Gare du Nord Train Station, Paris, France
Retirement gives you an opportunity to try and understand the “journey/course” of your life. Generally, it is not possible without some expert assistance. We are so “close” to our own stories that understanding is difficult.
George Marsden’s recent book The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief chronicles the larger story of American life and the course of my life. His thesis is that the exclusion of religious perspectives from dominant scientific/technologic perspectives left a void in the meaning and purpose in American life.
My argument, in brief, is that the culture wars broke out and persisted in part because the dominant principles of the American heritage did not adequately provide for how to deal with substantive religious differences as they relate to the public domain.
The task for much of my life was holding onto both a sense of meaning and purpose within the context of the science and technology of medicine. Fortunately, I received the gifts of community and faith that occurred in both the worlds of faith and science.
As we all know, the struggle has not ended for our society. The book ends with an alternative historical perspective from the works of Abraham Kuyper.
Kuyper, by way of contrast, worked from a principle enunciated by St. Augustine: “I believe in order to understand.” Faith preceded understanding, and so faith informed and shaped understanding. Working from this principle, Kuyper insisted that reason, natural science, and methodological naturalism were not ideologically neutral. Even the most technical of natural sciences, he observed, operated within the framework of the faith, or higher commitments, of the practitioner.
The challenge is to use this “big picture” perspective to continue to live into those higher commitments.
Marsden, G. (2014). The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief. Basic Books.
Ibid, p. 165
Hage, M. L. (2013). Seniors. Retrieved from http://healingagents.blogspot.com/2013/03/seniors.html
Hage, M. L. (2012). Thoughts. Retrieved from http://healingagents.blogspot.com/2012/10/thoughts.html