Friday, September 1, 2017

"Cultural Climate Change" by Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks

This is a long, thoughtful essay that is well worth your time. 

Read the whole thing.

I personally believe it is cowardly to use the word "Islamist", so I won't and I don't.

However-lots of food for thought in here.

"Having children or raising them involves enormous sacrifice of time, money, effort and energy. Religious people understand the concept of sacrifice. We live by it. It’s part of our lives. But people in a secular, consumerist, individualist culture find it much harder to live by sacrifice. Nothing in the culture says sacrifice, and throughout history that is the reason why when a culture begins to lose its faith, its birth rate starts to decline. This is not just happening now. It has happened throughout history. It happened in Ancient Greece in the second century BCE. It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Renaissance Italy. The people who’ve done the research say there is no case on record in which a secular society has been able to maintain its birth rates. Within a century, every society, when it becomes secularised, starts to decline demographically. So the 21st century is going to be more religious than the 20th century even if not one person changes his or her mind from being non-religious to religious. It will happen for a simple reason: throughout the world today the more religious you are, the more children you have."

"This is a global demographic fact. This, incidentally, explains why levels of immigration to Europe, which has been the big storm hitting Europe for the last decade, are so high, higher than they’ve ever been before in history. Europe hasn’t admitted immigrants because it’s more generous than any time in the past, but because it has lower birth rates than in the past. Immigration is the only way Europe can counter its declining and ageing populations. Europe will die because it wasn’t mindful. It misread Charles Darwin, took him as the patron saint of atheists and failed to realise that actually he was the prophet of reproductive success, of having enough faith to bring a child into the world. That is how religion, or rather the loss of religion, is causing the contraction of the family."

"So in a world like today, religion can do one of three things. Number one, it can attempt to conquer society. That is the radical Islamist version. Number two, it can withdraw from society. That is the Benedict option or the ultra-Orthodox option, or the Soloveitchik option. Or number three, it can attempt to reinspire society, to do what Will Durant called giving people a new form of human hope and new courage to human effort."

"If we adopt the first option, the radical anti-Western option, we will move straight away into the dark ages. If we adopt the second option, we will survive the dark ages, but they will still be dark. But if we adopt the third option of being true to ourselves and yet engaged in the public square, we have a chance of avoiding the dark and of countering cultural climate change. By religion, I don’t mean religion as a substitute for science. I certainly don’t mean religion in opposition to a free society. Don’t forget the architects of freedom in the modern world, in Holland, in England, and in America, Spinoza, Locke, and Jefferson, they did it in the name of religion, not as a protest against but in the name of religion."