So, protestants were concerned, above all, with their own, individual relationship with God, which they achieved through reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves. Bible groups are an essential part of any truly sincere protestant faith, I think. Religion was no longer a set of collective rituals that reinforced a sense of community. Your faith was yours alone.
And so were your doubts.
Perhaps this is when the profound atomisation and alienation of Western cultures began and we became too aware of the gulf between people, too doubtful of our paltry languages’ abilities to bridge the gap, of the miraculous human capacity for immediate imaginative empathy with our fellows. “Do the words you hear,” we asked, “have the same meanings as the words I say? Is your blue the same colour as mine?”
This alienation only seems to have grown, over time. It has even reached back into the brain and the self, as science revealed that the whole external world only exists as sense data in our own heads: the firing of our own neurons, and its fictions, from phantom limb pain to recovered memories, can be entirely convincing, so why not all? Perhaps the entire phenomenological realm only exists in the play and trickery of our own brains. Perhaps it’s all a vast, self-deluding neurological scam.