We live in what might be called the Age of Bad Conscience. We cover it up by denying responsibility; we find scapegoats; we attack religion and all who have to do with conscience as if their extinction might give us immunity from that distinction between right and wrong. If any science is unpopular today it is certainly theology, particularly when couched in the language of reason and concepts which are alien to our moods and frustrations. But this does not mean there is no religion in modern man. There is; but it has moved from the area of conscience to the subconscious.
We say "religion" because nothing that is in man escapes the Providence and Mercy of God. It is just as easy for God to work in a cellar as a first floor, as well in the realm of emotions as in the realm of reason. The very uneasiness of the subconscious mind with its fears and dreads and anxieties is a kind of chaos for what might be called an anti-peace. But this chaos might be likened to the chaos in the second verse of Genesis, when the first creative word was rejected and left nothing behind but disorder. And over that chaos the Spirit hovered like a doe bring order out of the disorder of creation, as the Holy Spirit, later on, breathing over Mary, brought order out of the chaos of humanity.
God speaks more frequently through our subconscious mind, probably, than through our conscious mind, simply because our self-consciousness puts up obstacles to Him. God can guide us quite naturally in a particular direction without our being aware of it. What was it, for example, that induced Paul Claudel, an agnostic and unbeliever, to enter Notre Dame Cathedral at midnight on Christmas, and ultimately to receive the gift of faith? Here was a reasonable man who was guided unreasonably. Very often stupid people come to God through very reasonable arguments, and reasonable people come to God through no argument at all.
There is an outward force operating on the subconscious mind which changes its direction. If a ball is thrown across a room, it will go in an unhindered path unless a foot or a hand is put out to divert it. The subconscious mind may be governed once by vice, and then suddenly turn in the direction of love. This change of attitude and transformation requires that an outside Power or Spirit that acts like a catalyst bring together discordant elements into a new unity. If a person corresponds with this impulse from without, it is like turning on radio waves of speech, music, humor and learning which fill the air. But these blessings do not affect the person until he is at the proper wavelength and tunes himself in.
The world is not as irreligious as it seems at first glance. Religion has moved out of churches, to a large extent, to cope with our frustrations, despairs, shames and neuroses. The only mistake the churches can make in the new order is to assume that everybody must come to them instead of their going to everybody.