|Anna Fox @ Exit/|
Andrew Taggart considers our post-religious sensibilities @ Butterflies & Wheels.
I admire Richard Holloway for his courage. Here is a religious man who, from 1986-2000, was Bishop of Edinburgh; a man of virtue concerned with his neighbor, with social justice, and with the common good; and, not the least, a contemplative man who somewhere along the way lost his faith but not his desire for transcendence. I don’t know when his doubts became so substantial that they compelled him to leave the Anglican Church, but I imagine that the decision came only after the crisis had become too acute to ignore and too great to bear.What brought on this crisis, one that emerged, no doubt, over the course of many years only to reach critical mass in the past decade, was the feeling that traditional religion had lost its grip on the modern world together with the sense that the general account offered by evolution could no longer be denied.The loss of traditional religion is still movingly recorded in Philip Larkin’s poem “Church Going,” a poem with which Holloway is all too familiar. Here, the speaker describes his experience of walking into a church and of finding that this hallowed space, a space that had once been suffused with life, meaning, and community, has since been abandoned. And what does he do? He goes through the motions, taking off his hat, signing the guest book, and intoning “Here endeth” too loudly. Is this a museum, a tomb, a ruin? And what does he wonder? Only how we’ll get on after the rituals that in previous epochs had bound us together have ceased to be practiced. He sees that this life-world has lost its sense; that the people have gone elsewhere (but where have they gone?); that the church, for millennia a symbol of communion and love, is now but a relic of another world, one dimly remembered yet still vaguely felt.read more