America: The Coming (Present) Crisis

   I am more concerned about my country than ever.

The Passivity Crisis

   Passivity comes today wrapped in the mantle of tolerance. Our young report in surveys their optimism for the future, though they are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than previous generation. They accept alternative life styles easily, as they have been raised on the question, "Who am I to judge?" This servies as a substitute for rational thought.

    Most serious, even, is their belief the central government must do more for them. A bankrupt central government in a highly dependent public is the stuff of violent revolutions. Ask the Greeks now. In a month, ask the Spanish or the Portugese.

Values, what we would have called morals or ethics in the near past, is now almost the complete province of a values class. Here is one indication. The last Protestant Supreme Court judge is set to retire. This will leave the US Supreme Court made up of Roman Catholics and Jews. Republicans appoint comservative Roman Catholics. Democrats, who, in the White House tend to be baptist (Carter, Clinton and Obama, the last three Democratic presidents, along with a Vice President, Gore) appoint more liberal Jews.

   The values of the Great American middle class(es), mostly Protestant or Free Church, still hold sway in general elections, for now, but not in the judgeships, where Republicans need conservative Catholics to hold the line on abortion rights, immigration and law/order issues (mandatory sentencing for drug offenders, capital punishment, crimininilization of same sex unions, easier regulation on polluters and those who skirt the law to amass wealth). Democrats appoint judges who, they hope, will find privacy issues in every possible place, as privacy has become the modern euphemism for individual rights.

   Left unsaid in the appointment of reliable, doctrinaire judges, of one stripe or another, is the apparent assumption that Protestant and Free Church Christians are much like the irreligious; they lack reliable moral voting) determinants. Are leaders telling Protestant/Free Church/Irreligious we are too independent in our thinking, which might be a good thing, or are they just telling us we seem to be, well, flaky?

   What happens to a culture when it must turn for its values thinking to a particular values class? I don't know, and neither do you, but it seems to me, if values/morals/ethics are the domain of a particular class of arbiters, the rest of us are left with a certain elastic dependency on the mores of that values class. This may not be good.

   Racial Victimization thinking leads to a sense of entitlement that does not necessarily augment assimilation. America is hard to govern quite because it is not racially/religiously homogenuous.

    America has worked so far because previous massive waves of immmigration have been Americanized. Noble, generous, liberal American thinking operated so powerfully that the various Americas (Italian-American, Irish-American, et al) became Americanized on both sides of the hyphen. Religious immigrants came here for freedom of religion, not freedom of religion, but learned to practice the same freedom for others one sees embodied in American governing documents. The new religious immigrants seem determined not to Americanize. In fact, though they come to America, they seem more convinced that America must be changed to fit their religious views and that violence against the infidel is an acceptable means of change.

   So, I am more concerned about America than I have been in my life.

Opinions expressed here are mine alone. They do not reflect the opinions of the church I serve, not of any other person or organization.


3 thoughts on “America: The Coming (Present) Crisis”

  1. Catholics are not light on scholarship, including theological and legal. They have a tradition of looking deep and wide.
    For some reason, this brings to mind a papal letter (Benedict? JPII?) identifying two modern-sin trends as 1) materialism, including reliance on what is seen, such as wealth, and objective proof according to this year’s science — thereby devaluing or excluding the spiritual; and 2) the ‘tyranny of relativism’ in which the highest/only value is strict tolerance, usually enforced by a vacuum-filling-power group.
    Yet we remain – to the frustration of some – spiritual, clinging stubbornly to our faith.
    More to your point, diligence, perseverance and sacrifice are good Biblical antidotes. But they’re ha-a-a-a-rd (whine).

  2. I think we’ve long outgrown Herberg’s Protestant, Catholic, Jew model. Those categories no longer mean what they did prior to WWII when you had a somewhat unified Protestant Establishment trying to defend itself against a growing Catholic population. And of course you had a influential Jewish elite to contend with in the political arena.
    Since the 1960s, we’ve seen division develop within denominations whereas in the past the divisions were between denominations or between Protestants and Catholics. Robert Wuthnow calls this the restructuring of American religion.
    In light of all that, I’m not saddened that the Supreme Court is likely to be without a Protestant voice. I’d rather have a Catholic jurist who interprets the Constitution like Stevens than a Baptist originalist.
    As far as why there are no Baptists among the possible list of Supreme Court Justices: I’d say that has something to do with the fact that an Ivy League degree is pretty much a prereq to a spot on the High Court.
    We Baptists are to a great extent still a regional denomination(s). We’ve certainly made progress. But Baptist influence is found largely in the South. We attend universities in the South. If we don’t go to a top state schools like Georgia, Texas, or Virginia, we go to an elite private school located in the South (Emory, Duke, Rice, etc.). And of course many still go to Baptist schools. But I suspect that there are not many Baptists who go Ivy League.
    There are quite a few Baptists in southern states who went to law schools like UGA and UT and are now serving in Congress or State Supreme Court or even a federal court. But if you don’t have those Ivy credentials, your chances of getting on the High Court are slim to none despite a long list of accomplishments.

  3. My friends at Yale and Harvard tell me there is a burgeoning evangelical community at both schools. At each school the evangelical groups are meeting stiff faculty resistance. In fact, Time had a piece on this matter less than three months ago. I read it, but don’t ask me to tell you when it went up.
    My point remains the same. The Pew Research study from last year, recently released, conclusively proves, well, nothing, but strongly hints the primary difference between the coming generation and the passing generation, as seen by the coming generation, is a difference in how each values morals. Among other things, dear brother Weave, this makes you and anomaly in your own generation; you read books, think and have values. Others will seek you out, suck the values out of you and then, probably, do what they wish. You are going to be one of the leaders of the Values Sect. God help you. The job of the public conscience is not an easy one these days.

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