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Religion in the 21st century

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  • Mathew Morrell
    Major historical shifts are occurring as we enter the 21st century. These shifts are comparable to earth quakes that turn asunder established forms by
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 2004
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      Major historical shifts are occurring as we enter the 21st century.
      These shifts are comparable to earth quakes that turn asunder
      established forms by violently shaking the earth---except that these
      shifts do not begin in the observable world. These shifts begin
      within mankind. They're shifts in consciousness, and they're
      dynamically impacting the world of religion, how we view God and our
      forms of public worship. The religious landscape of the 21st
      century might be totally demolished if religion remains rigid and
      inflexible to the revolutionary shifts occurring within 21st century
      man. The entire religious landscape might vanish or it may evolve
      and expand to accommodate new spiritual impulses---that or shrink
      into outmoded forms. Currently we're seeing the fall of
      Christianity throughout Western Europe; and as the churches empty,
      the mosques are filling up. We're seeing the dramatic expansion of
      Islam in the Middle East as far as Canada, South America and Paris,
      France. At the same time we're seeing the born-again Christian
      movement sink roots into the social-political fabric of America. In
      America, as well as in Europe, entirely new, rejuvenated forms of
      Western mysticism have blossomed in the fertile soil of religious
      liberty.

      Religions are unique in that they're receptacles that condense and
      codify spiritual impulses into concrete, discernable expression-
      forms, i.e. religious rituals, religious art and religious
      literature that allow us to collectively partake in the Spirit.
      Religion provides society with mystics, saints and apostles capable
      of hearing those epoch-making, apocalyptic trumpet blasts that
      foretell the future. Will the 21st century religious landscape be
      blessed with heavenly features, silver mountains, blue skies and
      colorful alpine meadows, or will the apocalyptic trumpets harken a
      parched, drought ridden landscape desperate for spiritual
      nourishment?


      Cultural pessimists like Oswald Spengler would say the ladder
      possibility is the most likely outcome of the 21st century-and
      Spengler could very well be right. Areas in the world are already
      showing signs indicative of a Late Civilization evolving (or
      devolving) toward a black unknown. What are these signs? Spengler,
      if he were alive, might point toward widespread depopulation, or
      increasing despotism, or he might point at primitive societies
      thrusting up into highly civilized cultures; and he would be correct
      on all accounts if he pointed at these signs as proofs to verify the
      predictions he made in the early 20th century. Depopulation,
      primitiveness of political forms, and rising immigrant populations
      from third world nations, are symptoms of decline that might help
      predict the state of religion in the 21st century.


      Let's start with depopulation in Europe and Japan and the direct
      impact it is having on religion. The UN's population report,
      published in November 2004, show lowering fertility rates and
      population declines in England, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany,
      Italy, Japan, and Eastern block nations. The report was released by
      the UN Population Division, and included predictions about the 21st
      century concerning the dwindling number of children compared to the
      massive ageing of the overall population.1 The Japanese government
      considered the problem serious enough to spend Y1 trillion (L50
      million) on programs designed to arrest depopulation. In the year
      2000, the city of Ikeda and the Daihatsu automobile corporation
      encouraged parents to have a fourth child by providing them with
      automobiles for free for one year, plus Y200,000 (L1,000) for
      residents.2 In Germany, depopulation is a serious problem, as
      well. The birth rate in East Germany is the lowest in the world.3
      1/3 of the population is above retirement age.4 Italy's numbers are
      similar, having a birthrate of 1.3.5 That is, the average couple
      produced 1.3 offspring-not enough to replenish the population.


      The challenge governments faced in the 20th century was providing
      enough jobs and opportunities for men and women of working age. In
      the 21st century the tables turn. Now, the problem is the labor-
      shortage economy and its lack of workers capable of paying federal
      and social security taxes.6 One reason politicians allow their
      nation to be flooded by illegal aliens is because immigrants are a
      quick-fix solution to the labor-shortage problem. They pick apples
      in Washington orchards, they till Kansas fields, and they work in
      Texas slaughter houses, mow our lawns and paint our houses. On the
      surface this may seem like a profitable exchange---using immigrants
      as cheap labor---but illegal immigrants also take advantage of the
      welfare system, bankrupt hospitals, vote illegally in elections, and
      are filling up our penitentiaries in gross numbers.


      Moderate levels of immigration, however, are beneficial to all
      healthy societies. Immigrants add diversity, vitality and wisdom
      from different lands. The danger occurs when immigrants enter the
      nation in such massive levels that the indigenous culture is no
      longer capable of integrating them into the main stream. The
      immigrant, therefore, becomes a member of the nation's sub-culture-a
      culture within a culture. This is precisely what is happening in
      areas of Europe where there is no effort being made to regulate
      immigration, and where Middle East and African Muslim populations
      have developed their own semi-closed societies. There's a lack of
      incentive for children of immigrants to learn local languages; and
      there's a problematic lack of incentive to absorb European culture,
      in general. For three consecutive generations European
      intellectuals have obsessively downgraded and belittled "the West"---
      and now, ironically, they have 20 million7 Muslims in their backyard
      who share their anti-West sentiment.


      The number of Muslims is doubling every ten years in Europe.
      Consequently, Europe is undergoing Islamization at an alarming
      rate. We could expect this trend to continue through the 21st
      century.


      Public leaders brave enough to come forward on the issue face mortal
      danger (Pym Fortune was murdered for speaking out) or the
      assassination of their reputation by the European media.
      Nonetheless, solutions to impede Islamization persist. An AP
      article published in the San Francisco Gate Chronicle begins with
      the title "EU officials implore new immigrants to learn `European
      values'".8 On November 18, 2004, EU official and Dutch immigration
      minister Rita Verdonk appealed to immigrants to learn local
      languages and conduct themselves according to "European values."
      Her statement and the statement from the EU Interior Ministry comes
      after a Dutch Muslim immigrant of Moroccan descent brutally murdered
      Theo van Gogh by slitting his throat, nearly decapitating the film
      maker while he walked the streets. Theo van Gogh had just finished
      completing a documentary exposing domestic abuse of women in Muslim
      households.


      The Netherlands aren't much different from the rest of Europe in
      that they've allowed overly generous immigration policies since the
      1970s---and now suffer the consequences. At a time in history when
      the Netherlands should be enjoying the calm, twilight comforts of a
      well-ordered Late Civilization, instead they're battling complicated
      sociological problems that involve balancing brotherly love with
      cold-hearted realism. The fact is they're losing their culture when
      there are "one million Muslims (6 percent of the population)"9 in
      the Netherlands. In four major Dutch cities, there are more Muslim
      children under the age of fourteen than Dutch children under
      fourteen.10 Moreover, 30,000 additional Muslim immigrants arrive
      annually into the Netherlands.11 In France, the numbers are
      equally astounding. 8,000,000 Muslims turned France into
      the "Palestine of the West,"; like the rest of Europe, Russia, Japan
      and America, France faces depopulation of its indigenous
      inhabitants. In 100 to 200 years Europe could very well be a Muslim
      continent.


      Spengler wisely reminds us that the streets of Roman cities were
      nearly empty night and day during The Fall. The population
      plummeted in Rome, not necessarily through war or famine, but
      because of the symptoms of decline---low birth rates, over-civilized
      urban centers, lack of industry---eventually robbing them of their
      instinct for self preservation. In a sense, decadence led to Rome's
      inability to protect their borders from foreign armies invading from
      without, and civil rebellions destroying Rome from within. In the
      last stages of civilization, robbed of spirit and vitality,
      religious and artistic institutions fail to rejuvenate the Inner
      Man, or are entirely non-existent. Artists are no longer capable of
      producing great art or great symphonies. Instead they're forced to
      imitate bygone traditions that no longer resonate in the soul, but
      which the artist creates in order to achieve the effect of
      nostalgia. His other option is primitive or archaic art, i.e.
      primitive harmonies, insipid symbolism and abstraction, commercial
      art, the best of which is created by the raw energies of youth.



      But in death row there emerges a sudden Will to Power. Religious
      institutions of the 21st century are reborn, according to Spengler,
      in a new wave of Second Religiousness, which is a phase defined by
      rigid fundamentalism. Second Religiousness gains popularity because
      it aggressively resists the counter movement swinging into decadence
      and immorality. Old, shriveled cultures harden into degenerate
      civilizations polarized by extremes, with a liberal wing unable to
      control its lower impulses and a religious wing that lacks the
      spiritual wealth to heal souls and comfort the sick. Instead of
      aligning the individual with the spirit, Wasteland religions
      alienate the Spirit by depriving the individual of holiness. The
      EGO shrivels ever more, sinking deeper into the Universal, EGO-less
      ABYSS beloved by all declining civilizations.


      21st religion must be willing to resist the symptoms of a World
      Civilization collectively suffering the effects of decline. A
      symptom of a Late Civilization is materialism-lack of Spirit.
      Without spirit, cultures shrivel and die. They harden into
      cultureless civilizations that no longer offer spiritual
      nourishment; without spirit, neither through religion nor through
      art, the culture is incapable of providing appropriate expression
      forms. The individual is, without culture, an Outsider-estranged
      and alienated by his environment.


      Progress can be made---even in dying cultures. But, more often than
      not, progress in dying cultures is not toward "the individual" and
      his evolvement, but in the opposite direction, away: toward the
      human-less, toward that which is beyond culture, beyond religion,
      beyond art and spiritual science, beyond anything that exists in
      order to increase the individual's humanity. The Late Culture
      faces frightening realities. For it is irrationally compelled in
      its movement toward the premature universal state, toward monism in
      religion and "globalism" in politics12.


      In the direction toward the non-human lies the Cabbalistic idea of
      the ABYSS, a state of formlessness that is un-codified and un-
      condensed, irreligious and universal, assessable to all human beings
      yet profoundly inhuman and non-individualized. The ABYSS is the
      apocalyptic sea out of which rises the blasphemous creature
      described in Rev. 13:1.13 This seven-headed, ten-horned beast is a
      fantastic metaphor in the exciting, symbolic opera called the Book
      of Revelations; but it may also have a material-physical component
      that reverberates outside the mythological sphere. The Beast,
      evangelists say, represents the actual governmental force that
      controls and regulates religious/cultural life. Most intellectuals,
      on the other hand, say the Beast is merely a poetic symbol that
      should be interpreted metaphorically. Regardless who is right, the
      psychological forces are present in our contemporary culture to save
      the 21st century from the symptom of a Late Civilization. We can
      either be defeated by the ABYSS or overthrow the ABYSS by battling
      its monstrous creations that threaten to drag us down into the void
      of self destruction.







      Numbered References
      1. Allen Hall, "No easy answers around the world to population
      decline." The Scotsman. October 15, 2004.
      <http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/print.cfm?id=1199832004&>
      2. ibid
      2. ibid
      3. ibid
      4. ibid
      5. ibid
      6. Paul S. Hewitt, "Depopulation and Ageing in Europe and Japan:
      The Hazardous Transition to a Labor Shortage Economy." Article last
      accessed December 2, 2004. Posted at
      http://www.globalaging.org/health/world/depopulationeuropejapan.htm
      7. Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Mini clash of Civilizations." The
      Washington Times. November 15, 2004.
      8. AP, "EU officials implore new immigrants to learn `European
      values'". Friday, November 19, 2004. Posted at
      <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
      file=/news/archive/2004/11/19/international1346EST0547.DTL&type=print
      able>
      9. Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Mini clash of Civilizations." The
      Washington Times. November 15, 2004.
      10. ibid
      11. ibid
      12. The "globalism" I am here referring to is the type that seeks
      to annihilate existing national identities on a massive scale,
      devouring their religions, their traditions, and their customs; in
      essence, devouring the spirit that animates a culture and gives it
      its distinctive personality, life and vitality.
      13.
      And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of
      the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten
      crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
      (Revelation 13:1)
    • sarah
      Matthew, Why are the so called born again christians lumped in with muslims in this article - any thoughts? I know they are, as a blanket-rule, considered
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 8, 2004
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        Matthew,
        Why are the so called 'born again christians' lumped in with muslims in this
        article - any thoughts? I know they are, as a blanket-rule, considered
        anti-intellectual, even 'stupid' - whether they are or not is another
        argument - but why are they a 'problem'? Would you say atheism is better?

        Sarah
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