Paul Kingsnorth begins his most recent blog post discussing the place where his story began.
In my case, the time and place was Britain in the Eighties and Nineties, and the story we were immersed in then already seems like the product of a long-gone era. It was made up of the fading Christian heritage of England, the liberalism which had replaced it, an Enlightenment-era faith in science, reason and ‘progress’, and the much newer afterglow of the Sixties sexual revolution. This mess somehow gave birth to the weird combination of radical individualism and authoritarian thought-control that stalks the culture now.
As he nears his conclusion he observes.
Our crumbling culture can be so hard to navigate. Religion can be hard to navigate too. But maybe Christmas can help us understand what it is, and what part of us it services. Religion is not, as atheists often assume and I once assumed too, a set of beliefs to be adhered to, or arguments to be made and defended. It is an experience to be immersed in. The orthopraxy reveals the orthodoxy.
Writing about attending a liturgical worship service he concludes.
Something happens when you stand, immersed in it all. You come to feel as if you are being carried down a great timeless river to an almost unfathomable destination that you could never reach on your own. But of course, you are not on your own. Not now. You will never be on your own again. You have come home.
The entire article is worth the few minutes it takes to read. These highlights speak to me personally this Christmas morning.
Yesterday afternoon I attended the Christmas Mass at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at 4 PM with my son, Jared. Arriving a minute or two late we stood and knelt during the service. There was no room in the Inn for us, so to speak. All the pews were full.
I had the sense during that hour that I was stepping into a great timeless river of worship that started flowing when God created time. At the conclusion, after the Eucharist, I felt cleansed and whole. My nourished soul once again infused with the religious nutrients I need to survive this world.