We have the sense that we went to sleep and woke up in a future we don’t recognize, surrounded by events unconnected to reality as we knew it. We feel like we are at sea in individual rowboats without any mooring lines or anchors. Most obviously these days: the traditional, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and the family, the bedrock of society for millennia, are under attack, the subject of ridicule and derision. Homosexual marriage, unthinkable a little less than a decade ago, is now blithely accepted in state after state.
To be sure, there is pushback from the Church and other defenders of traditional morality, but they are pilloried as bigots and ostracized as oddities. How did all of this happen? How is it that the scourge of nihilism appeared from nowhere and spread exponentially like the plague in Medieval Europe?
The answer is that it didn’t appear from nowhere or happen overnight. This stew has been simmering for a long, long time. There is a well-known anecdote to the effect that if you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. But, if you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water, slowly turning up the heat, the frog will swim around in blissful oblivion, until it slowly dies. We 21st century Western Christians are that frog.
Scholars tell us that this tipping point, when all taboos were uprooted and all universal expectations were discarded, goes by the name “Postmodernism.” Although the average American has probably never heard the term, it is in the very air we breathe. What is it? (more…)