Results of the New Dichotomy

The rift between the secular and the sacred has had devastating effects. In the realm of politics, judicial activists have raised a bulwark to protect secularism from religion. Supreme Court justices have masked their malicious intents, and fomented spurious interpretations of the First Amendment. In their landmark case, Engel v. Vitale, the court opted to hold that there is an inviolable separation of church and state.2 Furthermore, this was to mean that all religion was to be excluded from public institutions. Further cases would reaffirm this decision, maintaining that a non-sectarian prayer at a graduation ceremony, the posting of the Ten Command­ments, teachers placing their Bibles on their own desks, religious symbols on public buildings, and students displaying religious items, are all violations of the establish­ment clause.

The shocking part is not so much that a few antiquated old atheists wormed their way into powerful positions and took away religious expression. The astounding part is that there was no hue-and-cry by the majority of citizens. The removal of prayer in public schools only received a cursory and anemic response from the Christian com­munity. Their objection was not to the arbitrary power or hostile presuppositions of the court’s decision that threatened to unravel the fabric of society. They com­plained that it violated their personal freedom of religious expression.

However, once secularists explained that the Christian wouldn’t want a Satanist to offer a prayer at the school their children attended, sadly the majority of church members nodded their collective heads and returned to pie-in-the-sky religion. For, they had already been predisposed to separate the secular from the sacred.

In the realm of liberty, the new avant-garde has become egalitarianism. There can be no preferences, no classes, no distinguishing among the citizenry. To ascribe such things is to invite a barrage of venomous insults like, racist, sexist, or funda­mentalist. All must be equal.

It is self-evident that from the earliest days of the founding of our country, Americans have ascribed to equality.[1] However, early Americans did not envision this as an equality of condition. If that were the case they certainly would not have sanctioned slavery, in its various forms for so many decades. Furthermore, they would not have denied political rights to women and Native Americans. But rather, they understood equality in terms of an individual’s standing before his Creator and natural law.

Egalitarianism contends for sameness, not equality. To enforce this new concept of liberty, new rules must be established. To the egalitarian, it is morally reprehensi­ble that some might have more money than others. So, there should be a grand redis­tribution of wealth.

But what is fair? And, who is to decide it? Since a transcendent God has been rele­gated to the irrelevant, He is no longer even a reference point in the debate. Yet, this is not important to the egalitarian. For their reference point is their existential opin­ion. And, what is important is the attempt to achieve their generally accepted opinion of justice.

With a maniacal Robin Hood bent, egalitarians progressed from an economy of envy, to a phantasmal vagary of social justice. And, when prodded to define what is meant by social injustice, egalitarians are hard pressed to advance their cause be­yond moral outrage toward those who have, and the suppression of those who have not. As Helmut Schoeck has pointed out;

Progressively fewer individuals and groups are ashamed of their envy, but in­stead make out that its existence in their temperaments axiomatically proves the existence of “social injustice,” which must be eliminated for their benefit. Suddenly it has become possible to say, without loss of public credibility and trust, “I envy you. Give me what you’ve got.” This public self-justification of envy is something entirely new. In this sense it is possible to speak of the age of envy?[2]

Because of their penchant for sameness, excellence and accomplishment is dis­couraged. A white student with a 4.0 GPA must not be granted a place in law school, until there are enough minority slots filled. Even, in spite of a far higher score. A man with vastly superior credentials must not be promoted to the upper echelons of a company until enough women have passed through the “glass ceiling.” And, these type of actions must continue until “the playing field is level.”

What is a level playing field? Who will define it? Once achieved, how will it be main­tained? There is a remaining ethical absurdity in these positions. It is morally right to discriminate in order to eliminate discrimination. The first ethical premise learned at a mother’s knee is that two wrongs do not a right make.

This cultural aberration has not occurred in a vacuum. It is a logical extension of the separation of the secular from the sacred. Without the Biblical reference point, randomness is inevitable. As the individual assumes the locus of authority, they would naturally destroy a social structure that would restrain their absolute autono­my. For, if I assume that some are supposed to be over me, then I cannot do any­thing that I want. Therefore, I am not free. Egalitarianism is blissfully wed to anar­chy. History shows that where a culture adopts the one, they invariably invite the other.

In the realm of ethics, the new morality is relativism. The strange phenomenon of today’s moral climate is that it repudiates basic human virtue. There have been many cultures evolve that have aspired to high moral standards. And, these virtues are similar to that of the Christian. Even wild-eyed pagans, mounted on steeds, and flailing medieval axes, believed that a father was necessary in the raising of children. In spite, of the reputively oppressive nature of Islam, it has always taught the right of personal property. Even though early China was completely foreign to the western morals, Confucius held that promiscuity was wrong. Almost every culture has de­veloped ways to discourage such activities. C. S. Lewis has observed such commonalties of virtue in his work, Ethics, where he wrote,

The number of actions about whose ethical quality a Stoic, an Aristotelian, a Thomist, a Kantian, and a Utilitarian would agree is, after all very large… A Chris­tian who understands his own religion laughs when unbelievers expect to disable him by the assertion that Jesus uttered no command which had not been anticipat­ed by the Rabbis – few, indeed, which cannot be paralleled in classical, ancient Egyp­tian, Ninevite, Babylonian, or Chinese texts. We have long recognized that truth with rejoicing. Our faith is not pinned on a crank?[3]

In short, relativism has not worked. The virtue of contemporary America is the depravity of many other cultures. It is not ethical neutrality. It is the elevation of universal debauchery. The flagrant estrangement of religion from public life has been anathema in antiquity. Lauding “alternative lifestyles” would be considered the demise of civilization in most other cultures. And, economic egalitarianism has al­ready collapsed communism at the end of the prior century.

In the arts, the new aesthetic is hedonism. This, too, is a logical extension of the separation of the secular from the sacred. With the individual as the locus of authori­ty, pleasure seeking is a natural outgrowth. Since, man is the final arbiter of truth; they are the center of the universe. It would be perfectly natural for them to con­struct the world so as to meet their every whim

The theater has digressed from the classic epics of Gone with the Wind and Ten Commandments to Natural Born Killers and Beavis and Butthead Does America. Music has slouched to Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Horny, from the elevated strains of Henry Mancini’s Moon River. To be sure, technological prowess has rapidly increased, and there are still a few movies and CD’s which go against the tide each year. But, it cannot be disputed that the language is coarser, the violence more grotesques, the themes more juvenile, the humor more sophomoric, and the distinctions between virtue and shame are more blurred, than even twenty years ago.

[1] 2 Engel v. Vitale. 370 U,S. 421,427-428 (1962)

[2] Helmet Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Press, 1987), pg. 179.

[3] C.S. Lewis, “On Ethics,” The Seeing Eye and Other Selected Essays from Christian Reflections,

Ed. Walter Hooper (New York, NY: Ballentine Books, 1992), pp. 74-75.

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