The stories making the headlines around the country ought to make Americans pretty ashamed of ourselves. We ought to be humbled by our mistakes and failures. We ought to admit where we have gone wrong and be seeking to right the ship and set sail on a true-er course.
But no, how do we respond? "America is the greatest nation on the earth." "We're the last, best hope for mankind."
We are? Based on what?
I recently picked up John Derbyshire's book, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism at a Half-Price Books (one of the closest things to heaven this side of the grave). While I do not agree with every aspect of this work, I can whole-heartedly recommend it to any collectivist Democrat or irrationally optimistic Republican. I do so because I agree with his premise - that we are doomed unless we reclaim our conservative pessimism and reject the idea that America is somehow incapable of failure, or without the pandora's box of evil and foolishness that surrounds us. He hits the nail on the head in that if conservatives had (as you can read on the dust jacket) "held on to their fittingly pessimistic outlook, America's future would be far brighter."
Don't believe me?
Open your eyes. Look around you. Evaluate the cultural trends.What defines our family life, our worship services, our classroom studies, our business environment, our means of entertainment, and our politics?
Allow me to offer my analysis:
"American" families are no more than individuals living under the same roof. They don't eat together, pray together, work together, or play together. Kids do their own thing, have their own rooms, and have their own agenda. Discipline has taken a permanent leave of absence (for fear of being imprisoned for training your children). "Chores" are forgotten, and kids leave the house after high school with no understanding of responsibility. All this without touching on the huge issue of single-parent families, where one spouse has physically abdicated and abandoned the family.
"American" churches have lost their courage. They no longer teach theology or doctrine, but dwell solely and casually on the message of grace. No law, just grace. Live as you please, just make sure you accept Jesus into your heart; He loves you no matter what you do. No need to actually obey Jesus' commandments - those are just Old Testament words. That God was mean and strict. We're under Jesus and His Gospel of grace now.
"American" schools are focused on three things: diversity, equality, and sex education. We're not interested in quality graduates, just whether or not the ratios are correct and the white and Asian students don't outperform the black or Hispanic students. And they're all going to learn what it means to be sexually active whether they like it or not, and whether the parents want it or not. After all, all your kids ARE BELONG TO THE GOVERNMENT. See for yourself:
"American" businesses also must focus heavily on diversity, along with being politically correct. And diversity doesn't refer only to race in the business world. As Derbyshire points out in his chapter on Diversity:
"The present-day cult of Diversity of course encompasses much more than race and ethnicity. Feminists, Muslims, homosexuals, the disabled, the obese, and a host of lesser identities also clamor for the attentions of the diversity managers."
And "American" entertainment? Let me suggest that Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, the Twilight Series, the rap industry, and our fascination with sex and horror is enough to indicate that our entertainment industry has mostly gone down the tubes.
And what of "American" politics? It's all a sham. A mockery of the leadership that our founders desired to see when they wrote our founding documents.
Once again, I ask you to check the headlines. This isn't a proud moment for any American. We should all be filled with pessimism as we realize that we are completely worthless as a nation. We haven't solved any of our problems, and we've managed to create many more.
And yet, we still manage to ignore the biggest problem of all. Why do we try to tackle the fringe issues when we're continuing to miss the underlying problem?
Our founders knew that man was inherently untrustworthy - it's why they set up a system of government that was divided, creating a separation of powers. We operate under a dramatically different paradigm today, though. We, that is - the American people, believe that all men are good, all things permissible, and that there is no morality that governs us. As a society we deny that there is a God who reigns over creation and over our nation. And if we are Christians and happen to believe in God, we fail to believe and proclaim that God rules over anyone other than ourselves. We practice being nicer than God. We hide Him in the closet - only for us to see. We wouldn't want the world knowing about Him.
Instead, as a people we proclaim a different Gospel... a different bit of good news: we are the United States of America and we're here to help you. We're the last best hope on earth. We're the greatest nation in history. We are without error. We are gods.
So yes, we are doomed. We are doomed to destruction. We are doomed to fall by the wayside of history, lying in the mud next to Greece, Rome, and England. We are doomed to grovel at the feet of the next superpower.
Because we have denied God. We have shoved Him out of our homes, churches, schools, businesses, and state halls. If we believe He exists, we limit His authority to only our own life and our own deeds, not to others and their actions.
America is not great. America is not exceptional. Look at the headlines - it's painful to behold. But God is great and Jesus is exceptional. Faith in God does not involve hiding under a bushel. Shine a light. Shine a light that burns with the Truth of the Gospel. Yes, Jesus saves. And yes, Jesus came to save sinners. But unless we bring Jesus back into our homes, churches, schools, businesses, state and entertainment halls, then we are doomed.
After all, who isn't doomed without the grace of God?