It’s a sad thing to confess, but I must. I read the first page of a new book first. Then…I read the last page. Yup. I do. Sorry. But this time I’m glad I did. Here’s why.
I received this excellent book in the mail called “Great Lent: Journey to Pascha” by Fr. Alexander Schmenmann. I am sure many of you are familiar with it. This is my first read of it. So of course I did as I always do. I read the first page and the last. And at the end of the book in the Appendix I found an excellent definition of secularism, which Fr. Schmemann said is an internal threat to the Church. Here are the parts that intrigued me:
…a world view and consequently a way of life in which the basic aspects of human existence – such as family, education, science, profession, art, etc. – not only are not rooted in or related to religious faith, but in which the very necessity or possibility of such a connection is denied.
The secular areas of life are thought to an autonomous, i.e., governed by their own values, principles, and motivation, different from the religious ones.
…the characteristic feature of the American culture and ‘way of life’ is that they simultaneously accept religion as something essential to man and deny it as an integrated world view shaping the totality of human existence.
An American ‘secularist’ may be a very ‘religious’ man, attached to his Church, regular in attending services, generous in his contributions, punctual in prayer. But all this doe snot in the least alter the plain fact that his understanding of all these aspects of his life – marriage and family, home and profession, and ultimately his religious obligations themselves – is derived not from teh creed he confesses in Chruch, not from his professed belief in the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God become Son of Man, but from ‘philosophies of life,’ that is, ideas and convictions having virtually nothing to do with that creed, if not directly opposed to it.
In a non-secularistic society….it is religion and its values that constitute the ultimate criterion of one’s whole life, a supreme ‘term of reference’ by which man, society, and culture evaluate themselves, even if they constantly deviate from it. they may live by the same worldly motivations, but they are constantly challenged by religion, be it only by its passive presence. Thus the ‘way of life’ may not be religious eve though the ‘philosophy of life’ certainly is.
All worth contemplating as we begin the journey to Pascha in earnest.
Forgive me dear readers, if I have offended you in anyway.
May God bless us one and all.