There Has Been a Massive Change in the Story of America


As our team explored the fascinating reality that story is about change, Paula Wong also helped us begin to think about the massive change which has happened in the story of America.

And it flows from the simple story question –


Which story are we in?


The Great Books of the Western World, published in the 1950s, gave the longest space to the theme of “God,” addressed by the most notable Western thinkers of the day. When Mortimer Adler, the editor, was asked why that theme occupied such length when many other notable themes were given less space, he answered without hesitation, “Because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.” 

Ravia Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods

So, look how the story of America has changed…


God has never been more cast out from the Western mind than he is today.

Charles J. Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land

For nearly all of American history, the Bible was the most important book in America. It is no longer.

Why the Left Mocks the Bible, By Dennis Prager, The Daily Signal, May 09, 2019

As Charles Taylor observes, various cultural and philosophical trends in the West culminated in the 20th century with a radical (at the roots) shift in our metaphysical dream. We became far more individualistic, and, because we also came to see sexual desire as inextricable with identity, came to see a metaphysical vision that would impose traditional limits on sexual expression as false.

Why Natural Law Arguments Fail, by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative, February 20, 2013

Something has happened in Western culture over the last three centuries, altering the conditions of human experience. Man has learned to understand the world and to order his life apart from God. God is dead in the way Latin is dead.

DEATH OF GOD FIFTY YEARS ON, by Matthew Rose, First Things, August 2016

In the opening scene of the 2001 film adaptation of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel whispers hauntingly, “The world has changed. I can feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.”

Western Christians in 2016 can relate. Something has shifted. The world we inhabit seems to have become disenchanted, and so many of those around us have entered a state in some ways worse than atheism — a state of indifference toward God and the supernatural.

New Os Guinness Book Is a Manifesto for Our Moment, By Eric Metaxas, Christian Post, August 27, 2016

And then she pointed to the powerful role which our ally Charlie Darwin played in bringing about the massive change in the story of America…


The Civil War shattered and remade America, destroying the slave culture of the South and killing 720,000 men. It also temporarily obscured an event that was nearly as seminal: the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Like the first mortar shell to land on Fort Sumter, Darwin’s book would produce epochal change and unanticipated aftershocks. It would crash and rumble in expanding circles throughout the nation, disrupting old habits and beliefs, altering cherished ways of thinking, and remaking society. Ultimately the book would do to American intellectual life what the war did to its political, economic, and social spheres: blast it to pieces and then reconsolidate it in new ways.

Randall Fuller, The Book That Changed America

Darwin had the predictive part right: evolution would change everything. It was hard because the deep values at stake were fundamentally irreconcilable. There was no third way to release evolution into the wild and not challenge the doctrines of Christianity….

Steven Johnson, Farsighted

As a historian of the ongoing “Darwinism vs. Design” controversy, I am frequently shocked by how mainstream science has become unguarded in pushing a theology. It was trumpeted brazenly at a Darwin Day event at the University of Tennessee when William Provine of Cornell University boasted, “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism that has ever been invented.”

More than a decade later, in lectures, essays, and in the film Expelled, Provine says that Darwinism tells us there is no detectable god or designing force in the universe; no purpose in life; no life after death; no foundation for ethics; and no free will. Provine emphasizes that Darwin agreed with these conclusions.

Explaining about Our Creator: ANSWERING DARWIN, By Thomas E. Woodward, DTS Voice, March 1st, 2009

And look at how your famous writer, Tom Wolfe, describes what happened…


Ladies and Gentlemen, this evening it is my modest intention to tell you in the short time we have together . . . everything you will ever need to know about the human beast.

I take that term, the human beast, from my idol, Emile Zola, who published a novel entitled The Human Beast in 1888, just 29 years after Darwin’s The Origin of Species broke the stunning news that Homo sapiens–or Homo loquax, as I call him–was not created by God in his own image but was precisely that, a beast, not different in any essential way from snakes with fangs or orangutangs . . . or kangaroos. . . or the fang-proof mongoose. Darwin’s doctrine, Evolution, leapt from the pages of a scientific monograph into every level of society in Europe and America with sensational suddenness.

Tom Wolfe, The Human Beast, Jefferson Lecture, National Endowment for the Humanities, May/June 2006

And the impact in relation to how people see their identity is rather significant…


Without God, ‘adam knows neither his or her identity nor his or her rightful place in the scheme of things.

Unaided by revelation, the depraved human mind creates understandings of the identity of  humankind that kill society as surely as diseases kill the body.

Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology

Nothing is more basic than the recognition that being constituted in the image of God is of the very essence of and absolutely central to the humanness of man. It is the key that unlocks the meaning of his authentic humanity.  Apart from this reality he cannot exist truly as a man, since for man to deny God and the divine image stamped upon his being and to assert his own independent self-sufficiency is to deny his own constitution and thus to dehumanize himself.

Philip Edgecumbe Hughes, The True Image

And so, massive change is playing out…


From all appearances, the modern, secular world is heading in its own direction without help from a higher one. Contact with transcendence still has a distinct place in one’s private devotions or meditations, but it has become further distant from the routines of home, work, and leisure. Those activities are generally thought to entail the autonomy of the self apart from any involvement by higher spirits or beings. The secular surge is effectively detaching the unseen realms from the seen. To “believe” increasingly implies sidelining transcendence rather than expecting it to be ever-present. Countless practically minded, self-described religious Americans go through their everyday paces without a hint that a higher power has any part in it. There are exceptions, of course, but in the main, people exude a sense of self-sufficiency that bears no relationship to a supreme being or dependence on the Bible.

Kenneth A. Briggs, The Invisible Bestseller

We have never observed a great civilization with a population as old as the United States will have in the twenty-first century; we have never observed a great civilization that is as secular as we are apparently going to become…. Thinking ahead to the rest of the twenty-first century, the problem is that the artistic elites have been conspicuously nihilist for the last century, and the rest of the culture has recently been following along. The most direct cause of a belief that one’s life has a purpose—belief in a personal God who wants you to use your gifts to the fullest—has been declining rapidly throughout society, and the plunge has steepened since the early 1990s. The rejection of traditional religion is especially conspicuous among intellectual and artistic elites.

Future tense, IX: Out of the wilderness, by Charles Murray, The New Criterion, May 2012

And that fits with what your Kissinger guy wrote…


Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.

How the Enlightenment Ends, By HENRY A. KISSINGER, The Atlantic, JUNE 2018 ISSUE

And your Bentley Hart guy sees the change through the lens of story…


I have operated throughout from the presupposition that, in the modern West, the situation of Christianity in culture at large is at least somewhat analogous to the condition of paganism in the days of Julian, though Christianity may not necessarily be quite as moribund. I do not, at any rate, anticipate a recovery under current circumstances, and I cannot at the moment envisage how those circumstances might change. Even in America, I assume, despite its special hospitality to transcendental ecstasies and enduring pieties, the intellectual and moral habits of materialism will ultimately prevail to an even greater degree than they have in Europe. And neither a person nor a people can will belief simply out of dread of the consequences of its absence. In one sense, Christianity permeates everything we are, but in another it is disappearing, and we are changing as a result; and something new is in the centuries-long process of being born. I suppose some sort of invocation of Yeats’s “The Second Coming” would be appropriate here, but the uncanny and disturbing power of its lines has long since been irreparably weakened by overuse. It might be better, therefore, simply to note that what it is for us to be human – what, that is, our aesthetic and moral imaginations are capable of – is determined by the encompassing narrative of reality we inhabit. First, for any people, comes its story, and then whatever is possible for that people becomes conceivable within that story. For centuries the Christian story shaped and suffused our civilization; now, however, slowly but relentlessly, another story is replacing it, and any attempt to reverse that process is probably futile. We are not pagans; we are not moved by their desires or disquieted by their uncertainties. We live after the age of Christendom, and cultures do not easily turn back to beliefs of which they have tired or with which they have become disenchanted.

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions

And the change is also recognized by these players…


The truth is that the world, as Christians have known it for many centuries, has gone – and gone for good. We are confronting a new situation. The explosion of pluralism alone makes ours a situation that has not been seen since the diversity of the Roman Empire. So we have to face up not just to others rejecting us but to all that is new in the grand transformations in human experience that are shaping our lives in the early twenty, first century.

Os Guinness, Impossible People

The most sudden and sweeping upheaval in beliefs and values has taken place in this century. No generation in the history of human thought has seen such swift and radical inversion of ideas and ideals as in our lifetime.

The Crisis of Modern Learning, By Carl Henry, Imprimis, February 1984

I would like to claim that the coming of modern secularity in my sense has been coterminous with the rise of a society in which for the first time in history a purely self-sufficient humanism came to be a widely available option. I mean by this a humanism accepting no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing. Of no previous society was this true. 

Charles Taylor, A Secular Age

In a word, everything ultimately depends on the temper of the American people. That temper is uncertain. There may be reason to think that a major portion of the American public has changed its values over the past thirty years, and that much of the public is no longer concerned with issues of personal morality and responsibility.

….

What we experience now is not the subtraction or addition of one or another of the elements of our moral life, but an assault that aims at, and largely accomplishes, sweeping changes across the entire cultural landscape. Large chunks of the moral life of the United States, major features of its culture, have disappeared altogether, and more are in the process of extinction. These are being, or have already been, replaced by new modes of conduct, ways of thought, and standards of morality that are unwelcome to many of us.

Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah

The Bible speaks a language of otherworldliness and transcendence that fewer people still speak. A colossal change has evidently taken place that makes it less possible for contemporary people to believe in anything that doesn’t pertain to the world of our immediate senses of taste, touch, sight, smell, and feel. The Bible has become a tough sell. 

Kenneth A. Briggs, The Invisible Bestseller

As I have written in a previous Public Discourse essay, the founding fathers of America recognized that the dual foundations of faith and family were the key to establishing this great country. We have abandoned that ideal, founded on principles found in the Seven Noahide Laws, in favor of a culture that has become largely secular and hedonistic.

We Must Reclaim Parental Rights as Building Blocks to a Healthy Society, by  Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse, February 18th, 2018

After all, for many people reading this book, we started our school years praying in the classroom, and in those days, it was perfectly normal (especially before exams). Abortion was wrong-no question. Marriage mattered, and it was between a man and a woman. People who would never darken the door of a church still respected it. Phil’s father was a pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jon’s was a church music director in Los Angeles, California. In those days, both men were highly regarded by city and business leaders-whether those leaders were Christians or not. 

But something happened, and that “something” has turned everything on its head. Today, not only is prayer not welcomed in school, but students have actually been threatened with suspension for attempting it. Abortion on demand is now the law of the land, and no one seems to see the irony in the fact that our culture considers a single cell of anything on Mars “life,” but on Earth a fetus at eight months isn’t. Marriage has pretty much become whatever two consenting adults want it to be, and some have even complained that limiting it to two human beings might be discrimination. 

And Christians? In 2017, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suggested that Christians are unfit for political office because they are so “hateful.” 

This was not the world we were born into, and if we’re honest, we have to admit the speed and extent of the cultural shift has caught most of us by surprise. 

Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock, The Way Back

Now, everything that was fought for is under assault. Everything that was absolutely foundational in the establishment of our nation perhaps not a Christian nation as some would define, but a nation significantly framed and shaped by Judeo-Christian principles – is being shaken. 

Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate

And the demographics have shifted…


Even at this season that should be about spiritual re-awakening, it is hard to deny that we live in an increasingly post-religious civilization. Virtually everywhere in the high-income world, faith, particularly tied close to institutionalized religion, has been dropping for a decade, and the trend is accelerating with each new generation. Even once bright religious celebrations like Christmas have not only become less spiritual, even here in America, but seems to be inexorably returning to its original pagan roots as essentially a winter solstice holiday.

A simple look at the statistics collected by Pew tells the story. The Christian population in Europe is already shrinking. Between 2015 and 2060, Pew estimates the share of North American and European Christians will drop from 36 percent to barely 23 percent. Indeed in 24 of 42 traditionally Christian countries, many of them in Europe, deaths among Christians already exceeds births. Only in Africa, do Christian births seem likely to continue outnumber births.

Is the end near for religion?, By Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register, December 23, 2017

And look how the change from Charlie Darwin played out in the story of America – especially in relation to your God being the necessary being in your unique formula of freedom…


Modern man’s confidence in his power over historical destiny prompted the rejection of every older conception of an overruling providence in history.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

So, given that, you may want to consider this…


There has, historically, been only one counterforce strong enough to prevent the slide from democracy into tyranny, as happened in Athens in antiquity and in France during the Reign of Terror: that is the recognition of the limits of human authority under divine sovereignty.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning

The key truth is that man receives his liberty from God, and is able to live in liberty only through his continuing relationship with God. In this way, the person has within him something that is radically inalienable, something that no other man can control. That something is his dignity as a free person created in the image of God. This liberty can be maintained and exercised only in dependence upon the creative source of human liberty, which is God. 

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, by Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, First Things (October 1997)

So, it caught our attention that one of the biggest changes is how so many of Americans now see freedom…


It is a mistake to think that the vast changes wrought by the culture war affect religion and religious people only, for many other things have been touched, including freedom itself and America’s way of handling diversity.

Os Guinness, Impossible People

European man has convinced himself that in order to be modern and free, he must be radically secular. That conviction has had crucial, indeed lethal, consequences for European life and European culture. Indeed, that conviction and its public consequences are at the root of Europe’s contemporary crisis of civilizational morale.

George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral

Evolutionary psychology is the secular answer to the doctrine of original sin: a primordial explanation for the anxieties that haunt us even if we have a decent job and a functional family. “In our evolutionary past, anthropologists will tell you that humans lived in groups of 30 to 50 people, and everyone was needed to keep the ship afloat,” said Sebastian Junger, a war reporter who made the rounds on this podcast network to discuss his 2016 book “Tribe.” But modern society “required less participation by individuals,” he added. “Group obligations dropped out; all that’s left is freedom to pursue individualism.” We miss having a clear role in a tribe.

The Podcast Bros Want to Optimize Your Life, By Molly Worthen, New York Times, August 3, 2018

The Tension Between Freedom and Equality

The resulting stalemate is giving rise to the philosophical incompatibility that prepares not for civil debate but civil war.

This incompatibility stems from the fact that liberalism has always lived in the shadow of the tension between freedom and equality. It never resolved the contradiction of this tension but merely put it off. Distractions like the Cold War, progress, and economic development absorbed the nation’s attention.

But now, this contradiction has moved into the forefront since there is little Christian restraint left to keep liberalism within the bounds of sanity. Freedom has become license. Reality is denied. You can self-identify as you wish. You can do anything you consent to experience. You can affirm and demand any rights you imagine to exist. Equality has come to mean the most absurd suppression of all inequalities, real, imagined, or politically incorrect. Worse, the full coercive power of government is brought to bear, imposing these fantasies upon unwilling citizens.

Liberalism gone awry is setting the terms of the debate. America’s incompatibility and troubles stem from liberalism’s false notions of absolute freedom and equality. If these false premises are not rejected, then anything can be expected, as we are now seeing.

The American Descent Into Uncivil War, by John Horvat, The Imaginative Conservative, October 14, 2018

Ultimately, the goal of liberalism is to maximize freedom so that humans can achieve self-fulfillment. To this end, not only is government a contract that people can dissolve, but so too are virtually all human relationships: friendship, employment, marriage. If the arrangements do not enhance well-being, then they are eliminable. And narratives that promote subservience to—or mutual dependence on—god or humans, deserve scorn unless they are completely contractual.

The Twilight of Liberalism?, by Bo Winegard and Ben Winegard, Quillette, April 21, 2019

The moral vocabulary of the American founding is a lost language for Americans today. To be sure, there are many who would respond “and good riddance” to that moral vocabulary. Still, while the words may be the same, it’s worth noting that Americans today sing distinctly American propositions in a different key. And it’s fair to ask whether the music is so different today that we’re really singing an entirely different song.

Liberty, Licentiousness, and the Pursuit of Happiness, by JAMES R. ROGERS, Law and Liberty, April 17, 2018

But all that sure fits with our version of the story we are in. Look how your Zacharias guy explains it by quoting Stephen Jay Gould, one of our story allies…


Take for example Stephen Jay Gould: 


We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never literally froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa, a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a higher answer-but none exists. This answer though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves – from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.14 

Gould states unequivocally that meaning is not decipherable by us. No higher answer exists, he says, and we have to find the answers on our own terms. This incredibly answerless answer is what sends Western values on the slippery slope of nihilism. But there is more. If meaning is not within the purpose of our existence, the second struggle is whether to seek a boundary for pleasure or eliminate all boundaries. 

Ravia Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods

And by the way, is your Kasich guy recognizing the loss of America’s unique formula of freedom?


Yes, there is much to fix in America. 

Yes, there are reasons for our anxieties and fears. 

Our country has been drifting. Why? Because we have forgotten the formula that makes us strong and [have] caved to political considerations instead. We’ve seemed to have lost our way. We are stalled. We are at risk of jeopardizing a better future for our children. 

John Kasich, Two Paths

Because, well, these caught our attention…


It is no surprise that younger Americans have lost faith in a system that no longer seems to deliver on its promise—and yet, the degree of their disillusionment is stunning. Nearly three-quarters of Americans born before the Second World War assign the highest value—10 out of 10—to living in a democracy; less than a third of those born since 1980 do the same. A quarter of the latter group say it’s unimportant to choose leaders in free elections; just shy of a third think civil rights are needed to protect people’s liberties. Americans are not alone; much of western Europe is similarly disillusioned.

Is the American Idea Doomed?, by YONI APPELBAUM, The Atlantic, NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE

Americans are no longer quite sure what they ought to believe or what their nation stands for. As the sludge of multiculturalism seeps from the academy into everyday life, national identity becomes a cause for remorse or self-flagellation rather than a source of inspiration, collective self-confidence lapses, and moral certitude gives way to doubt and bewilderment. The politics of race, gender, and ethnicity demolish claims regarding the dignity of the individual, distorting beyond recognition the traditional American concept of equality. The insistence upon unfettered self-gratification tears at the basic structure of the family, sowing confusion about the most intimate human relationships.

THE IRONY OF AMERICAN POWER, by Andrew Bacevich, First Things, March 1998


And that change makes sense to us, because, well, Paula showed us how the following insight, from your Zacharias guy, so connects to story…


As a society, we are losing the answers to these four crucial questions: 

Origin – Where did I come from?

Meaning — Why am I here?

Morality – How should I live?

Destiny — Where am I headed?

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods

And here is yet another reminder that America is coming apart over the two key opposing versions of the story we are in…


Actually, the debate is between two different visions of the human person that give rise to two different visions of freedom. Dignitatis Humanae says we require freedom to seek the truth, and to embrace what we believe we found. The opposite, secularist view says there’s no such thing as truth. Rather we require freedom to define our own lives through our own actions without impinging on claims of morality and eternity. The culture wars, properly understood, are not a fight over who God is. They are a fight over who we are. The debate over freedom is a debate over whether we’re persons born with our eyes focused for the far horizons, who yearn for the good, who search for transcendence—or whether we’re accidental organisms adrift in a cold and lonely universe, where any intimations of immortality are nothing but cruel Freudian jokes to be confronted and rejected, and temptations to believe in God only worsen one’s angst. That is the debate.

Answering the Question of Every Human Life, By Seamus Hasson, Public Discourse, March 22, 2016

So, now we are wondering something else. Since the massive change in America’s story has caused so many of you Americans to push away America’s Unique Formula of Freedom, have you considered the possibility that your new sense of freedom could play a role in your nation coming apart?

To help you see this, let me show you some of what Paula showed us about your new sense of freedom…


Yet what biblical man once perceived as liberation, the proponents of atheistic humanism perceived as bondage. Human freedom could not coexist with the God of Jews and Christians. Human greatness required rejecting the biblical God, according to atheistic humanism.

This, Father de Lubac argued, was something quite dramatically new. This was not the atheism of skeptical individuals looking to discomfort the neighbors or impress the faculty tenure committee. This was atheistic humanism – atheism with a developed ideology and a program for remaking the world. As a historian of ideas, de Lubac knew that ideas have consequences and that bad ideas can have lethal consequences. At the heart of the darkness inside the great mid-twentieth century tyrannies – communism, fascism, Nazism – Father de Lubac discerned the lethal effects of the marriage between modern technology and the culture-shaping ideas borne by atheistic humanism.

He summed up the results of this misbegotten union in the following terms: “It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can only organize it against man.” That is what the tyrannies of the mid-twentieth century had proven – ultramondane humanism is inevitably inhuman humanism. And inhuman humanism can neither sustain, nor nurture, nor defend the democratic project. It can only undermine it, or attack it.

George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral

By liberalism I mean the view that equal freedom is the highest political, social, and moral principleThe big goal is to be able to do and get what we want, as much and as equally as possible.

That view comes from the view that transcendent standards don’t exist–or what amounts to the same thing, that they aren’t publicly knowable. That leaves desire as the standard for action, along with logic and knowledge of how to get what we want.

Desires are all equally desires, so they all equally deserve satisfaction. Nothing is exempt from the system, so everything becomes a resource to be used for our purposes. The end result is an overall project of reconstructing social life to make it a rational system for maximum equal preference satisfaction.

That’s what liberalism is now, and everything else has to give way to it. For example, traditional ties like family and inherited culture aren’t egalitarian or hedonistic or technologically rational. They have their own concerns. So they have to be done away with or turned into private hobbies that people can take or leave as they like. Anything else would violate freedom and equality.

The Religion of Liberalism, Or Why Freedom and Equality Aren’t Ultimate Goals, An Interview with James Kalb, author of The Tyranny of Liberalism, Ignatius Insight, November 12, 2009

But, our version of the story we are in sees things a different way. Notice how it shows up in the famous Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy…


At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

These considerations begin our analysis of the woman’s interest in terminating her pregnancy but cannot end it, for this reason: though the abortion decision may originate within the zone of conscience and belief, it is more than a philosophic exercise. Abortion is a unique act. It is an act fraught with consequences for others: for the woman who must live with the implications of her decision; for the persons who perform and assist in the procedure; for the spouse, family, and society which must confront the knowledge that these procedures exist, procedures some deem nothing short of an act of violence against innocent human life; and, depending on one’s beliefs, for the life or potential life that is aborted. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992

You can see it, right? When you embrace our version of the story we are in, there is no God, and no unalienable rights. Each of us is at the center of the story – ultimately there all alone, and desiring to be able to do whatever we want.

That’s a very different view than yours, because it so flows from our version of the story we are in.

So, given that you Christians in America continue to occupy that minimalist corner, Paula is wondering if you consider the following Psalm she found as relevant in some way to your unfolding drama?


Psalm 11

To the choirmaster. Of David.

In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.


Since you have lost the story war in America, and your nation has undergone a massive change, does that mean your foundations are being destroyed?

And since you have abandoned the Founder’s Quest, well, Paula Wong showed us a series of quotes which appear to be relevant to your unfolding drama… 


In a preface to their 10 points, Marx and Engels acknowledged their coercive nature: “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.” In the close of the Manifesto, Marx said, “The Communists . . . openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

They were right about that. Human beings would not give up fundamental liberties without resistance. Seizing property would require a terrible fight, including the use of guns and gulags. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and a long line of revolutionaries and dictators candidly admitted that force and violence would be necessary.

We’re told the philosophy was never the problem—that Stalin was an aberration, as were, presumably, Lenin, Trotsky, Ceausescu, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the Kims and the Castros, not to mention the countless thousands of liquidators in the NKVD, the GRU, the KGB, the Red Guard, the Stasi, the Securitate, the Khmer Rouge, and on and on.

Couldn’t any of them read? Yes, they could read. They read Marx. The rest is history — ugly, deadly history.

Marx’s Apologists Should Be Red in the Face, By Paul Kengor, May 3, 2018

American society has divided along unreconcilable visions of the good, held by countrymen who increasingly regard each other as enemies. Any attempt by either side to coerce the other into submission augurs only the fate that has befallen other peoples who let themselves slide into revolution.

THE COLD CIVIL WAR, By Angelo M. Codevilla, Claremont Review of Books, April 25, 2017


In a way, I think there should be more talk of revolution, if only to expand the bounds of debate. The political system is badly defective, and revolution is honestly one of the few proposals to fix it that’s equal to the scale of the problem. It deserves a fair hearing, even if I think it would be a terrible mistake — after all, most revolutions tend to fail, we’ve learned over the past few centuries.

The myth of an ending: why even removing Trump from office won’t save American democracy, By Dylan Matthews, Vox, April 23, 2018

Ben Weingarten: You pull out a very fundamental insight that I think encapsulates all that we’re speaking about and what your book speaks to. You bring up a quote in your book from Yuval Levin of National Affairs who speaks about progressives today effectively imposing their religion by means of the state, that is secular humanism, the secular humanist faith on the body politic. What are the ramifications of that?

Kim Holmes: The ramification is the complete destruction of the American constitutional order, which is based upon the freedom of civil society, respect for individual rights, checks and balances in the government and the rule of law, because you cannot have the imposition of any one ideology, religious or a secular, as an official ideology and have all those things preserved. That’s what made us different from the European revolutionary movements. The American Revolution was a classical liberal revolution. It wasn’t a French revolution. It wasn’t an ideology of liberté. It was an ideology of freedom. It wasn’t an ideology of Virtue with a capital “V” that’s going to be discovered by a philosopher like Rousseau and imposed on the entire society and, if you happen to disagree, you might find yourself with your neck under a guillotine. That’s the way they practiced it over there, and that revolution was taken over into the Bolshevik Revolution. That’s the European revolutionary tradition.

Kim R. Holmes on the Rise of Liberal Intolerance, BY BEN WEINGARTEN, AN ENCOUNTER BOOKS INTERVIEW, DECEMBER 13, 2017

Because Marxism treats all contradictions in society as the products of a class struggle that will disappear when private property does, dissent after the establishment of communism is impossible. By definition, any challenge to the new order must be an illegitimate remnant of the oppressive order that came before.

Thus, Marxist regimes have in fact been logical extensions of his doctrines. Of course Juncker is right that Marx – who died 34 years before the Russian Revolution – was not responsible for the Gulag, and yet his ideas clearly were.

In his landmark three-volume study Main Currents of Marxism, the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski, who became a leading critic of Marxism after having embraced it in his youth, notes that Marx showed almost no interest in people as they actually exist. “Marxism takes little or no account of the fact that people are born and die, that they are men and women, young or old, healthy or sick,” he writes. As such, “Evil and suffering, in his eyes, had no meaning except as instruments of liberation; they were purely social facts, not an essential part of the human condition.”

Kołakowski’s insight helps to explain why regimes that have embraced Marx’s mechanical and deterministic doctrine inevitably must turn to totalitarianism when confronting the reality of a complex society. They have not always fully succeeded; but the results have always been tragic.

Why Marx Was Wrong, By Carl Bildt, Project Syndicate, May 9, 2018

Yet what biblical man once perceived as liberation, the proponents of atheistic humanism perceived as bondage. Human freedom could not coexist with the God of Jews and Christians. Human greatness required rejecting the biblical God, according to atheistic humanism.

This, Father de Lubac argued, was something quite dramatically new. This was not the atheism of skeptical individuals looking to discomfort the neighbors or impress the faculty tenure committee. This was atheistic humanism – atheism with a developed ideology and a program for remaking the world. As a historian of ideas, de Lubac knew that ideas have consequences and that bad ideas can have lethal consequences. At the heart of the darkness inside the great mid-twentieth century tyrannies – communism, fascism, Nazism – Father de Lubac discerned the lethal effects of the marriage between modern technology and the culture-shaping ideas borne by atheistic humanism.

He summed up the results of this misbegotten union in the following terms: “It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can only organize it against man.” That is what the tyrannies of the mid-twentieth century had proven – ultramondane humanism is inevitably inhuman humanism. And inhuman humanism can neither sustain, nor nurture, nor defend the democratic project. It can only undermine it, or attack it.

George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral

Most disturbing for the future of American political life is the increasing intolerance, repressiveness, and even totalitarian bent of the left. It’s vividly, again, seen on the campuses, and as with the 1960s the conditions of the university are a harbinger of the future of American life in general as the next generation takes the helm of leadership. Actually, what has already been said about the attempt of the left to demonize and suppress opposing views indicates that the danger is already with us.

I don’t want to suggest that the hands of the political right are clean when it comes to abusive behavior in the current public arena, but any serious consideration of the state of American politics shows that the big culprit is the left. As I’ve written extensively about, liberalism was decisively transformed in the 1960s and 1970s and keeps moving in an ever more extreme direction with increasingly serious implications for American politics, culture, and the constitutional order.

A Disturbing Portrait of the Present-Day American Left, By STEPHEN M. KRASON, Crisis Magazine, JULY 6, 2017


It’s what you’d expect from a political philosophy that denies God and sees itself as its own worst enemy: a narrative that must end in suicide, and all in the name of the greater good. All we ask our friends on the Left is not to take us with you.

The Suicidal Narrative of the Modern Environmental Left, By Michael Walsh, American Greatness, November 16th, 2017

Writing in the aftermath of World War II, Christopher Dawson took exception to the suggestion that modern European civilization was “pagan.” Paganism was rife with religious sentiment, Dawson recalled; what was going on in mid-twentieth century Europe was something different. True, many men and women had ceased to belong to the Church. But rather than belonging to something else, rather than adhering to another community of transcendent allegiance, they now belonged nowhere. This spiritual no-man’s land, as Dawson characterized it, was inherently unstable and ultimately self-destructive. Or, as the usually gentle Dawson put it in an especially fierce passage, “a secular society that has no end beyond its own satisfaction is a monstrosity – a cancerous growth which will ultimately destroy itself.” One wonders what Christopher Dawson would say today.

George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral

So, now we are wondering if that is how your story in America is playing out.

You see, after we had gone down the path of exploring the story triangle tension of those who embrace the two opposing stories in America’s unfolding drama, Shih Tzu sent me this note…



Dear Comrade Chow,

You are so ignorant. Your pursuit of seeing Christianity through the lens of story is a total waste of your time – and the Party’s.

Christianity is just another one of the myths from ancient times. And in the end, they are all about the very thing Party is about. Look what McKee wrote as he explained that famous television show, The Game of Thrones…


Ancient cultures invented myths to explain the birth of the cosmos and the origin of human beings. These parables were chanted by shamans in religious rituals, then passed from mouth to ear for thousands of years. Paraphrased and translated from language to language, myths travel through time without loss of meaning because they’re not in fact literature. In myths, deeds and characters count, not words.

….

The underlying politics of myth—every king in his palace, every peasant in his hovel — reinforce authoritarian institutions and advocate conformity. Myths not only fortify primitive traditions but the beliefs (often superstitions) that prop them up.

….

In mythical works, the world is exactly as it should be—monsters and all. The belief systems that underpin mythologies put their trust in a universe of sacred god-given order that gives power to despots but denies it to servants. The rigid social structures of myth never change—the hero must. He must come of age, prove himself, and then conform to tradition, so he can take his proper place in the hierarchy.

….

Who benefits from myths? The rich old men who commission them. How? By convincing people to believe in these yarns the powerful keep their grip on society.

GAME OF THRONES, by McKee Story, September 26, 2017


All those mythical religions are ultimately the same thing, Chow. There is no difference.

Give it up. This is all a waste of time. Abandon your ignorance and open your eyes. It’s time to act and take the Americans off the stage.

  • Shih Tzu


I was so discouraged. What if Shih Tzu was right? What if all those religions were ultimately just the same old myth – all for the same purpose?

Fortunately, Paula showed up the next day with a different way of seeing.

“Comrade Chow, there is a professor in America we need to pay attention to. His name is Stephen Prothero.”

And then she showed me this, from a book written by him…


This is a lovely sentiment but it is dangerous, disrespectful, and untrue. For more than a generation we have followed scholars and sages down the rabbit hole into a fantasy world in which all gods are one. This wishful thinking is motivated in part by an understandable rejection of the exclusivist missionary view that only you and your kind will make it to heaven or Paradise.

….

The world’s religious rivals do converge when it comes to ethics, but they diverge sharply on doctrine, ritual, mythology, experience, and law.

Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One

And the more we began to study Prothero, the more we began to be grateful to Shih Tzu for sending us that note.

Because, we came to see how the Party fits with McKee’s description…


The underlying politics of myth—every king in his palace, every peasant in his hovel — reinforce authoritarian institutions and advocate conformity. Myths not only fortify primitive traditions but the beliefs (often superstitions) that prop them up.

….

Who benefits from myths? The rich old men who commission them. How? By convincing people to believe in these yarns the powerful keep their grip on society.

GAME OF THRONES, by McKee Story, September 26, 2017

That so fits with the desire of the Party and our President…


Xi Jinping will not be as restrained as Rongcheng’s officials. He evidently believes the Party must have absolute control over society and he must have absolute control over the Party.

….

Xi Jinping is not merely an authoritarian leader, as it is often said. He is taking China back to totalitarianism as he seeks Mao-like control over all aspects of society.

China’s ‘Digital’ Totalitarian Experiment, by Gordon G. Chang, Gatestone Institute, September 12, 2018

That’s what we’re about. And Paula pointed out how this brings the binary core value of loyal love/betrayal onto the stage…


Totalitarian takeovers demand a degree of submission that leaves little room for sentimental humanistic ties answering to such private imperatives as love, friendship, or personal loyalty. And it was precisely these ties between family members and friends—the most fundamental building blocks of any healthy society—that were most gravely ruptured by Mao’s Revolution.

To Forget or Remember? China’s Struggle With Its Past, By Orville Schell, The Washington Quarterly, Fall 2016

It does look like you may be heading that direction. Is that what you really want? Will you take time to seriously think about it?