I've had a spell recently thinking about authority. Doesn't everybody go through that? It may have been topped off with managing a room full of kids briefly at Sunday school. There was a general amount of goofing off and upityness that I can tolerate. The class rose quickly to my threshold of misbehavior and after that it was quite a task to harness the cats. Lots of repeating myself, isolating kids, and relocating troublemakers. More than I wanted, more than there should have been.
Part of my wondering about authority is around this - I'm digging into past theological writings and thinkings, and they are fresh water to me. I've been hungry for this all my life and am only finding it now. Some solid pounding out of points and why it is right; not wishy-washy trying to convince that this view is slightly better.
I think it's obvious that there is an erosion of authority underway and there are many implications. I don't know when the erosion began, it's easy to say the 60s; but it is probably a problem as old as human history. Will you really die if you eat the apple?
Probably the most subtle shades of the recent authority erosion is that it is tied with being told and believing "everything is okay, you aren't that bad". Lose original sin and you don't get repeated sinlessness in a spiral upward, you get repeated denial in the handbasket to hell.
Erosion of the Family -
TV, books and education seems to offer a very solid front of "your parents are dumb." It is no longer Ward Beaver setting the Beave straight. It moved to Al Bundy, Dan Conner, and Raymond. While this truly more realistic, the pendulum has swung past reality (I make mistakes, I'm learning how to be a father) to the father being consistently stupid and wrong.
Erosion of the Church -
The church has been equally isolated. And by isolating it to a weekly club of good advice it is immediately minimized. There is constant media coverage of Westboro Baptist idiots and silence about the 99% of other churches that pray and love their enemies. The churches that understand there is a difference between a call to holiness and a witch hunt. It isn't that culture has "killed God" in society (and not for a lack of trying by some extremes); they have sought to make him manageable. We have moved from "remember the sabbath and keep it holy" to "remember that Sunday is only one day of the week".
I don't think the attackers of home & church authority had any idea where the tracks they laid would lead. In saying our parents can't tell us what to do we get left with nobody know what to do. It takes four years of bad education at the hands of the badly educated to realize we need to go out and learn to use our skills and truly find ourselves. We find ourselves in
Without the bedrock of family or church there is a general search for where our worldview gets grounded. I need some solid rock to stand upon and make this sense of the inner question of what is the point? There was brief period where it could be filled by the big institutions - government, banks and big causes. Propaganda easily paints these as a source of worldview. Captain Planet to the rescue. But these which should have been mistrusted from the first, have become the collection of much belief that has discovered they are bankrupt. They should be mistrusted since they are merely a collection of men. They are bankrupt because being bigger doesn't mean they are better; it means that the corruption is bigger and faster to affect everything. The only efficient element of the government and large banks is how quickly they can help themselves. They have even risen one level further in helping each other.
All of this has left the individual alone and finding his own way. The biggest output of eliminating authority is that I rise to my own authority. "Me" as my own authority results in poor guidance with no way of coming back to reality. Without fertile ground for reason to take root we are swayed with the winds of fashion.
I am not a king on my own island. The truth is I am not alone. I do not know it all. There is no span of emotion that David has not first expressed in the Psalms. There is no high level of mental strained searching that Job and Solomon has not faced first. There is a God who cares for the birds of the field and for his people. I can rest in His hands.
"The authority of priests to absolve, the authority of popes to define, the authority even of inquisitors to terrify; these were only dark defences erected round one central authority, more undemonstrable, more supernatural than all the authority of a man to think. We know now that this is so; we have no excuse for not knowing it. For we can hear scepticism crashing through the old ring of authorities, and at the same moment we can see reason swaying upon her throne." GK Chesterton 'Orthodoxy'