Thursday, September 28, 2017

Christianity in the Land of Litmus Tests

I’ve watch this happen slowly, surely, a landslide starting with a few skittering rocks, dragging loose more and more of the terrain until the whole mountainside seems to be sliding, burying everything in its path.  American society has become increasingly fractured, trivialized.  Historians will tell us that this has, to some extent, always been the case.  But never has the disintegration of the public square been so polarizing, so self-absorbed.  Suddenly, just this week, we have now to either support kneeling football players protesting police brutality towards people of color or we are all racists, or we have to stand up for our national anthem and respect our flag and risk becoming unAmerican, anti-military/anti-veterans and a disgrace to the country if we don’t.  We must - MUST! - allow biological boys to self select to be girls/young women and use that genders facilities (and visa versa) or we have become the cultural off-scouring of the planet, bigots who HATE transgender people.  And not only must we be tolerant of people who choose (or otherwise) to be sexually active with members of their own sex, we MUST also give our unreserved approval for the LGBT manifesto for the complete rewriting of Western civilization’s two millennia old code of sexual morality.  To disagree makes one guilty of HATE, reveals one to be HOMOPHOBIC.  To not sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because it violates one’s sense of morality makes one liable to a law suit, a lawsuit that one will lose.  The internet is itself a neutral tool.  But it is used today by many activist as a powerful magnifier of public shaming, and public shaming is one of the most effective methods ever devised to ensure public conformity.  Universities have for hundreds of years been a place that encourages the exploration of ideas without the fear of being quashed by cultural norms.  But today, universities have become the vanguard of that very quashing.  Ideas that are deemed not to measure up to the new hyper-liberal orthodoxy cause fragile psyches to flee into trigger-free zones.  To disagree with me is to HATE me, to become guilty of HATE-SPEECH.  An invitation to a known conservative to address a conservative audience is enough to cause a riot.  And the threat of violence is always effective in shutting down dissident events on grounds of ‘security’.

Are we serious?

The intellectual barbarians have succeeded in sacking Rome.  But just like the Visigothic king Alaric, whose army in 410 plundered Rome of its riches and then left (because establishing and maintaining a society is not as fun as ruining it), just like the little boy at the beach who is gifted at knocking down someone’s masterpiece of a sandcastle, both have nothing to replace what they have destroyed.  LGBT/liberal-driven 'morality' (what might be described as mirage morality) has ridden the wave of media-induced ‘popularity’ but driven by self-interest it has no staying power.  Having gotten rid of the reasons behind more traditional Christian-based morality, these people will discover too late that the foundations of their own sense of justice and outrage are Christian principles and that these have been engulfed and swept away by their same landslide that so altered the cultural scene.  There is no reason why what these people are telling us is true, or right.  True and right no longer exist.  These people are simply being reactionary, and their engine of outrage will take them only so far.  Once they dispense with right and wrong, they are only walking on hubris to judge me or you as being right or wrong, good or bad.  And once we arrive at this point - and we are there right now - morality is no longer tied to ideas or to revelation, but to power.  Nietzche's observation that morality does not exist, only power - or as the aphorism says 'might makes right' is unfolding right in front of us.  It is always this way when a society takes a turn towards totalitarianism.  That is where we are moving right now, and with shocking speed.  And history attests again and again that this is a train we really don’t want to be on.

Christianity was never intended to be a power religion.  It was a persecuted minority for much of its first three centuries.  Every time the Church has attempted to become a power within society, within the economy, within the governing powers, bad things have happened.  Church history provides full evidence to back up my claim.  So the reflex of so many American Christians to try to use the levers of government or law or the economy or the culture to wrest back control from the godless forces, the demonic Legion that has gripped our world today, will only end in compromise and failure, just like it has every other time Christians have attempted to force their views, their theology, their morality on the culture.

We Christians could learn a lot from the early Church.  Like, the Church and Christians will be persecuted, and we should expect it.  Like, Christians are always at their best when they are loving God with all their heart and loving their neighbor as themselves.  Like, Christians should separate themselves from their idols of materialism and success and ladder-climbing (we simply ape ‘the world’ with all of this) and focus instead on the things that Jesus is concerned about.

I have called other countries ‘home’ besides America for 21 years.  I have come back ‘home’ and found a different place, a different culture from what I left.  Unfortunately, the Church that I was a part of in the 70s, 80s and 90s has continued its slide into compromise and has lost all moral authority.  Is it any wonder that the surrounding culture has ceased to take Christians seriously?  This is nobody’s fault but our own.  The culture is simply doing what fallen cultures do.  But we have ceased, in large measure, doing what the Church is called to do.  We have lots of mega 'churches' and media 'ministries', but what do these have to do with the Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles?  Is there anybody else over here bothered by these things?  

These next years will not be easy.  But they will go a long way towards demonstrating whether American Christianity has any good news worth proclaiming, of if we will continue down the broad highway that presently stretches out for miles in front of us. 

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