Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama and Post-Christian Democracies

Written nine years before the election of Barack Obama . . .
Plague Journal – A Novel, by Michael D. O’Brien (Ignatius Press, 1999):

Contemporary Western nations would do well to study the cultural state of Germany during its descent into totalitarianism. Hegel and Nietzsche had exercised a powerful influence on dramatists, journalists, and visual artists of their own time and the ensuing generations. By the 1920s and 1930s the German people had been prepared to accept the political philosophies that would have been unthinkable in a Christian nation a short century before. Spiritually divided by the Reformation, grown indifferent to papal warnings about National Socialism, saturated in artistic decadence, and undermined by post-enlightenment philosophies that set man adrift in a flattened cosmos, they were ready for a secular messiah. The similarities between their culture and ours do not end there: at root is a gnawing angst, a camouflaged despair. And man in despair becomes capable of any outrage. He becomes willing to elevate clearly evil personalities into positions of absolute power as long as the new rulers promise a secular redemption. If God is in fact dead, then it is permissible and even logical to do so. If there is no absolute good or evil, then why should we not employ evil men and evil means to bring about a perceived good – meaning, of course, any social good of which the collective mind is convinced. A reading of the culture of prewar Germany offers astounding evidence of just how swiftly and extensively the collective mind can be convinced. Add to these similarities the almost limitless powers of the modern media, and there emerges the potential for a complete deformation of man’s sense of reality.