Sometimes I wish I could go back in time for about a week to visit Europe when the Christian culture was at its height, just to see how virile Christianity had been in the arts, culture and ordinary living, what a wholistic life as a Christian really had been. In our times, it seems that to be a Christian or even any seriously religious person is something that modern cultures will not accommodate, relegating as it does religion to the realm of spiritual hobbyists or potentially unmanageable political entities. Because our culture is so secularized, I think Christians today (probably 99%) are necessarily a strange blend between secularists and Christians, and with these two minds within ourselves, I wonder how long we can continue to carry this dichotomy within while our culture lurches into an increasingly hostile, anti-Christian future.
The so-called Dark and Middle Ages were a culturally fertile time for Christianity, but the pagan forces it gradually supplanted never really went away. It lived on in pagan folk practices (which lasted well into the 19th century), alchemy, witchcraft, and later in the resurgence of the ancient Greek pagan philosophies. The French Revolution heralded in the first secularizing mass movements as well as the beginnings of both fascism and communism, forces that are as strong today as ever. Even the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini have simply transplanted themselves around the world, morphing into whatever shape it needs to in order to regain ascendancy. Worse yet, the forces of fascism and communism seems to be re-merging in ways, subtle and overt, far more successfully than during the very brief pact between Hitler and Stalin in 1939-40. It only points up what author Eric Hoffer said decades in his book "The True Believer" that fascists and communists are merely two sides of the same coin.
Since the French Revolution of 1789, utopian movements have been the greatest threat to Christianity and civilization generally. It is the chief trial of our times, and a war of belief, ideas and flesh and blood that will have to be fought over again and again.
Some interesting articles along this line:
The multiculturalism agenda hits Russia. A call to ban Christian symbols in Russia. As if they need this after 80 years of Communism which largely destroyed Christianity in Russia (compared to what its culture had been before the Revolution).
Two interesting articles from the traditionalist Orthodox point of view on trends in our culture.
Orthodox view of globalization, the West, and extremism
Orthodox view of true culture and civilization