Dear Rev. Know-it-all,
The Republican party has to get the message. Dump the association with Bible-thumpers and drop the pious moralizing. If they ever hope to win another election they need to pay attention to single women and young people and moral progressives. Forget all that medieval morality nonsense. That’s what the election was really about!
Well, what happened the on election day? There are lots of pundits who have egg on their faces today, Nov. 7, 2012. Apparently, the looming probability of economic collapse didn’t matter to voters. The fact that the current government spends $$$TEN (10) BILLION DOLLARS$$$ while we take in only $$$six billion$$$ everyday didn’t bother the majority of voters one little bit. What bothered the voters was the perceived association of a certain political party (which will go unmentioned for fear of the government thought police and tax assessors) with traditional Judeo-Christian values. I am not sure that party really is Christian, but it seemed smart at the time to appear Christian. The election was not about the economy. It was about sex and work.
Sigmund Freud was a strange little man, but as the saying goes, even the clock that is broken is right twice a day. Freud said something that I think is actually reasonable and useful in deciphering what happened at the election. He defined mental health as the ability to love and work. If Freud is right, The US of America took a major step toward becoming the ME of America on election day. Citizens of ME demand that the government give them what they want and make no restrictions regarding the consequences of sexual couplings, even if those consequences are living and breathing children. It will guarantee my right to kill them, if I deem it necessary. Our sexuality is no longer directed toward love defined as the giving of life. Our economic life is less and less associated with productive work. Pleasure and leisure are the order of the day, not Freud’s “love and work.” We have rejected sanity, at least by Freud’s definition, and this is the inevitable result of a nation that voted not against a particular party, but against God as we Children of Abraham have known Him these 4000 years. (Mind you, I am not baptizing either party. The above unmentioned party will now probably come to its senses and reject pro-family, pro-life issues in the hope of winning elections. So, a pox on both their houses.)
We didn’t begin to reject the tedious and overly strict God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on Nov. 6th 2012. That was already happening by the 1950's and long before that. In fact, I heard someone say that Nov. 6, 2012 was the inevitable result of April 6, 1917 when the US entered World War I on the side of England, Russia and France. Why would one think that? Empire! That’s why! America ceased to be the republic the founders envisioned when it entered the wars of imperialism, the war with Mexico in 1846, the War between the states ending in 1865, the war with Spain, 1898. Having driven the indigenous people off the land, we proceeded to expand in what we called “Manifest Destiny”. It was our destiny to conquer territory, to bring Protestantism and the American system of government to all the world. Now we are the world’s police and we consider it our duty to bring democracy and condoms to all the little nations of the world. We are experiencing the narcissism and decadence that seem inevitably to result from empire. Christ is not King! We have no King but Caesar! We are an imperial nation and like all empires the bubble eventually bursts.
In January 1917, Germany opened unrestricted submarine warfare and, at about the same time, invited Mexico to join the war as allies in return for which the Germans would help Mexico recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico, California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona which America had taken less than a century before. We forget that the southwest had been part of another sovereign country for three centuries until we took it away from them in a war (1846-1848) denounced by no one less than Congressman Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant (later General) Ulysses S. Grant, who later said, “I was bitterly opposed to the measure and, to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”
He also believed that the later Civil War was punishment for United States aggression against Mexico. This is not as far fetched as it seems. The conquest of Mexico and the incorporation of Texas and Northern Mexico into the United States were very much supported by southern slave owners who wanted to create “an empire for slavery.” It can be argued that the dispute over the expansion of slavery in the new territories led, at least in part, to the American Civil War. Grant and Lincoln thought so. Thus it was war that begot war and our lust for acquisition and empire brought us into the Great War, Acts I and II. There really weren’t two World Wars. There was simply a 20-year armistice between the two halves of the Great War. There was never a treaty of peace between the Allies and the Axis. Pope Benedict XV offered to help negotiate a peace, but the Allies didn’t want peace. They had victory. Who needed peace? Pope Benedict was cut out of the peace treaty negotiations after the First World War and the Second World War flowed from the harsh terms forced on the Axis powers as naturally as blood flows from an open wound.
Why all the history? I’m getting there.
People say there are no atheists in fox holes. That is not true. Studies indicate that fox holes are the birthing rooms of atheism. Soldiers who see death and other barbarities wonder about the goodness of an all-powerful God, forgetting all the while that God does not do these things. Men do them to one another despite God’s best efforts. A lot of boys who went to the trenches as Sunday school graduates came back as hardened men who often believed in nothing but what they could see, touch and own. Europe lost its faith in the trenches of the first war. The greedy decadence of the roaring 20's and the subsequent economic collapse of the Great Depression were sure to follow.
The second half of the Great War, fought from 1936 to 1945, produced a second crop of soldiers who came back home as materialists saying, “My kids will not suffer the way I did.” And thus were born the fabulous fifties when American consumerism exploded with tract housing, big cars and a religion of convenience. The pill made it possible for Mr. and Mrs. America to have just 2 or three kids on whom they could lavish all that they had been denied by two world wars, punctuated by economic depression. The greatest value of this country became not honor, not country, not God. The ruling principle of this country became, “Gimme.” (That’s Chicagoan for “Give Me.”) The greatest generation, so-called, gave way to the most narcissistic generation (the baby boomers, of whom I am one) who gave birth to the entitlements of the Gimme generation.
We have just had an election that, I believe is the result of that series of wars. People did not vote the economy. They did not vote for the good of the country. They voted for themselves. There is a video on You Tube in which a woman very eloquently states her preference for one candidate because of her gratitude for the cellular phone and other social services that his government had provided her. I am not endorsing one candidate over another. That point is now moot. Another example: a popular African-American comedian made a very humorous video pointing out how a certain unlikely candidate should have been very acceptable to Caucasian Americans because, among other things, he supports same-sex marriage. His opponent did not support such unions, at least not in this election. One candidate was in favor of abortions. The other candidate was opposed to abortions. Well, most abortions.... No candidate had the nerve to really stand on traditional moral principles because they all know what most clergymen are afraid to admit, lest it embarrass.
America is no longer a Christian country. One conservative commentator made the point on election night that the country has significantly more people now who claim to be non-religious. He asked the question “What else can we expect from a country that has rejected God?” I do not say this to mean that one candidate was God’s man and the other not. That is ridiculous. One candidate promised to force the Catholic Church to provide the means of recreational sex and early abortions to its employees and the other candidate would allow for the murder of some children in the womb if that murder would benefit to the child’s mother. Catholics and all Christians were presented with two candidates and made to pick between the lesser of the evils. Perhaps it is time to found a Christian Democratic Lobby that would enroll people like the AARP does in order to ask the candidates, “What will you do for me if WE ALL vote for you?”
It would scare the daylights out of the politicians if ever there was a political organization that could really speak for those who still hold traditional Christian values. Heck, we could even call it the Judeo-Christian Democratic lobby. I know a lot of Jews with whom I have more in common than I do with some of those who pretend to be Catholic. I, like the prewar bishops and priests of Germany am not allowed to be political. De facto, I have an uneasy Concordat with the state like the Concordat the Vatican signed with Nazi Germany in 1933 which promises that the clergy will keep out politics. The Nazi concordat said that if priest and bishops stayed out of politics they would not be arrested and sent to concentration camps. My unwritten concordat with the US government says that if I shut up about politics I will not be charged real estate tax on my church building nor business taxes on my collections and I will get an exemption or two from some employment insurance requirement. How generous of the government! How brave and forthright of me! But the laity have no such restrictions, at least not yet. Is there no one who will start a Christian Democratic Party that would throw its support to the best candidate at least until it was strong enough to field its own slate of candidates?
We need to face the facts. The Christian cannot now sing “My country ‘tis of thee..” rather we sing “My country ‘twas of thee...” We need to be Christians no matter what the consequence. We need to quit pretending that all those voters who vote for their pleasures over their conscience are Christians. Perhaps we need to start treating them at least as they are: ex-Christians. I know I will be accused of being non-pastoral for saying this. So be it. Is it non-pastoral to say that sin is sin and your current behavior will send you to hell? Or don’t we believe that anymore? Perhaps we don’t care about whether or not they go to hell, just so they come back to church for the major holidays and pretend to be believers lest Grandma and Grandpa who are major donors to the parish be offended.
As for those who still are Christian who wonder what to do in this newly foreign country, I can only quote St. Paul: “May you become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Phil 2:15) Make sure you shine. The world and the country needs light more than it has since the days of the Third Reich.
the Rev. Know-it-all
PS. Hilaire Belloc, back in the 1920's wrote an essay on the new paganism. He said that the fruits of the new paganism were total willfulness followed by gloom of despair. In other words, when you can have everything you want you soon find out that its not worth having. I thought of this the other day when I saw a young goth whose motorcycle helmet was decorated with skulls. When willfulness replaces freedom, despair certainly does seem to follow.
We in the Church, who really have something worth possessing, eternal life that is, will be here waiting for you when that happens, unless you succeed in getting rid of us, at least in this county, formerly the greatest on earth. (The United States is now ranked 20th in economy, 12th in entrepreneurship and opportunity, 10th in governance, 5th in education, 2nd in health, 27th in safety and security, 14th in personal freedom and 10th in social capital. I suppose with the government kicking the church out of the health care industry over abortion rights, we will soon rank with other third rate socialist countries in health care.)