Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Papist Revival in the Secular Heartland

I thought it would be a nice idea to do a post from time to time with a digest of news from the Low Countries. That is, if there is anything remarkable to share. On the whole the media there express the same obsession with trivia as the rest of the MSM in the Western world. Anybody with good suggestions where that sociological phenomenon may be coming from, I'd be grateful if you let me know. If I may venture a guess: might it be another consequence of the relativistic world view that is common among the journalists; one that denies the existence of objective news, and considers it impolite and unfashionable to foist a personal opinion on others? Unless it happens to be the Bush Lied, Children Died repetitions, of which by now everybody has become sick and tired. What rests, is the trivial.

But in The Netherlands there are one or two things that stand out. For one, a new government is on the verge of hatching, one that will include a small but tenacious Bible-based party (with a left-leaning interpretation of same).

There's more. The Netherlands is a self-appointed "guide-land". There's no good translation, but the word means to convey something like "an international socio-economic trend setter", or something such. This is an illusion, since the Dutch haven't produced an original thought between them since Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536 Anno Domini), the scholar who ruined Greek pronunciation.

The Batavian tribes-men and woman are born conformists and as such faithful followers of fashion (often with dire results), rather then avant-gardists. But they have something else what every international marketeer can attest to: as children of Calvin they know instinctively that fashions are fickle and aren't likely to stand the test of time: they see the relativity of it, if you will. As a consequence they are always open to trash the old and go for some new product or service.

But this time the shoe is on the other foot and we are having a real papist revival on our hands! And that in a country where even the vicars are self-confessed atheists. A Protestant newspaper on 2nd February reported on a recent book presentation by a Catholic umbrella organization, of a tome called "Onderstroom" (Under-current) in which seven young Catholics give "an open and personal testimony of their faith" [1]. Noteworthy in the report is the "coming out" language that is being used - the need to openly come out of the closet - which just shows how oppressive anti-theism has become.

Striking was the repeated call for more inspiration in respect of the tradition and the faith. "The time has come to snatch something back of what we have shamelessly let go", said the chairman of the Scientific Council for Government Policy, a public think tank that recently published a surprising report [2] about the state of religion in The Netherlands. He added: "The rise of Islam forces Christians to express their belief more clearly and with more fire".

Americans in the midst of their culture war might be pleased to know that Dr Antoine Bodar pleaded to start the days on Catholic schools with the sign of the cross or a short prayer. He warned not to confuse openness [3] with a diluted identity. Dr Bodar is critical of the tendency highlighted in the report, to be religious without necessarily carrying a membership card of the Church.

During the last decades there has been a tendency in the Church to adapt to post-modernity and changing life-styles by conforming the liturgy to tastes, instead of the faithfull following the Church as a source of religious leadership. This started in the seventies of the last century with the so-called beat Mass, a sad effort to get the first post WWII generation out of the cafeterias, back into the Church. It never worked.

But if signs are not deceiving us, if not for anything else, it seems we may have to thank Islam for the tentative beginnings of a Christian revival. There's a call for a sharper contrast and a clearer, stricter morality. Well, it stands to reason: it has become so murky of late it's become hard to distinguish reality from the daemons it has created.

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