The more I meditate on the spiritual landscape of the United States, the more I am convinced that its political framework is wired to fail repeatedly; a pendulum that will never stop swinging. It is set up to provoke continuous civil wars with no real lasting solutions, because everyone gets to have a say, no matter how stupid they might be. Sometimes there is silence in the American fields. The crime rate gets low, the economy pseudo-stabilizes with quantitative easing, certain laws are put in place to give the illusion of victory, a “good” president is elected, etc. However, when the country seems suddenly silent, it isn’t because there is peace, it is because the factions are reloading their weapons.
The United States was founded by Protestant theists and deists who wanted to rebel against all authority and apply their Enlightenment ideology (largely borrowed from the Protestant Reformation) to politics. Individualism became synonymous with freedom and liberty, and freedom and liberty became synonymous with Divine Providence. Practically speaking, ‘Freedom’ means I can do whatever I want; it means that which is interpreted to be in any way restrictive is to be destroyed. Thus, in the hearts of many, individualism was united with the idea of God, and secularism was conceived. This is how an individualistic ideal became the false gods popularly known as Freedom and Liberty.
The Roots of Conspiracy Mentality
Protestant eschatology and conspiracy mentality have always gone hand in hand as well. Starting with the post-Reformation eschatological opinions of what is known as the historicism perspective, the Pope was seen as The Antichrist, and therefore all things Catholic must have a hidden agenda. The papacy (or “Babylon”) was out to get you and lead you to hell, or so they believed. Many influential Protestant preachers bought into this old-school “fake news,” and passed it down to the next generations. From then on, many Protestants began to ascribe the Book of Revelation to just about every authority figure that remotely threatened any aspect of their opinions (or general comfort, for that matter). Fast forward to 1966, Ralph Woodrow’s “Babylon Mystery Religion” was published, and it spread like wildfire. Popular Evangelicals like Tim LaHaye begin to feel quite comfortable slandering the Catholic Church, and polemics became normative and encouraged, no matter how false or ignorant they might have been. One might say this was the spiritual origin of the modern political “attack ad.” The accusation itself was enough for it to be true, and instead of actually talking to Catholics and exercising discernment, they were content to think the belief itself was enough for confirmation. All of this is why the Evangelical-political Right is the way it is. This is why people like Alex Jones are successful. His audience (which seems to consist largely of Evangelical Republicans) has been programmed for decades to desire only to hear ignorant conspiratorial accusations (to validate their own ignorant conspiratorial accusations), regardless of whether or not they are true. It is the self-validating accusation itself that matters to these people, not truth.
There are many other reasons for conspiracy mentality and why the average American now completely distrusts authority, such as JFK, Clergy sex scandals, Vietnam, Presidential scandals, 9-11, police brutality, the list goes on. The music (especially Punk) and entertainment industry from 1970-2000 then reinforced these sentiments and justified rebellion for decades. I love Star Wars, but let’s be honest, those movies are all about a ragtag rebellion against the establishment.
One Country vs Fifty Countries
Aside from the religious eschatological overtones of the founding framework, another problematic aspect of the country is the fact that not everyone truly views the United States as one country. The more conservative Republicans and Libertarians idealize the United States as essentially fifty autonomous countries that ought to operate independently of one another, whereas the more progressive Democrats tend to idealize the country as fifty united sections of one big country. This is why, for example, there are differences of opinion regarding the ideal size of the government. If the country ought to be divided into autonomous states, then government ought to be small. If the country ought to be a union of all states, then the government must adapt to the size and grow. This fundamental difference of perspective is why no progress can ever be made.
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.
– G.K. Chesterton
If the entire country is filled with a bunch of people who want to assert their own opinion or religious-political ideology and die on every hill, how could the American experiment possibly succeed? The only thing I see in America’s future is the potential for another civil war. Revolution is all the revolutionary knows how to do. If people rise to power and get in the way of your beliefs, and if the established system is not working in your favor, you gun them down and enforce your ‘freedom’ upon everyone else until you get what you want.
The Bi-Partisan Imperial Cult
I should add, this is not merely a battle of ideology, this is a religious battle between major (political) groups of emperor worshipers who think they are fighting a holy war. Every political cult thinks God is on their side, precisely because everyone worships themselves. So in a sense, they’re right. I mentioned before about how the individualistic ideology of “freedom and liberty” became the American deities. This is how American flags made their way into religious sanctuaries, this is why we have forced conversions of other countries (known as “regime change”), and this is how Self became the god of modernity, reigning as the ‘Genius’ of the President. Patriotic anthems became the new liturgy, and every Presidential inauguration becomes an opportunity to worship our own proxy, that is, the one who is divinely (or rather, demonically) possessed by each individual voter. We should be provoked to laughter when we hear Republicans say they are afraid of an Islamic jihad, because violent Muslims could learn a few things from the bloody trail of American jihad. The USA spends more money on the military than the next multiple countries combined. As the Holy Scriptures say, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” (Isa 31:1) Again the scriptures say, Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psa 20:7). May we repent of such idolatry.
A united individualism only leads to bi-partisan bickering. Both the red and blue people worship the Genius of the emperor just like the Romans. Because the Genius of the President is supposed to reflect the image of the individual worshipper (and not the other way around), America is designed in such a way where one is able to worship themselves through the standing President. When one imperial cult is able to worship themselves, and another cult is not, it develops into more war and division. Individualism never works, and it never will. So long as the refusal to submit to an authority is built into the framework of the American spirit, and so long as that violence and rebellion results from a President not reflecting one’s personal image, America will never work.