Forces of God and UnGod

We hear incessantly these days that the nation is divided, as indeed it is. However, we never hear about the division that matters most in the long run. It is not the division between conservatives and liberals (much less the two-sides-of-one-coin Republicans and Democrats) or between capitalism and socialism or whites and people of color. The most important in our society and beyond is between the baptized and unbaptized. We may speak of these two camps as the forces of God and those of unGod.

We must not ignore that there are baptized Christians who are tepid in their practice of the religion, or make no effort at all to practice it, because it is unimportant to them. Universalism being the dominant heresy of our age, many may suppose these souls are destined for Heaven right along with the saintly, but in reality the Lord reserves His angriest words in Holy Scripture for the tepid and indifferent: “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16). In politics (not electoral politics but politics in the sense of being the means by which the life of society is governed) these baptized — these practical atheists — are of no use except to the unGod for whom they are enablers.

If the unGod seem to have the upper hand these days it is not exactly an illusion. After all, the fruits of their activism — legal abortion, no-fault divorce, legal same-sex marriage, and other signs of their false notion of “progress” — abound. Since that is the case, we may wonder why they resort to ever more total surveillance of citizens, as when the NSA monitors all phone calls and emails, and to limiting public discourse, as when champions of the natural family are branded “haters,” “homophobes,” and “fascists” and prevented from speaking on university campuses. If you really believe you and your ideas are correct to the point of being unassailable, why resort to mechanisms of repression? How serious a threat to your rule could be posed by persons so irrational as to hold that a Palestinian peasant two thousand years ago was God?

In fact there are good reasons for the unGod to feel nervous even as they take still another victory lap. We need note only one. It is that their very secularism spells their ultimate defeat. They would know this except they are not merely ignorant of the lessons of history but willfully reject them. All that the past teaches is outmoded in their view.

In truth, what history teaches is great civilizations that endure, and the stable societies that arise from them, have religion at their heart. It was true of the great Graeco-Roman civilization that was the seedbed of the Christian one, in the East as well as West, that followed the Incarnation and endured from Constantine up to the Enlightenment with its scientific rationalism (and the political liberalism flowing from it) and is embodied today in unGod’s secular liberal globalism.

It is not even necessary to consult history to discern this truth. UnGod Soviet Communism seized power in Russia in 1917 and in only seventy years — within the lifetime of persons living today who saw it with their own eyes — collapsed.

Let’s not dwell on it that in order to prove their contention that a durable civilization without religion was possible the unGod Soviets were willing to see perish, or to put to death, millions of men and women because they, like unGod secular liberal globalists, had no sense of them as human beings, the summit of an earthly Creation filled with divine meaning and purpose. To the unGod Soviets they were simply cogs in the economic machine of one Five Year Plan after another. To unGod secular liberal globalists they are simply consumers.

Rather than dwell on the horrors perpetrated by the unGod Soviets, or discourage ourselves by fretting continuously over the successes of the unGod secular liberal globalists, let us look to, and be inspired by, today’s forces of God. We can, for instance, consider the wonderful resurgence of Christianity in Russia once the stranglehold of the unGod Soviets was broken. Seventy percent of Russians today have told pollsters they are religious or very religious. Ninety-five percent affirm support and respect for the Russian Orthodox Church. More than 35,000 parishes have opened in the years since Vladimir Putin first became President. Six thousand seminarians are currently preparing for ordination. Russian law reflects the Russian religious revival even as it abets it. In 2013 President Putin signed into law a measure that stipulates up to three years in prison for “insulting the feelings of Christian believers.” That very same day another law was enacted that prohibits “homosexual propaganda” in Russia. Putin has also signed legislation banning abortion past twelve weeks of pregnancy and is working with the Russian Orthodox Church toward the day when all abortion will be illegal.

Many, including myself, would wish that Moscow and Rome were in union, but a person would have to be insane or himself unGod to believe that the world isn’t better off with a vibrantly Orthodox Russia in place of the unGod U.S.S.R. In any case, the day of union is not advanced when the most memorable words heard from Rome in the past six years have been, “Who am I to judge?” Besides, Catholicism is having its own revival in numerous lands, and this despite whatever exactly it is going on in the “progressive” camp these days. This revival is especially notable at the intersection of politics and culture and the religion in these countries.

An outstanding example is Poland. In 2016, the country’s bishops, in a ceremony attended by, and with the prayerful participation of, President Andrez Duda, solemnly proclaimed Our Lord Jesus Christ to be King of the nation. Naturally, Poland’s laws reflect His kingship. Its constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. Shopping on Sunday is being phased out and will be abolished next year when all places of business will be closed on the Sabbath. Contrary to fake news reports, Poland’s borders are not closed to immigrants. The country welcomes all ethnicities provided the immigrants are willing to abide by and protect its customs, traditions and culture rooted in Catholic Christianity.

Alas, the Poles have not been able to shake their historical enmity toward Russia. This puts leaders of the country’s governing Law and Justice Party at odds with their civilizationist counterparts all across Europe. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who describes his country as a “Christian democracy,” Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Rally who is currently outpolling globalist President Emmanuel Macron, Austria’s young and dynamic Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, perhaps the brightest star of all the continent’s growing number of nationalist populist leaders, even England’s Nigel Farage, who has just launched a new political party, the Brexit Party, to field candidates for next month’s European Parliament elections — all express admiration for, and boast of friendship with, Vladimir Putin.

Be that as it may, all of them, together with the Poles and others, are leading the continent, the heartland of Christianity, into a European Spring. Its full flowering will be a major victory of the forces of God over those of unGod.

A Personal Note. As I was preparing to email this article to SBC live pictures began streaming on my computer of Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze. I spent five years of my life living five blocks from the cathedral. I could spend hours recounting all my memories associated with it, including a Mass commemorating the 800th anniversary of its construction. Perhaps we shall have now a deeper appreciation of the beauty and significance of all the other great religious buildings and monuments that still remain with us and are integral to the history of the Christian West.