Given the trajectory of human history, the nature of mankind, the discovery of oil, etc., something like America was inevitable - that is, the unleashing of an avalanche of prodigious appetite and destruction, along with a few precious and genuine ideals regarding human life and its purposes. Alas, the gems seem to have been devoured in the Mighty Moloch which has been building over the past few decades with the embrace of the American government and Wall Street. Not that the government didn't embrace the rich before. Only back then the embrace was more like a legal marriage -- the government's embrace at least attempted to make an honest woman out of sleazy finance. But the financial dealings of the past couple of decades resemble nothing so much as concubinage or maybe, to invert the metaphor, "gay marriage" - that is, something made-up, counterfeit and infertile.
Any decent person feels these past few days a kind of sickening dread in the pit of the stomach at the silly and degrading spectacle of American politics and finance. This nation is quite literally drowning in lies, and if not lies then pretence and if not pretence then self-deception. It seems that candidate McCain has "suspended his campaign" due to the "financial crisis" -- an indication, if one needed it, that even the pretence of politics has been abandoned. Quite evidently the Masters of the Nation feel no further need to disguise their coup d'etat. Barack Obama does not appear to be despicable and vicious in the way that McCain and Palin do, but he does not carry the conviction of political transformation that he preaches. How could he? The totalizing, totalitarian tendency of central government and finance carries all before it, a one-party state that pretends to offer choices. In today's climate it is all but impossible for anyone working in the center of that rising flood to act in a manner appropriate to adulthood, to give thought and consideration to what is happening - even to think before speaking. How can a
nation sustain itself when its polity is based upon endless flattery, reckless aggrandizement and the abandonment of of any notion of the need for truth?
Here is Herbert Butterfield, writing in what seems to be a better age - 1950:
"A civilization may be wrecked without any spectacular crimes or criminals but by constant petty breaches of faith and minor complicities on the part of men generally considered very nice people...If all men had only what we consider a reasonable degree of cupidity, politics would still be driven into dialectical jams-- into predicaments and dilemmas which the intellect has never mastered." (From "The Universal Element of Cupidity," from his book Christianity and History.)
The nation is not a community, and it is fractured - whether mortally I don't know. One of these severe deep fissures, carefully tended by the masters of destruction, is the fissure between the pro-life and anti-war movements. How carefully, how surely, it has been seen that these two movements will never join, never connect! The saddest result of all these doings is the destruction of Christianity itself -- for of all the death-agents loosed upon the American landscape, the so-called "Christians" have become among the most loathsome. The last time Christianity shone in America was during the black civil rights movement of the 1960's - and there was, of course, quite a bit of false glitter in that shine. But what it did was to teach the disinherited white Christian evangelicals a lesson about going into politics - a lesson by which they were able, later, to be harnessed by the neoconservatives. The way had been prepared before - perhaps as long ago as the Kennedy Assassination. That moment marked the beginning of the penetration of a new morality or ethic, a kind of calculated lunge from saturnine depths. Even Kennedy, the victim of it, unconsciously expressed this new ethic in a casual comment I recall that he once made - "Don't get mad, get even." That saying epitomizes the contempt powerful people feel for those who have honor and expose themselves by expressing righteous anger. On the contrary, the power-brokers like to remain invulnerable, working behind the scenes where they can manipulate people and events. Manipulation, calculation, revenge - these qualities are essentially and inherently opposed to Christian ethics - although, of course, many "Christians" practice them. But actually to espouse them, to find in them the recipe for worldly wisdom, to tout and promote them -- this is the character of the people who have been working the levers of American government and finance for half a century. Modern evangelicals had no idea of the real risks to which they were subjecting themselves, their nation and their religion, when they opened their arms to embrace the cause of power over truth.