Tuesday, January 02, 2024

A Tweet to Ponder

The other day this interesting tweet popped into my feed and I think it encapsulates some of the thoughts I have with regard to the relationship with Protestantism, Christianity and modernity.

It's no mean feat to have achieved a literacy rate approaching 100% and an infant mortality rate roughly a third of a city--with all its institutions--that has been in place that two millennia. It's all the more the impressive considering the it was a wilderness sixty years prior. 

I had a brief look today at the religious history of Toledo, Ohio and from what I could glean it would appears that Catholicism established the first roots there but it was displaced very early on by waves of Protestant immigrants who were hostile to it. Essentially Toledo was a Protestant dominated town.

Toledo Spain was one of the cultural centers of Catholicism and it's interesting to see that nearly two millenia of learning and culture did not confer upon it any advantage on the issue of infant mortality compared to some backwater in the New World. Now the metric of infant mortality is not simply about how many kids live past a certain age, it also is a metric of paternal misery and sorrow. No matter how you cut it, an improved infant mortality rate is a GOOD thing and less dead children usually means happier parents and siblings with all the subsequent second and third order benefits that accrue. Prosperity doesn't just mean wealth, but allows for better nutrition, housing which leads to less disease and misery.

The issue here is why wasn't Toledo, Spain--with its head-start in learning and culture--able to translate that into practical improvements with regard to the day to day life of its citizens.

It's this blog's contention that it was the Catholic/Protestant divide that explains a lot of the performance differential.

Since my blogging has been light over the past year I thought I would just use this post to recap some of the ideas I want to propose. Namely:

1) That the Catholic world while originating modernity was unable to implement it.
2) The Protestant world while initially rejecting modernity was able to harness it and control it till the sixties.
3) The theological changes within Protestantism, especially in the late 19th Century set into train events that would undermine it,  so that by the Mid 20th C, mainline Protestantism--the Protestantism that was embraced by the senior managerial class who were the captains of modernity--had repudiated many of its original moral and theological beliefs.
4) The void left by this collapse was filled by a secular humanism unmoored from any fixed moral principle.
5) Catholicism has been peripheral to this turn of events.
6) The collapse of the faith in all of the West has come about from a "de-gracing" of it.
7) Since Grace is the foundation of Faith, any theological, philosophical,  political or cultural movement that is not calibrated to the Will of the Christian God will fail.