A subject that has attracted my interest for a while now is the cause (or causes) of the failings of modern Christianity. Tonight a couple of recent comments on other people’s blogs have brought the subject back into my mind.
In a comment to a post on his blog Bruce Charlton says that “what was good about Franco’s regime were factors absent from today’s scene – Christian piety, and the military virtues such as courage and discipline.” And another comment on another blog (which I can’t find at the moment) made the claim that Christianity was a positive force when it was allied to an aristocratic warrior ethos. I tend to agree quite strongly with both these comments.
We tend to forget that after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West European civilisation was slowly and painfully rebuilt by the very barbarians who destroyed the power of Rome. They were still barbarians, but now they were Christian barbarians. Without Christianity they would have remained barbarians – they would have remained a destructive and negative force. Christianity was a much-needed civilising and softening force. To a certain extent Christianity feminised the barbarians – but only to a very limited and healthy degree.
But without the warrior ethos of the barbarians Christian civilisation could not have survived. It would have been too soft, too feminised, and would have been easy prey to other invaders. The Gothic invaders who had destroyed Rome added a necessary masculine element – they still retained the warrior virtues and they were prepared to fight to maintain their emerging civilisation.
In medieval times it was believed there were three main classes of people – those who worked (the peasants), those who prayed (the clergy) and those who fought (the nobles). It was clearly understood that all three classes were equally necessary.
The warrior ethos survived until the mid-20th century. It has now been swept away on a tide of guilt, self-righteousness, apathy, materialism, hedonism and selfishness. Europeans (and I include Americans, Canadians and Australians as well) no longer believe in fighting to preserve their civilisation. They’re not necessarily opposed to war – they’re often in favour of it if they don’t have to do the fighting (and ideally they’d like someone else to pay for it as well). They’re not opposed to sacrifice, as long as someone else makes the sacrifices. They’re not opposed to making an effort as long as someone else makes the effort. But the idea of risking their own precious skins to preserve their own civilisation horrifies them. Many are so self-hating that they don’t want their civilisation defended even if somebody else offers to do it. In fact many are openly overjoyed at the prospect of seeing their civilisation disappear down the gurgler.
A hundred years ago European men took it for granted that belonging to a civilisation entailed responsibility, and the ultimate responsibility was to risk their lives to defend that civilisation. All that has gone.
Without a warrior ethos Christianity has become unbalanced. It has descended into mealy-mouthed platitudes about human rights and tolerance. It has become excessively feminised. It has become Kumbaya Christianity. And Kumbaya Christianity is not going to save us.