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  1. Wolfsheim Member

    An admirably balanced and, I have no doubt, realistic view, and I say that as someone looking at the United States from afar.

    Decades ago I was a visiting professor at a liberal arts university in America, the faculty dominated even then by secular leftists. One day I sat in on a French literature class, the instructor being a French-speaking American who was reading with his students a work by André Gide. When the phrase “le vieil homme” arose, one of the students asked what it meant. The instructor, someone I knew well enough to know that he regarded Christianity and religion in general as quite passé, stumbled about, offering a vague explanation. I couldn’t resist piping up to say qu’il s’agissait de la pensée de St. Paul.”…My friend was apparently quite impressed by what he regarded as my erudition…Sigh…(Gide was, of course, immersed in French Protestantism, so to approach his work with no knowledge of Christianity was, of course, absurd…Of course, my then-colleague would have been deeply embarrassed if he had made a mistake in discussing the philosophy of Foucault or Derrida…)

    I have spent most of my life in Japan, where the great majority of people, regardless of general learning, are, I think it is fair to say, animists. I have well-educated friends who may know (better than most Americans) the history of the major religions but for whom their own religious tradition is remarkably vague. They are generally “unaffiliated” without being the least hostile to any faith. The only “atheists” I know are professors of German.

    I would describe myself as a “born-again Catholic.” That is, in my youth, I rejected orthodox Christianity, not really understanding it, but then, having found it, never went back.

    Christianity, unlike animism, requires a creed. Being a member of a Christian body should not be like belonging to the Rotary Club.

    American secularists greatly benefit from the impulse to have one’s cake and eat it too and from theological illiteracy. (“Like, I don’t know what’s right and wrong, but I do know what’s true for me!” “All religions are pretty much the same. It’s, like, whatever floats your boat, man…”)

    All too often the response of the church leadership is to cater to such mush.

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