I watched this video of Peter Kreeft giving a nifty little talk and the first point he made was about Politicization. He pointed out how modern Catholics tend to use their religion as a means toward their politics instead of their politics as a means towards their True and Final end–namely God. This idea prodded in me a few interesting observations.
First, it is not just modern Catholics who place undue emphasis on politics. It seems as if every atheist, agnostic, or liberal muslim in America is obsessed with the news and which political scandal is breaking today. Compare that to centuries ago when politics was a sport exclusively for the aristocrats, and you realize that the importance of politics has grown significantly in the modern mind.
Second, I noticed that this growth in the importance of politics seems to closely mirror the decline in the importance of religion. Nowadays your religion is seen as a private matter of negligible importance, except insofar as it tends to indicate how you will vote. Compared to pre-modern times this is exactly reversed, where your politics were a private matter of negligible importance except insofar as it might lead you into some heresy.
Third, I posit that the second is the reason for the first. Humans intrinsically, psychologically, and socially, need something bigger than themselves to believe in, and to strive for. Jordan Peterson has built a huge audience by pointing this out. “Men need responsibility, and something to strive for,” he says, and is rewarded with >$60k per month of patreon dough. In old society that bigger thing was religion. It was Christendom. But as the metaphysical underpinnings of religion (and specifically the Catholic religion) were tossed away in favor of mechanistic naturalism, we mentally began to decrease the importance of religion. But we still had this need for the role religion fulfilled. So, we promoted politics in its place. Derp.
We used to have physical rituals for the good of our souls like Baptism and the Eucharist, but now we have Elections and Rallies for the good of our society. We used to have Confessionals, but now we have the voting booth. (Which looks more beautiful?) Both Christian rituals and Democratic rituals are a physical action:
- performed with no immediate obvious physical consequence
- which proclaims and cements our loyalty to the overarching ideal
- that is scandalous to the broad society to forego
- and serves our understanding of ourselves as “good people.”
But where Christian rituals explicitly sought the spiritual world, which is invisible, the Democratic rituals supposedly seek to “change the [physical] world,” which is visible. So when an atheist makes fun of a Christian for praying and expecting that to do anything, the Christian can at least retort that it does something spiritually, whereas when the Democratic’s habit of voting is made fun of, the only retort is an insistent claim that voting really does do something in the physical world, “you just can’t see it.” Where Christian rituals seek to bind society closer by binding us into the One God, Democratic rituals seek to divide society by emulating war without weapons. Every rally is filled with hate, every Mass is filled with love.
I think it should be obvious that our replacement of religion with politics was a mistake. We replaced the gourmet cuisine of the Real Body of God with… Donald Trump, who loves fast food.