Jesus and Modernity


A reader writes:

I finally got around to reading the last installment of your dialog with Sam Harris. In a genuinely Christian fashion, you end on a note of hope (which, after all, is different than optimism).

I only wanted to add that as I was reading your epistle, I kept thinking of the words of Walker Percy: there is no better time to be a Christian than now, because it means so much more. This, I think, the fundamentalist rejects. They cannot delight in the strangeness and change and even dislocation of the modern world. They do not revel in the mystery of it all, that even in these times Christ is working in our lives. This is why fundamentalism, at least in part, becomes politically active - they think there are better times to be a Christian, and work to instantiate those times through the coercive machinery of the state.

I am so grateful to be a Christian right now, because it means so much. It is more of a struggle, but that only gives my faith more meaning. I sense in yourself that gratitude. And that, I submit, is why neither of us are fundamentalists. We agree with Percy. We are thankful to be believers here and now, for better or worse. This is a posture of humility and wonder, those things modernity pushes against. Contemporary Christians need a strong dose of gratitude for the gift of faith, rather than anger at being thrown into the modern world. Is that likely to come about? I can hope, but I'm not optimistic.