The Amalgamation of Western Culture

Christianity was blended with chivalry and other pagan traditions to create our modern social culture.

Readership: Christians
Note: I wrote these ideas in a comment at Christianity and Masculinity, and revised it to form this post.

Christianity as a Cultural Identification

Deep Strength made the remark,

“To me, it’s really crazy in retrospect how chivalry and courtly love have been integrated into Christianity by most of western churches.”

Concepts like chivalry and courtly love were integrated into Western culture approximately 800 to 900 years ago, of course, long before contemporary feminism. Likewise, Christianity became an intrinsic part of Western culture since the days of the Holy Roman Empire, if not before.

These elements were incorporated into Western culture in roughly the same process. The influences of Christianity and the influences of folk religions were an ambient part of Western culture, and there occurred a blending of both of the elements together in terms of the mind, mindset and identity of the average Christian. Even though the Church itself never explicitly endorsed Chivalry and Courtly Love as doctrine (that is, until the advent of Churchianity), the average Christian growing up in this culture had these ideas impressed on their mind, their mindset, and their identity, and saw that as being merged with their “Christian” identity as well. Thus, these pagan influences came into the church “through the back door” by means of a de facto cultural merger on the personal level.

Because of this amalgamation of faith and culture on the grass roots level, the various influences within a culture were very much a two-way street, in that when that kind of identification happens, the influences can, and do, run in either direction. That is, Christianity can influence the culture – and this certainly happened over the course of the period during which Christianity was the “establishment culture” in the West – but Christianity can also become influenced by the culture, specifically by the elements of it that are extrinsic to Christianity in their origin.

The result is that for many Christians, the line between culture and Christianity became quite blurred – elements of the culture that were not Christian in origin were adopted by Christians because they were also a part of the culture, and the culture overall was considered a “Christian culture” (at the time), so it was “all good”. But the elements were not, in all cases, Christian, even though they were accepted by, and adopted by, Christians, including for use in Christian churches and in the expressions of the Christian faith in its religious, and not merely its cultural aspects.

Halloween Party | Christ Church United Church of Christ
Christ Church, United Church of Christ, Halloween party.

Middle Class Values are no longer Christian Values

I’ve written on this before, about how one element of that was the way that “middle class values” became associated with “Christian values”, and were practiced by Christians as if they were one and the same for a long time. But then during the past half-century or so, middle class values changed – they became much more feminist, much less consistent with Christianity’s values, especially when it comes to raising daughters and their life script.

When American culture changed due to the influences of feminism, people simply adjusted their perception of what it meant to be a “Christian” around the new definition of what it meant to be “American middle class”, more or less without missing a beat.

The underlying reason for this is the precedent of cultural amalgamation. That is, for most people, the concepts of what was American, what was middle class, and what was Christian had long since been merged in their minds, their mindsets, their lifestyles, and their identity, such that when one aspect changed, it was simply superposed onto the existing aspects.  The new, changed, yet still merged, identity continued along, albeit in a more feminist version.  These changes happened gradually over a period of time, and on a large scale, so it went totally undetected by the average Christian.

Almost no churches bucked this trend, apart from the most traditionalist outliers.  Christians went on following the culture’s middle class values, because, for them, to be middle class was to be Christian and vice versa. The idea that these were in conflict, or even could be, did not even compute for most Christians, because “middle class American” and “Christian” were practically synonymous, such that the “content” of being “Christian” was largely the same as the “content” of being “American middle class”.

Deep Strength countered that this corruption is not constrained to the middle class.

“Good point, although I might argue that it’s closer to “American values” have become “Christian values.” Some (or perhaps many?) are determined by the middle class, but most are rooted in rebellion and defiance against authority in the first place, which is why everything is going to crumble eventually. The American dream — material success and wealth — in particular is very at odds with Christ’s mission of evangelizing and making disciples. Selfish vs selfless.”

Photos - Church Party 2017 NYC — One Love Foundation
NYC Church Party? …or a nightclub?

The Slow Demise into Apostasy

As it stands, we are dealing with churches that are defending some elements of non-Christian culture that are present in their churches but which they do not even admit are not Christian.  These “counter-cultural”, traditional churches even go to great effort to conserve those surviving elements that are counter-Christian in nature.  (Chivalry is a great example.)  Furthermore, these beliefs are defended over and against “new” elements of non-Christian culture that they are (rightfully) resisting, rather than actually resisting *all* elements of non-Christian culture that are present in their churches.  It’s a mess of confusion!

Seen in this way, the differences between the “progressive” and “conservative” churches become, in fact, much smaller.  Really, it is reduced down to what non-Christian elements are they willing to accept into the churches, given that both of them have done so, just in different ways, and with different degrees of self-awareness.

It can be sometimes hard to see this today, when so much of the church’s self-styled “traditional” branches are loudly proclaiming that they are aloof from, and at odds with, this or that element of contemporary culture, be it abortion, transgender issues, gay marriage and the like. And it’s true that there is an intentional cultural distancing going on. But the fact that this is going on now also serves to obscure the reality that the non-Christian elements of prior eras which continue on in the ambient culture still lurk under cover of so-called “conservative Christianity”.

In other words, what they are conserving is, in many ways, not actually Christian, but merely the non-Christian elements of the prior version of the broader Western culture that had entered into the churches through the process I described above – a cultural merger and identification in the minds of the individual members of the churches (including clergy as well).

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30 Responses to The Amalgamation of Western Culture

  1. cameron232 says:

    Do their women always cover their heads in church? If not, they’re not traditional and not following God’s ways. They’re just “conservative” in the way you’ve described.

    Probably the most obvious, visible sign of a church following God and not the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sharkly says:

    Good post, Novaseeker.
    We are marinated in our culture, and it is hard to see which part is our culture, and what is just the toleration of wickedness. Sometimes the clearest path forward when things are deteriorating, is to retrace your steps back into the past, because even though we may not know what is wrong, we at least have references for what our past was like. When a non-instrument rated pilot flies into clouds at night, and is not certain how to get out, the most certain path back out is a quick 180 degree turn to exit where you entered into the blinding cloud cover.

    The influence of television, then videogames, and other “entertainment” that is available 24-7 is something that has never been available before, and has been used to rapidly corrupt, fatten, and stupefy us into sloven degenerates.

    The church lost their basis for patriarchy(the innate absolute superiority of the male sex) long before they gave up all the practices of patriarchy. Because men’s superiority is so innate, the patriarchal culture persisted for over 1500 years from when the “absolute” basis for men’s superiority first began being torn down around the late fourth century. Once you lose the absolute divine superiority of men, then gradually men’s superiority to women becomes relative to changing earthly factors, and subject to individual men’s subjective moral performance. And now churches are even inverted preaching as though women are the better sex, which more closely approximate our deity.(our Father & Son Godhead)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Scott says:

    In some Orthodox churches, there has been a flock of people in for whom traditions like head coverings are a trend. The new thing. They are like the publican praying in the square about how not sinner he was.

    The priests in those churches do not discuss the meaning of the scarf in ways other then the aesthetic or the nebulous “humility” aspect. Because if they mentioned the rest they would be branded misogynists. The women choose to wear the scarf, just like they choose everything else they like or dislike.

    ‘Merica. Or whatever.

    1000 years ago, if a non-covered woman walked into the liturgy, she might as well have walked in and took a dump on the altar. Pauls words on this are not confusing. It is scandalous and shameful to be uncovered. Same with clean shaven men.

    When I was in the army, I had to try really hard to grow two days of shadow by Sunday for my priest to allow me behind the iconostasis to serve. Otherwise I looked perverted to him. Old Serbian war veteran from the Yugolsavian wars that he was.

    Also, its funny to see women in churches with super tight form fitting dresses, street walker spikey heels and…

    a head scarf!. You go grrrrl. That’s hot.

    Kind of missing the point, I think.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Novaseeker says:

      Also, its funny to see women in churches with super tight form fitting dresses, street walker spikey heels and…a head scarf!. You go grrrrl. That’s hot.

      Yep. That’s when you know it’s an ethnic identifier. So that there isn’t really much of a difference between the Western girl standing there with no head covering and the Russian one standing across from her in a short, tight pencil skirt, 5 inch stilettos, a skin tight blouse and nightclub face, but her hair is covered in a stylish scarf. If anything the Western girl is often less immodest, despite being technically uncovered, because so may Russian girls (not singling them out, just tend to attend Russian churches more than other ethnic ones) cover their heads and little else when they are in church.

      The priests either do not care much or, if they do, ignore it for the same reason other Christian clergy tend to ignore whatever it is women are doing or not doing — getting in the middle of it isn’t worth the price that is extracted for doing so, often by the men around as well. I suppose they figure it’s better than the ones who trod off to the OCA just so that they can be in a place where virtually no-one covers and feel more “modern” about things while still being Orthodox.

      It’s a pattern that is repeated dozens of times in little ways across American Christianity, but you need to be familiar enough with the customs of the particular church you’re looking at to see it properly for what it is. Often, if you’re not, at first blush nothing looks amiss, simply because you are not well versed on that particular church.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lexet Blog says:

      The most scandalous attire I have seen in a church was at a denomination that mandated the head covering. Women will always attempt to find the loophole

      Like

      • cameron232 says:

        Can you please provide more information. What denomination?

        I am aware of no Protestant denominations that mandate headcoverings. Scott (or maybe it was Cane Caldo) said over at Dalrock’s that the Church of Christ (even the most conservative restorationists) don’t use head coverings even though their whole deal is that they believe/practice and only believe what is in the New Testament in plain language.

        I think maybe some traditional Anabaptists might.

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        The brethren, although their #s nationwide are less than 10,000. They are sectarian and split from each other quite often. Other than those churches, and the Mennonites in my community, I have seen maybe 2 women wear coverings in 30+ years of attending church

        Like

      • Jack says:

        @ Cameron,
        I know Mennonites are rather particular about female head coverings, but it’s not much of a covering. It’s like a small, hand-knitted doily that they pin to the crown of the head.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        @Lexet, there’s Brethren congregations who dress like ho’s? Amazing

        I have seen high church Anglican congregations where head coverings are common among the older women. Sometimes it seems like a fashion statement – those great big Kentucky Derby hats.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lexet Blog says:

        I have seen individuals dress like hoes in brethren congregations. It was very weird.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        I remember, when I was a young father, seeing a teenage girl’s buttocks on Christmas day. We were walking right behind her into the sanctuary of a conservative Baptist church – her skirt was so short and light a gust of wind blew it all the way up. Merry Christmas – here’s my ass!!

        My wife said something to a friend – the woman told my wife “God only sees what’s on the inside” and “God is probably working on her heart.”

        Like

      • Jack says:

        “I remember… seeing a teenage girl’s buttocks on Christmas day…
        [A] woman told my wife, “God only sees what’s on the inside”…

        Meanwhile, all the men are checking out what’s on the outside! LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lexet Blog says:

        Lol. Shows how ignorant people are of the OT and many NT commands.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        A little Christmas present for the men I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lexet Blog says:

        One reason I will never attend a large church ever again is that the younger women all dress like harlots, even on Sunday. It’s crazy how far standards have fallen in the last 20 years.

        It’s bad enough that when in church I have to be hyper berean to watch for error, and now I also have to deal with distractions.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sharkly says:

      I often tell people that I’m half Mennonite,(ethnically) because it is an ethnic identifier for many, not only a religion. And usually I don’t claim to be Mennonite in religion, because it can mean a lot of different things to different people and it is often associated with pacifism and opposing the death penalty, or some level of shunning certain technologies, or certain traditions of dress. There is even a Mennonite restaurant nearby that serves traditionally Mennonite foods. Not too far away there is also an Amish restaurant, but I believe it is run by heretics who cook the food in electric ovens. LOL

      As far as head coverings, the Old Order Mennonites, usually just called Old Mennonites, are the ones who most strictly observe the Bible’s Head covering requirement. Their women will wear them everywhere all day long, since they are to pray without ceasing. And the married men generally maintain a substantial beard, usually without a mustache. Mustaches are “militaristic” don’t cha know. Kaiser Wilhelm had one, Then Hitler had one, it is a mark of militarism. Apparently they were once fashionable for military men.

      I do think the sluts are absolutely right to cover their heads in church, which is part of what the Bible clearly requires. However, they could also use some training in modesty, which is a separate sin of degrees. Women should cover their tits and asses modestly, not just veil their heads. By dressing to tempt men, they are doing the work of devils, which is to tempt people to sin.

      Like

  4. cameron232 says:

    Covering the head was omitted from the 1983 canon law in the Catholic Church. Culturally it surely is not the default in the CC – it seems to be the norm in (exclusively) Latin Mass parishes and pretty common in the personal ordinariate from what I can tell. There’s an argument over whether something omitted but not explicitly rescinded is still required – I don’t know enough about CC canon law to have an opinion on this.

    Useful as a first screening criteria I suppose – of course like any sound practice it can be used to display one’s holiness to others.

    You see Muslim girls in the West with skin tight jeans with a covered head – I suspect it’s an ethnic identifier with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lastmod says:

    Went to a Jewish service once with a friend in college. He was a pretty serious Jew, and out of curiosity I asked him once….”May I come to temple with you?”

    He looked almost shocked “Umm….yeah…..yes! Please, I would love for you to witness my tradition!”

    His temple was a bit more conservative. I had to be in a shirt and tie, and I when entering, I was given a yamika to wear, that I had to wear. I also was required to sit upstairs with the women, behind smoked glass.

    It was a real learning experience at the time. It was almost all in Hebrew, but the fellowship afteward after the service and the “school time” the Rabbi, and many in the congregation were friendly, polite and socialible.

    Holiness before the lord, your God……well, that was practiced here. There was no question of “I’m not wearing that, you can’t make me!” (yamika). There was no man who walked in without a shirt and tie on, no “God doesn’t care how I look” attitude but a deep “respect” for His House and His ways. No woman came into that holy place in jeans, or nighclub attire. Ankle lenght dresses.

    There was no questioning on what the Torah said when read (and it was beautiful). There was no question by me of “I’m not sitting up with the women”

    I had to.

    Part of the reason why this tradition has indeed stood the test of time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Novaseeker says:

      Yes, although to be fair, Christianity has always had a much more “antinomian” approach (anti-legal) following the writings of Paul, than Judaism has. There are certainly branches of the church that are more traditional than others, but the role of tradition in Judaism, especially in the conservative (externally observant but theologically liberal) and orthodox (externally more strictly observant and theologically orthodox) forms of contemporary Judaism, is much more pronounced than in pretty much any form of Christianity, including the “traditional” churches. It’s also why in Judaism, one speaks of “observant” and “not observant” — a “secular Jew” is a Jew who is not religiously observant. If they decide to become observant, they start following the traditions, to one degree or another (even if it’s in the very watered-down way that reform Jewish congregations do). There really isn’t any Christian equivalent of this — we don’t have “secular Christians”, even though we, like Jews, have people who are culturally Christian without believing in God any longer, like secular Jews are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thedeti says:

        You’ve touched on this, kind of. Judaism is different from Christianity, culturally and ethnically. Jews consider themselves a separate ethnic identity. Their Judaism is an intrinsic part of who they are, like Italians or Irish or even African Americans, and it exists whether they are observant or not. Much of the rest of the world seems to follow this path, identifying Jews (especially Sephardic Jews) as a separate ethnicity unto themselves. Ashkenazi Jews engraft themselves onto this virtually monolithically.

        Jews proudly identify as Jewish even if they’re secular Jews and haven’t been to temple in 25 years and wouldn’t know kosher if it hit them in the face. They’re Jewish before they’re anything else. Their Judaism cannot be extracted from them or diluted out.

        Christianity doesn’t follow this same path. People don’t proudly identify as Christian when they don’t routinely attend church or observe Christian tenets and traditions. Christianity is proving to be quite easily diluted out of people after a few generations of nonobservance.

        Poland is a possible exception. Polish Catholics, and Polish National Catholics, are fiercely, vehemently Catholic and identify as Catholic before they’re anything else, the difference being most of them are rigidly observant of Catholic tradition and life. At least from what I can see, their Catholicism is intrinsic to their identities. Most American Christians don’t have this mindset toward their faith, not by any stretch. And it has not been this way for many, many years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Novaseeker says:

        Judaism is different from Christianity, culturally and ethnically. Jews consider themselves a separate ethnic identity.

        Yes, that’s true, Deti. The interesting thing, though, is that Jews see Christians in the same way: that is, even though Christians do not see secular ex-Christians as being “secular Christians”, Jews kind of do — they kind of see them as non-religious Christians. I mean, if pressed, they would of course say that they understand that Christians do not view themselves this way, in that it is all about belief and not covenant/belonging in an ineradicable sense, but the mindset is still there despite the fact that they understand that non-Jews don’t have the same self-conception.

        I remember once in college a (somewhat observant and certainly self-identifying) Jewish dorm-mate, who was part of a conversation about a certain girl, remarked, when it was noted with surprise that he could ever be interested in a non-Jewish girl, that “Christian girls are for practice”. One of the other guys countered by asking him how he knew she was Christian to begin with, and he just shrugged and said “if she isn’t Jewish, and she’s a white girl, she’s Christian as far as I’m concerned”.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sharkly says:

        And to an ethnic Mennonite, you’re probably all “English”. As in: “you be careful out there, among them English!” To my Mennonite kinfolk, any American who does not speak German, have a German accent, or have Germanic heritage, is by default, English. The reason to take care among them English, is because they are considered to be of questionable morals, and clearly less trustworthy, and not likely able to be held accountable by the Mennonite elders in the community. Mennonites traditionally don’t sue people in the English’s court system. If some Mennonite is not in good standing with the elders of the community, every Mennonite within 20 Miles will be warned of their wickedness, and that generally means others will completely stop associating with them or doing business with them. There was once a time, when on the harsh windswept prairies of Kansas, if no German speaking person within 20 miles would talk to you or do business with you, you might as well have been trying to farm on the moon. But now we all speak English, and the local Walmart will sell to any man, so long as he wears a head covering, over his face, hiding his image.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sharkly says:

        I wonder if y’all can see the complete inversion there, or if it helps to be Mennonite?

        When God the Father asks for our wives to veil their faces, we tell Him to F*** off. But when the Governess of my state, or Walmart, or my employer asks me to cover my own face, as a man, in direct contradiction to God, we say “Sir, yes Sir!” and obey them.
        Satan is known as “the accuser of the brethren”. He stands before God, even now, accusing us of defying God. What more plainly obvious proof could we given Satan to prove in heaven’s court, beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have never feared God, than when we willingly do the exact opposite of what God requires, when others ask, yet never in our lifetimes have we ever required our wives, whom we are to rule over, to do what God has required?

        1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

        Early church father, Ambrosiaster, said: “Paul says that the honor and dignity of a man makes it wrong for him to cover his head, because the image of God should not be hidden. Indeed, it ought not to be hidden, for the glory of God is seen in the man. … A woman therefore ought to cover her head, because she is not the likeness of God but is under subjection.”

        We are being led into flagrant rebellion against God. As if our world was a satanic pride parade, and Satan is parading masked men before their Maker in evidence of their hypocrisy against God. We will not even symbolically cover our wives’ heads when God demands it, yet we will cover our own faces for whomever, at work or to buy from the store. I tell you we same sort of men will get THE MARK to buy and sell without hardly a second thought. “Gotta do it, if I want to keep my job and feed my kids, right!”

        Give that all a moment to ruminate in your mind. We need to repent of our blatantly obvious ungodliness! It is as plain as the masks on our faces.
        Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

        Like

      • ikr says:

        I remember once in college a (somewhat observant and certainly self-identifying) Jewish dorm-mate, who was part of a conversation about a certain girl, remarked, when it was noted with surprise that he could ever be interested in a non-Jewish girl, that “Christian girls are for practice”. One of the other guys countered by asking him how he knew she was Christian to begin with, and he just shrugged and said “if she isn’t Jewish, and she’s a white girl, she’s Christian as far as I’m concerned”.

        Are you aware of the gravity of his anecdote? A free pass after a condemning admission. Most born-again, self-described Christians are woefully unaware, no- participants, no- apologists even- in their own demise. These people hate you to the point of hating anything and everything that remotely ressembles you. Deflowering your women is no big deal. You are not even cattle. You are not ‘for real’. You are ‘only practice’ for who matters: their own. Both the Father (ref:Isaiah) and the Son (ref: Romans) have divorced them. This is both ethnic and spiritual warfare, and the aggressor is the only one fighting.

        Like

  6. cameron232 says:

    St Paul is completely clear, anticipates and rebuts objection to head covering. It seems equality was an early heresy.

    From memory, there was a controversy around 200 AD. Some women thought they had found a loophole in scripture for women who were virgins. Tertullian mansplained to them that there is no loophole. Funny but the attempt at rebellion was limited to virgins – even they understood that wives and widows must cover.

    The requirement to cover in traditional Catholic circles is sometimes explained as having two purposes. One is submission/headship. There is also symbolism. The woman symbolizes the Church/spotless bride-of-Christ. Holy things are covered/concealed. Stripping/revealing is often a shameful act.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. lastmod says:

    The only women I ever saw wearing headcoverings in the Greek Orthodox church when my cousin was married to one (and I attended a few services if I was visiting on a Sunday) were the very old, old ladies…..or little girls. The Russian Orthox church I attended in Santa Rosa……maybe one or two women were in head coverings…….out of twenty or thirty……the rest looked like any run of the mill protestant church on Sunday. Flip flops and pajama bottoms…….jeans……

    I am half slavic by name (polish) and the old women I remember as a boy wore head coverings even if they were not in church. None of my dad’s 12 sisters would wear such a thing

    Like

  8. Scott says:

    The women in the Hutterite community here in Montana do not go anywhere without a male chaperone and a head covering. Mennenites and Amish are kind of like that too I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lexet Blog says:

      The only modern Protestant group that does coverings are the brethren, but it’s only during service, and they are otherwise a cult.

      Unfortunately, the feminist movement destroyed the New Testament tradition/commandment in eliminating the covering in all major denominations.

      Like

  9. bee123456 says:

    Let’s be accurate. The second photo is not from women attending a party at a real church. This photo is of Southern UMC women living in NYC who formed a social club and hosted a party at a building that used to be a church. Now the building is being used as an Event rental.

    http://www.churchpartynyc.com/about

    Liked by 1 person

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