Friday, 26 August 2016

The Quickening Vortex

It Was Meant to Be

Angelo Codevilla's book, The Character of Nations is an insightful volume.  He explores the relationship between the character of citizens, or the ruled, and the character of the regime, and the interaction between the two.

The changing character of people, society, and regimes throughout the West is well known, particularly by Christians, but it remains a staggering event, nonetheless.  The speed at which the character of nations and regimes have changed within one generation has left many people wondering, along with Theoden of Rohan, "How has it come to this?"  What on earth has enabled and facilitated such a rapid change?

Codevilla provides a description of the magnitude of the change--in this case in the United States.  There is little new in his account--but it serves to remind us once more how profoundly the character of Western societies and regimes has changed.
Consider a snapshot of life in New York City.  In July 1994, after lengthy deliberation, the city government decided that a person riding the subway stark naked could be arrested--but only if the individual was smoking.  Whereas an earlier generation of city officials would not have hesitated to protect the community against "indecent exposure", by 1994 it was difficult to find an official who would explain that concept.  But there was broad agreement among officials that subway riders should be protected against second hand smoke, something unknown to these officials' parents.  The change from intolerance of public nudity to intolerance of public smoking is just a whiff of what amounts to a revolution in American public life.  [The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prospertiy, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 2.]
Codevilla's book was published at the end of the twentieth century, just a few short years ago.
 The changes he described in the nineties have since been surpassed by changes far more extreme and rapid--"homosexual marriage", transgenderism, terrorism, along with people losing their livelihoods for not consenting to participate in the celebration of homosexual "weddings", and universities setting up "safe zones" where speech is suppressed to protect students from being exposed to contrary beliefs and ideas, to name but a few.

It is tempting (for the sake of personal comfort) to think of these changes as subject to "the pendulum".  In this view, change is largely self-correcting.  The societal compass swings one way, then a societal reaction results in the needle swinging back more to align north.    But not in this case.  The changes are far too extreme, far too destructive of human society, far too "root and branch" to accommodate superficial correctives.

One reason for this dire view is the deconstruction of the family.  When the family as an institution breaks down, the state cannot put it back together again, even if it wanted to (which is doesn't). When the family becomes a broken institutino, human society deconstructs irretrievably, until the society eventually repents and becomes re-Christianised.  Codevilla documents the change in marriage and families--which is now so ordinary and commonplace that no-one gives it a shrug, or a second thought--unless they be servants of Christ.
Or think about this: Very occasionally, a teenage couple would generate a pregnancy, typically followed by a shotgun wedding--a lesson to one and all that, as people sang then, "love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage."  Nowadays, the horse and carriage of sex (not to mention love) and marriage are increasingly uncoupled.

Two thirds of black children and one-fifth of whites are born out of wedlock.  If the young man causing the pregnancy is lower class and if he sticks around, he may share in the girl's welfare payment.  If he is above that, he normally joins in pressuring her to have an abortion, regarding the baby as an intrusion on bigger agendas.  The very term "shotgun wedding" is hardly understood, and the compulsion to marital responsibility that underlay it is generally abhorred.  [Ibid.]
We Christians (and Christian sympathisers--whom Luke would call Godfearers) are not cast down by being called to live in such times.  It is God's overarching providential government that has appointed us to live in these days of rapid rebellion against Him--and to be faithful to Him.  We wrestle against the Satan and his servants knowing that he has already been cast down and, though it might appear the forces arrayed against the Christ are legion, they are already defeated and in denial.  As Mao would have said, were he a Christian, the forces against us are "paper tigers".  Christ has already defeated them.

Therefore, though we Christians are realists about the circumstances we face, we are not cast down.  In fact, we are ready to be thrown into prison, or even die for Him if need be.  We remain resolute to play the part and perform the duties required of us in what is a time of widespread rebellion throughout the West against the Lord of the earth.

Our presence on the earth in such days is not an accident.  We have been appointed to live--faithfully--in such times by the King, and He does not make mistakes.  It was meant to be, as Gandalf said to Frodo, and that indeed is an encouraging thought.

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