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The Decline of Western Civilization and “He Who Must Not Be Named”

Secularists have convinced Western societies that Christianity was an impediment to humanism and liberal democracy, with the practical consequence being a privatization of faith, another way to describe an impotent faith.

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, Lord Voldemort is so frightening that he’s referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named”.

Those who think Western Civilization still has something to offer the modern world, a minority in today’s academic and intellectual milieu, have been trying to make sense out of the declining attraction of liberal democracy, and the rights traditionally embedded in democratic societies: free speech, religious freedom, freedom of association, free elections, property rights. Instead of being a superior form of government, many now consider classically defined liberal democracy to be just another model, not inherently better or worse than many other models, even praising alternate models for their economic efficiency, streamlined decision making, or ideological purity. In an April 21st essay titled “The Crisis of Western Civ”, David Brooks—who lauded the “humanistic ideal” that underlies liberal democracy—writes, “According to a study published in The Journal of Democracy, the share of young Americans who say it is absolutely necessary to live in a democratic country has dropped from 91% in the 1930s to 57% today.”

It’s hard for me to find fault with anyone who champions Western civilization, but there’s something missing in Brooks’ analysis, and others I’ve seen like his, and that something is the modern age’s He Who Must Not Be Named, namely, Jesus Christ, the source of the humanistic ideal. Before Jesus, how could one imagine marred and damaged humans as beloved sons and daughters of the Creator of this 100 billion light year wide and 100 billion galaxy universe? That’s pretty bold talk, then and now, no matter how you cut it. And distinct from the pre-Christian classical virtues that were intended to produce human contentment and orderly societies, Christianity promoted religious beliefs and moral norms that were objectively true and good, even when they troubled people and societies.

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