Progressive Relativism Revives an Abstract Paganism

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Last week, I gave some thought to the way in which progressives’ tribal paganism hinders the cause of our social unity and even coexistence.  This week on Dust in the Light, I turn to our longing for meaning, itself, and the way relativism has transformed paganism into an all-extinguishing ideology:

The pop-cultural interpretation of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” is that it is an encouragement to diverge from the herd — to discern the path that others have eschewed and choose that one.

A professor of literature will teach, or at least would have taught some twenty years ago, that the poem is actually ambiguous. The narrator never states which path he took, or even whether he intended to take “the one less traveled by.” He says that he will “be telling this with a sigh,” not now, but in the distant future, without detailing what kind of a sigh he means or what difference was made. The reader can’t really say whether the narrator has already confirmed that he took the less-traveled road and that it made a difference or rather is still predicting what will prove to have been the case. A different kind of society than ours might very well read this poem as a lamentation over inadvisable rebellion.

Perhaps what captures the imagination in “The Road Not Taken” is not the decision, but the affirmation that the decision matters. This wasn’t the only choice the narrator had to make. “Way leads on to way”; one choice follows the previous. In our more-or-less comfortable half-century, we hunger for the sense that it makes a difference whether we go this way or that, stand up or sit down, live or die.

For this reason, a tweet caught my eye a few weeks back from blogger, writer, and Roman Catholic priest Father Dwight Longenecker announcing the release of his latest book, Immortal Combat. The title and the cover both scream that what we do (what we decide) does, in fact, matter.

I go on to suggest a model for understanding reality and am even so bold as to suggest a means of discerning whether we’re on the right path even though a relativist world provides precious few markers.