Theologian Charles Taylor argues that one of the reasons it is so hard to be a classical Christian these days is that the world is no longer enchanted. Actually he uses the word orthodox but it’s such a loaded word that I’d rather use the word classical in its place. Anyway, writing from a singularly European perspective, he believes that in days of yore it was all but impossible not to have a Christian faith in God, even if that faith was imbued with all manner of pagan myths and superstitions, because the world then was enchanted. In the enchanted world the material world of the temporal now was not separated from the transcendent world of the eternal there, and spirits of all kinds roamed the earth involving themselves for good or evil in human affairs. Paganized Christianity was simply the biggest, most powerful and most trustworthy spiritual force around and belief in it provided one with the best defense against the dark forces. That world ended, says Taylor, with the advent of the Enlightenment and modern scientific method. As a result the coin has turned so that now it is all but impossible to have a Christian faith.
I wonder. If our scientific minds have so shut out all but verifiable, temporal facts, how is it that we have such a hunger for that which is enchanted? Popular entertainment is rife with programming about magic, crossing over, witches and wizards of various sorts, transcendent powers known only to certain martial arts experts, super powers come to life from comic book pages, and ghosts of every kind. Frankly, I think our claims to being non-religious, secular and fact driven are nothing more than a very thin veneer covering a deeper belief in enchantment that was never really left behind.
Maybe what makes it difficult to be a classical Christian is that its teachings expose that kind of enchantment for the pagan superstition that it is. By that I mean that that kind of enchantment holds out the promise that we can engage spiritual powers on our own terms by learning the secrets through which we can control our own environments and destinies. Classical Christian teaching declares that to be untrue in every way, and proclaims not simply another path but another universal reality altogether, one that requires greater personal responsibility while committing one’s self more fully into God’s care and keeping. Perhaps that’s just too big a pill for some to swallow. What do you think?