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Overthrow Of The Old Ones

“Mawwiage is what tears us asunder today.” Yet Christians are Guardians of the Old Story.
| Jun 27, 2013 | No comments |

theprincessbride_theimpressiveclergyman_mawwiageMawwiage! Mawwiage is what teaws ahs ahsundaaahh today.

And yesterday’s dual Supreme Court rulings in the United States showcase two competing meta-stories, battling for nothing less than the future of our cultures.

Ah, but hark. Yesterday a national leader assured people that the followers of one story will still be free to enjoy their traditions at least within their own spheres. Let us call this a well-meant gesture. But it covers a secret assumption: that the new story is the default story.

Do any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two stories should not be joined together in holy matrimony?

Yes. Such a union is broken before it begins, citing irreconcilable differences.

In the new-religious story, humans have evolved by random chance. Our old ancestors created religious mythologies to attempt understanding their world, unify their cultures and promote moral codes, and of course to help the powerful keep their control.

But now those myths are past their expiration date, and it’s time to replace them with new myths-held-as-fact, new stories. In this new story, a peculiar old-mythology tradition called marriage is due for a reboot. Previously this idea of marriage was a good thing, because it endorsed individual desires and liberty above all else. But because this is the chief end, why not extend it to everyone regardless of his/her personal desires? Now after yesterday’s rulings, it is time to move into that brave new speculative story’s future. Those who cling to the old ways can be tolerated at first, but because they are bigots, this cannot last long.

In the old-religious story, God is the Prime Director of the universe, its Creator and later, Savior, for His glory and mankind’s good. Early on He revealed Himself to His people. The first of these rebelled against Him. Yet He pursued in love, giving His Law and then Himself to fulfill that Law, die under His own punishment for our breaking it, and rise again.

fourspirituallaws_selfisonthethroneIn his death and resurrection, He now calls His people to die and rise, and live new life on this old earth as training for the New Earth. This age is dying, and the world groans for its redemption. Until then our planet’s would-be caretakers of their physical and spiritual environment are pillaging the planet. Old-way guardians must show them love but also truth: that the Creator gave marriage with the chief end to show Himself and His love.

Recently a rallying cry of the new-story insurrection has been against this idea of marriage. Some may ask: did the old guardians failed to carry out their duties? Did they too intensely battle the new order while failing to show the first love that brought them into their Story?1

Whatever the cause, the old ones’ defeat is certain. And followers of the new story cheer.

Guardians of the Old Ways

Where do these irreconcilable story differences this leave us?

The new story makes the next generation into a New Moral Order. I daresay it will soon become a subtle spiritual wasteland. Large-city buildings may be fine, Terminators not necessary, and zombies or Districts or overt dictators may be nowhere in sight. Still the successful new-story revolution will silently, quietly bring forth its long-awaited dystopia.

The Old Story and its Guardians will live on. Biblical Christians are now the Old Ones. Society may shun us, yet we do not retreat, for we must lovingly yet with strength guard the Old Ways. In that wasteland, we must host the oasis — and refuse to let it be poisoned.

Thus, both now and decades hence we can be ready. Just as some descendants of the Old Ways forsook that story, descendants of the new-story religion will tire of its lovelessness and legalism. Literal children of redefined unions may discover their leaders tried to base an existence on mere speculation — a what-if question to which reality answered no.

Especially for that time, the Old Way Guardians must be prepared.

And we must be prepared not first with statistics, arguments and Enlightenment-era logic, but with our Story — the Story of reality, of beauty and truth, and most vitally, of a Person.

  1. One article suggests that the old guardians wrongly made their case using only moral reasoning and head-level logic. Meanwhile, the new order tries some of that, but mainly appeals to emotions, using storytelling and “memes” slowly to modify public perception. “Television, songs, friends, and personal experience shape what people believe about love and marriage far more than intellectual argumentation. In short, unconscious influences shape culture in the form of social and personal narratives and emotion.” What do we need now? The author answers: We need our own narratives and emotions. To that I reply, flagrantly breaking this column’s character, You don’t say! We just now figured this out?!

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Paul Lee
Member

Just as some descendants of the Old Ways forsook that story, descendants of the new-story religion will tire of its lovelessness and legalism. Literal children of redefined unions may discover their leaders tried to base an existence on mere speculation — a what-if question to which reality answered no.

That’s a good way to find a positive spin. I think a lot of Christian are too depressed and disillusioned about this issue to care anymore. Political rallying never worked, but at any rate, it’s hard to rally when you keep losing. I almost never read a news article or watch the news. Apathy is an effective pain reliever.

But the next generation might be different, and we can’t hide from the duty of remaining strong and unbroken for them. People always rebel against the excesses of their parents’ generations, I think, usually going too far the other way and creating new problems for the next generation to rebel against. So, all of us today have to live with the shame of being part of The Generation That Broke Society. 😉

And as bad as it is, we shouldn’t start thinking that “gay marriage” is the cause of all the evil in the universe. It’s not. There are a lot of sinful things in society, and society as a world system has never embraced the “Old Way.”

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

society as a world system has never embraced the “Old Way.”

No, they haven’t. And until certain of the Old Way Guardians recognize that The World in the U.S. has only ever, as a majority, picked and chosen elements of the Way that were convenient and helpful, we will make little progress in Kingdom work.

Austin Gunderson
Member

Our wasteland is of our own making, our dystopia the thing for which we clamor.

Just as great societies are comprised of many members, so also are they destroyed not by the external threat of foreign power, but by that which emanates from the hearts of their own citizens. Neither our leaders nor our laws are to blame for our current state, for we appoint our leaders, and our leaders pass our laws. Never before has a society had less cause to pin its plight on those who exercise authority over it. Never before has such a myriad of warnings been ignored by so many so often. Never before have the ordinary common folk abused their power so badly, for never before have the ordinary common folk had such vast power to abuse. This comparative calculation of mine doesn’t reference the depths to which we have sunk, for there are far deeper pits to plumb, but rather the heights from which we have plunged, for no other society has attained them. In only three generations, we’ve slid from a nation of Christians — what a rare and beautiful thing! — to a nation of hedonistic, narcissistic pagans. God is giving us over to our own idolatry, and we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I had to make WTF-face at the “fallen from great heights” thing. I’ve had high school history classes, so I wonder from where you’re pulling this mythology of divine-perfect-happy-golden age of star-spangled utopia. When exactly did this magical gilded age happen? The so-called Gilded Age, when factory owners didn’t care if workers fell into meat vats and became sausage? Or are you one of those people who over-romanticize WWII and the Fifties? What, do you think McCarthyism was a hoax invented by the liberal media to smear Republicans?
Right now I just can’t take you seriously, even if you had something interesting to say about the failures of democracy being the failures of the people.

Austin Gunderson
Member

Try broadening your scope to include a tad bit more of human history than the narrow, self-obsessed perspective adopted by those who delight in habitually denigrating the United States. Tell me, if you can, of another nation — let alone another superpower — which has used its influence to accomplish even half as much good. Tell me of another culture which has done more to raise the eyes of humanity toward the hope of government limited by just laws enacted with the consent of the governed. Tell me of another culture which has fostered as much enterprise, spurred as much economic and scientific growth, or propelled as many missionaries into the larger world. And then tell me of how this nonexistent nation was founded by an assemblage of men so God-fearing that their first amendment to that Constitution for which their brothers had defied an empire stipulated that no government had standing to interfere in the personal relationship between God and man.

Go on, tell me.

After you realize that you can’t, remember this: one doesn’t have to ignore America’s faults and America’s crimes (and yes, there are plenty of those, as with every nation that’s ever existed) in order to acknowledge America’s greatness. It may be a greatness that is passing away, a skeletal greatness from which the flesh of its citizenry is rotting, but it is greatness nonetheless. Unfortunately, it only takes one generation of human beings to throw away all the greatness that’s been bequeathed to it by those who came before. In the oft-quoted yet no-less-applicable words of John Adams:

“Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

With that in mind, the very fact that our Constitution has remained largely intact for over two centuries should be demonstration enough of America’s greatness. Too bad it won’t survive much longer.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I think my comment was lost, so I’ll try again.
England. France. Both were superpowers who had thriving science and industries and hordes of missionaries for their empires. In fact, a lot of the Enlightenment ideas that started America came from France and England. America wasn’t created in a vacuum on the long-put-off Eighth Day of Creation.
I don’t have an agenda to put America down, but I don’t have a need to exaggerate it to mythic proportions and/or conflate it with my religion. Patriotism may be a virtue, but it isn’t the greatest by any means.
Plus, the Constitution came about after the failure of the Articles of Confederation. It wasn’t delivered by angels on shimmering clouds after the Declaration was signed.

Austin Gunderson
Member

Your first attempt at this comment wandered to the bottom of this thread, where I broadsided it with a reply. 😉

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

As I wrote elsewhere (and this is no attempted reflection on anyone here!):

Evidently we can’t say, “America was founded on a rough Judeo-Christian world-story”; instead we must say “Almost all the founding fathers were evangelical Christians and that is our history to which we must return!”

It seems that any reminder about the good-parts version of America, while not directly referencing its historical evils (slavery, discrimination, and so forth) is wrongly interpreted to mean that we’re only just now beginning to make our country into something to be proud of. I don’t presume to think this way — it is too close to what C.S. Lewis termed “chronological snobbery.”

Yes, in contemporary times were are improving a lot of things, including processor speeds. But we still have much to learn from the past.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I think the other side of this discussion is also in danger of chronological snobbery, except in the opposite direction.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

I agree completely. Neither novelty nor antiquity decides truth.

Only God decides truth. He is truth, and His Word is truth.

Kirsty
Guest

I don’t think there has ever been a “nation of Christians.”
Many nations have had a (broadly) Christian basis. (But I’m actually not convinced this was ever helpful. Because then people start thinking they are Christians because of external things – birth, nationality, religious observance, etc. And Christianity becomes the status quo, which it is not good at.)

Jon R
Guest

ya, I don’t see how this has anything to do with speculative fiction.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

The site is called Speculative Faith. All issues related to people’s speculative story, and God’s real-life Story, are explored here.

And wouldn’t you agree that in some sense we’re living in a fantasy-type epic, when it’s cast in the terms I’ve attempted above?

Jon R
Guest

I mean, it seems like we’re talking about America and gay people using each other’s health insurance.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Not sure where the health insurance bit came from.

Jon, I do make presuppositions behind this column, such as:

  1. God is the Creator of the universe, and thus the Author of the Story.
  2. In one sense He has decreed where the Story “should have” gone. And while He remains in control, still Authoring the story, man is in rebellion. Man wants to hijack and twist the Story and all the world-building rules God established.
  3. Seeing reality as the “epic fantasy” in which the Hero shows His glory and honor, saves His people and His world from evil, helps us see things in God’s light.
  4. This does include the battle over marriage. Imagine a fantasy novel in which the author intended the most wondrous romance to lead to the brave knight falling in love with and marrying the princess — but a reader insisted his/her bad fanfiction about the story are the real story, and the author not only backward about his original story, but a bigot for writing the story that way.
Jon R
Guest

The article started with the Supreme Court decision which dealt with benefits for same-sex marriages.

I get where you’re going with the article. As stories reflect the grand story of God’s redemption of mankind, I see the points, but they don’t really have to be genre specific, and in that sense it feels like we’re talking about the battle over American thought and culture, not elves and orcs.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Most people are speaking of the moral judgments issued in the United States vs. Windsor case, which specifically involved the Defense of Marriage Act and whether the U.S. government can Constitutionally or morally say “this is marriage, and that isn’t.” Health-insurance costs are a related issue, but not one on which I touched. The more-vital element is who defines this thing called “marriage,” and secondly, whether one side is even “allowed” into the conversation without also being judged morally inferior or trecherous. That’s why I suggest these two sides cannot be “wed”; “neither can live while the other survives.”

it feels like we’re talking about the battle over American thought and culture, not elves and orcs.

Perhaps. Yet I use the uniquely American struggle as itself a microcosm of the greater battle — a struggle not just for one (relatively new) nation, but the world and its people. At the very least, Christians must apply some imagination to this struggle, and not seeing it as merely academic/logic/political discussions confined to the United States (as if ours is the only country and moral struggle in the world).

notleia
Guest
notleia

England was a superpower, England had a thriving mechanical industry, England had hordes of missionaries who went out over their empire. And monarchies were supposed to be divinely appointed, and the cultural icons of King Arthur and St George were heavily tinged with Christianity.
France wasn’t a slouch, either. Louis Pasteur, Dominique Jean Larrey, and other dudes I can’t think of off the top of my head. They had the emphatically Christian Roland and Charlemagne and hordes of saints as cultural icons, too. They had a rivalry going with England for empire-building, and you bet they got their Catholic butts out there to proselytize to it. France also did a lot to support the American revolution.
In fact, a lot of the Enlightenment ideas that started up America came from France and England. America wasn’t created in a vacuum on the long-put-off Eighth Day of Creation.
I’ve no agenda to put down America, but I also have no need to exaggerate it to mythic proportions and/or conflate it with my spirituality. Patriotism may be a virtue, but it isn’t the greatest by any means.

Austin Gunderson
Member

Funny, though, how you’re more offended by Joseph McCarthy than by Edward I or Charles I or Louis XVI or the Reign of Terror. That makes sense.

Also, moral relativism has no place in this discussion. Do you believe in the divine right of kings? How about the sovereign prerogative for imperial expansion? Whether something was thought to be right at the time is irrelevant; Joe McCarthy thought he was doing right! What matters is whether or not a thing is right. Are you actually willing to say the British Empire and the Kingdom of France are better examples of righteousness on a national scale than the United States?

D. M. Dutcher
Member

From G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross:

“”We are in France!” cried Turnbull, with a voice like a trumpet, “in the land where things really happen—Tout arrive en France. We arrive in France. Look at this little message,” and he held out the scrap of paper. “There’s an omen for you superstitious hill folk. C’est elle qui—Mais oui, mais oui, c’est elle qui sauvera encore le monde.”

“France!” repeated MacIan, and his eyes awoke again in his head like large lamps lighted.

“Yes, France!” said Turnbull, and all the rhetorical part of him came to the top, his face growing as red as his hair. “France, that has always been in rebellion for liberty and reason. France, that has always assailed superstition with the club of Rabelais or the rapier of Voltaire. France, at whose first council table sits the sublime figure of Julian the Apostate. France, where a man said only the other day those splendid unanswerable words”—with a superb gesture—”‘we have extinguished in heaven those lights that men shall never light again.'”

“No,” said MacIan, in a voice that shook with a controlled passion. “But France, which was taught by St. Bernard and led to war by Joan of Arc. France that made the crusades. France that saved the Church and scattered the heresies by the mouths of Bossuet and Massillon. France, which shows today the conquering march of Catholicism, as brain after brain surrenders to it, Brunetière, Coppée, Hauptmann, Barrès, Bourget, Lemaître.”

“France!” asserted Turnbull with a sort of rollicking self-exaggeration, very unusual with him, “France, which is one torrent of splendid scepticism from Abelard to Anatole France.”

“France,” said MacIan, “which is one cataract of clear faith from St. Louis to Our Lady of Lourdes.”

“France at least,” cried Turnbull, throwing up his sword in schoolboy triumph, “in which these things are thought about and fought about. France, where reason and religion clash in one continual tournament. France, above all, where men understand the pride and passion which have plucked our blades from their scabbards. Here, at least, we shall not be chased and spied on by sickly parsons and greasy policemen, because we wish to put our lives on the game. Courage, my friend, we have come to the country of honour.”

***

I think as you explore the history of any nation deeply, you’ll find this divide. There’s no one nation more or less righteous than the other when it comes to the Kingdom of God. Each has its own virtues and own sins.

Austin Gunderson
Member

True, but when the People of France — and the nature of a nation’s people is the sole qualification for the title “Christian nation” — rose up against their oppressors in imitation of America and wholly without the temperence demanded by an understanding of human depravity, the result was slaughter in the name of utopia. Shortly thereafter the People of France abdicated power to a tyrant who plunged Europe into war. So much for all that philosophy.

I know it’s not PC to make value judgements about whole societies, but sometimes the gray area really is quite thin.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

There’s no one nation more or less righteous than the other when it comes to the Kingdom of God. Each has its own virtues and own sins.

And yet, far more gloriously, each nation may be redeemed — a “good parts version,” made even more holy — in the New Heavens and New Earth.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 21:22-27 (emphasis added)

notleia
Guest
notleia

Thanks for telling me where this comment stupidly floated off to, but the thing is that I don’t really have a problem with your morals, but I do have a problem with your rose-colored notion of history.
I don’t believe in the divine right of kings, but I also don’t believe that America is God’s new chosen favorite among the nations, as you imply with your jeremiad up there. One seems to me as iffy as the other.
And it seems ridiculous to me to judge righteousness on a national level. America has had lovely, righteous people like Roger Williams, America has had awful people like McCarthy. England has had lovely, righteous people like Wilberforce, England has had awful people like Edward I and Charles I. France has had lovely, righteous people like Pere Marie-Benoit, France has had awful people like Louis XVI.

Austin Gunderson
Member

I appreciate your emphasis on the individual, but, when expanded to a larger scale, such an emphasis leads to statistical analysis, which is what I’m referencing in my original comment when I claim that America is no longer a nation of Christians (though a shrinking majority still describe themselves as Christians, a few follow-up questions are usually sufficient to uncover that answer as a cultural assumption rather than a personal commitment). And do you really doubt that righteousness can be measured on a national level? Leaving aside the fact that God Himself passes such judgements frequently throughout Scripture, would you be willing to say that the ratio of righteous people to awful people in 1930s Germany or 1490s Spain was roughly equivalent to that same ratio in 1940s America? And in case you wish to assert that one can’t evaluate a people by the actions of its leaders, I simply don’t buy that argument. A people’s leaders — especially in a representative democracy like ours — are a reflection of the people themselves.

As for my “rose-colored notion of history,” please stop putting ridiculous words in my mouth. I have not now nor would I ever claim that America used to be a perfect nation at some particular point in time, or that it was ever “God’s new chosen favorite.” What I have said is simply this: that the American people — taken as a whole — are in the process of falling from heights unreached by any single nation before them. That, I should think, is obvious.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I don’t know if there’s much difference between “heights unreached by any single nation before them” and “we were on God’s special pedestal of national awesomeness (by our own merits, too).”
But anyway, I have a problem with putting the words “righteous” and “statistics” in association with each other, as if righteousness is quantifiable. In any case, God most likely has a different notion of the stats then we do. He told Abraham he was willing to spare the cities of the plain if there were only ten righteous people in them.

Austin Gunderson
Member

Yes, I don’t doubt that there are, in fact, more than ten righteous people in America and that God, as a result, shall refrain from raining sulfur and fire upon us out of heaven. But that doesn’t mean that we qualify any longer as a righteous nation or that God isn’t in the process of withdrawing His hand of protection from over us and “[giving] us over in the lusts of our hearts to impurity,” “to dishonorable passions,” and “to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom. 1:24-32) He doesn’t have to actively destroy us; at this point, all He has to do is sit back, relax, and watch us destroy ourselves. That’s a very real threat leveled by Scripture — both in the Old and New Testaments — against nations which, as a whole, reject the acknowledgment of God.

And I believe the startlingly swift seismic shift in the public’s perception of the nature of marriage is a clear indication that America’s being “given over to a debased mind.” Which is why I commented on this thread in the first place.

Kirsty
Guest

heights unreached by any single nation before them

As one of ‘God’s chosen people (which as everyone knows, are the Scots), I object to this 🙂

My point being, that every nation thinks they’re the bees knees. And, yes, some will be better (in some ways) than others. But at the end of the day, there is no objective standard by which any nation can be said to be ‘higher’ or ‘greater’. It’s subjective. By God’s standards we’re all pretty rubbish (some more so in some ways than others) – which is why he’s making his own kingdom of people from ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’.

Austin Gunderson
Member

If the fact that human excellence pales in comparison to God’s perfection means human endeavors cannot or shouldn’t be judged according to objective standards of excellence (all of which ultimately originate in God), then it’s not just human government and culture which shouldn’t be appraised. Individual accomplishments and works of art fall into this “subjective” category, too. How can I possibly claim, for instance, that this book is better than that one? After all, every book written by a human author is nothing but rubbish when compared with the epic, all-encompassing story authored by God. And when the distance between sinful humanity and the divine Ideal is so much vaster than the distances between humans, why would anyone bother measuring such petty distinctions? Why would anyone ever get consternated over a lack of human excellence, or celebrate a shining example of the same? What’s the point, when it’s never good enough anyway? Why even bother, when God’s already so much better?

I speak rhetorically and facetiously, of course, because what you’ve suggested and I’ve extrapolated is nothing short of absolute post-modernism. “There is no objective standard by which any nation can be said to be ‘higher’ or ‘greater'”? Really? Only in a world of relative morality. I’d agree with you that it’s rare indeed for individual humans to possess both the knowledge and objectivity necessary for accurate judgement, but to claim that the objective standard itself doesn’t exist is pretty much the same thing as claiming that God doesn’t exist, because one of the consequences of God’s existence is that there’s an absolute standard for everything. God, by definition, defines the rest of reality: good and bad government, excellent and lousy culture, admirable and mediocre art, righteous and unrighteous nationality.

Though we’re nothing when compared to God Himself, it’s not a waste of our time to recognize human excellence and lament its dissipation. Our excellence reflects His greatness, but our dissipation reflects only our own depravity. I’d much rather reflect the former, thanks.

Kirsty
Guest

I probably didn’t explain myself clearly! Because I would agree with most of what you’ve just said. I’m certainly not meaning there is no objective standard of good!

I’m just not convinced that any nation has ever really reached it.

I think what I meant by ‘no objective standard’ was that when judging one against another, there are so many different factors. And while one nation may be way above another in one aspect, they may be way below in another aspect.

For example, in the western world our sexual morality is going way down. Yet, at the same time, we are getting less racist. Are we better or worse now?

Reminds me of Steve Saint’s book The End of the Spear This is about the Waorani (Auca) tribe in Ecuador. At one time these were incredibly violent people – at least 60% of deaths were homicides! Yet one of Steve’s friends was horrified after seeing films of the 2nd world war – dropping bombs on cities and killing people indiscriminately. That would have been unthinkable in his society. Who was ‘better’?

Older people often lament how we used to live in ‘Bible-loving Scotland’. And it’s true, the Bible used to be the centre of society. But were these people all true believers? Or was is just outward observance? Is it better to have an outwardly religious society, or a handful of true believers?

Also, I guess I don’t like people saying ‘our country was the best’ 🙂

Austin Gunderson
Member

I absolutely agree with you, Kirsty, that no nation has ever reached the ideal form of national goodness. Since nations are nothing more than collections of individuals united under common laws, such a belief would rest upon an assumption crediting the people of a given nation with the capability of achieving perfection — a scenario precluded by universal human sinfulness. If individuals can’t become perfect in this life, then neither can collectives. There’s no such power in numbers.

But perfection isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m simply talking about comparative cultural health. Bigoted as it may sound to say so, there are reasons that the Waoranis weren’t the ones preaching the Gospel to the Europeans or ushering them out of the dark ages. Waorani culture would not have given rise to an Enlightenment, nor been capable of sustaining the kind of growth and advancement which enabled Europe to conquer and subjugate the majority of the globe. In part, that’s because Waorani culture, unlike European culture, wasn’t founded in an understanding of a supreme Creator Who fashioned the universe in accordance with consistent physical, logical, and spiritual laws. Such an understanding opens the realms of science and demands the establishment of just and equitable government.

Of course, Europeans — due to that prolific conquering and subjugating mentioned earlier — have certainly fallen short in the arena of government. That’s why America, through a Revolution unique in both its audacity and its restraint, broke away from a tradition steeped in tyranny to reform itself under what has proven to be the most enduring constitution in world history. Was America, as you suggest, a racist nation? Well, it certainly contained racist states. But then the other states fought a war against the racist states in which 365,000 of their people are estimated to have died. Has there ever been another nation upon the face of the earth that’s done likewise? Britain had it easy. All it had to do was pass a law. Only America has been willing to spill so much of its blood over matters of principle.

Which brings us to the 20th Century, in which America saved Europe from itself and saved the rest of the world from both totalitarianism and communism … without appropriating for itself anything beyond a few deserted Pacific islands. What other nation has ever been A) capable of saving the entire world or B) willing to do so without compensation? Such a confluence of national might, resolve, and magnanimity doesn’t develop as a result of random happenstance. It grows from the fear of God and commonplace virtue. America wouldn’t, I’m afraid, be able to pull off something like that today.

This isn’t a self-tooting horn solo in some shameless parade of Eurocentric arrogance. This is an acknowledgement of reality. I’ve never once met a critic of America who’s been able to point to a superior example of national excellence. For over two centuries, America has been a special nation — a nation founded and built upon the assumption that human beings, being generally depraved, need government that’s effective yet severely limited. Now that the Biblical assumptions which undergird our system are no longer shared by a majority of our populace, the end of the Republic is all but assured.

Paul Lee
Member

In part, that’s because Waorani culture, unlike European culture, wasn’t founded in an understanding of a supreme Creator Who fashioned the universe in accordance with consistent physical, logical, and spiritual laws.

…But that’s hardly the Waorani’s fault. It could be partly the fault of the failure of the peoples previously entrusted with the Gospel to spread it to all nations, but of course, all things happen by God’s will. God allowed the Europeans to receive the Gospel long before the Waorani, but this doesn’t mean that God rewarded Europe because He thought their culture was more worthy. If the Gospel is what made Western culture worthy, then surely Western culture has no right to brag about being good enough in its own right.

Britain had it easy. All it had to do was pass a law. Only America has been willing to spill so much of its blood over matters of principle.

That’s not a valid comparison. That America faught a war partly over slavery doesn’t necessarily make it holier than a country that abolished slavery by passing a law. “Having it easy” is not a sin. Having to suffer more than someone else does not necessarily make you a better person.

What other nation has ever been A) capable of saving the entire world or B) willing to do so without compensation? Such a confluence of national might, resolve, and magnanimity doesn’t develop as a result of random happenstance. It grows from the fear of God and commonplace virtue.

Possibly. But you still can’t say for sure that America was holier than every other nation because it was also stronger. Nations rise and fall by God’s will. Righteousness may exalt a nation, but righteous nations could be exalted in different ways. One righteous culture could be blessed with a strong national identity and military power; another could be blessed with a profound depth of historical identity and meaning rooted in the Scriptures (for instance).

Austin Gunderson
Member

bainespal,

I didn’t blame the Waoranis for their predicament or imply that Europeans should feel justified in bragging about their quality of life or their comprehension of the nature of the universe. I merely pointed out that Waorani culture was objectively inferior to European culture on numerous levels. Favorable comparative analysis is not the same thing as boasting.

Neither did I imply that Britain should be ashamed of abolishing slavery in relatively easy fashion. On the contrary, the ease with which Britain freed its slaves is a great credit to its people. My only intent in making that comparison was to highlight the fact that it’s egregiously unfair to indict America over the issue of slavery without also praising America for the suffering and sacrifice it’s endured to eradicate that horrible practice. While suffering, as you say, isn’t an indication of one’s superiority, it is a testament to the strength of one’s resolve. That’s all I was saying.

Something I definitely didn’t say was that America was “holy” simply because it was strong. There have been plenty of mighty empires throughout history, some of them proportionally stronger than the US. What I said was that America was special because it was strong and good. It understood that its great power came with great responsibility. And it wielded that power wisely. That’s a rare, rare combination of attributes on a national level.

It’s the hobbling legacy of post-modernism that one cannot praise a thing as superior to another thing without being accused of intolerant bigotry. If you don’t believe that America’s been an exceptionally great nation — if that greatness isn’t already obvious to you — then fine. Nothing I say will convince you otherwise. But honestly, the defense of America’s former greatness against phantom challengers becomes truly wearisome after a while. If America isn’t the finest example of a humanly-managed nation yet seen in this world, then which other nation is?

D. M. Dutcher
Member

An interesting spec fic relation to this would be Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana. In that book, a sorcerer takes revenge for the murder of his child by not only conquering the land of Tigana, but using his power and magic to remove even the name of the nation itself. No one but the people who lived there can hear or speak its name, and their entire history has been hidden. Being a guardian of an old story may not always be as romantic as you think.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

It’s not romantic when one is in the middle of it, no.

That’s a thought that scares and sobers me.

Yet only in the end will the glory and “romance” (classic definition) of it be revealed.

Kirsty
Guest

Sorry, Andun, I can’t reply to your comment, because it won’t let me, but I think you misinterpreted something I said.

You said

Was America, as you suggest, a racist nation?

I was not suggesting that America was a racist nation. I said ‘the West’ – and I was including my own nation in this. My point was that we tend to consider morality to be going downhill because we focus on sexual morality (where it certainly is going downhill – at least in some aspects). But the west is also less racist than it was, which means it’s also going uphill!

I don’t have time to answer/research all the rest of your points. Nor do I have the time to write an essay proving how much superior my nation is to everyone else’s. I could, of course. Because to do so I would do as you have done – focus on all the good bits – of which there are many. Any nation could do this.

Austin Gunderson
Member

I came to this thread to lament America’s loss of excellence. In so doing I made an incidental qualitative statement about America’s greatness which seemed to me to be self-evident, and this whole discussion has since transmogrified into a conflict over that incidental statement, with me presenting supportive historical evidence and everyone else launching attacks which are entirely theoretical in nature. If America is really no better than anyone else, then I’d expect to see some competing examples of comprehensive national excellence. I don’t believe that “any nation” can claim objective parity with America any more than I believe Terry Brooks can claim parity with J.R.R. Tolkien.

In case you think this is all just the jingoistic ranting of some disaffected internet troll who needs to travel abroad more often, let me assure you that I believe in the importance of the distinctions I’ve been drawing. I believe one of the primary causes of the West’s accelerating moral decay is its rejection of absolutes, its refusal to make qualitative judgements, its inability to perceive the individual black and white pixels which constitute the grayscale. And I believe the unwillingness of many to laud the national greatness which America is in the process of losing is symptomatic of that problem.

Kirsty
Guest

The only reason I haven’t brought any supporting historical evidence is that I do have rather better things to do with my time!

Kirsty
Guest

And also because arguments on such matters (especially between strangers on the internet) are unlikely to end up with either side changing their mind.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Actually, I’ve known many people whose lives were changed, or even converted to Christ, because God used internet arguments from strangers. Most often, of course, God used the winsome, well-spoken arguments!

Kirsty
Guest

Wow – that’s pretty cool.
I guess that’s a more important thing to take time to discuss online than whose country is the best, though!

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Great discussion here. I’ve enjoyed following it.

Today for a holiday-delayed post, I expanded on thoughts about the conflicting world-stories, America’s nation-story, and whether we may consider this “hero’s” internal flaws (without also turning into, say, self-hating America-bashing guilt-complexes).

I’ve also explored more directly how these stories affect fictional stories.

The Empire Slides Back

We can concede a hero’s or nation’s internal flaws without denying the hero or nation are truly great.