The Many Altars of Modernity
The New Evangelization and its Assumptions

There is an underlying assumption shared by both religious conservatives and their progressive antagonists (they just differ on what to do about it): that modernity means a decline of religion and its concomitant morality. That’s not exactly right, however.

Published on: September 10, 2014
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  • Anthony

    Faith is no longer taken for granted (Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen). Modernity (science/technology – knowledge) certainly has complicated belief in the supernatural but Peter Berger is right there need not be oppositional polarity (secularism vs. religion) but recognition of pluralist component of today’s ecumenical and secular forces. To infer from Berger’s essay and previous writings, if goal of life and of religion is to intuit the intrinsic value of life then modernity has compelled a wider expanse of endeavor. This is an endeavor not necessarily in conflict but perhaps a catalyst to utilize knowledge – secularism as defined in essay – while contending with religion’s traditional province as place where man’s concern for his ultimate value finds locus (theory of pluralism where faith inclines toward individual decision).

  • Bruno

    At the risk of being told to read the book to grasp the entire argument, to me it seems that you are saying a true thing (secularism is a new perspective but not the only one) to the detriment of another true, and in my view more relevant, statement – where it matters, secularism is or is in the process of becoming an hegemonic force).

    Nota bene, “where it matters”; the situation in Nepal, or Saudi Arabia, is not at all of my interest, concerning the fate of my own land (which is Brazil). The situation in the United States and Europe, however, is of interest not only for me but for the entire world, because living in the periphery I know very well that a tree that falls in New York makes noise in São Paulo (although it usually takes around a decade).

    • mikehorn

      Catholicism is only recently a significant force in America. Most Americans aren’t thrilled with the idea of politicians taking orders from bishops and popes.

      • Bruno

        Neither are said politicians, or kings for that matter. Even prior to the Reformation the relationship between the Church and the sovereigns was seldom one of subservience.

        You are, however, right in your observation that Catholicism is a recent force in America (and, it seems, a short lived one). But that would only be relevant if secularism meant the overturning of the political hegemony of the Church, and that process was concluded in most of the world from 1789 to at the latest 1930s (although the Protestant countries, America included, had a head start).

        But that is not what secularism currently means, or what it currently is; it is not the sense I think the author used, nor the sense I used. Secularism no longer means a takeover of political power, because that battle has already been won. It has evolved into a sort of religion of its own, an active effort to remake morals and beliefs. Now that political power is secured, all else is to be turned political. And it is not only the Catholic Church that falls victim to it, but every man who seeks to abide by divine law, whether he is a Jeovah’s Witnesses or Mormon or Baptist.

        • mikehorn

          In America, atheists and Buddhists and everyone has the right to live by their conscience. The tricky bit is balancing those out. Your rights end where mine begin, but that isn’t always a clear line. It remains context dependent and event dependent. The recent birth control issue is an interesting case: do employers have the right to make those rules for their employees, and if so, under what circumstances? What rights do the employees retain, and how can both be protected?

          • Bruno

            Birth control was abominated by society at large, up until the 30s. I am not saying only Catholics were against it, everyone was. Though the Church did forbid the faithful to engage in it (as she still does, although only a tiny minority respects it), and though there were feeble attempts to outlaw it, it is nowadays common practice (and had ominous consequences for the meaning of sex, for families and for the relationship between men and women, but I digress).
            My point being: the very fact that you see contraception as the object of a “right” already shows how far we have moved. If your point is one of freedom, then tell me: weren’t we already free? Couldn’t everyone choose to engage or not engage in birth control, by buying pills? So, if there was an equilibrium there, a situation of perfect freedom, pray tell me, who was it that disrupted it? Who was it that tried to make state-mandated employer-payed birth control a “human right”? Can’t you see the absurdity in this? What could move the Obama administration to undertake such an enormous struggle, facing the resistance it faces? For what good? The resistance by the Catholic entities is easy to understand, but the insistence by the Federal Government, what is behind that?

        • mikehorn

          Be careful how you define religion and lump atheists, secular minded religious, and others. The only thing atheists have in common is not being convinced by any religion. That’s it. Otherwise you find liberals and libertarians, and the mix across any spectrum you might find today. No text, no pope, no creed.

          About morals, it is incorrect to assume that atheists lack or even differ much from you on morals. There is a tendency for atheists to look to science for answers (that is what science does), and it seems the species, Homo Sapiens, probably has some instinctive ground rules tied up in empathy, social behavior, parenting, self interest, and the rest that makes people people. Consider that it was the most secular nation the world ever produced that defeated both the pagan/Christian third reich and the atheist/Marxist/orthodox USSR. it wasn’t Catholicism except as a support just like Baptists, Jewish, atheist. This secular nation has high morals, just not in agreement with Catholicism. Now we see Catholics trying to exert power as the largest sect in America, but the rest of us aren’t interested in living in a catholic nation, never have been.

          • mikehorn

            As a numbers game, Catholics claim up to 35% of Americans based on baptism numbers, but infant baptisms don’t count for voters. Polling puts Catholics about 25-27%, with 1/10 Americans stating they are former Catholics, like me. I can say that I would vote for a catholic if they will govern by their Oath, American and protecting the rights of those who are not catholic. You want an anti catholic backlash and sectarian ugliness? Insist catholic politicians govern according to their religion at the expense of everyone else’s rights. Insist you’re right and everyone else must toe the catholic line. That is what I hear from modern Catholics in America.

          • Bruno

            There is much less cohesion among Catholics than you imagine, and the Church has much less political ambition than what you imagine.

          • Bruno

            1. I am regarding ideological forces and discourse, not individuals. Don’t feel offended by my remarks because I am not referring to you, or to any individual.

            2. Again, you’re stuck with the defense of atheists. Don’t need to, I have nothing against them, I was one for 10 years. Now, despite the fact that you escaped topic, I will comment on your assertions on this 2nd paragraph.

            Morals aren’t a biological thing. Am I in contradiction with St. Paul, who said that “the law is inscribed in our hearts”? No, and there’s a theological reason for that, but I won’t get into that as that’s not of your interest. As I said, morals aren’t a biological thing; otherwise, how come is it that the Romans could leave imperfect children to die, or the Greeks could exalt pederasty, or certain Eskimos leave their elders to die, or Carthaginians could throw their children in burning metal to please their god, or many Native Americans eat their opponents – the list of aberrations is long – how come can all these things which have been done by many strange civilizations be abomination to us, Christian and atheist alike? Certainly, our biological constitution is the same. Yet we may point and say – that is wrong (or at least I hope we can).

            You may think you were born in a vacuum and found your morals with “science” (which, however, doesn’t have and neither is expected to have any utility in matters of morality, or any deontological reality), but the truth is that you were born in a CONTEXT. My friend, you have more Christ in you than you imagine; but of course, you’re free to reject.

  • hombre111

    Very impressed by the effort to view this from a wider perspective. The traditional Church following Leo XIII has a lot of trouble with religious pluralism and tolerance. “Error has no rights,” as we used to say. It is the task of the state to act in behalf of the one true Church. But in America, especially, it is a tough question. When I see a discussion like this on a conservative website, I think the Spirit is moving.

    • mikehorn

      America has no “one true church”, though every church in America claims that status.

  • jbirdme

    As an Orthodox Jew, what I perceive is that there is an increasing divergence between the ideals and morals within which I try and live, and the fast-changing morality of our “modern” public square.

  • Gary Novak

    Is it helpful to think of two pluralisms– one consisting of many religions and the other concerned with the choice between religion, as such, and secularism– a pluralism of two? Or is the latter really a pluralism of three, since– in the developing paradigm– religion and secularism may be combined, making “both” a third option? Or is it just as reasonable to think in terms of a single pluralism with options ranging from militant theism to militant secularism? The problem would seem to be that insofar as secularism is so different from all religions that it justifies another pluralism, it becomes difficult to see how it can be combined with religion.

    Perhaps it would help to add still another pluralism– a pluralism of secularisms! Berger notes that “secularization theory was not completely wrong; it just exaggerated the hegemony of the secular discourse.” Could we say that secularization theory committed that error because it recognized only the kind of secularism that cannot be combined with religion– the kind that exposes “the God delusion” (Dawkins) and “breaks the spell” of religion (Dennett) and marks “the end of faith” (Harris)? When we recognize that religious people need not and do not feel uncomfortable when they board planes piloted by atheists, we should not imagine that they are losing their faith in God. The institutional reach of religion may be declining as we spend more time in engineering schools than in learning rain dances, but– if I may put a Schutzian phrase to a new use– that does not mean that people cease to regard the religious as their “paramount reality.” Schutz, of course, used the term to indicate the everyday reality that we share with others by default. But it could also be used to indicate which of the “multiple realities” we experience in the course of our lives we choose to regard as “paramount” in our exercise of the heretical imperative.

    In his recent book “The Face of God” (2012), philosopher Roger Scruton invokes Kant to argue that my being a free agent responsible for my acts presupposes a causal world. Paraphrasing Kant (many thanks!), Scruton writes: “Without the web of causality, nothing ‘preserves itself in being’ long enough to know or be known. So my world, the world of the free being, is a world ordered by causal laws.” The freedom of an “I” made in God’s image is impossible in a meaninglessly random world. So, not only is a world of spiritual subjectivity compatible with a world of universal and necessary causal law; the former presupposes the latter. Scruton: “This is something that I know to be true, but which lies beyond understanding.”

    I have previously quoted a passage in which Berger, too, refers to the face of God: In the perspective of religion,”. . . the empirical world in its entirety comes into view as a gigantic symbol . . . of the face of God.” The “secularity” which recognizes the face of God in aeronautics isn’t all that secular! No wonder it can be combined with religion– that’s where it originated. But that militant secularism which applauds and promotes the banishment of religion as necessary to the emancipation of humanity from the Dark Ages is, of course, not compatible with religion. That is the secularism I had in mind when I suggested in my recent discussion with Wayne Lusvardi that the Abrahamic religions have a common enemy in that (exclusively immanent) secularism. When religiously irredentist secularism disowns militant secularism and finds its way home, we may not even need a new paradigm.

  • mikehorn

    I was prepared to strongly disagree, I find myself sympathetic to finding better common ground. For the record, I was raised catholic but have been an atheist for multiple decades.

    I submit that separating church and state in the American model was a huge step in the right direction. This gets complicated in the cases of France and Russia. The colonies’ biggest beef in revolution was practical not religious. In Europe, revolutions against the state by definition were also against the church, because the two were so heavily in bed with each other. Christianity and the Vatican have a history of supporting repressive governments, as recently as Spain in the 1930s. France and Russia swung too far, but that should not be viewed in a vacuum, without understanding why religion was viewed as something to discard.

    In America, atheists don’t want to remove religion from the public square: this is a strawman fallacy that weakens your argument. What we tend to want is simply freedom to live our conscience as the Constitution should allow.

    • Gary Novak

      Here is atheist Richard Dawkins: “Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place” (“The God Delusion,” p. 317). So even private religious education, which is not even in the public square, is worse than illegal sexual abuse of children. I believe that you are happy to enjoy your freedom of conscience, but I am afraid you don’t speak for the more militant atheists. Dawkins is an influential “straw man.”

      • mikehorn

        You realize atheist are under no obligation to listen to or agree with Dawkins? We disagree all the time. Dawkins is at his best when he is countering the insanity that is the religious anti-science crowd, defending evolution and science education he is especially good at.

        But he says dumb things and gets taken down for them. Atheists have no pope, no book, no creed, no clergy, no canon or sharia law. We live in this world, and squabble against each other in the best American traditions. We do tend to clump around science, humanism, education, welfare for the poor, healthcare, but there are strong clumps around selfish Libertarianism and other things. Diverse group, atheists, with only one thing in common: no belief in any god.

        In this case, liking the God Delusion especially as it attempts to argue that science is a better way to approach education and worldly deci

        • Gary Novak

          You suggest that I shouldn’t “confuse debate over correct behavior with saying you have no right to that behavior.” But you also say that rights are a balancing act: Crazy Protestant parents have no right to deprive their children of real healthcare in favor of faith-healing, and Catholics have no right to exclude birth control from their insurance plans. If teaching Catholic myths is more harmful to children than sexual abuse, why would you support the right of crazy Catholic parents to abuse their children? Do you “debate correct behavior” with crazy Protestant parents until they see the light? No, you (or Dawkins) try to convince sane people of the danger of crazy people and “balance” their rights by removing them. The debate over correct behavior in the court of public opinion ends in the debate over rights in courts of law.

          You say that if anyone tried to ban Catholicism, you would be on the Catholic side. But that is little comfort to religious people whose “crazy” practices are progressively dismantled in the name of moral sanity. You can be a Catholic, but (soon) you can’t raise your kids as Catholics. Thanks a lot.

          Your point that not all atheists think alike was already made in Berger’s post– indeed, it puzzled RCPreader, who couldn’t understand why Berger thinks secularism is “a numerically small sectarian movement seeking to use the federal courts to banish religion from the public sphere.” RCPreader sees secularism as the new state-sponsored orthodoxy marking the end of the era of pluralism. But many of his or her examples of the ubiquity of secularism are instances associated with ACLU/court activity. Berger’s point (made repeatedly in previous posts) is that the “nones” (i. e., people who choose “none” as their religious preference) are, for the most part, NOT militant atheists. It is the revolutionary vanguard of militant atheism which is making most of the noise.

          Without retracting his retraction of secularization theory, Berger is noticing that secularism is not on its last legs– but the growing secularism is, from a religious point of view, mostly benign. Its doubts about religion are not sinful but are the fertile ground from which a more honest and responsible recognition of the transcendent may arise. “None” is not a bad place to be. Meanwhile, the hardcore left and right are waging a culture war over the hearts and minds of these “independents.” But the more I try to “clear up” these matters, the more I have to agree with Berger that these matters are heavy lifting, and I don’t even have a joke to offer.

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            There may be many varieties of secularism as philosopher William James might say, but I think there have been three major social movements of secularity:

            Anti-Secularism or Pre-Secularism – an attempt to have no separation between the public and private spheres as a byproduct of pre-modernity.

            Secularism – an attempt to separate religion and state, public and private spheres of society as a byproduct of modernity.

            Post-Secularism – an attempt to reduce the separation between public and private spheres and thus counter-modernism (as explained in Peter Berger’s book The Homeless Mind as “post-modern ideology”). This movement reflects itself in “invisible religions” (Thomas Luckmann) such as environmentalism (see Thomas R. Dunlap, Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest, 2009).

            These three movements should not be seen as “evolutionary” but revolutionary as sociologist Christian Smith describes in his book “The Secular Revolution.” The secular revolution was an active effort to supplant institutionalized religion’s hegemony with the state.

            The issue of “power” is raised in this discussion when either religious or secular government institutions have exerted a cognitive default position as a non-optional way of knowing and living. Today, secularism is in the cognitive default position in academia, government, the media, and in various secondary social reform movements.

            The point that Peter Berger makes in the above article is the breakpoint issue of moral superiority or legitimacy is not necessarily or historically on the side of religion. This is the “decadence” issue I have been discussing with sociologist Gary Novak on this webpage in the recent past. Many who are anti-secularist or have tension with secularism see it as “decadent” and immoral (“how can an atheist know he is moral?”).

            From what I only partially understand from what Berger has written above “modernity need not mean a decline in religion or morality”. When pre-modern religion is in the cultural default position there is no morality. One can only be “ethical” when one has a choice. And modernity is a movement of choice over fate.

            I have a prosecutor friend of mine who tells me stories of persons socialized in Middle Eastern cultures being summoned into court and put on the witness stand in some criminal case. From what he tells me, most often they don’t understand what lying or perjury is — they just say what their clan, tribe, or group has acculturated them to say to protect their group. They don’t perceive a choice in what is a lie or not a lie. So secularity (not secularism) is not necessarily immoral or decadent in this sense of the term.

            As Sara R. Farris writes in her book “Max Weber’s Theory of Personality”, Weber saw the Asian Personality (or character) as a non-personality or absence of personality. Thus we have what sociologists call the “well-adjusted” or “over-socialized” person. The question often posed of those born in Middle Eastern cultures living in the U.S. is why don’t they speak up and oppose terrorism? The answer to this perplexing question to Americans is Max Weber’s “non-personality.” Or as Weber aptly described it: “They were left in undisturbed magical bondage” (The Religion of India, page 342).

            This is why Weber wrote about the “Protestant Ethic” which was describe religious charisma and personalization and the work and savings ethic that sprang from it.

            I can’t resist ending this comment without a Berger like humorous story of sorts. In regard to Berger’s new theory of pluralism rather than secularism, there is sometimes the paranoid world view of the person acculturated in a singluar culture who can’t reconcile the many conflicting worldviews of pluralism. Thus, the sociologist bar none Nelson Rockefeller once aptly wrote:

            “I met many Russians who were convinced my brothers and I were a cabal, pulling the strings behind the scenes to shape American policy. The Soviets had no conception how a pluralistic democracy works and believed elected officials, up to and including the President of the United States, were only figureheads acting out the roles dictated to them by the real ‘powers that be’ — in this case my family.”

            Modernity need not mean a decline in religion or morality but it might mean an inclination toward paranoia and conspiracy theories.

          • Gary Novak

            “Many who are anti-secularist or have tension with secularism see it as ‘decadent’
            and immoral (‘how can an atheist know he is moral?’).” Well, how can the
            theist know he is moral? By obeying a religiously-sanctioned moral code?
            Several readers of this blog take that view: the Bible contains a detailed
            description of the moral law. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer begins his
            “Ethics” by rejecting that view: “The knowledge of good and evil
            seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics
            is to invalidate this knowledge.” For Bonhoeffer, “ethical”
            Christianity means openness to God. Man at his origin “knows all things
            only in God, and God in all things. The knowledge of good and evil shows that
            he is no longer at one with this origin.” I don’t think it would be
            putting words in Bonhoeffer’s mouth to say that, for him, codified morality is
            decadent.

            “When pre-modern religion is in the cultural default position there is no morality.
            One can only be ‘ethical’ when one has a choice. And modernity is a movement of
            choice over fate.” If we think of pre-modern religion as a tribal morality
            internalized without question or choice, then we modern existentialists might very
            well see it as “no morality” (just herd mentality). But we can also see
            pre-modern religion as including experiences of the numinous in holy
            insecurity. If, as von Ranke said, all ages are equally close to God,
            authenticity is imperative in all ages. Morality does not have to wait for
            modernity to be real. Indeed, insofar as modernity eliminates the distinction
            between the sacred and the profane by embracing the exclusively immanent
            framework, it obscures the choice man faces “at his origin”: shall we
            acknowledge the address of God (“Adam, where art thou?”) or go our own way, “knowing”
            that we are moral?

            I am not suggesting that the culture war is being fought between those who
            acknowledge the need to respond authentically in fear and trembling to the
            address of God and those who claim that God is a pernicious “virus of the mind”
            (meme). Many modern theists are actually pre-modern tribal moralists who fend
            off cognitive contamination with indignation. And many secularists don’t “talk
            to God” because they refuse to see in that phrase any meaning other than that
            given to it by bad faith theists. I won’t say “A plague on both their houses,”
            but neither house is of much help in articulating the human condition of “man
            at his origin,” who knows all things (even the secular world) “only in God.”

          • Wayne Lusvardi

            Gary
            Good discussion. Your comment is a keeper.
            Thank you.

          • Gary Novak

            That is one of the nice things about Berger’s blog– it gives us an occasion to reconsider books we haven’t thought of for some time. I just took one of your recommendations off the shelf– Arthur Herman, “The Idea of Decline in Western History.” (Is this decadence stuff a little over-cooked?)

      • mikehorn

        Sorry, discus acting up. Finishing post below:

        Don’t confuse debate over correct behavior with saying you have no right to that behavior. In the West, your religious beliefs and practices are open for debate, especially if you are trying to say that everyone should be living by catholic beliefs, that Catholicism is the only correct path. That is an opening statement that will get strong resistance from the 75% that are not catholic. Dawkins here is saying several things:
        Catholics have lost moral authority through perversion and then the even worse cover up and perpetuation.
        Teaching myth as truth is harmful, and children again are under discussion.
        Catholics need to clean house before they can presume to dictate morality to anyone else, like they are trying on a global scale.

      • mikehorn

        One more discus fix:
        All that aside, Catholics still retain their rights under the Constitution, just like the rest of us. If anyone tried to ban Catholicism, or confiscate churches, or outlaw clergy, they would have far more than Catholics against them. I would be on the catholic side in that case, similar if it happened to Buddhists or any other.

        But rights are a balancing act. Crazy Protestant parents don’t get to deprive children of healthcare in favor of prayer, as an example. Catholics don’t get to outlaw birth control, or otherwise restrict its legal access, as another.

  • RCPreader

    There are some issues here. One is the equating of concerns about secularization with belief in the secularization thesis. One need not buy the secularization thesis to be concerned about secularization in today’s society. I would want to see evidence before I would accept a claim that JP2 et al were/are believers in the secularization thesis.

    I am also puzzled why “secularism” is here indentified as a “numerically small sectarian movement seeking to use the federal courts to banish religion from the public sphere.” Secularism is a huge phenomenon throughout society, but the author seems to be dismissing it.

    Also, there is lack of clarity regarding different meanings of “pluralism.” We indeed have a grown in pluralism in the sense the society has become more diverse. Pluralism as an ethic is declining, however. There is more an more of an effort to impose particular worldviews — particular types of secularist worldviews — on others. Religious organizations such as adoption agencies that won’t provide children to same-sex couples are losing their government contracts. Religious business owners are being forced to violate their religious views or be shut down. We saw a beauty queen denied her crown because she did not support gay marriage. Movements are growing to deny government aid and loans to students who attend schools that hold to orthodox Christian views.

    The era of pluralism, at least in the U.S., appears to be ending, supplanted by the imposition of a new state orthodoxy.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    There may be many varieties of secularism as philosopher William James might say, but I think there have been three major social movements of secularity:

    Anti-Secularism or Pre-Secularism – an attempt to have no separation between the public and private spheres as a byproduct of pre-modernity.

    Secularism – an attempt to separate religion and state, public and private spheres of society as a byproduct of modernity.

    Post-Secularism – an attempt to reduce the separation between public and private spheres and thus counter-modernism (as explained in Peter Berger’s book The Homeless Mind as “post-modern ideology”).

    These three movements should not be seen as “evolutionary” but revolutionary as sociologist Christian Smith describes in his book “The Secular Revolution.” The secular revolution was an active effort to supplant institutionalized religion’s hegemony with the state.

    The issue of “power” is raised in this discussion when either religious or secular government institutions have exerted a cognitive default position as a non-optional way of knowing and living. Today, secularism is in the cognitive default position in academia, government, the media, and in various secondary social reform movements.

    The point that Peter Berger makes in the above article is the breakpoint issue of moral superiority or legitimacy is not necessarily or historically on the side of religion. This is the “decadence” issue I have been discussing with sociologist Gary Novak on this webpage in the recent past. Many who are anti-secularist or have tension with secularism see it as “decadent” and immoral (“how can an atheist know he is moral?”).

    From what I only partially understand from what Berger has written above “modernity need not mean a decline in religion or morality”. When pre-modern religion is in the cultural default position there is no morality. Think of fundamentalist Jihadist Muslims who see no cognitive separation between themselves and their religion or the Islamist State. One can only be “ethical” when one has a choice. And modernity is a movement of choice over fate.

    I have a prosecutor friend of mine who tells me stories of Middle Eastern socialized persons being called into court and put on the witness stand in some criminal case. From what he tells me, most often they don’t understand why lying or perjury is — they just say what their clan, tribe, or group has acculturated them to say to protect their group. They don’t perceive a choice in what is a lie or not a lie. So secularity (not secularism) is not necessarily immoral or decadent in this sense of the term.

    As Sara R. Farris writes in her book “Max Weber’s Theory of Personality”, Weber saw the Asian Personality (or character) as a non-personality or absence of personality. Thus we have what sociologists call the “well-adjusted” or “over-socialized” personality. The question often posed of those born in Middle Eastern cultures living in the U.S. is why don’t they speak up and oppose terrorism? The answer to this perplexing question to Americans is Max Weber’s “non-personality.” Or as Weber aptly described it: “They were left in undisturbed magical bondage” (The Religion of India, page 342).

    This is why Weber wrote about the “Protestant Ethic” which was tied to charisma and personalization.

    I can’t resist ending this comment without a Berger like humorous story of sorts. In regard to Berger’s new theory of pluralism rather than secularism, there is sometimes the paranoid world view of the person acculturated in a singluar culture who can’t reconcile the many conflicting worldviews of pluralism. Thus Nelson Rockefeller once wrote:

    “I met many Russians who were convinced my brothers and I were a cabal, pulling the strings behind the scenes to shape American policy. The Soviets had no conception how a pluralistic democracy works and believed elected officials, up to and including the President of the United States, were only figureheads acting out the roles dictated to them by the real ‘powers that be’ — in this case my family.”

    Modernity need not mean a decline in religion or morality but it might mean an inclination toward paranoia and conspiracy theories.

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