The default position of contemporary Irish Christians

Ireland has had a reputation for centuries as the island of saints and scholars. The vast majority of these saints lived from the 4th to 10th centuries, the period of early Christian Ireland, when Celtic Christianity produced many missionaries to Britain and the European continent. The story behind the phrase begins with the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, Europe was in a state of severe intellectual and social decay as its institutions crumbled. Isolated on the western shores of Europe, Irish institutions were able to continue to flourish and evolve uninterrupted, leading to a period of intellectual, religious and artistic superiority called “Ireland’s Golden Age”. It was during this period that Ireland earned the title ‘Insula Sanctorum et Doctorum – The Island of Saints and Scholars’.

Yet lately it seems that as a people we are doing our best to shed what remains of our fifteen hundred year old heritage as a Christian nation. Of course, there are many explanations as to why this happened, including the scandalous legacy of recent times, i.e. the laundry of the Madeleine and the sexual abuse controversies, and her relationship particular with Irish Catholicism. The growing abandonment of the Church by people is mixed with the redefinition of Irishness, the embrace of libertarian freedom and a vague and nebulous Celtic new age spirituality. Moreover, the revolutionary sixties came late to Ireland, especially in terms of the country’s delayed sexual revolution. It is only recently that Irish culture has ‘caught up’ with the rest of the West. I feel like there is a deep elation felt in throwing off the past in the embrace of same-sex marriage and in the victories of divorce, abortion, and gay referenda.

And with the collapse of old certainties, identity politics (political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify) are beginning to exert more and more influence. The problem with such policies is that young people focus on fighting for narrow political and social agendas that marginalize a broader sense of pluralism and the common good.

In all this, we can find the paradox of illiberal liberalism.

So what has or is replacing mainstream Christianity? Many would say what Notre Dame sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lindquist Dentin presented in their 2005 book Soul Searching. What they call moralistic therapeutic deism is a revisionist version of what mainstream Christianity practices. In Christian Smith’s “God, Religion, Whatever” we get a glimpse of the fundamental tenets of this modern, informal tradition: 1, God exists and watches over us; 2, God wants us to be “good”; 3, the purpose of life is happiness; 4, God has a minimal presence in our lives until he needs to solve a problem; 5, good people go to heaven. Although relatively basic, these core beliefs capture some important aspects of Christianity well and overlook others.

Clearly this offers a much more laid-back approach to belief, befitting an age very suspicious of authority and dogma. God here is seen as a deity, but more like a big brother – He will guide us when we need it, but leave us alone when we don’t. With that kind of moral flexibility, I think it’s safe to say that it’s quickly becoming the default position for many contemporary believers. But this new-age twist on Christian belief is valuable in its own right, as it reflects many values ​​shared by contemporary believers: tolerance, individuality, kindness.

The increase in the number of people with no religious affiliation reflects the emergence of a new faith rather than a complete loss of faith. Our latest census should give us a clearer picture of how traditional belief has declined. But many, it is clear, already identify as “post-Christian,” that is, people who claim no religious affiliation, and their numbers are growing.

Therapeutic Turn posits that psychology itself has institutionalized the central corollary of this worldview – that truth and authority can be found within, and that the highest goal of society is self-realization. .

We try to shift authority over “authenticity”, but it’s unclear exactly what that means, and it’s hard to have so little common morality. What is new is the introduction of the therapeutic ethos as a promise of liberation independent of God or another transcendent and eternal entity. For the first time in history, it is based exclusively on the self. We used to find meaning in our external commitments. Prior to the rise of therapy, engagement was directed to those communal beliefs and institutions that were larger than the individual and in which the individual, to the extent that they complied or cooperated, found a meaning.

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