I feel enchanted everytime I walk down Michigan Avenue or smell coffee being brewed in the morning....or meet someone French (Enchanté, right?)Because you are a true romantic!
when someone is dwelling on things like Angelology, apocolyptic images, and things like that isn't that usually a sign that the person is going down an unhealthy avenue?This is a very important point, and I think it goes back to what Taylor was saying in the article I linked. For most pre-moderns living in the Medieval West, one could fixate on angels, but one wouldn't be doing so out of a desire to make their reality immediate to him or her. For pre-moderns the angels were an obvious and given part of everyday reality. How casually to modern ears does the Gospel say: "...for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water..." Today the temptation is to attempt to brute-command things like angels or fairies "back" into our lives with escapist fantasies, obsession, discipline, etc.
2) Seeing spirits or whatever governing or inhabiting everything is kind of like an animism. I don't think that is something that should really be promoted either. Furthermore, I'm not too sure that that's "the ancient worldview", it might be part of some ancient practices or thoughts, but let's not over play that. To talk like that might be over simplifying people to make a point about "modernity", that could be a dangerous trap. Once again it's important to note that the authors in question are really referring to Western (both Latin and Greek) medieval societies, and not some grand generalization. Although I do think that, for the most part, the enchantment being described is typical of pre-modern western societies in general and many other societies, as well. Call me a eurocentrist...
Regarding "spirits or whatever inhabiting everything," this is painting with too narrow a brush. The everyday objects of experience can have moral valence or dynamism without being inhabited by spirits in a shamanistic sense.
I read more of Fr. Freeman and about Prof Taylor. Regardless of how much I end up agreeing or disagreeing, I actually think I like them both. It seems Prof. Taylor may be one of the great Catholic intellectuals of our age. Either way you seem to know much more about these kind of things, so I'll differ to you for any final say on interpretation, definitions, premises, and things like that,
a couple points:
a) I'm still reading Fr. Freeman as being pastoral and not formal. I could tell you to eat more food for good advice, but if you took that to its logical conclusion you'd be ruined. I'm not sure if he's interested in promoting "the" view, or just hinting as to what he sees as a problem. once again, I'll let you be the final judge on that.
b) There is a major problem
, and I think it is a "Western"/ modern problem of "going native" or "noble savaging" a group because of some personal problem or some ideological ax to grind. It's not hard to picture how this may affect "Eastern" Orthodoxy to American converts (stress on that "mystic East"). But I also don't want to get that mixed up with conversion to Christianity in general. Usually a convert in any culture is going to have a "crazy convert" stage. I think what helps the Orthodox and Catholics out is the structure can really help assess and guid to make sure the conversion isn't some delusion, and how to help with the inevitable "crash". The best part of a good relationship isn't the part where the guy gets the girl at the end or the honeymoon, it's the actual relationship.
I actually think it's that "quick fix" mentality of moderns that could lead them to the "exotic" or "utopian" stuff. Like Beleraphon trying to fly up to Olympus or something. If a person thinks wearing cossaks, growing beards, playing in a Syrian percussion drum circle, meeting gurus in exotic locations, praying to obscure saints, reading cryptic mystic or philosophic material, or using the Orthodox as some kind of "anointed class" to defeat some real or imagined enemy they dislike (the liberals, the Bourgeois, the feminists, the corporations, the gays, the freemasons, the Jews, the wrong protestants, Islam, commies, your parents, or whatever)...that's a major problem.
In this you may have two different mentalities: the guy from Omaha with a beard down to his knees, talking to angels making a pilgrimage to some obscure Russians relics...or the grad student guy with an ideological agenda who uses a kind of "eliminative materialism" on Angels, Saints, or whatever while using the Church to promote his own utopia or therapeutic vision. Either way, I think this is the mentality that is really being looked at. And this is the evil vision that is peculiar to being "modern". To me thats the first priority to look at. Both these people construct and deconstruct things in a way that is anathemic to anything real or worthwhile.
I think the solution to this is to always focus on Christ, and to show the actual factual communal and corporate nature of worship, good habits, and works of mercy in our day to day life. It's not about reinventing Capadocia or creating a "true community"ex nihilo.
2) I think you and I may be disagreeing on the fact that there is something irrevocable about modern vs premodern. I really don't think this is the case. If I thought something essentiall was lost, I think I would consider any living tradition (not just Christian, but anything good or bad that's secular) to be automatically dead.
I really do think it's important to know that the "East" developed quite a bit differently than "The West"...and by West, I chiefly mean Northern Europe. Jesus and the Jews were in one of the most populated regions on earth. The Jews have been within civilization since roughly it's beginning. I think the "rules" or customs of civilization have roughly been the same. I get that some dramatic shifts happened (chiefly the industrial revolution) , I'm not entirely on board with saying that is that
dramatic an event. It's unique, it's different, and it presents the world with a new set of ways to deal with the world and each other...but so did plaugues, wars, empires, famines, caste systems, and the like.
To compare life to the "superstructure" of feudalism to a world populated by cities is a)materialistic b) really missing the point regardless of the fact that I want to go back to bring back "Angels" or bring us forward to "true community".
3) Also, I don't really find it that uncommon for normal and non crazy people to believe in ghosts, horoscopes, reincarnation, or whatever. I get you and I may be way more skeptical than most people, and there is a strong culture to promote that (and I think that's generally a good thing), but I still don't think it's uncommon for people to act as if there is paranormal stuff.