The Death of Hell

hell pitchforkOn a recent post about grace and Karma, a commenter posed a challenging question:

I’d like to ask you a question because you strike me as an intelligent man of faith. I was taught that hell is a place of eternal conscious torment, a nice euphemism for a torture chamber. Do you believe that those of us who fail to accept grace will be tortured? If not, why not? Augustine and Calvin seemed to believe it.

Sometimes people ask the damnedest things…

I been sitting on this one for several weeks, because, well, the subject of eternal damnation is not exactly the most delightful topic on which to expound. But, hey, anyone can tackle the easy ones, so what the hell…

The topic of hell has never been a popular subject — for reasons not terribly difficult to discern. Yet belief in hell is both ancient and widespread, comprising an important doctrine in some form or other of most of the world’s great religions, especially Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, each manifested by belief in a personal God. In our secular, postmodern age, however, it has become something of a quaint superstition, widely perceived to be a tool for manipulation of the ignorant and gullible by the religious patriarchy. It has long faded from the lexicon of contemporary culture and conversation, and is rarely even mentioned in religious contexts, much less in secular. The death of hell has been quiet, almost unnoticed, like the slow starvation of some hideous child left in the wilderness to die.

Yet the death of damnation has left a vacuum into which far more diabolical spirits have swarmed. Perhaps the most unsettling of these is our growing sense of helplessness against a pervasiveness of evil which seems ever more prevalent, ever more senseless, ever more violent and hideous. The gunman, some hitherto lonesome loser with a heightened sense of victimization and a laundry list of petty grievances, lays waste to a school in an orgy of carnage — and then, having drunk his fill of slaughtered blood, ends his own life by his own hand, leaving naught but a narcissistic video hungrily devoured by a bloodthirsty media, who wish only to “understand.” Other than his final instant of presumed pain, the killer receives no justice, no retribution for his murderous rage — and more perversely, carves out his place, albeit briefly, in history and notoriety.

While such cases are the extreme, unrequited evils of a lesser sort could be multiplied without end. The child molester, who gets out of jail in 3 years on good behavior; the murderer whose high-priced attorneys sway feeble-minded juries to garner his acquittal; the corporate executive who steals billions from the retirement plan of his underpaid employees, getting off with a wrist slap fingering someone higher in the food chain; the tyrant who tortures and murders millions, escaping to live in opulence, dying in a safe secure asylum provided by others of his ilk. Even at the most personal level, much evil goes unpunished, from the undetected adultery, to the undiscovered lie, to the drunk driver not arrested, to the fraudulent tax return which escapes the scrutiny of the IRS.

There is in human nature something which rebels at such injustice, which cries out for punishment proportionate to the crime. We hunger for some restraint upon such evils unleashed, some effective deterrent, knowing our imperfect legal system often fails to deliver its promised justice. Yet, paradoxically, we justify and rationalize our own evil, not merely hoping for leniency if caught but expecting, even demanding it.

If hell does not exist, men would be wise to invent it. If it does exist, we are fools to deny it.

Yet our technologically advanced, psychologically sophisticated, scientifically saturated society can in all its knowledge find no such restraint upon evil. For we arrogate with confident assurance that there is no God; no transcendent moral absolutes; no spiritual or immaterial reality beyond the tangible and measurable. We hunger for justice but have no standard against by which to calibrate it, save our volatile emotions and ever-changing subjective values. We attempt to constrain evil through law and societal coercion, while having no coherent metaphysics upon which such constraints must be grounded. Our GPS satellites are not fixed, but wander through the sky; our maps are detailed, but bear no relation to the geography through which they purport to guide us.
Continue reading “The Death of Hell”

Liberalism & Gnosticism

It takes only a brief review of conservative web sites, print media, and pundit blogs to be left with the impression of a deep frustration with liberalism, progressivism, or “woke” ideology. This arises not merely the disagreement with their beliefs and priorities, mind you — that is a given — but rather with their peculiar unresponsiveness to arguments of reason and logic. The scenario goes something like this: Some Democrat in Congress or liberal pundit makes an outrageous charge about conservatives, or Republicans, or Christians, or whatever. The conservative blogs and news sites burst forth with the news, followed shortly by detailed rebuttal of the charges, or ample testimony to prior events proving the hypocrisy of the attack. Well-reasoned, factual defense is the rule rather than the exception. Yet all to no avail. Those on the Left either shrug, or respond with even more outrageous accusations, or go ad hominem. I often wonder whether all this energy and effort has accomplished anything beyond making us feel better about ourselves and venting our frustration.

I believe the problem is that we don’t understand liberals.

Now, before you start thinking I’m having a kumbaya moment, hear me out: we don’t understand liberals because contemporary liberalism is the new

Gnosticism as a religion is ancient — predating Christianity by at least several centuries, and coexisting with it for several more before dying out. It was in many ways a syncretic belief system, drawing elements from virtually every religion it touched: Buddhism, Indian pantheism, Greek philosophy and myth, Jewish mysticism, and Christianity.

Gnosticism (from the Greek gnosis, to know, or knowledge) was manifested in many forms and sects, but all shared common core beliefs: dualism, wherein the world was evil and the immaterial good; the importance of secret knowledge, magical in nature, by which those possessing such knowledge could overcome the evil of the material world; and pantheism. It was also a profoundly pessimistic belief system. As J.P. Arendzen, in his excellent summary of Gnosticism, explains:

This utter pessimism, bemoaning the existence of the whole universe as a corruption and a calamity, with a feverish craving to be freed from the body of this death and a mad hope that, if we only knew, we could by some mystic words undo the cursed spell of this existence — this is the foundation of all Gnostic thought … Gnosticism is pseudo-intellectual, and trusts exclusively to magical knowledge.

So in what ways is modern liberalism Gnostic in nature?

First and foremost, in modern liberalism, what you believe is more important than how you act. Gnostic sects were often hedonistic — after all, since you possess special knowledge of the truth, and the physical world is evil, why pursue noble behavior with an inherently wicked material body? While not all – or even most – liberals are hedonistic (although Hollywood does come to mind…), contemporary liberalism has enshrined tolerance of hedonism as a core belief.

More fundamentally, there is a disconnect in liberalism between belief and action. As a result, there is no such thing as hypocrisy. So the National Organization of Women, tireless in its campaign on violence against women, sexual harassment, and the tyranny of men in the workplace and in society, stands wholeheartedly behind Bill Clinton, who used a dim-witted intern for sex (in the workplace, moreover!) and who was credibly charged with sexual assault on Juanita Brodderick. Hypocrisy? No, Bill Clinton “understood” women and women’s issues — his knowledge trumped his behavior, no matter how despicable.

There are many such similar examples, once you start looking for them. I recall a gay activist on NPR instructing Terry Gross that the solution to “anti-gay intolerance” (i.e., anyone who had qualms about homosexuality, either in its morality or social agenda) was “education”. If we religious or socially conservative cretins were only properly “educated”–if and when we finally “got it” — then all of our opposition to homosexuality would melt away like an ice sculpture in August.

It is no accident that many of our most liberal intellectuals reside in the universities, in the rarefied atmosphere where ideas are everything and their practical application moot. We conservatives often marvel at the naivety of the peace movement, where World Peace can be achieved if only we “visualize” it. Like the magic formulas used by the Gnostics to dispel evil spirits and emanations, simply believing that peace can be achieved by “loving one another”, and mutual understanding is sufficient to transform those intent on evil, destruction, and domination. Human shields defend tyrannical monsters who would shred them in a heartbeat were they not so useful, in order to “put an end to war.” Judges implement rulings based on higher Sophia rather than the law, blissfully dismissing their profound impact on the Great Unknowing Masses below.

The profound pessimism of the Gnostic world view is seen in contemporary liberalism as well. If ever there was a gentle giant in history — a nation overwhelmingly dominant yet benign in its use of power — it is the United States of the 20th and 21st century. Yet we are treated to an endless litany of tirades about our racist, sexist, imperialist ways, which will only end when the Left “takes America back” — ignoring that a nation so administered would cease to exist in short order. American liberalism was not always so. As recently as twenty years ago, it was optimistic, hopeful and other-oriented, albeit with misconceptions about human nature which proved the undoing of its policies and programs. Only at its farthest fringes did pessimism reign, but today this dark view is increasingly the dominant one.

Analogies have their limits, as does this one. Ancient Gnosticism was deeply religious, although pantheistic, whereas modern liberal thinking is profoundly secular and agnostic, for example. But even here similarities persist: how many New Age conservatives do you know? Modern secular liberalism is far more religion than political philosophy, and therefore largely resistant to confrontation or compromise based on logic and reason.

Gnosticism as a religious force collapsed of its own weight, crippled by its internal inconsistencies and the lack of power sufficient to transform and ennoble the human spirit. Yet failed ideas die hard, given the intransigence of human pride. How very odd that our predominant postmodern political philosophy is so ancient in origin.

The Advent

40 years — a biblical number.

For 40 years, Moses was in exile, before returning to Egypt to free his people. For 40 years, the Israelites wandered in the desert before entering the promised land.

Our own advent has lasted 40 years as well.

Our preparation for this moment began 40 years ago, in 1968. Vietnam, the Democratic convention, political assassinations, riots in the streets.

“Off the pigs!” “Do your own thing!” “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” “Power to the people!” “Tune in, turn on, drop out!”

It was a time of enormous change. And it was just the beginning of enormous change.

The social tumult of the late 60s was indeed a revolution. Yes, the slogans now appear silly and self-important, but the changes they represented burrowed deeply into the soul of a country. Looking back at its superficial manifestations — tie-dyed T-shirts, bell-bottoms, long hair, communes, free love, getting stoned, rock ‘n roll — these things now seem profoundly foolish, the insanity of youth taken greatly to excess. But the changes of the late 60s and 70s were infectious and intoxicating, and were imbibed deeply by an entire nation.

In these 40 years, we have learned many things. We have learned that slogans about change are the same as change. We have learned that “do your own thing” is a principal worth inculcating into the very fabric of our lives. We have learned that how we feel is more important than what we do. We have learned that ideas do not have consequences — but are themselves consequences.

We have learned that our government is not to be trusted, that our country is not to be loved. We have learned that what our country can do for us is more important than what we can do for our country. We have learned that the government always lies; that the media is always truthful; that corporations are evil; that unrestricted license is good.

We have learned to be green, and to relish the obscene. We have learned that religion is patriarchal and oppressive; that social mores and morality are to be challenged and rejected; that “freedom of speech” means burning the flag, smearing Madonna with feces; immersing the crucifix in urine; being obnoxious, abusive, and vicious while never entertaining criticism or rebuttal.

We have learned not to think, but to feel; not to reason but to react; not to dialogue but to detest; not to take responsibility but to accuse. We have learned to bolster our self-esteem, and worship our self-gratification. We have learned that someone else should always pay; that we are entitled to whatever we want; that wealth and happiness are our birthright. We have learned that god is within; that our existence is a cosmic coincidence; that our purpose is self-aggrandizement and acquisition of money and power. We have learned that only the material is true; that spiritual principles and practice are but opinions; that there is no truth anyway, only narrative.

There is much we have not learned during our long advent.

We have not learned history — at least not any history worth learning. We have not learned reason, or logic, or deduction. We have learned nothing of human nature, of its inherent draw toward evil rather than good, of the necessity of moral restraint and regeneration before such mortal and moral gravity can be overcome. We have not learned the limitation of government nor the risks of its encroaching strangulation of our freedom. We have not learned patience, nor endurance, nor self-control, nor deferred gratification. We have not learned that there are things worth dying for, and therefore there might be something worth living for.

Our 40-year advent now draws to a close. The prime-time prophets proclaim the Messiah, who will save us from our spiraling descent with stirring words and mighty miracles. We stand poised to nominate, and perhaps elect, a charismatic individual who is the embodiment of all our heartfelt desires. He alone can end all wars; he alone can destroy tyranny with mere words; he alone can smite the haters, the greedy, the culturally insensitive, the religious zealots. He preaches hope, to those who know not why they are hopeless; he preaches change, to those who have no compass by which to judge its direction.

Imagine such a candidate, such a public figure, running for the presidency a mere 40 years ago. Imagine a presidential candidate with no experience, no portfolio, no principles beyond rhetorical flourish and false hope. Imagine a country which finds such a man not only eligible but epitomizing its very ideals.

You cannot imagine any such thing in any culture which cherishes the responsibility and robustness of its own leaders. Our postmodern evolution is complete; we have grown from a country of adults to a nation of infants. The fruit of our regression is upon us; we are no longer a nation, but a nursery.

“Power to the people,” indeed.

May God help us.

Moses & Multiculturalism

If you are not a regular reader of First Things — well, you owe it to yourself to make it a regular watering hole on you daily reading journey. Excellent writing, in-depth posts on the intersection of faith and the public square, the culture wars, and topical posts on Christianity in contemporary Western culture, from both Catholic and evangelical perspectives.

Today’s post is Moses & Multiculturalism by RR Reno, and it is excellent and thought-provoking — and provides a nice segue into a new essay I’m working on, coming to a web browser near you, Real Soon Now™.

Moving the Ancient Boundaries – III

This is a series on the erosion of moral, cultural, and ethical boundaries in modern society:
 ♦ Part 1 — Moving the Ancient Boundaries

 ♦ Part 2 — The Rebel & the Victim

stone walls

Do not move the ancient boundary stone
   set up by your forefathers.

        — Proverbs 22:28 —

In prior posts, we began to examine some of the many ways which a society will evolve and act if it seeks to move the ancient boundaries, to chip away at absolutes, principles, and tradition in order to create a new utopia grounded in narcissism and libertinism. Here, I will continue to illustrate the means whereby an increasingly individualistic and relativistic society, having lost its moorings in faith, absolute principles, and tradition, undermines its own foundations. This post will address the undermining of civil authority and government; the next, the assault on religious authority.
 ♦ The Assault on Civil Authority

Authority in Western society serves — at least in theory — the people whom it governs. As embodied in government, it exists to protect, to preserve societal order and norms, and to promote the common good. It functions to protect individual members of society from harm from its renegade members, from natural dangers, such as fire or natural disasters, from large societal upheaval such as riots and civil unrest, and from threats to national security or sovereignty. This authority is embodied in both law and the necessary authorized force to restrain the destructive and centrifugal forces in society and maintain civil order.

But law and legal force alone cannot restrain such evil tendencies, short of enforcing a despotic and tyrannical rule which is the antithesis of democracy and freedom. To function optimally, authority must be based on a shared tradition of self-restraint and ethical behavior, operating under the common denominator that the good of society as a whole outweighs individual desires and priorities — and delegating the enforcement of the common good to those in authority when individual license violates societal norms and standards.

In an age of narcissistic individualism, then, authority must be undermined, for it represents a constraint and impediment to the utopian vision of ultimate human freedom posited in unrestricted individual license. For the individualist, personal gain always trumps the common good. The view of authority in such radical individualism is changed: its goal now primarily — if not exclusively — protection of the individual’s rights, and secondarily, the mitigation of the inevitable consequences of such self-centered behavior. In societies where such individualism becomes preeminent, we see the evolution of authority primarily into the guarantor of autonomy and the guarantee of relief from its effects.
Continue reading “Moving the Ancient Boundaries – III”

Moving the Ancient Boundaries – II

This is a series on the erosion of moral, cultural, and ethical boundaries in modern society:
 ♦ Part 1 — Moving the Ancient Boundaries

stone wall

Do not move the ancient boundary stone set up
   by your forefathers.

        — Proverbs 22:28 —

The societal trend evident today — the gradual and progressive shift from spirituality and faith-based life principles, to scientific secular rationalism, and ultimately to postmodernism, which is the triumph of tribalism, radical individualism, and emotionalism over faith and reason — has many manifestations. The frantic pace of a society filled with countless pressures and endless distractions permits us at best to focus only on the immediate details of our lives — jobs, children, hobbies and activities. Rarely do we take the time to stand back from our culture and society at large to contemplate the profound changes taking place around us. We wake up one day wondering how things have changed so profoundly, with a sense of discomfort over where we are and confusion about where we they are headed.

As our society drifts away from core principles and absolutes established by faith, culture, and tradition, it has done so in a manner which is subtle, yet highly effective. Many of the ways in which this cultural shift has taken place are ancient; many more are a function of a technologically advanced and media-saturated environment. The underlying forces which erode the safeguards which have protected and stabilized society for centuries are not new; they are, however, more rapid and effective in a culture distracted by material wealth, information saturation, and instant gratification.
Continue reading “Moving the Ancient Boundaries – II”

Postmodern Liberalism Comment Problems

Bizarre behavior on my last post, which generates an Apache error when comments are submitted–but no error on comment submissions from any of my other posts. Upgraded WordPress to 2.02, which hasn’t fixed the problem (but fortunately went without a glitch so far).

My hunch is that there is a spam or adult content filter on my hosting ISP’s web server, and it doesn’t like the title, which includes the dreaded “P” word, so is blocking it.

I’m going to use this post for comments to the prior one, and hope that works.

Sorry about the inconvenience.

The Pornography of Ideas

Japanese woodblock printOn one of my earlier posts on Islam, I received the comment from a reader who, one might surmise, was not exactly an admirer. Such comments are a fact of life on a web log, and actually have been relatively infrequent here–may Allah be praised. I deleted the comment, as I’ve found life far simpler spent on productive pursuits rather than giving a forum to trolls — but I must confess, in retrospect, that I regret having done so, as quotation would have been a cleaner way to illustrate some of the following points. And so, I will summarize the its gist, which left me pondering broader topics of political and social discourse, particularly as they pertain to those who call themselves “progressives.”

The comment was actually a tad atypical for the genre: there was no profanity, and the words “extremist”, “right wing”, “fascist”, “Nazi”, and a host of other pejoratives were sadly absent. Nevertheless, it did provide a window into the peculiar mindset of some who live on the left side of the spectrum, and thereby providing a teachable moment or two.

My reader opened the monologue with his conclusion that I was “Islamophobic, and therefore a racist.” He proceeded to educate me to the fact that there was no such thing as Islamofascism or Islamic extremism–that the current conflict between radical Islam and the West was simply a natural consequence of years of oppressing the poor in Third World countries through American hegemony. On a roll, my admirer than proceeded to inform me that there was no such thing as Communism, either–that neither the Soviet Union nor Red China had ever been a threat to the United States, and that in essence, the entire Cold War had been about domination of the Third World by the First World. Then, he treated me to the customary bromide about those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

The commenter–who hailed from the Puget Sound area–in closing informed me that he was “embarrassed” that someone like me would live in this area, and suggested I move to Nebraska–his original home state–where I could be with other closed-minded folks like myself. In a parting jab, he intoned that if he and his friends had their way, I would receive not one dime of reimbursement for health care. He apparently hasn’t noticed that many of his compatriots in government and the health insurance industry have already thought of this idea–and are working hard to make it happen.

There is, of course, the natural tendency to respond in kind, detailing logical and historical errors on a tit-for-tat basis. One could, for example, point out that Islam is comprised of people from every race and nation, and therefore expressing concerns about the religion, its teachings, and the behavior of its followers is no more racist than expressing concerns about domestic violence or anti-Semitism. Islam–as demonstrated by the recent bombings of sacred sites in Iraq and India — is, at its worst, an equal-opportunity destroyer, and questioning the teachings and actions which bring about such travesties is hardly racist. Nevertheless, our friend apparently felt a need to reach into his grab bag of insults, and pull out at least one such invective, lest I forget what a miserable bigoted swine I really am. Logic and reason need not enter into such a discourse, of course.

The notion that Communism never existed, and that the Soviet Union and China were never a threat, is almost breathtakingly naïve. For those of us who lived through Communism’s horrors: the Cuban missile crisis; the crushing of the Prague Spring; the brutal put-down of the Hungarian uprising; the gulags; fugitives shot and left hanging on the barbed wire of the Berlin Wall; proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; and the longstanding threat of Communist totalitarian superpowers armed to the teeth with nuclear and conventional weapons, realize what a foolish and laughable assertion this really is. One wonders if this stunning ignorance of history is intentional, or simply a product of the postmodern revisionism and deconstructionism which seems to have replaced serious historical scholarship at most universities. I have no doubt forgotten much of the history which I learned over the years: I don’t recall what year the Hapsburgs took power, or the reasons for the Peloponnesian wars — but I do understand what happened in Europe and the rest of the world prior to the Nazi juggernaut, the dangers of profound denial of threat posed by evil regimes, and the foolishness–and deadliness–of wishful thinking and appeasement. I may therefore be doomed to repeat history, having forgotten some of it–but one wonders what the consequences will be of never having learned history in the first place.

Now, it is certainly natural as human beings to try to abstract and generalize from the individual to the group. And I understand that not everyone of liberal persuasion believes the sort of poppycock perpetrated by my perturbed pundit. But it does not take a great deal of observation and abstraction to understand that many of the most vocal members of the left today espouse similar notions, which simple objective analysis easily demonstrates to be nothing more than pure fantasy or propaganda. One need only browse the comments at Kos, or Democratic Underground, or to see this and many more egregious examples. The list is long and painfully familiar to anyone who has followed the political or cultural scene of the last few years: Bush is Hitler; no blood for oil; Bush lied, people died; the root cause of terrorism is poverty; the solution to terrorism is making the Third World our adopted welfare state (the Patty Murray daycare solution); we are no different from the terrorists; those who resist the creeping culture of decadence harbor only hatred and intolerance. The list, as most of you well know, could go on for far, far longer. Such pronouncements are repeated with bone-wearying regularity, slogans without substance–yet nevertheless a staple of argument for many on the left. One is left to ponder how so many people can be so passionately–even religiously–convicted of that which is so easily disproved, continuing to use such false premises on a repeated basis until they become de facto truth.

On observing those who maintain such positions, several things become evident: first, as a group, such folks are indeed a glum lot. They seem to spent an inordinate amount of time fretting about how terrible the world is (thanks to Amerikkka), how awful and hateful conservatives and Republicans are, how evil their own country and its leaders are, and how hate-filled are all who do not see the world through their peculiar lenses. They never seem to find anything good in life, anything noteworthy or praiseworthy: their faint praise extends only to the base and depraved, and never to the exalted and noble. Their hatred for their own country is palpable, as they see in America, not a shining light, but rather the taproot of all evil in the world. Yet, they lack sufficient courage of convictions to find a national home more suitable to their beliefs, entrapped by the very prosperity, freedom, safety, and ease of life which they often deny or decry. During Vietnam, conscientious draft resisters put their money where their mouth is, and with gonadal fortitude moved to Canada; today’s valiant heroes “speak truth to power” from the spoiled decadence of lavish homes or ski chalets in Aspen. Enormous energy goes toward rationalizing and justifying the behavior of truly heinous regimes–Castro, Saddam Hussein, and the violent fascists of radical Islam–and none celebrating those who sacrificed and died to protect their right to freely voice such insanity, and to prosper free of such oppressive tyranny.

From this observation arises another conclusion: those on the left are far more tribal than national. Their allegiance and loyalty is no longer to country–working for and hoping for more national unity, peace, and progress–but rather to their particular interest group, whose narrow agenda dominates their worldview and becomes the totality of their focus. They are not Americans who seek to improve the country’s environment, but “environmental activists” who view all who differ on means and priorities as greedy polluters and evil capitalists. They are not Americans who genuinely seek, by personal effort and compromise, to improve the lot of the poor and underprivileged, but who prefer instead to exploit the poor as political pawns, demagoguing those who seek the same goals by economically rational means. They are not Americans who seek racial healing and cultural unity, but rather to use race as a lever to power, and charge “racism” freely and liberally–all the while being viciously racist against non-whites who dare to leave the liberal plantation. To be on the left is to be gay, lesbian, or transgendered; pro-choice or feminist; environmental activist or animal-rights warrior; anti-globalism anarchist or antiwar protester–but never a member of a unified national community striving through compromise and cooperation to address core issues of discrimination, tolerance, economic or environmental progress, national security. The tribe comes first: their personal grievance their only allegiance; the nation–if considered in any positive light at all–is nothing more than a alliance of tribes, bound together by collective victimization, whose goals are to seek sufficient power to coerce their intellectual and moral inferiors into submitting to their dictates. Such is the natural history and inevitable outcome of multiculturalism, which seeks to divide and conquer rather than unite and restore.

To watch the postmodern left is to observe projection in action: scream “Racist!” at conservative whites while ridiculing and demeaning conservative blacks; physically assault counter-protesters at “peace” rallies; preach “tolerance” and “diversity” while telling those with whom you disagree to move to Nebraska; decry the Christian Right for “ramming their values down your throat,” all the while force-feeding your own values to those who attend the schools you control or listen to the media you run; holler about “censorship” and “First Amendment rights” when criticized, while silencing those not satisfying your stifling PC speech codes. You can rest assured, if a progressive is accusing you of some heinous act, they are exhibiting that self-same flaw in far greater measure somewhere else, against someone else.

The man who is my best friend–my wife excepted–is politically quite liberal. He is a teacher, and a regional representative for the teacher’s union. We disagree on far fewer fundamentals than you might imagine. When we discuss issues social and political, we air our differences–but surprisingly often agree on core principles, differing mostly on the means to implement them. Our friendship and commonality trumps our politics–we are a microcosm of true community, true nationality, true unity. Our unity is not tribal–the weak bonds of shared lust for power–but transcendent, based on the values we share and the primacy of our relationship, which endures despite our differences. The postmodern left loves the pornography of ideas: not the deep, transformational passion for beauty, and character, and worthy cause, sacrificing self for the best of the beloved, but rather ideas as harlots, useful to satisfy their lust for power and control, lascivious but cheap, discarded like yesterday’s condom when their utility passes and another conquest looms.

The left is hardly alone in such postmodern cynicism–there is plenty to go around on the right as well, the product of passion for power and utilitarian secularism. And not all on the left fit this stark description–but if you look around you will find suitable subjects faster than a Starbucks in Seattle–on TV screens, in college lecture halls, at protest marches, on the front page of your local news rag. Their volume is loud, their voices shrill and without timbre, hoping by outward intensity to hide the vacuity of their inner substance. Like Dr. Faustus they have sold their souls for the might and magic of the moment, and as their power weakens their fear and hatred multiplies–the inevitable consequence of ditching principles for power, character for control.

Classic liberalism fought broad battles with lasting impact, propelled by noble principle: women’s suffrage, the right to unionize, civil rights, federal health and retirement benefits for seniors and the poor. While some of these visions have subsequently proven misguided or ill-conceived due to government hubris or the hard light of social reality, they arose nevertheless out of sincere desire to bring about a more just, equal, and compassionate country. The postmodern liberal has ditched the principles while flying the pennants, perverting past triumphs into petulant tirades. Their battles are small, their motives self-serving, their philosophy nihilism, their priority power.

Welcome to their world–where diversity is division, tolerance tyranny. The merchants of multiculturalism have a vision for you. It’s yours for the taking–if only you’ll see things their way.

UPDATE: Trying to figure out the problem with comments on this post (they seem to work on other posts). Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE 2: No luck figuring this out so far–all my other posts allow comments without a problem (I suspect my ISP web server doesn’t like the “P” word in the title or text). Anyway, if you want to leave a comment, go here. As always, keep it civil–I have an itchy trigger finger for trolls. Comments are off on this post to avoid the error.