In an age of apathy

In reviewing Philip Pullman’s latest attack against Christianity, Garret Keizer made an astute observation about our culture that we all should probably ponder for a bit:

The commonly held notion that we are in the midst of a great public debate between atheists like Pullman and so-called believers like me is a fine construction for radio talk shows but a rather sloppy way of cutting the ideological cake. At least in the industrialized world, the more profound polarity is between those who care deeply about religious issues and those who couldn’t give a damn about them one way or the other.

I’ve often said I find it easier to talk to a Pagan than to a nominal Christian, because, whatever the other differences, at least Pagans see spirituality as an important issue. The same cannot be said for your average nominal Christian.

6 thoughts on “In an age of apathy”

  1. True: so why is that? I suppose because most people are Christians as a social convention and don’t think much about it (lucky bastards). My wife is much more “Pagan” than Christian and is intensely interested in spirituality, so though we often argue the “T”ruth we agree on many ethical issues and share concerns. I recently read an article by an atheist on line, who made a convincing case that some of the more prominent Scientific Atheists are doing disservice to their cause by their vitriol and rhetoric against Christianity.


  2. Hi Matthew, In 2010, especially after the all of the scholarly research done in the past 100 years into the origins of both the “New” Testament and Christianity altogether, Pullmans writings on Jesus are just as valid as those of anyone else.
    That having been said please find a set of essays which present the authors summation of over 50 years of the most thorough research project ever under-taken re the Christian tradition altogether.
    Plus two other very useful references re the limitations of exoteric religion–which is the only kind of religion that now exists.
    On the now world dominance of the ideology or paradigm of scientism.
    On the doubt-mind that (mis)-informs most of what is called religion.
    Even a casual glance at ALL of the usual Christian blogs reveals that that they all fit into the doubt-filled paradigm described in the above two essays.


  3. Marc, when you say Pagan do you mean that literally or euphamistically? I ask because I’m referring self-identified Pagans amongst my readership who literally worship multiple deities in a polytheistic fashion, but your phrasing suggests you have something more euphamistic in mind with regards to your wife. So I just want to clarify if you truly mean the latter or the former. I’d distinguish between Paganism and secular spirituality, though my comments could be applied to secular spirituality as well.
    As for the New Atheists, I have a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards them. By mirroring fundamentalists with their anger and sneering condemnations I think they may well be doing the Atheist cause a disservice (to our benefit), but on the other hand I find them far less pleasurable to talk to and almost impossible to meaningfully dialogue with (which is not to our benefit). But I can say one thing in their favour – at least they take religion seriously. This I cannot say for the nominal Christian and other apathists.


  4. Hello Matt,
    The reason I phrased it like I did was because my wife dislikes being identified as a Pagan, but yes, I would she prays to the Goddess and we have multiple Pagan accoutrements around our home. But she’s also pretty well read in things like Process Theology. I think for her, as well as other Pagans I’ve met, part of the attraction is the importance of Science in their search for Truth. Another thing about Pagans I like: they like to have a good time.
    I read a thesis someone did comparing the Disciples of Christ with the Ordo Templi Orientis. It was pretty interesting: when you get extreme and passionate about religion it doesn’t matter which side you’re on sometimes.


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