I’m just coming to the end of a masterful book–a really excellent read. I’ll be reviewing it in full before too long, but Tom Holland’s Dominion-How the Christian Revolution Remade the World is simply magnificent. Chapter by chapter from Roman times to the present day he shows how the Christian idea subverted and upended everything, and how even now all the things we believe are “good” come from seeds planted by Christianity.
However, we are in a situation which the church has never had to face: a large population that has breathed the air of a Christian society, but does not realize what air it is breathing. Our secular society’s philosophical, cosmological and legal foundations are deeply Christian, but few understand it. Our assumptions about morality (even when we reject them) are deeply rooted in Christianity, but we are not even aware of it. The last thing the fish sees is the water.
Consequently, the Catholic faith, which is profoundly relevant (because everything in our society — even our atheism– is built on it) seems the most irrelevant thing to the vast majority of worldlings. How then, do we even begin to evangelize a world which is not simply lost as the ancient pagan world was lost, but is lost within a world that is still deeply Christian? Furthermore, those who reject Catholicism, continue to live and operate within a system of morality which upholds ‘goodness’ or ‘spirituality’ or ‘decent behavior’–all of which comes from deeply Catholic assumptions. Therefore a huge proportion of the population follow a religion which is a vague, attenuated form of Christianity–a pale, milk and water variation of the real thing.
It’s been called Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism. For those who know their theology and church history it is simply the old heresy of Arianism dressed up in new clothes. Lipstick on a pig.
Those who follow this watered down, vague and spindly belief system (I can’t even call it a religion) therefore seem immune to real Christianity because they feel they don’t need it. It is as if they have been inoculated against Catholicism by having a tiny dose of the real thing. They are consequently impervious to the Truth.H0w can we evangelize such a people? I believe the only way is through radical discipleship. The world needs to see today, what the pagan world saw in the early Christians. They need to see radiant, courageous, joyful and uncompromising Catholics. They need to see and hear such Catholics who will stand up and fight for the truth with the zeal and good humor of the martyrs.
Where can such Catholics be found in such a soft and decadent age? They are here. I see them day by day and week by week. They are here in our pews, in our schools, in our parishes. They will stand up for the faith if they have leaders, and they will move forward with great sacrifice and courage once they have a cause.
These Catholics will march forward with full knowledge that the world thinks them fools. They will be Don Quixote Catholics–tilting at windmills, reading the old books, wearing a bedpan for a helmet and brandishing as a sword the Scriptures and as a dagger the Catechism. They will defend the weak, support the poor and love the sinner.
That kind of Quixote Catholicism will Evangelize the West and nothing else.