Do you worry, as do I, about the level of materialism in our culture? And question how can this ever change. According to Leon Denis, when a new religious doctrine is revealed, at first there is an abundance of faith, next human nature takes over and the numerous negations takes its toll. Faith is gradually replaced by disbelief in anything of a higher power. Hence, faith is replaced by materialism. Only when materialism has exposed its powerlessness to maintain social order does the door open again to faith and the rejection of materialism.
Leon Denis wrote about this in a book, Life and Destiny, published in the year 1919. If he thought he was in the midst of materialism in the early years of the 1900’s, he would be amazed at our current level. Not only does a sizable portion of people profess no faith, but those who have faith are marginalized by society.
But don’t give up hope, for Leon Denis writes about the lack of faith:
“And the inevitable result has been discord and discontent in the human family. Out of this discontent has come a crisis; in spite of all appearances of the death of faith, faith is not dead, but is being transformed and renewed. The doubt of today prepares the path for the conviction of tomorrow. An intelligent faith will govern the future and permeate all races.” [Life and Destiny, Leon Denis, p 32]
In the years following the end of World War I, materialism gained strength, given the moral emptiness of the powers that promoted the Great War. After the debacle of World War II, where one would think a renewed faith would be present with the breakdown of society; but that vacuum was not filled with faith in God, but faith in government benevolence. While many programs are indeed started with good intentions, the effect has been to diminish our personal responsibility toward others, since we believe all is taken care of by nameless bureaucrats. Therefore, the majority turn their focus on their own material desires. Desires manipulated by our consumer culture.
The problem is that crass materialism does not promote self-discipline and without it people allow themselves to be influenced by those promising an illusion of comfort. When all believe in taking and not giving, no society can survive for long. Therefore, at sometime in the future, a majority shall realize that a balance between faith, self-discipline and materialism is required. Hopefully, without a cataclysmic event that forces a painful abrupt change.