Since the US Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage the law of the land, many social conservatives are arguing that it’s time for Christians to strategically retreat into their own communities, where they can keep “the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness.”
That’s rich—the very people who largely created the “culture of darkness” with their values of materialism, greed and power now decry its demise and talk about creating enclaves of onward Christian soldiers.
On the other side of the debased coin, the gay marriage bandwagon is as deep and authentic as the “support our troops” blather. Neither has anything to do with reality, merely providing feel-good moments for everyone who follows the party line, and literally buy into the corporate sponsorship.
Both the right and the left increase the contempt and cynicism toward institutions in America (except, frighteningly, the military), and neither offers a flicker of light for the way ahead in this benighted land.
Using the most ancient and conservative of all institutions—marriage—to obtain acceptance and validation for private matters fraught with public discrimination, was masterstroke of contradiction and timing. But it changes nothing, produces nothing, and erodes everything even further.
Social conservatives are right in their diagnosis of the rot in America, but they’re still wrong in the prescriptions they offer for it. The nostrums they insist upon will only deepen the division, disease and unease, and elicit a collective paleeze! from the populace, especially young people.
When the left in America surrendered the field of faith (in the largest sense of the word, beyond belief systems, traditions and religions) to social conservatives, fundamentalists and evangelicals, it was a spiritual and strategic mistake of the highest order.
It’s time that people with a social conscience begin to deeply converse about the transcendent in everyday life. Religions are dead; belief systems are dead. Something living and true has to fill the inner vacuum in this culture, and by extension the global culture.
It isn’t going to come from the so-called religious, repeating the same tired panaceas of faith and morality. As Jesus said, “let the dead bury the dead.”
Moreover, it isn’t just that the center cannot hold; it’s that there’s been a complete cultural collapse. And since America’s putative culture is the template for the global culture, the human prospect is in peril.
The present crisis therefore affords both great opportunity to create an altogether new culture in human history, and great peril in lurching backward to the supposed verities of the old tribalisms.
The choice is not between sectarianism and secularism, which are again two sides of man’s same worn-out coin. There’s no choice if it’s between the intellect that fabricates belief systems and moral codes, and the intellect believes only in reason (that is, itself). There is a true alternative—
awakening insight within oneself and with others.
At a moment like this, if the good and true cannot step into the vacuum and offer a new vision, either because the dark and the dead destroy them, or because they don’t have the strength to endure any longer, some form of fascism is inevitable.
Militarism hangs over America like a multi-trillion-dollar sword of Damocles. God (cosmic intelligence if you like) cannot help us when the next major terrorist attack, or a real, perhaps nuclear war occurs, and a sufficient minority of people isn’t inwardly prepared.
In short, American Christianity has not been, in the words of conservative commentator and “friend and admirer” of its leaders, merely a “communications disaster.” It has become the worst of what it always was: inimical to the inward life and to the spiritual advancement of humanity.
The evisceration of character in America over the last generation, and the palpable deadness in every corner of the land, is not just a reaction against so-called Christian values; it is the logical end of them.
Jesus would not have anything to do with the religion supposedly founded by him. Ironically and tragically, in the culminating chaos the Judeo-Christian world largely created, fundamentalist and orthodox Christians embrace as brothers and sisters in the faith the people who deny the central claim of Christianity—that Jesus was the Messiah.
The perverse conjunction between Jews waiting for the Messiah and Christians waiting for the Second Coming illuminate the fact that if people had really listened to Jesus there would be no need for a ‘Second Coming,’ or for a Messiah. That goes for any of the great teachers in the sorrowful history of man.
For those who cannot conform, and for whom the defunct and tortured relationship between the center and the margins is just another academic exercise in duality and futility, there is another option: work for the future of humanity, keeping the faith that we have one.
With enduring and reasonable doubt that their insights and ideas are valid and viable, though they are denied a fair and sympathetic hearing in the present, true thinkers can be confident that the future goes with them.
It certainly does not go with mediocrities straining to hold together a non-existent core of a disintegrated culture to which all people, be they presidents or professors, of the right or left, from the center or the margins, now belong.