Thursday, January 21, 2021

The depth of misunderstanding. . .

There are those who are insisting that the children of Trump supporters be sent to re-education camps or that the Congressmen and Senators who objected to the electoral vote be censured or worse or that the Trump voters be somehow prevented from voting again.  It is bizarre.  Biden talks unity but speaks with a forked tongue.  The enemies of Trump who have objected to his presidency from the very beginning have four years of pent up anger which they are now unleashing.  But along with this vindictive bent is something even more disconcerting.  These supporters of Biden and his liberal agenda seem to have little real understanding of the great issues that divide our nation.  They cannot conceive of what would move any thinking individual to support Trump.  The Trump voters are, in the words of Hillary Clinton, the deplorables who must be rejected, punished, and prevented from power.

Those who supported Trump had other things in mind other than the flawed man himself.  They were fighting for things that progressives had long ago given up.  If they were like me, they did not love Trump but they feared those who would cast aside the valued treasures of morality and liberty and believed (in most cases rightly so) that Trump would protect them.  Here I am speaking of great issues that have divided our land for some time and will continue to be the source of conflict among us.  Issues such as abortion and the cause of life cut deep into our national identity.  Euthanasia and assisted suicide are other sides of the same pro-life positions openly attacked and mocked by Biden and his supporters but held sacred and precious by most of those who elected Trump once and voted for him again.

The pro-life issue is pivotal but it is not the only area of difference.  Privacy is also a profound issue of disagreement.  Some would gladly surrender any personal liberty and privacy for the sake of a better sense of security but many, if not most, of those who supported Trump are deeply concerned for the loss of personal liberty and privacy that has accelerated in the years sin 9-11.  While we joke about Siri or Alexa listening in or the cloud mining of personal information that has become normal, this is one of the great divides among us.  Perhaps half our nation is willing to surrender privacy and personal liberty for convenience or security, the rest of us are fearful of the technological big brother that watches what we do and listens in to our conversations.

Another area of division revolves around personal responsibility.  Many today have surrendered personal responsibility and accountability for victimhood in which your wrongs are caused by others and you bear little consequence for your actions.  In this culture of rights, the privilege being sought is right not be at fault for anything.  Along with personal liberty and privacy, those who seek a government solution for every problem seek a nanny state in which we are treated like children.  Some of us find it impossible to reconcile the gift of liberty for the pursuit of a victim culture.  Guaranteed income, relief from debt, free education, and government provided health care all relieve the person of any responsibility but at what cost?  Biden and his followers stand for the unfettered expansion of government and the restriction of personal liberty and privacy.

Freedom is not just a word.  The shocking shut down of free speech by social media platforms who claim to exist to foster conversation and the free exchange of ideas will not quickly be forgotten.  When an industry bills itself as the primary conduit of information and dialog, defends itself against those who want free speech moderated, and then, sensing a change of public opinion, silences that debate, we see the true colors of progressivism.  Some of us know that when their ideas can no longer be credibly defended, the response is to silence their opponents.  That is exactly what we have seen happen.  Biden and his liberal supporters are welcome to debate ideas but debate is not what is happening.  Instead they are shutting down venues of honest debate.  It is no wonder that some have become advocates of a vast conspiracy theory.

Freedom of religious expression is not merely the right to private belief or even private worship but the right for that faith to inform the conscience, influence politics, and address the public arena.  Without this guarantee, such freedom is shallow and empty.  Nobody gains from the religious whose belief is hidden deep down inside and kept from influencing public speech and public action.  What good is it for Biden to promote his Roman Catholic affiliation if he insists that his faith either does not influence his public policy or he disagrees with the basic tenets of that faith?    Religious conservatives expect that those who wear the name confess the truth.  Even more so, religious conservatives expect that this truth is deeper and wider than the individual and the moment.  Biden and his administration have already signaled their objection to a religious order maintaining their beliefs against insurance regulations and this is but the start of a concerted effort to allow free access only to those churches willing to change their doctrine.

Education does not flourish in the protected environment that the university has become.  Instead of challenging ideas and providing a venue for debate, conversation, and dialog, the university has become intolerant of any ideas except those sanctioned by that university.  A university which refuses to allow a diversity of ideas is no university at all.  The politically correct have taken hold of most of the colleges and universities in America and especially the graduate schools.  By shutting down debate before it begins, the great universities have surrendered themselves to the power of fear and to the dominance of the moment.  Trump's disdain for the liberal elite universities tapped into psyche of many Americans who have been ridiculed by those elite as hillbillies or hicks for a very long time.

I could go on.  The change in presidents is more than the difference between men.  It is the start of an effort to radically reshape America.  From personal freedom to access to free speech forums to religious freedom to abortion to liberal education to victimhood to governmental intrusions into every aspect of our lives, we find ourselves at a crossroads.  It could be that the men are less significant than what they stand for or stand against.  Those who voted for Biden voted for this radical change and those who voted for Trump were voting against it.  In the end it may not have that much to do with Democrats and Republicans as it does with these competing visions of what our national identity is to be about.  In this some of Trump's supporters fear that the old party designations no longer apply and that both parties are securely in the hands of progressivism -- their only difference is in degree and pace.  

Although not a supporter of Trump the man, many found him to be less threatening to America's future than those who believe we must radically re-invent ourselves and make a clear break with our past.  That is one profound area which most of the pundits have either dismissed outright or refused to discuss at all.  What happened January 6 was shocking to us all.  There is no justification for such violence.  Indeed, the violence stole the thunder from any debate that might have been held.  It may have made it more difficult for any real conversation to begin.  Whether we were talking rioting in Kenosha or Minneapolis or Portland or Seattle or Washington, DC, these distract us from something we need to talk about openly and honestly before it is too late.


Carl Vehse said...

"What good is it for Biden to promote his Roman Catholic affiliation if he insists that his faith either does not influence his public policy or he disagrees with the basic tenets of that faith?

With the many (many? many?) references in your column to Roman Catholics or Roman Catholicism, it is odd that in the last four years the Pastoral Meanderings articles have not included a single reference to then-First Lady Melania Trump, a Roman Catholic.

Even the LCMS Reporter, which had numerous articles about Michelle Obama while she was First Lady, had only one article that mentioned First Lady Melania Trump.

Samual said...

An outstanding column, Pastor Peters. You are right on the mark. We have been taken to the cleaners, and will pay dearly for our ignorance and lack of care. Sadly, it has been a long time in coming, essentially all of my life. What is taught in schools today bears little resemblance to the 3 Rs I learned long ago. What is preached in most pulpits is unrecognizable as Christianity. For far too long, we have nodded in approval as "progress" destroyed the morality of our nation. Now it is time to pay the piper.

Continuing Anglican Priest

Pastor Peters said...

This blog has not addressed any first lady and my concern is with the office bearer and not the family. I am not sure if the blog post was read or simply used but the issue is the one elected and whether or not the faith that is claimed informs and guides that office holder's conscience and positions.