At college I’d come to realize that there is a major takeover going on, of the Spiritus Mundi (or what Edmund Burke called “the Armed Doctrine” when it first manifested itself in the French Revolution). It is a secularist, materialist, utilitarian creed, that has come to wrest the children from ‘religious fanaticism’, and lead them to the Kingdom-of-Man-On-Earth, for the good of all of us (except the ones who are dead). Jacobins, Enlightenment folks (Napoleon), National Socialists, Communists, American Leftists, New Atheists….it was the same. They wanted our souls, wanted us to help them kill God and build their paradise.
Respectable modern Kant-divided Protestant Christianity has little strength for this struggle: it was not enough for me. I needed religion that was physical and medieval, holy water and the bleeding body of Christ. Real faith.
I’ll try to explain: Main-stream Modern Protestantism had given too much ground, had abandoned ‘medieval aspects’ and in so doing had lost too much, too much that was needed—(perhaps less needed in the sixteenth century-)–but now desperately needed in the twenty-first century. Without meaning to, they have denied physical (localized) holiness, they have denied tradition, they have denied redemptive suffering within the Christian life itself.
It wasn’t just Catholicism that made me realize these things. What also opened my eyes was second semester Freshman Year I took a Medieval Russian History class, which turned out to be basically Eastern Orthodoxy 101, taught by a wistful Soviet-raised agnostic. It was an amazing class—we were talking about icons (which I had thought of as ‘pagan survivals’), and she said simply “When you are far from home—don’t you kiss photographs of your parents?” My jaw dropped—because I had, instinctively kissed my cellphone with the that wallet photo of my family taped to it—exactly like an Icon. Also—we read about kenoticism, and Saints Boris & Gleb– “the holy sufferers”. And holy fools (who were often just mentally retarded—but treated with reverence as God’s beloved ones.) The truth of it all struck me with force.