A Sign of Our Lord’s Presence in the World


By Charlie Johnston

I have been struggling for months on what to do going forward. Every instinct in me cries out to adopt a “defend and repair” stance towards our culture. When you reach a tipping point, though, where the majority of the people of a culture – or a preponderance of the leadership thereof – has decisively rejected the animating principles that built and sustained that culture, a “defend and repair” stance is an exercise in futility. When it is clear that the battle is lost, the most effective and responsible stance to take is an “endure, give witness, and prepare to rebuild” stance. While I still forlornly hope for the former, I will largely act from the latter perspective henceforth.

The deeper I dive into analysis of the midterm elections, the more I think our culture – and our country – is lost. While suburban women dramatically moved towards leftism, perhaps more telling is that for the first time in memory, suburban men voted Democrat by a small margin. Look at a map of the 2014 midterms and you will see cities that are blue, but the suburbs surrounding them are usually pink or red. This time, the cities and the suburbs were uniformly blue. As it turns out, the “walkaway” movement is statistically insignificant. Both blacks and Hispanics voted in their normal overwhelming numbers for Democrats (though there was statistically significant movement among blacks under 30 towards Republicans). If Republicans have lost the suburbs – and it appears they have – they have lost the country.

It is shocking to me that this should be so after Democrats engaged in large-scale systematic mob action, encouraging and excusing violence, intimidation, and threatening mobs against those who did not agree with them. The smearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh was just in the rear-view mirror on election day – and was one of the most shameful episodes of demagogic maliciousness by a major party in our country’s history. The whole Russian collusion business has turned out to be the only serious internal coup attempt in our country’s history – and was perpetrated entirely by Democrats and establishment Republicans. Social media sites routinely censored conservative voices for pedestrian comments while excusing inflammatory rhetoric by leftists. The establishment media has engaged in malfeasance and character assassination on a massive scale. I really thought ordinary people would figure out that, if they watch CNN or MSNBC regularly, it always turns out that the narrative those outlets are peddling four to six weeks earlier are false. You don’t even have to watch an alternative site to notice this – just pay attention. But our collective institutional memory has developed late-stage Alzheimer’s, it seems.

Sure, people could change their minds in two years, but we have established that mob violence, intimidation, harassment, character assassination (and attempts at the real thing), censorship, using state power to compel individual conscience, and activist journalistic malfeasance are now acceptable tools, provided they are wielded for the preferred ideology of the elite classes. Meanwhile, elite classes are more willfully and invincibly ignorant than I have seen at the border of any great historical crisis. Read, sometime, a transcript of any of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. These were a real phenomenon in their time. They lasted an average of three hours and attracted great crowds of people from many miles around every city they were held. The arguments were long, complex and deep. The audience was composed mainly of what modern elites would call “rustic frontiersmen.” Yet those rustics followed the arguments closely and shouted the occasional aside. Read any one of those debates and then ask yourself honestly what modern newsman or “statesman” could follow the logic in them for five minutes without getting hopelessly lost. Then ask yourself who the rustics really are.

Students come out of “universities” dumber than when they went in. It is all indoctrination now. Doing the actual questioning and examination that is key to critical thinking is not only discouraged in universities; it could get you tossed out for “hate speech”. So we have a herd of over-credentialed, deeply under-educated students making decisions based on what sounds or feels good…what posture will make them feel more virtuous without involving any significant sacrifice. The old Soviet Union and modern China must be terribly jealous: they forced people into re-education camps; in America, though, parents scrimp and save to pay for their children’s re-education camps. Late-night comedians are the worst. Not a one of them has much in the way of knowledge or wisdom, yet they prattle on with their fractured sophistry while the audience claps like a bunch of trained seals seeking their next fish – all because it is seen as cool – not because any of it would stand up to two minutes of actual critical thinking.

Identity politics has done terrible damage to the country. Having rejected the Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream of a day when all men would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, the left has decided that identity is the ONLY thing people are to be judged on, thus condemning society to never-ending struggles between roving bands of rival identity warlords. Even worse than that, the theory behind such a destructive philosophy has percolated down into the larger foundation of the culture. America’s founding generation committed itself to the idea that, with freedom (including due process and free speech), even a country of rustic backwoodsmen could make a go of it if its people dedicated themselves to hard work, enterprise, rigorous examination and prudent judgment. It was a brilliant success, as that country not only made a go of it but thrived and became great. But identity politics ideologues scorn such notions, believing that life is one big lottery – and those who pick a winning ticket must share it with those who don’t. They think our prosperity and liberty are just characteristic of being American; that no consequences attach to abandoning fair play, intellectual rigor, hard work and prudent judgment. As we draw down on the intellectual and moral capital our ancestors bequeathed us (regarding them with contempt as we do so) the decay grows ever more virulent.

John Adams famously said, after the ratification of the Constitution that the system they had devised “…was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  In presentations on his master work, “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville often said, “America is not good because she is great; she is great because she is good. When she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” True as those sentiments are, they are now classified as “hate speech.” A sort of demonic madness has been unleashed on the culture. It is eating away at the vitals of the country and the world. Historically, great societies on the verge of catastrophic collapse blithely maintain it can never happen to them because they are so rich and powerful. Doom usually comes in a rush, after years or even decades of visible decline (probably because the stabilizing elements of the society have been hollowed out by the termites of collectivism – and little remains to prop up the remaining shell). When it comes, many of the nattering elite remain in chirpy denial for days or even weeks after the decisive blow has fallen.

In the 1700 years since Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire with the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., that faith fueled the growth of Western Civilization, which eventually bequeathed the west with the most astonishing harvest of liberty and prosperity in the history of humanity, all firmly anchored in the faith. While western societies routinely failed to live the tenets of the faith well, for those 1700 years it was accepted that this was the ideal to aspire to. Even the malefactors in society gave lip service to the faith – and often sought to reform themselves, for this was the default setting of a society that worked, that cared for others, and that was generous. We were a functionally Christian culture. But the world has shifted on its axis in the last decade. The reality is that we Christians are now a minority movement (and an increasingly persecuted one, at that) in a functionally pagan culture. Even there, the new “enlightened” elite class cannot live any consistency: neo-paganism is a stew pot of paganism, pantheism, and genuinely primitive rank superstitions. If the ascendant “social justice warriors” had any clue of what such cultures were really like, they would flee in terror from what they are conjuring. But they can’t even remember that Venezuela, just a decade ago, was still a rare wealthy Latin American country, even as it was drawing down on the capital bequeathed to it by its forbears in its mad rush to socialism. It was brought low, just in the last decade, by the very ideology American socialists pursue with such enthusiasm and that the majority of the millennial generation favors. Like I said, our institutional memory is shot.

I have been re-reading, very slowly, William Shirer’s masterful “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” The last time I read it I was around 20. It has been a horrifying experience. The parallels between what happened then and what has been happening in our culture the last decade are astounding and abundant – and they are not the parallels that the ignorant left think are there. In fact, the only legitimate similarity between Hitler and Trump is that both stabilized and sparked renewed growth in moribund economies early on. Trump criticizes the press; Hitler jailed and executed press critics of his regime. Trump de-regulates the economy and transfers power back to the states. Hitler put everything under federal government control and abolished the independent power of the states within a year. Trump fights adverse court rulings through appeals and legal arguments. Hitler fired judges – and jailed and executed some. Trump expands religious liberty and conscience protections. Hitler made all churches submit to state direction or see pastors jailed and executed. Only the invincibly ignorant could see any significant parallels between Trump and Hitler – or conservatism and the fanatic progressivism of the Nazis.

Here, though, are a few interesting genuine parallels. Do you know who the most enthusiastic fans of Hitler were in the year before he took power? College students. The universities then were hotbeds of violent brownshirts as our universities now are hotbeds of violent blackshirts. Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in early 1933. Late in the year, his adoring college students staged the first mass book burning, declaring that Hitler’s ideology was so obviously right and morally superior that the only reason anyone could possibly disagree with it was because they hated Germans – and the student Nazis were not going to tolerate that sort of hatred. When England and France mounted feeble resistance to German expansion and militarization, Hitler actually said they were engaged in a “hate-inspired” ideology. It was not just Jews who were fired from their jobs and had their possessions confiscated; ordinary businessmen who had done business with Jews or received financing through Jewish banks were destroyed and often jailed. The great Peter Kreeft said five years ago that the new authoritarians were as likely to call themselves “anti-fascists” as “fascists,” but the program and tactics for taking and exercising power would be the same. Amazing that a majority has gotten so stupid it thinks fascist tactics and aims are actually anti-fascist.

Normally during trying times, our churches are the pillars of stability. This time, concurrently with the collapse of civic culture, all the churches are in crisis. The most visible is the crisis of abuse, cover-ups and doctrinal degeneration in the Catholic Church. It is not the only place suffering from malignance in high places, though. A favorite new theologian of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America speaks glowingly of “ethically-sourced porn” while sprinkling her presentations with the most scatological vulgarity. The old mainline Protestant Churches have largely become left-wing activist hives, preaching the virtues of LGBT, transgenderism, abortion – and whatever anti-Christian nonsense of the moment rules the popular culture. In consequence, those denominations are dying and have become largely irrelevant. Even Evangelicals have started going wobbly in some quarters. I cite this not in examination of the issues, but just to note that the pillars ordinary people normally turn to in crisis have become as fragile as a tower made of spun sugar. In 2 Timothy 3:5. St. Paul speaks of a time when men will have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof – and he warns us to turn away from such men. That time is surely here. If you want a fuller description of our times, read the four verses that precede that which I have cited.

We focus with dread on the doom, the oppression and suffering that the anti-God left intentionally seeks to bring down upon us. It is reasonable that we should. The constant attacks and dehumanization, along with assurances by the aggressors to themselves that they are doing it only for the highest moral reasons, are ever the cultural prelude to mass violence and atrocities against a targeted population. It seems that even the most degraded people must work themselves up to the proper frenzy before they can fully commit the hideously unthinkable on those they disagree with. The process is wearily similar in its progression in all ages. What is easy to miss is the doom, the suffering such as these unwittingly bring upon themselves. The most enthusiastic supporters of Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao suffered as much (sometimes even more) than the opponents of these tyrants very quickly after they took power. For most, the eager anticipation of taking power and the certainty of their own moral supremacy gave way within a year to a baffled agony – at least for those who were not imprisoned or executed themselves. Their dreams quickly became an unending nightmare. It is not just us; all will be broken on the anti-God left’s aberrant drive for power.

When I was a much younger man, I often complained that my life was like being forced to watch a developing train wreck in slow motion without being able to stop it. Both those who drove and those who merely rode would be broken. It was agonizing torture. I would ask bitterly why I was shown anything at all if I could not stop it. My angel finally, after years of frustration and tears, told me there was something I could do: I could prepare the ambulances.

While I fight their depredations, I feel a deep sense of pity and sorrow for the anti-God left. They have already lost their capacity for simple joy. Incapable of simple happiness any more, they search restlessly for something to be offended by and to condemn. Whatever brief frisson of pleasure it brings them, it sure doesn’t make them happy. Can you imagine spending your day being offended by the “racism” of a Charlie Brown Christmas Special or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? With every discovery of “offense,” they dig themselves down a little deeper and lose a little more of the capacity for wonder, joy and fellowship. I grieve for young people. They are taught a scabrous hook-up culture, conducted in the minefields of a me-too culture combining the worst elements of both libertine and puritanical ugliness. Young people are forestalled from savoring the mystery, the ambiguity of actual romance…the sorrow of rejection, the joy of acceptance, the delight of flirtation. Not so long ago, flirting was a common form of pleasant social discourse, even when it was not serious. A woman who wasn’t interested was flattered, rather than offended (and vice versa) by it. Now if a young man ever so politely asks a woman out who is not interested, he risks a visit from the police. How all this has impoverished interactions between all people! It makes it all into a power relationship instead of the mystery and delight of romance. When relationships are all about power, they tear down rather than build up – and all are about power. Even the sweet song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” is being denounced as a “date rape” song. Seriously?! Moderns cannot conceive of how propriety was valued just a few decades ago…or that a young couple could delight in each other’s company (risking offending some sense of propriety for the joy of it) without sex actually being at issue. But moderns can’t imagine any relations between men and women that are not an overt or hidden struggle over sex. How pathetic and miserable! And they can’t extricate themselves from this self-imposed misery.

Just a few years before he became president, Abraham Lincoln observed (in his ‘House Divided’ speech) that for nearly a decade the country had been trying to tamp down the controversy and strife that beset it, but had only seen that strife grow. Noting that sections of the country were focused on different ends, rather than just different means to similar ends, Lincoln said that the controversy would not cease “…until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.” The ends different factions in this country now seek are more divided than they were in the prelude to the Civil War. The left intends misery and oppression for any who will not give up their devotion to faith and liberty. Whether the left treads lightly or harshly, I think they have won the culture and will ultimately have their way, only to be surprised when they find the misery they only intended for us holds sway over all.

We have chosen this course with all the evidence of where it leads before us, whether we chose to take it seriously or not. So we are held responsible to God now for what we choose. Having completed the year in which all things were revealed, we now enter a terrible year of judgment over what we chose in light of those revelations.

At the fourth decade of every Mystery of the Rosary I pray, I ask an intention for all the faithful throughout the world, asking that God “…make us a sign of Our Lord’s presence in the world.” As judgment mounts, misery will swell throughout the world, driven by the frustration of those thick with lust for power and dominance. As bad as it will be, it makes for fertile fields for evangelization. Those disappointed to find they are even more miserable after attaining their ends than they were before will finally be ready to consider a different way.

The way forward will be for each of us to steadily resolve to be a sign of Our Lord’s presence in the world, neither enabling the disorder that has come upon us nor simply destroying those who have conjured it. In doing that, we will bring forth the Springtime of the Gospel St. John Paul spoke of and facilitate the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Going forward, speaking practically of how to become signs of Our Lord’s presence in the world will be my emphasis.

I still pray that we may turn from the madness and preserve a once-great culture. But it is time to prepare the ambulances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

367 thoughts on “A Sign of Our Lord’s Presence in the World

  1. message from weekend homily: Advent (and the times we live in now) require the practice of patience. Waiting for God’s time (the fullness of time) means choosing to live in joyful hope. 🙂
    Advent is young yet.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I don’t think that the idea of the culture being beyond repair/recovery is necessarily bad or depressing. It’s a bit like a car: you get into an accident and take the car in for repair. The damage may not look terrible and you’re thinking a few thousand bucks should cover it, but then the shop gives you the bad news that it’s totaled and you may as well make the full claim and buy a new car. You weren’t able to see all the damage inside the body of the car, but you’re glad that you didn’t just try to patch up the body and move on because it could very well kill you. The culture is a bit like that. Perhaps trying to fix the surface and limp on would be the death of us, so the whole thing needs replaced.

    When people think of “rescue” they naturally tend to think that it will happen within the scope of how things generally work now. Most of the systems will go on as they have been, but with different leadership or ways of working. There is no guarantee of that. Our entire economic and political system, even the United States and the entire globalist nation-state system of “liberal democracy” is not guaranteed to survive, nor is it a system required by the laws of God or nature. It’s entirely man-made and may fail completely. At this point if the culture truly dies the entire system may not survive, especially when the facade of the money-printing economy fails. This economic facade is what is allowing the corrupt structure to operate the progressive fantasy world we are in. When that stops working, so does the entire fantasy world. When an economy fails, people are too busy trying to survive to scour twitter archives for “homophobic” comments or invent 68 new genders. These are the activities of the rich and joyless. Perhaps this is what must happen.

    As far as the church, there is no built-in guarantee that the political structure of the Church must survive. National bishop’s conferences, even the Vatican itself is optional. The Vatican could literally collapse and fail, and maybe it should considering that it has been largely captured by gay Marxists more worried about keeping the train of money and young men coming than salvation of souls. The Church can’t be destroyed, meaning we will have laity, clergy, bishops and a Pope. What structure they all fall under is unknown, as is how many there will be, and of those who are here how many are faithful. All we know is that it does not have to look anything like it does now. A purge will probably happen, and a simpler Church more focused on the Spirit than the world, as Benedict predicted. If the Church truly must be crucified and resurrected, it will likely look like and be a legitimate death, not just a crisis.

    This may be the time we learn to let go of how we think things must be just because they’ve been that way for the last 30, 50, 200, 1000 years. It all may end up looking totally different, but in the end God’s will and His Church will remain. Other than that who really knows.

    Liked by 12 people

    1. These thoughts bring us back to something a contemporary prophet once discussed. Should our current government collapse, God will have a new way of governing for us to consider and build with Him.

      Reminds me, too, of something Maria Esperanza foretold. Repeatedly, she stressed that she could see small communities all over the world which were centered around the Eucharist.

      Watching, praying, pondering and waiting upon the Lord to guide us in all our ways.

      Liked by 7 people

        1. Yes, Kim. And Anthony Esolen’s: Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, as well as, Archbishop Chaput’s: Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World. There are additional writers emerging with this theme. There’s no magical solutions, just good, hard work for the Glory of God and the good of all peoples.

          Liked by 5 people

    2. Totally agree with you Lake Johnson. I live in the suburbs, but when we moved here as a young family it was farm country.. Catholic women in the suburbs did not vote for Trump. They did vote for Hilliary.
      Now I know I have been called JUDGEMENTAL, because I challenged there voting for a pro-abortion candidate. I am sure they also voted for Obama. I honestly was very astonished to hear them say this. Some holding important positions in the church…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. so true Theresa323, I was with my Republican group of women at a Christmas lunch the other day and I was appalled at how many of them (women in their 70’s and 80’s mind you) said, “I once believed homosexuallity was disordered, but now I’m not so sure. I believe that they are born that way”. I brought them all to think about the “natural order” of all things and the complementarity of male and female. They said nothing. But maybe walked away thinking about the truth. It is just mindblowing how many people “rationalize” sin these days.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Theresa, thank you for challenging and taking the risk of being one of us “mean ol’ judgers”. Father Mark Goring had a powerful video last week in which he actually said that the bishops and American Catholics who implicitly support the Democrat Party or vote for Democrats have blood on their hands. The number of sacrilegious communions and offenses to Our Eucharistic Lord are incomprehensible. The words of Fatima echo–outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences. Penance. Penance. Penance. Perhaps being labeled a judger and bearing wrongs patiently is part of that penance. May God give you words of truth that penetrate hard hearts and blocked ears and open blind eyes.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. It’s telling that it’s not just those following the prophetic stream within Christianity that are noticing the impending death of Western culture. It’s critical thinkers of various stripes, generally outside mainstream universities, media and church (because there are few critical thinkers left in those institutions that haven’t been beaten into silence or exiled). It’s non-religious Democratic commentator James Kunstler, economic philosopher Charles Hugh Smith, flamboyantly gay Conservative Milo Yiannopoulis, author Peter Turchin known for studying cultural dynamics quantitatively.They are all noticing the stranglehold that cultural Marxists have put onto the culture, and the unhappy result it will bring. This cultural phenomenon sees anything produced mostly by white males as evil, including the foundation of Western civilization. It wants to finish the revolution (against God) and bring to power the “oppressed” which it currently sees as Islam and militant gays/feminists/transgender ideologues. Since there is no particular critical thinking involved in the effort, they fail to foresee what happens when these sorts of forces actually take power. They behave very, very differently when in power as opposed to when they are the sheltered minority. For a preview we need only to look at most Islamic countries to find out what Islamic political ideology brings, and today’s Catholic Church to see what happens when homosexual ideology takes control. It brings misery and ruin, only really able to destroy what is left of Western society, not build anything to replace it. Who else does that sound like? Able only to destroy and not create…? Perhaps then whoever is left of believing Christians will have to be there to triage the human misery left in the wake of what our culture is becoming. That is what our role can be, God willing…

    Liked by 7 people

  4. I’m not QUITE as pessimistic as you, Charlie. A good deal of it can be explained by reaction against Trump’s bombastic/vulgar nature, and a good deal more can be explained by the normal shift that happens in mid-terms after a new President has been elected. Some can also be explained by bolder Democratic vote fraud, now called “ballot harvesting”, in Orange County among other places. But still, I think you are right that there has been a shift and that it’s not for the better. Churches better get serious about youth ministry, and fast, or else it is a matter of when, not if, our country will fall.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What happened? I was on the site several times today, accessing it like I always did, and at five Pm I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to have a word press account, and the format is nothing like the old one. Did something suddenly change? DolorDee

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Disregard that last blog. I called my son, and had him read Steve’s email about the new site, and what to do, and he got me turned around, and deleted all the old info, and somehow put up the now URL, and got me back to the familiar looking site. Thank God for tech savy kids. I don’t even know what a URL is. The site I was taken to actually said I needed permission to access it because it was a private site. I was pretty stressed out. If I couldn’t reach you guys, a would have felt like I lost my family. He has a team viewer app, and is able to take over my computer.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dolordee, this was not your fault, it was mine. I changed something inside the “mechanism” and caused the site to go off-line until I could get it fixed. It is now back online and all is well. You should still be using

        https://asignofhope379.com

        to get here. My apologies for the inconvenience this afternoon. Everyone should be grateful to WordPress Support, one of whom was hugely helpful to me in getting everything reset. Prayers of gratitude for WP Support tonight, everyone! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    2. same thing happened to me–thought I’d lost a member of my family. I did something and now everything is fine (and I don’t remember if I did the right thing). I am happy now 🙂 . Oh, and now I may have two names, I think. My first name had been taken already so I picked another one. That’s probably a good thing since I’m tired of my “old” name.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Same here Nancy – all things work for our good, ha! I once was Karen – to borrow Our Lady’s thinking ( the original OLO All Nations wording, albeit was Mary! )

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Asking for prayers for the repose of the soul of my cousin Mark “Pepie” Frank
    (not the singer Mark, another cousin) who passed away from a heart attack last night.
    He was my eldest cousin on my dad’s side and through him, I was given an early glimps (and warning) into the struggles of living through the early 70’s and how his life of drugs and alcohol abuse led him down the road to divorce the woman he loved, to lose the family he loved and to end up with much heartache and fear.
    But, he also taught me, despite it all, how one can rise up from the ashes and become a man deeply in love with Jesus. To become a man who walks in the steady vision of love for family and friends dispite the scars left by this brokenness. A man who’s conviction was that he had been rescued from that life by a Savior- Jesus Christ.
    A man who, after losing it all, held tight to this conviction for decades and who was quick to point this out to everyone he met and by his witness, became a sign of hope to me.
    Thank you Pepie, I love you.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Oh Dear Phil, my condolences to you and all in your family as you begin this mourning journey with the passing of your Pepie. What a beautiful tribute to him and God’s Mercy and Love. Praying for the repose of Mark’s soul and for all who love him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. For REAL HOPE read BigQ – Little Q,- the calm before the storm.
    Just out by a friend of Medjugorje. A quick read but full of good information and real hope as well.

    Like

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