THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Regular readers of this blog are well familiar with my pessimistic views about the current state of affairs in the United States and the world. However, it is specifically my American readers this article is directed toward. Based on the evidence of current events I think my negative views are warranted. My time tables have been off a bit, but the general predictions have come to fruition so far. In late 2008 to early 2009 I predicted that unemployment would soar to 10% by Christmas 2009 and approach 20% by Christmas 2010. I was right on both counts when you look at the "real" unemployment rate put out by private research companies and not the cooked government numbers Washington DC keeps spitting out. Also back in late 2008, trough all of 2009 and 2010, I predicted runaway inflation to come in the not-too-distant future. Once again I was proved right as we are starting to see that happen now. To be real, I have to say that I didn't come up with these predictions myself. Lots of other people were making them too. My only credit is that I happened to listen to the right people -- most of the time. So is my pessimism warranted? Yes, sadly I'm afraid so.
Now when you read this blog, and others like it, you might start to get the feeling that the sky is falling. This is only in part because of the news and opinions we report. A lot of that feeling has little to do with your reading material and everything to do with your world view. When blogs like this one talk about impending economic collapse and a political implosion to follow, you might start to get the idea that America is over. Of course some people are of the mindset that when America falls the world will be over. Well I'm here to tell you that if that's what you think than you're happily mistaken.
First of all, the world got along just fine without the United States for at least six-thousand years, but probably a lot longer than that. If the world could exist just fine before 1776 than I can guarantee it will do just fine in the event of America's demise. Granted, there will be a few bumps in the road for a while and it will take time for the world to adjust but it will go on -- guaranteed.
Second, the good news is the United States of America is not going anywhere anytime soon, and the rumors of America's demise have been greatly exaggerated. What is likely to happen in America is a complete economic meltdown, but guess what? That isn't the first time this has happened. What is also likely to happen in America (perhaps further down the line) is a complete political implosion, maybe even resulting in the fall of our democratic republic. Guess what, the United States would survive this and it wouldn't be the first time it happened. We lost our government no less than three times in American history and all we did was replace it with another. The first time we lost our government was intentionally in 1776 through an armed insurrection. The second time we lost our government was again intentionally when we abolished the Articles of Confederation and put the Constitution in its place in 1788. The last time we lost our government was in 1861-1865 through a bloody Civil War, but this time we didn't even have to change our Constitution. We just added a couple of amendments and turned the whole thing upside-down. The next time we lose our government it is much more likely to resemble 1789 and it will be to avert another 1861. The reason for this is because America faces a debt crisis unparalleled in it's history, and an entitlement crisis that will threaten civil unrest if not remedied. Yes, our current government will fall. It is inevitable, but that doesn't mean America will fall. You see the reason why is because WE are America. I am America. You are America. Our family and friends are America. America is a people not a government. America is a Union of fifty sovereign states, each with it's own government, bound together by history, language, culture and common experience. The demise of our federal government is not going to break this Union apart. It will most certainly redefine it, but it will not destroy it. It will change our way of life, but it will not obliterate it. The federal republic may not survive this coming upheaval but the United States of America most likely will.
What will emerge on the other side of this coming upheaval is any one's guess. There will most certainly be a new constitutional convention at some point. Whether the current constitution survives, or is replaced by a new one, cannot be known at this time. What type of government we end up with is not as important as the rights we demand it to defend. Is this the end of America? No. Not yet anyway, and probably not for some time. We are going into a period of upheaval not seen in American history for over a century. We are going to emerge very different than how we are now. There is nothing we can do to change these circumstances we will soon find ourselves in. However, when the time comes to define WHO we are, and HOW we shall express our national identity, this is something we can control, and it is something we definitely should be thinking about ahead of time (right now).
To my fellow Americans I would recommend we begin this process by considering just three documents as a reminder of who and what we are as Americans, serving as a foundation to build on. That being the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Star Spangled Banner (all four stanzas). The latter I suggest because it is a poem, like no other, that expresses who we are and what we are about. From there we can move out, exploring other pertinent documents that define who and what we are as Americans.
Once we have recalled who we are, we'll need to start thinking about where to go from here. Americans are a religious people, and Christianity has always been key to our culture, legal system and politics. Catholic Christianity is the single largest Christian denomination in the United States and it's growing fast. As waves of Latino immigrants enter the United States, many of them bring their Catholicism with them. Protestant denominations are shrinking, and even the most conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal groups are simply holding the line. Most of their members are converts from traditional Protestant groups and dissident Catholics. In the decades ahead, America will become a far more Catholic nation. We're going to have to grapple with that. This supposed impenetrable "wall of separation" between church and state has been a complete and utter disaster. The United States should be based on religious tolerance, with public recognition of it's Christian heritage, and not a denial of it. Religious tolerance comes from Christianity, and that is the very reason why America has tolerated people of various religions. If, for example, America were a Muslim nation, could we expect the same religious tolerance? Historical and contemporary example tell us "no." (Sorry, that's just the facts.) Yes, yes, I know. There was once a time when Christians attacked, persecuted and even killed each other, over nothing more than doctrinal differences. But can anyone honestly say these people were acting as Christians? Is that the sort of thing Jesus Christ would condone? I think not. As time passed more sober minds prevailed, and eventually Christians on this continent came to understand that nobody is going to find your Christian denomination attractive if you're not acting like the Christ you claim to follow. As a result, American Christian culture embraced religious tolerance, and it became a cornerstone of American civilization. So if you're an American who enjoys your religious freedom, or your freedom to be non-religious, than thank an American Christian who's culture of Christian charity helped make that possible. Yes, there has to be some kind of recognition of this, perhaps in our Constitution or Bill of Rights. There also has to be freedom for religious leaders to guide America's conscience, and this begins with complete and total freedom to preach politics from behind the pulpit. Now I know that's not a very popular thing to say, and many Americans are of the opinion that religion should stay out of politics. Regardless of how you feel about it, you will have to admit one thing. Based on the current income tax code, the U.S. federal government has already breached the so-called "wall of separation" by forbidding certain political topics from being preached in churches. This is clearly a violation of the establishment clause as intended by the founding fathers. Whatever government we end up with in the future, it should be one that understands this sort of thing simply cannot go on. If a pastor wants to tell people how to vote, he should be free to do so, just as people in his congregation are free to "vote with their feet" if they don't like it.
Remember that while the democratic process is part of our American tradition, so is monarchy (English, French and Spanish), and there is nothing "un-American" about being a monarchist, anymore than there is anything "un-American" about being a democrat or a republican. It's simply part of who we are. That being said, whatever government we end up with needs to recognize that America is a union of sovereign states, not a consolidated country with mere provinces. Sovereignty resides in the states, but they loan their powers to the national government. That government can be a federal republic or a king's realm, but it must always be understood where it's powers come from and that they can be revoked at any time should their abuse become severe. This is why for any new system of government to work in the future, it simply MUST include in it a legal mechanism by which as state (or group of states) can lawfully secede from the union or realm. The national government must be constitutionally obligated to accommodate such a move if it should happen. This is the ultimate check and balance on the national government. It is the ONLY way to insure that Americans are never forced to live under a tyrant without some form of recourse. Finally, considering the debt and entitlement crisis that will ultimately bring us to the brink, Americans must create a government that will be tight with the purse strings, small and unobtrusive, able to live within it's means without taxing the people beyond what is reasonable. Yes, this can be done, but not in an environment as politically charged as our current republic is now. I'm afraid this cycle is just going to have to play out, and when it's done we can start over with something new.
So in the words of Pope John Paul II "Do not be afraid." If our hope is in Christ we have nothing to fear anyway. Live for Christ and you will prevail -- one way or another -- victory is assured. A lot of people simply cannot imagine a world were America is not the greatest economic and military superpower. I call this the "Ameri-pocalypse Syndrome." It's defined by the notion that if anything really bad happens to America it must be the end of the world. A lot of this comes from Protestant dispensationalism, a heretical theology that is highly nationalistic and will soon by disproved by coming historical events. Yes, more bad times are coming, but this does not mean the end of the world, and it doesn't even mean the end of America. Be prepared for many changes in the months and years ahead, but don't assume they mean the end is near -- not yet anyway.
The Star-Spangled Banner
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
’Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!