History is the church’s memory

Diana Butler Bass, writing in the Huffington Post, says that without a living memory of the Church’s history, we risk falling into a kind of “spiritual alzheimers” that will impede our ability to function in the present.

At the present juncture of history, Western Christianity is suffering from a bad case of spiritual amnesia. Even those who claim to be devout or conservative often know little about the history of their faith traditions. Our loss of memory began more than two centuries ago, at the high tide of the Enlightenment. As modern society developed, the condition of broken memory — being disconnected from the past — became more widespread. Indeed, in the words of one French Catholic thinker, the primary spiritual dilemma of contemporary religion is the “loss and reconstruction” of memory….

…Moderate, liberal, and progressive religious people have suffered most dramatically from spiritual amnesia. Unlike Enlightenment window smashers or those asserting certainty, these people, like Reform Jews, mainline Protestants, and liberal Roman Catholics, took up the challenge of trying to reconstruct memories of faith in a changing world. Attacked by both secular humanism and their self-assured religious cousins, these groups wondered if trying was worth the effort, often vacillating between rejecting the past and bearing its weight. What to remember? What traditions can be retained? What should we teach our children?

Past Posts