Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the Land of the Stranger

Reflections on The Content of America’s Character: Recovering Civic Virtue, edited by Don Eberly

In the margin of Herman Melville’s copy of King Lear, next to the passage in which Edmund, the bastard brother, defends bastards, Melville comments, “There is often a vitality to demonism that mere virtue lacks.” The articles in this book underscore Melville’s wise observation. After reading through these articles on virtue and character, one is forced to conclude that a person with character and virtue is as dull as a burned-out light bulb. Most of the articles read like chapters from Ph.D. dissertations, and indeed, most of the articles are written by Ph.Ds.

And therein lies the great dullness and weakness of most of the authors. So many of them, with the exception of Keith J. Pavlischek, advance Aristotle as our guide to recovering civic virtue. Here they make a crucial mistake. In an effort to find a non-Christian and therefore non-threatening guide to virtue, most of the authors seize on Aristotle. They forget an important fact: the Incarnation took place. One cannot go back to ethics without Christ once Christ has entered history. As wise as the Greco-Roman sages were, the final vision of their world, as depicted by Virgil, is despair. The “grandeur that was Greece and the glory that was Rome” is ashes without the God-Man. Dostoyevsky correctly diagnosed the problem of modern man when he stated, “Whether a man, as a civilised being, as an European, can believe at all, believe that is in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ...”

Only one author in this collection of essays faces this issue head-on. In Chapter 8, “The Religious Roots of Character,” Keith Pavlischek contrasts Tocqueville’s view of America in the 1830’s with Solzhenitsyn’s view in the 1970’s. Tocqueville was amazed that a society with a government that espouses no particular religion should have a people that seemed very religious. Pavlischek quotes Solzhenitsyn, who saw a different America:

Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to maintain them imprints many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition permeates all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development.
Why the different views? Pavlischek suggests that what appeared to be our strength, the lack of a public religion in the 1830’s, turned out to be the Achilles’ heel of our Republic. The public orthodoxy that banished all religions gradually marginalized American Christians to the extent that Christianity now has no real influence on public life. This situation, according to Pavlischek, is intolerable:
Of course, a significant portion of the American public dissents from this view. Religions conviction continues to shape their lives and they are increasingly alienated from a legal and political system that trivializes those convictions. Over the next several decades Americans will be forced to reflect seriously on the words of Joseph Story: ‘the promulgation of the great doctrines of religion... can never be a matter of indifference to any well ordered community.’ Indeed, we may ask whether the real question is not if we will have a community that is well ordered, but, given the lack of a broad-based moral consensus, whether we can have any community at all.
It is impossible to have any community at all, if the individual members of a community do not have a common religion which they desire to see enshrined as the public orthodoxy. And that is why, independent of whether McCain wins the upcoming Presidential election, I think the liberal liberals who support Obama will ultimately win out over the Rush Limbaugh-type of conservative liberal, for the reason that the liberal liberal has a religion and the Limbaugh liberal does not.

Having lost their faith in the God-Man (the modern liberal has answered Dostoevsky’s question with a decisive ‘no’), liberals have replaced Him with the black man. There is no escaping that fact.(1) The zeal with which the white establishment has responded to the Obama presidential run can only be described as a religious frenzy. The Limbaugh-neo-con appeal to avarice and greed has been a somewhat successful counter to the liberals’ black worshipping faith, but because of his Christian past the white liberal needs a more unselfish sounding faith (and I stress the word ‘sounding’ because ultimately it is a very selfish faith) than the faith provided by the liberal conservatives.

The new-breed of white man has made his faith the public orthodoxy. A public-spirited citizen of the modern world must worship the black man. And a community organizer is a person who looks for pockets of resistance to the public orthodoxy so that he can eliminate those pockets of resistance. This state of affairs will only end when white people replace the great black god with the God-Man. Impersonal appeals to our Greco-Roman Christian heritage won’t be effective. The new Europeans have their new god. We must cling to the old God and we must call on Him by name: “The Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

The United States and the collective states of Europe have become the land of the stranger. The Christian European does not feel at home in what was once his homeland. And it is good that he does not feel at home, because this strange new world worships, in the form of the black man, Satan. I recall a Davy Crockett song I used to sing when I was a child. One line still comes to mind with overwhelming force: “In the land of the stranger, I rise or I fall.” There is no room for us in this new world – who wants room in such a world? The black worshippers, who represent the new orthodoxy, want to eradicate all religions that are not black-worshipping religions. They will not be dissuaded by reason, by appeals for mercy, or by offers of compromise.

We are in for a long, bloody battle, which is not a very pleasant prospect. But the alternative is surrender to the forces of Satania. That might be less painful in the short run, but in the long run it would be, quite literally, hell.
(1) Once again, let’s refer to Richard Weaver’s book, Visions of Order. He points out that Socrates did undermine the Greek religion by talking about the Greek gods in an objective, analytical way rather than as an enthusiast. This is why you hear the various newscasters hurling jeremiads at anyone who does not wax rhapsodic about Obama. One should not, the liberal media tell us, talk about one’s god in any terms except those of a laudatory psalmist. I agree with that sentiment, but I have a different God than the PCR whites.

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