This particular verse seems relevant at the moment:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern impassion’d stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!
Our body politic lacks plenty of self-control these days on all sides, but the last line is key. The only way to confirm liberty is to rely on the rule of law, not the rule of whim. When courts take it upon themselves to redefine the constitution based on the prevailing cultural whims rather than have legislatures address the law to conform to democratic self-government, we have begun marching down the latter road toward autocracy. When government officials levy ruinous fines over wedding cakes based on their own personal vindictiveness, we are walking back toward the “swarms of Officers [sent] to harass our people, and eat out their substance”noted in the Declaration of Independence. Our recourse is in the rule of law created by a self-governing free people, even though that does seem at times to be a nearly impossible goal.
That does not mean our best days are behind us. It just means that our hard work remains, as it always has, ahead of us. In the meantime, we’ll fly the banner of the free and remember why we sought independence from far-flung autocrats in the first place.
The next morning D'Souza joined Glenn, Pat, and Stu on TheBlaze Radio to tell them why he was not giving up on America. In an email he said, "We're in a fight for survival. Listen to the interview and find out why I think America is worth fighting for."
Does this rainbow have any significance? A person who participated in a special call to prayer thinks so and wrote:
"This was taken July 8. My friend and I … drove around Independence Avenue and crossed in front of the Capitol, we saw this magnificent, double rainbow. I firmly believe the Lord sent this "DOUBLE" rainbow as a direct answer to all of our prayers with the 777 initiative, reminding us He is a covenant-keeping Lord and He has heard our prayers. This double rainbow is a reminder of the double portion of His grace I believe He desires to shed on this great nation."
The "777 Initiative" was a call to prayer issued June 20, 2014 by Anne Graham Lotz. The announcement read:
Anne Graham Lotz has formed a national prayer initiative entitled 7 7 7: An Urgent Call to Prayer, calling God’s people to pray for each of the first seven days in the seventh month—July 1-7, 2014. Then, on the final day, July 7, people are urged to pray and fast for 7 hours. The purpose of the 777 Prayer Initiative is:
For God the Father to restrain, protect, and deliver His people from the evil that has come into our world.
For God the Son to be exalted, magnified, and glorified in His church, in our nation, and in our lives.
For God the Holy Spirit to fall on us in a fresh way, compelling the church to repent of sin and our nation to return to faith in the living God, resulting in a great national spiritual awakening.
Maybe indeed the Lord is about to bring about great change in our land and in our lives. This morning I received a letter from a pastor friend who wrote to praying friends:
Why is it important? It's important because it dissects the Left's select reading of American history and its hatred and "blame America first" mentality. I learned a lot from watching this movie, so much so, that I ordered the book by the same title in order to read more details and get the bibliography. Dinesh D'Souza's America is now the #1 selling book on Amazon. I consider the book and documentary to be major "events" in the current struggle for America's future. A useful review of the book can be found here. Here is a discussion of the the A+ rating CinemaScope gave it:
On Saturday, February 22nd at 7:00 pm PST, nationally-syndicated radio show host Dennis Prager (www.dennisprager.com) and world-renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) will appear on stage together again — this time at Biola University in Los Angeles.
(You will be taken to Biola’s website for the stream) The evening will be hosted by famed radio show host Frank Sontag of Los Angeles’ KKLA 99.5 FM.
From the event's description:
We live in trying times. Those of us who take belief in the God of the Bible seriously feel burdened by the problems that arise in our increasingly secular society. People are abandoning truth, Western culture is failing, and the lines between right and wrong are becoming irrevocably blurred.
The goal of this event is to allow two prominent voices in the public square – one Jewish (Prager), and one evangelical Christian (Ravi) – to engage in an open, honest and entertaining dialogue about these challenges we face as a nation and civilization. This is about asking and answering tough questions in a God-honoring and purposeful way.
CBN News had a feature today about which I had not known anything previously. Watch the video and learn of people (conservative Christians among them) moving to the Northwest for safety and a new life.
NORTHERN IDAHO -- You don't hear the word "redoubt" used very much anymore. It means a "fortress" or a "safe, protected place."
Some conservative American Christians are so
dismayed with direction of the country that they're looking for a safe
place for their families. They call it the "American Redoubt."
Alarm over the future of America can be seen almost
daily in the headlines and on cable news. The loss of privacy,
constitutional freedoms, and out-of-control government spending are just
a few of the reasons sending shock waves across the country.
For Christians, there are even bigger concerns.
Religious persecution is on the rise, and that's leading many believers
to look beyond the ballot box and start voting with their feet.
It amazes me that "smart people" choose catastrophy. Mark Steyn notes: (my bolding)
[...] If you add up the total debt — state, local, the works — every man,
woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more
than the average Greek does) Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks, or
about the budget deficit of Liechtenstein, which has the highest GDP per
capita in the world. . . .
In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by
just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion.
So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to
generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow
about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet
— whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on
bankrolling that rate of return. . . According to one CBO analysis,
U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world
is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We
already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public
humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent
of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve — which is to say the left
hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of
the U.S. government. It’s government as a Nigerian e-mail scam, with Ben
Bernanke playing the role of the dictator’s widow with $4 trillion
under her bed that she’s willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he
sends her his bank-account details.
If that’s all a bit too technical, here’s the gist: There’s nothing holding the joint up. . . .
Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting
themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any
course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on
Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I
doubt they’ll get that long.
"One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally
charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs, and suspicious of government.
The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable
on average, skeptical of business, and supportive of government as an
instrument to advance liberal causes... Now the two Americas disagree,
It should also be noted that the two Americas watch different TV programs and read different publications and websites. Those influenced by right-wing media are a much smaller population than those influenced by the mainstream (liberal) and leftist media. Check the graphic below from Buzzfeed on "What Your books and Websites Say About Your Politics." David French makes the telling point that the "statist outlook is relentlessly reinforced in a news and
pop-culture bubble that conservatives simply aren’t penetrating." He points to the chart below and says:
You’ll note the obvious truth that not only do conservatives and
liberals read different publications, but even “moderates” read
disproportionately liberal publications (which is perhaps one reason why
“moderates” are really less-liberal liberals and not less-conservative
I urge you to click through to read Prager's entire article. He lays out the crucial issue that Americans need to understand: this election is a vote for or against the American revolution. Prager writes:
Election Day 2012 will not be a presidential election. It will be a plebiscite.
Americans will not only be voting for a president (and a House and a third of the Senate). They will be participating in a plebiscite on the definition of America.
If Americans reelect the Democrat, Barack Obama, they will have announced that America should be like Western European countries — governed by left-wing values. Americans will have decided that America’s value system — “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum” — should be replaced.
The election in November is therefore a plebiscite on the American Revolution. The usual description of presidential elections — “the most important in our lifetime” — is true this time. In fact, it may be the most important election since the Civil War, and possibly since America’s founding.
Mona Charen's column is a MUST READ. Period. There's no arguing against what she says about non-marriage's devastating consequences for children, along with the personal and social instability and consequent poverty it engenders. I am filing this post under the category of "marriage" (of course), but also (sadly) under "collapse of the West."
The advice columns of newspapers are good windows into the conscience of a culture. There you will find a field guide to what is considered socially acceptable and unacceptable. . . .
For so many 21st century Americans. . . a child on the way will not affect the couple's decision about marriage. They may move in together. They may not. She may move into her mother's house. He may visit every day -- for a while. She may try to raise the child by herself. It may not be her first or his. The fate of the relationship is regarded as utterly separate from the fact of the child's existence. . . .
The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower-middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They basically wait until they're married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. By contrast, 67.4 percent of illegitimate births were to women with less than a high school diploma in 2006, and 51.4 percent were to women with only a high school degree.
The failure to marry on the part of the lower and lower-middle classes, not the tax code, Wall Street or competition from China, is what is aggravating inequality in America. [my emphasis]
The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure -- school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more -- children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality and diminishing happiness on a grand scale. . . .
The subtitle of Murray's Wall Street Journal article reads:
"The ideal of an 'American way of life;' is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated."
Murray compares statistics of an upper-middle-class Boston suburb with a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia in areas of marriage, single parenthood, industriousness, crime, and religiosity. On the last, Murray writes:
It is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown [Philadelphia working-class neighborhood] has become much more secular than Belmont [the upper-middle-class Boston suburb]. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.
For example, suppose we define "de facto secular" as someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 29% of Belmont and 38% of Fishtown fell into that category. Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, from 29% in the 1970s to 40% in the GSS surveys taken from 2006 to 2010. But it grew even more in Fishtown, from 38% to 59%. [my bolding]
Murray makes many other comparisons between the two groups and is obviously concerned. The unity of culture we knew in the 1960s does not prevail today. He writes:
As I've argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.
Steyn writes in the November, 2011 Commentary magazine as part of a symposium of 41 writers answering the question, "Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America's future?" Steyn is pessimistic. I am too. Absent a turnabout of mind and heart not yet visible on the horizon, Steyn's expectations strike me as the most sane and sober -- unhappy, unwelcome, and depressing though they be.
[...] There were three great citadels of Western civilization: Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem. It took a fourth, London, Washington’s immediate predecessor as the dominant power, to disseminate the ideas of Athenian democracy and Roman law and the Hebrew Bible to the farthest corners of the earth. America has signs of decline that follow the examples of all four.
Rome once built aqueducts, and then it stopped building aqueducts, and then the aqueducts it had built started to decay. At the dawn of big government, in the 1930s, we built the Hoover Dam. Then we stopped building dams. In September, in the town of Port Angeles in the state of Washington, there commenced the destruction of two century-old dams in order to “liberate” the Elwha River . So now we’re dismantling dams.
You can see this at work—or rather, not at work—every time you’re on the isle of Manhattan. The Empire State Building was put up in one year and 45 days in the middle of a depression. Ground Zero is still a building site after a decade. 9/11 is something America’s enemies did to us. The 10-year hole in the ground is something we did to ourselves.
The great British intellectual G. K. Chesterton wrote that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on [a] creed.”
Think about that for a moment. Other nations were founded on the basis of race, or by the power of kings or emperors who accumulated lands -- and the peasants who inhabited those lands.
But America was -- and is to this day -- different. It was founded on a shared belief. Or as Chesterton said, on a creed.
And what is that creed that sets us apart? It is the eloquent, profound, and simple statement penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
. . . According to Gallup, 66 percent of American adults have no idea that the words, “We hold these truths . . .” come from the Declaration of Independence. Even worse, only 45 percent of college seniors know that the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are proclaimed in the Declaration. [more . . .]
Me: W.R. Mead's article cites easily ignored or forgotten facts and provides a welcome counter thrust to Harnden's piece, but with the White House consistently governing so poorly, it is hard to see past the gloom.
This needs to be taken seriously. The most extraordinary time of my week is Saturday morning when I am privileged to meet with others for prayer. That's where it's at for our individual lives, for our nation and for the world. Tony Perkins says, "More than one million Christians in all 50 states have pledged to join the Family Research Council (FRC) to get on their knees this Sunday to pray for our nation." He continues:
Call2Fall is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Of the event, Perkins said:
"Our nation's journey back to God begins on our knees in humility and repentant prayer. America is at a crossroads no less critical than when our nation's founders bowed together in humble prayer before Almighty God. God answered their prayers, and He still hears and answers the prayers of those who call on Him with sincere hearts.
"This Sunday, more than one million believers across the nation will fall on their knees for at least five minutes to cry out to God to heal our nation, and thank Him for the wonderful gifts He has bestowed on us.
"Like our great Founding Fathers, we will declare our dependence on God, even as we celebrate our independence."
[...] "Leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.
Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.
Then there are the proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning. These expose students to hypothetical conundrums involving individuals in surreal circumstances suddenly facing life and death decisions, or present contentious public policy questions and explore the range of respectable progressive opinions for resolving them. Such exercises may sharpen students' ability to argue. They do little to teach about self-government.
They certainly do not teach about the virtues, or qualities of mind and character, that enable citizens to shoulder their political responsibilities and prosper amidst the opportunities and uncertainties that freedom brings. Nor do they teach the beliefs, practices and associations that foster such virtues and those that endanger them.
Those who doubt that the failings of higher education in America have political consequences need only reflect on the quality of progressive commentary on the tea party movement. Our universities have produced two generations of highly educated people who seem unable to recognize the spirited defense of fundamental American principles, even when it takes place for more than a year and a half right in front of their noses.
Me: The failure of higher education is mind-bending. If anyone sought to strategize on how to destroy a nation, one could hardly produce a more negative effect than the teaching of the past two generations. I'll have to return to this subject another time.
Colson's dream deals with America's debts, Chinese action, and government martial law. Colson contends "This country’s national debt is profoundly immoral. But the debt is also
To explain that, let me paint a picture for you.
Patty and I love to watch the Fourth of July festivities from
Washington on TV. But this year, as we listened to the glorious
patriotic music and saw the marching bands and bombs bursting in air, my
mind kept wandering to an imaginary, but very disturbing scene. There
was the President, staring grimly and speaking into the camera.
“My fellow Americans,” he said, “as most of you know by now,
President Hu of China announced that the Chinese government is selling
U.S. treasuries. There was no warning. Markets around the world have
tumbled. The DOW dropped 50 percent before the exchanges were closed.
Banks across the country have frozen assets.”
Then, in my dream, the President continued: “The Fed will continue to
put money in the market, but this is costly, the value of the dollar
being half of what it was 48 hours ago.
“There are reports of rioting and looting across the country. But
this is no time for such behavior. This crisis will be settled; central
bank executives are
A few days ago I posted Mark Steyn's reflections, "The U.S. is in the Express Lane to Declinistan." Posting such an article gives me no pleasure. Quite the opposite. I want to see the U.S. flourish and function as a shining beacon of hope for the rest of the world. Anyone with eyes open, however, sees the rot and corruption and irresponsibility taking over the nation and its governance.
Which brings me to David Murrin's new book, Breaking the Code of History: A Map for the Future. I had never heard of Murrin before reading a John Derbyshire post over at the Corner. Murrin granted CNBC a 7 minute video interview which is MUST VIEWING. Murrin believes in cycles of history and projects the West's rapid decline. Especially noteworthy is how rapid he foresees the change taking place. Contra Mark Steyn, he sees China as the rising colossus. I agree with Murrin.
I consider Steyn's sustained meditationon America's future extraordinarily important and persuasive. Steyn writes:
What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. . .
Steyn says Europeans were not always the Euro-weenies they have become:
Hayek’s greatest insight in The Road to Serfdom is psychological: “There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought,” he wrote with an immigrant’s eye on the Britain of 1944. “It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel. The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people,