Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Content to slow the pace of change. . .

Conservatives of all kinds seemed resigned to the triumph of progressivism.  As Mollie Hemingway put it, they are insincere in their opposition to the liberal agenda.  Or, perhaps, they have a defeatist attitude toward the fight.  Or, maybe they do not believe that change can be stopped.  Whatever the reason, politically, socially, morally, and theologically the conservatives among us -- especially their leaders -- seem to think that their only recourse is to slow the inevitable.  Either they have lost the intellectual higher ground and believe that their argument is empty or they do not believe that there are enough of them or that they are strong enough to resist the beat of change that has uprooted our culture, society, and the Church.  Whatever the reason, it is sad and wrong.

The pace of change is killing us literally.  Covid may have hastened the speed at which these changes have come and weakened some of our opposition to measures that are claimed to be emergency but which look remarkably permanent to me.  The changes that once were spread across several generations now pass in one generation and, often, in less time.  In the blink of an eye, our world is changing and with it all the things that we once thought somewhat permanent.  It took generations to see the Civil Rights movement achieve the kind of results that the gay and transgender folks have achieved in a few years.  But at what cost?  The rapidity of the changes have further polarized our society and created a seemingly a divide that cannot be traversed.  It has left us with almost minority governments in which the votes were so close as to make it impossible to govern by any consensus.  It has left many in its wake -- cast aside the by the formidable movement of a progress that has labeled masculinity toxic, valued education but left wisdom and real leaning behind, and all of confused by the simple task of assigning a pronoun to somebody.

The power of those working for these changes is frightening.  As I alluded to, emergency measures deemed essential for a pandemic will become ordinary and routine for every situation that is to come.  The smallest of majorities will jettison the rules that forced our government to be slower and more deliberate will be abandoned in favor of emergency rules that can be passed by the fewest of votes.  This kind of government treads heavily over individual rights and constantly points to the benefit of the whole to justify ignoring or constraining liberties that were once the hallmark of our national identity.  Mandates that were once the domain of people and parties elected with wide majorities are now being claimed by those with the smallest political capital -- all in the name of change that will benefit the whole.  From the social issues of same sex marriage and gender identity to the challenges of climate change to the shift from a nation of producers to one of consumers and service providers, we are leaving our past behind at a frightening rate and with it, many of our people.

As if this were only a problem in politics and government and culture, churches are doing the very same things.  Some of those churches elected as bishops people who have a political agenda and little parish experience.  The cause has become most important and that cause is no longer simply Christ crucified and risen.  This Gospel has given way to a new gospel and its heartbeat has been the wholesale embrace of the changes demanded by the liberal and progressive fringe of our nation and culture.  In this world, doctrine is not simply a bad word or an outdated concept but a toxic substance.  Acceptance, tolerance, and a welcoming community (of everything except the once cherished creeds and confessions of the past) are now the marks of the new church and its message to the world.  Such churches do not require assemblies where the Word of God is preached in all its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to Christ's institution but only pipeline access to the social media platforms and digital images of the moment.  Even the Pope cannot resist prodding the toothless lion of Rome's conservative movement -- he knows that they will bark but fall in line.  The see and seat of Peter is too important to them to resist even a Pope who has labeled them the enemy and persona non grata.  But will they ever retain that office again and, if they do, what church will be left to them?

It seems that conservatives in the pews and in politics have surrendered their arguments and accepted defeat.  The most they hope to accomplish is to slow or delay the inevitable remaking of a church and a nation.  Why?  Why are we so afraid?  Why are so willing to fall in line to the drumbeat of social, intellectual, cultural, and religious change?  Despite our pleading to the contrary, we are weak and powerless.  But it is not because our ideas have failed us.  We have failed them.  We have failed to believe what we say and now it seems too many of us are only going through the motions -- leaving the heavy lifting to others.  We have allowed our colleges and universities to become the wombs of progressive ideals and ideas.  We have looked the other way as those same voices have infiltrated all the way down from senior high schools to preschools -- baiting us with the promise of a free education.  We have left our children to the screens that either dull their minds to death or effectively brainwash them into the liberal and progressive point of view -- beginning with our cartoons.  We have focused on what is fun over what is true and now conservatives decry our entertainment culture and its emptiness without confessing to their own part in the surrender of the will to the pace of change.

The opposition to this radical reshaping of life, our values, our freedoms, our hopes and dreams, and our faith must begin by rediscovering the truth, our love of this truth, and our willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of the truth.  In the Church this means bearing the cross with all its pain.  This is no passive activity but the most powerful force in human history.  It does not mean accepting what we think we cannot change but standing up for the truth of Christ no matter how hard, how difficult, and how costly to us.  In the world this means doing something more than playing political games.  It means debating the ideas and challenging the values that are slowly dismantling our national psyche and replacing it with a avatar that is not even real.  It means renewed confidence in our sources, ideas, and truths -- especially among Christians.  No one will be won by our doubts but a world was transformed by the confident faith of the few.  So it will be in voting booth and legislature and executive office.  The strength of our ideas must be accompanied by confidence that they are true and will prevail.  For the faith this means trusting in God and His Word.  For society this means listening to the voice of Him who created us.  From one source will come both revivals.  But conservatives who have lost enthusiasm or confidence must step aside for they will gain us nothing by their contentment to slow what they have deemed inevitable.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

May Christ grant us repentance for our apathy, and for our part in allowing things to come to this point. What will it take to realize the courage of the early martyrs, and of the current ones? By realize, I don’t mean just to see and understand, but to real-ize the true faith necessary to live above the fear. I have lived too long as if God did not matter, and I mattered most. I am sorry for all my resignation to sin and evil, and I want to do better.

Jesus Christ, grant me trust in You that sees beyond this world and its frivolities.