Rod Dreher took to his blog at “The American Conservative” yesterday and described his weekend conversations. It is not a pretty picture. Among other things, he learned of:
- The disintegration of the traditional American family, not just in the lower classes, but the middle class
- The fact that students these days are unable to grasp simple cause and effect
- The unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their actions, especially as parents in the middle class
- Churches that offer “services” but do not develop character
Then he gets depressed:
Above all, I’m tired of a culture in which so many people have no idea how to tell themselves no, to anything, ever. A culture of entitlement.
He then quotes extensively an old post he did on Dante and concludes, “As it was in the 14th century, is now, and ever shall be. Human nature does not change.” He closes by noting the deep fear and anxiety that seems to pervade the national mood.
Firstly, as sad as the lack of progress that mankind has made since the 14th century may be, it also represents hope. Man has been here before, things may change, but it is not the end of days. But more, the fact that things have not changed so much since the 14th century tells us where the problem, and the solution, really lie.
Human nature is the issue, not government. What we learn from the fact that everything old is new again is that while some forms of institutional organization, that is to say government, may be better than others, none are going to solve the problems because corrupt man can ruin any form of organization. The problem is the corruption of mankind.
Unique among all the religions of the world, Christianity offers hope for dealing with the corruption. Judaism tries to fence in the corruption with Law. Islam attempts to remove the corruption with force. Christianity alone offers to alter human nature itself from corrupt to incorruptible.
But for even Christianity to work we must first accept that we are corrupt – not that somebody else is corrupt, we are corrupt. That sense that Dreher describes with such dismay, the sense that things are simply “unwinding,” is an opportunity. It is a hard and unfortunate illustration of our corruption. We need to look at it, with honesty and openness. And in seeing it, we need to see our own corruption, and let the other worry about his own corruption.
And then we need to turn to Jesus. Not to make us feel better about all the corruption we see, but to allow Him to turn our corruption into the incorruptible. What happens after that will be extraordinary, and it will be good.