The Pendulating Model
Religion as a key to a
warmer society

Table of contents

Guidelines for finding solutions

1. The universal Pendulating Model

2. Religionas the completion of society         

Six pillars ensuring the smooth operation of daily life
Religion as a stabilising factor
Conflict between religious precepts and legal provisions
When politicians and religious authorities move into each other’s territory, things go wrong
Double-edged sword 
The exception confirming the rule

3. In Western Europe theocentricism leads to the dismantling of Christianity

The medieval vision places God at the center of this world
During the Renaissance the attention shifts to the relation between God and man
In the age of Enlightenment, and during the French and Industrial Revolution secularisation grows
Primacy of economic thinking
Opting for a power-wielding Church leads to the dismantling of Christian foundations

4. Western Europe in 2016: a crisis of civilization is inevitable

Post-religious society aimlessly adrift
Tolerance is dwindling
Values are exclusively focused on the ego   
Fascination with material gain and popular entertainment
Bumping into limits              
Call to alter course is becoming louder
Icebreaker wanted

5.The Relation with the Spirituality of the Universe causes the pendulum to swing back

Openness to the source outside the ego
Four levers
A multitude of win-win situations leads to religion
Focusing on the Heart of Christ would restore  the moral authority of the Christian Churches
Focusing on the core values, does not constitute fundamentalism
Developing the internal dynamics of three changes
Inspiring example: particular attention for disadvantaged people in Christian care facilities
Multi-religious Europe needs a strong interreligious dialogue

6.Synthesis: a new balance ensures a warmer society

Practical implementation: transition from Church1.0 to Church2.0

Guidelines for finding solutions

This manifesto has evolved in response to an inner urge to propose an ‘out of the box’ opinionated possible solution to the severe crisis that society as well as Christianity in Western Europe is facing. The Pendulating Model looks at society from a different angle. For the past few thousand years religions dominated almost any society. Based on this perception this manifesto highlights in its third and fourth chapter the developments in Western Europa. Until the 15th century, Christianity dominated Western culture. During the Renaissance period mankind moved towards the foreground and as from the 18th century this concept became a radical self-centeredness which now is dismantling the Christian foundations of society. However, the derailment of this egocentricity plunges the West into a crisis of civilization. The establishment of a relationship with the Spirituality of the Universe offers a solution which would create a warmer society by paying more attention to one another as well as to religion. As an independent thinker and a believer who does not actively participate in any Church I am a critical observer of society. I have many years of experience as a publicist (since 1982), historian and journalist. You will find more info on my website
The Pendulating Model which is a result of ten years of reflection, builds upon the ideas set out in the Manifesto Utopia revisited. New Social Model brings people together instead of keeping them apart (2010, 180 pages) and Ten words. A New Human Ideal for the 21st Century (2011, 48 pages); as well as Holocaust revisited ( and the Ideas Bank ( This is not a scientific study nor an enumeration of absolute truths or a manual with practical guidelines, but only a philosophical essay. A consistent and straightforward vision is constructed from a razor-sharp historical analysis. As befits a manifesto, it is written in a polemical tone that is specific to this genre. The analysis, the ideas and the proposals may sometimes sound caricatural, but it is not a caricature. Of course, the reality is more nuanced and criticism can be levelled. That is the fate of generalizations that can be found in each synthesis. However, the underlying insights, not the details are of the greatest importance. We realize that the proposed solution also provides a theoretical model with a high utopian content. However only a cutting edge synthesis can generate a thorough discussion. The sole purpose of this manifesto is to provide a constructive guideline when searching for structural solutions. The Pendulating Model is not complete. One can compare this with the construction of a house. The concrete floor has been poured and the building shell is completed, but the house is still under construction. The text still has a number of points to be qualified, deepened and refined. Moreover, this method is characteristic of all philosophical models. With every new edition of his classic To Have or to Be philosopher Erich Fromm reworked his text. The illustrations are selected from the work of the German artist Johannes Wickert, a very good friend and soulmate. He gives shape to my thoughts in haunting images in a virtuoso way. Finally, I address a word of thanks to several soulmates on whose advice I could count when I was developing this model. These are in alphabetical order. Jo Cornille, Jan De Sutter, Philippe Lardinois, Patrick Ottoy, Ludo Van den Eynden, Luc Van Durme, Manu Verhulst and Johannes and Nico Wickert. Thanks also to Steffi Pandelaere and Ignace De Temmerman for the wonderful graphic design.

Koenraad De Wolf
1 augustus 2016


1. The universal Pendulating Model

The Pendulating Model is a metaphor of a pendulum swinging between both banks of a river. This paradigm is applicable to the societies of the past few thousand years. Because of the historic law that lies therein, it allows us to view the past, present and future from a different perspective.

A Combination of two images
The Pendulating Model is graphically shown as a Catachresis or a figure of speech that combines two images without a direct link. First, there is the metaphor of the flow of a river which is hemmed in by two banks. Furthermore, the model refers to a dowsing rod. Dowsing occurs in all ages and cultures: from the Incas in South America to Ancient China. A drop-shaped metal object or crystals detect rays that are invisible to the eye. We use this metaphor in a derivative form: we only refer to the swinging movement of the evolution of society between the shores of our imaginary river.

Mainstream and tributaries
The presentation of history in periods is artificial, because it is always moving. On our imaginary river people in boats follow the flow of the water. The majority follows the mainstream, because people are naturally gregarious. Referring to the shock waves in history, rapids and waterfalls occur on the way. When the dissatisfaction about a certain direction increases, new tributaries are created. Brooks will search for routes that are perpendicular to the mainstream. Many dry out or are re-absorbed by the mainstream. But when more and more boats sail into a new direction, a brook can swell into a tributary and even become the new mainstream.

Bipolar antagonistic framework
The imaginary river of the Pendulating Model is a bipolar framework bounded by the shores of the self and the other. Opposite to the focus on the individual, with in its most extreme form is a radical self-centeredness, we find the other as well as the Other or God. Here the extreme form is theocentrism.
The self and the other form the core of human existence in their complementarity. Because beyond the toddler stage each person builds his identity in interaction with others. Nobody lives by himself on an island. You will only be fully human in relation to others. The others also give meaning to our lives, because people need each other.
The self and the other are also antagonistic. As the ego comes more strongly to the fore, the empathy for fellow human beings disappears into the background, and vice versa.

Colder near the river banks
The warm stream is situated almost in the middle of the river, where the focus on the self and the other balance each other, because the more the river is flowing towards one of the two banks, the colder it becomes. And when people flock to cling to one bank the river can even freeze over there.

The flow velocity accelerates
A law of history shows that as time passes, the water in the river flows faster and the rapids and waterfalls follow each other quickly. Developments that previously only after centuries were fully completed are now taking place within a few decades or years. Furthermore more and more boats are floating on the water as a result of the increase in world population.

Universal character
Since the Pendulating Model is applicable to a large number of societies of the past few thousand years, it is to a large extent a universal theory. This methodology makes us view past and present developments from a different perspective. And because of the historic law that lies therein, this provides insight into future trends.


2. Religion as the completion of society

To make people live together in an orderly manner, arrangements are put in place for governance, justice, economy, social policy and culture. Furthermore the impact of supranational institutions is increasing. Last but not least in most societies of the past few thousand years, religions play a key role. Because of their referral to another reality beyond the existing world, they are responsible for the meaning of life - human destination - and determine the values and standards.

Six pillars ensuring the smooth operation of daily life

Each society makes commitments to ensure the orderly management of living together. In a dictatorship, responsibility for governance lies with a strongman and his confidants. In a parliamentary democracy, the government has executive power and legislative power rests with parliament. The Department of Justice should ensure compliance with the laws and should resolve conflicts between citizens in an equitable manner. The economy will satisfy the material needs and the production, distribution and consumption of goods from agriculture, manufacturing and services.
Family, labor, housing, healthcare, education and social protection of the most vulnerable groups are the cornerstones of social policy. The fifth pillar, culture, in addition to science and technology, also encompasses art, music and literature. They raise the quality of life to a higher level. In addition to these commitments at the level of each nation, supra-nationalism is gaining importance. The European Union substantially influences the lives of its half a billion inhabitants. The African Union and ASEAN have much less influence. This also applies to the United Nations, even though the authority of a number of sub-organizations is gaining importance. An example is the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The G20, the meeting of the nineteen largest economic nations and the European Union, determines financial policy worldwide. And in many countries the influence of multinationals is growing.

These six areas have in common that they are situated within the existing world.

Religion as a stabilizing factor

Religions differ from the above-mentioned fields, by referring to a different reality, beyond the boundaries of the world.

In almost all societies of the past few thousand years they form the central piece. The examples are legion: Christianity until the 18th century in Western Europe, Islam in many countries of the Middle East, Judaism in Israel and Shintoism in Japan. Often one religion becomes the state religion of a country.

Despite major differences religions share the same basic values
Religions appear in the form of gods, thoughts, abstract forces or the relationship to a cosmic whole or a person. Content varies widely, as each religion gives a different interpretation to the transcendent reality. However, all religions demand a willingness to make sacrifices, among others love of one’s neighbor.

All believers are seekers or pilgrims on the way to a fuller life. They are, like the early Christians, ‘people of the road’ because they have not reached their destination yet. One can compare believing with climbing a mountain. Because of the differences between the religions the believers of the different religions use different routes to climb the mountain, but it is the same mountain. A century ago, the English writer Bernard Shaw wrote: “There is only one religion, but there are a hundred versions of it.” Despite the differences, they generally share the same basic values.

Relationship with a Supreme Being or God
First of all, there is the relationship with an all-encompassing, timeless, boundless and invisible reality that transcends us. The German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher calls this “the contemplation of the infinite from the finite.”
The Latin word ‘religare' means to reconnect or to connect well. Religion speaks of the close relationship of man with a Supreme Being. And throughout his life the believer wants to get closer to Him, but God remains inaccessible. The mountain one is climbing, is after all shrouded in fog, and nobody has ever seen the top. No one can therefore fully grasp that boundless other reality.
However, the efforts of mankind to make concrete that boundless reality runs like a thread through history. Theologians describe Him, artists give Him a face, and in the course of history a thousand and one names and titles were given to the Supreme Being. But none is satisfactory, because one cannot see God or shake His hand. He is not an object, but an event. And each image degrades him to a figure that is interchangeable with other gods. Therefore, in many traditions His name is deliberately not mentioned and an image ban is in force.

Blind trust
Faith expresses a mystical bond. For believers, God is the beating heart or a helping hand behind the secret of life.
From a primal desire to be with Him, believers blindly walk on, because finally they do not know where that way will take them to. Religion is therefore not about knowledge, but about a deep-rooted basic trust.
The basic texts on which believers fall back, are not scientific articles, but one can only read these texts through the lens of faith. Because most of these texts date back thousands of years, their interpretation is not obvious. The spirit in which they are written, is entirely different from ours.

Attempt to find an answer to existential questions
Whence that blind trust? Believers find in God the peace and security in their search for the mystery of existence because almost all religious traditions speak of the final destination of mankind. This destination is located outside the individual. Throughout their lives people are striving for happiness, but the achievement of individual happiness is not the endpoint. At death, the believer makes the transition to another life and finds ultimate fulfillment in God. Therefore he will partake in a transcendent reality that is complete and perennial.
Through this perspective of redemption religions provide an answer to the existential questions:

Why do we live?
What is our ultimate purpose in life and death?
Where do we go after our death?

Because of their liberating character in terms of giving meaning religions attract many people. It is no coincidence that studies show that believers are among the happiest people. However, some qualification is essential. Whether or not inspired by faith, everyone is looking for an answer to existential questions. That answer is different for everyone.

Characteristic of all religious traditions is a basic attitude of modesty, respect and awe. In symbolic rituals they worship their Supreme Being or God by praying and beseeching Him. This is done preferably in spiritual places such as sanctuaries, shrines, temples, churches and chapels which in all religions strongly attract many believers.

The eternal character is a stabilizing factor
The fact that religious traditions among primitive peoples are passed on intact from generation to generation, illustrates how deeply they are rooted in the collective subconscious. Religions contain eternal values. Every religion has its own creation story that is revealed in ancient writings.
Because of the ‘conservare’ or storing of the absolute, the good or the divine, religions are naturally conservative. In every society they are a stabilizing factor, not only for the regime, but also for the faithful because of the security and support they offer them. Religions are also important guardians of traditions.

Defining values and standards
Their social impact, however, goes even further, with regard to the key role religions usually play. Their impact is so great that they determine the values and standards. Referring to the metaphor of our river, religious traditions, with their structural attention to the other and the Other, raise a barrier against the threat of omnipotence of the self or the urge of man to take everything into their own hands.

Conflict between religious precepts and legal provisions

Responsibility for the first six areas, which are situated within the society, rests with the secular leaders. In contrast, the religious leaders are responsible for the reality beyond the existing world. In practice, in all times and cultures, religion and government are closely intertwined. State religions are the rule, not the exception.
The demarcation of their respective power only leads to conflicts where religious precepts and laws contradict each other. Ergo the discrimination of women in the Catholic Church, the circumcision of newborn Jewish boys, the wearing of the burqa by Muslim girls and the slaughter of sheep without the use of anaesthetic during the annual Feast of Sacrifice in Western Europe, for example, is contrary to the laws on gender equality, children’s rights and animal rights.
The mainstream society deems that the law always takes precedence over any personal conviction. “People are primarily citizens”, the argument goes, “and only then a member of a religious community. Incidentally, religious belief belong to the private sphere, as the government is neutral, and treats all citizens equally.”
While court rulings in several countries endorse that reasoning, it is at odds with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. This Declaration guarantees religious freedom and freedom of speech. No politician, government or court is authorized to deal with a religious doctrine. That women should not become a priest is no crime. Neither are circumcision, wearing of the burqa and slaughter without the use of anaesthetic.
Therefore the government is not allowed to impose general measures but only act in individual cases when a woman, for example, would be forced to wear a burqa. However, freedom of religion and freedom of speech is not absolute. It can always be curtailed if religions threaten state security or the rights of others.

When politicians and religious authorities move into each other’s territory, things go wrong

In the past, secular leaders have fought many wars over religion. And many conflicts arose from their desire to control the religions. It is not wrong that political formations are inspired by the teachings of religions if they adhere to the good values of those religions. However, politicians should not interfere with the content of religions.
Equally problematic are the political ambitions of religious leaders. Religions are not competent to operate within the existing world. The fact that in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan Sharia Islamic law applies in civil cases is therefore an aberration.
In short, whenever political and religious leaders move into each other’s territory things go wrong.

Double-edged sword

Religions do not escape the dualism which permeates society into its deepest fibers. In its anthropological sense this concerns the contrast between the mortal body and the immortal soul. The ethical dualism contrasts good with evil. In its cosmic meaning this refers to the chasm between spirit and matter, finiteness and infinity, temporality and eternity. In the Chinese philosophical-religious tradition of Taoism the Yin and Yang symbolize this dualism. And according to the Pendulating Model these are the self and the other.
In almost all religions the thread consists of the search for peace, reconciliation, love, justice and happiness. This is also practiced by the vast majority of believers and religious leaders. However, it also is a double-edged sword, because in a perverted form religions can degenerate into excesses. For example, a number of religious texts contain a violent component. The fact that the Old Testament and the Koran contain incitements to war and violence is characteristic of the proselytism of Christianity and Islam, the two largest religions worldwide. Moreover, some religious leaders are responsible for these slippages. Remember the black pages of the papacy, with the Crusades as the low point. And the early centuries of Islam are defined by the unprecedented conquest and power struggle between the chiefs of the leading dynasties.
Nowadays in the Islamic State, supposedly in the name of the Koran, the most heinous atrocities against innocent civilians are being committed and in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere in Europe acts of terrorism of unprecedented cruelty are committed. And how often are regimes or political leaders misusing religion? On the buckle of the belt of the German soldiers during the Second World War was written “Gott mit uns”. And US President George W. Bush called the disastrous Iraq war “the will of God.” And since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the tense relations between the Jews and the Palestinians in the Middle East is characterized by a spiral of violence.

Anyway, the use of violence in the name of religion is always a curse. This is at odds with the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, love, justice and happiness that is deeply rooted in all traditions.

The exception confirming the rule

Nowadays in Western Europe, the key role of religions in society is met with derision by many.
In the largely secularized Occident, Christianity, the dominant religion for fifteen centuries, now only plays a minor part. “Human values are a reasonable alternative”, the argument goes. "We realize a peaceful society by linking economic growth which creates more wealth to attention to the most vulnerable groups in society and the defense of the Rights of Man." This is wrong, because despite all the facilities a significant void remains since human values do not answer the existential questions. De-Christianization of Western Europe is an exception in history. There is no precedent of a society that deliberately turns away from religion.
This insight does not look very encouraging when perceiving the experiences of the only anti-religious society in the history of the past few thousand years. The Communists, who adopted atheism as the State philosophy, banned any kind of religious awareness after they seized power in 1917 in Russia. Lenin called “any religious sense, even toying with the idea that God exists, an unspeakable abomination and a detestable plague.” In 1923, a revolutionary court in the Soviet Union sentenced God in absentia to death. This was no joke. The Communists not only ignore the existence of God, but also leave no room for the transcendent, since the collective government regulates everything for its people. However, no communist regime has ever succeeded in eradicating religions, not even after decades of ruthless persecution. Why? Because religion is an essential part of the human condition. Man is a religious animal. This dimension is, as I said, firmly embedded in our collective subconscious. This explains why communist countries such as China, Vietnam and Cuba are only conducting a policy of tolerance in dribs and drabs, and under strict state control. Nowadays only North Korea is sticking to its rabid anti-religious politics.

It suffices to look at the dysfunctional societies in the former communist countries, to conclude to what a mess a society without religion leads. Also this second exception proves our position.

3. In Western Europe theocentricism leads to the dismantling of Christianity

In Western Europe, Christianity, whose foundations are the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount was mainstream in society for 1,500 years. As from the 14th century, during the Renaissance, dissatisfaction with theocentricism led to replace this doctrine with anthropocentrism. Anthropocentrism, in the wake of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and globalization, became the new mainstream. This resulted in a radical self-centeredness which recently is dismantling Christianity.

The Medieval vision places God at the center of this world

As from the 4th century, Christianity is mainstream in Western-European society.

“The difference between Christianity and all other religions is that in the other religions people are seeking God, while in Christianity it is God who is seeking mankind”, wrote the English educator Thomas Arnold. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, who is made in the likeness of God, became man, so that man, in turn, can come to God. The early believers are called Christians because people see that they apply the teachings of Christ in their daily life. As from the fourth century theocentricism becomes mainstream. The Greek words ‘Theos Kentron’ mean ‘God at the center’, because in the Middle Ages Church and State are one.

Ten Commandments as a guideline for mankind
This power monopoly of Christianity is based on a tight time-honored doctrine. Its roots are located in the Torah or the Old Testament. In it, compliance with the law is central. The millennia-old Ten Commandments provide guidance for human action.

The three first commandments are the core principles that are focused on God:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods.
2. No graven images or likeness.
3. Not take the Lord’s name in vain.

These are followed by two moral imperatives:

4. Remember the sabbath day – breaking through the daily work routine by consciously not working.
5. Honour thy father and mother – respect for tradition and values.

Finally five prohibitions:

6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

The Ten Commandments, which lay the foundation of a just society, are situated at the heart of Western civilization. But a common thread running through the Bible is the disobedience of the nation that forgets God and the Commandments. Due to the global spread of Western thought in the wake of colonization these Ten Commandments got a universal significance in themselves. In addition, other mainstream doctrines exist. In China, for example, the view of humankind was inspired by the writings of the philosopher Confucius.

The Sermon on the Mount places love at the center
The New Testament takes a big step forward in human thought. In His Sermon on the Mount Christ places love and the happiness of the people first. The poor and the vulnerable people to whom he spoke symbolize the spiritual basic attitudes that believers should adopt. He then formulates imperative precepts. Believers should be merciful, do good deeds without expecting anything in return and settle their differences. Furthermore, they should not commit adultery, not repay evil with evil, they should in all circumstances act peacefully, they should love instead of hate, they should give alms and they should be as little as possible involved in earthly matters. Finally, he asks to pray, to fast and to be steadfast in the faith.

Love and happiness are the key words in Christ's radical norms and values. He wants a world where people not only love God, but also their neighbor as themselves, and where the economy is secondary to happiness. In his Sermon on the Mount Christ completes what Moses received as Commandments. Both are at the core of the Christian message.

Mankind in a subordinate role
Medieval men were under the spell of contemplation, penance and the ideal of poverty, because as a sinful creature mankind depends on God's grace. The dominant philosophical movement in the universities established by the Church was scholasticism. Thomas Aquinas was the most influential figure. The aim was to merge theology with philosophy. The dogmatic faith that is based on divine revelation, pays great attention to human happiness in the afterlife. The dominant idea was ‘memento mori’ – ‘remember that you must die’.
More than the writings, the medieval Pietas show the piety of that time. And how strong Christianity inspires people, is evidenced by the creations of the greatest architects, painters, sculptors and composers. They lift a tip of the veil as viewed from a Christian perspective and show us the other reality which is beyond the known world. Based on the subordinate role of mankind, artists and architects are anonymous craftsmen who glorify God.

Due to the low value of the individual, the banishment from the community is the worst possible punishment.

During the Renaissance the attention shifts to the relation between God and man

As early as the 13th century intellectuals felt that the rigid theocentricism was cold and suffocating. The rediscovery of humanity in ancient culture shifts the focus from the hereafter to the relationship between God and mankind.Bewondering voor de klassieke Oudheid
In Italië, waar de gotiek nooit voet aan de grond krijgt, groeit de belangstelling voor het eigen verleden. De renaissance, letterlijk de wedergeboorte, verwijst naar de hernieuwde belangstelling voor de klassieke oudheid.

Admiration for the classical Aniquity
In Italy, where the Gothic art never got a foothold, a growing interest in their own past occurs. The Renaissance, literally the rebirth, refers to the renewed interest in classical antiquity.

States use culture to compete with one another
After the implementation of the Treaty of Lodi in 1454, city states and kingdoms on the Italian peninsula no longer compete with one another militarily. A cultural rivalry between the cities of Venice, Florence, Milan, Genoa, Naples and Rome emerges. This is unique in history.
In the then most economically prosperous regions of Europe trade and banking flourish. The elite of merchants and bankers acquires property, luxury and wealth and enjoys life. New ideas about taste and style make their appearance.

Self-confident mankind moves towards the foreground
The optimistic ‘carpe diem’ or ‘seize the day’ takes the place of the ‘memento mori’. But the most dramatic change is the glorification of man, as in antiquity. That understanding is growing through the study of the ancient authors.
The chorus Ode to mankind in Sophocles’ Antigone opens in verse 332 with “Polla ta Deina, kouden anthropou deinoteron pelei – Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man.” Greek literature is also full of figures displaying the ingenuity, the grandeur and the ingenuity of man. For example Homer's Odyssey symbolizes the victory over all the obstacles that mankind encounters in life. Prometheus, the Greek mythological figure who steals fire from the Olympian gods, symbolizes human knowledge, progress and greatness.
Anthropocentrism is born. For the first time since Antiquity self-confident people distinguish themselves and outdo their rivals. Poet, art connoisseur and patron of the arts Lorenzo 'il Magnifico', for example, a scion of the family of the Medici, was the ruler of the Florentine Republic.
As a product of medieval scholasticism Catholic universities encourage scientific research. Big steps forward are taken in the development of human ingenuity. Andreas Vesalius lays the foundation for anatomy and medicine and Copernicus shows that the sun and not the earth is at the center of our universe. However, tensions grow when the new findings contradict the Bible. When Galileo Galilei promotes heliocentrism as a hypothesis he is sentenced to life under house arrest, and he exclaims: “Eppur si muove – And yet it moves [the earth around the sun].” Due to the great attention to the ‘humanitas’ or humanity intellectuals of that time are called humanists. In philosophy, scholasticism lost its importance.

Towards a relation between God and mankind
There is a reversal, but God is not out of the picture yet. In the 15th century, the Italian humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola gives mankind its freedom to determine its own limits in a story of creation. Moreover he writes:  “Let us disdain earthly things, and despise the things of heaven, and, judging little of what is in the world, fly to the court beyond the world and next to God.”
A half century later, the French humanist François Rabelais wrote in his humanistic educational project: “And at some of the hours of the day apply thy mind to the study of the Holy Scriptures; first, in Greek, the New Testament, with the Epistles of the Apostles, and then the Old Testament in Hebrew.”
In 1619, after astronomer Johannes Kepler discovered the elliptical orbits of the planets, he wrote in his book Harmony of the World in 1619: “Now only remains for me to pray to the Father of all light. I thank thee, O Lord and Creator, that you have pleased me by the observation of your creation and have filled me with jubilation at seeing the work of your hands.” Faith and reason are complementary to the genius of the Renaissance. “Every time I behold this wonderful order [of nature], how everything follows from another and is itself followed by something else, it's like I've read a divine text, not with letters but with the essential things written in the world itself.”
Also philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon is convinced: “A little science estranges a man from God. A lot of science brings him back.”
When in the 16th century the ideas of the Renaissance, thanks to the printing press, penetrate north of the Alps, they lay the foundation for the rise of Protestantism, the Reformation and the Schism within the Catholic Church.

The shift in focus from the hereafter to the relationship between God and man, is best seen in the culture. Artists and architects show mankind in all its glory, but because mostly the Church bought the artwork, they are often situated within a religious context.

In the age of Enlightenment, and during the French and Industrial Revolution secularisation grows

In the 18th century, secularisation germinates when a minority distances itself from any religious blueprint. Mankind takes its fate into its own hands and the belief in progress is born. This causes a short circuit between religion and reason.

Dogmatic belief in authority gives way to reason
In some intellectual circles one sees a growing resistance to the omnipotence of Christian Churches with their many tentacles. As from the second half of the 17th century the philosophical currents of the Enlightenment, in the wake of the humanists, no longer bases its ideas on divine revelation, but on the ability of mankind to give meaning to life. This reasoning is based on universal values such as human dignity, freedom, tolerance and responsibility, which are all rooted in Christianity. The French philosopher Luc Ferry calls this the transition the “humanization of the divine, leading to the deification of the human.”
The first Thinkers of the Enlightenment, including René Descartes, create a rational and universal morality that seeks human happiness on earth and no longer in the afterlife.
“I consider God the inner cause of all things, not the cause that surpasses them. I pretend that everything is in God and everything is moved in God”, says philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza and John Toland criticize religion. But both still believe in the existence of God. The belief in God initially still has a place in this new paradigm, but the subsequent process of secularisation further reduces the role of religion.
The call to separate Church and State becomes louder.

Mankind thinks it is the master of its fate
Science which gradually replaces religion, is based on knowledge that is the result of free inquiry. As a meticulous observer of nature Isaac Newton discovered the laws of nature, such as the speed at which a body falls, and poured this knowledge into immutable formulas. Newton makes reality more understandable, although one-third of his standard work Philosophia naturalis. Principia mathematicaMathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy published in 1713 deals with God. To Newton, practicing science is a religious duty. “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but does not explain who has put them in motion. (...) The diversity of organisms can only arise from the ideas and will of a Being that necessarily exists. (...) God governs all things. (...) Talking about Him is part of the natural philosophy. (...) All my discoveries are answers to my prayers.”
On the basis of a one-sided reading of the writings of Newton, the French philosopher Voltaire claims that only the laws of nature are valid and he further writes that human science can unravel all domains of reality. Voltaire dissociates himself from God “avec Dieu on ne se côtoie pas, on se salut” – no pats on the back, but a farewell.
The idea that the unknown only remains to be discovered, attracts more supporters. Mankind now thinks it is master of its fate. It is no coincidence that this idea germinated in France. In the 18th century, that country is the political and cultural leader. As during the Renaissance this change is also driven by the most influential nation of that period.

Birth of the belief in progress
This optimistic belief assumes that we are evolving into a higher stage of perfection. Without a Creator or God the enlightened man creates new political and ethical systems to create a better world. As the brainchild of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution propagates in the last decade of the 18th century the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. “Ni Dieu, ni maître”, is the motto.
About the same time a radical economic revolution takes place. Driven by the belief in the collective progress, our society is already for the past two centuries captivated by producing more and better goods. During the First Industrial Revolution, which spread from the UK to mainland Europe, the goods are no longer manually but mechanically produced by using steam engines. Man and nature have become subordinate to the economy.

Short circuit between religion and reason
Napoleon asked astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplacewhere God fit into his mathematical work, and Laplace famously replied: “Sir, I have no longer need of that hypothesis.” The disconnect between faith and reason becomes a historical rupture, because until then they had always promoted one another.
Henceforth the Church and science separate, with increasing mutual irritation and disgust. Only a few individuals go against the flow. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest geniuses, wrote: “science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.” In a letter to Maurice Solovine, Einstein writes: “It is rather unlikely that significant findings are published in the present. In order to discover them one must be able to fall back on a larger underlying period.”

Modern secularised thinking
In the 19th century, the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach lays the foundations of modern secularized thinking. “God is a man-made concept, on which mankind for the sake of its own happiness and increased enjoyment projects its ideals, needs and wishes.” He sees God as a projection of mankind and religion as an illusion that satisfies the desires of mankind to compensate for its limitations and finiteness. Feuerbach advocates a civilization based on the insights of science. His polemical writings are very influential.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaims: “God is dead and we killed him.” And his colleague Karl Marx's considers religion “opium of the people” because people are not committed to social change under the pressure of religion. By writing off God, mankind becomes the only standard.

Out of violence of war came democratic ideals
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was adopted after the French Revolution and it grants mankind inalienable rights to equality and freedom which are above any state structure. But the realization of this democratic ideal derails into anarchy and violence of war. After the conquest of the French emperor Napoleon leading to a fiasco in Russia, revolutions followed one another in 1815, 1830 and 1848. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 followed the catastrophe of the First World War, with seventeen million victims. Two decades later, the Second World War caused a death toll that was four times higher. God is indeed dead for those who experienced the horrors of war firsthand. Where was God in the concentration camp of Auschwitz?

Freedom and attention to personal feelings
However, the legacy of the French Revolution brought many positive achievements and led to greater freedom. This freedom comes into existence in the economy and scientific research, and later permeates culture and interpersonal relationships. In broad sections of society a greater sensitivity grows for empathy, affection, warmth and love. The marriage for love is introduced, and the affective relationship of parents with their children.
In politics after the First World War universal suffrage is adopted.

Primacy of economic thinking

Above all, as from the end of the 19th century, the economy becomes the main engine of society.

Second and Third Industrial Revolution
Meanwhile, the Western European societies are falling more and more under the spell of economic thought. From the end of the nineteenth century, the Second Industrial Revolution shifts in higher gear by the use of turbines, electric and internal combustion engines using fossil fuels. Finally, in the past decades the computer and the new forms of communication such as the Internet and mobile phones provided the basis of the Third Industrial Revolution and globalization. This concept is difficult to define but it refers to the global information and communications technology-driven interaction between people, businesses, governments and cultures. In addition, services and communication supplant the production of goods. The new cars are called laptops, smartphones and tablets. Day and night, seven days a week, they are connected with each other by the internet and satellite connections. Search engines and software programs process vast amounts of information.
The French philosopher Michel Serres is very optimistic about the potential of this technology for humanity. It seems as if an invisible international space station ensures the smooth operation of the internet. But is that really so? How do we deal with the concentration of know-how in a few hands and possible abuse? After all, mankind is completely dependent of the internet.

Unprecedented rise in prosperity
Labour productivity is rising steadily. During the First Industrial Revolution, it increased on average by one per cent, during the Second Industrial Revolution two percent and as from the Third Industrial Revolution by 2.5 percent per year. This development leads to a historically unprecedented increase in wealth. Since 1945, income has quadrupled. We have never been so rich. Because social correction mechanisms spread prosperity over large sections of the population a welfare state is established. There is peace, freedom and a high degree of 'law and order'. Moreover, we live longer and healthier because of well-developed health care.

The other side of the coin
“When the economy takes an upturn, everything else takes a downturn”, wrote the American writer Art Buchwald. The acquisition of material possessions is becoming the norm for getting social prestige. Everyone is under the spell of acquiring as much money as possible. “Money is like manure”, Francis Bacon already knew in the 17th century. “It’s only good if you spread it around.” But money is today, more than ever, the sacred cow. It seems like everyone is burdened by the obsession to create ever more money. People never get tired of always more of the same: money, money and more money. This is based on the illusion that money generates only positive effects. Who will puncture this balloon? Everything must make way for that other inviolable dogma, economic growth. Everyone is involuntarily sucked into that spiral.
Why? Halting this is not an option because in that case the opponents would become even more powerful. People, companies and governments have no choice but to participate in that rat race.
However, the consequences are far-reaching. But who is aware of the flip side of the coin? Instead of passing on traditions, education focuses on the flexible integration of young people into the labor market. And in universities non-economic disciplines are treated harshly, while academic freedom has become an empty box. In order to belong to the intellectual elite one has to publish articles in the highest possible quoted international journals. These are only counted, but nobody reads them.
Politics is no longer about ideas, but about good financial governance and the elimination of obstacles to the economy. And the global financial crisis of 2008 shows a worldwide lack of any (democratic) control. The omnipotent caste of bankers, speculators and credit rating agencies who by the way make the rules, is even untouchable. No one is punished for poisoning the global financial market with US subprime loans.
Lead Editors of newspapers, marketers and managers are evaluated on their earnings in the social profit sector. Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, still languishes in a concentration camp in China. For only lip service is paid to human rights when economic interests are at stake. And nobody wants any trouble with the new world power number one.

Opting for a power-wielding Church leads to the dismantling of Christian foundations

What happens in the meantime within the Christian churches? two tendencies can be observed. Facing the hierarchy, which exploits its position of power, grassroots movements return to the roots. However, the power-wielding Church always has the last word. But nowadays the Church is only a giant with feet of clay, and the Christian foundations of Western society are being dismantled.

Quantity prevails
During the first centuries of our era Christians were severely persecuted. But the blood of the martyrs is the seed for new vocations. And this approach is successful in the long term. In 380, Emperor Constantine the Great adopts Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.
From that moment on the Church adjusts her identity. Long before the invention of the concept of marketing, this concept becomes the main trademark of the Church. Trying to make as many new converts as possible is needed to strengthen her dominant position. In order to make the faith attractive to the pagan nations, their traditions are put in a Christian packaging. Christmas coincides with the Germanic celebration of the solstice and numerous churches are built on top of the temples of pagan gods.

Princes of the Church versus grassroots movements 
Through the centuries the policies of many princes of the Church are similar to those of secular rulers. Church leaders often combine both functions. For example the Holy Roman Empire, present-day Germany, has dozens of episcopal and archiepiscopal principalities.
But this power-wielding Church is soon criticized from within. As from the Middle Ages monastic communities return to the source. Examples are the Cistercians, the Carthusians, the Franciscans and the Brethren of the Common Life. They link the experience of authentic Christianity to a social dimension, but the power-wielding Church always has the last word.
After the French Revolution the Christian Churches remain omnipotent in the rural areas of many Western European countries. And even after the erosion of their position after the Second World War, they remain firmly anchored in the social fabric. A historic law shows that structures are very tough. Some Church leaders still like to showcase their purple robes.

Qualitative exodus
The secularisation of the past half century goes hand in hand with the decline in the number priests. Even worse is the loss of quality. Until half a century ago priests belonged to the intellectual elite in all segments of society. Similarly in the sciences. The Big Bang theory about the origin of the world was invented by a priest, the eminent scientist Georges Lemaitre. What today is left of Christianity is pastoral empathy. Because hardly anyone dares to engage in a public debate about content. The rare leading intellectuals such as Eugen Drewermann and Hans Küng, have either left the Church or sit on the sidelines.

Sociological Christianity
Around the middle of the 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote: “In our times, there is no more persecution. One has made Christianity so characterless that there is nothing anymore to prosecute.” What passes for Christianity in today’s Western Europe is largely interchangeable with other religions and value systems. To the man on the street everything to do with religion is the same ancient rubbish.
However sociological Christianity still endures at the pivotal moments of life. Baptisms, confirmations, weddings and even funerals often are examples of keeping up appearances to showcase social prestige. One asks or even demands a free choice of lyrics and songs, which are often at odds with the tradition. However, we are in an upside down world when no longer God, but man is central in the liturgy. Isn’t that blasphemy?
Religion loses its meaning when it is no longer oriented towards the reality beyond this world. Wouldn’t Christ turn away from what is now happening in many churches and institutions set up in His name? If He would be invited as guest of honor, he is not likely to show up because he would no longer recognize Himself in the proceedings.

Dismantling of the Christian foundations
Christianity spread worldwide from Western Europe. But what is left today of the Christian Churches in the Occident is but a shadow because of their disintegration. Silently the link with Christianity is broken.
In politics, the Christian-inspired parties cannot avoid the dismantling of the historic foundations of society at an unprecedented pace. Many countries legalize abortion and euthanasia is legal in the Benelux and easy divorce legislation puts family values under pressure.


4. Western Europe in 2016: a crisis of civilization is inevitable

Anno 2016 are the positive dynamics in society under heavy pressure. The motto in Western Europe is: me, me and the rest can choke. Characteristic of our aimlessly adrift post-religious society, is the declining degree of tolerance and the growing fascination for material gain and popular entertainment. We are at a turning point because the limits of what mankind and nature can cope with are exceeded. A crisis of civilization is inevitable, but the call for change is barely heard.

Western Europe achieved never before on such a large scale such a high level of prosperity. This evolution is based on ten positive dynamics:

1° We have the most open economy of all industrialized countries.
2° The productivity is by the strong discipline and the hard working among the highest in the world.
3° The countries have a solid social security system.
4° The share of highly educated people continues to increase. And in top, most countries have a good functioning education system of a very high level.
5° The wealth is spread out over large sections of the population.
6° The well-developed health care results in a long and a healthy life.
7° The inhabitants are from nature large savers.
8° The deeply rooted social commitment leads to a strongly developed civil society.
9° All countries have a good working democracy.
10° There’s to a large extent a sense of good citizenship.

On top of that enjoys Western Europe additional advantages:
° a mild climate
° a fertile surface.

But the stealthy poison of radical egocentrism undermines these positive dynamics one by one. And as a result we’re confronted with an adrift society that derails on all sides.

Tolerance is dwindling

Due to the disintegration of Christianity fear reigns, uncertainty increases and tolerance is dwindling.

The dismantling of Christianity is the main reason why more than ever anxiety reigns. This is the opposite of happiness. Many people intuitively experience the demise of Christianity as a loss.
Why? The disappearance of a stabilizing factor and points of reference which were handed down from generation to generation feeds the uncertainty. People are more living in fear than before: to become ill, to lose their jobs and prosperity. And they react as if paralyzed by the influx of asylum seekers or by the terrorist threat. That climate is partly fueled by the media. Television newscasts without a positive message are the rule.
In such a climate, intolerance is growing and tolerance towards anyone who does not conform to the ideal of being young, fresh, sexy and hardworking is dwindling. The most vulnerable groups in the underbelly of society will suffer. But the asylum seekers and foreigners are worse off because they are perceived as a real threat.
The touchstone to assess our post-religious society are not the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, because they are a piece of paper only. The Constitution of authoritarian States such as Russia, China and even North Korea guarantee these rights. The real barometer is the degree of tolerance, which is noticeably decreasing in Western Europe. Because every day we are increasingly hearing calls for more police on the streets, the reintroduction of border controls, the expulsion of illegal immigrants with above all the 'own people first'. Here is the breeding ground of the unstoppable rise of the extreme right. In France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary and Poland, the extreme right parties are the largest. Also in Germany, where a comeback of the extreme right can be seen. In the presidential elections in Austria in May 2016 the candidate of the far-right FPÖ got 49.7 percent of the vote.
Hand in hand with this freedom of expression is increasingly restricted. Quietly censorship appears again and the freedom of the press is declining.

Values are exclusively focused on the ego

The values that our society holds as important, are all aimed at the self because of our nihilistic image of mankind. But by throwing overboard everything that smells of meaning and tradition, we are cutting the roots of the tree of Western civilization which seems doomed to disappear.

The ranking of values has been modified
Which values guide people when making important decisions? Nowadays, in our post-religious society, the vast majority of the population wants nothing to do with Christian values and different values ​​take their place.
Christian values ​​do not disappear, because they are tough because of their ancient roots. However, the ranking of values has been modified. Christian values ​​which also are present in humanism, are still more or less standing. The reason is that the Christian values of love and justice for example, is of a different order than the minimal interpretation of these values by humanism. Specific Christian values ​​such as forgiveness and love for enemies, are today at the bottom of the value ladder. Illustrative of the decrease in importance of the solidarity is shown by the fact that only on the occasion of extreme humanitarian disasters one-off charitable activities get underway. But a long-term commitment is now outdated. And generosity to charitable causes is declining steadily.
Here one sees the antagonistic character of our bipolar Pendulating Model. As attention to the self becomes stronger, values that promote putting the other at the center are shifting.

Me, and the rest can choke
In all ages good examples play an important role in the survival of values. The occasional media attention for an authentic figure such as Pope Francis, is dwarfed by the daily attention to the antics of the rogue US presidential candidate and president-elect Donald Trump.
Meanwhile our society draws a nihilistic image of mankind because of the unilateral appreciation of science as a source of truth. This is manifestly reflected in contemporary art. Since the 1970s, conceptual art is the dominant trend. As the name says, it is only about concepts or ideas that artists come up with, but the art is produced by others. When artists do allow us to look into their soul, they only show the most individual expression of the most individual emotion. Also in politics and science the ego is at the epicenter. The delusion that everything is malleable, manipulable and controllable, is generally accepted. The autonomous and empowered individual does not want to be patronized anymore. Finitude and imperfection are obstacles that should be removed as soon as possible.
The top five values ​​which today define the drive of the society are invariably directed at the self. These values are handed down as from kindergarten.:

  1. Me and the rest can choke,
  2. Grab as much money as possible,
  3. Do not trust anyone – only trust yourself,
  4. ‘After us the deluge’ – each thinks only of himself
  5. Have a lot of fun.


Using other people as a lever to achieve one’s own ambitions
All these values do not take any account of the other. People who only think of themselves not only loose the capacity for self-criticism, but also empathy. That is the ability to empathize with the feelings of others. In a society where everyone celebrates unlimited free rein, the saying goes: ‘homo homini lupus’ – ‘people are wolves to each other’.
Why? Everyone wants to go into business, sport and so on ... and everyone wants to excel because of the unprecedented salaries and bonuses paid in case of success. Some people earn more in one month more than an ordinary employee during his entire career. It beggars belief that such excesses are labeled as normal.
The slogans of radical individualists are therefore: maximum benefit and demonize each other. They do not care about any appeal to the sense of duty. Based on their calculated behavior people consider other people as levers to achieve their own ambitions.
One also encounters this mentality in interest groups such as trade unions, who do not want to give up a millimeter of our prosperity. And at the level of nations the thousand times promised increase in development aid to 0.7 percent of the domestic national product never materialized.
This attitude cannot be separated from what the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer calls the “basic social conflict”. People are naturally unwilling to share because they are firmly convinced that they themselves have too little to survive. In the unprecedented opulence in which Westerners are living today, this argument is moot. Yet that mentality has deep roots.

The rise of laicité
Remarkably, the champions of unlimited freedom of mankind want to banish freedom to give a Christians sense to life by any means possible. This approach is also part of the agenda to completely dismantle Christianity. In the name of laicité or secularism that strives for the complete separation of Church and State, religious symbols are taboo in the public space. Religion is only tolerated in the private sphere.
God, who was central in the 18th century in our culture is ignored today. With some exceptions, God is barely covered in the media and culture. Equally remarkable is that the Christian Churches themselves, lacking belief in their own message, meekly accept this marginalization.

Loss of traditions
In the wake of declining Christianity other traditions as well are quietly disappearing. Driven by the primacy of the economy education is increasingly focusing on "useful" subjects such as mathematics, science and languages at the expense of general educational subjects.
Does anyone still know the meaning of the ‘Artes liberales’ – ‘the Seven Liberal Arts’? As the cornerstones of the curriculum in antiquity and in the medieval universities, with offshoots into the middle of the 20th century, they emphasize intellectual development. The language courses of the ‘Trivium’ comprised grammar, logic and rhetoric - Latin, logical reasoning and the art of eloquence. This is followed by the subjects of the ‘Quadrivium’ which concentrate on arithmetic, geometry, harmony or music and cosmology.
Nowadays this ancient tradition that has shaped Western society is a distant memory. Everywhere we are told that we are better off with broken English and apps on our laptop that display graphics in three dimensions. But is that really so?

Cutting the roots kills Western civilization

In the name of economic progress we deliberately cut the roots of the tree of Western civilization that has produced so many marvelous fruits. This tree is doomed to die in the short term. What remains is only a continent of egoists that are culturally, spiritually and intellectually illiterate.


Fascination with material gain and popular entertainment

Meanwhile, the growth of the belief in progress which manifests itself only materially, leads to an obsessive urge to acquire material possessions. This development is accompanied by a trivialization and dumbing down and the unstoppable advance of popular entertainment. The Ten Commandments have become anti-commandments.

Downward spiral of never having enough
The Westerner is only successful when he owns three cars, a country retreat abroad and an outdoor as well as an indoor swimming pool. He also goes on vacation at least four times a year. Its internal dynamics ensures that this mindset leads to a downward spiral of never having enough possessions. People get sucked into the desire for more, based on the illusion that therefore their happiness will increase proportionally. Politicians eagerly respond to this mindset by promising economic growth during every election campaign.
This perverse spiral reinforces not only overconsumption, but also the alienation. Many shoulders are not strong enough to carry all this prosperity. And what is the value of material possessions? The most expensive car is reduced to scraps after a traffic accident. And in a fire all the money and property go up in smoke.
The German philosopher Erich Fromm wrote half a century ago, “The Homo consumens lives in the illusion of happiness, but suffers from boredom and passivity. The more power he has over machines, the more powerless he is as a human being; the more he consumes, the more he is a slave of his growing needs and the more he is manipulated by the industrial system.”

Dumbing down and popular entertainment
It is disconcerting how fast the dumbing down progresses. The intellectual level in advertising and in the wake thereof also the news coverage is that of a twelve year old child. The motto seems to be: the more simplistic the better. Because reality is more complex, many people no longer understand what is happening in the world. Intellectual debates, which hardly take place at all, generate no attention.
The popular entertainment of sports, games and entertainment promoted by the media continuously pushes back the boundaries. As if every day we should have as much fun as possible. As in the latter days of the Roman Empire our society is under the spell of bread and circuses. The most watched TV programs are about cooking and the best-selling books are cookbooks. Four hundred years ago, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal already warned that people lacking an identity and a spiritual home only have fun every day.

Commandments have degenerated into anti-commandments
The Ten Commandments no longer have a role to play when only a few individuals are guided by them. Because those beacons constitute obstacles to the belief in progress, the mainstream of society dumps them.

What has become of the first three commandments which focus on God?
Like new prophets, canny advertising guys bestow a god-like status on not just pop stars and athletes, but also on actors and artists. The places where they perform have become the new churches. These places are glamourous, glitzy and ostentatious. Their clothing reflects their god-like status, so all fans share their lifestyle. Fan clubs and loyalty cards reinforce the we-feeling and bind its members together. Yet these new gods are very disposable. Many change without blinking from idol to even momentarily feel better.
At the same time the advertising industry shamelessly trivializes religious symbols to shock, provoke or elicit a humorous effect.

What about the moral commandments to keep the Sabbath and to respect your parents?
Our economy runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Material rewards such as a company car, a mobile phone, a lap top and a fitness membership ensure that everybody is permanently on 'standby'. Meanwhile, in large cities in one of every two housing units an elderly person is living alone. Few realize the tragedy of the rapidly growing group of languishing lonely and needy elderly persons

Finally the commandments about murder, adultery, theft, false testimony, and the seizure of other people's property.
Our society is becoming more violent and in the entertainment industry extreme violence is big business. A craving for sensation wants to break the boredom and habituation leads to pushing the limits. Characteristic of the criminality is that the increasingly young offenders become ever more bold.
Economics also have permeated sexual intercourse. An industry makes sexuality a consumer product and degrades women and children into sex objects. Even a new form of slavery has emerged. Sex tourism generates a turnover of billions of dollars.

The attention to intangible values such as citizenship, tolerance and attention to culture, environment and traditions is noticeably shrinking. The blurring of standards causes improper use to be generally accepted, which brings people closer to corruption. And how often the news is manipulated depending on commercial interests?

Finally, the belief in progress reinforces the selfish ambition, the greed and the acquisition of power and influence. Money increasingly ends up in the hands of a small group. 62 persons have as much money as all of the poorest half of the world.

Bumping into limits

While the ideas of the period of Enlightenment are disappearing and economic growth reaches its limits, solidarity degenerates into an empty box. Mankind claims an absolute right to self-determination while anti-politics is on the rise. But because of the hamartia or unwillingness to learn, the rat race continues unabated

The ideas of the period of Enlightenment are disappearing
For two centuries, the ideas of the Enlightenment were based on the axiom that empirical research can explain everything. The progress of scientific research can hardly be visualized. For example, a chip that one cannot see with the naked eye steers a rocket to the moon. Yet no scientist has unraveled the miracle of life. The more scientists know, the less they understand life.
According to Albert Einstein, we know ‘not one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.”

Beyond the limits of what the planet can handle
For the last forty years the seven-fold increase in world production has led to the fivefold increase in the use of fossil fuels. In 1972 the Club of Rome predicted the exhaustion of raw materials stocks. That has not happened, but the growth rate of the consumption is unsustainable. While the rain forest is disappearing, the polar caps are melting and the ozone hole is growing. In 2006, former US Vice President Al Gore made the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth about global warming. This documentary is still relevant ten years later.
Belief in progress causes us to bump into the limits of what the planet and its people can handle. The ecological ‘overshoot’ is a quarter higher than the biocapacity, while a third of the world lacks even the most basic needs. The ecological footprint continues to rise in Western countries. And the amount of carbon dioxide or CO ² in the air is at its highest level in two million years.
The 'Earth Overshoot Day', the day when the earth used more raw materials than it can build up in one single year, fells on 13 August 2015. Moreover the richest twenty percent of the world is responsible for eighty percent of the environmental impact. The limits of what the planet can handle, are far exceeded.

Many low-income countries are ungovernable
Since the 1980s the Western welfare state has been showing signs of wear. Due to failing solidarity mechanisms (which are too complicated, impersonal, bureaucratic and financially convoluted), the number of persons at or below the poverty line has risen to at least 15 percent. In terms of social security, our ‘Rhineland model’ is almost bankrupt, while international solidarity has yet to be born. The situation in the 79 poorest countries is becoming more and more hopeless. Because we are not prepared to relinquish more than a crumb of our prosperity, the gap is deepening between the rich North and the poor South. Many low-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have seen a doubling of their populations within a single generation have become ungovernable: essential services are being compromised, crime is increasing and the labor market is unable to absorb the influx of new workers. Anyone born there faces a less than rosy future.
The migrations of the future will be poverty migrations, by which the problems of the South will be exported. A clash is approaching, and it may form the biggest threat yet to our planet.

Absolute right to self-determination
Western Europeans, who angrily respond to commandments, hierarchy and authority, naturally assume to have an absolute right to self-determination.
Many countries legalize abortion. And in the Benelux euthanasia is legal. The euthanasia lobby with the cooperation of the government promotes euthanasia. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the legal euthanasia option uses a subtly managed propaganda machine to pressure people to “make room” sooner rather than later, to keep them from becoming a financial drain on their families and on society. This comes close to the T4 program in Nazi Germany which eliminated all so-called useless persons.
Besides human and ideological motives and the inability of our society to give a place to suffering, once again economic reasons are at stake. A bed in a palliative unit costs € 80,000. A lethal dose € 10. The hidden agenda is that euthanasia should keep healthcare affordable.

Anti-politics on the rise
In the 1970s and 1980s, the enthusiasm for the European community, which at that time was still in development, was big. But now that this EU largely determines our lives, the end result is just disappointing. The genie is out of the bottle. Symbolized by the euro, the European Union only really is an economic success story. And enlargement to the former Eastern Europe is going too fast.
Politically and socially the common approach is a gross failure. And on the international scene Europe plays a minor role. The history and culture that unites all Europeans hardly gets any attention. The years of criticism by the United Kingdom, which is primarily motivated by self-interest, has an element of truth. Europe has become a soulless bureaucratic giant that no one has control over, but it is costly and it increasingly determines the lives of its inhabitants. The fact that a majority of Britons have chosen for a Brexit is no coincidence. This probably is the first domino in a long line that will fall, because everywhere the disintegration process is underway. And this trend seems irreversible.
The future of the European Union looks bleak. In the European elections of 2014 the extreme right parties and anti-party groups obtained one in five seats. Since then, these parties have wind in the sails.

A crisis of civilization is unavoidable
Western Europa is facing a crisis in:

° the economy,
° the education sector,
° the financial world,
° the labour market,
° the food supply,
° the energy supply,

At the same time no solution has been found for the world-threatening cross-border issues:

° the overpopulation,
° the safety,
° the hopeless situation in the 79 poorest countries,
° respect for human rights,
° the environmental pollution,
° global warming and climate change
° and last but not least migration

International cooperation is necessary to find solutions, but the United Nations is no more than a talking shop. And the G20, the unofficial global coordinating body serves first and foremost the financial interests of the participants.
What we experience is ultimately a crisis of civilization. In capitalist thinking crises are beneficial because they eliminate the less efficient operators. But today it is capitalism itself that is being called into question.

The rat race runs on Hamartia
Although the crisis of 2008 demonstrated the bankruptcy of the belief in progress, no stone is left unturned in the effort to get the ‘rat race’ going again as soon as possible. In order to keep from relinquishing even more wealth than the 5 to 7 percent that was lost, the merry-go-round has to start turning again at full speed.
Why didn’t the necessary reflection take place?

The explanation lies in what the Greek philosopher Aristotle described in his Poetics as ‘hamartia’, or the inability or blatant unwillingness to learn. Many administrators are so full of themselves that they think they have a patent on the truth, that there’s nothing they can learn from anyone

Call to alter course is becoming louder

In Western Europe the unprecedented rise in material wealth does not lead to an increase in the 'bien être' or welfare. Nobody wants to admit this.

The deep-seated belief that happiness increases with the rising purchasing power is an illusion. The realization dawns that material growth, like Siamese twins, is inextricably linked to the development of the intangible dimension. Mankind should also spiritually evolve. What is one’s vision in life? Or what to do in case of illness or accident?
If the inner dimension is insufficiently developed, an imbalance arises, much like an athlete who only trains his left or right side. Many of the difficulties in our society can be explained on the basis of that imbalance, but apparently no one wants to know about it.

Criticism is silenced
Whoever criticizes the belief in progress, is not only branded a renegade, but loses his job and is silenced through subtle mechanisms. Intellectuals are only interested in their own interests. As in the heyday of communism, they voluntary apply self-censorship.
Broken English is the accepted version of what George Orwell in his novel 1984 defines as a ‘Newspeak’: the use of a small number of words with a limited sense, depending on the needs of the system. Oneliners are the form of communication. Twenty seconds is the maximum duration in order to send a message into the world. And anyone who succeeds in that time span to be funny, gets the most votes in elections.

Warning cries are not heard
“How can the human race survive another 100 years in a world that is politically, socially and environmentally in chaos?” the famous scientist Stephen Hawking asks. From various sides alarm calls are heard to drastically change course. The Brundtland Report, issued in 1987 by the United Nations, called for the harmonious merging of ecological, economic and social interests.
More distress calls are emitted. One example out of many is the replacement of the gross national product with ‘Gross National Happiness’, which would include education, health care, ecology, cultural diversity, public spirit, time use and psychological and spiritual well-being. But our society remains deaf to all alarm calls.

Icebreaker wanted

How difficult it is to bring about change is shown by the difficulty of putting the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities on the agenda. The first draft of this charter dates back to 1997, but has yet to be put on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly. This text determines the individual and collective responsibilities of mankind because of the inadequate response provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the global financial, economic and social crises, and to the consequences of climate change.
In order to achieve real changes, an icebreaker is needed.
This icebreaker should free the boats from the frozen river bank so that these boats can sail to the other bank in application of the Pendulating Model.

5. The relation with the Spirituality of the Universe causes the pendulum to swing back

The icebreaker that can swing back the pendulum from the stifling self-centeredness in Western Europe, is the relationship with the Spirituality of the Universe. The levers to achieve this are basic attitudes inspired by new words, inspiring persons, proven techniques and an attitude of humility. The many win-win situations that are the result of these views create a greater openness to the other and to religion. The Christian Churches are facing the challenge to staying close to the Heart of Christ. Only then will they gain back moral authority and influence the value system of society. But because the society of tomorrow will be multi-religious, there is a key role for interreligious dialogue. The government will benefit from facilitating this dialogue.

Openness to the source outside the ego

When the Westerner is again sensitive to the value that is present in all living things on earth, he can establish a relationship with the source that lies outside himself.

The intangible dimension of life
There is a great need for a guideline for people who have lost their way or are estranged from their own soul, and the direction points to the essence of existence. Everything on earth has a surplus.
One experiences this when one observes how harmoniously nature fits together with its cycle of the seasons. Everything dies in autumn, and springs back to life in spring. And every human life grows from lifeless matter: the union of the dead elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. A living organism is born from a sperm cell which propagates and dies.
One also experiences this surplus by expanding on the questions: What creates friendship? And how does love come about? That's more than chemical reactions. People are not robots or machines, but carry a surplus inside that our senses cannot feel, see, hear, smell or taste. There are hardly words to describe it and pictures only lift a tip of the veil.
That elusive dimension of life eludes us because it is situated on the level of intuition. Some talk about the Fourth Dimension. We call this the Spirituality of the Universe.

Man is by nature a social being
People form the basis of society, but are not the epicenter - only links in a great chain whose origin and destination is beyond us. People can not only survive, but are interdependent.
The Spirituality of the Universe is therefore outside of ourselves. The challenge is to get in touch with the beating heart behind the pulse of life that drives us.

Anyone who is open to that relationship broadens his horizon and who is reminded of his sense of responsibility, is better able to distinguish between right and wrong and realize that man is not a selfish, but a social being. This social dimension is the cornerstone of every society and every culture and in every era worldwide. In Western Europe this dimension will only be fading away when the radical egocentrism comes to the fore, because both are – as the premise of the Pendulating Model proves - antagonistic.

Four levers

Lever 1: Fifteen basic attitudes inspired by new words
Four levers putting us on track to establish the relationship with the Spirituality of the Universe. The first lever contains fifteen basic attitudes inspired by new words.

Valuable pearls
Why do we need new words? Numerous ancient words are no longer usable because they were too much loaded in the past, or because they no longer cover the content.
Words are important because they show what people find important. We are challenged to put beacons in our imaginary river that inspire people and give guidance. We can cherish those words like precious pearls because of the new perspective that they provide.

Universal significance with roots in religious traditions
Without exception, these new words which refer to corresponding basic attitudes, have a universal meaning. Most find their roots in religious traditions. Hot water has already been invented. What's it about, is to give a contemporary interpretation to those words.
Many attitudes are already being put into practice today. The added value of their enumeration lies in their integration into a wider context. The concretisation of each word is a small step towards breaking out of the suffocating selfishness or the frozen shores of our Pendulating Model.

Authenticity as main principle
On the basis of his/her own background and interest everybody can give their own interpretation to those words. Since there is no hierarchy, we opt for an alphabetical order.
However, one concept is interwoven with all others: authenticity. Anyone who eschews outside influences and remains true in all circumstances to his personality and views in words, day-to-day activities, is acting authentically. Our society has a great need for such people. “Being an authentic human being is an existence that is no longer determined by the past, but by the future”, philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote. The fourteen other words carry an unexpected great potential. The content of their meaning can be further completed.

Providing protection
The miracle of life only comes to fruition in a climate of protection, care, love, encouragement and affirmation. This attitude implies a structural attention to the most vulnerable groups.

Admiring without possessing
Living a sober life and admiring and sharing what we have and what we are. This attitude, which is at odds with the deeply rooted commitment to material possessions, offers the best guarantee to safeguard the Creation in the future. Not coincidentally the verb ‘admire’ focuses on what is outside mankind.

Sustainable action
The survival of our planet requires investments with the least possible impact on the environment. The basis are sustainable investments.
We face the challenge of being more aware when purchasing and using products, and to ensure their destination when they are no longer useful.

Balanced life
Man should not work or be at the service of others for seven days a week. The development of all aspects of the human condition requires as a critical minimum a day of rest after six days of work, and an annual holiday. By filling in those periods with relaxation, socializing and substantive and spiritual activities, a more balanced life is created.

5° Rediscovering mature wisdom
Becoming richer should mainly relate to the spiritual domain, because these often underdeveloped aspects of our lives are the cornerstones of our identity. An example is the renewed attention for the ‘Artes liberales’ or the ‘Liberal Arts’, the foundation of education since Classical Antiquity. And in addition to new productions, one can rediscover a largely untapped wealth of mature wisdom that our culture has expressed over the past two thousand years in art, music, literature and philosophy.

Being the keepers of our brothers
The refugee crisis in Europe raises the challenge to give shape to international solidarity. Through a global reorganization of the social security we could build a fairer world.

Being fair, honest and incorruptible in all circumstances. Anyone who cannot be influenced by improper things, is acting with integrity. The community interest takes precedence over private benefit.

Learning lessons from the past
If our administrators would know anything about history - not the names, facts and dates, but the substantive developments - the world would look different. A strong sense of history helps us make the right decisions in the complex world in which we live.

Being open to the prophetic power of art
Authentic art lifts a tip of the veil of the future. Discovering that message makes us more aware in life.

10° Showing respect
The basis of any form of coexistence is respect for people of different language, skin color or religion and respect for whom takes responsibility. At the nation level, there is the Bundestraue or loyalty. Former US President John F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

11° Faithful love
In the uncertain world we live in, faithfulness, even more than love, is the driving force in relationships. This can make people deeply happy.

12° Trust  
Openness, honesty, tolerance and hospitality are the confidence building blocks for tomorrow's society. Confidence demolishes numerous artificial obstacles.

13° Radiating joy
A person who is joyful and happy is also radiating this feeling. Therein lies an unsuspected strength, because joy and happiness express the main positive feeling in humans. Joy and gladness don’t cost anything but make life so much nicer.

14° Reciprocity
Life is a dynamic of give and take. A person who receives something should give something back, never mind how small or insignificant it may be. Reciprocity is the cornerstone of any human action.

Growth margin in the immaterial dimension
Except for the sustainable action that is necessary for the ecological survival of our planet, all the basic attitudes are situated in the immaterial dimension. That is where there is room for an unexpected high growth margin.


Lever 2: Inspiring persons
Inspiring persons who implement these enthusiastic words and basic attitudes in a credible way can inspire us.
New saints such as Father Damien or Mother Teresa can inspire us all.
Furthermore, in every street, neighborhood and community ordinary people can be found who anonymously implement these basic attitudes in their lives. Often, they do so in difficult circumstances. But they make a world of difference. Isn’t there a little hero inside all of us?


Lever 3: Tested techniques
In our stressful society ancient techniques can again sharpen the focus of mankind for the Spirituality of the Universe.
For centuries an arsenal of techniques have existed that have proven their value. For believers this is prayer. And meditation is a form of spiritual practice that occurs in all religions and cultures. Yoga, originally a Hindu philosophy, teaches us to control our mind, feelings and body. Furthermore there are derivative techniques, such as Mindfulness.


Lever 4: Modesty is crucial
The real key to bring about the reversal in the direction of the Spirituality of the Universe is 'tapeinophrosyne’ or humility.
Modesty is the opposite of the disease called 'hamartia” or unwillingness to learn. Whoever adopts a humble attitude and realizes his own limitations relativizes himself and does not impose his opinion. He expresses solidarity and is open to the Spirituality of the Universe.


A multitude of win-win situations leads to religion

Joined together these four levers lead to a multitude of win-win situations. Referring to the Pendulating Model we therefore get away from the frozen shore of the self and the 'drive' of society will run better. So we naturally come together again and finally we arrive at religion.

Added value in abundance
The four aforementioned levers have in common that they take a multitude of small steps in the direction of the other bank of our imaginary river. Small things are not small. Added together these steps make a world of difference and they generate added value in abundance:

° Stronger social networks with greater solidarity and more hospitality
° More civic engagement and taking responsibility.
° More ethical awareness.
° More empathy and concern for the most vulnerable groups in society.
° A more positive image of mankind.
° A higher degree of tolerance.
° More ecological awareness.
° More transparency.
° Fair trade with fair pricing.
° An open debate culture.

This approach also contains the seeds of a warmer society.

Finally we come back to religion

The increased focus on immaterial values ​​automatically leads to more compassion, humanity and solidarity. From there it only is a small step towards spirituality or the reference to the relationship of man to a higher reality. By extension, this relates to religious awareness or the acceptance of a transcendent reality. So we finally come back to religion. Everyone is free to give one’s own interpretation. Or as the Apostle Paul wrote in his Letter to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” That quest is for every man a process with ups and downs. And this process, like life itself, is never completed. Every individual and every society is looking for a place where the highest possible level of happiness can be achieved between the river banks of the self and the other. The warm flow is situated almost in the middle of our imaginary river.


Focusing on the Heart of Christ would restore the moral authority of the Christian Churches

In Western Europe the Christian Churches are facing the challenge to return to their foundation: the Heart of Christ. If they stay close to the Heart of Christ they would reacquire moral authority and they will weigh on the values of society.

A creative minority
In the past, major changes were not created by a top-down approach, but were driven by a small creative minority. Or to go back to the metaphore in our model: at odds with the mainstream of radical egocentrism brooks make their way and grow into a tributary in the direction of the other shore.
From their roots in our collective sub-consciousness a unique opportunity arises for the decimated Christian Churches to take the lead in creating an opening in the direction of the Spirituality of the Universe.

Back to the core business
“The main principles of true Christianity exist in the intimate relationship of all men with God, in equality and brotherhood and the replacement of violence by humility and love”, said Leo Tolstoy.
The Christian Churches are facing the challenge to return to their foundation, the Heart of Christ and to minimize the distance to the original sources. The image of the Heart refers in Catholic spirituality to the now faded mystical devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ.
The question remains: what is the foundation of the Heart of Christ?
There is no unique source. The core is provided in a number of related sources, including the Gospels and the letters of the apostles to the first Christian communities. Exegetes should complete this list.
These writings refer to the faith of the first Christians before the existence of the power-wielding Church under the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. But caution is needed because also in early Christianity faith was an ideal to be attained.

The strength of  the texts as base
Should the Christian doctrine which is based on an age-old tradition, adapt to the zeitgeist?
The Orthodox Churches base their teachings on the first seven ecumenical councils of the year 787. Despite the fragmentation in patriarchates, autonomous churches and autocephalous churches all Orthodox Christians stick to the same law, customs, culture, theology and dogma as expressed in the creed of the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. Their liturgy does not undergo any changes. In the orthodox thinking the Church should not adapt to the world, because the world needs to be saved by the Church. The Church, after all, is here for the salvation of the world.
By contrast, the Catholic Church wants to modernize the faith. This is also the motto of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s. Catholics are still pursuing modernity, with its rapidly changing whims and demands. This approach is disastrous because our selfish society (see Chapter 4) provides no guidance. Moreover, anything the Catholic Church does will always be “too little too late”. And last but not least each renovation weakens her identity.
Here lies the crux of the crisis affecting the Catholic Church in Western Europe. Christianity is no longer the foundation of Western society because of this loss of identity.
Churches do not need to adapt to the changing zeitgeist, but must rely on the power of their own story.

Steadfastness based on prayer
The Christian Churches have a message that can still inspire people in the year 2016. The challenge is to rediscover their own resources and propagate them without hesitation. This approach requires a basic attitude of authenticity and to permanently act authentically, it is essential to minimize the distance to the source.
Authentic faith is no whim, but a firm stance based on prayer. Faith is never an obvious choice. Whoever walks this road, is faced with temptations and storms. But the Heart of Christ provides a compass to permanently go into the right direction.
The Christian Churches as the heir of Christ's message offer people certainty about the direction to take. The beacons that they put in our imaginary river bear witness to faith in man, the fellow man and in the future. In the turbulent times in which we live, church communities can become safe havens where people find shelter and support. “Because of the Christians, not because of Christian theology, people convert to Christianity”, the Chinese writer Lin Yutang wrote.

Learning from the past
Learning from the past prevents the Christian Churches from repeating the same old mistakes.

Beingis more important than to possess
The attention to the outward show or the concept of possessing should give way to a focus on the inner light of the soul or the inner being. Churches need no dazzling buildings and robes nor preferential treatment on the list of the protocol.

More quality than quantity
The ambition of the Christian Churches is not to be the biggest, but to increase the happiness of believers as much as possible. Their recruitment power is no longer based on missionary work, but on authentic faith.

Private domain prevails over the public forum
In the private sphere one finds a vast wasteland where the Christian Churches can assume their role. In addition, Churches can play a role in the public forum. Both are complementary.

Deeds take precedence
The challenge is to minimize the distance to the Heart of Christ in daily practice.

Fewer structures

The Christian Churches do not need a lot of structures and hierarchy which is incidentally also the opinion of Christ.

Restored moral authority affects social values
Authentic faith will restore the credibility of the Christian Churches. And when the Churches modestly show this faith, they will again acquire moral authority and exert a greater social impact.
This does not take place automatically, because somehow the Christian Churches of tomorrow have to prove themselves. And a determining factor for the extent of their social impact are the internal dynamics that they develop. Only when people in broad sections of the population again recognize the figure of Christ in Christians; experience that believers are more happy; and that faith contributes to a warmer society, the Christian values such as solidarity, will once again climb the value ladder.
In application of the Pendulating Model, the egocentric values that still make up the top five today will become less important because both are antagonistic.
This development provides an answer to our soured relationship with Islam. Islam is perceived as a threat because Christianity is barely credible today and Western values only focus on the self.

Diversity is wealth
People differ from one another, also in the perception of their faith. Christian Churches should not impose a uniform model but should ensure that the distance to the Heart of Christ is minimized. Not the packaging is the most important, but the content. Diversity is a wealth.

Growing towards ecumenism and a worldwide ethical system
Reorientation towards the Heart of Christ removes the main obstacles in the ecumenical movement and takes a major step towards the unity of the Christian churches.
Also the dream of a worldwide ethical system of theologian Hans Küng is coming closer to reality. This concept seeks no unified religion nor does it mean that it will take the place of ethics in the Bible of the Christians or the Koran of the Muslims. Küng wants to establish a minimum of ethical standards, values and attitudes which ensure that people worldwide would be living together more humanely. His concept of global ethics is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and moral obligations such as humanity, sincerity and honesty. These values cannot be legislated, they are embedded in the conscience of mankind.


Focusing on the core values, does not constitute fundamentalism


The Christian Churches will have to re-use their talent as a marketer to keep returning to the essence outside the fundamentalist movement. However there is a gap between the ideal to be attained and practice.

Outside the fundamentalist movement
The return to the foundation of Christianity takes place in a polarized time with a growing number of conflicts linked to religion. There is a danger that Christians who give priority to the foundations of their faith are perceived as fundamentalists and consequently considered a threat.
Churches will have to use their skills as a marketer which they have used successfully in the past, to keep the return to the Heart of Christ out of the fundamentalist movement.

The Church is not God, but God’s people
What does the return to the core values mean in practice? We illustrate this with reference to the question of the dissolution of a religious marriage.
For Christians, marriage is a mirror of God's faithfulness to man, a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. “What God has joined together, let man not separate”, is written in the Bible. The ideal of the indissolubility of marriage cannot be questioned.
Basically a religious marriage cannot be dissolved, but in practice it can. The Church is not the equal of God, but the people of God. And what God has joined together between two people, only applies to people who are attached to Him. Moreover, the New Testament speaks about meekness, gentleness and forgiveness up to seventy times seven times. Joined in marriage, believers also are ‘people of the road’ on their way to their final destination by trial and error. Every man is a sinner. “He who is without sin cast the first stone”, is written in the Gospel (John 8: 7).

This means that relationships can break down. And as people of God, the Christian Churches need to adopt an attitude of meekness, gentleness and forgiveness.

Developing the internal dynamics of three changes

Internal dynamics of three fundamental transformations - from passive to active, from sweet to salty and from defensive to offensive – puts the spotlight of the Christian Churches on the Heart of Christ.

Transition 1: from passive to ACTIVE
An abundance of words. The Christian Churches can rely on a rich message that is based on a tradition of thousands of years. Those words can still inspire people. The Bible is still the most widely distributed and most read book but in Western Europe its words no longer reach people’s hearts. How did that happen? It all too often it is just words. As an easy solution the liturgy is narrowed down to a liturgy of the word. But the point is, rather, to make these words become flesh.

Catechesis on a new footing
Thanks to the sociological Christianity the Christian Churches still reach many young people. Parents who have lost the bond with the Church, still have their children baptized, often out of a vague religious feeling in the collective consciousness. Later follows the First Communion, Confirmation and possibly a church wedding.
The finality is not the liturgical celebrations, but the family celebrations with the corresponding gifts for the celebrated person. And on such an occasion it is required out of a sense of honesty or guilt that children receive their first Communion or receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The young people themselves hardly show any interest. They reluctantly follow catechesis because it is required. Thereupon Christ's message is spiced up with sweets. But the young people do not like this candy while convinced believers are frustrated because such shams are a million miles away from the Heart of Christ.
In those circumstances who still wants to take responsibility for catechesis? The current approach only reinforces the negative spiral. For most young Catholics the Solemn Communion is the Solemn Farewell to their Church.

Proposed model of good practice
However catechesis does have an unsuspected potential. The young people are still there. Engage them in a positive way!
Our model has four lines of approach.

There is no obligation. Young people should enroll in a course and make a minimum of effort. If there is no effort, the process will be terminated. We work only with committed young people.

The young people make a choice from a range of activities that brings Christianity into practice:

° Visiting a lonely elderly person in a nursing home,
° Running errands for a lonely person,
° Mentorship of an asylum seeker in a sports club,

The catechists should guide the young people during this process.

Celebrations are held along the way. A bottom-up approach is essential. Young people and the people in the target group should personally attest. Such celebrations can grow into meaningful experiences where young people get a taste of what liturgy means.

Adventurous trip
The highlight is the annual trip with the group: an adventure tour that brings Christianity into practice.
Some examples:

° Crossing a stream requires the solidarity of everyone
° Spending a night in a monastery gives the young people a taste of silence.
° An animation activity in a nursing home or an institution for disabled people would provide young people with a disability awareness training.

There still exists a network of Christian organizations which can be harnessed. In this way young people could once more taste the taste of Christianity. The experience of something that tastes good, can make them become more enthusiastic. This approach sows seeds which later can flourish.

Added value in abundance
Reversing the roles from passive to active, turns negative experiences into positive experiences. This approach creates a win-win situation. This way young people will come to understand what loneliness means and they are introduced to the world of people with disabilities. Furthermore real social needs are met. Isn’t this approach the best remedy for loneliness and the marginalization of minority groups, which are some of the major diseases of our time?
Last but not least the self-esteem of the target group would be boosted. Retired teachers can help newly arrived migrants to learn the language or help them with their school work, or pass on practical skills and traditions of previous generations. In this way beyond the boundaries of generations and cultures spontaneous friendships could be formed, enhancing social cohesion.

Transition 2: from sweet to SALTY
Sugar is an ingredient that is often used in the ecclesiastical context. Also literally. Therefore, on the occasion of Easter and Saint Nicholas candy is distributed upon leaving the church. Furthermore, the proclamation of the message contains a lot of sugar to appease or placate the people.
In the long term this approach is disastrous because the only thing left of the Heart of Christ would be sugar syrup. Christianity seeks exactly the opposite. “Ye are the salt of the earth”, is written in Matthew's Gospel, “But if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Salt adds flavor to the food and is used to fuel the fire or in its figurative sense to warm the hearts of the people.

Transition 3: shift from defensive to OFFENSIVE
The Christian Churches in many countries were conspicuously absent during the asylum crisis that engulfed Western Europe in the autumn of 2015. They reacted as if paralyzed, afraid to make mistakes or to provoke negative reactions, because the shock wave of the pedophilia scandal has not yet been digested in many countries.
“Have no fear”, says Christ. The Christian Churches should publicly defend their position: clear, straightforward and if necessary go against the flow. Also in less pleasant circumstances they have to show what they stand for. Those in charge should radiate that attitude in their speech and body language.
Communication is important because also tomorrow the Churches have a voice in the social debate.


Inspiring example: particular attention for disadvantaged people in Christian care facilities

Christ said that charity is a prerequisite for His worship. Christian organizations have a long tradition in the healthcare sector, the care of the elderly, disabled and psychiatric patients. It is a primary task if they want to be worthy of that name, to give a tangible face to charity, because that is the reason for their existence. But except for a vague reference in the name and a shrinking pastoral offer Christian healthcare institutions today differ little from private or public institutions.
No institution can survive if it incurs losses. But many so-called Christian institutions are under the spell of making maximum profits. They are driven by the primacy of the economy, only have an eye for further growth and acquisitions. Executives receive the same salaries as in the private sector and Christian care groups mutually compete to be the biggest and the best.
A return to the essence would mean that the Christian institutions are well managed, but that a substantial part of their activities goes to the care of people from the underbelly of society who cannot afford the cost of a healthcare institution. They should not recruit many accountants and managers, but primarily social workers.

Because it is important that employees and volunteers in those healthcare institutions do their jobs out of a Christian inspiration, adequate training is of the utmost importance.


Multireligious Europe needs a strong interreligious dialogue

Because the migration enhances the multi-religious character of Western Europe there is more than ever a need for a strong inter-religious dialogue. It is in the government’s interest to facilitate such a dialogue.

Religious diversification
What would the religious landscape of the future look like? In our multicultural society, the diversity of available religions will increase, because no one can halt immigration.
There is therefore also a role to play for different religions and beliefs. It is inconceivable to weaken religious freedom. What is true of the Christian Churches is equally applicable to the other religions, as they are on an equal footing. All are challenged to develop an internal dynamic from their own texts.

The government should promote interreligious dialogue
The presence of different religions and ideologies offers advantages but also poses a risk. A harmonious interaction requires that they know and respect each other based on an open attitude. Interreligious dialogue, which today is still largely a wasteland, will also gain in importance. And it is the task of any government to support such a dialogue.
Why? It is in society’s interest. Such an in-depth dialogue should be developed on different levels. It is vital in neighborhoods with a strong multi-religious character. An adult dialogue can take away real tensions.
Furthermore, it is appropriate to develop a culture of dialogue at all levels of society: between religious communities and associations and in the municipalities, cities, urban agglomerations, provinces or departments, the federal states and nations. Because this dialogue only has a chance to succeed when it is based on a wide and extensive network. Failure is, moreover, not an option, because of the imminent derailment which presents itself in that case.
At the nation level meetings of religious leaders would be an excellent forum for conducting substantive discussions, which were discussed earlier in the lower echelons. These discussions should include dealing with the norms and values in society.

Precisely because the impact of religions will increase, the final debate must take place in Parliament. And because society is evolving rapidly, it is appropriate to hold these dialogues about it every twenty or thirty years.

6. SYNTHESIS: a new balance ensures a warmer society

Because of the law of history contained in the Pendulating Model, it makes us look at the past, present and future from a different perspective. A warmer society reflects a balance between the self and the other.

Our model compares society to a river where the current moves back and forth between the banks of the self and the other. Both are antagonistic. In this bipolar framework, the climate is colder on the banks and the warm currents are in the middle.
To make people live together in an orderly way, agreements should be made in seven areas. Six of them are situated within the community. The seventh area, religion, refers to a reality beyond society. In almost all societies of the past few thousand years all over the world religions are the capstone. Religions provide answers to the existential questions and determine the standards and values. Neither human values nor atheism can take that role. And the fact that Western Europe voluntary bans any form of religion, is also an exception in history.
In Western Europe theocentrism or giving God a central place remained the dominant mainstream for fifteen centuries. The guidelines for human action were the three thousand year old Ten Commandments (the Old Testament) and the Sermon on the Mount (the New Testament). When in the 14th century the intellectual elite in the Italian city states found this vision too stifling, the focus shifted to the relationship between God and man.
In the wake of the Enlightenment the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century widened the riverbed of anthropocentrism. But the new ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity were only achieved with much sabre rattling. After the 19th-century philosophers Feuerbach, Nietzsche and Marx severed the relationship with God the primacy of the economy reinforced radical individualism.
On the frozen shores of the self our society now experiences an unprecedented crisis of civilization, but the call for change is barely heard.
The relationship with the Spirituality of the Universe can swing the pendulum, just like an icebreaker. Basic attitudes inspired by new words, inspiring persons, proven techniques and modesty are the levers to initiate that movement. Due to the multitude of win-win situations many small steps provide an inspirational perspective ensuring greater openness for others and finally also for religion.
Faith is not dead and Christianity still has a role to play if it returns to the essence: the Heart of Christ. These values are central to Christian Churches and they will again acquire moral authority, and become more important than other values. Due to the strengthening of the multi-religious character of Western Europe by the migration there is more than ever before a need for interreligious dialogue. It is in the government’s interest to facilitate such a dialogue.
In the middle of the river, between the banks of the self and the other, the dream of a warmer society can be realized at a higher level.


Practical implementation: transition from Church1.0. to Church2.0.

The implementation of the Pendulating Model requires that the Christian Churches in Western Europa construct a new railway track, Church 2.0 alongside the existing track Church 1.0. Managed by a Privy Council in each country professionals could implement a Master Plan.


Analysis of Church1.0.

In its present form the traditional Catholic and Protestant Churches (Church1.0), which are largely founded on the rapidly declining sociological Church, barely provide a perspective. How much time, energy and manpower goes into the maintenance of buildings, institutions and structures without a future?

Small, medium-sized enterprises-mindset
When recruiting staff, loyalty is more important than competence. And nepotism, as in all walks of life, is widespread. The parishes, dioceses and congregations are operating on their own islands. Together they form in economic terms SMEs without guidance or direction at a higher level.

Quiet Revolution
A Quiet Revolution is taking place in which Church property, unlike during the French Revolution, is not seized by the government, but are given away freely to strangers.
Congregations sell their heritage to non-profit organizations, often with no guarantee that the tradition of spirituality will continue. The entry on the Boards of Directors of professionals without a link to this inspiration, ensures the sale out. How many buildings were handed over to real estate agents for a song? They earn fortunes at the expense of the Church.
Meanwhile, many Church people are sad because of this exodus. “For this purpose we have given our life, and now it all disappears”, committed priests are sighing. The prevailing attitude is “I will do my best, but what comes after me, who cares …”

Various forms in which the Church could exist
Nowadays there are various forms of being a Church.

Church1.1.       The parishes
Church 1.2.      The Christian healthcare institutions
Church 1.3.      Catholic educational institutions
Church 1.4.      Christian associations
Church 1.5.      New grassroots movements
Etcetera …


Transition to Church2.0.

A metaphor from the world of railways can illustrate the plan that we are proposing.

A comprehensive reform should take place which is comparable to the campaign for ‘glasnost’ or openness, and ‘perestroika’, which were the reforms launched by the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the end of the 1980s. The failure of that operation because of  “too little, too late” resulted in the implosion of the former world superpower.

Contructing a new track  
Because the current railway track barely offers a future, it is necessary to construct a new track alongside the existing track. That one starts with a blank slate which is necessary to attract people to carry out this new project.
The new track is laid down alongside the old one. While in the first phase the two trains are travelling next to each other, all valuable parts of Church1.0. should be transferred.
The Churches should no longer invest in the remaining sections, where the Christian identity has faded with no hope of change.

Managed by a Privy Council
By analogy with the G8, the Privy Council which assists Pope Francis with the reform of the Catholic Church, a Privy Council in each country could assist the spiritual leaders of the Christian Churches in the development of the basic concept of Church2.0.
The limited number of members should be recruited on the basis of their competence and belief in the basic concept. It is important to listen to the suggestions of the people on the periphery of the Church.

From SME to enterprise
The Christian Churches are the people of God, a community of brothers and sisters. Such a community requires fewer structures.
The fragmentation in 'SMEs' should be replaced by an administration at the level of the archdioceses and patriarchates. However, the implementation should be done in consultation with the dioceses or sub-regional organizations. It is essential one vision is promoted.
Outlines of a Master Plan
Church2.0 needs a Master Plan for the whole organization. Some strategic lines of force:

Combining forces
Example: a uniform media policy, also for social media, would reach all target groups with a range of publications.

2° The refocusing of the operation
Due to the great attention paid to the content, training is gaining importance.

3° Mobilizing all available resources
The construction of the railway track Church2.0. would cost a lot of money. In order to cover the expenses, the patrimony of declining congregations can be used. By way of a response to the Quiet Revolution the excess religious patrimony can be rented out, leased or sold at market prices. Long leaseholds for a symbolic amount would only be concluded with organizations whose vision is consistent with the basic concept of Church2.0.
In addition to caring for elderly people in religious orders the proceeds could go to the development of Church2.0. because also in tomorrow’s world Christians can make a world of difference in Western Europe and worldwide.

4° Crystal-clear communication

Guided by enthusiastic skilled people
The implementation of the Master Plan is activated in the superstructure by a team of competent people who are skilled in finance, law, accounting and so on. They are recruited on the basis of their competence. But they will also be recruited based on their enthusiasm and their belief in the realization of this project.

The Christian label
Only institutions recognized by the Christian Churches are awarded the Christian label. The lower limit of the minimum content of Christian values should be determined.

Proposed model of a new structure
Church2.0 radiates more inspiration with fewer structures. Some typical examples of this Church:

Church2.1.       Living faith communities
Church 2.2.      Christian healthcare institutions
Church 2.3.      Christian associations
Church 2.4.      New grassroots movements
Etcetera …