Let me break this down for you. There is a revolution in progress. This is what a revolution looks like. The revolutionaries have been preparing it for decades, following out the logic of Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions.” They are in the process of making what they believe is their final concerted push. They are doing this because, as things stand now, there is no place for conservatives to stand as they try to push back.
The conservatives, such as they are, have been operating on cruise control for those same decades—holding to the form but lacking the substance. The form they have been holding to is the brick skin of Western culture, but they have acquiesced in a repudiation of all the internal support columns of Western culture, which would be the Christian faith. And remember, without Christ the Christian faith has its own forms of holding to the form but lacking the substance—funny hats and no gospel.
So here is the point again, the stark point—it is Christ or chaos. For those who have been buying into the flatteries of the liberal democrats, the flatteries that say we can have a society with “a center that holds” without a transcendental authority, my point is a stark and ugly one. But ugly or not, it is manifestly true: Christ or chaos. It is Christ at the center or chaos at the center. The practical problem is this. How can you have chaos at the center without soon enough getting chaos out at the edges? Maybe even in suburbia? Maybe even out as far as your gated community of Woodlawn Hills?
So for some time now, I have been calling for a return to mere Christendom. There is no coherent defense against Leftist insanity available that can prevail by simply appealing to common sense or shared civic traditions. Hollow traditions are simply that brittle exterior that make such a satisfying crunchy sound when the radicals punch through them. This is a battle between false gods on the march and hollow gods standing on pedestals just waiting to be yanked over.
Eric Erickson has some good things to say about this as a battle over the God-vacancy. He is talking about the Antifa thugs on the Left and the neo-Nutzis on the Right. My point is consistent with his, but I am comparing the agitators on the Left with the respectable buttoned-down, creased-khaki conservatives on the modest and diffident right. They are modest enough not to get an upper-case R.
The Left is attacking America, not the Confederacy. The Confederacy, for those just joining us, lost the war. Part of the accommodation that was reached after the war was an arrangement where the nation grew back together with both sides being proud of how both sides fought. A story is told of a Yankee speaking in Manchester, England, trying to raise support for the cause of the Union. Manchester was a textile town, in need of Southern cotton, and so the crowd was feisty and hostile. While he was speaking, a heckler interrupted him with the taunt that the war was supposed to take just a few weeks, and here it was years now. What’s your problem? The speaker acknowledged that the war was dragging on, and that it had taken a whole lot longer than anticipated. The problem was that we failed to take into account the fact that we would be fighting Americans.
The Left has not decided that a resurgent Confederacy is a real threat. They have determined (correctly) that the whole thing is woven together. If they can get everyone cowed by the emotional logic of “Slave-owner!,” they will be able to tear down a lot more than a memorial plaque in a community cemetery in Mississippi somewhere.
The first target is slave-owners who fought for the South (Lee, Jackson), and the second is non-slave-owners who fought for the South (monuments for the generic Confederate soldier, the vast majority of whom did not own slaves). Next up will be slave-owners who fought against Great Britain for the North and South (Washington), and after that will be slave-owners who fought for the North (Grant).
But note this well. They are attacking an America that does not know how to defend itself. Moreover, they are attacking an America that deserves every last bit of what is coming down. We are now in the worst possible position—America is being attacked because of its historic association with Jehovah, and is being attacked having angered Jehovah. A nation of ingrates, it is not surprising that we cannot deal with the simplest of problems. Trick question! What is a boy?
Contemporary America has rejected God, and refuses to name of the name of Jesus. But there is no salvation without a Savior. We have therefore lost the concept of sin, but we have not lost the ability to pile up grievances. Sins can be forgiven (if you call upon Jesus), but grievances accumulate. If there is no God, there can be no sin. So these statues are coming down, not because they represent sinners, but because they are represent losers. This is a power struggle, not a moral struggle.
Jaroslav Pelikan nailed it when he said, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” In order to be the kind of tradition that keeps a people together, there has to be life in it. But there is no life that spans generations apart from Christ. That means the gospel is necessary in order to keep any society from going to seed.
When I compare false gods to hollow gods, remember that these active false gods here are the hollow gods elsewhere—in those lands where collectivism was actually attempted. They have their appeal here because socialism runs on envy, the same way my truck runs on regular, and because of the massive amounts of material prosperity here, that envy has all the inspiration it needs to keep going. They do not have any accomplishments to their credit, unless you count the central goal, which is to tear down the accomplishments of others.
The central logical telos for all forms of egalitarianism—financial, sexual, environment, etc.—is the impoverishment of others. What they want above all is fruitlessness. What they want above all is barrenness. This is why they worship the barrenness pill. This is why they think CO2, the thing that makes plants lush and green, is a pollutant. This is why they hate profits.
So back to the chase. Let us distinguish between the death of God as a datum in theology, than which no greater absurdity can be imagined, and the death of God as a datum of rebellious political philosophy, the consequences of which we see playing out around us every day. Those consequences are every bit as absurd as they are in theology, but because those who have decided to adhere to it are currently in the grip of a mass hysteria, that absurdity is hidden from them. We can see it, but they cannot.
We have been told, and for some time now, that we could have a stable, orderly society without a transcendental authority. So how’s that working out? We were told that common sense would enable us all to work together, regardless of the fact that we all believed different things about ultimate reality. Is that still true?
We have gotten to the absurd point where people in Che! shirts are accusing Robert E. Lee of being a bad man. We must repudiate slave-owners, said the guy in the murderer shirt. Seattle has a monument to Confederate soldiers in Lake View Cemetery and Vladimir Lenin in Fremont. Talk about cognitive dissonance. If I might quote John Lennon, “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.” God let him write those words to preemptively make up for Imagine. But if you are going to start with the monsters who had the most blood on their hands, and if we lived in a world that made any sense, then Lenin would already be gone. His statues are all gone in those places that actually had to put up with his ideas in action.
So here it is, once again. I have little doubt that I will be repeating this over and over and over again in the years to come. You have a limited number of choices. First, you can join the commies. They are the ones who, if given complete control of Hawaii, would shortly be running shortages of salt water. Second, you can wistfully wish that Antifa had not gotten that rocket launcher into position such that enabled them to blow Washington’s nose off Mt. Rushmore. You wish this ardently, and are greatly distressed, and are thinking about a stern letter to the Wall Street Journal. This behavior is just hurtful, that’s all.
Or you can recognize that Christ is Lord. If Christ really rose from the dead, then He has the authority to forgive us for climbing into this stupid frying pan. And He can forgive us for the temptation of thinking jumping out into the fire would be an improvement.