In a couple of instances over the years – like here and here – I have alluded to Mark Twain’s possibly apocryphal statement that, while history does not repeat, it often rhymes. Upon re-reading my two “Skeptic’s” columns on the Protestant Reformation, I realize now that I could have added a third instance of history rhyming. For the Reformation was about 500 years ahead of its time in anticipating some of the most crucial principles of postmodernist nihilism. In fact, conservative Protestantism may be understood as postmodernism born out of due season. In particular, strictly as a representative sample, consider the following motifs of conservative Protestantism, each of which has its counterpart in the ideology of postmodernism:
o “Democratization” of interpretation and exegesis
From Part I: So why and how did the warring parties finally settle the internecine dispute? Why is Europe not still being ravaged by sectarian warfare? Two-part answer: (1) in places it is, e.g., the Balkan War, northern Ireland, et al.; (2) see Part II next week.
Beginning around 1500 – we might not-quite-arbitrarily want to start with Columbus’s discovery of the New World in 1492 ... or maybe the invention of the printing press in the 1450s – two things began to occur in parallel with the raging religious war that was consuming the European Continent: (a) the rise of science, and (b) the rediscovery and rejuvenation of the faculty of Reason in human beings. The combination of (a) and (b) led over time to that great efflorescence of autonomy and intellect that came to be known a