How Then Should We Live?

I resolved in January of this year to pull back from reading news each day, from viewing social media and essentially from consuming much of anything about current events. The events of 2020 and early 2021 required, for me at least, some reflection and thought. I have stayed true to that resolution insofar as it is possible, I could not help but see a headline here or there are to be exposed to information at random intervals through real conversations with people. On the whole, I was able to remain true to my purpose and reflect and think.

I am convinced it is all not nearly as complicated as it seems, not at the foundation. What has happened, what we have become and what is happening to us, and what is to come is related to two simple flaws.

How do we know what we know and how do we evaluate and parse data that we have access to in order to make value judgements? How do we ultimately define right and wrong, or justice without something fixed and unmovable as a foundation? Do we rely upon feelings? The opinion of the crowd or perhaps what is just utilitarian for the moment? How does that work? Has such ever worked?

Francis A. Schaeffer said it best in the late 1970s. I have read all of his books and it is clear to me that I was channeling his thoughts when I began writing on these matters a couple of years ago. He boils it right down to the particulate matter. Recently I watched How Then Should We Live? on Amazon, based upon the book of the same title. Schaeffer’s premise is that when a people or culture abandon a foundation for truth and for determining what is right all else eventually fails. I cannot recommend enough reading the book and watching the short series.

Our central problem is much deeper than the false dichotomy of the ‘left’ and ‘right’ divide. We have as a whole lost any hope of defining and understanding truth. The ‘right’ retains only the values of personal security and affluence, the ‘left’ with idealistic notions of justice. It is easy to pick apart the thought process of the ‘left’ and progressivism, without a universal and fixed point from which truth flows, justice can never exist and devolves into either what the crowd favors or what the overlords that hold power dictate. Taken to the logical conclusion, the idealism of progressivism, divorced from fixed universal truth always has and always must lead to authoritarianism and injustice. But the right has been and is little better. Relying upon economic policies that will in theory raise all ships absent a foundation in truth that would drive common-good actions results in what Wendall Berry termed economic warfare.

There is nothing to us but two camps of equally lost souls, one side hoping to just get theirs, the other operating off of emotions and a poorly constructed ethical base.

Compounding this foundational flaw is a growing inability to critically think. A true application of critical thinking by the majority of the population last year would have prevented much and changed a lot. It is curious, I recently heard a commercial by my state’s equivalent of the CDC essentially suggesting it was ‘time for us all to think critically and just get vaccinated.” How absurd, that is gaslighting and the absolute opposite of actual critical thinking. I recall seeing headlines for two articles in major publications a month ago suggesting that ‘critical thinking had not served us well in the pandemic’, suggesting that people questioning the logic behind cloth masks and arbitrary and inconsistent restrictions were wrong to ask pointed questions and doubt dictates based upon appeals to authority.

Critical thinking would have told us Trump was either a fool or part of something bigger for going along with the shutdown, that there were actual riots occurring despite what the media told us, that something was terribly off with the election last year. Critical thinking would have saved many from falling for the absolute garbage and lies of the Q thing, all the bunk passed around by Thomas Mcinerney and his ilk. Critical thinking would have prevented well-intentioned people from signing on with a Marxist organization like BLM, it would have helped put a stop to the hatred that their ethnic gnosticism breeds.

Yet, without any real foundation of truth, are we surprised we have all failed so poorly?

Some will argue that there are plenty of ‘conservative’ Christians in the United States. We could discuss and quantify “plenty” but I argue that this group does not exist in numbers. Have you looked closely at evangelical churches? Have you compared with what the Bible says versus what they preach and do?

I have made no secret of my disdain for the megachurch. It is a flawed, human construct that is becoming exactly what Peter Drucker envisioned for it; it slips further and further from truth with each passing day. In some cases, outright apostasy and heresy have come to the fore. The Submerging Church, also on Amazon, does a good job of summarizing much of what I have previously written. My only complaint with that documentary is it focuses heavily on easy to spot heretics, many sitting in megachurches would say “well that is not my church”, they have no clue about the organizations that birthed their church and the links to outright heretics and cannot spot the apostasy at their place because the social construct of the place encourages acceptance and discourages critical thinking and questions.

Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans might think themselves safe and immune, but you do not have to look far or deep to see how much garbage has infected those churches. My Catholic friends believe they are safe and right, but it takes active denial not to realize how wrong Catholicism is on many matters (no different for Orthodox).

My point, the visible church has utterly failed, and in some cases actively working for the wrong side. What we think we see of significant numbers of ‘Christians’ that ought to be able to discern truth and seek common-good solutions is often at best confused sheep, at worst social justice idealist that will help usher in our destruction.

 

It is as simple as that. We do not collectively know truth, nor how to find it. We are collectively incapable of parsing information and thinking critically. We are left with a choice of personal security and affluence or an idealistic hope that if we try Marxism just one more time it could be perfect this go around. In the end, we will get neither justice, security nor affluence.

I have pulled away from tracking a lot of things, but I have been unable to escape some knowledge. This summer will be far worse than last summer (riots, lawlessness, shortages, crisis). “They” have told us all along what was coming next, and they have told us of the infrastructure attacks, we hear now the rumblings of chaos in the street (it will be worse now). All of these are tools for those in charge to try to solve problems that are unsolvable through mere human understanding, problems that our inability to see truth created in the first place.

We are now beyond the slippery slope.

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs.

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