A Secular Age – Charles Taylor’s Acceptable Loss?

 

Secular Age-Charles Tayor

A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

This entry like a number of mine, you will see, is tagged Dictatorship of Secularism.

And these tagged entries eviewefer to my growing conviction over years, as I study the rise of secularism, of how we are being manipulated, robbed, co-erced and ultimately controlled.

Now in terms of these webmusings, there is a book that I am finding to be a descriptive masterpiece. It is Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. In some 800 stunningly intelligent, highly-textured pages, Taylor charts the trajectory from Medieval Christendom to the Secularised West we know today.

Now in time, I hope to post a full review. But first some observations from the review-in-progress.

I call this book a descriptive masterpiece. And such it is – near genius in my view. For its powers of description, I will be mining this book for years to come, indeed the rest of my life I suspect.

Not that it is perfect. Like the vast majority of English books, it is naturally tilted towards Anglophone society. What we largely get here, is the story of how Catholicism turned to Secularism via the intermediate stage of Protestantism in the culture of the “Anglo-Saxon”.

We don´t have much then, about the (much slower) rise of secularism in places like Italy, Spain, or Poland.

But to his enormous credit, Taylor consciously and humbly admits that to do such is beyond his competence. And as if to compensate, we do get a significant look at France in the process.

But with all its titanic descriptive power, for we who are Catholics aspiring to honour and be faithful to the Tradition, does Taylor´s book have prescriptive value?

Much less, I am afraid. This is to say, I find I owe a great deal to Taylor’s analysis of an ongoing – and degenerative – disease, but as to how we are to regard or treat that disease, Taylor has much less to offer me …

Though it has to be said, Taylor roundly rejects what he calls the common subtraction narratives about the rise of secularism.

These involve the idea – more or less – that secularism amounts to what we have naturally remaining or left over, once our society has subtracted all the religious and metaphysical, superstititious nonsense our ancestors once took for granted.

No, it is an enormous virtue of A Secular Age, that Taylor demonstrates that secularism is not about simple elimination and destruction – but CONSTRUCTION. Secularism is something our society constructed for itself, stage by stage and not always fully conscious of what it did, as it rejected the medieval world view.

And again and again, rather than secularism being some neutral, open field that we naturally gravitated to, once we lost religion, Taylor´s book amply demonstrates how to a very great extent, this field was constructed and imposed by elites … Which elites often consciously wanted to deprive, to rob, to enforce, to brainwash …

So far, so good.

Now, Taylor is a champion of the many advantages the transition has brought. And there is no disputing that there is a lot to champion. Clearly, many of the liberties and rights we now take for granted are the result of the secular trajectory. (Though whether we are really more or less free than our ancestors is another point altogether!)

And in the process, Taylor speaks of loss, as well. This too, is all to his credit. However, one gets the feeling that for Taylor, this often amounts to acceptable loss – the “price we pay for progress” – as a young Geordie once said to me, enamoured of modernity …

Thus in speaking of the modern situation in terms of religion and spirituality, Taylor writes:

The measurable, external results are as we might expect: first, a rise in the number of those who state themselves to be atheists, agnostics, or to have no religion. But beyond this, the gamut of intermediate positions greatly widens: many people drop out of active practice while still declaring themselves to belonging to some confession, or believing in God.

On another dimension, the gamut of beliefs in something beyond widens, fewer declaring belief in a personal God, while more hold to something like an impersonal force; in other words a wider range of people express religious beliefs which move outside Christian orthodoxy.

Following in this line is the growth of non-Christian religions, particularly those originating in the Orient, and the proliferation of New Age modes of practice, of views which bridge the humanist/spiritual boundary, of practices which link spirituality and therapy.

On top of this more and more people adopt what would earlier been seen as untenable positions, e.g., they consider themselves Catholic while not accepting many crucial dogmas, or they combine Christianity with Buddhism, or they pray while not being certain they believe

In reaction to all this, Christian faith is in the process of redefining and recomposing itself in various ways, from Vatican II to the charismatic movements [Emphasis mine].

Yes, I find these lines remarkably descriptive. With relatively few but deft keystrokes, Taylor has summed up so much. And the entire book is like that – whether Taylor is talking of 2007 (the date of publication) or 1789 or 1517 (or other key dates in the construction).

But what of the loss, the loss?

Now, Taylor is writing as one of the commonly recognised intellectual giants of our age – who also happens to be a Catholic. But this sense of acceptable loss seems to me to stray beyond the heart of Catholicism …

How are we who seek to cleave to the heart of the Tradition, to regard what Taylor encapsulates best I think in two dependent clauses above: “fewer declaring belief in a personal God, while more hold to something like an impersonal force”.

Unacceptable loss. Tragedy. Untold damage to all that is truly human and truly personal …

I confess these are the words that spontaneously shot from my synapses to my fingertips as I posed the question above …

I do not mean by those spontaneous words that people without belief in the personality of God, nor even atheists are by definition less human, less personal. Many such people are very personal and very human and very moral.

I do mean however that the civilisational loss of the sense of the personal God can only bring in the end reduced human-ness, reduced personality …

by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

I will be saying more in review of Charles Taylor‘s epic. I will also be trying to say much more of the fruits of secularism being foisted on us. And other things.

Today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I would like to say more in honour of of Our Lady – so denigrated in the trajectory just invoked. The loss of Our Lady! How I think this loss is crucial to the story Taylor is telling. But how little he seems to note this!

All these are harbingers of things to come. Not necessarily in that order, however.

From Amazon US:

These books can also be found in our Amazon UK store here. The following titles also have Reviews at these links: (Puritan’s Empire) (Meditations on the Tarot) (When Corporations Rule the World).

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7 Comments

  1. Edwin Shendelman
    Posted 9 December 2009 at 02:21 | Permalink

    Defining fields of loss and gain in the our current culture are important if we are to discuss them accurately. We who feel the losses acutely have not only a responsibility to give voice to what is lost but also to what has been gained. It is beyond my ability to address all aspects of the issue. But I can pose a number of questions?

    Is ecumenicism a loss or gain?
    Is openness to other religious or spiritual cultures?
    Can Protestantism be seen as part of the sacred movement of Christianity through time or only as decay?
    Is the way to find a sacred matrix to which all religions can co-exist or must one religion triumph?
    If the latter what to do with what is true and valuable in those religions?
    Can the negative aspects of secularism be undone or does it need to be fought totally?
    Should we work for the end of secular liberal democracy in favor of a sacred order of some kind?

  2. roger
    Posted 9 December 2009 at 13:15 | Permalink

    Thank you again, Edwin.

    You write:

    “Defining fields of loss and gain in the our current culture are important if we are to discuss them accurately. We who feel the losses acutely have not only a responsibility to give voice to what is lost but also to what has been gained. It is beyond my ability to address all aspects of the issue.”

    It is beyond my ability as well, Edwin. Defining fields … precisely weighing. It seems to me to be beyond just about anyone´s ability.

    Must we then renounce speech until “we have it all worked out”?

    Evidently this website is a testimony to my conviction – no. We must speak about these things, we who care about them, as faltering, as fallible and as limited as we are.

    And yes I agree one must be grateful and acknowledging of all the gains – and let one´s heart be pierced to the core by the losses. A very, very difficult weighing and balancing act indeed!

    Your questions, how I struggle with your questions, year in, year out. And how I note that as I struggle, so my views move steadily away from the kind of simplistic answers dictated by “political correctness” into darker, scarier territory. Outside my comfort zone. How much easier it is to appear tolerant and open, while the Mystery at the Heart of the Church is destroyed …

    In these comments boxes, I want to allow myself the luxury of more off-the-cuff responses. More worked out will be what appears in the weblog and most worked out will be in my book.

    But here are some off-the-cuff responses to your questions …

    “Is ecumenicism a loss or gain? Is openness to other religious or spiritual cultures?

    Ecumenicism is a wide field indeed, clearly leading to real gains in terms of ending bitter religious conflicts, hatred, violence, untold suffering and horror. Among other things. At the same time, there is the disaster of the flattening of Christianity, so that it becomes “just another path”. Or the loss of the Catholic Mystery. Our Lady, for example, becomes seen as frequently only an obstacle to ecumenical unity.

    “Can Protestantism be seen as part of the sacred movement of Christianity through time or only as decay?”

    Too many great souls have nourished and been nourished by Protestantism for one to relegate it simply to decay. At the same time, the loss of the Catholic Mystery has had I believe far more tragic results than we can conceive. And I for one, feel a need to let my heart be pierced by this. Do I let my heart be pierced sufficiently? Hardly …

    “Is the way to find a sacred matrix to which all religions can co-exist or must one religion triumph? If the latter what to do with what is true and valuable in those religions?”

    Specifically seeking triumph can be a very dangerous thing. I would rather think in terms of my own humble and limited calling, which involves supporting as deeply as I can, the Catholic Mystery and letting Providence work. No doubt Divine Providence will continue to bring forth, for example, the great souls such as Mahatma Gandhi who are called to far, far greater tasks than I am …

    “Can the negative aspects of secularism be undone or does it need to be fought totally?
    Should we work for the end of secular liberal democracy in favor of a sacred order of some kind?”

    Triumph … Fighting … ending. There is a militaristic, revolutionary flavour to such words. Which may simply echo how you read my own comments! Obviously I do use some strong language at times. E.g. Dictatorship of Secularism.

    I think strong language is sometimes needed. I think there is a danger to both such language and to being cowed by so-called political correctness. And I do believe that contrary to the modern notion that we are free in this modern age, that the truth is that we are monitored, co-erced, manipulated … from a very young and tender age … on a scale unimaginable to our ancestors.

    I personally want to support all that is moral and beautiful within secular liberal democracy and to the best of my (very) weak ability, withdraw support from all that which is not moral and beautiful. I want to challenge much that is supported by secular liberal democracy e.g. the round the clock advertising/ brainwashing undertaken by global corporations in pursuit of ravaging.

    At the same time, I do not want my challenge to degenerate into militaristic hating. Really I want to weep more and not react. And within that weeping, I want to do whatever I can to support the recognition of a Sacred Order that already exists, but which is being obscured by the impositions fostered by our secular order …

    Again, quick, off-the-cuff. In time, I will try to be more thorough in other venues … Thank you again, Edwin. I very much appreciate your own searching reflections here on these piercing and heart-rending issues.

  3. peter kelly
    Posted 30 December 2009 at 23:18 | Permalink

    “Is ecumenicism a loss or gain? Is openness to other religious or spiritual cultures?’

    I want to affirm Roger’s comment, ‘Ecumenicism is a wide field indeed, clearly leading to real gains in terms of ending bitter religious conflicts, hatred, violence, untold suffering and horror.

    C.S. Lewis gives a beautiful and simple image in ‘The Last Battle’, which has influenced me since childhood. In the afterlife the children meet a young Calormen , one of the ‘enemy’ who has also died in the final conflict. The Calormen meets Aslan, the Christ figure in the Narnia books, and expects to be destroyed as he had been brought up to believe Aslan to be the enemy of his own god, Tash. But Aslan welcomes him lovingly. The young man asks, ‘Is it true that Thou and Tash are one?’ and Aslan answers ‘…….We are opposites… He and I are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he knew it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name of Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted…….’
    The young man says he understands but says, ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’ To which Aslan replies, ‘Beloved…..unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they seek’.

    I am sure many would regard my belief in these matters as simplistic but I do believe that a loving, merciful, honourable, virtuous person of whatever culture or faith will find the Christ waiting for them after death, though they may not even know the name of Christ.

    But it is important that we seek earnestly and hold true to our faith whatever it may be. And this is why we can recognise someone like Ghandi as a great soul because, I think, we recognise his christian qualities.

  4. Edwin Shendelman
    Posted 1 January 2010 at 23:41 | Permalink

    Yes, I really believe that too, Peter. Jesus said \No man comes to the Father but by me.\ Though this saying is often used in a fundamentalist way I think there is in fact an underlying ecumenical meaning. All people of good faith of whatever religion, if they do not commit some horrendous sin, will have an opportunity to meet Christ after death. Nobody goes to the Father except through Him. At that point the truth of Jesus will be infused into their soul so that they, if they are persons of good faith, will accept who He was and who He is as reflected in Christian dogma. By accepting and welcoming Jesus He will extend His Spirit and Light which will over-join our own, purifying and healing us so that we are one in one Body with Him, in His Light. This becomes the \pass\ by which we go with Jesus to the Father and abide in the company of God, the Holy Trinity. All that was good and valuable in our spiritual journey will be transfigured. Just like the coming of Christ was predicted in the Jewish scriptures and pre-figured in the Pagan ones, aspects of our spiritual life even if we are not Christians, pre-figure our future \Christian\ life as you indicated through parables of C.S. Lewis.

    Christians are those who start to live this life now, \dying before death\ to use the Sufi phrase, to seek to become One in One Body with Christ in this life, here. This is greater glory for us after we die. But I am cautious about not using this simplistically. There are those Jews, Muslims and others who may have more of a taste of God’s Presence than a said Christian. But this taste comes from the true God, who is seen truly in the Face of Jesus. So when the veil of this life falls away what will remain of our spiritual striving will point to see the Visible Image of the Invisible God–Jesus. As a Christian we start this life now and attempt to live in its fullness.

    This is a very brief comment on a potentially vast subject.

    • roger
      Posted 4 January 2010 at 20:08 | Permalink

      Peter and Edwin, thank you for enriching this weblog again. I really appreciate such comments from those reading.

      Yes Edwin, this is a “potentially vast subject” indeed.

      And I want to add a darker note to it all.

      As I have said before, in these comments boxes I give myself permission to be more “off-the -cuff” than elsewhere in this site, where I aspire to a more considered approach.

      With that major CAVEAT, here is my darker note. It is meant to be added to what you have both said, rather than subtracting from much I find of real beauty in your comments. (Such as the real beauty in your C.S. Lewis story, for which I thank you, Peter).

      This discussion began with an entry I wrote about the loss of Christianity and proceeded to the question of ecumenism.

      Now in exchanges I have had with you both before here, the subjects of both Rudolf Steiner and Valentin Tomberg have arisen. Valentin Tomberg, the Catholic convert who had previously poured all his lifeblood into Steiner´s Anthroposophy. These are subjects which I know are also of interest to some of those reading this blog.

      Steiner´s Anthroposophy of course being against the Catholic Church in particular … hoping for its death.

      Now Steiner of course rarely if ever spoke in such traditional Christian language as sin and salvation.

      Still in thinking of what you have said, Edwin regarding “horrendous sin”, I am with the issue of the serious sin we all bear. To the best of my far from from perfect recollection – Steiner once spoke of the results he said one would feel, if one entered into a contemplation solely of the colour red for a sufficiently profound length of time and depth of intensity. He spoke of this being a route to encountering Divine Wrath, that is (something like) the sum of vast response of Divine Justice to the vast, disordered, tragic destruction committed by fallen humanity …

      Our sin is invariably serious, perhaps even – beyond the THRESHOLD of what we can bare in consciousness – invariably horrendous from this perspective.

      Steiner may not have spoken so much in traditional terms, but his consciousness of what lay beyond the threshold led him to an acutely poignant awareness, I believe, of the Fall and the Chaos wreaked …

      But with his conversion to the Faith, Valentin Tomberg immediately did begin to speak in such traditional language. This is very evident in his law theses. He invokes for example the term “mortal sin”, no doubt deeply conscious of what that traditional theological term implies.

      Later he will speak of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Sallus. (I have posted his comments in the Afterword to the long article here).

      Anthroposophists are still aghast 70 years later.

      Now I am certainly aware that much in Tomberg´s writing lends itself to different interpretations of this complex, vast multifaceted field. I cannot engage all sides here. For now I merely want to draw attention to Tomberg consciously invoking these very traditional Catholic concepts …

      The law books go even further in an extremely traditional direction. They justify political and apparently even military action to save Christianity (!)

      This would seem very, very far from where Valentin Tomberg began. Or is it so very far? Whatever one thinks of Steiner’s attempt to mount Christianity without the Church (!) I think knowing the facts even the most uncompromising, staunch Catholic Traditionalist, who would undoubtedly and understandably consider Steiner a dangerous heretic, would still have to give Steiner credit for at least one thing.

      Steiner was deeply concerned that what he called the Mystery of Golgotha would be buried and forgotten. He identifies various forces seeking to destroy Christianity. Both Western (Masonic related) and Eastern.

      Among these lies the potential for an invasion of Eastern religion which Steiner flatly declares has no comprehension of Christ. He makes many remarks to the effect that the Christian West cannot allow itself to be inundated by spirituality lacking this comprehension.

      Valentin Tomberg loses faith in Anthroposophy and turns to the Church. He not only turns to the Church, he turns to a very traditional expression of the Church.

      His law books invoke with real admiration the early nineteenth century Holy Alliance, which used military might to suppress anti-clerical revolutions a la the (at least arguably genocidal) French Revolution.

      Valentin Tomberg writes: “Austrian troops marched into Neapel and Sardinia (1821) and French troops into Spain (1823) … But wouldn´t it have been possible to compromise? Couldn´t a principle have been adopted consisting of a harmonious balance of “conservative” and “progressive” parts?

      Initially the subversive revolutionary trend was to be contained – successfully, due to the 30 years of the Holy Alliance´s existence- if that would not have been the case, more and more revolutions would have taken place, one after the other.

      He goes on to praise Metternich in all of this. “Metternich, who was villified so much, recognised the true scope of the danger which it was the duty of the alliance to prevent … Metternich [possessed] knowledge of its necessity [i.e. the Holy Alliance] to save European Christianity from being swept under by a wave of irreverence.

      A compromise would not have helped; moreover it would have been damaging … it was important to oppose subversion in the cultural realm [Bold emphasis is Tomberg´s, italics are mine].”

      There is very, very strong stuff here. Stronger I think than any Pope of recent decades would say.

      And it seems to me motivated by a very tragic sense of the possibility of Christianity being destroyed that Tomberg now has, after he has lost faith in Anthroposophy.

      As to the solution to the problem, Tomberg has parted company with Steiner, as to Steiner´s prognosis, he has not departed so much. Though he may no longer speak of “Ahriman”, his heart is pierced to the core by the ongoing degeneration and mechanisation of the dechristianisation of culture.

      To save European Christianity from being swept under by a wave of irreverence” … For any who may be interested, there is more from the law books at this site here and in the entries which follow about how Tomberg considers this inundation of irreverence.

      Friends, unknown, known and somewhere-in-between, I was once a New Ager, then a liberal Anglican, then a liberal Catholic passionate about Vatican II, but who became ever more traditionally Catholic.

      It has been supposed, even among those who know me well, that all this is because I am out of touch with modern reality and have gravitated to a simplistic solution for which perhaps I have nostalgic sentiment.

      The truth of the matter is far more complex and painful. I am also not a parrot squawking: “Tomberg says”.

      I obviously have very grave and serious reservations about Steiner´s anti-Catholic Anthroposophy, but I am in agreement with him and with Tomberg that our culture is ASLEEP to what the continued destruction of Christianity means for us all …

      Finally I hope to soon be posting a very long review of a book by Charles A. Coulombe which among many other goes into the consequences of the Holy Alliance and a Catholicism and a Politics with striking though not entire accord with Valentin Tomberg´s positions.

  5. peter kelly
    Posted 6 January 2010 at 21:58 | Permalink

    I found what you said about Steiner and Tomberg very interesting, Roger. I have never come across anything in Steiner’s work which quite matches what you say here, ‘Steiner´s Anthroposophy of course being against the Catholic Church in particular … hoping for its death.’
    As far as I am aware he believed that all external forms of religion would fall away as human beings begin to truly recognise the hidden divinity in each one of us. (see ‘The Work of the Angels in the Astral Body’)
    Of course he did not recognise the authority of the church, and described a path of inner development whereby human beings can gain insight into the spiritual world for themselves. He also described his path as a ‘hard and bitter one’ as it leads to great self awareness, of just how much our lower self is in the hands of the adversary powers. On Steiner’s, path for every step one takes forward one has to take three steps in moral development.
    I do not think Steiner was ‘against’ religion and I believe there are anthroposophists in Germany who do identify themselves as Catholic.
    You may be aware Steiner inspired a movement for Religious Renewal – the Christian Community. To quote from one of its priests,
    ‘The aim was, and continues to be, the nurturing of congregations or communities that are free from state support and official dogma. Instead, the emphasis is on the celebration of a set form of service in which those taking part are able to find their own clarity about Christian issues and their own moral judgement about their lives rather than be under any outside moral authority.’
    It is not difficult to see that this is very different from the aim of Roman Catholicism, but for me, at least, one does not imply the death of the other.
    Dear Roger, you say, “It has been supposed, even among those who know me well, that all this is because I am out of touch with modern reality and have gravitated to a simplistic solution for which perhaps I have nostalgic sentiment.’
    There will always be fools who will sneer at one who truly seeks the Christ. And those who sneer rarely realise that by so doing they are allowing a cold emptiness into their own soul, into the place that rightfully should be filled with warmth and love.
    Best Wishes for the New Year, Peter

  6. roger
    Posted 8 January 2010 at 12:57 | Permalink

    Thank you very much for this, Peter.

    Your response strikes me as having a gentle and humble approach which I would like to aspire to as well.

    For instance when you write the words which I will italicise:

    I have never come across anything in Steiner’s work which quite matches what you say here, ‘Steiner´s Anthroposophy of course being against the Catholic Church in particular … hoping for its death.’
    As far as I am aware he believed that all external forms of religion would fall away

    Again I appreciate the modesty and gentleness here.

    I feel that I am aware of different things, which I stand by. But substantiating them is not easy. That is, I believe I could do it, but it would take considerable time which I lack at present. All of which is partly why I placed this as “off-the-cuff” comments in a box.

    But in the same spirit, I will note I personally recall comments from Steiner hoping for the end of Catholicism by some point in the 21st century. What is even sharper in my memory is a set of comments regarding Dante.

    To the best of my recollection, Steiner made this claim about Dante: Dante gave us his sublime poetry but at a certain cost to human evolution. For if Dante´s life course had worked a different way, we would not have the Inferno. But the end of the Catholic Church would have been hastened. I distinctly recall him saying words to the effect that we have the incredible gift of Dante´s Inferno – but at the price of being stuck with Catholicism.

    I will just add that so many of Steiner´s remarks about the Catholic Church are framed under the heading of Jesuitism. But Steiner often clearly means something much broader by Jesuitism than simply belonging to the Society of Jesus. Indeed so broad is his definition of Jesuitism as would seem not only to broadly encompass largely the whole of Catholicism (with certain liberal exceptions perhaps) but also much of Protestantism is labelled with Jesuitism!

    And Steiner seems to me very certainly pitted against this Jesuitism. Tomberg´s take on Jesuitism by contrast is explored in my article here

    But these interpretative comments will have to be just taken or left as the personal recollections of one man until I can do more …

    Some other hurried comments …

    Re:

    “He also described his path as a ‘hard and bitter one’ as it leads to great self awareness, of just how much our lower self is in the hands of the adversary powers. On Steiner’s, path for every step one takes forward one has to take three steps in moral development.”

    I appreciate this comment a lot and it relates to earlier elements of this thread. For it seems to me that we need much deeper awareness in our “feel-good” culture of the “hard and bitter” reality of the work of as you say well “adversary powers” against our nature.

    And it seems to me that Sacramental Catholicism leads to the same hard, bitter path of realising how very broken we are, how fallen. This idea of evil actively trying to sabotage us is not very popular in either so-called enlightened, secular circles or New Age ones, but at this time of planetary crisis, it may be among the things we most need to develop.

    And it seems to me personally that the Traditional Catholic Church may be doing far more than is realised to maintain the awareness of the true nature ands consequences of these “adversary powers”. Her Sacraments certainly lead me to the darkness of my own heart …

    I am certainly aware of the Religious Renewal movement Steiner supported amongst former Lutherans.

    But your quote is useful indeed to me and again helps to illumine the different course set by Valentin Tomberg.

    “The aim was, and continues to be, the nurturing of congregations or communities that are free from state support and official dogma. Instead, the emphasis is on the celebration of a set form of service in which those taking part are able to find their own clarity about Christian issues and their own moral judgement about their lives rather than be under any outside moral authority.’

    For following his break from Anthroposophy, Tomberg is arguing for something very, very OTHER.

    His law books are about a Christian Community – namely the Catholic Church – absolutely having “state support”. Again the line I quoted about the duty of the Holy Alliance to save Christianity …

    He says so much more along the same lines in the law books, where there is emphasis on the state supporting the Church and not becoming the Church itself. Education of children he says for example should not be in the hands of the State, where there is a danger of a “laical” spirit. He seems to me to have in mind the spirit of French Republicanism and Americanism.

    And he speaks of public law needing to emphasise duties and obligations to preserve cultural and sacred value …

    As for dogma, we need only turn to Tomberg´s final Catholic writing Lazarus Come Forth, where he enters into dogma significantly in the section on the second commandment in The Ten Commandments …

    “Dogma is, in essence, not a commandment which silences the active knowing of thinking and insight, but on the contrary a gift from heaven that orientates this activity toward knowing the truth … Dogma is like a star in the heaven of eternal being which shines ever radiating and inexhaustible into the world of temporal existence. It stimulates, impels, and guides human beings to … moral logic.

    Arguably he goes onto to strengthen these statements, calling for the hierarchy:

    “The interpretation of any dogma founded on revelation must be subject to the same authority that proclaims the dogma. Dogma must not be given over to the collective intellectual capacity and interpretative inclination of the people or the community of faith …”

    These and more comments of a similar nature are to be found on pgs 146-147 of my edition bearing the earlier English title, Covenant of the Heart. I believe the new edition is re-paginated, but keywords in Amazon´s Search this book might help to easily locate them.

    It is also interesting to note that these remarks were authored in the wake of 1968 student revolutions in Europe, which Tomberg, like Ratzinger deplored. 1968 was a turning point for Ratzinger from a Vatican II liberal agent of change to a conservative. One where I personally imagine Ratzinger sensed the “adversary powers” trying to destroy Christianity.

    Often what I think makes the difference between a liberal and conservative orientation is an awareness of the adversary powers and our weakness. I have certainly moved along this axis as I saw ever greater darkness both within myself and without …

    I personally imagine Valentin Tomberg was very with this same awareness as the future Holy Father, and thus the kind of Christian Community dreamed of by Steiner, “free from state support and official dogma” was no longer tenable.

    Actually I personally imagine he came to this very strongly in the horror of World War II and “1968” was only further evidence of degeneration for him. Valentin Tomberg took the loss of Christian reverence very seriously …

    All of this supports for me the thesis emerging in my soul for years that Valentin Tomberg was pouring his lifeblood into trying to prevent the de-Christianised world we now have …

    Lastly Peter, thank you warmly for your final comments which I feel as supportive and understanding.

    All this is again, no more than all too hurried off-the-cuff jottings …

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