Sunday, January 19, 2014

"'How did they ever come to that place, those desolate multitudes, gathered under Satan's ashen skies?'"

"'what the modern age has taught us is that the kingdom of hell is essentially a respectable place, where the devil is best served by remaining incognito, where sin and remorse and penitence trouble no one with their curbside importunities'Please, sir, only a sou!'where no one frets about angels or devils, where all good men apply themselves to becoming machines among machines, without sin because without souls.'"

     Charles Baudelaire, as channeled by David Bentley Hart, in "A phantom's visit (C. B.)," First things, February 2014, 72-71.  Disbelief as "a habitual insensibility to the illuminations and chastisements of beauty".

Ho hum

"The wide demographic spread of unbelief is without question a modern story that belongs especially to social and cultural history, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century and accelerating enormously in Western Europe and somewhat in the United States since the 1960s.  But its intellectual bases remain what they were in the seventeenth century, and even more deeply, what they were in the late Middle Ages:  a univocal conception of being and the use of Occam's razor in the relationship between natural causality and alleged divine presence. . . . Nothing conceptually original, including Darwinian evolution, has been added for many centuries."

     Nothing conceptually original, or intellectually compelling (the point being that "what they were in the seventeenth century, and . . . in the late Middle Ages" was extraordinarily thin even back then).
     Brad S. Gregory, The unintended Reformation:  how a religious revolution secularized society (Cambridge and London:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), 64.