Obscurantism was a reckless allegation made against Christians by 18th-century rationalists. Supposedly, Christians opposed Enlightenment-era ideas because they threatened their religious superstitions.

A few centuries later obscurantism is alive and well with one caveat: Pseudo-rationalists (aka progressives) are the obstructionists. Progressivism has an Achilles heel called thinking, speech, and religion. That’s why progressives work so hard to control them with propaganda, bullying, censorship, and cancel culture.

When presenting a thesis it’s always a good idea to clarify key terms. I’ll start by attempting to define Christianity and progressivism before commenting on thinking, speech, and religion.

The best explanation of Christianity is found in the “Living Tradition” of the Roman Catholic Church. A 2,000-year-old reason-friendly, evidence-rich, aesthetically beautiful faith with roots planted deep in the Septuagint Scriptures, the ministry of Jesus Christ, his Apostles, and their successors. Catholics believe God is infinite self-sustaining existence, all finite beings emanate from him, eternal beatitude is possible, and everyone is invited to come see for themselves.

Progressivism is a sociopolitical philosophy that appeals to base feelings, fired-up emotions, and carnal desires. It shares the same foundational assumption as atheism, hedonism, materialism, scientism, socialism, and communism: man is the center of existence (egocentric), and a random physical universe is the only reality. Progressives are zealous believers, but unlike Christians, they coerce people to join their ranks with unjust laws, intimidation, diversion, and deception.

Start with thinking; for many decades, progressive activists, bureaucrats, politicians, and unions have victimized students and teachers; not to mention, permanently damaged our country by scuttling time-tested reasoning and rhetorical skills for unabashed nonsense. Today, critical race theory, radical environmentalism, and unjust equity policies are in; Aristotle, Cicero, Boethius, Dante, and Shakespeare are out, along with sober analysis, personal excellence, and sublime imagination.

Is this an overstatement? Try mentioning school choice to a progressive power broker, or asking a student to elaborate on the goodness, truth, and beauty they’ve gleaned from Greek Philosophy, Roman Oratory, Christian Scholasticism, Renaissance art, epic poetry, medieval plays, and classical music. You’ll likely get lip service from the former and crickets from the latter.

Another thing, it’s no accident that meaningful dialogue has become impossible. Ever since the Tower of Babel, there’s no better way to divide people than to trash their speech. Many early-modern English words had Latin or Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes. It gave our language clarity and profundity. For decades, progressives have told us that these classics were dead. Ironically, the only thing that died is comprehension, coherent speech, and sound arguments.

Religion is another manmade bone of contention. It’s intelligible by breaking it down into two broad categories: natural and revealed. Natural religion includes truth about God that can be discerned using reason alone (cosmology, ontology, teleology, morality, etc). Revealed religion is truth about God, from God, that transcends reason but never violates reason. Natural religion is appropriate for public education; revealed religion is much more detailed, and best handled by parents in collaboration with the church and parochial schools.

Let’s cut to the chase, in the near term we can expect more absurdity, unnecessary chaos, and pain. In the long term, obstinate progressives and their minions will realize their godless egocentric kingdom.

When this happens, I pray I won’t be joining them.

Larry Lahiff lives in Lewisburg.

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