“God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears tht they should not hear;) unto this day.” (Romans 11:8)
Whaaat!! That is talking about the Jews!
Your antisemitism is showing. As if Christians are the Untouchables.
Dissing the Great Awakening revivals is certainly treading on fundamentalists’ holy ground. But how many American preachers recognize that they inflame war exactly like jihadist Imams?
To understand what is taking place today, we need to understand the nature of the recurring political-religious cycles called “Great Awakenings.”
Each lasted about 100 years and consist of three phases, each about a generation long.
- Technological advances outpace the existing ethical capacity to cope.
- Religious revival brings changes in church beliefs and practice.
- Political reform is effected by a coalition of church and state through shared commitment to improve society.
A Hegelian dialectic occurs in each of the Awakenings:
“the way in which two very different forces or factors work together, and the way in which their differences are resolved.”
The Roman concept of religion had never been that of an…exclusive obligatory moral loyalty to an unseen and highly spiritual Being.
The native official religion…was a part of the state system, and its administration a part of the administration of the state. The citizens and subjects of Rome were all naturally regarded in a technical sense as adherents of its religion as much as of the rest of its political system…the Roman mind was quite incapable of conceiving that any purely religious cult could reasonably exist that demanded exclusive spiritual loyalty to itself alone from its devotees. Hence Roman law and custom regarded the adherents of all these other religions as special groups of citizens or subjects organized into voluntary associations or clubs for their own purposes, not inconsistent with their proper civic loyalty. To cite a modern though not very precise parallel, they were, from the official Roman standpoint, like special religious confraternities in the Christian Church of today. Such voluntary associations were therefore usually permitted.
Conspiracy theorists apply Hegel’s philosophy as an instrument of social control used by a shadowy cabal bent on implementing a New World Order.
The theory goes like so: (Step 1) dark forces contrive a crisis, (Step 2) which…instils fear in the public…(Step 3) a solution to restore public order [through] New laws and policies…are enacted [which] covertly serve the purpose that the dark forces wanted all along: the enslavement of humanity. This is a form of mass mind control that shepherds an oblivious public towards tyranny and oppression.
An extremely popular…reading states that Hegel’s dialectic is a way of understanding the world through…the triad of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Something happens (a thesis), which provokes a response (an antithesis); both ideas are then melded together (a synthesis)…[also called] “problem, reaction, solution…”
For Hegel, the phenomenon of things becoming their own opposite permeates the world. [Emphases added here and below.] It even finds its way into popular sayings, like pride comes before a fall; someone is in a great position but then suddenly finds themselves in a terrible one. We see it in Greek tragedy, too: Antigone champions family over the state and Creon champions the state over family. Their extreme positions lead to conflict, and then inevitably to (an already fated) catastrophe.
“Both have a good position to defend, the family or the state,” says Houlgate. “But they go wrong and violate one another’s rights. And they do violence to themselves. They promote the right thing, but in such a one-sided way that it ends up turning into the wrong.”
Thinking in a Hegelian manner can help us better understand the…angry, bewildered people who buy into conspiracy theories. In his analysis of civil society, Hegel notes how societies that are geared towards maximising wealth leave masses of people impoverished and alienated.
“If you listen to some of the Trump supporters… they articulated a sense of being left behind. No one cares about us. That strikes me as being a kind of alienation,” says Houlgate. “If you build into this a sense of resentment and unfulfilled entitlement – would that explain why people lose trust in standard news outlets and things?…I think Hegel might ask us to think about the self-contradictory elements in the society we’ve produced.” [Emphasis added.]
We can ask dialectical questions. Why has civil society, whose purpose is to secure the welfare and rights of its participants, produced subjects who feel so abandoned? How has the internet, which offers the full breadth and scope of human knowledge at our fingertips, resulted in such ignorance? When did Hegel, a philosopher who historicised humanity’s understanding of the character of freedom, become the purveyor of a theory that posits mankind is doomed to enslavement?
If we’re lucky we might produce a synthesis, and a greater understanding of how the world both does and doesn’t work.
|Phases of the Four Great Awakenings
|Phase of Religious Revival||Phase of Rising Political Effect||Phase of Increasing Challenge to Dominance of the Political Program|
|First Great Awakening,
|1730-60: Weakening of predestination doctrine; recognition that many sinners may be predestined for salvation; introduction of revival meetings emphasizing spiritual rebirth; rise of ethic of benevolence.||1760-90: Attack on British corruption; American Revolution; belief in equality of opportunity (the principle that accepted the inequality of income and other circumstances of life as natural, but held that persons of low social rank could raise themselves up—by industry, perseverance, talent, and righteous behavior—to the top of the economic and social order); establishment of egalitarianism as national ethic.||1790-1830: Breakup of revolutionary coalition.|
|Second Great Awakening,
|1800-1840: Rise of belief that anyone can achieve saving grace through inner and outer struggle against sin; introduction of camp meetings and intensified levels of revivals; widespread adoption of ethic of benevolence; upsurge of millennialism.||1840-1879: Rise of single issue reform movements, each intending to contribute to making America fit for the Second Coming of Christ (these included the nativist movement, the temperance movement which was successful in prohibiting the sale of alcoholic drinks in 13 states, and the abolitionist movement that culminated in the formation of the republican party); sweeping reform agendas aimed at eliminating all barriers to equal opportunity; antislavery; attack on corruption of the South; Civil War; women’s suffrage; continuation of belief in equality of opportunity.||1870-1920: Replacement of prewar evangelical leaders; Darwinian crisis; urban crisis.|
|Third Great Awakening,
|1890-1930: Shift from emphasis on personal to social sin; rise in belief that poverty is not a personal failure (“the wages of sin”) but a societal failure that can be addressed by the state; shift to more secular interpretation of the Bible and creed.||1930-1970: Attack on corruption of big business and the right; labor reforms; civil rights and women’s rights movements; belief in equality of condition (principle that equality is to be achieved primarily by government programs aimed at raising wages and transferring income from rich to poor through income taxes and finance welfare programs); rise in belief that poverty is not a personal failure but a societal failure; expansion of secondary and higher education; attack on religious and racial barriers to equal opportunity (leading to later attacks on gender-based assumptions of behavior and discrimination based on sexual orientation).||1970-?: Attack on liberal reforms; defeat of Equal Rights Amendment; rise of tax revolt; rise of Christian Coalition and other political groups of the religious Right.|
|Fourth, and Current, Great Awakening,
|1960-?: Return to sensuous religion and reassertion of experiential content of the Bible; rapid growth of the enthusiastic religions (including fundamentalist, Pentacostal, and Protestant charismatic denominations, “born-again” Catholics, Mormons); reassertion of concept of personal sin; stress on an ethic of individual responsibility, hard work, a simple life, and dedication to family.||1990-?: Attack on materialist corruption; rise of pro-life, pro-family, and media reform movements; campaign for more value-oriented school curriculum; expansion of tax revolt; attack on entitlements; return to a belief in equality of opportunity.||?:|