Friday, January 10, 2014

Modernity is Sweeping Away Conservative Christianity

Via Civil Commotion I came across a post by far right Southern Baptist Convention leader Albert Mohler that works a larger commentary on the story line of Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey.  While Mohler grasps that the larger story line is the transformation modernity worked on Great Britain and how the old world was swept away, the irony is that he refuses to recognize that the public acceptance of his religious fantasy world is similarly being swept away.  His science rejecting, creationist religious belief system is as much an anachronism today as the great houses of the British countryside became in the wake of World War I.  And like the British landed gentry, Mohler tries to deny this reality.  Mohler doesn't "get it" or see that he and religious extremists/reactionaries like him are actually hastening the demise of conservative Christianity as they drive the younger generations (and many of older generations) away.  Here are highlights from Mohler's post that he ought to be applying to himself and the Southern Baptist Convention:
[M]ost viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

The signs of the Empire’s disappearance were there for all to see, even if most among the elites did their best to deny the evidence. The great landed estates were draining their lordly title holders of precious capital, and the economic arrangements that allowed the nobility to live off of their estates would never return. That is why so many English lords looked for rich American women to marry.

That larger story records a great shift in worldview, not merely a social transformation. The consequences of that larger story far exceed the story of a great English house and its inhabitants. In that sense, Downton Abbey is a parable of sorts—a parable that can teach us a great deal.

Those who subscribe to Mohler's world view are literally dying off.  Within a few more generations, if America is lucky, Mohler's world view will be largely extinct.  Mohler and the Christofascist can strive to deny reality and modernity, but ultimately reality will prevail.  

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