It Ends as It Began

It ends, as it began.

In 2012 I wrote Manifesto of Old Men and Simple Preachers, it was the second thing I had written that someone else wanted to publish. It remains, in my mind, the singular best thing I have even put into written words. If it were the only thing I have ever written it would capture the sum and total of my thoughts and beliefs adequately enough for me to claim “I said my words”. I do not know if that essay or anything I have written is actually good writing, but I do know that piece summarizes the essence of my beliefs.

 

Over time a man, if he is perceptive, comes to certain conclusions. The most startling is that the greatest truths were spoken to him throughout his life by ordinary men, simple preachers, old men sitting around drinking soda and eating peanuts, his father. These men, if beneficiaries of a culture and community that embraces common-sense as a virtue, know truths that philosophers for centuries have tried in various ways to express. Common-sense is something all men should know; common- sense informs us of certain natural laws, common sense is God’s gift of understanding.

 

What is this common sense, this gift of understanding from God?  It is a combination of individual discernment and lessons from received traditions, our culture, the lessons taught to sons from fathers. I fleshed this out in The Philosophy of Common Sense. It is a gift to us collectively, via general revelation, and to those that believe, and seek, through understanding provided through God, the Holy Spirit to be precise. I am always amused when I hear a logician, rhetorician, or empiricist claim that it is a fallacy to argue epistemology beginning from first principle axioms or to state that a truth cannot be self-evident. Understanding that all depends upon one’s metaphysics. But I digress.

 

But in 2012, I wrote of that, the sum of me. It came from my childhood, from listening to old men talk. From understanding that some of those fiery Sunday night sermons I heard were more predictive and accurate than all the polished preachers and experts since. My father, and the old men I was introduced to following him around, they knew much of the world. They knew much of what was coming. How does one explain the accuracy of their assessments, accurate in broad general terms, and often in specifics? Some would say that old men always see and predict decline, are grumpy, set in their ways, unwilling to change, curmudgeons. Perhaps. But maybe there is something else.

 

Those of a more liberal theological leaning often say, “we live in a broken world”. This is true but their phraseology implies, subtly, that it can be repaired. We live in a fallen world, and each day that passes since the fall of man we slip further away. Some historians would argue that history is cyclical, and insofar as human nature is always true, we can observe commonalities, repetitions. Others would claim that human history is a shining example of progress, from “brutal, nasty and short” to modern amenities and systems. This is true also, in its own way. Humans are divine creations, with intellect, reason, and free will. General revelation is a real thing.  Given enough time, we will always build towers at Babel. That these things are true, does not make the larger truth false.

 

Man is fallen, separated from our Creator. Our inventions and systems can never repair what the fall has broken. In fact, over time, every one of our systems becomes corrupted by our own fallen nature. Many have observed, that empires and nations, after their initial period of struggle, a period where principles and virtues are cherished, enter into prosperity which inevitably leads to decadence and decline. This is the nature of man, if there are cycles of history, these are merely the impact of the fall on what man tries over and over to build. [a well-done presentation of the decadence cycle]

 

I had a short conversation with a PCA pastor on Twitter recently. He asked why do conspiracy theorists feel so vindicated at present when they are so clearly wrong. I asked for clarification to which he replied with numerous theories that are patently wrong or absolutely unprovable. I replied by including a link to Things we told you but you did not believe and asked how those basic things, obvious since 2019 in many cases were wrong.

 

His response:

“You’re an example of what my OP spoke to. I simply don’t understand how a person gets where you’re at. Tom Nichols suggests conspiracy theories stem from narcissism & a sense of loss of power/significance. That’s the best explanation of found.”

Mine to his:

“Reason, logic, systematic analysis, a solid theological understanding, proper metaphysics.

But I will allow your narcissism claim as to how I came to see the existence of an ancient plot to subvert, enslave and destroy man.  I just made it up, whole cloth., Calvin too!!”

 

Narcissism, perhaps, if by that he means certitude and confidence in one’s position. But how can I, a non-expert, non-theologian dare to chastise a member of the expert class, a man that lists Wake Forest and Duke as credentials, a serving pastor to boot? How can I state, with complete confidence, or absolute idiocy and ignorance, that reason, logic, systematic analysis, a solid theological understanding, and proper metaphysics are the tools that provide me with my certainty?

 

How were my father, the simple preachers that I heard growing up and those old men at the country store with the sawdust floor so certain they were correct – and as time has proven they were correct. What were the ‘experts’ saying in my childhood?

 

Frances A. Schaeffer was one such expert, credentialed, published, refined. How Then Should We Live (1965) not only predicted our current world and troubles but provided a solution to mitigate many of our problems. He had become more impassioned by 1981 in A Christian Manifesto. One can, and many do claim that the culture will decide, many are pleased to put their head in the sand and merely argue the difference in confessions, afraid to be labeled a dominionist or some such. But Shaeffer was correct, once the foundation was removed, decadence, decline, and hardship were to follow.

 

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 who 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. [May 2021]

 

This is not to say there is no true danger in many of the ideologies that dominate our world. Progressivism itself is bound to lead to authoritarianism, that is its nature and it cannot escape it. The political divide is not our true problem, but how those that seek to acquire and hold power certainly use it in an all-consuming way. It divides and confuses us.

 

America is more divided culturally and politically than at any time since the 1850’s.  Real and authentic dialogue does not occur and violence and the threat of violence increase daily.  We are on a precarious path with potentially dangerous outcomes.

[…]

We, in America, are in a real mess and I have no idea how to fix this. Neither vocal minority, left or right, wants to be lorded over by policies of the other, nor at this point will either long tolerate it.  The potential for violence has already been expressed in direct and overt action and there is no sign that this will cease.  We must either figure out a way to exist as Calhoun’s concurrent majorities, or a way to allow our individual states to better represent the culture of their populations or we must peacefully break it all apart into smaller pieces.  To simply ignore the storm on the horizon is folly, hail has already damaged the roof and there is much worse to come. [2018]

 

This all was and is true, and became more evident than was imaginable in 2018, or at least more vivid than one wanted to imagine. But it was correct, not because I am smart or have special discernment but perhaps specifically because “over time a man, if he is perceptive, comes to certain conclusions. The most startling is that the greatest truths were spoken to him throughout his life by ordinary men, simple preachers, old men sitting around drinking soda and eating peanuts, his father.” They knew.

 

But the expert class would tell us that this is a moment in a broken world, bad things happen, all through history. This can also be true – but there is more.


Here is the crux of it all, let’s cut to the chase of this, shall we. I am right, or I am a fool. There is no middle ground. If I am right, I have very little else to say, because I do not know of a solution and the analysis of the trend lines tells us exactly where this is all headed. If I have been wrong about all that I have written since November of 2019 (2018 perhaps), then I am a fool and have no business writing anything else.

 

I believe, and I am certain of this - so again, either correct or a fool – I believe the only thing I have written that was wrong was related to my assessment of what COVID was in January and February of 2020. I looked at the oddities of China and how the media ignored it initially and thought there really could be something to this. When the world turns upside down, it seems practical to pay attention. I do not know what I do not know about the virus specifically, even now.

 

But observing color revolution methodology at play in the US and writing about it, long before Darren Beattie, my assessments of the culture war and when that ended and the implications. I am firm in my conviction that those were spot on – I think those have been vindicated. My distrust of Trump (and the GOP) in early 2020 and my assertions that none of what has happened was possible without his/their collusion, that is hard to swallow for most, but I stand by this, I think time will prove it. My claims that January 6th was contrived to consolidate the color revolution, I think those are gaining steam. That we are in the midst of the consolidation phase and things will escalate, time will tell. But I am certain, unmovable and fixed. I am correct, or I am a fool but absent some great outpouring of new facts, I cannot alter any of those positions at this point.

 

I am also fixed in my position that authoritarianism is our future lot, the soft-authoritarianism that Rod Dreher wrote about. Nothing that has been done, changed altered, or implemented will ever truly go away, none of the principles behind it. If we were always on a slippery slope, because of the very nature of man, the angle has been increased, the slide elevated.

 

Throughout history, empires have risen and fallen, cultures decayed and collapsed – but there is a significant difference at this stage in history, technology. Technology very likely will allow our coming soft-dystopia to exist long past its natural shelf life. There is no possibility of resistance or a revolution, those occur in the modern era only when supported and initiated by a state actor, none of them are organic now. Technology allows mass deception, division, confusion, and despite ‘social’ being in the name, isolation. Our chains are digital, and we cannot unshackle from them even if we try. No, this era is different, the boot on the face of mankind forever is a digital one. There is no escaping this reality.

 

I have had enough of social media. I am not good at it, there is that. There is also the contrived nature of it all. On one hand, the algorithms determine and limit who sees what. To confront that, or perhaps it is human nature, groups flock to self-referential cliques. It is like high school with big brother as the principal. But it is also our chains. We, I, need it to be informed, but how much more do I really need to know about the world to know its state and direction?

 

I will only say, that ‘right’ and ‘left’ are controlled and played via social media. “Truthers’ on both sides use little discernment, often, and run with any factoid that seems to make their case. It makes people look foolish. The algorithms raise heroes that many slavishly follow and listen to. I suppose you have noticed the simulation cracking a bit and some of those being shown for who they are? No matter, most flock to the next in line. People need to do more critical thinking and less knee-jerk retweeting. That PCA pastor above, quoted unsubstantiated claims as his example of why ‘conspiracy’ people are wrong, he is correct, that is the poison that keeps real truth, the simple truth from being heard. It is by design.


Writing is an escape, a pressure value for me, that is a fact. It also became something of a duty, it felt that way to me. I believe what I see about the world, I had direct experience from my career that informed me of some of the methodologies I observed, I stood on the shoulders of giant men before me to help me reason out the implications. I felt duty-bound to write the words. But I have nothing else to say about the future, nor about the deceptions. People ought to know that this is not just political, not just a moment. The reality of the world has awakened many to that fact organically. Things I wrote or tweeted in early 2020 that garnered blocks and anger are now widely said. What people once called black-pill is the new red-pill. Those with eyes to see, they see. Those that do not, I believe never will.

 

But there is a danger in focusing on the grim reality. If we were living in a science fiction/disaster movie and a meteor was approaching earth, the characters would spend just a bit of the beginning of the movie discussing the truth of the threat. Once they all, or enough, agreed that a meteor was in fact going to hit, they would take steps to stop it or get out of the way – they would act and stop talking. Those of us that can see already do, I will not talk about it anymore. I have nothing productive to add.

 

The only solution that I see, and I am no expert in anything past what I observed as truth last year –  the spiritual. That is the core of the problem and the key element of a solution. I can only speak and act for myself, and influence my family.

 

I was either right, or I was a fool. I stood firmly on my conclusions, even back when it meant progressives would hate me and MAGA thought I was a turncoat. It was always the failure of the spiritual (and by extension the subsidiary institutions and ‘experts’ that support that) at the center of the problem, it is our failure to understand God’s revealed truth that we have come to this day.