Back in 2006, before the accession of the current Occupant, I began to write a little novel entitled The Ten Weeks. It describes, among other things, the result of a democratically elected left-wing government and how it, using the sexual revolution as one of its weapons (and mob action as another), took progressive power in the society.
If we look at history outside the U.S., the progression of left-wing regimes pretty much follows a pattern, one which varies depending upon how, when and where that regime got into the driver’s seat. But the idea that this was coming has been in the background of this blog since its inception.
However, to tell the truth, even I am surprised at how fast things have come “over centre”. This is supposed to be a “rights” crusade. But in a society deeply in debt, with growing economic inequality and a weak moral compass, “rights” are a dicey concept. That’s especially true when we consider how one-sided these rights are administered, the result of an outcome-based judiciary and administrative system. It decides what it wants to happen and “interprets” the law to make that decision a reality. Under those conditions the judicial redress option is too iffy to really count on any more.
So that leaves us Christians with Lenin’s (and Russia’s really) favourite question: what is to be done? I’ve got a few suggestions that hopefully will take root, especially with our leadership, whose “deer in headlights” stance is all too clear.
The first is to remember what we’re supposed to be doing here. Our core goal is eternal life; that needs to stay our mission, for ourselves and for those to whom we reach out. We’ve gotten off track with our attempts to show that who we are and what we do has “social value”. At this point our opponents don’t care if what we do has social value: if it doesn’t empower them and fit into their ideological lens, they will hate it no matter what it is.
That refocusing of our mission also applies to the other time and energy wasting thing that Evangelicals in particular are bad about: upward social mobility. There are certainly benefits for drying out, getting off of drugs and being responsible. But when your opponents only recognise the right to party as the core goal of life, any attempt to instil austerity will be met with opposition. And trying to move up will likewise engender opposition from an established “clerisy”. I found the following statement interesting in Rod Dreher’s secret interview with elite-school law professor “Kingsfield”:
“I could still imagine having a kid who was really strong in his faith, and believing that God was calling him to going to a prestige college. I’m not ready to say ‘never’ for that, but I do think there are a lot of kids that we need to steer away from such hostile places, and into smaller, reliably Christian schools where they can be built up in their faith, and not have to deal with such hostility before they’re strong enough to combat it.”
I tire of Christians trumpeting the entrance of their progeny into “élite” schools as a sign that they have “arrived”. I’ve always taken a jaundiced view of such “advancement”, and now a few people have figured that out. (I’ll bet that Harvard is wishing it turned down Ted Cruz, but that’s their problem…I’ll deal with the merit issue of these institutions next month).
That leads to the next point: stick together. That’s not as easy as it looks, but at this point it’s necessary. If those opposed to us figure out they can split us on stuff, it will be very difficult to live in this society. That in turn will make two other things which will make our lives easier.
The first is to allow ourselves to enter into patron-client types of arrangements. That’s the essence of what the LDS church did in Utah with their new law. The Roman Catholics are probably thinking the same thing; the biggest problem there is disunity among the bishops. Given the perils of Americans negotiating, this can be a tricky proposition. It’s a fine line between entering an arrangement and carrying their water. Getting past that problem, we may not like heading towards a system more like the Ottoman millet system than anything else, but face it: the old Ottoman millet system beats what is fashionable these days, which is ISIS.
One interesting part of this direction is taking place in New York. It didn’t get much press, but SCOTUS declined to review the appeals court decision that allows the City of New York to boot churches from meeting in schools. Then Mayor DeBlasio allowed them to continue. DeBlasio has his shortcomings, but he is one of the few prominent politicians on the left who realises that the LGBT community is not the be-all and end-all of progressive politics. That, in turn, was doubtless driven by the many non-white groups who have their own opinion of the LGBT community, and they’re a part of DeBlasio’s–and the Democrats’–base as well.
The other thing is to do what we have to do to insure the integrity of our institutions. Dreher’s “Kingsfield” discusses that in some detail; I would throw in that our ministers should take the Marriage Pledge and get civil marriage out of the church altogether. One thing that would advance this is to lose the idea that church as a private club is bad; I dealt with this in my response to Frank Matthew Powell. Evangelical churches are obsessed with this open, populist idea of church, but it’s a luxury we’ll find harder to afford as time passes. In Roman times the church was looked at as a collegium, which is a form of private club.
Finally, I also think we need to realise that, if it ever was, the U.S. isn’t our country any more. That must inform how we act on a number of issues, from military service to how we look at the state to even where we do send our children to college. (There’s no dishonour going abroad). Besides, it’s hard to be really fired up about a country that, one the one hand, promotes LGBT rights all over the world and on the other is hell-bent on signing a nuclear agreement with a regime that hangs the same people from hydraulic cranes.
It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be fun. But Our Lord never promised either.