America is being exposed as not as a post-Christian nation, but as a faux-Christian nation. We deconstruct the Bible, God’s purposes for us, His precepts and His principles. We parse our creeds, doctrines, and statements of faith and bend them to our will.
We remove the elements of Christian obedience but demand the fruit of God’s blessing. C.S. Lewis dealt with this issue in secular culture in “The Abolition of Man” where the pseudonymic Gaius and Titius published what he called The Green Book. Lewis assured that both the authors and the book are real. The Green Book deals with stripping away our existential mind constructs to expose a world bereft of emotional value.
Gaius and Titius proposed that a student should not interpret the poet’s Coleridge’s tale about a waterfall, in which one tourist calls it “sublime” and the other “pretty” as any kind of objective properties of the waterfall. The waterfall simply exists. Statements about its beauty or sublimity are purely the feelings of the speakers–projections of their own feelings.
Applied to politics, when Ted Cruz calls Donald Trump a pathological liar, a narcissist, an utterly amoral bully who exploits anger, he is merely projecting his feelings of these things onto Trump. Trump simply exists as he is, and does not assume any of the predicates of value intended by Cruz. Lewis attacks this subtle position in the education of a schoolboy instructed to resist the titillating language of an advertisement for a cruise: “those who buy tickets for this cruise will go ‘across the Western Ocean where Drake of Devon sailed’, ‘adventuring after the treasures of the Indies’, and bringing home themselves also a ‘treasure’ of ‘golden hours’ and ‘glowing colours’.”
From this passage the schoolboy will learn about Literature precisely nothing. What he will learn quickly enough, and perhaps indelibly, is the belief that all emotions aroused by local association are in themselves contrary to reason and contemptible. He will have no notion that there are two ways of being immune to such an advertisement — that it falls equally flat on those who are above it and those who are below it, on the man of real sensibility and on the mere trousered ape who has never been able to conceive the Atlantic as anything more than so many million tons of cold salt water.
America stands exposed as having built up an immunity to actual shame and actual outrage. We substitute political positioning and manipulation for the real thing. Black Lives Matter aligns itself with the ant-Israel BDS movement, as a “linked cause” because outrage is outrage, regardless of the objective realities of Israel’s situation versus the problem of police racial bias. It’s not real outrage, it’s simply applying Venn diagrams of varying dimensions to maximize political outcomes.
In this vein, Trump is not really pathological, or amoral, he is merely an object to either castigate or venerate depending on the desired political outcome.
Lewis, in his book “The Pilgrim’s Regress” tells the semi-autobiographical tale of John’s journey from a secular worldview to one of purpose and divine value. One specific story deals with John being in chains on a mountain called The Spirit of the Age.
At breakfast, he commented to the waiter (who embodied the spirit of the age) how good his milk tasted and the waiter said it was only the secretion of a cow and not different from any other emission such as urine. Then Lewis commented how good the eggs tasted and got a more horrible reply from the waiter. Lewis said he began to despair until Reason came riding up on a white horse, scooped him up, and saved him. ―You lie‖, Lewis said to the waiter; ―You lie. You fail to understand what nature meant for nourishment and what nature meant for garbage.
American Christianity can no longer discern what God has meant for our nourishment–righteous anger, outrage at injustice–and what is meant for refuse. The fact that politicians spout both milk and urine does not mean we should accept both and that our assignment of value to them is merely the construct of our “feelings.” It has even gotten to the point, as persuasion blogger Scott Adams points out, where reality itself is being understood as only what our minds tell us: “Democracy in the United States is largely an illusion.”
Of course that means we are being governed without our consent–our consent is merely the product of a carefully constructed social engineering program to get us to buy in to whatever outcomes our masters desire. Yet we place our hopes in politicians, create crises and false binary choices between equally abhorrent options, which we ourselves (Christians are complicit in this) have produced.
And all the time — such is the tragi-comedy of our situation — we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
“Not voting for Trump is a vote for Hillary” therefore Christians are to be exhorted to discharge a Godly civic duty in preventing Hillary from ascending the presidency. Let me ask a few questions here. Since when is the Christian held accountable for an outcome? When do the ends justify the means? When do political considerations and the strivings of created and fallen Man take precedence over the sovereign will of God and our obedience to His commandments?
Christians should be outraged that America has come to this point, and it speaks volumes about the moral impotence of American Christianity that we are not only not outraged, but we are almost gleeful, reveling in forcing an outcome to our personal liking.
We must not be fooled by this faux-Christianity. Both Trump and Clinton are wholly unacceptable choices and neither of them has God’s best for America in mind. God will do what He is going to do. As my pastor wrote after witnessing the last debate:
After watching the debate, I do not have anything to share that hasn’t already been shared. My only wisdom, as a faith leader, is to beg of people to pray for America, and to ask God for His mercy. Every cycle of human leadership includes seasons and periods when leaders fell woefully short of God’s intended “best” for the nation. In each episode, God used the dashed hopes of the people to turn their hearts to Him. In my humble opinion, one such season has begun. Let’s seek Jesus!