Traditional bonds to families, communities, and churches are subjected to rationalist criticism and, eventually, demolition, without much consideration for the personal and societal crises that might be produced, and without any presentation of alternate forms of social and cultural order to put in the place of the destroyed forms of life. Totalizing individualism burns away supportive webs of mutual dependence. This erosion is modernity’s baseline force. It works against the collective symbols, norms, and rites that have been the glue of human society from time immemorial. The shared body of symbolic and ritual material was what Durkheim described as the object of religion: the sacred.
— Alexander Riley, “A Religion of Activism”
Consolation of a desperate progress. Our age gives the impression of being an interim; the old views on life, the old cultures are still evident in part, the new ones not yet sure and habitual, and therefore lacking in unity and consistency. It looks as if everything were becoming chaotic, the old dying out, the new not worth much and growing ever weaker. But this is what happens to the soldier who learns to march; for a time he is more uncertain and clumsy than ever because his muscles move, now to the old system, now to the new, and neither has yet decisively claimed the victory. We waver, but we must not become anxious about it, or surrender what has been newly won. Besides, we cannot go back to the old system; we have burned our bridges behind us. All that remains is to be brave, whatever may result.
Let us step forward, let’s get going! Perhaps our behavior will indeed look like progress; but if it does not, may we take consolation in the words of Frederick the Great: “Ah, mon cher Sulzer, vous ne connaissez pas assez cette race maudite, à laquelle nous appartenons.” (“My dear Sulzer, you know too little this accursed race to which we belong.”)
— Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human