The World Has a Story
Given comment section conversation, and the fact that it’s Good Friday, a Robert Jensen piece from 1993 seems an appropriate item for contemplation:
… modernity has supposed we inhabit what I will call a “narratable world.” Modernity has supposed that the world “out there” is such that stories can be told that are true to it. And modernity has supposed that the reason narratives can be true to the world is that the world somehow “has” its own true story, antecedent to, and enabling of, the stories we tell about ourselves in it. …
If there is little mystery about where the West got its faith in a narratable world, neither is there much mystery about how the West has lost this faith. The entire project of the Enlightenment was to maintain realist faith while declaring disallegiance from the God who was that faith’s object. The story the Bible tells is asserted to be the story of God with His creatures; that is, it is both assumed and explicitly asserted that there is a true story about the universe because there is a universal novelist/historian. Modernity was defined by the attempt to live in a universal story without a universal storyteller.
Even before I ceased to call myself an atheist, I had a sense that secular Western society was trying to smuggle the fruits of religious tradition without the responsibilities. The practice is visible on an individual basis, too, in people who developed their sense of reality, and their basic comfort with life, within a religious context, but who decided that they (and their children) no longer needed to keep up with even the tepid demands of religion. The repercussions, it seems to me, take at least a generation to manifest, and I suspect the near future will bring either a return, among the young, to traditionalist faith or a rapid, astonishing deterioration of our society.