There’s a Religious Earthquake Coming. Can You Feel It?

There’s a Religious Earthquake Coming. Can You Feel It?

Here we are in a society paralysed by the fears, anxieties and ennui of a culture that promised so much, yet has delivered so little. And here we are in churches that are in decline census after census, and which we will pull almost any lever we can find to ensure that the earthquake does not level us to the ground. Maybe, just maybe, God will rebuild something from the rubble.

There’s a religious earthquake coming. You can tell. The first rumblings were a few years ago. Despite the obvious decline in the number of people ticking a religion on the census data, something is shifting.

I’m living in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the moment, and the Anglican cathedral in the centre of town is still a tottering heap, it’s reconstruction still not underway following the dreadful earthquake here a dozen years ago.

In a sense it’s like a metaphor. The secular rumblings of society blew out to a full scale seismic collapse of Christianity in the West. So much fell down. All that was left was for the Four Horsemen of the Atheist Apocalypse, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett to kick over the final traces of religion with their invective, their wit and their intelligence.

In a century or so, modern men and women (if there are even such categories allowed in a century or so), will have forgotten what it was even like to oppose religion, never mind adhere to it. True, the occasional piece of rubble might wend its way to the surface, but merely to be gawked at and put in a museum, with a warning that it might not be safe for kids.

Yet here we are. Two of those four horsemen have, sadly, died (Dennett most recently, and Hitchens most famously), while Dawkins and Harris are dragging their now-lame charges off to the knacker’s yard. More glue anyone?

Dawkins is saying more loudly what he’s been saying since 2007 – that he’s a cultural Christian. And Harris? Well I’ll leave you to interpret the “atheist/not atheist” of his own website when plugging his new book “Waking Up” (notice how he can’t even find a title without stealing a deeply biblical metaphor):

My hope is that Waking Up will help readers see the nature of their own minds in a new light. A rational approach to spirituality seems to be what is missing from secularism and from the lives of most of the people I meet. The purpose of this book is to offer readers a clear view of the problem, along with some tools to help them solve it for themselves.

To which I would say, “Wake up Sam!” You’re playing with language you don’t own. You’re a squatter on a property for which you are not paying rent. Have the decency to evict yourself or start putting some greenbacks in the hands of the landlord. Or the Lord of the land, whichever nomenclature you prefer.

Far from a collapse following an earthquake, it’s a bit more like this:

“Hey we’re back!”

But lest we get too cocky, let’s just pause to think about what we want to have back. What do we need to leave in the rubble heap and what do we need to rebuild.

That dilemma crossed my mind as I read The Times today, and James Marriott’s piece:

Millennials are Bending the Knee to Religion:

Two which I would say “Duh!” Where have you been the past five years James? Probably in the offices of The Times of London, that’s where. The kind of place that has an alternate social imaginary, a way of looking at the world myopically: containing slightly warmed over preconceptions that came with a First at Cambridge, along with a healthy dose of skepticism birthed in a lifestyle that would be too challenged if God were on the table.

But hey, it’s a start, right?

Marriott’s newfound starry-eyed acceptance that while Boomers and X-ers were throwing it away in spades, Millennials have found religion all over again.

It’s as if those ungrateful brats couldn’t just thank us for giving them a world in which they are permitted – nay, required – to indulge themselves in every experience possible with no exceptions and no guilt (consent being required of course), but with absolutely no meaning and purpose attached to it all. Why couldn’t they just take the gifts, repurpose them for their own bodily orifices, and turn their back on the Giver?

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