The host spent the first hour of the radio show this morning discussing his theory of #Backlash. (Something I hinted at last week.)
Me: “I think [voters] are going to vote against the left and against the media in November.@SalenaZito: I absolutely agree.” Salena notes left/Ds “overplaying its hand.” and I note the revulsion at incidents involving @realDonaldTrump officials, over-the-top rhetoric. #Backlash
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) June 25, 2018
Consider what happened over the weekend. White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant. (Sadly, Ms Sanders father sees fit to contribute to this kind of ugliness.) A very silly and self-righteous actor saw fit to be extraordinarily rude to the Speaker of the House. In France, vandalism has occurred and violence is threaten towards butchers by vegans. Laura Ingalls Wilder (“Little House on the Prairie” author for the uninitiated) has had a book award withdrawn over perceptions of racism. (Not the first time we have seen this kind of silliness.) And to top it all off, Representative Maxine Waters called for more of the kind of stuff that beset Ms. Sanders that caused Jim Geraghty to wonder:
Does she think this tactic will be used only by leftist protesters, only against Trump cabinet officials, and that in no circumstance will “pushing back at them” lead to violence against those targeted individuals? Does she think that there is no possible scenario where the security details assigned to protect cabinet officials from harm respond to threatening behavior with force? Does she think that there’s a scenario where the cabinet officials, the president, and his supporters in general decide that because so many leftists are angry, they had better change their minds and their policies?
In other words, Ms. Waters was calling for situations that will likely end in violence.
This kind of stuff is about more than political disagreement. This is an outpouring of angst – deep, heartfelt angst. And while this angst is expressed in actions that tempt one to respond with utter rejection and active opposition, I think the tweet from Ms. Sander’s father linked above illustrates the danger in such response. This level of angst ripples into metaphysical realms. As such a Christian heart must respond with pathos.
What we see in all of this outrageous speech and action is an acknowledgement, if unspoken and perhaps unrealized by the speakers and actors, of the undeniable fact that the world is sinking like the Titanic after the iceberg. This kind of stuff is a thrashing about, helplessly, seeking…well, salvation.
Look, the host is right, on a purely political level this stuff is going to produce backlash; it is hurting the Left and Democrats in a big way. Only political activity can fix that political reality in the short term. But until the angst is addressed, it will just find new and perhaps even more dangerous ways to express itself. Somehow these people, and so many like them that do not manage to capture headlines, need to find the salvation they are seeking if our society and culture are to settle back into anything resembling normalcy.
This angst is not the result of political or governmental action or inaction, rather it results from the void left by religion’s retreat from the public square leaving politics as the only place people routinely see available to turn towards. And religion has retreated, we have not been shoved aside. Oh sure, there have been continual efforts to shove us aside, but they have only appeared to succeed because we have allowed it. The mainline Protestants have responded by becoming culture warriors instead of deep truth carriers. Evangelicalism has retreated into a message of personal salvation and little else. The mainline Protestants just don’t talk about sin anymore and the Evangelicals see it only in personal sexual choices or work ethic. Yet what is sin if it is not an expression of our need for salvation? Thus this angst so clearly evidenced over the past weekend is a symptom of sin just as assuredly as infidelity or gluttony.
Addressing this angst is what the church is supposed to do. Where is the church?