Can America Survive as a Post-Christian Nation?


#1

If I had to pick one of the most under-appreciated and under-reported stories of 2017, it would be that a post-Christian America is a more vicious America, and that the triumph of secularists is rendering America more polarized, not less. Remove from the public square biblical admonitions such as “love your enemies” and the hatred has more room to grow. When the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — wither, then the culture is far more coarse.

Not everyone’s missing the story, of course. Both Ross Douthat and The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart have written powerfully on the topic, with Beinart noting how the rise of a post-Christian Left has mirrored the rise of a post-Christian Right. Beinart’s conclusion is correct:
For years, political commentators dreamed that the culture war over religious morality that began in the 1960s and ’70s would fade. It has. And the more secular, more ferociously national and racial culture war that has followed is worse.

In spite of these alarms, much of the elite media celebrates religious decline without seriously and realistically grappling with the consequences. There is so much underlying ignorance of and hostility toward orthodox Christianity in elite media circles that I fear they’re still trapped in the false belief that less Christianity means a better America.

Much of this ignorance and hostility is rooted in the idea that Christianity itself is the source of contemporary cultural conflict. In reality, a propensity toward division and conflict is deeply embedded in human nature. Tribalism reigns in the human heart. Religious differences can of course be a source of conflict, but a common Judeo-Christian culture also serves the invaluable purpose of providing rules and norms for controlling that conflict and creating the conditions for reconciliation.

Flannery O’Connor once wrote that the South wasn’t “Christ-centered,” it was “Christ-haunted.” “The Southerner . . . is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God.” Ghosts, she said, “can be very fierce and instructive.” While the South may be the most Christ-haunted American region, I’d argue that our entire nation has been so Christ-haunted that it has provided our common moral language, a moral language that has time and again proven “fierce and instructive” in political and cultural debate.

For example, as Beinart notes, the civil-rights movement was not only firmly located within the Christian church, it consistently (constantly, even) made explicitly Christian appeals to the larger American culture — appeals to moral norms that Americans were supposed to share. The great civil-rights leaders weren’t inventing a new morality; they were calling Americans to live by the moral norms they were already supposed to uphold.

Younger Millennial activists — such as the leaders of Black Lives Matter — are much less likely to make explicit religious appeals and increasingly operate outside the church. Part of this is the natural byproduct of the fact that today’s young Americans attend church far less frequently than their parents or grandparents did. In addition, explicitly religious appeals have less purchase in a society that increasingly lacks a common set of religious views.

Some would argue that American Christian culture is being replaced by a separate, feel-good faith called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism — a vague belief that while God exists, he’s not particularly involved in human affairs and mainly wants people to be nice and happy. It’s a common moral code that applies to the conduct of one’s personal affairs; it is utterly inadequate, however, when it comes to addressing real human conflict and substantial cultural clashes. It provides no systematic moral worldview, and it ultimately leaves judgment of right and wrong to the individual conscience. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Millennial culture is that the failure to be “nice” is often met with the most brutal of reprisals. It’s okay — mandatory, even — to be cruel to the cruel and intolerant of the intolerant.

In fact, it’s becoming plain that even some of our churches are becoming less “Christ-haunted,” to say nothing of “Christ-centered.” It’s a simple fact that our pews have long been filled with non-believers. Christ himself noted that the wheat and tares grow up together, and the non-believers in the pews are a reflection of a secularizing culture. Thus the rise of “ends justifies the means” political combat and the stunning lack of faith that motivated so many self-described Evangelicals’ belief that the church itself faced mortal danger in the 2016 presidential election.

When a nation lacks a common moral language and common religious culture, it frequently devolves into tribalism. Secular progressives have long seemed to assume that as Christianity receded, their own worldview would advance: Post-Christian America would look like post-Christian Europe, where it seemed that a particular worldview had largely prevailed. Yet America has always been different from Europe, and post-Christian America will evolve in its own distinct way, with Right and Left, urban and rural filling the moral and spiritual vacuum, often in ways that their cultural competitors view with loathing and contempt.

Moreover, Europe hardly represents the secular ideal that many progressives imagine. It faces a strong challenge from Islam, and it’s seeing the reemergence of separatist forces that were once thought long vanquished. The Brexit vote captured the international imagination, but it’s easy to forget that less than two years before, Britain faced a referendum that threatened to divide a union older than our own.

In short, America is in the process of replacing a general worldview that prioritized love, hope, and truth with an individualized moral buffet that prioritizes personal satisfaction. We’re giving man back to his human nature — a nature beset by original sin and prone to tribalism. No one should assume that America can survive the change.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454971/post-christian-america-polarized-america


#2

Some people banking on it… yet they know not why…


#3

Yes we have devolved into tribalism where the cities have their tribe and the rest if the country the other tribe. The hatred emirates from the new city tribe who claims they are inclusive which they are as long as the group resides in their tribe.

And where we are today. The left has now replaced religion with an individualized moral buffet that prioritizes personal satisfaction. (It’s all about ME!)


#4

Will we have a choice? I guess the one upside to Hispanic immigration is that the majority of them are Christians who attend church. It’s the Muslims and the SJWs who are the problem. That’s not me giving a free pass to illegals, but if I had to pick Muslims over illegals. I’d pick the illegals.


#5

I don’t believe in a mythical being.

I believe in the freedom of the individual.

I also believe no man or woman is an island.

I believe therefore that the freedom of the individual is always and forever notional, and that the lives of others must always and forever impinge upon and constrain the perfection of any one man or woman’s freedom.

I believe that those constraints upon a person’s freedom find expression in official and unofficial forms, the one consisting of necessary laws and regulations (which are the work of government), the other of essential duties and responsibilities (which are shaped by systems of morality and ethics).

I believe that laws and regulations, on the one hand, and duties and responsibilities, on the other, are worse than useless if they are not allied with justice.

I believe that justice is impossible of achievement without the participation and consent of those who would be constrained by those very laws and duties.

I believe, that is, in democracy.

I believe, moreover, that the worst realization of democracy is better than the best version of any other form of government.

I believe, accordingly, that come what may, I will either manage to cross the deep river before us with the willfully ignorant, self-defeating bigots of the Trump Nation strapped to my back — my fellow citizens, that is — or I will drown trying.

And I believe that this is a crucial difference between liberals and conservatives, that the former will never abandon the proposition that as one nation, our individual destinies are inextricably linked, each of us fated to stand or fall with the rest, while the latter persist in the convenient delusion that it is acceptable, perhaps even unavoidable, that the few may thrive, while the many suffer.

And that is why I am a liberal.


#6

Two questions are necessary to further define this: What limitations and guarantees are included to limit the power of a narrow majority? What is the definition of citizen?

We’re actually a republic per the constitution, in particular a democratic one. We’re not a Periclean Athens-type direct democracy. I think the largest difference between conservatives and liberals is the size of the group.

I, personally hope for a growing size, rather than the current right-wing desire to shrink the group. Racists and fascists try to exclude people, in order to both concentrate wealth and enhance the feeling of superiority. As the Twitter image said, voting is like driving—choose “D” for forward and “R” for reverse.

The exclusion is a reversal of evolution, a return to tribal foundations for group structure. In its limit it reverts to clan and family. There is no argument that small groups fail in competition with large ones, and the groups that find value in the range of talents in their population have capabilities that escape the restricted tribal groups, as seen in Hitler’s Germany losing its scientific talent to the more inclusive democracies.

The larger groups can address problems that affect large areas, or that need larger resources. The largest political group possible (to our knowledge) is the entire population of humans. This is actually (just barely) happening at the U.N. It happens more reliably in science, and to large extent in the arts. Neither of these activities has much support from fascists.

It’s been suggested that the planet would unify in the face of alien invasion; I’m not convinced of that, but we aren’t in that condition. We do, however have planet-sized issues of environment.

Evolution exhibits both individual and group selection, although the latter is tricky to model. Group values arise from kin selection and similar pressures, such as when sacrificing one’s life to save one’s children is advantageous to most of your genes. Helping cousins, somewhat so, etc. If this feeling is present it can extend to other species, too, as they carry some of your genes.

So that’s me. I have loyalty to Life and Knowledge. It’s a big, lonely universe out there.


#7

Yes we have devolved into tribalism where the cities have their tribe and the rest if the country the other tribe. The hatred eminates from the new city tribe who claims they are inclusive which they are as long as the group resides in their tribe.

And you are completely deluded as to what the rest of the country is actually like. Lost in the propaganda machine of the progressive.


#8

An excellent example of what’s wrong with this country.

Half the country no longer votes for what best for the country but what is best for me.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

JFK

But then again, prospective is everything especially with the 15 second attention span of Americans today. And yes, your inclusive attitude excels in the progressive way of labeling and excluding all that disagree with your progressive ways.

Ever wonder with all the progressive love why most murders and crimes are committed in the cesspool cities the heartbeat of progressivism?