Saturday, November 10, 2012

The next four years

… I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever ….
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1782)

First published in 1969 ... coincidence?
Oddly enough, the sun came up Tuesday morning, and shone on a nation that hadn’t been blasted into oblivion by a wrath-ridden God.  Of course, Christ’s sacrifice changed the nature of our relationship to God, so we just can’t count on the unrighteous to get a good smiting, no matter how desperately they need it.

Yes, yes, I’m kidding.  To be sure, I did my share of moaning and kvetching (and drinking) Tuesday night.  But I wasn’t at the point of some of my Catholic blogger brethren, who were moaning that America is dead — done, finis, that’s a wrap folks.  Perhaps Karl Marx’s dead hand is leading us to the materialist workers’ paradise of the USSA, where the only purpose in human life is to work, party and screw, but we’re not there yet.

I really have no desire to engage in the usual “Monday morning quarterbacking” that traditionally follows an election.  Theories as to how and why Mitt Romney won’t be taking office this next January will be as abundant and variegated as a field of flowers, and many if not most of them will be true to various extents.  Perhaps the dissection will bear fruit someday … just probably not in 2016, when different candidates and different hot-button issues will obtain.

But as I was standing in line at a local Baptist church waiting to cast my ballot, I noticed a display stand the members had set up to advertise their mission efforts — was it Somalia?  China?  Senegal?  And I thought to myself, Why are these people sending evangelists halfway around the world when the most crucial mission territory is right outside their doors? To use a Lincolnism, it’s like letting out the front of the house when the back of the house is on fire.

Doctor Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, must also see it.  In Wednesday’s post, he writes:

The margin in the Electoral College is significant, but the popular vote reveals a deeply divided nation.  The nation is divided politically, but that divide points to a division at the level of worldview.  The 2012 election makes clear that Americans are divided over fundamental questions.  Americans are divided into camps that define and see the world in fundamentally different terms.  The election did not cause this division, it merely revealed it.  This deep division at the level of worldview presents President Obama with a daunting political challenge, but a worldview crisis is an even greater challenge for the church. …
Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and [a] huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues.  We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely [?] convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues.  This will not be easy.  It is, however, an urgent call to action [bold text mine].

Worldviews, like skyscrapers, are not built from the roof down but from the foundation up.  In a sense, this last election wasn’t won last night but rather over fifty years ago, when our cultural opponents began to take over education from grade school to graduate school, so children could be isolated from the influence of their conservative parents and a new system of values inculcated by stealth.

Saint Paul chided the Corinthians, “I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men” (I Cor 4:2-3)?  We are essentially in the same position St. Paul was:  having had their minds and consciences malformed in the culture of death, the American nation has largely lost the fundamental values that support a pro-life culture and an authentic understanding of liberty.  The “progressives” are the New Establishment, and we are now the counterculture.  Unless we recognize that fact and organize our strategy accordingly, we are doomed to defeat.

At this point, I’m not concerned with who will win in the 2014 congressional elections, far less the next presidential run.  However, I am concerned about how constructively we use the next four years.  If as both Drs. Mohler and George Weigel suggest, an entirely new people — a people morally and intellectually incapable of sustaining either religion or representative democracy — has taken the place of the one that existed in Alexis de Tocqueville’s time, then it makes no sense to continue to play for pieces: we need to retreat and retrench in order to shift to the long game.

The Manhattan Declaration was a step in the right direction.  However, it needs to be extended.  A society which takes no trouble to assist the poor, the homeless, the widow and the orphan is a society in which “sanctity of life” is an empty buzzword.  Marriage as the union between one man and one woman is not much better for children if it’s dissolvable at whim, and cannot survive in a culture that treats sex as a commodity or a pastime rather than a participation in God’s creation.  We stand for the rights of the unborn, but we need to make clear that this support is not through lack of concern or respect for the inherent dignity of women as children of God; and we must articulate that concern and respect by calling for policies that demonstrate our commitment to women’s intrinsic equality — but on our grounds, not those dictated by shopworn, misarsenistic[1] theories.

In effect, the first proposal is to call for a congress whose mandate will be to extend the principles of the Manhattan Declaration and formulate them into a further vision, even an embryonic platform.  Once we have created a common ground from which we can work, then we can begin the next great task: subverting the New Establishment through education.  We’re Christians, after all, and the catacombs were ever the model for the underground activities of rebels and subversives throughout Western history. 

And all the disciples of Saul Alinsky have forgotten the words Tertullian spoke eighteen centuries ago: “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed” (The Apology 50).

[1] As my anthropology professor pointed out almost twenty years ago, English has no opposite-sex equivalent of misogynist(-ic); misarsenist (-ic), from arsen (AGr. ἄρσην “male, masculine”), is my humble proposal to fit the need.