While in my local Catholic Church on December 23rd, I again contemplated the mystery of the Suffering God, a God Whose creation demanded the logic of free will, which therefore demanded the logic of allowing evil. The mystery of the Creator humbling Himself to show us the necessity of suffering also came to mind.
Recently I have reviewed some parts of Saint Augustine's The City-State of God written in the shadow of the barbarian invasions and the end of Roman civilization, and The History of the Peloponnesian War by the Athenian historian Thucydides, one of the great critics of democratic government, since he saw the Athenian democracy go severely awry over the 30-year life of the war against Sparta.
My mind wandered to the disaster America experienced 6 weeks ago, a disaster unwittingly cheered by a majority of our countrymen, a disaster desired by them, a disaster in which they chose a supposed man as their leader, who apparently is completely lacking in humility and of no accomplishment, a supposed man apparently filled with hatred for an "unfair" America (read his books!), who is not really a man at all, but who is a lazy, spoiled, sullen, petulant, envious, and contradictory 50-year old adolescent. This 50-year old adolescent male notoriously said he would not want a daughter "punished with a child" for pre-marital sexuality, thereby blessing similar irresponsibility for all. This former pothead and amoral Marxist ideologue, who graced a fake church of racism for political purposes and saw nothing wrong with "voting for revenge," defeated a very moral and religious man of great accomplishment, who bears no ill will toward his fellow Americans, whose campaign was not based on hatred of the successful or of anyone else, and who offered an America drowning in debt and mediocrity a hand to escape the whirlpool.
If democracies choose as leaders reflections of their own voters, then the irresistible conclusion is that America lacks an adult majority, that we have arrogant and irresponsible 40, 50, and 60-year old adolescents positive that confiscating the success of others is the path to the future, that America is a terrible place needing a leftist paddling with the stick of fairness and of revenge, and that they agree on avoiding consequences for irresponsibility at all costs, since their lack of religiosity leaves a moral vacuum they cannot fill and cannot deduce how to fill.
I have highlighted the above qualities to demonstrate the completely explicable nature of the last election. One looks at a society claiming things are "going in the wrong direction," and yet that society re-elects most of the ones causing the country to be on a Road to Moronocracy. Our society tsk-tsks e.g. child abuse, and rightly so, yet contradictorily is awash in the easy sexuality of leftist amorality which exacerbates such abuse.
Thucydides recounts how the Athenian democracy increasingly second-guessed their increasingly mediocre leadership during the c. 30 years of their war against the slave-state of Sparta, how they voted for massacres and even genocide, how they voted to execute their generals, how they voted for greed and revenge...and how the democracy of Athens lost a war against the most brutal slave-state in the Mediterranean world.
Saint Augustine attempted - successfully, in many opinions - to explain after 410 A.D. how the Christianized Roman Empire could be falling to pagan barbarians. His conclusion, that we should focus on God's eternal "city-state" and not on transitory earthly states, was accompanied by advice that the suffering one may experience in a decaying society can be a path toward spiritual cleansing and therefore toward the Civitas Dei.
In a similar fashion, we see some Americans wondering - like the Christian and pagan Romans once wondered about Rome - whether God might be punishing America. God does no such thing: we punish ourselves by our choices. "Sin is its own punishment" is an old wisdom, and remains as true as always.
I do not consider "the problem of evil" to be an insoluble puzzle. I consider it to be the logical necessity of a God Who is mathematically consistent and Who desires free will for His creation: whoever says A, must admit to its opposite B. Intelligence can freely choose for one or the other.
The evils of sloth, envy, lust, class hatred, murderous hostility toward children, and many others are today embodied with benign faces and calm voices claiming to be tolerant and high-minded and protective of the common person. If the face of modern evil were a leering, raving, openly violent lunacy, we would not see America succumbing to it. But because it is clothed in the form of a doddering old grandpa from Nevada or a daffy aunt from San Francisco or a wannabe cool black dude from Chicago, America thinks nothing of accepting its lies of a better future.
I have written before of the following: decades after Rome's sack by Alaric and the Goths, and 20 years after Saint Augustine's death, the last Roman military and political genius, Flavius Aetius, had defeated the Turkic groups known as Attila and the Huns, and had similarly pacified and reorganized the descendants of the Germanic barbarians who had captured large areas of the western empire. Aetius was poised to offer Rome a resurrection after a campaign to pacify the Vandals in North Africa.
His own emperor Valentinian III - arrogant, moronic, cowardly, petulant, and very jealous - personally stabbed Aetius in the back at a conference, afraid that the hero would want to displace him eventually. Rome's resurrection never happened as a result.
America is not Rome. We have many saving differences, and I believe America still has time to avoid a fate of decline into mediocrity. And yet...some similarities warn us that we must guard against the Valentinians in our midst, who would stab America in the back as it attempts to return to a prosperous rebirth because of their envy, laziness, cowardice, self-loathing, class hatred, and lack of self-control.
America can change: we have a tradition of "Great Awakenings" where the population shakes off the dust of the status quo and finds new energy for reform. Let us pray that such an awakening will be the main gift bestowed upon our country this Christmas, while the current resident of the White House tippy-toes through the sand in Hawaii and looks forward to continuing our various crises for his anti-American agenda.