Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The End of America, Part II (continued political contemplations by an orthodox rebel)

(Note: Please read "Part I" before proceeding.)

The genius of the founders is matched only by their gamble. Take the wild wonder that is "freedom" and try to cage it in a basic notion of "God". It may hold (and did hold) for a while, but the nagging question still lingers: what's to stop "freedom" from eroding "God" away as well? Honestly, there was nothing. Perhaps a sense of idealism could make one think that all men would all be Christians (or at least theists) at all times, but such a notion is a pipedream. If we are built on freedom, including religious freedom, then God has to be open to dissolve just like any boundaries must be. And make no mistake: He has been dissolved, not actually but virtually, in this nation.

How God has been dissolved is a matter of debate, but I would identify three main dissolvants, which I will list in ascending order. The first and lowest would be the volatile and vocal presence of the so-called "new atheism". Believing god doesn't exist is obviously a means of dissolvement/destruction, but they are not a significant enough presence in this country to be the main means. The second and middle one is what I call the "new deism," which sums up American spirituality. Every poll or survey under the sun may say that the vast majority of Americans "believe in God," but you're kidding yourself if you think they believe in any kind of substantial God, a God that matters in all areas of life, a God of blood and flesh; in short, the Christian God. The God of most Americans is some nebulous power in the sky whose presence is ultimately irrelevant to my life.

If He ever does become relevant, however, then we have the third and highest and (I believe) true dissolvant of God in America today: postmodernism. I know some may roll their eyes at that, but I am afraid that I must hold my ground on this. I seriously doubt any average American knows what that term means (or has even heard of it), but the facts still remain: if you are a child of the late 20th century in the West, then you are postmodern whether you know it or not. You believe (in some form or fashion) that you are free to forge your own fate, your own identity, and than all other notions or claims to truth are simply opinions that can either serve as tools to your own ends or as means of oppression by white males (or whomever your ire is currently directed towards). In short, postmodernism is simply a fact of our times, a fact that eye-rolling does not change.

Perhaps you see why postmodernism would catch fire in America: both are based on a notion of freedom, except that America had a unifying factor for its freedom, but postmodernism lives to destroy all unifying factors. And in postmodern America, our freedom has been unbound, and God has been deconstructed and dismembered. He has ceased to be an objective reference point and has been turned into a divine sounding-board that validates my personal preferences: "Gay marriage is wrong because God says so!" "That's a lie! God made me this way!" / "God is against the greed and tyranny of socialism!" "No! He's against the greed and tyranny of capitalism!" / "God wants you to live right!" "God wants me to be happy!" How can anything be accomplished in such a mess? What use is God in such a political climate as ours? He has because useless precisely because of His overuse: He has become anything to everyone, and thus He has become nothing at all, dissolving away in the acidity that is the postmodern "conversation". It is yet another tragic irony of our age.

This is why America as we know it is coming to an end. This is why the country is "dissolving," why it seems to lack unity and identity and purpose. It is not because of gay marriage or socialism or gun control or some other political bullet point. Rather, it is a combination of two things: (1) our lack of a center, and (2) our fundamentally fragmentary force. To put it another way, we lost God (by our free overabundance of Him) and without Him America will tear itself apart by itself. It needs no other stimulant, no other motive than its own forward momentum. The nature of America is freedom, and freedom cannot help but literally go awry, to fray outward and onward until it unravels everything, including itself. Therefore, God's place as its head was necessarily a short-term deal. It was never going to survive the very nature of the nation. America will end, and it will end because it is America. That is yet another, and perhaps the ultimate, irony of our age.

An addendum to this gloom is required, and I will close with it. In the face of America's intrinsic destruction, what must we do? Here are some things to consider: (1) This cannot happen in a night. The "end" may be generations away. The point is that it will come if we continue on without a unifying factor. (2) A new (or old) unifying factor could save us from our end, but it may be equally devastating (like socialism), and furthermore it will not survive either. If we dissolved God, then we can dissolve anything. (3) The end of America does not mean the end of the world or even our daily lives. The decentralized structure of America means that if America were to completely fray, it would fray into a myriad of new, individual states with their own unifying factors (or lack thereof). I am not saying that these states will be good or bad things. I am only saying that they are the most likely scenario and an intriguing one at that. (4) Remember what I said before: God was not actually "dissolved". A notion, an idea, a phantasmic consideration was dissolved, but the true Almighty remains and reigns. He has been and always will be bigger than any nation's use or abuse of Him.

In connection to that thought, let me add this: I said earlier that biblical arguments were "useless" in political debates. I fear some may think I am viewing the Scriptures in a weak light. On the contrary, I answer that I am viewing them in their truest, strongest light. Scripture is useless in political arguments in this nation, not because they are weak but because they are about things that are so much bigger and greater than any nation. By the very nature of their eternal value, they are necessarily "useless" to fundamentally temporal things. They are true; all else is lies, and lies have no use of the truth. The truth is too strong for them; it either breaks them or outlasts them, and the truth of God's word will outlast the small speck in the whirlwind that we call "America". And this is its truth, truth you would do well to heed, truth that I leave you with:

God is our refuge and strength
     a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed,
     and though the mountains be carried into the midst
     of the sea;
though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
     though the mountains shake
     with the swelling thereof.


The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved;
     He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
     the God of Jacob is our refuge.

 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
     what desolations He has made on the earth.
He makes wars to cease unto the ends of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear asunder;
     He burns the chariot with fire.

Be still and know that I am God;
     I will be exalted among the heathen,
     I will be exalted on the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
     the God of Jacob is our refuge.

(Psalm 46)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013



  1. I tried posting a really eloquent response to this and my browser lost it. I won't repost everything, but I will briefly bulletize some points...

    - Your mention of the Founders is too idealized in my opinion. Some would argue that they were merely used as instrument of power, as was Locke in writing his Second Treatise.

    - Of course we are all "postmodern" (whatever that means, anyways), as we are all living through the present age. You need to be more direct and just call it slavery. It's not chattel slavery, but slavery nonetheless, with a modern twist where the faces of master and slave are obscured. People's Enlightenment-era understandings of human freedom and inalienable rights are juxtaposed against an anti-human material reality, which seeks their obsolescence.

    - Of course America is going to eventually fail. As will all things man. But you have mixed your message up in this post. You cannot argue that the Christian God is the savior of America, as you don't; but you kind of do, arguing that Americanness will be preserved, by the grace of God, in some other form or in some fragmented scenario. He is not the savior of states, but the supposed savior of man.

    - Not likely, but America could very well continue, absent God. This is because *America*, a manmade creation, mustn't revolve the Christian God, necessarily, as a unifying abstraction. America could indeed continue on with a *new* unifying abstraction that is not the Christian God, such as a worship of the planet Earth as a living being (likely), maybe eventually morphing into a worship of a living god-man, as was seen in the past with Ramses or Alexander (also likely, in my opinion). A more focused post here would have been helpful to "newbies" to this sort of discourse, that maybe just stumbled upon your blog.

    - Indeed any new reformation or formulation of America would also eventually fail. But this was the point of one of the comments in your previous posts... Your article is really talking about the depravity of man. Not the depravity of the state. Nothing to see here, folks...

    - Understanding oneself to be living in the "postmodern" age, without a regard for the Christian God, does not mean that said person is an atheist.

  2. But these are good posts, man. Keep 'em coming! ;-)

  3. Anon:

    Thanks for the encouragement. 8^)

    (1) I'm not sure why you think I'm "idealizing" the Founders. I'm pretty sure I pointed out their overly generalized definition of their "God" and how their gamble (while brilliant) was doomed to failure.

    (2) I've called postmodernism "slavery" (more or less) elsewhere, though I dubbed it as slavery to chaos rather than slavery to "anti-human material reality," which may actually be the same thing.

    (3) God can save America (or not) if He wants to. My point was that the very nature of America is such that the only way it can survive is to have some kind of unifying force. The Founders picked "God" (their water-downed version of Him), which would ultimately not survive. That's my message: not that God will save us, but that we are our own demise. Nothing more.

    (4) I already mentioned in this post (and the previous one) that other unifying factors are out there, though if they ever were adopted by America then they too would share the same fate as "God".

    (5) I agree, but I make that point in another post (the one on "Christian Anarchism").

    (6) I agree, because that's what I already said. I gave three options: new atheism, new deism, and postmodernism.

    Again, thanks for the encouragement. Just be a little more careful when analyzing the posts. I don't want anyone to miss anything.