To live in a secular world means that the only heaven, if there is to be one, will be on earth. And since there are no souls in a secular, materialist world, then the only goods we can get are bodily goods. Thus, we run on from the self-preservation of having sufficient food, clothing and shelter to seek superfluous pleasures, titillations, entertainments and luxuries.

If we don’t get it here and now, we won’t get it at all. That’s one key aspect of our current cliff-hanging experience.

Another is the immense growth in size and power of the modern secular state, which is itself both a cause and a result of increasing secularization.

Modern secularism is, both by definition and actual historical effect, the removal of Christianity and the Church from the defining center of the culture. But that removal leaves a kind of institutional vacuum into which the secular state itself rushes. The modern state takes over the whole “space” that had previously been occupied by both the Church and the state as distinct, complementary powers.

That whole space covered humanity’s full range of existence, stretching from this world to the next, from the temporal goods of the body to the eternal glories of the soul. But in a secularized world, that whole space — that whole spectrum of human desire and fulfillment — is crammed into the temporal realm, and it is the secular state that attempts to satisfy it.

That’s why the modern state has gained so much power. Subtract God and the Church, as secularism by definition does, and the state becomes the greatest source of collective human power on earth. And so to that power we run, and ask of it, or take from it, all we long for, all we can get.