In just the past few months, we have witnessed the redefinition of marriage; the removal of a ten commandments monument from a state courthouse; judicial affirmation of partial birth abortion; and here in Los Angeles, the effacing of an obscure cross from the official seal of LA County.
Many of us are scratching our heads and asking how it is that America, replete with thousands of churches, synagogues, and religious schools could have turned, outwardly at least, into little more than an atheistic cesspool with a pious gloss. To answer this comprehensively, of course, would consume multiple Ph.D. theses, and could fill several long books. Still, I will toss out a few ideas in this essay.
First of all, if it makes you feel any better, most of the rest of the world is even worse off. Take whatever comfort you can, for example, in looking at Europe, formerly known as Christendom, where morals are lower, virtue goes unrecognized, and a nihilism seemingly worse than what existed in Germany during the Weimar Republic has taken firm root. But, for the majority of Americans, anything outside of our borders is of limited interest, unless we want to vacation there. Cold comfort, anyway, to be living in a higher rent district of Hell.
Some, such as Thomas DiLorenzo blame most of the decline on the dictatorial secularist welfare/warfare state, neoconservatives, and especially in DiLorenzo’s case, on Abraham Lincoln. Far be it from me to ever defend Lincoln, but even if I agree with Robert E. Lee’s observation that the destruction of states’ rights and the transformation of the American government into one consolidated empire was sure to render it despotic at home and aggressive abroad, it does not follow that this monolithic federal government was going to promote an atheistic, pagan agenda. In fact, it did not really begin to do so until the 1960s, one hundred long years after Lincoln’s miserable presidency.
Radio talk show host Neal Boortz blames it on “…how truly stupid the American people are.” In the linked article, he cites numerous examples, and who am I to disagree? This may not sound PC, but what good does it do for you to be an informed voter, if one of Boortz’s fools, taken in by media hype [you do know, don’t you, that more Americans get their news from Entertainment Tonight than from any other single news source] has a vote equal to yours? Related factors here are a destroyed public education system, public complacency [don’t be judgmental] and culture rot, all rapaciously exploited by the evil Left.
As a conservative Catholic, I would have to lay some blame at the hierarchs of my own Church. Perhaps there really were some good intentions behind Vatican II. The novus ordo Mass is doubtless more accessible, and not only because it is celebrated in the vernacular. Revising the liturgical calendar was also an improvement. Nevertheless, after reading many Vatican II documents, it is difficult to avoid concluding that they were purposely written to confuse, rather than enlighten. The many references to the pivotal importance of one’s conscience, without elaborating on the necessity of properly forming that conscience, was far too in keeping with the times, and led countless souls astray while it undermined Church authority.
And it certainly didn’t help the popular image of the Church’s moral teaching authority when the sexual harassment crisis emerged in the late 1990’s. The infiltration of the chancery by the Lavender Mafia had been an open secret for at least 30 years, and precious little was done about it. Even now, the disparity between moral leaders like Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, and shameless weak liberals such as our own Cardinal Roger Mahony, supposedly presiding over the same church in merely different regions, evokes the Founder’s words (Matthew 18:6-7)…
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”
Ultimately, in a free country, the people get the kind of government and culture they want, and they are thus responsible, even if they are ignorant, since many, if not most, choose to be that way. But this does not mitigate one iota the dereliction of duty of those in charge. It was the freewheeling folkie/Leftie Richard Fariña, who died young, and before the 60’s got out of hand, that sang about the “prey of a foul command.” How right he was.