The inspiration for this post is found in a short story that Jesus tells:
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12: 43-45)
Primarily Jesus was talking about how his own generation would morph and mutate into a further monstrosity. Before, the devilish spirit was the sinful murder of the prophets through the reign of wicked men in times past. Now, the Son of Man, the very Christ, would be put to death by a corrupt Temple authority, the means to heal the world were to be used to tear God’s Son asunder. Their wickedness, in murdering the LORD, would be seven, complete.
Yet not even that, the host of this possession had well ordered its house, but remained empty and void of life. Judea was restored by the Persian Cyrus, and the Jews remade their temple and their way of life in Jerusalem. They were reconquered, but the Maccabean revolt put a Jew on the throne, and maintained a reinstated Priesthood. Yet Jesus’ sweeping condemnation here is that it was for naught. They had continued to remain exiled, empty and void, until Immanuel was there. Without His Presence, the very purpose and meaning for the vast and complex Law of Moses, no matter how ornate, the host was empty. More demons would return and bring about a perfect and complete control.
However, Jesus’ parable has implications and applications to understanding our world that is the modern West.
Let me first preface this discussion that, in no way, is any modern society or nation directly comparable to the people of Israel, the Jews. The forms and rituals were not any sort of forms and rituals, they had a specific implementation and purpose for the coming Kingdom of God.
Anyway, we’re going to begin this story in the late 17th and 18th century. After the bloody Thirty Years War, many people were tired of questions of religion or of fervency in arguing them. This was the age of so-called ‘Dead Orthodoxy’, where the debates on very particular issues retreated into schools and quietistic piety, and there was a general tolerance towards differing religions. That is, rather, internationally speaking. There were no more crusades to reclaim German princedoms or England into the Catholic fold. The rule was ‘cuius regio, eius religio’, which is Latin for ‘whoever rules, his religion’. Thus, if the king or prince was catholic, the official religion was catholic, if Lutheran, then Lutheran, and so on and so forth.
I think that the 30 Years War (which has roots in the very fires of the Reformation) was the Judgement on the Whore-Church Babylonian society that Medieval Christendom represented. The Magisterial Protestants merely continued the tradition from Rome, and nationalized from the psuedo unity that Rome tried to foster. It was all a horrible disaster as the two sides demolished each other in a blood-bath that would psychologically scar Europe in ways that only the two World Wars would surpass. The killing-fields of Germany would see a third of her Teutonic sons perish in the fires of war.
Anyway, this, accompanied by an event such as the Lisbon Earth-Quake, would ignite a rejection of the skeletal bone-king of this state-sponsored ‘Dead-Orthodoxy’. This was not officially allowed, but this irreligion would grow and grow and blosom into main-stream French thought in the Storming of the Bastille in 1793 and the event known as the French Revolution. France would be a new nation, one without prince or priest, which would place reason above all things. There would be no temple (which Cathedrals represented more than any New Testament understanding of Church). There would be no throne. There’d only be opportunity for men to be men.
Yet this would ultimately result in rivers of blood and a whole sort of whacky re-sacralizing acts. I’ll never get over this, but Robespierre created a cult of Reason which would involve his play-acting as Moses and bringing the Universal Law of Reason down from a false-mountain built in Paris. The Calendar was reorganized according to a rational system. It became fashionable to wear Togas in honor of the mythologized past of Greece and Rome, which were considered as pinnacles of Human civilization and reason.
I focus in on the French Revolution as a pericope for what we see playing out in American society. I’ve already focused on the Empty Shrine theology of modern America, but here I want to show the progression that the United States will go through, and continue to go through, as it abandons its single-demon monotheism to a christic-cult of Columbia to the multi-demonic possession that it is in the thralls of now, leading to perfect putridity.
What do I mean by the “christic-cult of Columbia”? In modern writings, this is the heresy of Christian nationalism that is most idiotically symbolized in someone like David Barton. His life’s work is to prove that “America is a Christian nation”. He is partially right and wrong. Like all history, it is a complex mix of characters and motivations, and he, like many propagandists, try to sort it as a white-and-black dichotomy. There were many, and probably the majority, that saw in America a new future free from the modes and mores of Europe. While, again, Founders had differing visions (i.e. Franklin was more interested in tranquility and commerce, and Hamilton would’ve created a republican empire), there was a consensus that there’d be a de-sacralized political order.
Really, ‘these’ United States were, by many, originally intended to be a framework, a union or confederation, and not a singular Imperial authority. The Federal government was to be mediatorial and a place for debate and joint-prosperity, so that all states, sovereign as they were, would flourish. Of course this pipe dream was just that. It’s why the first attempt, the Articles of Confederacy, was worthless. It was an American UN that had no respect or teeth. I’m constantly impressed by a man like Madison, who could see clearly the constant tension that would be at play in maintaining a just society. He had a very adept understanding, yet the Madisonian republic would quickly dissolve under the weight of competing factions and man’s dreams of glory.
Of course, this was only a just society for the upper-class white merchantmen and farmers. Like Rome, the Patricians who had, and were content, would clamor for such a system. And as the same, ambitious men and the oppressed plebs would overturn it all. By the time Jackson was elected, and Van Buren’s first modern political machine humming along, Madison’s republic was over.
I mention all these facts to show a more complex picture of early American history. David Barton would say it was very different then that, and sacralize the whole project in a hagiographic lie. And, of course, he was right that these sorts of men existed. Amongst the more ideological, especially Jefferson, the Cult of Liberty would be something worth shedding blood for.
That’s right, I said cult of Liberty.
What David Barton doesn’t understand in his delusion is that these men, and he himself, use the word ‘Christ’, but they worship a different god and proclaim a different gospel.There was religious appeal to the destiny of America, spanning from sea to shining sea (as the song goes). I won’t display quotation on quotation, but its pretty blasphemous stuff. JQ Adams would even go as far to say that America is the embodiment of Christianity, essentially the incarnation that the world awaited.
America has been conceived messianically, and such a cult only would continue to grow. The Civil War cemented a new level of patriolatry, worship of country, and as the years waned on, the destiny of America would only increase. The invocation of ‘Separation of Church and State’ rings hollow. The implication is really that spirituality and faith are private and mean as much as favorite flavor of ice cream. As long as the law of the land is respected, and America is properly venerated (in the custom of the times), then doeth what thee will.
Again, this history is complex and confused. There have been men who followed the LORD and were muddled on account of the spirit of the times, and there have been men who were unabashed worshipers of Washington. I won’t list examples, but for your consideration, look over the Abolitionist movement. The writings seem similar to one another, but reading between the lines, one can see differing foundations. Is Slavery wrong because it goes against our conviction as Christians or as Americans? Many times, it’s a combination of both, but subtle nuances and phrases can give away what’s really at stake.
The attempt by the Enlightenment vision of a State and Nation divested of the demon of the Medieval convergence of crown-and-chasuble was a success. Yet this would only lead to the possession by seven demons. America was without a state-church, without an official priesthood, and would try to operate on a common-sensical approach of common law and natural reasoning. Yet it did not last, and today we see the cult continue within Conservative circles.
But the cult has mutated and become different now.
Now we have a hydra of nation-cult that has many heads and figures. The messianic proportions of America have, to some blasphemously, outgrown the old modes and forms of a bastard Christianity. We don’t merely have John Quincy Adams proclaiming that America is the divine fulfillment of Christ, or the David Bartons who think of America as having some sort of special relationship with the Divine. No, now the forms of the American cult include even those who are out-and-out atheists or agnostics.
A most bizarre, and funny (in a sick sort of way), episode of this was when the New Atheists advocated war in the wake of 9/11. Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris would ignorantly rage against the lunacy and murderous evil of “religion” (which they never were able to define), and then turn around and scream destruction. They would have the Middle East a glass crater until these people learned civilization. Of course, this is a fill-in god, a ‘concilium dei’, for the irreligious bourgeoisie.
Another illustration is from Noam Chomsky about American nationalism:
“[Hans Morgenthau] says, to criticize [America's] transcendent purpose ‘is to fall into the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds’-which is a good comparison. It’s a deeply entrenched religious belief… And if anyone questions that, it leads to near hysteria and often charges of anti-Americanism or ‘hating America’- interesting concepts that don’t exist in democratic societies, only in totalitarian societies and [in America], where they’re just taken for granted”
I’d replace the word ‘totalitarian’ with ‘sacral’ and Chomsky would’ve nail directly on the head. He had in mind the societies of Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany, all of which were extraordinarily cultic regimes. All tried to reinstate a certain sort of religious fervancy centered on their reigns. Of course, Mussolini was an atheist, over and against Hitler who was a true believer, but even he saw the need to whip up faith. In fact, where Mussolini failed was that in trying to recreate a Roman Empire, he needed to reinstate the old pantheon, especially Roma, into the Italian psyche. The gods of the State are integral in any serious nationalism.
Of course, the christic-cult of Columbia, like the worship of the Caesars and Roma, is a pantheon cult that welcomes the worship of many gods and many religious apparati. There are the gods of vanity and physical perfection, with local temples (called gyms) set up to worship our own little egos, like the little house gods of old.
We have temples to Mammon, like Wall Street, that have fallen on hard times. As Jacques Ellul eloquently put it, “[Money] finds itself being replaced in the hearts of the faithful by other social powers and other beneficient divinities, while its priests- bankers, money changers and capitalists- are pointed to as wicked magicians”.
Then there are the Oprahites, and the sages of self-esteem, who preach a message of reconciliation with oneself to oneself by oneself. It’s a religion-in-a-box, DIY divining, and of course, when the window into the Cosmos is a mirror, it can be whatever you want. It’s your image of course.
Then there is the Martian cult of conquest and military. Our soldiers sacrifice their time and lives to make us free. It should be pointed out ‘sacrifice’ is a very religious word, with roots in ‘sacred’. A man in uniform is expected to be venerated and respected. Soldiers are indoctrinated and forced to learn new creeds, as they are baptized, by fire, into a new birth. They are catechized by their bishop-Drill Instructor, and expected to be prepared for that day when they are released into the world.
True enough, Rome’s treasuries were kept in temples, gymnasia were distinctly religious, and the military rituals were connected to proper worship to the Roman gods of war and victory.
What I’m not advocating is a Christian retreat to a ghetto, or the militant conquest of society. Like the Apostles, we live in a sacralized world, surrounded by gods, and we, like they, must constantly profane these religious objects. It was for this reason they were called atheists and blasphemers. They had rejected the whole mainframe of Roma, but they continued to carry on life. The governing authorities cared little for withdrawal to the wilderness, but those who rejected the means of the cult but did not flee would not be allowed to live unpunished.
Of course, the Christians would offer little besides this to be punished for. They did not threaten toppling Caesar, go about killing or stealing, yet the subversive subordination to the world as it was, under the judgment of the Resurrection of the Son of God, would be hated with fiery contempt.
The American Empire, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, drove out one demon to only be possessed by seven, a complete corruption. I call all followers of Jesus, wherever your work or your living, to remember this as we bend the knee to none but the Christ. He is our hope and our perfection. This Age will continue to perish, until our Lord returns. Be vigilant and meditate upon the words of the Apostle:
This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.