Future Ring

   Please do not spend much time worrying about attacks on me. One of my life goals is to earn the complete scorn of scoundrels. When someone shows more hatred for me because I reveal evil than the men who perpetrate evil, they earn the sobriquet "scoundrel" from me.

   Who am I to take this responsibility? Who are you to ignore it? Democracies are run by citizens, republics by elected/appointed representatives and empires by dictators. If you choose an empire you choose a dictator, a person you may not question and must not impugn, but why would you make such a choice? If you need this platform to mark you as a "good Christian," you have a Christianity that makes you a coward; you may keep your portion and mine as well.

   You always have a dog in this hunt, a horse in this race, a hat in this ring. If you are a moral man/woman or believe there is a moral order to the universe, there is no such thing as neutrality to evil. That is, unless you wish to be the accomplice of evil.

Futuring

   In 1930, a date I pick for no greater reason than I might pick 1929 or 1931, the United States of America began to reinvent itself. For chronological purposes the nation born in 1776 still traces its origins to the colonial date. The nation we live in actually began in the 1930’s and is less than 100 years old.

   There is little comparison to what was and what is, except to say the Colonial and Civil Unrest Periods gave us some cohesion to work out our massive inhumanity/hypocrisy. Numerous times during the Colonial and Civil Unrest Periods, the twin viruses of inhumanity and national hypocrisy threatened to dissolve the Union. We found we could not exist long, or happily, free and slave, voter and non-voter, have and have not. The social forces that pushed us to the brink of catastrophe time after time actually proved to be our national salvation because we responded to those forces rather than wait for "inevitable liberty."

   The truth, in fact, does not set one free. Freedom itself does not make one much better anyway. Human beings flourish under the most illiberable, wretched circumstances and flounder under the most prosperous conditions. Human response to truth may not allow freedom at all, or deny freedom to some so the favored may be "more free."

   In the Old Nation, some human beings were counted as three-fifths of a voting unit. Even this value proved disastrous for the three-fifths people, for it gave greater representative power to their oppressors. In the Old Nation, women did not vote, nor many men. Children were uneducated, worked long hours under desperate conditions for starvation wages and were considered expendable. Military power was as likely to be used to suppress citizens as to protect them. Senior citizens were left in dire poverty and ill health. Immigrants did not so much assimilate as balkanize themselves into ghettoes until another group, even more scorned, came into sight.

   In 1930, extreme world-wide distress forced the rebirth of a nation. The labor pains would take fifty years. In the period of a half century a bigoted, caste sensitive nation extended legal civil rights to its three-fifths people, put a social safety net under its old, poor and sick, extended sufferage (actual, as well as legal), protected children and began to see its stewardship (as opposed to rapacious ownership) of natural resources.

   Then we got scared of our three steps forward and tried to take two steps back again. We will rend ourselves to bits trying to align with the huge reactionary forces at work, because history usually corrects itself and usually to the left. None of us would argue for a return to slavery, to appalling child labor conditions, to any of the things we spent fifty years expunging from our system. History corrects to the left until we arrive at the border where common sense and compassion reach their zenith. A socially conservative reaction, called "fear mongering" by the left and a "conservative resurgence" by the right persuades the generous middle toward resentment and protectionism. A trillion dollar fence to protect one aganst cheap labor may be the result.

   I cannot make you feel better about this correction. There is no force at my disposal to assuage your fears. Change is not only inevitable, it is God’s constant friction to warm the earth. At best one’s army can hold the hordes at bay in a foreign land, draining blood and wealth from the home land for a time. When this proves too costly, national autonomy disappears.

   For instance, the Iraq conflict thus far, to 2008, has cost the USA about one trillion dollars. This corresponds to the amount of money borrowed by the USA from the national governments of China and Saudi Arabia. One question; what happens to you when someone calls your loan?

   The future, however, does not have to be an Ayn Randish blur of cynical self-absorption, where altruism is a crime. The future might become an irenic epoch, if we do not settle for something less in the present, which is, after all, where we will start to build the future.

   We will have to embrace a new polity, not so much of structure as of ideas. Politics cannot be pragmatic only or the machinery encourages us to amass power for its own sake and so abuse it for our own profit. No, that will not do and the time to start over, yet again, is now.

Today

   Social conservatism can serve as the petri dish of prejudice. In its higher form, social conservatism could, instead, embrace religious freedom and freedom from religion, allow for charitable works from a generous heart and use government to enhance the necessary portability of the citizenry while it encourages citizens to act for the greater good.

   Simply put, there are too many forces pushing against them for the Walton’s to live up on their idyllic saw-mill mountain any longer. Market forces demand portability in this Post-Modern world. People have to move from place to place. Family may not be able to pack up and move with them. Government cannot legislate intelligence or morality. Government can act in behalf of its citizens and, frankly, it must.

   We really need not argue about the presence of a ruling collective, nationalistic or global. People will connect. Connective populations surrender some autonomy so border guards can keep out the bad guys. I have to stand in line with the bad guys. I am more likely to get caught than a bad guy because I do not pay much attention to what I say in line or on line but I have grandchildren and I want someone to catch the bad guys.

   We will decide what form of government we can endure together. Democracy as consensus may be the highest stated goal. The moment we put something to a vote, democracy ends. Consensus is not majority rule. Majority rule implies winners and losers. Since human society is usually competitive there must be winners and losers. Conflict is inavoidable. Government manages the conflict. We have to decide what kind of government will manage our conflict.

   I am going to argue for a kind of social conservatism intent to enhance the global community. This is hard for an old tax and spend liberal/moderate Republican. Apparently, hypocrisy did not end in 1930.

   Social, cultural conservatism in the day of Talk Radio has been reduced to schtick in the same way religion in the television age descends to the level of greedy buffoonery. The social conservatism of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, offers high ethical standards; feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner. His horizontal (man to man) requirements append to His vertical relationship (man to God); love God utterly and visibly.

   Social conservatism has a religious base because it has well meaning religious adherents. Intellectual snobbery robbed the left of its religious base. The left is so polarized, so identified with an anti-religious mindset, optimistic religious neutrals have no home in the left, save it be in a cardboard box on a heating grate.

   Social conservatism is so misrepresented. Its religious heritage is demeaned. Its politics are pushed to adversarial greed. We ought to recast social conservatism.

  Social conservativism does not require gloom just because its adherents accept the Calvinist explanation of human nature; total depravity of the human soul. In fact, Calvinism exists as a transformative ethic, extending to Humankind its place as the highest form of special, earthly creation. If Humankind is created in imago dei, the image of God, the definition of Humankind as sinner is secondary, partial, temporary. In fact, in the Edenic society of persevering saints, death is temporary and life is durable.

   Social conservatism does not have to make individual freedom, identified as the right to amass private property, the sunnum bonum of religious life. Intellectual snobbery killed liberalism as a movement in the period of 1930 to 1965. Intellectual isolationism will do the same for social conservatism in the Post-Modern period if it is left unquestioned.

   That said, Western Evangelical thought seems to need a catastrophe for its motivation. Jewish perfectionism and Buddhist/Hindu ethical teachings can approach the end without a giant rape of the earth. Islam is so disoriented in its totalitarianism it must be watched to make certain it does not destroy the neighborhood but can hardly be taken seriously as a transformative world force. Atheism, free thinking, muscular unbelief; call Evangelistic Unbelief what you will, it is trying to morph into a religion of its own, for the sake of destroying theism altogether.

   Alone among the major faiths, Christianity, particularly of the Evangelical model, sees the end of history as a cataclysm, subsisting finally in some sort of restored paradise. Since historical evolution leads to disaster, we think, it must be approached with the kind of apprehension reserved for inevitable tragedy, particularly tragedy of a conspiratorial nature, in which forces far beyond our understanding intrigue against us.

   This may not be healthy. It certainly is not wholesome.

   Reformation of Western culture from the Church-side out will require more than a reconstruction of worship forms. Religion always seems to trail along after culture. Prophetic preaching appears to be little more than a superficial appeal to local prejudices. In American thought, that may include the sting of guilt because we have so much, coupled with the fear of losing our place. The plantation owners of the Civil Unrest Period expected any loss of status to expose them to the wrath of the lower castes. Guilt and fear, even with a realistic basis, do not make for a healthy, wholesome outlook and may explain the Western Evangelical expectation of a final catastrophe before all is forgiven and made right.

   Or, we could set aside the cataclysm drama, accept our responsibility to make this a better world, receive the righteousness Christ imputes to believers and meet corporately to celebrate the Kingdom’s present arrival. We will need to get the tune right, as well as the lyrics.

   

   

    

   

5 thoughts on “Future Ring”

  1. Craig Wallace

    “We will wrend ourselves to bits trying to align with the huge reactionary forces at work, because history usually corrects itself and usually to the left.”
    You’re a smart man, I think the surgery was a success :-). If you were a rifleman in the United States Marine Corp you would be given the rank of High Master for this bulls eye!
    The question is where did we start, far right, middle, left? Most reactions (aka corrections) seem to make things more equal which is left. Once EVERYTHING is equal there is no longer a Representative Republic known as the USA.

  2. N.T. Wright’s new book, Surprised By Hope, speaks to this very subject. While not following the old postmillenial train of thought, he maintains that just as believers are called to personal transformation in behavior as a result of the new birth, we are called to do what we can to transform our world to be more like the coming Kingdom of God.
    He puts it much better than I just described. He calls it an ‘inaugurated eschatology’. To sit back and wait for Jesus’ return while doing nothing, he adds, is to support ‘a kind of economic Darwinism, the survival of the fittest in world markets and military power.'(p.220) His alternative is to ‘insist on inaugurated eschatology, on a radical transformation of the way we behave as a worldwide community, anticipating the eventual time when God will be all in all even though we all agree things won’t be complete until then.’ (pp. 221-222)
    I find that Wright is giving voice to a lot of things I’ve been sensing down within. You are speaking to the same concerns. I’m thinking and praying a lot about these things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Rick, by ‘it’ do you mean postmillenialism or what Wright is talking about? I ask that because he goes to great lengths to say that there will be a major re-do of the heavens and the earth, although he suggests that it will not be a complete purging. He does not say that Christ’s return is in any way predicated on what we do to make things better.

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