02 July 2008

The End Times

In the Wall Street Journal article I referred to in my post on faith-based initiatives, there was an interesting though slightly off-topic paragraph that aptly demonstrates how far our culture has drifted away from reason and into mysticism. Referring to how some religious American voters regard Senator Obama with suspicion, the Journal writes:

On a recent night in a small chapel 10 miles outside Chillicothe, Glenda Kinzer,
41 years old, led a discussion group with a half-dozen young adults. The
topic: the End Times – and whether Sen. Obama’s candidacy might be a fulfillment
of the biblical prophecy leading up to the end of the world and the second
coming of Christ. Mrs. Kinzel says that “a lot of people are talking about
how [Sen. Obama] fits the description” of the Antichrist, a reference to
biblical prophecies about a person who will oppose Christ. The office
manager says she plans to vote for Sen McCain.(Note 1.)


Naturally, I don’t think for a minute that this is necessarily a mainstream point of view… yet. (At least, I hope it is not.) However, the fact that an ordinary, middle-aged office manager in a 21st-century industrialized nation will sit around with a group of her friends and treat the second coming of Christ as a serious possibility - and a significant factor in determining whom to vote for - is extremely disturbing. It is hard enough to convince essentially rational people to reject the altruist premises that have been foisted upon them; it will be far more difficult if basic rationality is not even a starting point.

Interestingly, if one strips away the superstitious, prophetic aspect of the notion, the “End of Times” may indeed be an all-too-appropriate label for this chapter of American history. I don’t recall ever being quite so pessimistic about an election or about the general discourse over issues. I cannot point to a single characteristic of either candidate that sheds a glimmer of hope. Furthermore, I have not seen any significant issue emerge as pitting
good versus evil. Every issue is evil versus evil, each side differing only in degree, not in kind. We have one form of sacrifice versus another; one form of welfare statism versus another; one form of environmentalism versus another; one form of pragmatism versus another.

Having said this, I don’t want to carry the “End of Times” idea too far; it sounds too much like the execrable views of Pat Buchanan. Still, though, I have the sinking feeling that the American spirit – the world’s last best (to borrow Lincoln’s phrase) beacon of liberty – is not merely being choked off to a few burning embers but is being snuffed out completely, extinguished. Overall, I retain optimism that reason will prevail – and I’m committed to that fight – but in the short term I think things will get worse before they get better. It may no longer be a matter of fanning a dying flame to revive it; the torch may need to be lit again. (And this time, let us identify in
explicit terms the fuel that keeps the flame burning.)

1. Wall Street Journal,
Obama Courts Religious Vote in Appalachian Ohio, 2 Jul 2008, p. A-5.

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