One of the ministers at an Episcopal church I attended in the ‘eighties confessed to the congregation in a homily, of all things, that he could was “no longer able” to believe in the Resurrection. I have mentioned this before, but I keep coming back to it about it over the years.
It puzzled me how he could still call himself a priest. Though I didn’t ask him that question, I did ask him how he could recite the Creed with us every week. He replied, “I do it as an expression of solidarity with the community.”
Originally, then, his end was faith, and solidarity among believers was a means to that end. Having given up the faith, he had now made solidarity an end in itself.
But having made solidarity an end in itself, I think he would have had a new problem, for the sort of solidarity which the Creed expresses is solidarity in the faith. Solidarity without the faith would have required different means and expressions.
Moreover, this sort of thing doesn’t always stop at the first turn of the gyre. There is certain fatal loop, which goes something like this:
1. Give up the end.
2. Reconceive the means to the abandoned end as an end in itself.
3. Develop new means more suited to the new end.
4. Go back to step 1.