Suppose you were a wise, religious man living a century or two ago. You see that modernity is here and that it will not be stopped. You see the walls of civilization bowing, cracking, groaning before it. You see pitiless, red eyes searching out enemies. You see its thirst for fire and steel. You see purity surrendering to its overripe sensuality. What do you do?
What the Catholic Church did was to rail against it. First, She fought to stop Modernism taking over the political structures of Europe. Once that had failed, She tried to make of Herself a fortress against this plague. The anti-Modernist Popes were apoplectic about what they foresaw and were anxious that the Church be preserved against it. This head-on resistance failed. Islam yet soldiers on in head-on resistance.
But, one need not resist head-on. We can wonder whether all the wise, religious men chose to resist head on. Could one not resist passively? Could one not resist by cooperating? Modernity, after all, has needs. It needs bright, motivated, knowledgeable, disciplined men to run its machines. What if we offer up bright, motivated, knowledgeable, disciplined men? What if we make of those men servants so reliable, so effective, so discreet, and so obedient that Modernity cannot pass up the opportunity to use them? So useful that, even as Modernity rots its other timbers, these men remain. So useful that it is these men who are trusted advisers to the King after the moderns themselves are lost to debauchery? And, what if these men have motives other than “getting ahead?” Motives their discretion keeps mostly out of sight?
What would such movements look like? They would be explicitly religious. They would lionize work. They would lionize obedience. They would encourage education, public service, and the accumulation of wealth. They would serve as networking devices and channels of ideological nepotism. And they would have their hidden-in-plain-sight religious side. A side which would have to be rigorist and strange, since only rigorism and strangeness bind tightly.
It is, to me, implausible that Christendom simply disappeared in the 1960s. On the surface, that is certainly what seems to have happened, though. Where did it go?