Saturday, February 29, 2020

Has American Christianity Failed?

This book spoke to me because the author followed a path to Christ similar to mine. The biggest difference is that  he WAS baptized as an infant (and I wasn't, I was baptized as adult to "follow Christ") ... no matter, Baptism is Christ's work, not mans. It is effective because Christ does it (in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), and we (fortunately) can't screw it up!

The author then went through the "personal decision for Christ", "personal relationship with Jesus", "living" (or attempting to live) " the law based American Christianity. Then eventually finding (Christ finding him) then the sacramental life in Christ.

He sums up the experience of American Christianity (AC) very well as a constant cycle between pride and despair.
American Christianity fails because its yoke is wearisome. Its burden is heavy. Having taken its eyes off of Jesus as the Author and Perfecter of faith, American Christianity replaces the work of the Holy Spirit with the choice of the sinner. It replaces the comfort of the Gospel with the doubt of our resolve. It replaces the certainty of God’s promise with the shakiness of our feelings. It puts burdens and doubts where the Lord would give us freedom and faith.
The focus of AC is on YOUR DECISION vs Christ Crucified and the free gift of salvation through Baptism, Holy Communion and Holy Scripture. The focus of Confessional Christianity is on Christ Crucified FOR YOU, giving the gifts of Baptism, Communion and the preaching of the Gospel. It is GIVEN to you, it isn't "about you", your decision, your obedience, your (unaided by the Holy Spirit) faith.

As I like to say when asked "when were you saved"? My answer is "about 2K years ago when Christ died on the cross for my sins".
God has not promised the feeling of forgiveness. He promises forgiveness itself, if we feel it or not. God has not promised that we will experience His presence.
AC believes in Grace for the unbeliever, Law for the believer. The believer is expected to believe that they really only know they are "saved" because of the evidence of their pietism ...  they "don't drink, don't smoke, don't lust, they go to a lot of church or "church things". If they fail to meet some standard of this, are they "really saved"? They can never honestly have assurance ... they can only have hope.

Therefore ...
Pietism ends either in the sin of pride or the sin of despair.
We have all seen it ... the "holier than thou" AC, or the "fallen" AC -- depending on your AC "brand", your congregations' standards of pietism will vary, but it will always be there.

AC is often about spiritual enthusiasm ... 
Theological enthusiasm is the promotion of the internal testimony of “God” over the external testimony of the Scriptures. The enthusiast sees all the action on the inside [feelings].

In the past "30 years or so",  AC has moved to the praise band, rock and roll "Christian" songs, dry ice "smoke" on the stage, fancy lights, lots of ripped blue jeans, etc. It is meant to be entertaining and "authentic". You are supposed to have a lot of warm and excited feelings that give you "proof" of your salvation. If you don't have those feelings, how can you be sure you are "saved"?  

So, what about Baptism, which the Bible directly says, "saves you"? (1 Peter 3:21) "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"

For AC, this is a "hard teaching" like Matthew 16:28 "This IS my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Much like Bill Clinton, "is" is a hard word for AC. In the words of Wolfmueller relative to his AC EXPERIENCE: 
I said, “Baptism is a physical thing; it is not in my heart, so it can’t save me.” That is enthusiasm in action. It is the theological logic behind the rejection of the saving work of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is what makes American Christianity so individualistic. Enthusiasm is what drives the terrible swing between pride and despair that marks the life of most American Christians.
 The Bible isn't very hopeful for us keeping the Law ... in fact, Christ died BECAUSE we are not able to keep the law -- never. The most pious are certain to fail the Law in the way that Christ had the most nasty things to say about -- because they are human, when we focus on the law, pride is a certain result, at heart, we are all spiritual toddlers -- "look at me!", "look what **I** did!" -- and often that pride is a sin that we will pridefully refuse to admit because we are most certainly less prideful than most!

God DOES enjoy our attempts at good works very much. Much as a loving parent enjoys the toddlers "help" with a task. Certainly, we attempt to do good works -- and then we repent of the pride we are bound to feel because we are still sinners.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).
Whenever you have a “Jesus and . . .” theology, it is the “and” that matters. If our theology is “Jesus and our efforts,” then the thing that matters is our efforts. The Gospel is diminished, and the Law is exalted.
Jesus will not let you be your savior. Salvation belongs to Him alone.
This book is so full of scriptural Grace and Truth that it is overflowing. It gets into eschatology, which is the source of a LOT of AC confusion. It does a super SCRIPTURAL, yet easy to follow, defense of the fact that we are IN the "millennium" vs waiting and watching for it, which is the source of a lot of AC error. 

One of my bigger remembrances of growing up Baptist was the extreme focus on the 2nd coming, and the supposed Biblical "fact" that when that happened, the unbelievers would be "left behind". This all has to do with the AC doctrine of "premillennialism dispensationalism".
The idea that those who are not taken to the Lord will go about wondering what happened to their friends is nowhere in the text, as if those who were swept away by the flood were puzzled over the whereabouts of Noah. In the days of Noah, the flood came and took away all the unbelievers. So it will be on the Last Day. Jesus will return, and the unbelievers will be taken away in judgment. To be taken away is the bad thing. To be left behind is what we want, to stand before the Lord in His glory.
A core of Lutheran theology is that it uses the Bible to interpret the Bible ... for example when Jesus says to Peter how many times, he must forgive his brother, Jesus says -- "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.".

It is pretty easy for us to understand that Jesus is not telling Peter to get out a clicker, and when he gets to 491, he is justified in telling his brother he is out of luck -- he reached "the limit" of forgiveness. 

Much of understanding the eschatology relies on this type of hermeneutics -- the Lutheran method used for interpretation, "using the Bible to interpret the Bible".  When is a "number" a counting number, and when is it a statement of magnitude? There is a reason for understanding Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, etc. -- as well as understanding some things in the context of the times (e.g. donkey vs horse, washing feet, greeting with a kiss, etc.) 

A highly recommended for ALL, but especially for those caught in the pride/despair cycle of AC and being concerned about "how they feel". 

Narcissistic Civilization Threat

I was struck by this quote ...

No society has ever found an antidote to an absolute narcissism epidemic. Instead, the epidemics have died eventually simply because no one can pretend they’re righter than reality forever. Such movements eventually lose their battle against reality, though often causing mass destruction in the process. The most likely cause of humankind’s eventual extinction is runaway confirmation bias of absolute narcissist movements whether through world domination or the conflagration that results from infallibility battles between opposing absolute narcissist movements.
I'd argue that Western civilization had the antidote up to "the late 1800's" ... the PRACTICE of Christian living. However, Darwin, Nietzsche, Lenin and others, ushered in godless materialism, and in the early 20th century, mankind paid for the worship of this "golden calf" with more than 100 million lives.

My view is that the root causes of this "Societal level Narcissism" are the twin terrors of absolute thinking and human nature. "The cure" is humility ... the daily recognition that "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God", and the practice of allowing Christ to change the heart through the Word and the Sacraments.

For 200 years in America, a Christian base and an intellectual elite that believed in Natural Rights was enough to make a great nation.

 Much of modernity would either tell you that there is no such thing as "reality", it is all a "social construct". Secular materialist positivist humanism would tell you that there DEFINITELY IS, and they are RIGHT! My guess is that the author of the linked would have a lot of trouble with Moral Believing Animals. Because ,,,

For example, if they play prude, saying, “Don’t be a mean name-caller,” say to the audience, “This fool doesn’t even notice that name-caller is a name. We all name call. We’re all mean sometimes. I’m trying to name call with precision, and I’m mean where I think meanness is earned. This absolute narcissist doesn’t care about name-calling or meanness. They pretend to care when it helps them pretend they’re eternally right and righteous. Pitiful.”
One wonders why the link author is so adamant that the people he labels as "Absolute Narcissists" must be "humiliated"?  Why "humiliated" vs "calmly challenged", "exposed to other points of view", or some such vs "humiliated"? My very biased guess is that he has Trump in mind, and believes he could be "humiliated". Perhaps.

And thus the Narcissistic Civilization Threat. We see clear evidence of this threat on both the "Trump Train" and the Bernie / Bloomie candidacies ... and if we dig just a little, it's everywhere, because when it comes to our basic beliefs, we ALL accept them on faith and faith alone -- for humans, there really isn't any "objective reality", only the "narrative" that each of us has.

My view is that Trump is far less a threat since he supports Christians being allowed to worship -- not so clear in Bernie / Bloomy.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Ruminator, Mindfulness

For most of my life, in homage to famous movie character, "The Terminator", I would be better called "The Ruminator". My brain likes to endlessly play out scenarios of the future, analysis of the present, always with a strong bias to imagined negative outcomes / thoughts. Much like a recovering alcoholic, I'm a ruminator in recovery -- one day, when I see my Lord, I'll be "cured".

Through Mindfulness -- the subject of the linked, and a lot of prayer, my "monkey mind" chatters less. I've also learned to appreciate the GIFT of an active mind ... one that questions, searches, considers options, naturally thinks critically, etc. Like every piece of our human existence, the tendency to "overthink" is both a blessing and a curse.

A good article. It also makes me think of Eckhart Tolle.

I especially liked this from the article ...

As I wrote in my book 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience: "Uncertainty is the keystone of life. The truth is this: No one can purchase or own the future."

As simple as ACCEPT what is, and what will be. And as complicated ...

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Rediscovery Of America, Jaffa

I've discovered Harry Jaffa via the Power Line Podcast with Steven Hayward ... it is a great discovery. The subject book now has a LOT of tabs and markings, so if I lend it to anyone, laughter is assured!

The theme of the book is Natural Rights, and understanding that if one does not believe in Natural Rights, then the Declaration of Independence, America, and Western civilization have no foundation.

Page 108; "The mind frees itself from all sense perception whenever it employs a universal, that is, a common noun -- the ground and basis of what we call common sense -- is at once the basis of the most common experience, and the greatest of all miracles. It exhibits the mind detached from matter, understanding material things simply because it is detached from them." 
Page 109, "A philosophy or metaphysics that denies the metaphysical freedom of mind that was axiomatic for Jefferson can have no part in liberal education, for liberal education means education in freedom and for freedom. It means education in the metaphysical reality of such a universe that the Declaration of Independence proclaims." 
He states a truth I believe to be self evident on p154; "Of all the words that have poisoned public discourse, none has done more damage than the word "value" used as a synonym for moral or political choice".

If there are no "self evident principles", then all is "value" ... a relative term, so it seems sensible for you to have "your values" and I to have "my values" -- which "Moral Believing Animals" would state is not possible. We ALL believe in SOME set of universally applicable truths, and if we don't have significant intersection in those foundational beliefs, we have extreme difficulty communicating, because our human nature is irrevocably tribal outside of a shared moral reality.

Jaffa has harsh words for Bork, Harvey Mansfield, Rehnquist, Bloom, and others who call themselves "conservative" because they have knowingly or unknowingly denied universals -- in which case, John C Calhoun, defender of slavery was correct -- "Morality" just means "power" as in "Might is right". 

A superb book to discover the cost of the denial of universals -- deny god and you get Nietzsche and "all is permissible".  You can't prove (or disprove) God, however if you refuse to believe in him there is a definite earthy cost, and I believe an even harsher eternal cost.

Moral Believing Animals

Love the book, hate the title. Yes, we are "creatures", so "animal" is accurate at one level, however it is a dangerous term -- it can lead to genocide, abortion, euthanasia and all manner of depravity. "Beings" would be my preferred term., and a much better representation of the content of the book.

The book makes a strong case for what I believe to the clearest fact of human existence, EVERYTHING we do is "faith based". NOTHING is epistemologically "provable", since our very consciousness, which we don't understand, is running on wetware (our brains) that we also don't understand -- we ALL walk by faith, the only question is "in what"?

Science as we know it can only ever proceed by first placing faith in a set of unprovable cosmological, metaphysical, and epistemological assumptions and commitments." And science as we know it proceeds by hitching its wagon to a set of nineteenth-century general assumptions about civilization, progress, knowledge, and morality. Science may have put a man on the moon (which was itself a morally, politically, and emotionally pregnant endeavor). But we cannot say that science is exempt from the moral and believing character of humans and society. 

We all live a narrative ... a story, founded on nested sets of beliefs that are coupled with other believed relationships, which Smith models as "rafts" (worldviews)  ...

Well-educated moderns are, of course, socialized to see other rafts. We are educated to recognize, tolerate, and appreciate a diversity of perspectives, paradigms, and cultures. At least to a point. For this modern, Mult versioned self is itself, of course, an historically situated position constituted by faith commitments to particular basic assumptions and beliefs-about individuality, autonomy, cosmopolitanism, equality, relativity, self-expression, truth, and so on. And when occasions arise that threaten these trusted assumptions and beliefs, sophisticated, flexible, tolerant, liberal, ... etc. we fight, even to the death.
If you question any of the foundational beliefs of these well-educated moderns however ... by saying that there IS an absolute truth, and it isn't theirs, or that "equality" is a demonstrable metaphysical impossibility, their "tolerance" quickly becomes similar to that of a Muslim jihadi!

So, since faith is all any of us have, our task is to see that we are ALL in a "faith boat" (which itself is likely "floating" in possibly stacked other "boats") and those boats are not "equivalent", nor are any "scientifically true" belief systems that rationally allow us to look down on other belief systems past or present. As believers, our human tendency is to assume that OUR belief system is "enlightened", "progressive", "divinely inspired", "rational", etc.  We are like fish in water not knowing or even having the concept of "wet".
The world we bring into being through believing has for us become fixed, unified, total. We are thus not in the end very different in this condition than the medieval peasant from whom the Enlightenment promised to raise and deliver us.
The point, rather, is that for all of our science, rationality, and technology, we moderns are no less the makers, tellers, and believers of narrative construals of existence, history, and purpose than were our forebears at any other time in human history. But more than that, we not only continue to be animals who make stories but also animals who are made by our stories.
So, we are certain to believe (the question is "in what"! ) -- and tragically, we can easily select a nihilist narrative that life is meaningless and there is no hope beyond this mortal coil -- OR, we can believe that we are unique creations of a loving God with a divine purpose that can be given to us by Grace! (and many of us believe that faith is only through the GIFT of the Holy Spirit). 
Our individual and collective lives come to have meaning and purpose insofar as they join the larger cast of characters enacting, reenacting, and perpetuating the larger narrative. It is by finding ourselves placed within a particular drama that we come to know our role, our part, our lines in life-how we are to act, why, and what meaning that has in a larger scheme of reality.

On page 117, he seems to agree with a theistic, though not specifically Christian belief model: "and so I am inclined to leave the matter here and maintain the parsimonious theistic explanation as my proposed theory."  

 The book makes an excellent sociological / philosophical case that humility is the root of wisdom ... in complete agreement with Socrates and the Bible. It does however make that case in a somewhat technical manner that may be difficult for some.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Mansfield, Manliness

A classic work to explore the very modern idea that "Manliness" is "bad", and the eternal issue of "Nature vs (or in concert with?) Nurture (social pressure/constructs),

To get the left view of the book I chose this review the Harvard Crimson.  Not surprisingly, it ignores one of the major themes of the book, understanding "Thumos"  ... "spiritedness", "passion", "drive", "courage" ... whole books are written on the subject, and it is quite visible today as Trump is very much an embodiment of Thumos.

The New Criterion has great coverage of this fact in this article.  ...

Most people don’t think of Plato when they think of Donald Trump, but they should. Our usual forms of political analysis—both the more rigorous, like academic political science, and the more popular, like the conventional wisdom of political journalists and commentators—utterly failed to come to grips with the Trump phenomenon. They did not predict his success as a presidential candidate. To the contrary, they confidently, repeatedly, and erroneously predicted his failure.

A way to understand the "Enlightenment" is "Mind over Matter" ... and as "matter" is worshipped --  history, classic literature, religion, and also philosophy, are consigned to the "dustbin".  The worship of matter is the worship of "particles and progress" ... relentless, inevitable (it is hard not to be a determinist if one is a materialist, a discussion of many posts). In any case, the assumption of "modernity" is that any of the old Natural Rights thought is simply bunk -- Darwin, Nietzsche, and Marx have repealed all those "myths".

So as Mansfield laments, men have decided to just roll over and submit to the program of the feminization of culture -- but have they really?

As I read the book, an old model that I read somewhere and can't remember, and I'm CERTAINLY not going to take credit for inventing! is that humans are darned easy to understand.

When a man walks into a room, his underlying snake brain (subconscious)  evaluates the other men in the room to see if he is confident that he can adequately handle any of them should they challenge him.  The same low level functions evaluate the females for "desirability".  If there are any "standouts" in either category, these will come to conscious attention ... along with assessment of "friend or foe".

The female snake brain does a similar evaluation -- what is the "attractiveness ranking" of the women relative to her, where do the men rank on "desirability".

One of the major modern dilemmas is that materialist science is increasingly showing the power of these "lower level" materialist elements vs the "higher level" conscious functions of nurture, culture, etc. Our believed "mastery" over the "mere material" as science advanced in results through technology led us to believe we could subdue ALL the "mere material", including the material of which we are made (flesh).

Predictions the development of Artificial Intelligence (see 2001 a Space Odyssey)  the ability to create "life" ,,, which it turns out we have a very poor idea of what it even is, and likewise consciousness, have led even some really intelligent scientists to question some of the more basic assumptions of secularism, humanism, feminism, materialism, etc ...

Western civilization "sold its soul" (denied it even had one), and as Mansfield discusses on page 121, when you kill god, you get nihilism and the ubermensch. Tired old ideas like Christianity, created soulful behaviors like Gentlemanliness ,,, throw out the baby of the manger and you get the Satan of Nietzsche!

"Darwin's theory by destroying the specialness of human beings denies that nature can be a standard for them; "nature" is merely what evolves by chance, and thus has no authority for us. This very denial makes nature into a standard for us in the phrase "survival of the fittest"-- first a description of what happens, then a prescription of how men should behave".

Nietzsche understands human nature very well, and applauds it ... "Man would rather will nothingness than not will" ... "That is of course a statement about human nature and it's perverseness. It implies that the low and the high are permanent elements of in man and that if the low does not serve the high, the high will serve the low".

On 239, Mansfield says "If you are weaker, you have to pay more attention to the context than if you are stronger, I believe it really matters that women are weaker than men, and that is why I have mentioned the fact more often than a gentleman would have preferred."

I question if anyone truly denies this ... being a fairly robust 6'4" 300 lb male, I'm comfortable walking up to a group of bikers or a rough looking bar. While our current feminized society is working hard to create female superheroes ... Elsa, Black Widow, etc, on a day to day basis in the real world, does that actually work? We can imagine a lot of things, but reality is often far different from our imagination.

On 37, we get a succinct definition of Manliness: " What does a John Wayne or Theodore Roosevelt show us about manliness is it's completeness. A manly man is nothing if not an individual, one who sets himself apart, who is concerned with the honor rather than the survival of his individual being. Or to better say, he finds his survival only in his honor."

At the very bottom, the definition of a secular "real man" is as simple as Rhett Butler ... "Frankly, I don't give a damn!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Voter ID

First, "Politifact" is definitely biased -- so we have Fake News calling other news fake.

Second, what is NOT reported is often at least as important as what is.

Canada requires voter ID, 

Mexico has very stringent Voter ID.

Thirdly, while the "fact check" honestly reports that 2/3 of americans support voter id, it's main justification for opposing ID is because "studies show it is rare". Hmmm

"Studies have shown" LOTS of things that have turned out to be false, and "proving", or even postulating the rarity of something hard to observe is next to impossible. eg, You may believe that you have no mice (or few) in your home "because you have not seen one". Would you be willing to bet big money that someone could not find a goodly number? If you see ONE, are you willing to bet that is the ONLY ONE, or at least that there are "very few"?

Without voter ID, how do you find fraud?

So far, this is all typical bickering, but FB is claiming that "The only valid reason to oppose voter ID is because you plan to cheat" is "mostly false", and are flagging it thusly so they hope people will be led to not consider that claim, and look into it themselves.

 EVERYONE, is biased. Our best approach is ALWAYS to at least look at "both", or often "many" sides ... get a balanced media diet, because often the MSM will not even mention stories that disprove their narrative ... nor will Fox, or other even more biased media on the right or left.

If you are too busy for a balanced media diet, I recommend All Sides.

I quibble with the "ONLY reason" in the meme. 

Being misinformed, having limited mental faculties, being so ideologically committed that you blindly support "your side", etc are also at least "reasons", of various levels of validity for opposing voter ID.

However, we have pretty ample evidence that Democrats are extremely willing (certainly much more willing than Canada and Mexico for example) to insure that "voters" of very limited capability or veracity as citizens get to vote! This would seem to fly completely in the face of their commonly stated view that anyone that votes Republican is "stupid, uneducated, backward, etc".

The "fact check" has this "support":

In 2006, the Brennan Center commissioned a survey that found that an estimated 21 million voting-age U.S. citizens didn’t have government-issued photo IDs. Of those 21 million, 15% of citizens who earned less than $35,000 a year, 18% age 65 or older, and 25% of African Americans didn’t have a current government-issued photo ID.

"Survey says" is certainly good enough for "Family Feud", but what kind of person actually finds it sufficient for supporting argument on the integrity of voting?  If you don't have the capability to realize that you are absolutely required to have photo ID in order to live in this country (drive, buy on credit, cash a check, ship a package, get a room at a hotel, fly, etc, etc) do you REALLY want such a person to vote?

Certainly Democrats do ... they actively canvas nursing homes, shut-ins, etc. I've often visited such and love them dearly, however I KNOW that if someone knocks on their door and "helps them" with a ballot, they are certain to "vote" however the "helpful person" indicates!

There is some excellent information on voter fraud in this post, including a pointer to a great book that covers the "how it is done" very well. This is another good thread to follow.

The bottom line here is that the MAIN reason to oppose voter ID is because you benefit from it ... which Democrats clearly do, and have for ages.

AND, you definitely can't trust the media! They will consistently lie to you (both knowingly and unknowingly) and maybe even of more importance, do all they can to fail to report and even suppress (as in this case, labeling it "fake") information that does not support their narrative!


Monday, February 3, 2020

The Joy Of Hatred

The link discusses a recent obvious example of media people reveling in their hatred of the common "Blue Collar" Americans that live in "red state - flyover country". They proudly hate them, and firmly believe that they are honorable and just in their hatred. Hating the "Trumpkins" is a badge of honor, a "virtue" they are proud to signal.

And as in the Old Testament days of "an eye for an eye", our human nature begets hatred in return -- so we reap what we sow. We can no more change our flawed human nature without divine intervention than a tiger can change it's stripes.

Thus we now have a nation bathed in mutual hatred and a cold (so far) civil war.

2k years ago, Jesus came and presented a radically new and completely inhuman  idea -- the idea of loving our enemies! Completely impossible for unrepentant humans, but as proven by many "sinning saints" in Christ, at least significantly possible through the Grace of God.

Much like the slow and often painful process of "getting in shape", bit by bit, step by imperfect step, Western civilization increasingly became a significantly Christian civilization., While still just in it's toddler phase, it unsurprisingly came to the much premature confidence of "MINE"! "MYSELF!".

The slowly maturing faith practice "ran into the street" (like a toddler breaking away from mom)  of a number of wars, including the devastation of two world wars, and after being given the "car keys" of the bomb, it at least partially buckled down enough to best the class bullies of Hitler and Stalin (at fearsome cost). Like teenage "victories" however, the the assumption was immediately made that there was no "controlling authority", and a detour was made to the siren of pleasure, and rejection of authority (God).

Like all analogies, attempting to map the stages of an infinite God's plan to mere human activity is futile. A fool such as myself might imagine that it would be obvious by now that such a plan in no way fits the model of Historicism, Socialism, or Progressivism -- the World Wars alone would seem to drive home the fallicitious assertion that "progress is inevitable" in purely human terms (more "stuff", more "pleasure" -- and all of it perpetually requiring less effort! (but always bereft of any spiritual consideration)

Reading the Old Testament shows a God willing to let his children suffer terrible lessons on the path to accepting his Grace -- banishment to Babylon, many lost wars, etc. Free Will is a benefit with an eternal price -- either the light yoke of following Christ, or the eternal devastation of letting Satan and "the flesh"  have mastery.

Today, one of the "sides" mostly rejects the idea of divine authority --  "higher power", while the other "side" may claim God's authority, their faith is largely in "cheap grace" -- no need to accept the humility of kneeling in submission, and realizing the constant human failure to love the "other". Virtue signalling of "good works" in raising others taxes, or celebrating the sin of others is counted as righteousness in the secular faith.

America, and in general all of Western Civilization blundered into the idea that we were "progressing" to some undefined  "heaven on earth" of an ever more powerful centralized impersonal bureaucracy taking the place of the Christian God.

The creation of the European Union (EU) in the late 20th Century, and then the election of Obama in 2008 in the US seemed to have "sealed the deal" on Statist, Socialist or near-Socialist, centralized, Deep/Administrative elitist control.

The Statist/Socialist "victory" was at least delayed by the beginning of Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump in the US in 2016.

The Deep/Administrative State was not amused.

The Brexit vote in the UK was fought by the elite with vengeance, and the election of Trump was never accepted by the American left wing -- investigation by the Deep State started before he was elected, and has continued up to his impeachment by the house, to be officially rejected by the Senate in the next couple days. Brexit has just finally been completed after a battle of 1,317 days.

The age old battle of "the people" (the "Bourgeois", the "Commoners", the "Deplorables", etc) vs the Elites, the Davos overlords, the Betters, etc, continues.

In the US, Democracy worked from 1800 to 1865, then failed spectacularly with the Civil War. It failed again in 2016 as the "losers" failed to accept the results of an election -- how costly that failure is remains to be fully seen, however the linked article shows that hatred is again strongly evident.

Can democracy work without Faith? Not according to John Adams !

Humans LOVE to feel superior, and hatred of "the other" and virtue signalling about how strongly they hate that "other" is a major source of joy once the soul is given over to "The Dark Side".

Once we abandon God, might is right, and all "sides" seek "justice" in power! The "other side" is demonized and any "tired old ideas" of "loving your enemy" are abandoned to the dark and delicious feelings of superiority over those who fail to see the "wisdom" of your "truth". 

Welcome to the Jungle! 

Churchill Mass Effects In Modern Life

A worthy article whose meaning is mostly lost in summary.

The meaning is that "making all the same" ... "leveling", "equality", like all in this mortal coil has it's cost. Man needs his heroes -- and we can see that with the veneration of mere movie stars or athletes. We are so desperate for heroes, that we are drawn to the imaginary -- the "Marvel Universe", and various videogame "realities".

The irony is if course that Churchill himself at the time he authored this was one of the last remaining true heroes ...

No, we must take the loss with the gain. On the uplands there are no fine peaks. We must do without them while we stay there. Of course we could always, if we wished, go down again into the plains and valleys out of which we have climbed. We may even wander thither unwittingly. We may slide there. We may be pushed there. There are still many powerful nations dwelling at these lower levels, some contentedly, some even proudly. They often declare that life in the valleys is preferable. There is, they say, more variety, more beauty, more grace, more dignity, more true health and fertility than upon the arid highlands. They say this middle situation is better suited to human nature. The arts flourish there, and science need not be absent. Moreover, it is pleasing to look back over the plains and morasses through which our path has lain in the past, and remember in tradition the great years of pilgrimage. Then they point to the frowning crag, their venerated El Capitan or Il Duce, casting its majestic shadow in the evening light; and ask whether we have anything like that up there. We certainly have not.