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Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan


Beheading Hydra
A Radical Plan for Christians in an Atheistic Age
Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Sophia Institute Press

The author is a Catholic priest and convert from Anglicanism. He has written an easy to read book on the current challenges Christians face. He describes the various heads belonging to this monstrous hydra as "isms."

They include atheism, materialism, pragmatism, utilitarianism and sentimentalism. The descriptions of these "isms" are superb summaries. We are also given brief over-views  of some of the culprits in this rogues' gallery and they include the likes of Bentham, Rousseau and Darwin. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Rousseau, who is described as the Father of sentimentalism. These "isms" are classified in three groups: the world, the flesh and the devil. There is an excellent description of how they have  entered the Church. The manner in which the sexual revolution has afflicted the Church is very well described.

Once they have entered the Church, they infect the Church by diluting the faith. If you don't believe the author, just take a look at some of the horrible liturgies coming out of the more or less schismatic German Catholic Church. The most obvious point to make, as the author notes, is how very few young people attracted to these liturgies. It is a simple fact that the young who wish to stay in the Church want the full expression of the Faith. If they are invited to a liturgical disco, why not just attend a secular one?

I read this book at a time when the news came out that some high ranking liberal prelates had expressed concerns about the large numbers of young people attending the Traditional Latin Mass.  They want to get rid of this liturgy. They appear to have won over the Roman Pontiff. The author, who is known to favour reverent Novus Ordo liturgies, refers at one point to radical traditionalists. Aside from a few obvious cranks and sedevacantists, I think it is time for conservatives and traditionalists to put aside their differences and work together. The auto-destruction of the Church by the Modernists is too serious to ignore. As the synod on the synod gets going, the major issue confronting the Church is obvious: Modernism and religious indifferentism have entered the Church at every level.

The Church has had various crises in the past and there is much that we can learn from them. But, as the author notes, there is one big difference: in the past, the enemy had a belief in a transcendent order. Now, there is total indifference towards the supernatural. We need a different means of beheading the hydra now.

The author suggests that we can combat the enemy in three different ways. Firstly, accommodation. This is what liberal Christians have done and it has been a disaster. Every liberal Christian denomination is on its way out. Then there is direct conflict. We are unlikely to win over the culture by this means. I understand why some have suggested a Benedictine way of abandoning the world and creating Christian communities. I understand but, like the author, I think they are wrong.

Finally, there is what the author refers to as creative subversion. To put it simply, this means fully believing Christians living out their faith joyfully and attracting others. This is the way favoured by the author.

Fr. Longenecker has identified the problems accurately and has given us the way forward.


            
Copyright ; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2021

Version: 19th October 2021



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