In my World Religions class I spend some time focusing on Gandhi’s affirmation of the caste system. This seems to us as counterintuitive. Who woulda thunk? His concern was that democracy had elements within it that would dissolve the glue of social coherence. If society became individualism run amok, the greater work of self-rule would be compromised.
This is one of the critiques Arundhati Roy, the wonderful English writing Indian novelist, offers of Gandhi. She is NOT mild in her criticism. Gandhi certainly criticized the more brutal aspects of the caste system but continued to believe it was essential for social/political/economic flourishing. Restlessness in social position was a deal breaker, at least at that stage of India’s development.
It’s at this point I think of JRR Tolkien and his suspicion of modern ways. Like CS Lewis, he was a medievalist and found in it a wonder and order that informed his works. Today I came across these words at the First Things website. “Tolkien was an unapologetic monarchist as well, believing that hierarchical distinctions are necessary for the flourishing of any polity, whether academic or ecclesial or governmental. He longed, in fact, for the return of Roman Catholicism as the established state religion of England.”
Some of the authors I have come to respect and read are medievalists, like Peter Kreeft, for whom the medieval period was a Golden Age. Protestants of my tradition skip over the medieval period in church history like we are walking on coals. But for some time I have been wondering. What was Christ doing during this one thousand years period other than getting everyone ready for Martin Luther? How does that connect with the Evangelical Protestantism that is my home? This is an area if reading and thought for me now.
Here is the link to the First Things article.