It is difficult to watch a country that had preserved itself intact, united, and under one God for over two centuries disintegrate at such a rapid pace. The public discourse is littered with words like “community” instead of family, church, and country. The ideology of Marx is never far from community vocabulary. “Community” has become a code word for “ghetto,” division, racial hatred, ethnic strife, exclusion, and conflict, often armed and dangerous, as the Orlando massacre plentifully demonstrated. In the face of terror, which is just another word for civil war, we are challenged to preserve our identity intact, to remember that the American flag was woven by Christians, that the country and its constitution, as well as our historic-cultural specificity, rest on the identity patterns implemented by the same Christian faith that built European civilisation. Its material practices transcend earthly, creaturely, totemic ethnic or racial identities. The political pressure to accept primitive totemic identities to replace the Christian ones is extraordinary. It is a direct violation of the basic freedoms America has defended over the past couple of centuries. There is little individuals can do in the face of so many internal and external foes, other than remember who we are and not let fear, terror, and violence cause us to give up our faith, our principles, and our historic identity.
A quick reflection on the barrage of bad news that flooded our mailboxes over the past week would leave one aghast. The two issues that should have initiated a civilised discussion about the meaning of identity and its politics were native origin/birthright and sexual identity/orientation. Before the massacre of Orlando, most news stories focused on Mr. Trump’s mistrust of the fairness of a judge born to Mexican parents in the US and Dr. Warren’s claims to Native American heritage based on her cheekbones. A charged, unreflected, and unreasonable discourse on “racism” dominated the unilateral news coverage, but more often than not racist thinking was actually indulged by the plaintiffs, Warren, La Raza, establishment politicians and the media, and not by their targets, Trump & Co.
It is perfectly reasonable to bring up the core values that constitute American identity for discussion, which is what Mr. Trump’s comment about a judge with Mexican heritage should have initiated. It became clear that born in the USA does not necessarily make one American, especially if the parents did not espouse the values of American identity, but brought up their children in their native tradition instead. One can’t really blame foreign-born parents alone for failing to raise their children as Americans. Americans created an environment of nativist thinking, where the place of birth determines one’s identity for life. Americans espoused a belief system that ran against their core values and expected American-born children to be instantly American. Everything about a belief system based on values like land and blood is contrary to core American values, beliefs, and history. But it seems the general American public as represented by the media has forgotten these values.
The foreign belief system the replaced the values of freedom and free choice with the value of land and blood was adopted after WWII, which saw the end of a regime that justified its aggression with blood lineage and birthright. The basic belief of the Nazi system was “land and blood.” Tenets of these corrupt principles were rather blindly embraced by Americans as the country welcomed the victims of the regime during and after the war. Victims often share the values and structural thinking of the perpetrators. The flood of immigrants from Germany imported their beliefs in land and blood, along with their nativist identity patterns. Slowly but surely they imposed their system on American schools, colleges, and universities. The philosophy of Hannah Arendt is a good example. She argues that a person’s identity is based on their “natality,” the blood parents’ lineage, and that this natality determines who the person is from cradle to death.
Nativism is contrary to Christian principles, sacraments, and identity structures. It is foreign to American history, which is the history of mostly Christian and mostly protestant immigrants who escaped the oppressive regimes of Europe to practice their God-given right to free will. Nativism as identity structure is a recent foreign import that changed the way we think about race, ethnicity, and birthright, for the worse. Moreover the confusion this thought pattern inflicted on American historical narratives made it more difficult than ever to process rationally and responsibly the legacy of slavery. Very sloppily thinkers like Arendt lumped together slavery and persecution of Jews in the same category, which upped the emotionalism of the racial discourse and left it with no rational, historically and culturally specific tools of analysis. The problem it created is a charged, emotionally unruly, fanatical public space that ignites on contact and instantly torches the very possibility of a reasonable discussion. This situation has long been the norm in most Latin American countries run by autocratic governments, but it is fairly recent in the US, only since the end of WWII. The US used to enjoy an independent scientific and teaching community, but nativism and racism have corrupted the country’s educational and research institutions.
Our educational institutions have failed us on many fronts. The disappearance of the humanities following the culture wars, which instilled deep mistrust of European traditions even as the political establishment blindly espoused European political philosophies divorced from their cultural context, was a devastating consequence. Europe lost the battle against nativism well before America did. The German nation especially forgot its Christian roots and staked its nationalism on its pagan heritage. The romantic traditions of the nineteenth century were purely cultural, artistic, and literary, but their transfer to political philosophy proved disastrous. The subordination of what remained of the humanities after the culture wars to nativist identity politics eliminated basic emotional and aesthetic education from the curriculum. As a result students grew ever more primitive, crude, and insensitive to their internal landscapes, which makes them unfit for public service, because they are incapable of reflection, self-reflection, or discussion.
The history taught in American classrooms has been reduced to racial hatred, ethnic strife, and revenge politics. There is so much more to history and historical identity. The past is an immense well of knowledge, self-knowledge, and delight, if one would just get past the Cerberus of political history guarding the entrance to historic knowledge. Even Shakespeare, the most prolific and sublime poet, has been reduced to the bare bones of one-sided political historical interpretations. It is hardly a surprise then that contemporary journalism has degenerated to the level of primitive emotionalism and is running on automatic reflexes, unable to host a civilised debate about anything.
The construction of human identity is a complex, culturally sophisticated, and infinitely rich phenomenon that cannot be shoehorned into the ethnic labels available on employment and government forms. To think that a Harvard professor, Dr. Warren, running for public office has no more to offer than the ethnic identity checkbox on an institutional document is sobering and worrisome. Our government consists of functionaries who exist only on paper and show no humanity, no intelligence, and no interiority. Such individuals cannot guarantee our safety, let alone a prosperous environment where knowledge, culture, and intelligence can thrive and develop. The Darwinian reduction of humanity to biological features like cheekbones, blood lineage, skin color, or native DNA, has severely crippled our intelligence and our ability to adapt to a changing world. An identity in Christ is infinitely more humane, unifying yet diverse, and rich with possibilities.
The political war on Christianity is preying on the fears of those who feel excluded from the great American family. In reality, the Christian identity of the American family is open and available to all who are willing to accept Christ as their saviour, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Exclusion is self-imposed, not demanded by other members. Christian civilisation is in fact the ONLY civilisation to foster the development of identity patterns of choice.
Among the essential beliefs of Christianity is the doctrine of adoption. Christians are made God’s children not by descent and blood lineage, but by Grace. Adoption by God is unthinkable in other belief systems, which hold birthright to be the only source of ethnic, national, and sexual identity. Only Christ frees His followers of all material constraints of identity, including ethnic and racial lineage. To the Sadducees who did not believe in adoption by God, interpreted the laws of Moses too narrowly, and held blood ties to be the only source of identity, Jesus replies: “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.66 They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39 (Luke 20)
The soul is pure and free of the material constraints of identity. This also means the adopted identity does not replace the identity of origin, like a prosthesis replaces a missing organ or body part, but rather sublates it, elevates it as immaterial presence. Christ’s pardon of the adulteress (John 8), along with His revelation that in heaven the spirit is not bound to earthly identities and covenants, extends to all sexual transgressions. So long as we are in the earthly body, however, transgressions do exact a price, though it is not one demanded by the law or by fellow members of the Church. A Christian has the duty to warn members of the Church of the earthly constraints and troubles awaiting them if they indulge sexual transgressions. Nothing more, nothing less. A Christian also has the duty to forgive, to honour the purity of the soul, to consider everyone in the faith worthy of resurrection, to practice grace, and above all not to judge the next person, but to love him or her unconditionally regardless of their deeds, identities, or choices. Where does Christianity clash with LGBT, as politicians claim and as the media dishonestly, viciously maintain?
Christianity has no laws and no punishments, but it does express its beliefs frankly and with love. Literally everyone is welcome in the Christian family, but everyone is also individually responsible for the choice to enter or not to enter and individually responsible for all choices they make. The government was never intended to be a moral guardian of its constituents. In the Christian family — not community — the moral law is within and cannot be imposed by force from without. The American family is a Christian family, perhaps the only Christian family born of adoption and not tied to land and blood lineage as it is in the Old World. There is no coercion in a Church founded on the belief in free will. Greek civilisation, though friendly and accommodating to LGBT, was also excruciatingly oppressive of non-Greeks and women. That’s not who Christians are and that’s not who Americans are.
Over the past eight years the government staged a war between the Christian and the LGBT community, the black and the white community, and among religious and ethnic communities that has left the country heart-broken and desolate. A twentieth century political philosopher, Carl Schmitt (Nomos of the Earth), was deeply concerned with a rising New World Order that would change the nature of war from armed contest between equals to “just war” against “unjust foes” and plunge the world in a permanent civil war that would tear societies apart and prevent interludes of peace. What Schmitt feared is at our door. He foresaw that the new kind of war, called a “just war,” would create “unjust” foes for the first time in history and that eventually communism will claim to be the only just war, leaving the international community at the mercy of communist rule. This has come to pass.
The only remedy is fastidious maintenance of the Christian European traditions that created the world as we know it, because only the Christian European context holds the keys to the information we need to adapt and adjust to the new and unprecedented demands for peace. With the decline of European civilisation and the gradual elimination of European languages and cultures from American academic curricula, we are destroying the only hope for peace. The medical and scientific systems supporting the social body are culturally specific and no one can hope to use them and to continue to develop them outside the context of their origin. We cannot afford to confuse European identity with the European traditions that gave birth to the systems of knowledge we employ daily. The destruction of the Christian European roots of our world order will only lead to dictatorships, grossly oversized, ineffective governments and bureaucracies, and ultimately to a state of permanent civil war in all countries. European Christianity is not a race, nor an ethnicity. It is the structural foundation of our world. A war against it means permanent war against the basic constitution of reality, an unwinnable war.