Christianity turns brown, loud and obnoxious

As noted by Richard Dawkins and Richard Spencer on Twitter, The New York Times is now praising African Christianity, most notably “speaking in tongues.”  T. M. Luhrmann writes:

LAST month I was in Accra, Ghana, to learn more about the African version of the new charismatic Christian churches that have become so popular in the United States and are now proliferating in sub-Saharan Africa, especially Ghana and Nigeria. What struck me was how much people spoke in tongues: language-like sounds (usually, repeated phonemes from the speaker’s own language) thought by those who use them to be a language God knows but the speaker does not.

Of course, if the religious practice in question involved High Church European Christianity emphasizing European folkways such as classical music, the author would probably ignore it, if not show disdain.  But drop the average IQ of the practice 30 points or so, make it brown, and make it obnoxious, and the NY Times is in love.   As noted by others, “Non-Western Christianity is now the norm outside the West (e.g. African Christianity in Africa and Mestizo Christianity in Latin America), and Christian Cultural Marxism is now the norm in Western countries.”  In short, this phenomenon is sadly typical — both the African practice and the Western praise.

Looking toward the future in the West, will an explicitly Pro-Western variety of Christianity catch on, will people turn to neopaganism, or will atheism and agnosticism become more popular?  (A modified version of a previous poll.)

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53 thoughts on “Christianity turns brown, loud and obnoxious

  1. I wonder what an “explicitly pro-western” Christianity would look like. It seems Christianity is inevitably universal, although the expressions will be influenced by, and influence the culture.

    Does explicitly pro-western mean opposed to non-western Christianity? I suspect that would never happen.

    Although the current cultural Marxist variety is doomed because Marxism is a Christian her

    • It doesn’t necessarily need to be exactly pro-Western, just neutrally pro-nationalist; allowing westerners to be pro-western, and non-western Christians to find a way to have a non-western Christian society.

      • Ahh I see, thanks Glaivester, that makes sense. A Christianity that isn’t the cringing leftist and feminist infested west hating idiocy that passes for far to much of it today. You might say what “Christianity” needs is Christianity.

        It would seem that Christianity contains a few non-negotiables in terms of belief but much of what passes for “christianity” today is not that.

      • Jason: right. It looks to me like the church could use a serious gut check. Too much slackery, frivolity, and drama-mongering.

        It’s why I pray to God that he would reform his church, one way or another.

  2. I find “speaking in tongues” annoying. Originally, Biblically, the speaking in tongues was not in a secret language, but people talking in other existing languages that they did not know; God was breaking down the language barrier in order to spread the Gospel. It would be more like finding a backwards tribe in South America and suddenly being able to speak their language.

    • I’m not advocating, proselytizing or looking for an argument, but…
      When I watch and listen to the DVD of Barbara Bonney and Anne Sofie von Otter singing (with many others) in Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor (written upon the death of his mother) I know there is God, despite anything Dawkins, et al, proclaims..

      • I think some well-known English writer or other – maybe it was Aldous Huxley – I can’t remember – made the same point, but his musical example was the Adagio from Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 132.

        Anyway, I think he was right, and I think you’re right. There is God. There is an unmoved mover. Aquinas’ first way, properly understood, is both valid & sound.

        It’s only once you admit to that that things start to get really interesting.

  3. Well, better Christian than not, even if Pentecostal with their weirdo glossolalia stuff.

    And if they’re going to be faithful Christians, opposing gay rights, feminism, and such, as they are doing in Uganda, Nigeria, etc., then good for them.

    I’m a Christian, and I have no idea whether the West will be saved, or not; as a Westerner, I hope it will be. But that’s up to God, ultimately; we surely are being punished for abandoning Christ as a civilization. God is in control, however, and if it’s His will, in time, He will save us. But it could be that the future of the Church is increasingly outside of the West, and diminishing here; He will preserve His people; as to who His people will be in the future, only He knows…

  4. I’m Catholic, and I hate this holy rolling crap. It doesn’t belong in a ordered worship service, and it promotes hyper-emotionalism at the expense of intellect. It’s more like shamanism than Christianity. If you think I’m being too harsh, go to Youtube and watch Pentecostal services and shamanistic ceremonies. It’s hard to tell them apart.

  5. “if the religious practice in question involved High Church European Christianity emphasizing European folkways such as classical music, the author would probably ignore it, if not show disdain.” Well, precisely so. A brilliant guy like Roger Scruton who loves the church of his homeland out of a deep understanding of all that it’s meant to him and his people over the centuries gets treated like dirt by the very same people who fall all over themselves to celebrate this sort of grotesquerie.

  6. White people have been praying in tongues and doing the even more startling “slain in the spirit” thing in the West for quite some time, so I’m not sure we can pin this particular weirdness on one particular race. It is, however, unsurprising, now that it has caught on in Africa, that Professor Luhrmann writes:

    Speaking in tongues still carries a stigmatizing whiff…It seems time to move on from such prejudice.

    I always find Ms. Luhrmann’s attitude toward evangelicals rather patronizing.

    • Even St. Paul seems embarrassed about the practice, and he denies that it is worth anything without someone to translate the tongue, which, in my experience in charismatic churches, either never happens or is obvious, made-up bullshit. And anyway, Acts 2, in my opinion, makes it pretty clear that ‘speaking in tongues’ had more to do with communicating cross-linguistically than with holier-than-thou, I’m-speaking-like-the-angels nonsense.

      You’re right that whites did it first: Pentecostals, to be exact, in the early 20th century. Wesleyans, Assemblies of God . . . in other words, white leftists. This is just another example of white leftism resonating with low-IQ blacks and browns.

      • HOLD IT. Glossolallia is NOT the biblical gift of tongues. The things you see on youtube etc has been done in pagan cults and around the world including India, parts of Africa for centuries. “slain in the spirit” stuff is a near exact duplicate of Indian Kundilini, which goes back nearly 2,000 yrs.
        The modern Pentecostal “tongues” is simply gibberish and anyone can learn the trick on how to do it. Again, this isn’t the biblical gift of tongues which was speaking a known HUMAN language that was previously unlearned.
        If Christians were to become cessationist in their theological outlook their IQs would rise about 20 pts.
        PS: most of the early Pentecostals, (e.g. Assemblies of God) were KKK in outlook. Charles Fox Parham, the father of modern Pentecostalism was a card carrying KKK member. Also was arrrested for sodomy w/children, but that’s an entirely different side issue.

      • Interesting, AWC, I didn’t know that.

        I find the whole charismatic thing very hysterical-female-ish. It’s all based on hyper-emotionalism and how the whole experience makes you feel.

        Sue: “Janie, how was the service yesterday?”
        Janie: “Oooh, Sue, I just had goose bumps! I just couldn’t stop crying and smiling at the same time. It must have been the Holy Spirit!”

  7. Christianity ceased to exist sometime in the 18th or 19th century (or maybe even the 15th century, when Luther excoriated the Church for allowing most of its members to be completely ignorant of the faith), outside a few ultra-orthodox Catholic circles, like the church Mel Gibson belongs to, which still requires its female members to wear veils and not speak. If you want to continue to believe in God and Christ, you have to believe that He has given up on the Christian church—as he gave up on the Jews—and started a ‘new thing.’ Liturgical, theological, Occidental Christianity is in its death throes compared to the rising of the third world church and non-denominational evangelicalism, both of which are so watered-down or mixed with so many non-Christian elements as to be almost unrecognizable. The Gospels are still a part of this new Christianity, but the Pauline epistles are thrown out: the “Jesus-only” Christianity that always turns into leftism. Once you get rid of everything but Jesus, it’s very easy to get rid of Jesus.

  8. A liturgically conservative Catholic blog recently posted some photos of a modern Tridentine Mass in Africa. One commentator complained: “… is it really necessary that a Mass in Gabon replicate something from 18th century Rome, even down to the lace collars around the altar boys’ necks? I can understand when it comes to things that are actually part of the rite (chant, language, rubrics, vestments etc.), but why does there have to be such a rigid aesthetic in place that resists any of the organic adaptations Roman Christianity has made to West African culture? This might have worked in the days when every prelate in Africa was a white, but in the 21st century, it reeks of colonialism, even when the celebrant is African himself.”
    That comment brought forth this reply:

    “… your ignorant comment has made me furious. How dare you insinuate that ‘rigid aesthetics’ is not part of West African culture, or that it is not fitting to be incorporated in the liturgical life of the Church in Africa. What do you know about Africa for you to make such a statement? Should you not be happy that a few thousand miles away, in a culture that does not resemble anything in the West, we can surely identify ourselves as who we are? We are ‘Roman’ Catholics. What would you rather have us wear? Feathers and loin cloth? Or perhaps that is too base. What about a sheet of cloth with a cut out to fit over our heads? And what would you have religious people like the Franciscans and Dominicans wear to give them a more ‘African’ feel to them? Priests in my country of Nigeria where brought up by well meaning Irish priests. In poor villages that had nothing, people chipped in to provide the priests and other missionaries with whatever they needed to give us our own identity as CatholicsAnd so, we received our faith from the missionaries with much humility, accepting all that was given to us and rejecting nothing out of pride. The Church in the West brought to us this splendid gift and we took it–even with the Latin and vestments and the new order of things. I grew up with Latin and marvelous westernized vestments and our Cathedral was in Gothic style–do you have a problem with that too? It reminded me not of colonialism, but of the universality of our Church and our link even to the Pope himself. If an African prelate becomes pope, I suppose he should don a shaman attire more closely suited to the identity of his tribe too.
    What stinks of colonialism is our civil government. It is what the English used to import its terrible democratic republic rule into our country by force and turned us into a country that would always be in turmoil. Subsidiarity was forced out as a principle and changed the way Africans conducted their lives–not the Church. The Church for us has always been the institution that gave us alleviation from the encroachment of colonialism.”

  9. Exactly. The “New Evangelization” is symptomatic of an abdication of leadership on the part of the Church (or if you prefer ‘the West’/’the white race’). The cause of the predicament isn’t blacks, Jews or Mohammedans but deference to them, ie white/Western/Christian self-hatred.

  10. @ Will S, since I can’t reply further up . . .

    I meant to imply that giving up Christianity is the smart thing to do. If you still feel the need for spiritualism, the Occident has plenty of interesting pagan deities to choose from.

    • Faith doesn’t work that way. Neither Will nor I can just give up Christ because we believe Him to be literally true. That would be like me saying to you, “There are a few yucky people within the reactionary-sphere. In the future, there may be even more yucky people. Therefore, giving up reactionary beliefs would be the smart thing to do. If you still feel the need for political allegiance, the Cathedral has plenty of interesting parties to choose from.”

      • Not the same. It would be more like if reactionaries started acting in ways that were never ever reactionary, or advocating for things that had nothing to do with reactionary insight as I knew it. In that case, yes, I would stop identifying as ‘reactionary’ and follow the ideas/actions themselves wherever they may continue to exist.

        In this scenario, if you see that ‘Christianity’ is becoming something that you don’t understand as Christian—something that is not at all what Christianity has looked like up until now—then you can continue to follow ‘Christ’ where he seems to be going (head on down to Africa or Guatemala, do some prosperity gospel, speak in tongues, writhe around in the dirt in some third world hell hole, or just stay in America and do some local social justice work) or you can realize that what you know as ‘Christianity’ is in fact an outgrowth of European culture, a dead religion now, like all its others, but no less beautiful or meaningful for that.

        So what’s it gonna be? If you believe in Christ, you have to give up your culture and follow where Christ seems to be moving today. If you continue to chancel-prance and light candles and sing old hymns, you’re not doing the ‘Christian’ thing, as Christianity is now becoming understood and practiced. Rather, you are already adhering to an old European folk religion. You may as well be a druid.

    • What Sunshine said; if you believe something to be true, you can’t simply suddenly choose to stop believe in it, and believe something else.

      But if the West goes completely anti-Truth, in terms of rejecting the Truth, in favour of its modernist dogmas, its so-called science, and celebrating every faith but Christianity (ever notice, Scharlach, that your anti-Christianity puts you right in line with the Cathedral? Fancy that, eh?), then maybe I indeed would consider abandoning it for elsewhere, to live out my Faith. Or be prepared to die a martyr’s death, or alone in my beliefs. I don’t know.

      I do know this: paganism represents an early phase of Europeans’ beliefs, and Europe’s greatness, in terms of the timeframe of its greatest advancements, lay in its acceptance of the Faith and abandonment of belief in Odin, etc.

      Two quotes from a Roman Catholic thinker, Ron Neff:

      It is a simple historical fact that the West grew up and thrived so closely knit to Christianity that it cannot be imagined without it. The West without cathedrals? without its religious art and music? without its distinctive codes of law?

      It may be that the whites of Western Europe could have developed a distinctive civilization without Christianity, but there is no guarantee that it would be anything we could recognize. Certainly the whites of Persia built nothing like it. As a matter of empirical fact, we can also say that it was not the Norse warrior ethic or devotion to gods of the forest that made the West great. And the only empirical evidence that philosophical atheism can build a civilization is not such as to inspire confidence. (In that connection, and given the subject of this article, we may recall that Stalin the atheist outdid even Hitler the apostate in brutally uprooting and forcibly repatriating entire peoples.)

      Empirically speaking, then, there is no evidence whatever that there could be a West or anything like it without Christianity. [11]

      That does not count as an argument for the truth of the doctrines of Christianity, but it should give pause to those Westerners who have departed from those doctrines. Since the empirical evidence is to the contrary, what evidence can there be that the whites of America or Europe can ever thrive without reclaiming them, or rather without being reclaimed by them?

      Moreover, as a matter of historical fact, it is only in the embrace of Christianity that we have ever seen a people acknowledge the supreme dignity and value of the individual. And it is surely only once that acknowledgement is made that we ever see an advancement toward liberty.

      That advancement, too, is part of our heritage. We cannot go back to being whatever it was we were before the monks of Lindisfarne christianized Europe. For better or worse, it was we who lit the flame of liberty and became its guardians. We cannot let it be extinguished in response to the cry that survival is the first law. If we don’t guard that flame, we don’t survive.

      There can be no doubt that the Northern peoples carried within their unique type of courage, curiosity, and humor the seeds of greatness. But as a matter of historical fact, those seeds grew and their flowers thrived not in the roots of Yggdrasil but at the foot of the Cross.

      Just so. And I’m not convinced that idiots like Stephen McNallen and other WN ‘converts’ to Odinism really actually believe in Odin; I’m convinced they’re play-acting, waving it around like a flag, promoting it simply as more in line with their anti-Christian prejudices. But if they genuinely believe in it, they’re even more idiotic than I thought. Paganism is the faith of less advanced peoples. And as Hilaire Belloc said, “The Faith is Europe; and Europe is the Faith.”

      • (Don’t know if this will end up moderated like the comment I’m continuing from, I’m putting no links in it.)

        Further, it is simply stupid to conflate the deformation of a faith with the faith itself. It’s akin to blaming parents who tried to bring up a child right who nevertheless fell in with a bad crowd in high school and ran away and rejected everything they taught him, as if they were responsible ultimately for what he became, when he as an individual made his own choices to reject what they taught. Modern progressive mainline and secular deformations of the Faith are not the Faith itself. Pity most WNs are too stupid to realize that, and end up supporting the Cathedral (as Moldbug calls it), or Synagogue, as might be a better, less Moldbergian name.

      • What you call the “deformation of the faith” IS the faith itself as it is known and practiced today: unless you deny that the billions of third-world and liberal ‘social justice’ Christians are actually Christian? People who understand Christianity the way you do are very, very, very few and far between. What you practice is a European folk religion, beautiful and high-cultured, but not Christianity as God seems to be moving it today.

      • You’re conflating two very different things.

        The Third World Christians who adhere to correct Scripture doctrines ARE Christian, even if they add on weird charismatic things that seem pagan; I would scarcely call white American Pentecostals non-Christian, nor will I do their Third World counterparts. And see Alex’ comment above about Catholics in Gabon. Those are Christians, not heathens. Are those Gabonese adhering to a European folk-religion? Pshaw. They are adhering to the Faith.

        OTOH, the mainline progressives, ‘liberal Christians’, I have no problem in calling non-Christian, because they have jettisoned all pretense of adhering to what Scripture teaches. The deformation is not the Faith, unlike the true Faith being practiced in Africa, despite some pagan elements. (Same as pagan elements survive in the Faith in the West.)

        God is preserving His church in Africa; and even for now in elements of the West like the church to which I adhere.

  11. Will S:

    anti-Christianity puts you right in line with the Cathedral

    What’s particularly interesting is that Cathedralist zealots evince such fear and loathing of Christ and His Church at the very time when the Church has never been more culturally marginalised and the Vatican itself appears at times to be bending over backwards to become Cathedral-approved.

    the Cathedral (as Moldbug calls it), or Synagogue, as might be a better, less Moldbergian name.

    Shouldn’t that be ‘Moldbuggian’? : )

    If you want to look at it from that perspective — and apropos quasi-Nietzschean narratives that see Christianity as the ultimate Jewish conspiracy — it’s instructive to look at orthodox Jewish websites and internet fora and check out the Hierarchy of Enemies. Neo-Nazis, WNs, fascist pagans etc aren’t even a blip on these people’s radar. The existence of militant Islam is acknowledged but not really feared. But any mention of That Man or His Church is a cue for much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Say what you like about the Jews, they know the real deal when they see it …

    • Christ-haters gonna hate. I find it sinister that so many reactionaries are functionally crypto-Jews. It’s as bad as all the crypto-Jews infesting the Church.

    • Yes, I was referencing his Jewishness. 🙂

      Indeed, orthodox Christians have been a thorn in orthodox Jews’ side for 2000 years; others, even the Muslims since the 7th century, are Johnny-come-latelys, and pale in comparison. 🙂

      • “What is good for the Jews?” Moldbug for the reactionaries, Hagee for the evangelicals.

  12. @Ron Pavellas: well, indeed. Seeing that all created beings are composed of act & potency, there must, necessarily, be one (and only one) being consisting in pure act – i.e, the God of Aristotle & Aquinas & Spinoza – in short, the God of the philosophers – who, for better or worse, doesn’t seem to take much interest in us.

      • Oops – forgot your question: “did they?” Well, in the cases of the pagan Aristotle & the apostate Jew Spinoza, I tend to think that they didn’t. As for St. Thomas – well, who knows? Did he really think that his conception of God (borrowed from Aristotle) as an absolutely simple being – pure act, no potency – was even remotely compatible with the central doctrine of Christianity -: that God suffered & died for us on the bitter cross?

      • I appreciate and am edified by your response. I have not read as widely and well as you. Mine was a sincere question, with a little ‘cheek’ in it. I agree ‘which’ improves the look of your original comment. I still don’t get why you raise the issue of “doesn’t seem to take much interest in us.” Are you arguing against those who perceive a personal, identifiable God who observes and judges them? Or something like this? For the record, I don’t personalize what I perceive to be a SOMETHING beyond my ken that you (and Aristotle?) refer to as an ‘umoved mover.’ I use an ungraceful phrase: The Great Everything. I can’t be a Christian or Buddhist or Muslim with this as my perception, but I do perceive Jesus and Gautama Buddha as great teachers in this realm, they having apparently gotten longer and deeper glimpses of The Great Everything than most of the rest of us have gotten. Words are really inadequate here, aren’t they?

  13. @RP: interesting reply – thanks. Just offhand, I plead not guilty. If I had claimed that the God of the philosophers *did* seem to take an interest in us – now *that* would be anthropomorphizing. But to *doubt* said claim? No. Not at all. Maybe it would help clear things up if I amended “who” in my “ending phrase” to “which”.

  14. @RP: “Are you arguing against those who perceive a personal, identifiable God who observes and judges them?”

    Yes. I think the personalist conception of god is pretty much indefensible.

    “I do perceive Jesus and Gautama Buddha as great teachers in this realm…”

    Well, yes & no. But mostly no.

    Lets set aside the Buddha, for the moment, and talk about Jesus of Nazareth.

    Either he was God, incarnate, or he was a liar, a fraud & a blasphemer. I do not think that the gospels are at all ambiguous on this point.

    I’m just so utterly tired of people dodging away from this stark dichotomy & taking refuge in nonsense. As if one could be a liar, a fraud & a blasphemer, but, at the same time, a “great teacher.”

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