By Charlie Johnston
“There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” – David Foster Wallace
Some people on the right are completely dissatisfied with Congress. Others are completely dissatisfied with Donald Trump. Others are dissatisfied with various branches of the federal government. People on the left are dissatisfied with everything. Fair enough. What do you think God might be trying to tell us with this historically low approval of everything relating to government?
Founding Father and second U.S. President John Adams warned us bluntly when, after the adoption of the Constitution, he said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” While red-state Americans are still largely religious (if not as moral as once we were), blue-state Americans are not irreligious: they have simply replaced God by making government their god. As with ours, their god is a jealous one: it will have no other god before it. So we do not have a battle between faithful people and dissolute slackers. Rather, we have an existential battle between adherents of two altogether incompatible Gods; the true God and a false god. For most of our history, our disputes were policy disagreements between moral and religious people. Sometimes, the disputes involved different interpretations of what God meant by what He said. As Abraham Lincoln said, in his Second Inaugural Address, about the North and South, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.” But whatever disputes there were about the nature of God or interpretations of His commands, almost all agreed that His commands were binding – and that He is author both of man and of the rights of man. All expected to give account to a just God for their actions in this life.
Because the Christian God emphasizes free will, rather than forced conversion, the nation was the most tolerant of religious minorities of any in history. Whatever problems there were in living this tolerance because of the cussedness of man (and there were many), it was a foundational principle of the new nation. It worked, so long as what religious – and irreligious – minorities wanted was tolerance. It was unprepared for the rise of a large, irreligious and immoral minority which was implacably hostile to religion, itself, declaring it the enemy.
In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s master work, “The Brothers Karamazov,” Ivan Karamazov’s central insight is often paraphrased as, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” Life is just a vicious grapple for power, wealth and influence – and all means, no matter how underhanded or dishonorable, are legitimate. Honor, itself, is a meaningless concept. Society degenerates into a primitive tribalism engaged in a constant struggle for power. Unless one faction becomes powerful enough to impose its will on all the others, it is just an unending battle between roving bands of rival warlords. The Marxist Dialectic demonstrates how such a philosophy destroys the very basis of language, itself, by how it redefines truth and lies. In the Marxist Dialectic, truth is whatever advances the cause of Marxism and a lie is anything that damages the cause: objective fact has no bearing whatsoever in the matter – except to confuse the useful idiots. All is the will to power. Religion and morality are the only constraints dangerous to this worldview.
That is why our politics is so impotent now. It was designed to arbitrate claims between different groups who subscribed to the same foundational principles – and to enforce the rights of those minorities who simply sought tolerance (real tolerance – not the redefined version that the anti-God left uses to try to impose its will on all). It was never designed to mediate a death struggle between people of faith and those trying to destroy faith. It is wholly incapable of this, for those of faith are constrained by concepts of honor, fair play and the traditional meanings of words like ‘truth’ and ‘tolerance.’ Their opponents are free to abuse power in any way that is effective in accomplishing their goals. The main difference between the modern iteration of tribalism and its ancient forebears is the modern tribalists’ pretension to enlightenment in justifying their grubby cause.
This battle has resulted in the erection of many false gods. There are the gods of sex, money, power and notoriety. But the granddaddy of them all is government. The anti-God left does not see government as a means of mediating competing claims from various groups of free, sovereign people, but as the means to impose its imperial will upon all. Gain control and it is self-will triumphant. It has resulted in the perversion and near destruction of many ancient philosophical concepts. The one that bothers me the most is the new, hideously impoverished definition of “love,” which the left defines as “preferred form of genital stimulation.” Gone is the understanding of love as so willing the good of others that you will sacrifice your own wants and even needs to accomplish it, replaced by a banal determination to get whatever pleasure you want, whenever you want it. Whenever some chump leftist tries to justify that definition by asking, “What’s wrong with love,” I feel physically ill.
One might take some satisfaction in knowing that, if the anti-God left actually succeeded, it would not find peace and love – only endless violent struggle within its own factions. Self-will run amok is never satisfied. Fat lot of good that would do our children and grandchildren, though. I have no desire to consign them to the misery of such an ugly new world because I was too timid or lazy to man my post and, instead, betrayed my God and them.
The point is that this is an existential struggle. It cannot be mediated. A religious and moral people cannot co-exist with an anti-God left committed to its destruction. One or the other must prevail.
John Hawkins did a nice piece in Townhall that neatly summarized the problem. (Warning: while I admired the article, I found the picture accompanying somewhat offensive). Fr. Bill Bowling, Pastor of St. Augustine Church and Holy Name of Mary Church in Lebanon, Kentucky, recently wrote an incisive piece, quoting St. John Paul the Great, on his Facebook page:
“What is the “mark of the beast?”
(Rev. 13:16-18) “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or on the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
Gradually, we are seeing the unfolding of this beast system on earth, and technology seems to be the most proficient means of promulgating this beast system which overtakes the economy, culture, and sense of morality in order to captivate the whole people of the world. It sets itself inexorably against the Church in order to eliminate it from the earth. Only now is the technology available to make real what St. John described in the Book of Revelation. See the prophetic words of St. John Paul II regarding the unfolding of this end times mystery.
(John Paul II, Dom. et Viv., 56) “Further on this second beast is identified with the false prophet because his role consists in leading men astray and getting them to worship the first beast. Because he has real (but evil) power he is able to work prodigies similar to those performed by the prophets (for example, Elijah, who brought fire down from heaven: cf. Kings 18:38) and can even seem to vie with the power of the life-giving Spirit by breathing life into the images of the beast. He symbolizes those regimes and ideologies which reject God and put man on a pedestal. Materialism works in the same deceptive way as the beast does, for “though it sometimes also speaks of the ‘spirit’ and of ‘questions of the spirit’, as for example in the fields of culture or morality, it does so only insofar as it considers certain facts as derived from matter (epiphenomena), since according to this system matter is the one and only form of being. It follows, according to this interpretation, that religion can only be understood as a kind of ‘idealistic illusion’, to be fought with the most suitable means and methods according to circumstances of time and place, in order to eliminate it from society and from man’s very heart.”
Do not take the “mark of the beast.”
(Rev. 14:9-11) “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
This brings us to the real choice we have today: to bow down to the golden calves and Baals the anti-God left insists we worship with them, or to proclaim the one True God with relentless fidelity – and relentless charity in victory, not neglecting the battle that is necessary to secure the blessings of faith, liberty and freedom to our descendants. The True God will prevail, as He always has. He is not on our side: we must choose to be on His. Remember His words from Deuteronomy 9:4-6:
“Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you…Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”
Finally, get out of your mind childishly sentimental notions of Rescue. Remember that when Moses rescued the Israelites, shortly after they began their long pilgrimage, they stood at the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army in hot pursuit. Remember that when Jesus came and spent three and a half years explaining to His disciples that He had come to rescue all of mankind, that Rescue took the form of a brutal crucifixion. Jesus only let His disciples wander in confusion and panic for three days, not 40 years, before showing them the rest of the story and His transcendent power. The point is, Christian Rescue is not for the faint of heart nor the sunshine soldier. It will not be as you – or I expect – but it is certain. It is not a reward for your goodness, but the time to prove your steadfast fidelity.
So gird your loins and proclaim the one, True God, whatever the cost. Not only is it the side that will win; it is the only possibility that will give your children and grandchildren a chance at a happy, prosperous life. Do not worry if your primary motivation is love for your children: self-sacrificing love is always love of God, Himself.
Our podcast has been delayed this week because a surge wiped out some critical programs on my son’s computer. We will get it up as soon as we can. Next week, we will have my daughter on with us, discussing the problems of substance abuse and family trials along with reminiscences of joyful times and the great joy of when recovery takes solid hold. The week after we will have a dear nun, Sr. Bear, who lives an almost wilderness spirituality.
I will spend almost the whole month of November and some of early December in the Southwest and on the West Coast. If you would like me to come visit with your group, contact my assistant, Mary, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This little article about pop singer, Selena Gomez, caught my eye. Several years ago one of my dearest friends told me that his niece, a doctor doing her internship residency at a children’s hospital in Dallas, told him that Gomez had skated a few rules to come and give special attention and hope to a young girl at the hospital who had been a huge fan. There was no fanfare or publicity – and the girl rallied quite nicely after the visit. I don’t know anything about Gomez’ politics, or who she’s dating, or her religion…but I have prayed for her occasionally ever since hearing that. And by this article, it touches me to see that this young woman has a great heart that goes well beyond her own interests and sorrows. May God bless her.
Finally, some of what I think are the greatest cookies in the world are made by an order of Capuchin Poor Clares in Denver. I go to a Padre Pio prayer group on the first Saturday of the month when I am in town at the Church they are currently headquartered at. Now, to my surprise, “Clarissa’s Cookies” are not for everyone. They are subtly and delicately flavored, and they have an incredibly delicate texture. I love them, but some prefer their cookies bolder. Astonishingly, the nuns charge only $15 for a hefty box. If you want to give to a good cause AND get some truly great cookies, go here.