Dueling Twins

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The 'Dueling Twins'

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Enter the 'HALL' of the Dueling JAMES Twins!

Unless we can bring men back to enjoying the daily life which moderns call a dull life, our whole civilisation will be in ruins in about fifteen years. … Unless we can make daybreak and daily bread and the creative secrets of labour interesting in themselves, there will fall on all our civilisation a fatigue which is the one disease from which civilisations do not recover.

 G. K. Chesterton

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Is the secular culture worthy of our historic traditions?

Counterpoint:

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The Sky is Not Falling
 
James Hall, From the Left

Those who prefer the past to the present are often pessimistic about the future, too.  I’m not.  I don’t see any sign of an imminent cultural collapse.  Change, yes, but the sky is not falling, Chicken Little.

 

Sorry SARTRE, cultures always change.  Cultures are created by the actions of people, and people grow and die and are replaced by their children.  The death of an entire culture is extremely rare.  The Mayan culture passed, most likely a self-induced death caused by the destruction of its environment.  Ditto for Easter Island’s culture, which created the great stone faces that stare out to sea.

 

Other cultures have been destroyed when they come into contact with larger, more capable opponents.  They were overwhelmed the way that the Greeks were overcome by the Romans, the Incas by the Spanish, or the native American Indians by European settlers.

 

So when SARTRE laments the destruction of our own culture, I wonder if he believes we are going to destroy our environment, like the Maya, or if we’re going to be conquered by the technologically or numerically superior culture of some modern-day Cortez or Pizzaro.

 

With global warming in full stride, the first is at least a possibility; and should China continue to grow in power, our children may well grow up to speak Mandarin.  But I believe that SARTRE’s beef is something far simpler: he’s sorry that the good old days are gone.  Because things are not to his liking today, there must be a villain, and that villain, according to SARTRE, is a fast-growing secularism.

 

His evidence?  The Oscars awarded to Hollywood movies that don’t support traditional values.  Making movies about gay cowboys has done in the West.  Rappers winning Oscar gold spells the demise of our society into SARTRE’s ‘gutter culture.’.

 

Pardon me for being unimpressed with that argument.  I didn’t see any of those movies this year; nor do I listen to rap music.  Most Americans didn’t and don’t, either.  I do remember that in my youth Elvis Presley was the Devil and James Dean the Rebel.  In my dad’s youth it was jazz and the jitterbug bringing down civilization; in my grandfather’s day, flappers and bathtub gin. 

 

So Hollywood’s a bastion of secularism?  That’s a newsflash.  It’s been that way since its inception, with a few exceptions.  Hollywood is about money and entertainment, which makes it as American as apple pie.  The same can be said for most other forms of popular culture.  Nothing new here except that one has more choice of his or her secular fare these days—along with more religious channels, too.

 

When SARTRE said that our culture comes from the Good Book, he only got it half right.  Our Western Judeo-Christian values have always taken place in the context of the Greco-Roman culture that is also part of the cultural mix.  These Classical ideas include our philosophy, science, law, economics, and politics---all largely secular in nature.

 

America is a republic based on constitutional ideals and limited government, right?  These ideas stem from our culture’s secular side.  The Bible is full of rule by absolute kings and priests.  The Good Book deals in theocracies, not democracies; in leaders who are anointed, not appointed by the people.  It was the theological notion of divine right of kings that our American forefathers explicitly rejected when they adopted this form of governance, a secular government devoid any religious tests for its citizens.

 

Our economic system is clearly secular in nature as well.  Our economists talk about market forces, not God’s Will, effecting change and growth in the economy.  Adam Smith never connected the Invisible Hand to the Celestial Body.  And clearly the goals of capitalism are about accumulating capital in this world, not in the next.

 

Among its other faults, SARTRE would have us believe that secularism has led to a decline in what has been called the ‘culture of life.’  But abortions are actually in decline, while techniques to save the lives of premature infants have advanced, and more people are saved from heart disease, bacterial diseases like cholera, and cancer than ever before.  Technology to serve the disabled has improved, and laws that provide them with the right to a dignified living have been enacted.  A ‘culture of life’ is alive and prospering.

 

Social Security and Medicare have made it possible for a generation to live longer and with more independence than their fathers and grandfathers knew.

 

Granted that today’s pace of change is rapid, and SARTRE shows his pessimistic nature when he declares that change is more often chaos than progress.  But in reality, great progress has been made this last century in medicine, science, agriculture, and in the expansion of human rights and democratic institutions.  We’ve averted nuclear war, ended colonialism, and have all-but-destroyed Communism.  In a few hundred years, we’ve moved from the Middle Ages, through the Industrial Age, and into the Information Age.  All this is progress.

 

SARTRE, I’ m sorry that you yearn for the good old days, when liquor was banned on Sundays and they rolled up the streets at seven p.m. Those were the days, weren’t they?  Unless you were black and had to drink from the ‘colored only’ water fountain, or were a woman with an ambition to be something other than a nurse, teacher, or homemaker, or a kid infected with polio or tuberculosis.

 

I’ll take the present, and the future, thank you.  Don’t be chicken: the sky is not falling.

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Final Word:

Of Straw Men and Secularism

 

Let’s begin with SARTRE’s straw man argument: secularists saying  “all is right with the world.”  Secularists are no Pangloss; they acknowledge the world’s problems, and I have already mentioned a few problems in my first response.  No few of these concerns, by the way, are due to religious extremism, not secularism.  Think of al Qaeda around the world, the Iraq civil war, and the Christian/Islamic conflict in Darfour, North Africa, all hot spots attributed to religious conflict, not secularism.  What I DO say, as an optimist, is that all problems are capable of solutions.

 

Addressing the rest of SARTRE’s misapprehensions is equally easy.  Take pornography, for example.   Here I’m no expert, and will have to yield to SARTRE’s knowledge of this area.  Still, history shows that lust is part of human nature, and pornography has been with humankind forever: it’s been found in the ruins of Greek and Roman cities, in the practices of traditional Japanese culture, and in ancient documents like the Kama Sutra—and, yes, in the Good Book (read the Song of Solomon, for example).  It’s accompanied the armies of the world as a camp follower.

 

So do the availability of  the Playboy channel and Pay-Per-View today signal the imminent destruction of Western Culture?  If so, it will make a most interesting footnote in the annals of world history.  But one can think of pornography as mankind’s constant vice, a vice that drags down men of the cloth as readily as secular men.  Think Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, or of Catholic priests who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.  No one, secularist or not, is immune from temptation.

 

What of ‘open borders, then?’  Is this a secular v. religious issue at all, or just another complaint from SARTRE’s lengthy laundry list?  I don’t really think immigration policy is a cultural issue, but let’s say it is, for SARTRE’s sake.    Who supports open borders, then: the secularists?  Isn’t the current status of our immigration policy largely due to the efforts of pious President Bush to make ‘guest workers’ a feature of our national economy?  And aren’t Mr. Bush’s most dependable supporters likewise followers of the Good Book?  Hasn’t Catholic Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles and other churchmen taken a defiant stance against attempts to register illegal immigrants in this country and deny them charitable benefits?

 

This leads us to SARTRE’s final point: his call for a revolution to overthrow secularism.  As usual, he is less than specific about the details of his remedy.  Is he calling for the complete destruction of all secular institutions, including our law, science, philosophy, governmental, and educational institutions?  Does he desire the creation of a theocratic state like John Calvin’s Geneva Republic on the shores of North America?  Does he favor restrictions on popular culture, like music, movies, and cable t.v. entertainment?  Shall America create an army of cultural censors like Communist China has done, or establish a ministry of religious propriety like Saudi Arabia’s?  Shall we join the President of Iran in the wholesale condemning of Western music, movies, and television?

 

How is SARTRE going to encourage ‘self-restraint on perverse behavior?’  If his encouragement is through personal example or persuasive argument, then I wish him well.  If he chooses to move beyond self-restraint to calling for social and legal forms of coercion, then I remain his steadfast opponent.  History shows us that blue laws, Prohibition, and Victorian measures that attempt to suppress human nature simply drive the behavior underground, inflicting it upon the weakest and most helpless members of society.

 

The acclaimed American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and Young Goodman Brown, understood something that SARTRE does not.  In his remarkable portrayal of New England’s overtly religious Puritan society (of which he was a part), Hawthorne argues that the outward appearance of propriety, especially when enforced by the community, is no guarantee of inward purity, or even of self-restraint.  Evil is committed in the dark and out of sight behind closed doors.  The ‘beast’ lies within each of us, and no secular or religious message will penetrate to stop it if we lack the self-knowledge of our inherent weakness and the self-discipline to resist that weakness.  That knowledge and discipline depends not so much on one’s religious or secular beliefs, but on one’s strength of character.

Point:

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Destructive Secular Culture

A truism is that every generation reminisces about the good old days.  As people age they value the past more and develop an enhanced apprehension of cultural changes.  Change is the most natural of all conditions, but change is not always positive.  Actually, change is more often chaos than real progress.
 
Secular aspects and influence have forever been a factor in cultural systems.  But the velocity that has taken over modern and post-modern eras has seen such rapidity in cultural mores and variations that one's life is indeed a very strange trip through time.  Examine the history of the post WWII generation.  Baby boomers were born into a world of nuclear extinction.  Grew up to watch men walk on the moon and grow old witnessing the disintegration of our entire society.
 
Some youngsters may not yet appreciate just how far the breakdown in social restraints has become or the negative significance for a future world absent of traditional values.  One need not be a bible thumper to understand that the teaching within the Good Book has been the source of the framework that developed Western Civilization.  Not everyone views that heritage as noble and desirable.  Yet for the vast hordes of the unwashed, those remnants of past glory and defenders of the traditional heritage, the present has become a black hole of secular decadence.
 
Doubt the reality of cultural bleakness?  Examine the quality on songs lauded by that gold plated unisex idol called Oscar"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is incorrect.  It is easy to be a stud when you live in a Brokeback culture.  If Ang Lee's work belongs on the same list as the Best Directors, is this culture worthy of continuation?  Track the slide into the cesspool of secular relativity with each passing decade.  Reflect upon the taboos that have been destroyed and the kind of society that has emerged from the "Open Society" of cultural nihilism.  Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers has gone mainstream in the NeoCon's latest Iraqi war.  Instead of killing just Bill, take out an entire country.
 
Think there is no connection between that secular sacred dogma - The Right To Choose - and the proliferation of the culture of death in preemption foreign adventurism?  If you valued the basis of our heritage you would answer that question emphatically in favor of respecting all life.  The seeming ambivalence that so many people have in making clear cut moral decisions is a direct result of abandoning the proven tenants of our forefathers and replacing them with a virtual universe of cultural indifference at best and iniquity at its worst.   
 
If social critics wish to protect the emerging gutter society as another stage for achievement in the continued advancement of mankind, then we should all lament that those nukes did not reduce the planet to rubble.  Has diversity enhanced self-determination for every individual?  Or has it just codified inequality as a permanent condition by forcing true achievers into accepting inferior leaches as equals?  Pray be it told, how is it possible to raise people out of their ignorance and dependency when they are told they are equivalent when they are actually deficient.  
 
In the secular milieu black = white, when white is white and black is black.  The same applies to gender.  Merging natural and distinct roles between the sexes into a uniformed cross dressing melting pot of pluralism, guarantees the social structure to become a cauldron of pig slop.  Progressives are enablers in the process of self-destruction when they attempt to apply their guilt driven insecurity and use force to impose their hell on traditional society.  Social justice requires individual performance to gain and generate social status and earned respect. 
 
Integration does not produce assimilation.  Self-determination is preferable to contrived   absorption that has lead to a severely reduced quality of social substance.  The secular society seeks to create a diminished social culture by eliminating individual uniqueness and replacing it with a manufactured standard for socially 'PC' acceptance.       
 
In order to restore natural balance in our species, our culture needs to conform to innate rules of reality.  The way to reestablish an inborn equilibrium that respects basic human rights for all segments and every individual is to wage a "Renaissance Revolution".  The yoke of cultural perversion must be lifted from our necks so that our heads can use their brains to achieve instinctive human distinctive roles in a natural order for society.   

James Hall aka SARTRE  

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Rebuttal:

When the secular humanist ignores or denies the depraved social environment all around them and argues that all is right with the world, you know it is time to bury the corpse of their obnoxious culture.  Canards that ancient civilizations only flourished because they had superior material technocrats, demonstrates the unholy adherence to a world of phony progress.  Such na´ve amoral secularists are blind to the heightened global inhumanity to man that is expanded with every diminution in traditional values.      
 
The good old days were civilized because there were self-restraints placed upon perverse behavior.  When the progressive advocates no limits they really are promoting a society where debauchery becomes the base standard. When Justice Potter Stewart uttered:  “ . . . that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that”, he was not viewing the kind of art that the Brokeback culture has pushed upon the general public.
 
The lunacy that passes as today’s social redeeming order is an insult to any civilization no matter when that society existed.  Let the open border crowd defend the MS-13 gang!  This notorious gang, best known for their violent methods, can now be found in 33 states, with an estimated 10,000 members and more than 40,000 in Central America.  The FBI says MS-13 are the fastest growing and most violent of the nation's street gangs.  Quite an escalation in horror from the days when the Jets’ rumbled back in West Side Story!  No, the sky doesn’t have to fall to know that an open sewer runs through the central cities.  The proud result of the Great Society invention is an inevitable outcome of the debased culture. 
 
In a guaranteed Social Security and Medicare society the state will provide, but in the real world the government won’t even police the borders.  Only in a sick secular culture is such a clear disconnect from sanity sold as compassionate conservatism.  As long as the culture accepts, allows and spreads such wholesale repudiation of our independent heritage and of individual achievement, the sheep will walk silently into the ethnic slaughter of the egalitarian killing machine. 
 
The remedy for a rebirth is known.  But will the conditions for a rescue of our society be enacted?  As it stands now, the slide into oblivion accelerates as the will to greatness dies and mere survival in a jungle of animals takes over.  We can do better.  We have done better!  But will we have the courage to cast off and relegate the secular culture into the recesses of history and make a future worth living?  The lessons of previous successes hold the formula for today’s existence and the eternal standards of moral conduct offer the way to a decent society.  No wonder the secular humanist fears the triumphs of Western Civilization and must destroy that heritage in order to rule over their wicked culture.
 
James Hall - 'The Right'


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Anti-intellectualism gives rise to the most extreme, the most morally deplorable, form of sloth. It is to be found in persons for whom the ultimate objectives in life are the maximization of pleasure, money, fame, or power and who, thus motivated, express their contempt for those who waste their lives in purely intellectual pursuits. It is almost as if they wished they did not have the burden of having intellects that might distract them from their fanatical devotion to nonintellectual aims.
 Mortimer Adler

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