A Country Dying of Cultural Cancer

I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.  –Robert E. Lee to Lord Acton 1866

Recently, the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, order the dismantling of several monuments that commemorated men who fought in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.  In his remarks on May 18th 2017, Mayor Landrieu stated that “It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

Nothing could be more untrue.  Lee and his men were fighting to preserve self-government and had fought to stop an invasion by Northern forces that wanted to remake the country in an image that would have been totally alien to the Founding Fathers. Elsewhere in Lee’s letter to Lord Acton, he clearly saw the dangers of a centralized government and that he stated that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson saw that the centralization and consolidation of power would result in the subversion of state governments and despotism.  Dwight Eisenhower commended Lee by stating the following:

General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America…

When one sees how the history of our nation has transpired, we see that Robert E. Lee foresaw with great clarity the decline of this nation.  Our government in Washington has created vast bureaucracies which harass the common man frequently.  As for our conduct aboard, Lee’s words could have been taken from yesterday’s headlines.  We have made a wreck of many nations around the world and ship arms to despotisms like Saudi Arabia.  We have been at war in Iraq for over a quarter century and the result has been a country in rubble and a Christian church that has been gravely damaged by ISIS forces which have been supplied with arms by these same Saudis.

With this, we must ask where are we as a country in the course of history.  We have seen the economic prosperity of this nation rise to heights never before seen in history, yet in the end we are starving spiritually.  Broken homes have become a frequent occurrence, our debt rises to a height where it can never be paid off and instead of visiting houses of worship, we visit other temples…sports stadiums.  In his speech, Mayor Landrieu made no mention of deity except in taking the Lord’s name in vain when he said “Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

So everything we hold dear is created by throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot? Does culture consist of a mess of pottage?  We have truly forgotten about the permanent things, about being humble and forming organic communities, about confessing our sins to God.  Mayor Landrieu is a proud man who only reflects the current culture.  Nothing matters except food and entertainment.  We are truly a nation dying of cultural cancer.

The Civic Gospel

Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)  introduced legislation that would modify provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.  In addressing the issue at a press conference today, Senator Booker stated the following:

So I have a saying about religion.  Before you tell me about your religion, first show to it to me in how you treat other people.  Well, while the Gospel and many religious books say something, the truth is that we have a civic gospel as well.  We all know the words.  We say them in our songs and pledges.  We have this self-evident truth that everyone is created equal.  We believe that we have equality under the law.  We say with the hallowed phrases that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all.

So, it seems that Senator Booker acknowledges that we have a religion that controls the affairs of men today–the “civic gospel.”  We say a prayer every day called the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sing gospel tunes like My Country Tis of Thee and the national anthem.  We have “hallowed” phrases like “liberty and justice for all.”

It seems that the idea that one should tolerate one another should be accompanied by the iron fist of the State that preaches this “civic gospel.”  We shall enter the new millennium by forcing people to serve those that have lifestyles that we disagree with.   In truth, this bill will result in the diminishing of liberty.  We would be forced to give up more of our freedom in order to handle the expansion of “rights.”  Joseph Sobran stated it well when he said:

The term civil rights has come to mean the opposite of what it suggests. People think it means individual freedom, when it usually means government power used in behalf of large groups…

What is really irritating about this is that ALL religious beliefs and feelings must be subservient to the dictates of the State.  No matter what convictions you hold, they must be swept aside to ensure that equality can be maintained forever.  They tried something similar a little over 200 years ago.  Instead of the civic gospel, they set up something called the Cult of Reason where its goal was to perfect man by obtaining truth and liberty for all.  In the end, the result was the Reign of Terror and the eventual rise of Napoleon which led to years of European war.  The true Gospel will not come from Washington, it will come from men humbling themselves before the one was given power over heaven and earth.  God, spare us from more political salvation schemes.

Mortality

So yesterday, George Michael, the big pop star from the 1980s, died of apparent heart failure at the age of 53.  As he was younger than I am, I face the reality that those that grew up with me are passing from the scene.  We should all be thankful for the days that God has given us and one should never be prideful about what one does in his life.  We are given the power to do all things by God.  Jesus told Pontius Pilate in John 19:11 that “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”  We should always be mindful of the days that are ahead of us and that we should do all to further the Kingdom of God and to serve men for His Glory.

Damned by Hillary

Last night, Hillary Clinton made some remarks regarding the composition of Trump voters at a fundraiser in New York City.  At the event, she called half of the Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” and that many of them were, as she stated, “irredeemable” and are not part of “America.”  In this secular age in America’s history, it is remarkable that Hillary Clinton would use a phrase that is specifically related to the doctrine of atonement that is found in the tenets of Judaism and Christianity.

In the doctrine of soteriology, it is stated that men are redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ for the purpose of taking away and the washing away of sins.  In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were to offer sacrifices as mandated in Pentateuch by God for the purpose of covering sin and was a foreshadowing of the future redemption by Jesus.  We, as Christians, are saved by the work of Christ and that we show our gratitude by performing good works as an outward sign of our salvation (Ephesians 2:10).

In the doctrine of limited atonement, it is stated that Christ died for those who would believe in him and that all others were shown no mercy by His Grace (Romans 9:15).  However, it is not for us to know who are and are not redeemed so it is incumbent on us to tell the story of God’s Love and Christ’s atonement and forgiveness and that they can act on the message by God’s Grace.

Hillary Clinton has left her Christian Methodist roots and now is engaging in a mission to save the world with the power of the State instead of the power of the gospel of Christ.  Hillary Clinton stated in an address to the American Legion on August 31 that America is THE “indespensible nation” and that it is “the global force for freedom, justice and human dignity.”  Hillary seems to be almost a secular imitation of Aimee Semple McPherson, the woman preacher who founded the Foursquare Gospel church in Los Angeles in the 1920s.   In the eyes of the progressives, if the voters, as a people, choose Hillary, she will draw all men and womyn to herself and be included in the paradise of diversity where peace and freedom will be at last be achieved.  Ilana Mercer in her recent column quoted Clyde Wilson on the neo-puritanism of Hillary which replaced the Christian zeal of the past with the progressive advocacy of a perfect world free of Christian “sinners” and that Hillary and her allies think that “they are the chosen saints whose mission is to make America, and the world, into the perfection of their own image.”

Yes, we are the “sinners” in the United States that are not part of “America” as Hillary Clinton stated.  We as people, who are the damned, must be made powerless by the wise people who run the bureaucracies in DC and that we must not stand in the way in the march of the people toward secular Zion.

If we are not a part of “America” as Hillary claimed that composes many of the people that reside within America’s borders are, could we, as foul sinners, make an atonement for our “sin” and march barefoot in the snow to New York City and obtain forgiveness for our sins at the Stonewall Inn like what the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV did many centuries ago at Canossa?  To Hillary, there is no more talk of the “Body of Christ.”  There is only the body known as “America” and if we are outside of Hillary’s grace, are we to be eliminated as foul infidels?

Religion is inescapable.  The question is who do we owe allegiance to?  God or the State.  We are Wordsworth but unlike that old Twilight Zone episode, we are not obsolete.

Kaepernick–Right for the wrong reasons

This past week, the sports world has been in an uproar over the refusal of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to stand for the national anthem.   Cries of treason and ungratefulness have come from various circles.  Kaepernick for his part stated the following:

“This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all and that’s just not happening right now.”

The controversy has been dusted up only a few weeks after U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticized for not putting her hand over her heart during the medal ceremony for the All-Around gymnastics title for women at Olympic Games in Rio.  What are we to make over this issue?  Is it right to stand for the anthem and not pay respect for the country?

Kaepernick should have been paying attention for what the American government has done for the many years to our liberties, yet he has been oblivious to the fact that the government has not stood for freedom, justice and liberty for ANYBODY and not just for African-Americans only.   In fact, the liberties that the country has had in the past have been slowly eroding for the past 100 years.  Our interventions during the world wars, the Cold War and the War on Terror have cost us massive amounts of money, an increase of government that dominates all areas of our lives and a general decline of our cultural mores.

Up until just a few years ago, many football games were first opened with prayer and invocations were done by various officials and God was honored.  As you can see about five minutes into this video of the 1966 Gator Bowl, prayer came before the anthem.  With various Supreme Court decisions over the years, prayers at college and high school games have been banned in the name of the First Amendment.  It seems that nationalism is the new religion and that refusal to stand is tantamount to blasphemy.

As far as respect for country, one must ask what is our country.  Is it some mega country covering tens of thousands of square miles or is it our community or our area? When Robert E. Lee fought for his country, it was not the Confederacy, but his home state of Virginia.  When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, it was the beginning of the end for this nation.  We are now an empire that does not stand for liberty of any sort, but for materialism. statism, abortions and a general hubris that has been discussed so well by men like Michael Scheuer, Ralph Raico, Robert Higgs , Joe Sobran and William Grigg.

Andrew Bacevich opened his book “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” with an illustration on how the flag had been elevated to god-like status and that the National Anthem is part of the new civic religion.

Kaepernick might be wrong in his motives, but there are many in America that have the feeling that something is terribly wrong with this country.   I Samuel 8 is a perfect illustration on how a people refuse to abide by the standards of God and instead put their trust and faith in a king to rule over the land.  We do not have a God-honoring nation anymore so why the fuss over someone not standing for a national anthem.

 

The South

I looked forward with great anticipation in traveling with my son to some memorable places in the South, an area rich in culture and history that is fast being forgotten in an era of mass consumerism and living for the moment.  The South is different place.  It is a place where things are slower and the people seem to be more laid back.

My travels took me through the upper deep South with stops in Vicksburg, Tuscaloosa, Chattanooga, Nashville and areas of western Tennessee before coming back home.  It was here that we went to various sites where major Civil War battles took place.  Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Stones River and Shiloh ring in the memory of many down here where even 150 years after the fact, the scars are still present.  The remnants of trenches are still seen at Vicksburg where Union troops dug in for several months of siege before the confederates surrendered the town on July 4, 1863, a date which was the beginning of the end for the Southerners.

Chickamauga and Shiloh were bloody affairs where thousands died in the battles and the massive rows of graves are prominent in those areas as well as Stones River.  It is my firm belief that while the Union was saved, the Republic that we have read in the history books was shattered forever. One need only to watch the inane acceptance speeches of both parties during the past few weeks to see that even the ghosts of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Clay, Calhoun and Webster are fast leaving us.

The South still has the magic of past in it with folks saying “Sir” and Ma’am” to each other, listening to country music on stations such as WSM out of Nashville and folks gobbling up hash browns at Waffle House along the interstate.  The weather was hot and humid, but the sounds and the winds of the night air seem to impress my mind with memories that will last the rest of my lifetime.

Good ole Rocky Top indeed.

Russell Kirk: American Conservative–a review

Here is my review of Russell Kirk: American Conservative that I posted on Amazon: 

In a few short days, I journeyed through the 75 years that Russell Kirk lived on this earth from his humble beginnings in rural Michigan to his final home going at Piety Hill in 1994 by reading this very enjoyable biography by Bradley Birzer, a professor of history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.

The strengths are many in this book including the fact that much of the research came through retrieval of the personal correspondence and diaries of Prof. Kirk.  There are also other written letters from people dealing with Kirk and that there was much citing of journals and magazines dating back to the 1950s.

Kirk is shown to be a staunch stoic who bared up to the monotony of being stationed for four years during World War II at the Dugway Proving Grounds 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was here that he saw the expanse of the West and the desolation that was ingrained into his memory for the rest of his life.  It was a world totally different from where he grew up in the forested areas of Michigan.

There is so much more that can be said for the man, but the main points that I took away from this book include the fact that he was his own man who had a unique personality almost to the point of being called an eccentric.  He walked with a sword cane and wore a cape wherever he went.  He also despised modern technology that included the automobile, the radio and most especially the television where he threw a fit when his family watched several programs on the tube and proceeded shortly thereafter to throw the device out of the window.   He felt that technology made people less human and robbed people of imagination and opportunities for introspection.

Kirk was also a man who felt that politics was not the way that men should solve problems.  He departed from this belief in the early 1960s through his support of Goldwater and in the early 1980s when he tried to give advice to Ronald Reagan in terms of promoting conservatism.  By the end of his life, he was very critical of the massive growth of government and especially the military industrial complex and came out vehemently against the Gulf War.

Kirk’s conversion shortly before his marriage in 1964 was another highlight of this book.  The author contended that Kirk’s embracing of the Catholic faith was not instantaneous, but rather developed over the course of many years.  He was in the end a man of faith who had a very Stoic life and instilled that philosophy in his children with the help of his wife Annette.

Also, Kirk was not a man that believed in programs.  No ideology could change the hearts of men, for such things could only do more damage to civilization and mankind.  Kirk strived to return to the “permanent things,” those things that came by tradition and by Faith over the course of centuries.  He was very wary of the novel and the unproven which tended toward radicalism.  Kirk was not a libertarian by any stretch but by the end of his days he sought to form a rare alliance with men like Murray Rothbard who was his bitter enemy back in the 1950s.  Kirk also helped libertarian flavored candidates like Lawrence Reed who now heads the Foundation for Economic Education.

I could go on about the fiction he wrote which was very substantial and the numerous trips he took to Scotland, but suffice to say, you all must read the rest to get an idea on what a great man Russell Kirk was.  We need more giants like him…well not exactly like him or he might come from the grave and give us a knock on the head.

Orlando, the way it used to was

Much has happened in the City of Orlando and all of it has not been good.  Shootings and a child towed under by an alligator has given the city a black eye that has tarnished its image as the City Beautiful.  The city has grown into an entertainment mecca with theme parks and a clubs all over the place.  Such modernity might be the in thing now, but it seems that the city lost a bit of its magic from the good ole days.

When I went to Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando back in 1982, the city was still a sleepy southern town with a county population of just under 500,000 people.   There was Walt Disney World, but that was pretty much about it as far as theme parks were concerned until the opening of Epcot in October of that year.  Wet n’ Wild was the major water park where you could get in for $10 and the only nightlife in the town was Church Street Station which consisted of a few bars and from what I have read closed its doors almost 20 years ago.  I took the bus a couple of times around Orlando, but the bus service ended around 7:00 p.m. as most people stayed at home to spend their evenings cooking meals and listening to country music on WHOO radio.   Yes, there is so much more to do there now, but the hectic pace of going from one park to another and dancing the night away seems inadequate to filling the void left in the soul of man.

Perhaps it is time for people to set back and reflect on the meaning of culture and taking a break from the hustle and bustle or the rat race.  Yes, the past might be somewhat silly according to this video, but it seems that families played together and stayed together and the pace was slow.  Hopefully, places can once again become communities where people can associate with each without other things crowding out the natural growth of relationships.  As Robert Nisbet said in his book “The Quest for Community” :

Other and more powerful forms of association have existed, but the major moral and psychological influences on the individual’s life have emanated from the family and local community and the church. Within such groups have been engendered the primary types of identification: affection, friendship, prestige, recognition. And within them also have been engendered or intensified the principal incentives of work, love, prayer, and devotion to freedom and order.

The Orlando of the past is gone and we cannot go back.  However, it is not too late to preserve what’s left of the old culture where family, church and community was paramount.  Let’s choose the right future.

The Centralized State

Last Friday, the United States Department of Education gave out a directive to all of the public schools across America with regards to certain segments of the population who identify as persons of the opposite sex to use the restrooms of the sex they identify with.  With such a directive, it is clear that the federal government has amassed to itself incredible power to dictate policy to every school district and its 50 million children that go to K-12 schools here.   With the North Carolina situation, there is talk of pulling education funding from the Tarheel State unless HB-2 is repealed.

How did we get to this situation?  At the time of the Constitution’s creation in 1789, James Madison specifically stated in Federalist No. 45 that:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

For the next 70 years, the federal government had little influence in the course of affairs inside America.  It was well understood that the States, which were closer to the people, understood what their citizens needed and past the modest laws to maintain order.  Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Civil War and the subsequent Reconstruction, state’s rights were obliterated and more power was concentrated in Washington.  This fact was all apparent during the Great Depression when Franklin Roosevelt created numerous federal agencies that were wholly without constitutional warrant, yet it thrived by bribing voters into voting for centralized government.   Today, we see the evil fruits of such centralization.  Joseph Sobran said several years before his death that the Civil War actually made it possible for cases like Obergefell and Roe v. Wade to be imposed on the nation for the states were unable to fight back without armed invasion and the states had no check on the  power of the Supreme Court.    Now comes the word from on high that funds will be withheld and decrees issue on behalf of a group that was the subject of curiosity just a few decades ago in films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Freebie and the Bean and Dressed to Kill.  

To have policies dictated to 320 million people en masse is evidence that the old republic has long since vanished and a progressive empire is now dominant.  Men like Donald Livingston and Kirkpatrick Sale have long warned that centralization of power would eventually lead to an utter despotism.

During the 1970s, women like Gloria Steinem thought that the Equal Rights Amendment was necessary to bring, in their minds, equality for women.  With its deadline for ratification expiring in 1983, many thought that the issue was dead.  Steinem and Eleanor Smeal need not have worried, for the Magic 14th Amendment was all that was needed to make their dreams come true.   The Constitution and federal government was great while it lasted.  That 1789 document is now merely a totem that is on display at the National Archives.

Inclusion, Fairness and Equality…or Death

The continuing battle over bathrooms took a turn as the State of North Carolina and the United States Department of Justice took turns at suing each other over the right to enforce House Bill 2 which would provide guidelines for restroom facilities in public areas as well as businesses and supersedes any local ordinances.  In the meantime, various public figures such as Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen and the Blue man Group have cancelled appearances in North Carolina citing discrimination concerns.  Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, stated, in part, that:

…we are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement. While the lawsuit currently seeks declaratory relief, I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.

In summary, the government is threatening to withhold federal dollars from the the state unless it complies and repeals the law.  AG Lynch stated that the motivation behind the suit was to summon” our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness.”  I dare say that there was another group of people who tried to impose top-down virtues several centuries ago.  In the name of liberty, fraternity and equality, the Jacobins of the French Revolution  imposed their Reign of Terror on the nation that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and led to the autocratic rule of Napoleon.  Since that time, many nations have envisioned places where all could live in peace and happiness where virtue could be achieved if only if the populace could be educated and the dissenters and troublemakers dispensed with.   Paul Gottfried has noted in a review of Emilio Gentile’s book “Politics as Religion” that the left has created a new civil religion that has taken the place of a weakened Christianity.   Gottfried stated:

Nation-states have been latching onto religious symbols since early-modern times: the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes’s magnum opus Leviathan features an exalted personal sovereign towering high above the lords temporal and ecclesiastical and over the symbols of their authority. It was not Mussolini but Hobbes who first opined that the Leviathan, understood as the sovereign state, is man’s admirable approximation of divine handiwork.

So it goes that any attempt to question the wisdom of the central state is akin to blasphemy and a monstrous sin against the virtues of inclusivity and so on.   The central State is supreme over family, church and community and is the instrument that will be bring heaven to earth and give us the secular millennium.   Who knows where our government in Washington will go with so much power, but if past experience is a guide, it will lead to great sorrow for the people.