That said, I sometimes wonder if we are not entering a new age that might equally be described as the "Dark Ages." Many of the things used to define the term for the historical epoch from 600 to 1300 are reoccurring -- at least in terms of an intellectual darkness. Though some may insist that it is impossible to compare our "enlightened" age with such a period, there are points in common.
- In contrast with a free flow of ideas, our schools (from elementary to university) are becoming places of great intolerance in which only certain ideas are tolerated. Far from being merely a matter of political correctness, this has become a real antagonism to the religious, moral, and conservative contribution to life and the public square.
- The advancements of technology and industry are being used less to benefit the individual or promote virtue in culture and society and more in the pursuit of an individualism in which restraint is cast aside and the person is free to be as self-absorbed, self-obsessed, and narcissistic as is desired. There is an extreme lack of noble virtue, sacrifice, or personal responsibility -- all of which are key to goodness in society and in the life of the individual.
- Art is no longer in service to beauty, truth, and goodness but reflects what is most crude, vulgar, and base within the human and his culture. Consider how nudity has become pornography and the internet the prime purveyor of cheap (even free) pornographic depiction of sex in its most crass and abusive forms. When a glass of urine with a crucifix in it can be considered fine art, we find ourselves in a world where shock value is equated with artistic excellence. What is there left to expose and what boundaries are there left to protect us from our crudest self?
- Music has become a tool of personal preference and it, like art, has taken on a crude and mean streak. What our children listen to on their ear buds are lyrics that diminish us as individuals, describe the institutions of marriage and family in hideous terms, and delight in using epithets forbidden in every other form of speech. What are we teaching them?
- Social media isolate us from personal contact so that we can be anonymous in our relationships with others, lie about who we are to those we call "friends", and allow us to preoccupy ourselves with the trivial even as the problems of our culture, society, family, and community grow increasingly impossible to confront. This isolation is for all practical purposes little different from the geographic isolation of the Middle Ages once the Roman roads deteriorated and the threats to the travelers by the lawlessness of society prevented free trade and travel.