A little religion and politics today... Stay with me here. I only want to share some of the revelations I've had and conclusions I've drawn recently. I am not expecting a round of head nodding agreement or opinions to be swayed necessarily - food for thought, that's all...
To lay some ground work, I was born into a lower middle class, upper midwest Catholic family that was headed by strong union "Humphrey" Democrats. If I heard it once I heard it a million times - the Democrats are for the little guy and the Republicans are for big business. That neatly summarizes what I was exposed to at an early age on the topics of politics and religion.
The tumultuous 1970's were a transformational time in America, more so
than the 50's or the 60's. Everyone's roles were changing. Everyone and
everything was changing, including political affiliations and religious
values. I was teenager during the 70's when the working class was seeing the first wave of job exports and wives were being shoved into the work force by necessity. Recession, gas shortages, women's lib and long-haired hippies every where. What a time.
Culminating in America putting a man on the moon the triumph of science drove the final nails in the coffin of Christendom. It seemed clear modern man didn't need the church anymore. Concurrently the shame of Vietnam and Watergate destroyed any trust modern Americans had in their national government. Until then courageous government leadership had saved the country more than once. Johnson and the Democrats misguided waging of the war in Southeast Asia boiled over on the streets of inner city America. The people were ashamed and disgusted. This followed by Nixon and the Republicans who gave us round the clock scandal ending in the first American President resigning his post. The people were disgusted and angry. One could not be blamed for thinking the end of the republic was near.
There you have it, God and country were dying before our eyes.
Coming of age around 1980 I was old enough to vote and old enough to decide whether I went to church on Sundays or not. Church was already in the rear-view mirror and the voting booth was dead ahead. I wasn't a liberal or a conservative - I was a dummy. The first time I stepped into the voting booth my choices for President were President Jimmy Carter - failure - Ronald Reagan - scary - and John Anderson - righteous. I voted for Anderson.
By the time 1984 rolled around I was married, owned a house and was working 3 jobs. The sting of the recession and the tax man was still fresh when I walked into the voting booth. Despite my Democrat upbringing and hometown boy Walter Mondale opposing President Reagan I pulled the lever for the Republican. It was the drastic upward change in the mood of the country and the direction of the economy that lead to Reagan's landslide victory that year. There was a ray of hope that America wasn't over. The right was on the rise. Despite the obvious opposition from the frivolous left the real problem for the right-wing was the courtship between conservatism and Christendom. It plagues the right to this day.
Christendom is the term given to the marriage of church and state ushered in by edict of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. Christians no longer forced to operate on the margins of society became the center and melded with the power of the state. For fifteen centuries Christendom went around the globe conquering the world in the name of Christ. Most if not all the horrendous and negative things associated with Christianity was a result of this drunken power. Lost in all this was the Jesus Christ of the gospels.
The reformation divided Christendom, but ultimately Rome was simply replaced by protestant/state collusions like the Lutherans in Gaul and the Anglicans in Britain. It was a desire to be free from the persecution of the church/state that drove so many Europeans across the ocean to the new world, to America. It was with the implied promise of the separation of church and state that made the birth of a brand new republic so appealing to millions. The French and American revolutions were the opening salvos in slaying of the church/state alliance. By the early nineteenth century Christendom was dying.
There can be no doubt that a huge part of the success of the United States of America was due to the concept of freedom of religion and the implied separation of church and state, still no one can deny that despite the desire to be free of Christendom's grip European immigrants brought it with them. This is not to say that Christendom is the root of all evil. Christianity was never meant rule society, it was meant to rule the heart. Many a good thing came out of the Church as it were, but any good was often overshadowed by the bad.
By the time Christendom was all but dead all over the West the rise of the new and insidious ruling authority was upon us. This authority was diametrically opposed to religion - Judeo/Christian religion to be precise. At first this phenomenon was thought of as just plain silly, but it's power grew rapidly and it knew no bounds. The left-wing embraced it whole-heartedly. It used a inkling of common decency to hook it's claws into everything until common sense was rendered uncommon. It had achieved ultimate sway when truth didn't matter anymore. The new religion of Political Correctness is now the absolute ruling authority over this land and all of the West.
The left combined lofty ideals and the power of their brethren in the mainstream media and government bureaucracy to use PCism to silence and/or bludgeon anyone opposed to them. Under their breath they often winced at the illogic and dishonesty of PCism, but it suits them for now and it's a useful tool in their arsenal against Christendom and the right.
Where the right went wrong was tying itself to a dying Christendom instead of the values of Jesus Christ of the gospels. Anything in its death throes appears ugly. It is so easy for the left with their partners in the media to tie all the ugliness of Christendom to the right-wing thus turning off a huge slice of potential supporters who find leftism and PCism wholly distasteful. How many times do you interact with people who have no time for "organized religion" but are decent, loving and even conservative people? These people often actually agree with center/right opinions on issue after issue especially if you can keep the concept of left and right out of the discussion. As soon as you tie the issue to a particular politician or party their mood changes and they sneer or bristle at the right-winger. If you dig further it always comes back to their revulsion of religion or the sins of Christendom.
Issue by issue Christendom's negative attributes combined with chest thumping nationalism is portrayed in the ugliest light possible and tied to the right-wing. Any beauty and truth is purposely hidden. PCism's dishonesty and lies are couched in lofty, idealistic rhetoric that seems all so righteous until taken apart. It is never taken apart in the mainstream media or by the left. Therefore the right-wing, Christianity and conservatism is all about hatred, discrimination and racism. The progressive left and is about harmony, tolerance and inclusion.
The thing about PCism and its totalitarianism is that it is ultimately self destroying, it will eventually turn on even those who embrace it. The problem is - PCism will take everything down with it. A story for another day.
Eventually we returned to the Church, going to Mass on Sundays and sending our kids to Catholic school. All the while we sensed something was seriously wrong with the Church.We would drive by one of these so-called non-denominational Mega Churches and marvel at the overflow parking every Sunday. Our little Catholic church would be 2/3 empty Mass after Mass. We were often treated to interim immigrant priests whose english was barely passable. The reality was they were just going through the motions every week and so were we. Another Sunday driving past the Mega Church had us wondering what they were doing in there? What we didn't realize at the time was that we were attending a dying Church, a dying system and these Mega Churches represented some of the pieces being picked up.
My wife was first to bail. She just didn't feel it anymore. They had driven out the one priest we had come to love. We never knew why. I continued to go for a few years by myself, but even I lost interest. The priest sex abuse scandals was the last straw.
I had long since given up on Democrats and was voting Republican almost exclusively. More so because the left-wing was so off putting I couldn't support one damn thing they were doing, right or wrong. The Republican's on the other hand were so stupid and incapable of articulating anything but anger that even though they were absolutely right on some key issues even I didn't believe in them. Their constant drumbeat of nationalism couched in patriotism and religiosity was nauseating even to someone like me who supported them. The political right clutching onto Christendom was a natural output of the monumental struggle against global communism. It may or may not have been helpful in that fight, but it was an albatross around their neck in the battle against Political Correctness and the far left.
So I had been set adrift. My Church had lost me, my political slant had fallen on it's face and the country, the economy were in the hands of something unrecognizable to me. Finally a light bulb came on in my darkened skull...
One day we decided to going into the local Mega Church. The next Sunday we went back - and the Sunday after that. Now we knew what was going on in there. These people were striving to be followers of Jesus Christ. The Christ of the gospels, not the warrior God we had been worshiping all our lives. In five weeks I learned more about my faith than I had in fifty years of going to Mass.
Revelations. The Church (the universal church) is in transition. Christendom is dead and though confusing and chaotic it's a good thing. As followers of Christ being tolerant, inclusive, forgiving, loving and self sacrificial aren't phony politically correct platitudes. They are what we're called upon to do, personally, every where and with everyone. Whereas the hard-core left spewing these virtues while reaching into our pockets to pay for their good feelings is not genuine.
Imagine if the right-wing, who claims to "be for" all of these things actually practiced in word and deed tolerance, inclusiveness, forgiveness and self sacrificial love along with their stances supporting personal liberty, private property and free markets. How would phony baloney political correctness stand up to that? It couldn't
But I could be wrong....