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Monday, October 17, 2016

Culture War

The United States has been engaged in a culture war for more than a century, though most Americans seem blissfully unaware of the fact.  And, indeed, the terrifying truth is that traditional America is not only losing the battle, but will ultimately lose the war, if the sleeping majority fails to awake in time to save it. 

Over the past 100 years or so, many of our most cherished customs and traditions have been ‘called to the bar of reason, ruthlessly interrogated and cross-examined’ by the self-anointed intellectual elite and ‘found wanting’.  As a consequence, the America we see today would be quite unrecognizable to our grandparents and great-grandparents.

Traditional education methods, for example, have been tossed out.  ‘The sage of the stage’ has been elbowed aside by ‘guide on the side.’ Children, we are told, don’t need to be taught.  We simply have to awake their natural thirst for learning…Nowhere have the effects of the culture war been more keenly felt than in the realm of religion.

Only 40 years ago, for example, only the boldest – or most foolhardy – of politicians would have failed to list the Bible as the book that had most profoundly influenced their lives.  Today only the boldest – or most foolhardy – of politicians would dare suggest that children might benefit from gaining a nodding acquaintanceship with the Bible at school.  Many of our self-appointed intellectual elite, of course, dismiss a belief in God as hopelessly primitive and embarrassingly superstitious. 

In Europe – a place many of America’s intellectuals fawningly turn to for approval – the embarrassment is so acute that the continent’s enormous historic debt to Christianity was deliberately omitted from the European Community Constitution.  However, protecting children from the baleful influence of Holy Scripture is not without its downside.  Like it or not, the Bible – as the writings of the Founding Fathers attest – was our republic’s most influential foundational document.  Pretending this is not so deprives coming generations of the ability to  comprehend the founders’ vision and, thus, manage the republic they bequeathed us. 

Actually, the disastrous effects of the politics of denial are readily apparent – and not only in our inner cities, but in our legislatures, work places and corporate boardrooms.  Like the myths of the ancient world, antique virtues such as honesty, integrity and loyalty are increasingly dismissed as ‘quaint and amusing, but of no relevance to our lives.’  This might be all very well were it not that a large body of people, unencumbered by the concerns of our intellectual elite, have launched an entirely different type of cultural war. 

They find American customs, traditions and intellectual pretensions so utterly hateful they are bound and determined to wipe the United States off the face of the earth.  Divine revelation or not, the Bible contains much practical advice for people in our position – not the least of which is the fifth commandment: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ 

This is a chilling warning that nations perish when their populations no longer cherish and respect the traditions, customs and beliefs upon which they were founded.  History provides us with ample examples of the truth of this – ancient Israel, Judah, the Greek city states, Rome, Byzantium, France circa 1939, to name but half a dozen.  Britain and France are at last beginning to awaken, albeit fitfully and uncertainly – to the Islamic challenge.  The question is whether America is prepared to learn from history…or repeat it?”

 The Ven. Cannon Guy P. Hawtin, Rector, Saint Stephen’s Anglican Church, Timonium, MD, 10 March 2015

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