The one thing that the
presidential election confirmed is that we Americans are a very divided people. Certainly, this is nothing new. There has never been a national consensus shared by all citizens.
The problem is that each side of the divide demonizes and hates the other. Reasonable and respectful discourse is gone. Each side has retreated into their opaque and soundproof bubbles. Attempts at peaceful compromise have given way to ideological war.
There is no sense of governing for the common good.
That is one of many reasons I refused to vote for either Clinton or Trump. I voted for a third-party candidate. People who I respect tried to convince me that I was throwing away my vote. I get that. But I just could not in good conscience go along. If there had been a none of the above box, I would have checked it.
How did we get to this wretched state of affairs? Not over night. It has come from a slow but steady loss of a shared values—especially moral ones.
The result is that we no longer have a common language to explain our positions. To have a reasonable and profitable debate, there must be an agreement of terms.
This is no longer possible, because Judeo Christian values and morality are no longer foundational to our culture. Further we no longer have a common understanding of Natural Law Philosophy, as referred to in the Declaration of Independence statement:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Truth is no longer self-evident or shared. Instead each individual person determines what is true. Each person is a master of their own soul. God has no say in the matter. This leads to chaos.
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. (The Second Coming.William Butler Yates)
A post Christian world without God is a world without order. It is a world of chaos. We orthodox Christians have lost the culture war. In addition, our religious liberty is in danger. It is going to get harder to be a professed Christian who tries to live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It is going to be difficult for parents to teach their children, for example, that same sex marriage is wrong, and that being male or female is not a social construct. We will need strategies to survive in an age when Christians will be marginalized—if not persecuted.Rod Dreher has been promoting the idea of a Benedict Option. It is not a retreat from the world. It is a way to be in the world but not of it. He writes:
The Benedict Option is the term I use to describe this rising movement for a new Middle Age, a spiritual revolution in a time of spiritual and cultural darkness. The monk was the ideal personality type of the Middle Ages. Few of us will be called to the monastery, but all of us who profess orthodox Christianity are called to rediscover a monastic temperament, putting the service of God before all things, and ordering our lives — our prayer and our work, and our communal existence — to that end. We are going to have to recover a sense of monastic asceticism, and do so in hope and joy, together.
He has written a book, The Benedict Option. It will be out in March. Pre-order here.