Lasch

Over the past ten years or so, we’ve heard a lot about the need to re-enchant the universe, largely from figures like Charles Taylor, John Milbank and their followers. Sadly, the term itself, as is the fate of most ‘buzz words,’ seems to have lost its original fervor, to say nothing of having provided ample fodder for critics.

Yet in The True and Only Heaven, Christopher Lasch gives us an important reminder of just how important this idea is for the Church Catholic.

The structure of modern experience gives little encouragement to the belief that we live in a benign universe. It gives far more encouragement to a sense of hopelessness, victimization, cynicism, and despair; and even the myth of progress, which for a long time provided a substitute for religious faith, has now lost much of its plausibility. For millions of people, the expectation of a better world – even if it is only the expectation of a greater supply of material possessions – is no longer experienced as a daily reality (386).

Re-enchanting the universe is not some abstract idea, nor is it a simple intellectual task. It is a summons to face the enemy head on. As Fr. Steward Headlam once remarked, “it seems to me to be the duty of every minister of Christ to do all he possible can to stir up a divine discontent in the hearts and minds of the people with the evils which surround them.”*

*Quoted in Norman, The Victorian Christian Socialists, 114.

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