In 2016, self-described conservatives, the supposed defenders of the eternal verities, our national traditions, and family values, are rallying to the side of a cretinous, amoral lecher and thief. And liberals, the friends of the little guy and advocates of friendship among all races of men, are siding with a desiccated grifter and war hawk.
Lots of explanations for that, MBD says, but the one he finds most true? The wrath of God:
Conservatives tell themselves to present themselves as “optimistic.” Religious people in America tell themselves to be “winsome.” I’m a religious conservative and I’ve tried all that. I’ve made the idea of God’s chastisement of our nation into a fun joke in another column at the beginning of this ugly spectacle. But the hour is at hand. And it’s my duty to be honest with you.
I’m not joking. This isn’t a metaphor or hyperbole. I’ll give you all the technical and historical knowledge I have. We can discuss history and analyze policy options all day. But if you want my answer for what is actually going on in this election, I suspect we are experiencing God’s wrath.
I look at the headlines, our candidates, our political parties, our civic life, and mostly what occurs to me is that God has given us over to ourselves in this election, and he lets us make fools of ourselves with it. And not just this election. All the signs of God’s judgment of a nation, or a civilization, seem to be on us. In the Biblical accounts of Chronicles, you see the pattern. Faithful kings “seek” after God and ensure that a faithful liturgy is celebrated in Solomon’s Temple. Unfaithful kings make alliances with wicked nations, and cement these alliances with idolatrous worship in “the high places” or even the Temple itself. This lack of faithfulness is generalized, and the priests become wicked and oppressive. The life of God’s people becomes marked by violence, dislocation, and oppression. They lose the blessings of the Lord: good harvests, healthy children. They stop winning wars. They are conquered.
The Catholic Church, which I belong to, is rotten with wicked priests and mediocre leadership, ruined by pathetic attempts to make an alliance with the spirit of the age it lives in. It debauched its own liturgy to effect this alliance. Our sister churches of the Middle East are being put on the wrack of martyrdom by Sunni extremists, and the Western Church — fat with German money — is obsessed about how it might come to bless adultery. Last week, I read that the pope is seeking to come to some kind of understanding with a murderous regime in China. How pitiful. And then I look closer to home. Many civilizations have disgraced themselves with the murder of their enemies. But my own is one of few so debauched that we kill our own children and call it good.
There’s a lot more. Read the whole thing.
Last night I was doing the very last work on the forthcoming Benedict Option book (boy, is that one well-timed!), end-noting the penultimate chapter, which is about technology. Here’s a passage from the manuscript:
As to the commodification of childbearing, consider the childless Tennessee couple who had donor eggs fertilized with the husband’s sperm, creating ten embryos. Four babies later the couple decided they didn’t want the remaining embryos and took to Facebook to offer them to a good home.
“We have six good-quality frozen six-day-old embryos to donate to an amazing family who wants a large family,” the wife posted, according to the New York Times. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship and strong Christian background, and who does not already have kids, but wants a boat load.”
According to orthodox Christian teaching, these are six human persons. The embryo donation community has developed a cute euphemism for these unborn children: “frozen snowflakes.”
Meanwhile British government statistics made public in 2012 revealed that 3.5 million embryos were created in UK laboratories since 1991, when record-keeping began. Ninety-three percent never resulted in a pregnancy, and about half were thrown away without even trying. The United States has no reliable records for the sake of comparison, but with a population five times larger than Britain’s, a parallel number would mean 17.5 million unborn human beings were brought into existence in a laboratory, with 16.2 million dying, and 8.8 million thrown into the trash can without an attempt at implantation.
Imagine every man, woman, and child in New York City, or the population of Houston times four, and you will understand the immensity of the death inside fertility clinics. That is, if you believe that life begins at conception, as 52 percent of Americans in a 2015 YouGov poll affirm.
Clearly there are millions of Christians not putting two and two together. Many conservative Christians strongly oppose abortion and back laws restricting it. There is no movement to ban or restrict IVF, even though from the life-begins-at-conception point of view, it exterminates millions of unborn lives. What enables this hypocrisy? The technocratic mentality.
The argument goes like this: babies are good things, so anything technology does to help people have babies is therefore good. Love, as they say, wins. The technocrat decides what he or she wants and, once it is available via technology, rationalizes accepting it. Concealing what technology takes away from us is a feature of the technocratic worldview. We come to think of technological advances as inevitable because they are irresistible. Just as “truth” for the technocrat is what is useful and effective, what is “good” for him is what is possible and desirable.
God’s judgment falls on the just and the unjust — and let’s us orthodox Christians not fool ourselves: there are far more of us in the “unjust” camp than we think.
We have it coming. We really do. America started the war in the Middle East that has destroyed so many lives. America is leading the world towards the destruction of the family, and calling it virtue. And on and on. As Livy said of the late Roman Republic, “We can endure neither our vices nor their cure.”
Consider the sign of Norcia. The town is desolate now, depopulated because its people have fled in fear of further earthquakes. Its churches, including the basilica of St. Benedict, are ruins. Spiritually speaking, this is us. And yet, because the monks took the early warning signs seriously (e.g., the August quake) and relocated to the hills just outside the town, their lives were spared from the later quake that brought their basilica crumbling to the ground. In fact, not a single one of the Norcini lost his or her life, because they had all moved to safer ground, even though it meant embracing a harder way of living.
Now the monks have survived, and are present to rebuild amid the ruins. And us? Let he who has eyes to see, see. People are going to laugh at Michael Brendan Dougherty for his column. I’m not laughing. He’s brave to say what a lot of us are thinking. And he’s right.