By Charlie Johnston
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”- John Adams
Election Day was a good day for America, but it was not a Rescue – more like the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was a defensive success, fending off an authoritarian siege against ordinary Americans. Its primary virtue was in showing that there is fight in the old girl, yet; that we are not going to quietly sit down and submit to a radical elite insisting we are all rubes who must be stripped of our rights of religion, free speech, assembly and self-defense. What it did not do is suddenly remake us into a religious and moral people. That is how we got to this state in the first place – and it is the only way we are going to get back a genuinely prosperous and tolerant country that is a light to the world.
Mark Mallett wrote a marvelously insightful article shortly after the election that largely captures what we are called to.
I know the rioting and shrieking by those who foolishly think themselves enlightened and
tolerant have caused a defensiveness in some of us that can present itself as a sort of triumphalism.
The day after the election, I got a note from a woman that said, “Charlie, you and your followers are full of religious claptrap. So very sorry for you. I hope you find your heaven because you and people like you have doomed a large number of American citizens to a living hell.”
She is a decent enough woman, though not nearly as bright as she thinks she is, so I figured I would let it stand and not respond – give her her primal scream. But I had to wonder, what living hell did she think was going to be imposed? Does she think we are going to sic the IRS and other federal alphabet agencies to persecute her for her beliefs? Does she think we are going to start fining, firing, bankrupting and even jailing homosexuals? Does she think we are going to force homosexuals to tithe to churches of our choice, as her side tried to force nuns to pay for abortion and contraceptives? Does she think we are going to exempt conservatives and Christians from ordinary laws? That is what the left routinely does to the right, not what the right does to the left. Now if she just thinks it is a living hell not to be able to persecute and punish Christians and conservatives with impunity, that is a living hell she deserves – but we are not going to treat her with the callous disregard and contempt with which her side has treated us. I keep waiting for a self-aware progressive to have his Pogo moment and say, “We have met the bigots – and they are us.” Sadly, self-aware progressives are scarcer than Elvis sightings these days.
My friend’s sentiments illustrate a growing degeneration in the very understanding of the
purpose of civil government. The left believes the purpose of government is to choose winners and losers – and then to enforce, by bullying brute force, its will on the losers in every aspect of their lives. It is the animating governmental philosophy of the old Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, Fascist Italy and all the tyrannical regimes in history. The right thinks government should be an administrative agent of the people taking care of a few necessary things: diplomacy, real interstate commerce, national infrastructure and such. Its first duty is to mind its own business and leave us alone. It is not the job of the government to tell us what to think, take care of our every need, or prevent us from talking crudely. We are a free people, not a herd of cattle to be nurtured, penned or slaughtered at our government’s whim.
I was a little shaken at how many people were so upset at my reiteration that I would leave the scene if a normal transfer of power took place on Jan. 20th. That is simply an uncontroversial matter of honor and accountability in my mind. I would, of course, stay alert until July 5, 2018, as that is what I regard as my term of service. It doesn’t mean anything except that I would hold myself accountable for my definitive statements. What I have been trying to convey here since I started this a few years back is that God is good in all ages past and is always close at hand for those who call on him sincerely and humbly. He is not good because I say so, but because He is. When I get it right, God is good. Should I get it wrong, God is good. I am frail and fallible; He is strong and faithful.
My angel rarely congratulates me for being right. Rather, if I am in serious error, he rebukes and corrects me. Many of the greatest saints have been deceived by the devil for a time. I have no illusion that I am exempt from that. So what if I was deceived for a time and my angel, for whatever reason, did not correct me? Do you think that would be so God could abandon or destroy you? Of course not! Everything that God allows is for our good and our reclamation. I know that, I have no doubt at all of it.
I am thankful that most people accepted or understood my statement for what it is. But I worry that some who were shaken put their faith in God because of their confidence in me, rather than recognizing me for what I am – a cheerleader for the mighty God. Jesus’ followers thought He was going to re-establish a temporal kingdom through military might and political skill. Imagine how despondent they must have been when He was executed. Many thought all was lost. They found, as we always do, that God’s plan is both far different and far greater than any of us can imagine. Imagine then, their joy at the Ascension, when they had to have contemplated that what they had thought was the end was actually the beginning. We must ever wait, watch and trust, even as we humbly do the
very little right in front of us that we can with absolute fidelity.
Sometime in the next year, I will be significantly wrong about something. It won’t be the Rescue, but it will be something. When it comes, it will not be a test of me, for I already know that God is good and seeks our reclamation. It will be a test for some of you, to see whether you have put your faith in me or your faith in God. If it is in me, your faith was always ill-placed. God is good, all the time, whatever the circumstances – and works to call us all back to Him. When I am wrong, I will accept the correction with gratitude and more wisdom. I will not leave the scene unless it is one of the fundamentals, and then, in full obedience to Holy Church, I will wait on the Lord, knowing that He will strengthen my heart and that it serves His purpose to call all His children back to Him.
All my life, people have been drawn to tell me their story. When I was a young man, a middle-aged woman who worked for me told me her story one day over coffee. She was an ever-cheerful woman with a foreign accent, always glad to help her fellow workers and always with an encouraging word. As it turned out, she was Hungarian. She teared up as she told me the hair-raising tale of watching her husband and two sons murdered in the Communist invasion which she managed to escape and be smuggled out of the country – and her gratitude to live in this country where she was free. While on my pilgrimage, I met a young couple with a year-and-a-half old daughter. They had been high school sweethearts when she got pregnant. They decided to get married so the child would have an intact family – and because they kind of loved each other. The young man was working 70 hours a week so they could get a trailer and begin a real life together. They exuded joy. While doing a remote broadcast at a festival for senior citizens about 25 years ago, I stumbled upon four couples who had lived next to each other since World War II. Turns out they had all been part of the D-Day invasion. As they watched friends falling around them from the rain of bullets, they resolved that whoever survived would spend the rest of their lives living as neighbors and brothers. These four were those who survived D-Day out of the original 12 that made that pact.
The thing that most angers me about the cult of migro-aggressions and trigger alerts are what a mockery they make of people who have truly suffered, who have truly sacrificed on behalf of those they love, even sacrificed for strangers. When college kids, the very definition of pampered elites, and millionaire athletes tell people such as these to “check their privilege,” it makes me want to retch – and fills me with contempt for the offenders. I have to remind myself that God calls for their reclamation, too, not their destruction. But oh, they will have much to repent of and to account for because of their ignorant, malicious parody of suffering. Some of those who have genuinely suffered are left broken. Most often, though, those who have genuinely suffered are notably large-spirited and generous – never petulant and whiny.
I have only heard two truly magnificent performances of Tchaikovsky’s masterful “1812 Overture.” Performed properly, it is a hauntingly lyrical recounting of Russia’s suffering under Napoleon’s onslaught. The misery in the pathos of the early strings is heart-rending. At one point, a muffled French Horn sounds the distant cry of triumph that will ultimately be the defining crescendo of the piece. But it interrupts the misery like a distant call of hope – and there is a lot of strife and turmoil before that cry reigns triumphant and Russia is renewed.
The task before us is still the call to renewal, to become the people – the Family – of God once again. There will be no Rescue until we have lived that fully. We live it by acknowledging God, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope to those around us. Half this country still believes that liberty is racist and that tolerance is bullying and punishing people who disagree with you. Last week’s election was that forlorn French Horn, sounding the call of what might be, but not yet is. It was a hopeful sound, but it is not the end of the work before us, only the beginning. It is up to all of us to see “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” That we may once again become a light to the world and the hope of all who yearn to breathe free.
(In my meatier pieces, I am going to start putting up some random pictures from my visits to the faithful around the country. I can’t write about each of these visits, but it is good for you to see that there are many throughout the land looking to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope.-CJ)