Peter Leithart offers a typically instructive and provocative article at First Things today. If I understand it correctly, he claims that we need to understand the ways in which what we often call “modernism” is the same as primitive cultures. He writes:

Re-paganizing the West means acting on the premise that, for all our pretense of sophistication, the West has never entirely escaped the impulses and habits of primitive culture, or that, by escaping Christianity, we are reverting to it. Re-paganizing the West means working out the implications of the French sociologist Bruno Latour’s assertion: We have never been modern.

I hope it is a hypothesis that he expounds upon and defends in his forthcoming book (ht: Macht).  The full essay is a must read.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. In my opinion one of the largest differences between our society and the African societies, and a prime cause of our spiritual apathy, is the fact the spiritual realm is very abstract for us, so much that it doesn’t seem quite real. When people talk about ‘spiritual’ things today they refer to either fantasy or feelings, nothing that concretely impacts the physical world.

    However, the foundation of the Christian message is that there is another unseen world more real than this one, populated with God, angels, and demons, all really doing things in both realms. This is not the same as the world of thoughts and feelings. A good book on this view of reality is Spirits of the Rainforest. It totally blew my mind away to think that this account of reality could be a true account.

    One key thing that I think the Western church can do, and I don’t know why this isn’t done more, is rigorously document miracles and publish them. I know such records do exist, I’ve bought a book that contains a set of said documentation. However, along with this, it is also very important that we have practical guidance on how to recognize and deal with the spiritual realm, based on real life experience and empirical research. One person who has been doing a lot of this is a guy name Charles Kraft, and I’ve heard that JP Moreland and Dallas Willard have worked with him to some degree.


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