Lost in all the prophecy-mongering that occupies so much attention in some circles of evangelicalism is this, from St. Paul: “As time nears the end, the love of many will grow cold.” For those seeking a sign, there’s a tangible sign.
I see it happening. For example: as modernity advances, it becomes more important to be “cool”. The word, and therefore the value it represents, saturates our culture. Why? Why are we attracted to this quality ? I think we mistake it for peace, or mastery, and that is such a sophomoric mistake. It’s not hard to be a master of nothing. It’s not hard to be at peace about nothing. The easiest posture of all is disdain, and the cool person disdains in all four directions. He likes nothing, he loves no-one, he is never passionate. He specializes in irony. His voice is sarcastic, and deflects propositional truth by finding selfishness all around. Sour is his heart, and sour is the world. He is, at bottom, lazy.
The word “cool” originally described, in American pop culture, the disaffected, disengaged and mostly male island of a personality who needs nothing. It was a desirable mask for a small subset of people who were just outside the mainstream. But like most such niche curios, it eventually mainstreamed, as bored suburban teenagers found yet another nonconformist meme to adopt in large numbers, out of fear of seeming conformist.
In the last few decades the word has generalized into an all-purpose approval grunt. It means just “I like that” in the least detailed sense, thus relieving the speaker from the burden of specific vocabulary. It is cool to see cool and say “cool”, because you can approve of things without working at it. So each of us has come to replace those values we like with the universal cipher “cool”. This use of the word, although itself intellectually lazy, has little to do with the original, specific personality mode, which also still exists and is suffusing the culture. The word has divided into two separate streams: the attitude, and the word. I’m talking about the attitude: terminal boredom and dispassion is now normal, and self-reinforcing.
“Cool” is the opposite of love. Love is hard work, and cool is nearly a synonym for whatever is love’s opposite. The cool person must surrender all disdainful distance in order to love, and more more he, or she, is excused by cultural norms for simply walking away from love.
Is love indeed growing cold?
Theists like to say no morality is possible without God, and secularists like to reply by pointing out morality among the Godless. Both miss the point of the question, which is whether morality decreases over time in a secular civilization. No-one denies that individual unbelievers are good; the dispute is whether their goodness is borrowed from ancestors, or not. Is the morality of a civilization with just the half-life of an earlier energy burst from outside the material system? Or is it nourished constantly from within the cultural DNA?
There’s plenty of evidence that disdainful distance continues to spread ” is nothing more profound than a rejection of both recieving and giving love. ove, and follows the loss of faith. The “cool” is…death! Exegeting itself.