Having not read anything by novelist Michel Houllebecq, I could only skim, as if window shopping, most of Rod Dreher’s post about his work, but this part resonates more deeply:
Most Catholics and other Christians in this civilization don’t see the religion they profess as a disciplinary canopy over their own lives, but rather see it as a psychological adjunct to life, a buffer to the harshness of the materialistic, individualistic lives they actually want to lead. This is the whole point of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Before we have any hope of re-Christianizing the West, we ought to first try to re-Christianize the Christians of the West. I’m not being glib; I mean it.
I’ve offered similar commentary when asked why my family accepts the expense of four private-school tuitions. Of course, quality is a consideration, as is the likelihood that their teachers in public school would have been predisposed to dislike their father, but the core reason isn’t practical in that way. What we profess to offer children from pre-K through their high school graduations is a generalized education that prepares them to live full lives as adults.
The sense is that they should learn everything that’s important for them to know, during these years. How, then, can our approach to the most fundamental questions in life — which frame every decision and provide deepest meaning — be, “Oh, well, you just have to figure that out on your own”?
In other areas of life in which public education doesn’t presume to provide answers, the importance is at least clear. Schools provide a framework for and instruction in choosing a college or a career, for example. (In all frankness, public schools can’t actually be said to be neglectful of religion, but actually promote a particular worldview, but that’s a more-complicated point than applies to this post.) The point is, that our religious beliefs are much to central to every area of knowledge to be left as a parental supplement, typically provided through periodic classes at the local church.
In the quotation above, Dreher is saying that this centrality of religion must apply, also, to our every activity as adults. It’s not a supplement, but the point. Here, too, the Left is engaged in a long-term campaign to use government to undermine this reality — think religious exemptions from ObamaCare, which cover a church, itself, but not necessarily any affiliated entities, and certainly not the businesses of owners who simply want to run them according to their religious beliefs.
Importantly, though, this isn’t a statement about Christianity or even that which we generally label as “religious.” We need to encourage people to find that central principle in their lives — the “why do I do what I do.” An answer of “because I feel like it” leaves us susceptible to manipulation and encourages short-term thinking with narrow blinders.