May 4, 2021Liked by N.S. Lyons

This is a remarkably insightful article. I did have one thought I wanted to share concerning the final question posed, 'where now is authority?'. With each successive 'emergence' as it were, the source of the authority in Christianity moved ever more gradually away from God and towards man. With the first emergence, that of Christ, the question was answered obviously 'with Christ' as He was the clear authority and His teachings carried the full weight of what was believed.

With the second emergence in the 6th century and the Arian heresy, the answer to the question was 'with the Pope', since Christ's divinity was now suspect, the ultimate authority had to rest in the human hands of the leader of the Christian Church.

In the 11th century, the answer was 'with the local bishop' as that solidified the split between the eastern and western churches and now the authority rested with the local bishop, leading to the doctrinal differences that became permanent between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In the 16th century, the answer was 'scripture alone' which made every individual pastor or priest his own magesterium and arbiter of what was to be believed. Which lead naturally to the conclusion and answer to this currently cycle, which is apparently 'with the individual', thus completing the serpents temptation in the garden that 'You will be like unto God' and we are now seen as the arbitors of what is good and what is evil, even if that moves as a sort of weird collective hive mind.

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I immediately thought of three of the smartest and most thoughtful people I know who need to read this. One is a priest, another a retired physician, and another an atheist-libertarian-transhumanist lawyer. I look forward to talking this over with them and others.

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Holy shit, where did you dig up this book? I'm laughing because I remember when it came out, and it feels so specific to a particular time (late 2000's/early 2010's) and the fairly small emerging/emergent church circles, of which I was a part. Your analysis is very insightful, however you discovered it.

The Emergent Church was basically comprised of disaffected Evangelicals deconstructing their beliefs and mainline Protestants looking to postmodernism to re-invigorate their dying institutions. We met at conferences, online, and in local "cohorts" that met (usually) in pubs. There was definitely a lot of drinking involved. There were quite a few "celebrities" who had written popular books or were particularly charismatic speakers, and Phyllis Tickle was the genial, twinkly-eyed grande dame of the scene. I didn't know her personally, but she always came across as deeply kind and good-humored.

The Emergent Church as a brand and rallying banner fell apart partly due to interpersonal conflicts among some key organizers, although nascent identity politics definitely played a role. But the basic project of Protestant deconstruction was now seeded, and it continued at gatherings like The Wild Goose Festival and online spaces like The Liturgists Podcast, which was highly successful and influential for a few years before it blew itself up over social-justice issues.

One of the questions I and others asked in those Emergent Church years was once we deconstruct...what are we going to construct? Because it seemed pretty clear that endless deconstruction eventually led to a kind of nihilism. And it's true, a lot of us ended up in the social justice/activist space, whether we engaged it through a progressive Christian lens or a purely secular one.

It's been the last few years where things have really taken a turn toward a very fundamentalist kind of morality that some of us have started to step back and say.. whoa. Not that I haven't seen what was happening and had my critiques of it (though if I'm truthful, I've also been swept up in it from time to time), but it's gotten to the point where it's become completely untenable for me to engage in these communities at all. Even a long-time leftist organizer I know says they would never recommend people get involved in activism at the current moment. It's been fascinating for me to watch the parallels between the rigid fundamentalism I was raised in and what the left has become.

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What a intellectually fruitful and provocative essay that has left me with much to ponder. I do look forward to your essays.

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May 3, 2021Liked by N.S. Lyons

Thanks! That was excellent

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This article is a remarkable synthesis of sociology, history, psychology, theology, and opinion. I often come away from reading editorials feeling unsatisfied by the lack of scope since many authors focus only on one aspect of an issue just to get a piece written and posted, no matter how incomplete. Thank you for giving us substance.

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Very well written article that lays a framework to understand much of the crazy going on around us today. I do think the secular suburban white woman focus was illustrative..... From my current thoughts on Christianity, seems this all goes back to man's desire to be as a God.... The original sin. It makes sense that man is both deceived and is attempting in this current schism to create his own authority to create his own heaven.... as a God. This will not end well, as the true God and authority is what he is, and any deviation from that, which this new emergent religion 100 percent is, will not succeed but fail..

I look forward to your further delving into this thesis.... Quite interesting

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A good article...much to consider. 500 year cycles/80/20 whatever are not explanatory, but heuristics that in part disclose God's Providence, the constancy of human nature, the linear understanding of time introduced by Jewish/Christian revelation. Cyclical movements are the in betweens of those dynamics. As far as the present goes: your insight into the modern Liberal Woman/man is right, and here Jody Bottom's work on the collapse of mainline protestantism is important to further understand it. But so is St. John Henry Newman's prediction of the consequences of the Reformation as well as Brad Gregory's Unintended Reformation. (Here Tickle is totally wrong, and doesn't see the millenarian Joachim de Fiore and Manichean and Skeptical undergirdings of the Reformation at play). In the present, McWhorter and others don't see the fundamental religious impulse behind the NewWoke Faith - it is Manichean, and Zoroastrian, and in that way shares with - Islam which draws heavily from these traditions, does not have grace, only obedience/submission and hope for salvation through practice. Yes The NewWoke Faith has Calvinistic/Christian heretical elements, but those, like in Islam, are the surface, the language of the social milieu rather than the core tenets. All Christian heresies draw from some gnostic "natural/unnatural" human religious impulse - that have Good vs. Evil, Light/Dark, Creator/Destroyer themes. The NewWoke Faith is the last stage of the Modern Liberal Order - it is the religion - terrifying and vicious - of the Last Wo/Men. It is what results when safety and complacency can't sustain - it is the fission reaction of the angst present existentialist/nihilistic thought. Nietzsche called it in Thus Spake... His Ubermensche is not the antidote, it is the Christian Victim/Saint whom he reviles in Beyond Good and Evil that provides the way out...

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It is such a pleasure to read such an article and such comments! Writing from teh intellectual and spiritual desert called Germany, I congratulate the US on on their vibrant culture.

Jens Schirner

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I appreciate this article. There are many threads to pull on. One specific thread, outside the explicit religious scope of this article, is what type of economic system will emerge beside the New Faith. Whether the all consuming approach of woke capitalism can continue unimpeded is an open question; primarily because they (woke capitalists) may run out of fuel -- arguably there are only so many MLB All Star games to consume.

Will the Jeffersonians agragarians, distributivists, crunchy-cons, farmers market crowd and others cobble together an alliance will some traditional democrats and main street republicans to stem the tide?

The carving out of so much of america causes me to question how many "hypothetical middle-class suburban white lad[ies]" there are compared to the hypothetical JD Vances out there. Is it clear they will be subsumed by the New Faith or will they be left on the margins? If they are left on the margins will they coalesce into the (cultural) barbarians which ultimately stop woke capitalism?

A similar set of questions (e.g. creating a new margin filled with new barbarians) could be asked about education, but that is a longer post.

I am really enjoying your substack. Thanks again.

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Politics makes a poor religion.

Power a poor god.

Government a poor Church.

If one makes a Religion of Politics one will have great success at getting Power for all Politics is the Struggle for Power. But that struggle is ceaseless - which means you'll get Power but never stable rule.

Politics makes a poor religion as Faith must be ruled out, one can trust no one. Nor can it ever offer Redemption, nor Order. It does offer Power.

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Dearly Beloved Believers (Abraham believed God....)

Madame Tickle has done a worthy job of historically identifying the "New Religion" that has swept away the dieing vestiges of the "Old Religion" (or "The Faith of Our Fathers") that it is plain to see has come to pass in the USA, and much of the western world today. This sweeping away has not, and will not occur in the underground church, in China and in Muslim nations of the Middle East where the persecution is so great, that God's people must either embrace the cross of Christ or perish, anyway. This is the only answer for religion's failings: the cross of Jesus Christ, which sweeps away the "tyrannical authority of the flesh" and makes a place in the heart of man, for the authority of God. When Charles Finney arose that fateful morning and said, "This day I shall give my heart to God; OR, I SHALL DIE! he must have meant what he said, because the two powerful baptisms of the Holy Spirit that "Overtook him and came upon him...." were so powerful that he was sure that if God did not lessen the power, HE WOULD SURELY DIE! Only the cross of Christ can do away with the tyranny of the flesh which "....Wars against the Spirit," and usher into the heart of man the true authority of God: "Peter do you love me more than these? Peter stop your hypocritical, playacting love for me, for the leaven of the pharisees must be removed from my church, in order for the Holy Spirit to come in when the Day of Pentecost has fully come" (read Romans 12:9-21 - Paul's revelation from God on Peter's seaside talk, early one morning, with the risen Lord.) Finney's flesh was "so overcome" by the powerful infilling of the "The Holy Spirit" (see Ephesians 3:19), that when revival broke out, he did not see his new bride (of three days) for seven months, until family and friends finally brought her, and her belongings to him. Beloved Believer, THIS IS NOT CARNAL! The apostle Paul gave us the secret to "...Keeping my body under....," in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 where we are told that marriage and giving in marriage are not sinful if the flesh is "kept under," through prayer and fasting. When Finney began to sense the lessening of the power of what he called "the Spirit of Prayer," he would fast and pray until he could once again travail in the Spirit for the new birth of souls (with what David Wilkerson called "The anguished heart of God."

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Wokeness has nothing to do with Christianity, nor with the words of Christ in the Gospels.

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Got the eternal Catholics vs Protestant vs atheists vs anti-theists debate going here unintentionally. Well... we’re going to see their choices in a clearer light here folks- we are entering a dark room called the fall of the American Republic (it just happened January 20th) and there’s no clear successor. Uh, no that bunch of college kids in DC ain’t gonna hold what they took.

Nor will woke.

There is no Right Wing or White Wing either, despite what you have been told.

There’s a bunch of college kids (DC is a college town) and fat middle aged women who are wondering what the Hell they just did, being very nervous around the soldiers they summoned. Too late now.

Y’all are soon to appreciate the importance of order shortly.

The decisions of the past will come into focus. Order will be a most valuable and scarce good indeed.

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I agree that we are heading towards new religious movements and revolutions but I think that these are increasingly characterised as eschatological and millenarian - therefore you could talk about a 1000 year cycle > a leading towards holy war; that our new era is becoming defined by spiritual warfare (Simon Chrinchly and John Grey also think this is the case)

The ‘priesthood for all believers’ concept is similar to the ‘heresy of the free spirit’ - which was often radically egalitarian and communist, then here is the idea of a lunar, chthonic brotherhood/sisterhood. They differ in how egalitarian or unegalitarian they might be, but essentially operate on a similar axis.

But I think there is a bigger picture yet still as ideologies that encomposss such things as the New Age Movement and Christian neo-eschatological millenarianism, and also jihiadism and Zionism, all which may be understood as trending towards religious or spiritual warfare also coincide with the apocalyptic prophecies of futurists and AI researchers who hypothesis Godlike AI; leading to a totally transformed Earth and towards revolutionions in genetics which lead us into a highly compressed or punctuated speciation event.

The point I am making is that this is perhaps bigger, even than a 10,000 year cycle, that the “religion” of woke/social justice is actually a reactionary and humanist side effect (though it could be understood as a transitory and shifting period in human consciousness/ a schism).

We passing through the great filter and towards a technological singularity which I think could be part of a cycle which operates on larger cosmic cyclical timescale.

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This was an excellent read. I've only just discovered your substack in the last few days and already find I've read all your postings and I eagerly await more. My questions are many, but will take me some time to formulate as to simply spout them unformed would be a disservice to the time and thought that clearly went into your writing.

Thank you.

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