Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pluralism is a challenge to belief

Peter Berger, thinking about his experiences with the Amish, explains "How to Keep a Closed Community Closed," with relevance to any religious community in our post-Christian society. His conclusion:
.... Modernity, for reasons that are not at all mysterious, pluralizes—that is, it constantly confronts people with beliefs and values different from their own. Inevitably, this undermines the taken-for-granted character of every worldview. If one wants to restore the taken-for-grantedness of a worldview, one must shelter its adherents from ideas that challenge it. That is a difficult project. If one wants to impose a taken-for-granted worldview on an entire society, one must set up a totalitarian state which controls all communications with the outside world. If one settles for doing this in a sub-society where one cannot use physical coercion, the control of communications must be even more strenuous. It is obviously easier to do this in an isolated rural community than in the middle of a big city (though that has been tried too). Pluralism (and not secularization, as many still think) is the big modern challenge to religion. This does not mean that modern people cannot be religious. It does mean that faith is harder to achieve. .... [more]
How to Keep a Closed Community Closed - Peter Berger's Blog - The American Interest