Too much ink has already been spilled and key strokes manipulated regarding the Kavanaugh appointment, for me to add to that din. I’ve frankly been a little shell-shocked the past couple of weeks (years?). How to keep up? What are we to make of this rolling, flaming, spectacle? That people who despised Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, for all their supposed failures of either morality or policy, are now eager to back a president whose failures in both areas make the other two look like pikers, simply staggers the imagination.
There is nothing conservative, or Republican, about our current president. Nothing. There is nothing Christian about him, which isn’t a comment regarding his salvation, or relationship with God, just a simple matter-of-fact statement regarding his words and actions. He’s a failed business man, who became a reality television personality. That’s it. Before November 2016, that was it. That was his resume. People who say they still wake up and smile because Hillary Clinton isn’t president, are the surest sign we have passed some sort of Rubicon, and not toward anything good or redemptive.
In my years as a fundamentalist/evangelical, I was, of course (duh), registered as a Republican. Since leaving that world, and especially since this last presidential election, I have re-registered as an Independent (although I may join David B. Hart). I’m truly suspicious of both major parties and, frankly, our entire political system. I’m suspicious of the political left and right. I’m suspicious of capitalism, the modern, and the secular. I’m suspicious of religion too. Each seems to be about gaining power, even if that power is to do, “good” things. The political discourse in our country right now is incredibly disappointing. We are witnessing the failures of our institutions, both secular and religious.
Part of the genius of modernity, of classic liberalism, was its supposed neutrality. By appealing to a common and universal reason, it was able to subdue the unwashed masses of sectarian divisions, religious or otherwise. Whatever each wanted to believe in their own heads, or in their houses of worship, or basements, was fine. However, once in the public square, they were to suppress those beliefs and conduct business within the bounds of this common and universal reason.
One aspect of the postmodern, is that it called into question that which I just described. This aspect asserted there was no such thing as a common or universal, “reason.” It noted that this, “reason,” was entirely socially/philosophically constructed and built for the very purpose of keeping those other voices at bay. This aspect posited that the modern, or the secular, was a construction, a belief, a perspective, just like those of religions, or other philosophies.
This aspect of post-modernity acted like Toto and pulled back the curtain of modernity to reveal that the wizard, was not a wizard, but a person, just like the rest of us. A person with a history, culture, and geography—a person with a perspective. There was no, “God’s” eye view, there was only varied and diverse views from, “somewhere.” The supposed neutrality, the supposed universal or common reason, was revealed to be a totalizing, biased narrative, no more foundational, and as located, in every aspect, as any other.
However, this unmasking, seemed to converge with another one, which was the loss of virtue in our personal and national lives. Imagine if Dorothy and her crew’s reaction to the false wizard, was to seek to become the new wizard themselves. A lack of virtue would have moved them to see an opportunity for power, rather than a return home. And imagine if they would have sought to become the new wizard by any means necessary. Such is where we are.
I’m not blaming our current national and political circus on the post-modern. The causes for what we see happening are varied, deep, and would no doubt require much more space to address. I’m only suggesting that what we see is partly analogous to what we saw after the fall of the Soviet Union. Once the power over their satellite states was gone, we saw many of the old hatreds and prejudices return. The peace was manufactured and maintained out of fear. We seem to be living in a similar return, or perhaps, the rising to the surface of what was always present.
The modern, the secular, even as it needed virtue to survive and work, acted as a solvent that slowly destroyed the very thing it needed to maintain the illusion. Once the illusion was revealed, and virtue lacking, and lacking the most within our Christian churches, everything now becomes a struggle for power, for power’s sake. Every unmasking is an opportunity for the next wizard to arise. There is no decency, no integrity, no honesty, or love, within our tribalism, or demonstrated by the political class.
The current wizard has been found out and the resistance is trying to pull that curtain even further back so all can see. The question is: Do they have any other path for us, other than becoming another wizard holding power, for power’s sake. We will see. I will say this however, when the house is on fire, such is not the time to discuss the wisdom of fire prevention; it is time to exit the house and put the fire out. Vote blue.
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