Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Enlightenment ~ What It Meant to Different Social Imaginations

Yes, there are different views and practices of "Enlightenment" for different social imaginations. First, can there be different social imaginations? Yes, I wrote my dissertation on that. The Occident "Western" Social Imagination is quite different from any other. Yet, even in that, there are different "western" social imaginations. Where do they come from? How did it happen? After all, the West is Christian, isn't it? Yes, but in that sphere of shared information or shared belief system, there are differences. 

Those differences are effectively between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics believe in having certain rituals called 'sacraments' that must be fulfilled in order to be saved. Whereas, Protestants due to the revelation of Martin Luther, understand that Christ died for our sins once and for all. We have a new covenant with Him. It is by grace that we are saved. That saving grace is acquired through having a personal relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ. 

When we look at the Enlightenment that arose in the eighteenth century, which arose out of the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we see two 'views/schools' of thought. Again, those schools of thought or views came out of the differences between Catholics and Protestants. For example, Catholic France birthed liberal progressive ideas which led to the Revolution and remained influential. Their ideas were birthed out of  rebellion to the organized church eventually causing not only opposition to clericalism but rejection of God. This rebellion was essentially an act against the dogma of the organized church which controlled people's lives and including the elite. Of course, their view of being enlightened was noble as they sought in nature the justification of position in the structure of things 'natural' and thus as a 'revolutionary' elite took over justifying this as a noble human experience. 

That is why the French pursued a different social goal which was contrived by the elite in order to prop up their coveted position so that they could be comfortable with it as elites yet appear sympathetic to others who were not elite. Though ignorant of the Bible and the teachings of the true Gospel, they could recognize or see in themselves that they too in their position were over and above others as was the church that they had rejected; hence, their position had to be defended. 

So, to soothe their mind and soul they became what we could call today limousine socialists.They did not understand the Word of God, which ironically was the fault of the Catholic church. Since, they did not know the Word of God, they rejected it as it for them was the doctrine of the controlling church. Yet, how to move forward as elites which required them to justify that let alone justify their rejection of being controlled by the church. Disseminate the idea of reason in nature. Look at nature, see there are those who are noble workers and those who are in control. In nature, this is 'natural' and effective for the good of all. If we the elite appear benevolent, we can justify our position and rejection of the church.

Had they then been aware of the Word of God, likely the age of reason in France would have been similar to that in England at that time. Not that England had it totally right, but at least, historically, Britain was more advanced in their Enlightenment as having become Protestant a lot earlier than the French. Therefore, their reasoning was not man-made as in founded by man and executed by him but embraced by man in his place and that all men in their place had one priority which was to seek self discipline in a necessary relationship with man's Creator, who did create man in His image and sent His Son to redeem them and bring them into relationship with Him. In this way, man's reason is founded on that absolute  ...not justified in the structure of nature but in the Creator of it ...of all things seen and unseen. Issac Newton stood on such foundation. 

The Scottish/English Protestant Enlightenment among elites was thus very different. The basis for Protestant Enlightenment was grounded in the revelation of Martin Luther. Lutheranism valued the individual relationship with the Creator and the Bible the Word of God which was every man's individual right to pursue. Hence, they did not reject religion but saw it differently as a structure that guided this divine relationship rather than dominating man as to have control over his life which was deemed necessary by the Catholic church. 

French Catholic 'new' elites in their "Enlightenment" sought a contrived social justice in order to reject the church which they felt was over and above them. Sadly, in rejecting the church they also rejected God as seen as part of that control system. Since, they could not nor did not read the Bible, they did not know that God was for them, not against them. 

Unlike, the French elites, the Protestant Scottish/English Enlightenment among elites was birthed by their ability to read the Word of God, it was encouraged. This thinking of or revelation was the thinking of Martin Luther a German Catholic priest who was nearly burned as a heretic for his thinking outside the box. Though like the French, Martin Luther's view of the Christian world curbed Protestants or calmed them and they did not seek to reject the church but to master themselves using church teachings ~ the Bible. Max Weber who wrote the about Protestant work ethic was the first to observe and use this in describing the social imagination of Protestant Judeo-Christians. 

The social imagination of the Scottish/English Enlightenment can be said to underlay the doctrines of the United States of America which was to become a place where every man could pursue his 'happiness', his relationship with the Creator which could not be nor ever be controlled by a government or 'the' church. 
We confirm this social imagination in the works of famous American socio-Christian thinkers like Jonathan Edwards who advocated as does the Bible that we are free indeed in Christ and because of this; all Christians as free men can abide together by their limited social constraints which free men put in place. 

Happiness is not to be pursued in our own imaginations or whims and in selfishness but in the discipline of the self in relationship to an all powerful and all knowing Creator. When this is embraced and understood, the social contract contains the least contrivances; it is as light as a feather. For those, who reject the Creator, the social contract becomes a burden, it is heavy with man's words who then falsely assumes that this is the way to pursue happiness. It is rejecting the Creator that causes enforced social justice. Sadly, the progressive liberal of the past has crept into America.


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  2. It is not God that 'cramps' your life, makes you a slave to Him or imposes sanctions... he steers you if you let Him and hopes you will choose Him. It is the abuse of humans by humans that cause problems and sorrows in this fallen world. Accepting this as true, is truly what it means to be Enlightened!