Friday, December 11, 2020

The two sides in our dystopian society

 

I've been pondering a post on the New Zealand blog Dark Brightness for several days now.  The author (writing from an evangelical Christian perspective) seeks to put the conflict in our society in religious terms;  the root of what each side believes.


There are two sides to this conflict: the deplorables and the elite.

The deplorables are:

  • Faithful to God.
  • Nationalist. They vote that way if they can. In much of the world, they use proxy parties, for they cannot.
  • Fertile: they pity the gender diverse, the gay, and despise the propaganda.
  • Mistrustful of authority: “Fool me twice…”.
  • Tolerant of pain, difficulty and struggle.
  • In love with beauty, truth, honour and earned achievement.
  • Workers. More likely to be rural and tradesmen than academics or policy wonks.

The elite is:

  • Credentialed, and they will let you know it. Being credentialed is not the same as being educated.
  • Celebrating diversity. The rainbow is their flag, and Diversity is a jealous God.
  • Hating the true, the beautiful and the good.
  • Generally infertile: if they are, to their horror, heterosexual, they delay childrearing into their late 30s, and have one or two children at most.
  • In love with death. They are for abortion, self castration in search of ideology or identity, homosexuality, and euthanasia.
  • Avoidance of difficulty and struggle, seeking pleasure.
  • Live by policy and words. Journalists, Activists, academics, policy wonks. To these, to speak is an order someone else will do.

The short version is that the elite are pagan, venerating Cybele and Molech. The deplorables are of Christ or seeking Christ through nature: they worship Jehovah Jireh, or will do so.


There's more at the link.

I'm not sure I agree with his perspective - but I don't disagree, either.  I think the problem goes beyond an explicit identification with God, or a deity of whatever sort.  I think it involves some pretty basic assumptions in many people's minds about what they believe in terms of humanity as a whole.  Let me try to explain.

Many people today are not explicitly religious at all.  In my circle of friends (mostly 'deplorables'), I'd say a minority expresses any particular faith.  Many shy away from doing so, as if all overt religious belief is suspect to them.  (Looking at the way many churches, denominations and sects have fallen prey to political correctness, it's hard to criticize that.  Pentecostal evangelist Bob Mumford once defined secular humanism as "what happens when the world evangelizes the church".  I'd say it's been very successful in doing so.)

However, those same people are loud in their support of the US constitution as written (and, more importantly, as intended and understood) by our Founding Fathers.  They regard most of the modern claptrap about a "living constitution" as precisely what it is:  an attempt to evade the explicit provisions of our fundamental law without following its built-in provisions to change it, because those involved know they can't succeed in that.  It's a weaselly end-around to try to render moot the legal, philosophical and ideological foundations of our republic.  They, and I, are determined not to let that succeed.

I think that's where the "Christian" element of many conservatives may be found these days.  They may not have much in the way of overt, explicit faith at all.  Rather, they have faith in the faith that is implicitly embodied in our constitution.  As President John Adams famously said:


Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.


In that sense, fidelity to the constitution necessarily implies - albeit implicitly rather than explicitly - fidelity to the Christianity that informed it and guided those who wrote it.

In the same way, if we examine the motives of those who insist on a "living document" interpretation of the constitution - "loose constructionism" rather than "originalism" - their rejection of the latter is very often accompanied by their rejection of organized religion, or at least their willingness to subject religious beliefs to tests of political correctness, "relevance", and openness to change doctrines in the light of the current zeitgeist, rather than insist on eternal, timeless, unchanging truths.  That approach has infected a great many denominations or sects, both Christian and in other religions.

Such people see God as a human creation, and any concept of God to be judged according to evolving, developing human insights.  Of course, that also necessarily implies that "divine" revelation is not infallible, and is subject to reinterpretation as and when necessary.  Those who are more originalist in their approach to the constitution also trend towards putting God above and beyond human interpretation.  From that perspective, the Word of God judges us, and we are to conform ourselves to its standards.  From the other, humans judge the word of god (no capitalization, thank you!) and determine its meaning according to our lights, not the Light of the World.

The question, for those of us who do have faith, thus becomes:  how can we bring back a more explicit recognition of a Creator, a Savior, a moral arbiter, in the present debate?  Is it even necessary that we should do so?  I believe it is;  but I'm one voice, with one opinion.  Many of my friends and associates would argue against it.

What's the answer?  What do you say, dear readers?  Let's talk about it in Comments.  I think the subject is worth exploring further.  A tip o' the hat to the author of Dark Brightness for raising an interesting topic.

Peter


14 comments:

tweell said...

An excellent work on the subject is C.R. Hallpike's Do We Need God to be Good?
Dr. Hallpike comes at the topic from an anthropologist viewpoint, considering and comparing cultures to eventually say yes. Recommended.

Nuke Road Warrior said...

When I went to school in the fifties and sixties, "Living Constitution" meant that the amendment process would be used to change the constitution if circumstances changed requiring clarification or modification. Now it means that the Judiciary or Executive branches redefine words to mean what the these people say they mean. "Militia" means the National Guard, not the people. "Secure in their persons and papers" means unless there is an allegation of foreign influence. "Freedom of speech" means only if I agree with your opinion. "Freedom of religion" means only if you conform to arbitrary executive orders. "Freedom of the press" seems to have no meaning at all when journalists are harassed and treated like common criminals by the federal government.

Note, I consider myself to be a Christian but not church going. I was raised in the Congregational tradition but I gave up on them when the majority of churches joined the ultra liberal United Church of Christ (UCC). Yes, there are still a few independent Congregational churches (once a corner stone of Congregationalism) but none in my area.

Old NFO said...

Interesting take on the two sides, and I can't really disagree with them. Lapsed Baptist here, but I do have casseroles...

McChuck said...

That's a remarkably clear and cogent take on the issues at hand. We have two fundamentally different world views, and in more ways than one. This is not a simple problem with simple solutions. It did not appear overnight, or even in one generations, and will not be quickly solved or resolved, either.

Beans said...

In my case, and in many of my friends' and acquaintances' cases, we are all still religious, Christian or Jewish. It's our churches and synagogues who aren't.

As I say, I didn't leave the Catholic Church, it left me. I'm still the very religious person I was as an alter boy and going to religion classes at the church. Just... While I stood firm in my beliefs, the Church veered. What was Canon one day became anti-Canon the next, for no apparent reason than 'old and busted.' What was spiritual became unspiritual. The physical world began to take precedence over the heavenly world.

Big problem when that happens. When a Church starts to preach 'social justice' and 'politics' instead of salvation and redemption, then that Church is dead.

So, well, my 'Church' is my family. Two people who discuss spirituality and redemption and try to live a good life and who ponder the meanings of teachings.

God is mysterious. As he should be. He's the Creator. The Lightbringer. His ways are only moderately understandable. As it should be. Because.. it's mysterious. We can work towards understanding the ways of God, but we'll never ever fathom all He knows. We can do it scientifically, or philosophically, or in any combination thereof. But we must understand that there are just things we can't comprehend.

Take the mysteries out of the Mass, out of the Church, and you have... nothing. Less than nothing. You have acknowledged the Morningstar over the Lightbringer.

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

Provocative post and comments: I think what is being discussed may well be framed as religious belief and world view. If the two are in harmony as you see things, great. Your faith informs your view of the world. It is also quite possible to have a world view which wholeheartedly agrees with a JudeoChristian moral and ethical framework, but does not include a deep personal commitment to (for example) the personal deep trust in and resulting relationship through Jesus as a child of God which defines a Christian (for Evangelicals). Many of America's Founders fell into the "less religious but still generally accepting of the JudeoChristian world view" camp. Some were deeply religious. Both came to the same answers to Francis Schaeffer's (borrowed from scripture) question: "How then shall we live?" If you all have a social consensus that the same things are good and bad you can have a generally harmonious society. What we have now is the largescale departure by much of society from a JudeoChristian moral and ethical framework. So now we have less or even no social harmony.

Aesop said...

"how can we bring back a more explicit recognition of a Creator, a Savior, a moral arbiter, in the present debate?"

Pacify 'em with a Krag.
I'm not being facetious.

5stonegames said...

Its City vs Country mindset not Christians vs everyone else

Most Heathens have a very similar value set as do some Wiccans, many many secular folk and decently devout people of every religion other than maybe Satanism or the like.

weka said...

Thank you for the post. I love in q nation that does not have a constitution and where the progressive agenda of regulating all narratives so that no one gets offended is about to be enshrined by making hate speech a criminal act.

I understand that the USA was Christian. So were we. In both nations the ruling class is now apostate.

I am anonymous for that reason.

Consider this: if politics is downstream of culture, what is culture downstream of? I think Schaeffer was correct when he said theology, and that we all have a theology.

These ideas matter

Peter said...

(INFO: For those of you who don't know, commenter 'weka' is the author of the article at Dark Brightness. Welcome, sir, and thanks for joining the discussion.)

Bob said...

Well nuts! Now you're making me spell it out! I'm not sure about any of it all.

-1) As for organized religion, a pox on all their houses. IMO, nothing but various con artists mooching a living off the gullible. They no more represent Creation or the Creator than my cat does. They do understand that we humans need something beyond ourselves to believe in, so they have ginned up hundreds of versions of a superior being to worship, admire and follow. (plus support for his/her/its priests and shamans with offerings - housing, food, money)

-2) God. The Creator. An intelligent directive force overseeing the mechanics of the Universe and all it contains. Somewhere, someplace, sometime, all that the Universe is and ever will be was somehow created. Was it by some all-powerful being that uttered a word or two, perhaps waved his/her/its hand and poof! Everything springs into existence! From what? What was before? Nothing? How much nothing? Or sciences version: The big bang....equally improbable - if not wholly impossible to believe.

This is - I am certain - something humanity will never know. So they tell us to have faith, to believe. But in what is the big question. Believe in the God that saviors burnt offerings. Believe in a God that floods the world and kills everything except for his favorite admirer. Believe in a God That makes you be born again and again and again until you do exactly what you are told. Believe in a God that tells you to kill everybody that doesn't believe in him.

Riiight. Take your pick. Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, the list is long. Shop around until you find one you agree with.

I am not an atheist. I accept that there is some sort of intelligence and power that runs the show, but I also believe we humans are totally incapable to intellectually understand what it is. Further, praying to such an entity is a waste of time and energy. To me, praying is just a mechanism by which we can feel better about ourselves, to let ourselves think that we actually did something when we did not.

For all I know, there are multiple universes and realities.

I have studied many of the great religions during my 81 years and I have concluded that one of only two things will happen when I die:

-1) Nothing. Lights out. It's all over for me.
-2) I'll sit up, float out of my coffin, and wonder.... Wow! What's next?

And number two is why I obey the law, obey the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule (as much as possible). No sense tempting fate.

And all of this is subject to instant change. Depends on what happens to me.

Antibubba said...

I'm Jewish, and many of us take the long view of history. While there is good reason to be wary of godless systems (like Nazism and Communism), I'm always wary when talk of a "Christian" nation starts rising. At some point somebody will say "Judeo-Christian", but it's an afterthought; Jews are just future Christians in their eyes.

For years I thought of myself as a Patriot, Peter. I tried to ignore the rampant antisemitism that is, I came to realize, inseparable from the movement. I have no place in their plans, except maybe in front of a firing squad. Yes, I'm bitter about it, because I love my country, and the Constitution, and the tolerance that was built into it. And tolerance is in short supply, on all sides. Unlike you, I've never seen war in person. I never served in the military, and I've never pointed a gun at anyone. But I've read history, and I fear that's where this is headed, urged on by those who claim to love their country and love God, but are driven but hate and fear. That there can be no tolerance, no room or mercy for THEM. Paradise, whether Christian or Workers, has no room for us. The true America does.

America is the land of opportunity--the place where the sins of our fathers don't matter, because we make of ourselves what we want to be. This is the Promised Land. I won't give up on it quietly.

Tregonsee said...

Fundamentally Peter I think the issue boils down to one thing. Do you accept that there is absolute truth? The relativist view that truth is relative that the elitists hold at their core means you can make NO argument based on facts. This is because fundamentally without an absolute truth facts become your facts and my facts and opinion and feelings rule. Although the elites scream follow the science, they do not realize that without absolutes it falls apart. They simply follow their particular credentialed proponents throwing the actual scientific method to the wind particularly when it gives them an answer they don't like (e.g. there are fundamental biological differences expressed in male and female creatures). Similarly without truth any kind of apologetics for Christianity falls apart. The only appeal can make is one of feelings. But why deny yourself anything when the prevailing view is "An' it harm None Do what ye will".

Sarin said...

I too am a member of the tribe and disagree, Antibubba. Given that the vast majority of members at my “conservative” Shul are rabid leftists, I think that there’s a suspicion about the motives of our people when it comes to the “movement.” Unfortunately, we Jews are viewed as reliably left, giving zero distinction between Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Chabad, Conservative, Reform or even reconstructionist. In my experience, the closer to the Orthodox end of the spectrum, the more likely that individual is to be reliably conservative, politically. That translates to increased observance of the religious tenets, for those that aren’t familiar. Within my own Synagogue, we have a small orthodox community and those members are very outspoken in their support for President Trump and conservatives in general. The aforementioned is why it’s an afterthought, in my opinion. We have no place in plans, because the majority don’t realize that we exist. I served and saw combat. I know that my family will never be loaded onto a cattle car or be lined up blindfolded before a wall. My religious preference makes not a whit of difference to any of my Christian or Catholic friends who are conservative.
For years, I’ve tried to understand how Jews, as a bloc, are generally aligned to the left of the political spectrum. What I can’t reconcile is how oblivious to history these other Jews are. Given the rhetoric emanating from the left, it doesn’t take a scholar to draw parallels with the Shoah or any number of historical instances of persecution. It’s vexed me continually. The only thing I can think of is that, to weka’s point, leftism has supplanted religious observance. Winston Churchill’s alligator quote comes to mind as a possible explanation.
Stay the course. Discuss with your conservative friends your concerns; you may find that they’re likely less concerned with your religious preference than you are.