Sr. Nicole Grochowina repeated the words of Bob Dylan: “The order is rapidly fading”. This is happening on a societal level (individualization, moral relativism, …), political level (intolerance towards minorities, religious actors, …. ), communicational level (digitalization, fake news, echo chambers) and religious level (multi-religiosity, etc.). Certainties of the past are replaced by uncertainties and ‘fluid or temporal’ certainties. How do religious communities, movements and organizations react on this?” The new order of a “fluid” societal context, creates not only uncertainty, but also an actual situation where religious communities, movements and organizations feel themselves ‘out of control’, because of a decreased and unclear societal role and function: a situation where fear and ‘actions of fear’ as Grochowina mentioned, rules, combined with feelings of being meaningless.
In his book, Frank Furedi speaks about a general ‘Culture of fear’. Like many other social actors, religious communities and organizations have started to ‘secure’ themselves, not by taking out insurance, but by isolating themselves, and isolating their own group from as many intrusive influences as possible that could disrupt the internal regulation of group. This counter-strategy against fear and insecurity that they apply will be rather counterproductive in the post-secular context of society.
How is it that, in general, religious communities, movements and organizations have ended up in a sort of apparent ‘state of dormancy’ and are rather latently continuing their social functioning on the social background, while in a very near past they were prophetic and the visible and invisible ‘fire’ or driving force behind social and pastoral action, innovation and even profound societal change, especially for those who were excluded from the society.
Grochowina translated this into the question: “What measures do religious institutions take to encode the signs of the time they are living in? What conclusions are they drawing from this? How does that shape the processes they are involved in and the spirituality and charisma they are grounded on?”
In the next Alinea , I’ll provide five statements. Each statement contains both a challenge and a normative condition for encoding the signs of the time and being prophetic ‘again’ (to realize a new call) as religious communities, movements and organizations in a post-secular time.