By D.C. COLLIER
Published: September 5, 2013
What Do Seinfeld, Clinton, Columbine and Eliot Spitzer Have In Common?
How’d the world get so crazy? Kids killing kids, mass murders in public schools, racial gang wars, a burgeoning drug culture, rampant pornography, divorce-on-demand, empty lives, government corruption, and on and on. What brought us to this place and why do we seem so powerless to do (or care) anything about it?
“Hey kids, gather round, I’ll tell you a tale
about life and what counts in your world.
The big secret is, there is nothing to tell,
it’s all what you want it to be.
Make it up as you go, who cares what it is,
as long as it feels good to you.”
America’s 20th century obsession with the twin-headed god of Comfort and Entertainment reached full bloom in Larry David’s “Seinfeld” representation of life as being, in the show’s own words, “essentially about nothing.” Each week, the rambling lives of its characters wandered from episode to episode without point, moral, or message, all the while yielding ever higher popularity ratings, salaries and advertising revenue. Fire a cannon through any of its “situations” and not a single essential human value would be hit.
It is entirely fitting that the show’s principal character should go into retirement hawking American Express cards to assure us of a steady diet of Comfort and Entertainment through conspicuous consumption while two thirds of the world’s children go to bed hungry somewhere out of sight.
Back in the 1990′s, the “Clinton Show” was no less entertaining. It’s writers pored over the popularity ratings and polls, sniffing the wind for a trend. Once the next theme was identified, their main character was scripted, costumed, and coached for presentation in the next episode. Hunt all you like for a value or lasting position, and all that resulted was another speech.
The message? The meaning of life is made up as you go along, there are no firm values or absolute principles, only what “sells.” If you’re caught in the act, sell the people your tale, just make sure they have plenty of Comfort and Entertainment to wash it down with. Far more than a statement about President Clinton’s character, the Lewinsky scandal forced the American people to weigh in; the resounding answer was that we shouldn’t judge each other’s behavior as long as it doesn’t affect us personally, particularly when “the economy is good.”
Meanwhile, our ever-expanding C&E needs have not fallen on deaf ears in the Media. CNN will happily turn anyone’s tragedy into a circus, delivering up the gory details in the comfort of viewer’s own homes, complete with bathroom breaks. But it better be a ratings boosting “deusey,” or advertisers will drop it like a bad habit.
How are our young to take all of this? Could Jim Carrey’s “Truman Show” be true? Are we born and raised on a stage and handed a script to act out without question? Are the Hollywood and Washington writers “shooting us up” with their programs and expecting results? Or perhaps its like the movie “Matrix”, where “reality” is programmed by computers and nothing is as it seems. Is the thought process behind all of this as new as we think?
The Birth of Confusion
In the 15th century, the Postmodernist movement took root in reaction to prevailing Dark Age beliefs with their perceived absolutes about life, death, and God. Evolving over the intervening centuries, the Postmodernist view is now the prevailing belief system of modern life, particularly among the young in industrialized countries. Far too “enlightened” for blacks and whites,
Postmodernism’s pallet is limited to grey. In its present form, this belief system stands on at least three precepts:
1) Culture shapes the person. That is, social forces like language, values and relationships mold human thought. People do what they do because the culture made them into what they are. The result is an attitude of “It’s not my fault,” and a tendency to do whatever one pleases.
Look no further than the infamous Dan White “twinkie defense” in 1979 (that he was “high” on sugar and junk-food and therefore could not control himself) that was offered to justify the murder of San Francisco’s mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk to see how far a relativistic view on steroids can take you. Interestingly, although White was miraculously spared a long prison term, he took his own life shortly after being released, perhaps realizing there are absolutes governing right and wrong after all and no amount of legal shenanigans could wipe the bloodstains clean. Our nation’s prisons are full of “victims,” victims of abusive upbringing, bad parents, bad neighborhoods, or bad luck–everyone is at fault but them.
(2) Regarding the acquisition of knowledge, knowledge about the world is not discovered, but “constructed.” Our perception of reality is colored by our culture. Trapped in our own subjectivity, we cannot perceive the external world as it really is. Since we’ve been culturally programmed, we never “discover” anything, rather we construct knowledge–essentially making it up as we
The multifaceted tapestry of beliefs labeled “evolution” illustrates this process of knowledge-construction perfectly. The Marquis de Condorcet, an Enlightenment philosopher, put this belief system clearly in 1793 when he wrote, “The total mass of the human species, through alternating periods of calm and agitation, good and evil, forever marches, albeit at a slow pace, towards a greater perfection.” Flying in the face of physics (among others, the second law of thermodynamics), this “theory” serves up the proposition that things continuously move from a state of lower order to higher order. Requiring more faith than anything religion has ever demanded, it seeks to “link” fish, animals and man in an evolutionary chain that has not only never been proven, but positively refuted by physical evidence. Its proponents would have us believe that we “evolved” from a jar of primordial ooze into Doctors, Lawyers, Philosophers, and Artists. As with so many man-made theories, the idea of an underlying reality is discarded in favor of “constructed” knowledge and then offered to public school children as scientific fact rather than as the hypothetical conjecture that it is.
(3) Flowing logically from the first two precepts, Truth is relative, and each group or individual decides for themselves what is true. What is true or right for one person or group, is not necessarily true or right for another. Something is not believed because it is true, they say, rather it is true because it is believed. For example there is nothing “right” about monogamous heterosexual marriage apart from cultural conventions and traditions. There exists no objective criteria or authority for moral judgment.
Thus we see alternative lifestyles adopted and legally sanctioned in direct proportion to the lobbying power and noise levels of its proponents in the halls of government. Adopted in the identical manner as passing a law against spitting on the sidewalk, sweeping upheavals to prevailing social order move forward into daily life without serious debate as to moral and social consequences until the damage is done and lives are shattered.
Naturally, this prevalent world view finds no difficulty in “re-imagining” historical figures like Jesus Christ, or in “de-constructing” such timeless classic writings as the Bible. How would you like to be “re-imagined” 100 years from now, turning what you know about yourself into an ugly distortion based on the imagination of someone who had never met you and their need to fit you into a mold to suit their purposes. De-constructing the Bible is like taking a fine watch apart and putting it back together in a completely different way than the designer intended. You may end up with an assembly of parts, but will never be able to tell what time it is.
Know Them by Their Fruits
Columbine High’s massacre in 1999 was one of the many “fruits” that spring from the tree of Postmodernism and its rootless belief system. The Columbine killers had been “dissed” by fellow students, and put out by favoritism toward athletes. With moral absolutes out the window, any minor grievance can escalate into a murderous rampage; from road rage to more premeditated summary executions, who’s to care if there is no God? More recent mass killings in Littleton, Blacksburg and Newtown underscore the accelerating rate of such atrocities.
The OJ Simpson trial in 1994 demonstrated how a legal system run strictly for profit has no more ability to deliver true justice than a fox has the ability to deliver true safety to a hen-house. In the face of clear evidence, the jury “nullified” the absolutes and stood firmly on a relativistic jumble of rush to judgment, racial bias, etc. to set the man free, and catapult his lawyers into TV nirvana alongside of old Jerry Springer. Punitive damage awards in Tennessee reaching hundreds of millions of dollars (for being bilked out of $1,200 for a TV satellite antenna) illustrate how far juries have drifted from the original standard of an “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.”
So what’s the big surprise? Without this relativistic view of life, how else could any “civilized” country justify the institutional killing of 3,300 babies every single day. A new estimate published by the National Right to Life Committee indicates there have been an estimated 54,559,615 abortions since the Supreme Court handed down its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision allowing virtually unlimited abortions. The number means there are more than 3,300 abortions daily and 137 abortions per hour every hour in the United States. Translated another way, an abortion is done about every 30 seconds in the United States.
Adolph Hitler was impelled to mass murder and ethnic cleansing by a garbled belief system that was in no small way shaped by the man he most admired, Fredrich Nietzche, who coined the phrase, “nihilism.” He believed it was impossible to reach universal standards of right and wrong and left it up to man to create relativistic rules depending on the common need. The assertion that “god is dead” at first shocked, but now is widely accepted among intellectuals.
Likewise more recently in the 1990’s, Serb President Slobodan Milosevic twisted history and fueled ancient blood feuds to justify his form of ethnic cleansing, ignoring human suffering and worldwide moral outrage on the way to his form of an Eastern European humanistic utopia. Sadly, in response to his misadventures, civilized nations are forced into the paradoxical position of having to say to this latest tyrant, “stop killing your people, or we’ll kill you!”
For about 50 years, America has been immersed in an experiment marked by “political correctness” and “tolerance.” Tolerance means inclusion of ideas, philosophies and expressions regardless of the damage they do, or the danger they represent to all but the lunatic fringe from which they came. The paradox here is that in the interests of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” we are forced into intolerance and exclusion of ideas that smack of absolutism. The same altar before which political correctness is worshiped, requires daily sacrifices in the form of “religious” adherents who dare to speak out freely about what they believe.
The removal of school prayer comes to mind in this regard. Liberal politicians continue to express shock and anger when they are reminded that our country was founded upon a document, the Declaration of Independence, which directly refers to “God” in its opening paragraph and to their “Creator” in the second paragraph. They are now using the very freedoms that the resulting country and its democratic system affords in the First Amendment to silence dissenters and shout down the still small voice of moral reason that seeks to protest that their God never died.
And the debate in the public sector cuts directly to core of who and what we believe we are as responsible (and accountable) human beings. Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Professor Roger W. Sperry, a psychologist at the California Institute of Technology, observed:
“Before science, man used to think himself a free agent possessing free will. Science gives us, instead, causal determinism wherein every act is seen to follow inevitably from preceding patterns of brain excitation. Where we used to see purpose and meaning in human behavior, science now shows us a complex bio-physical machine composed entirely of material elements, all of which obey inexorably the universal laws of physics and chemistry. . . .”
“I find that my own conceptual working model of the brain leads to inferences that are in direct disagreement with many of the foregoing; especially I must take issue with that whole general materialistic-reductionist conception of human nature and mind that seems to emerge from the currently prevailing objective analytic approach in the brain-behavior sciences.”
“When we are led to favor the implications of modern materialism in opposition to older, more idealistic values in these and related matters, I suspect that science may have sold society and itself a somewhat questionable bill of goods.”
“It may have, indeed.”
The bottom line is that Postmodernism has produced the most profound alienation in human history. People are alienated from each other, from themselves, from God, from truth, from absolutes, and eventually from reality. Remember the bumper sticker of a few years ago, “Reality is Negotiable?” The Columbine killers were alienated from themselves, from their parents, from any moral consciousness, from their friends, and eventually from the world around them. Our Postmodern world is filled with such tortured souls and we seem so powerless to help them. Could it be that if our parents had placed more fences around us, disciplined us when we needed it, and lived a set of values to give us “rails to run on,” we would have more to say to those who are lost?
It Depends On Where You Start
So what will it take for us to realize that we’ve been sold a bill of goods? When will we face and decide for ourselves how we stand on life’s greatest issue, who is at the center of our universe, man or God? Two opposing views are put forth alternately in Psalm 8 which asks, “what is man, that thou art mindful of Him?” And from the Greek Sophist Protagoras, who states, “Man is the measure of all things.” Well, which is it for you? Our world stands at the brink and the choice is ours to make individually.
In every other field of human endeavor, absolutes are universally accepted: Imagine the chaos that would result from differing views of how long an inch should be. Take the X and Y axis away from an engineer or economist and how will he plot the relative positions of data points? How would we navigate planes and ships without, pardon this politically incorrect term, “True” North being known? True relativity implies absolutes by which we measure relationships between things. Take these away and the lines between fantasy and reality become hopelessly blurred. But when it comes to God, morals and life after death, we are cut free of all absolutes to navigate life’s stormy waters without a compass, map, anchor, or rudder–something like playing a cruel version of “Pin the tail on the donkey,” for your own soul.
There are only two ways to bring about change, from the top down and the bottom up. Our top down government programs have run their course and are largely bankrupt. The more government we throw at our problems, the more speeches, bureaucracies, and tax increases we get. Perhaps it’s time to see this relativistic swamp gas for what it is and return to something, or more correctly, to someone who we can count on.
It’s time to fix things from the bottom up. The health of our body is destroyed or cured cell-by-cell; likewise our homes, neighborhoods, country and world must be changed person by person–from the inside. It’s not too late for America, but as a country we’re “circling the drain” spiritually. Throughout human history people died and stayed dead, The Marquis de Condorcet and Nietzche included. All of the founders of the world’s great religions also died and stayed dead. Only one man ever predicted his own death, died, and then returned to talk about it.
Hey Buddy, Got A Match?
It was once written,
“Two thousand years ago, a Man was born in a small village that most people of the world had never heard of, and the Child of a woman who owned nothing. He grew up in another village where He made things from wood until He was thirty years old. For three years He was a teacher who traveled from village to village. He never wrote a book. He was never elected to be the leader of any group or organization. He never had a family or owned his own home. He did not go to College, or have any diplomas or degrees. The world didn’t think of Him as a great man. He never traveled far from the place where He was born.”
“He was only 33 years old when many of His friends turned against Him. His close friends ran away, leaving Him alone. He was turned over to His enemies and went through a trial without any real reason. He was nailed to a cross between two robbers. While He was dying, those who nailed Him to the cross gambled for His clothes–the only thing He owned on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.”
“Almost 2,000 years have come and gone, and today He is the most important Person in the human race. Time is divided by His birth and death. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the governments that ever governed, all the kings that ever ruled, put together have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as Jesus Christ”–Anonymous.
A few years ago, I went with my family to underground caverns somewhere in Colorado. We went deep into the ground, guided by a young college student with a lantern. After we reached the deepest chamber He lined us all up and said, “I’m going to turn this lantern out for one minute to show you all what total darkness really feels like.” The light went out and I embarked upon the most terrifying 60 seconds of my life. Nothing had prepared me for the visceral, bone chilling reaction I was to have. Struggling to remain composed and not to show panic, I held on for dear life for what seemed an eternity. The young man eventually terminated my agony by lighting a match, a tiny match, and the huge chamber was almost totally illuminated. I was so relieved, I wanted to run out of there and never look back.
What struck me most was the preciousness of that light, and how much one little match could illuminate in total darkness. The world has been feeling more and more like that cavern lately and I see people locking themselves behind steel bars and high walls to shut the darkness out if they can. Trouble is, they end up alienating themselves and others even more in the process. You see, darkness is nothing in itself, it is simply the absence of light.
In a futuristic passage of Old Testament scripture, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…”
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9: 1-2; 6,7
In his characteristically stark, absolute and unequivocal manner Jesus was once heard to say, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” This light, this precious light has been leading the blind into the bright uplands of God’s blessings for thousands of years. How about you? Need a light?
A Final Thought…
As the few remaining quiet points of truth go out and the dark night of relativism settles quietly, imperceptibly around us, let no one say they were not warned. We all have made personal choices leading up to this moment. Each has felt the gentle tug of their moral compass deep within, only to turn away and join the throng who stoned the prophets. Ignored so long, the needles on our inner compasses have frozen in place. Any direction we turn yields the same readout on its face. We are blind and do not know it, lost and we don’t even care.
The Clinton scandals of yesteryear were not the cause of our moral decline, though they provided indisputable evidence as to how modern man weighs in on critical matters of truth. Nor were the more recent escapades of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer. Don’t blame abortion, euthanasia, or mass murder as causes of our slide into darkness. These are the effects. The cause lies deep within our own hearts where choices are made one by one, day after day.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in a Soviet gulag following World War II. He entered prison a die-hard Communist, believing that a new social order could create new people. But it was in prison that he discovered that the core issue was not the economic or government system. Solzhenitsyn writes,
“It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”
Jesus called himself “the Truth” in John 14:6. In context and in light of other such scriptures, he was claiming much more than just being acquainted with, or understanding the truth. He said in effect, “I circumscribe truth;” ”I am the the definition of truth;” Have me and you have the truth. This was either a claim of unimaginable grandiosity, total self deception, or absolute confidence. He left no room for ambiguity.
If you’d like to get off this postmodern “merry-go-round,” a good place to start is to read our article entitled “Don’t Stay On This Escalator!” dated September 5, 2013.
 From “What is Post Modernism?” by Bob Francis. Worldwide Challenge Magazine pp18, March/April 1999, Campus Crusade for Christ.