Belief in God is no longer axiomatic.

Charles Taylor

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These are the words of Charles Taylor, an esteemed Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Canada’s outstanding McGill University, in his 2007 award-winning book entitled A Secular Age.  Taylor, who has written excellent books on the origins of the “self” in Western thought and on the creation of modern identity, is saying quite simply in these words and in A Secular Age – we are no longer a culture of “believers”

If you wish to understand the threat of radical Islam, its murderous and hateful aggression and our President’s lack of adequate response to it, or wish to understand the dizzying array of disordered and dishonorable behavior that you see, read about, or experience virtually everyday – you have your answer in this: we are a culture of unbelievers.

What can be said about this that might drive home some central points that you can begin to operate off of?

One, Islam and Christianity are creedal religions, they operate from a system of beliefs that shape how we look at the world, understand it, and fashion a life in it. Secondly, two creeds, when their people believe, hold each other in check.  When one stops believing – the other moves in to occupy vacated space.  Power, remember, abhors a vacuum.

Does this not explain the westward movement of Islam?  Does this not explain our nation’s disinterest in responding to Christians in the Middle East or Africa who have been killed, mutilated, abducted, tortured, driven from their ancestral homes, had their religious monuments and houses of worship razed?  Does this not explain our disinterest in the security of our ally Israel?  Indeed, our hostility to them and to the Jews that is seen in the West and on our college campuses?

I recently had a conversation with a law professor and former Israeli Defense Force officer who had wondered out loud to the group he was asked to speak to this: How can it be that the United States does not understand the threat to Israel that encompasses her?  My answer was simple and took him aback: “You,” I said, “still speak as a believer – but you speak to those who do not believe.”  He was nonplussed, stunned by my answer.

Yes, we have changed radically and for the worse in my lifetime.  Shame on us.

Belief not only orders the lives of individuals – religious narratives order human beings and communities, civilize them, create common bonds that sustain them throughout the ages – but also provides (as a core context, and reception and understanding of life experience) for our security, is the foundation stone of it.

I hope our circumstances today make this clear to you.

What to do?  Believe.  Join together with other believers.  And, believers must sustain in all forms the expression of their belief.  It will be – not the Church proper that evangelizes – but individual believers who do.  And why is that?  Few inside the Church or in public life can make the case for the essential, irreplaceable need for belief.  They live sequestered lives, live yesterday – outside the experience of life in exclusionary secularism.  Finally, elect to public office and positions of leadership those who believe.


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