Friday, March 16, 2007

The American religion

is gnostic -- the believer searches for occult experience of his innermost self, standing in aweful solitude with God. It is not ecclesial. "God in you responds to God without," wrote Emerson, America’s sage. It is therapeutic, sold and bought for results, like tooth-whitener. American Protestants, Episcopalians, Catholics and even Jews are spiritually closer to each other than to their global co-religionists. This spiritual divide is cracking Anglicanism. It is even more worrying for Catholics, who have centralised authority. Rome is necessarily pained by deviancy. Back in 1899 Leo XIII, pope and prophet, condemned the American Religion in his encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, "A Witness to Our Good Will". Leo didn’t insist that anyone had yet fallen into those "views ... called by some 'Americanism' ", but he warned that the heresy was, as it were, out there on the prairie, waiting to gobble up American souls.

Leo deplored "that there are among you some who would have the Church in America different from what it is in the rest of the world". A century on, and the Church in America is different from what it is in the rest of the world.
--Richard Major

(via Open Book)

1 comment:

  1. See also Dreher's citation of Hauerwas:

    (Click through to the links.)

    "Individualism" is written into "inalienable rights."