America the Beautiful? Part 4


The passage of time usually provides us a clearer perspective on tragic events, great and small. For now, though, the white-hot immediacy of Hurricane Katrina's devastating effects on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. has stirred people's emotions to levels not seen since September 2001. The trend of bitter political finger-pointing continues four years later as the stakes have gotten bigger — future attacks and disasters hang over the collective consciousness like the mythical sword of Damocles.

It's that palpable sense of unease that signifies, more than anything else at the moment, the pre-tribulation birthing pangs. Jesus addressed this anxiety in Matthew 24:6 when he said, "See to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come."

The atmosphere of unhinged accusations and recriminations dominating the media coverage of Katrina is evidence of America's progressive drift towards secularism and godlessness. Dan S. wrote about this in his With Christ web log last week:

Natural disasters have always occurred, but today's widespread expectations of what government should do or should have done to mitigate these disasters is incredible. This has come about due to the humanistic societal expectations (collectivist impulse) combined with the tenet that mankind (government) is God and thus is responsible to entirely offset the effects of the Fall.
When a hurricane destroyed Galveston, Texas, on September 8th, 1900, claiming upwards of 10,000 lives, there was no FEMA, no Department of Homeland Security, no celebrity class. Yet within three weeks of the disaster, "Houston relief groups went home, the saloons reopened, the electric trolleys began operating and freight began moving through the harbor," according to historian David G. McComb in his book "Galveston: A History." The point here is not to ignore the obvious differences or reduce the complexities of New Orleans' current calamity but simply to show how much more the America of 2005 depends on socialism and a centralized state structure — neither of which has been friendly to believers.

The strain of poverty does not fully explain the violent, lawless behavior witnessed in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of the storm. The standard of living, even for the poorest American, is much, much higher than it was back in 1900. What the television cameras captured was just a sliver of the spiritual hopelessness that has permeated America. Many Katrina observers could not believe that the America they knew could be producing such macabre images and reports. The reporters who spoke breathlessly of "Third World conditions" in New Orleans were referring to the poverty and despair; unknowingly they picked up on another association: spiritual darkness.

For some perspective, deadly monsoon rains hit Mumbai (Bombay) just a month before Katrina, causing comparable damage. Such disasters are a regular occurrence in India. But secularists, spoiled by America's prosperity, are shocked to find out that even the most powerful social and economic systems fail to measure up to forces outside man's control. They will endlessly beseech the government for answers. (To be fair, this vanity is hardly exclusive to secularism.) For example, filmmaker Michael Moore insisted that the tragic devastation of New Orleans was "caused not by a hurricane but by the very specific decisions made by the Bush administration in the past four and a half years."

When individuals are conditioned to view their government or social structure as omnipotent, the inevitable disappointment is cataclysmic. Naturally, humanists wouldn't characterize it in such black-and-white terms, although the deified state is the logical byproduct of their philosophy. The rise in stature of the executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government over the past century is evidence of such shifting philosophy. With a few notable exceptions, the Presidents of the Nineteenth Century are anonymous for a reason. It is alarming to see how much today's political discourse attributes so much, good and ill, to a President, as though he were elevated to the status of godhead (malignant or benign). The destruction wrought by Katrina only amplified the secular media's obsession with the current U.S. President.

Even some of the humanitarian support directed at Louisiana and Mississippi has seen its share of self-righteous propaganda. Upon visiting hurricane evacuees at Houston's Astrodome, television talk show host Oprah Winfrey lamented, "I think we all — this country owes these people an apology." In keeping with the secular media's bias for statism, her comments were aimed at the current administration's response to the disaster. But if apologies are due, what about the millions of poor and homeless throughout the U.S.? A very rich few (of which the celebrity class are included) have profited from a rapidly shrinking middle class. What about the thousands of now-homeless Jewish settlers forced out of Gaza? America supported and encouraged their withdrawal. And what about the tens of millions babies legally aborted in the U.S. since 1973? Aren't they owed an apology?