessed by a demon, an evil spirit, an alien, another spirit than their own true self, have lost not only their own identity but even the knowledge that there is a distinction between themselves and their possessing spirit. They are so deeply self-deluded that they sincerely believe that the thoughts emanating from their mind come from within, not from without. This is as true of possession by the Zeitgeist as it is of possession by a demon.
What’s the Antidote?
To destroy the superstition of Progressivism, we must restore reason to its proper place, as an insight into truth rather than a rationalization of our desires or ideologies. We must correct defective theories of knowledge such as rationalism, empiricism, and idealism -- offering answers from the annals of sound philosophical reasoning, e.g., Aristotle and St. Thomas. We should answer honest skeptics such as Freud by critiquing their arguments logically; if he treats (as he does) all reasoning as a rationalization for unconscious desires, we must point out that this applies to his theories, too. We should ignore dishonest skeptics (see Ch. 9, Cynicism) who only want to sneer and enjoy jerking our necks by their chains.
We must think vertically, about timeless truths, before we can think horizontally, about timely, changing things. For without an appeal to some knowledge, however implicit, of a higher, unchanging reality, we cannot judge or improve anything real in this changing world. We must overcome our aeternophobia, our fear of eternal things. (There are new mental diseases in the modern world, just as there are new physical ones.)
We must moderate our fear of fanaticism. While we should never behave fanatically, Our Lord calls on us throughout the gospels to adopt a total, fanatical, uncompromising honesty with Truth -- no matter what the cost. We must especially devote ourselves to the truth about the two persons we can never escape in time or in eternity: ourselves and God. The finally important question is whether those two persons will spend eternity together, or apart.
We must educate ourselves about our past, our ancestors, our tradition, and our history. (And by “our” I mean the universally human, not only our local subgroup, whether nation, race, class, ideology, religion, or sex.) To generate the indispensable virtue of gratitude, we must know the riches that we should be grateful for.