Part Two: Jack Crabtree’s Vision of the American Beast
“Do you see? Do you see what we have become? Do you see where we are going? You will either see what I see, or you will not. But one of us is right, and one of us is wrong.”
~ Jack Crabtree, 2013
Jack Crabtree believes that the United States of America is coming to an end.
At first blush, I am not necessarily opposed to the idea that some cataclysmic shift in the United States might happen. There are many good things happening in my country. There are also many bad things. So the question for me is, “What does it mean, that America is ending?”
If by “America ending” you mean that our long history of racism and homophobia is ending, our perpetual predilection to privilege whites and Protestants and their rights over the well-being, safety, and freedom of non-whites and non-Protestants is ending, our insatiable desire to meddle in the affairs of other countries is ending —
If that is what one means by “America is ending,” then by all means, let us hasten the end of America.
Yet if by “America ending” you mean that corporations have become people, that the voice of the average American is being heard less and less by the people we elect to represent us, that cronyism and corruption have flooded the halls of power, that the cultural war is bubbling up and boiling over into every aspect of life and leaving orphans in its wake —
If that is what one means by “America is ending,” then I will fight tooth and nail against its collapse.
In short, I see both beauty and ugliness in our world today. Yet I do not see any sort of Armageddon on the horizon (though, sure, it is possible that at any moment nuclear war might break out and we could all be dead tomorrow). So the question is: what does Jack Crabtree mean, when he says America is ending? And how does he get to that conclusion?
The Gift of Clarity
Other than the conclusions Jack comes to, the most significant difficulty I had with Jack’s paper is its vagueness and strange, unorthodox use of certain words. As the paper takes up nearly 50 pages of single-spaced sentences, this made understanding his points hard. After listening to some of the other responses given at the 2013 Summer Institute, I was glad to know I was not alone. Another Gutenberg professor, Ron Julian, dedicated much of his response — aptly entitled “The Gift of Clarity” — to pointing out the complicated and convoluted prose and construction of Jack’s thesis. Gutenberg’s dean, Charley Dewberry, likewise devoted his response — “Is ‘Leftism’ The Primary Cause of the Beast?” — to parsing Jack’s definitions.
This seemingly universal difficulty is surprising, actually. Because of all the things I know Jack is extraordinarily gifted at as a philosopher, the foremost is precision in his language and making certain beyond a shadow of a doubt what he means when he uses a word and how he distinguishes that word from other words.
That strength, unfortunately, is often absent from this paper.
I am going to do my best, then, to first summarize Jack’s argument using his words. Then I will go through each of what I identify as the Four Stages of Jack’s argument. These stages are: (1) America has become hostile to the Good, (2) the Beast of Leftism has led to this hostility, (3) we must abandon cultural, political, and revolutionary roles in American society and prioritize saving our own souls, and (4) we must create a “new” counterculture that shuns modern churches, schools, and sexuality.
Finally, I will present my interpretation of his argument.
A Brief Summary of Jack Crabtree’s Argument
Jack argues that the United States of America and its government have become not only hostile, but also increasingly so, to something he calls “the Good.” The level of hostility has reached such an intensity that Christians will soon be forced to either conform to this anti-Goodness or “suffer some kind of harm.”
Why is this the case? Jack believes that a “Beast” has organized this hostility. While Jack takes the symbol of a “Beast” from the Book of Revelations, the American Beast has a beginning in time and space: the 1850s. While Jack never explains why the 1850s, he does articulate three particular aspects of the Beast that began then: (1) the rise of a “superior class,” (2) “Contrabiblicism,” and (3) propaganda.
Jack believes that at some point in the 1800s the American Beast intentionally split American culture into two classes: the superior class and the inferior class. The superior class has a purpose: to promote the American Beast’s agenda. That agenda is “Contrabiblicism,” which Jack defines as “a set of values, beliefs, and practices that is entirely different from those taught by God.”
Jack then reveals that what he really means by “Contrabiblicism” is “Leftism.” They are one and the same. Jack gives examples of Leftism: Darwin and evolutionism, Freud and psychology, Marx and Marxism, and higher criticism. Jack also makes two important clarifications: First, “Leftism” is not static. It can change throughout history. Also, Jack alleges that one cannot be a Leftist and a Christian.
What, then, can one be as a Christian? One can, and must, be a “Rightist,” according to Jack. But Jack is not thinking merely in terms of the normative Left-Right political spectrum. Jack divides Rightism into two categories: “Right” and “Pseudo-Right.” Reactions to Leftism from Rightism are reactions that defend the Bible, whereas reactions from Pseudo-Rightism are reactions that attack Leftism but do not defend the Bible. Insofar as they do not defend the Bible, Jack automatically recategorizes them as Leftism. In the end, Jack argues that the only truly Christian position to American culture is a position grounded in some mixture of conservative, fundamentalist, Christian, and patriotic values.
Considering Rightism is the only option for Christians in the United States, and considering that Leftism has so successfully risen since the 1850s to overtake American culture to the point that Christians are being increasingly persecuted, Jack wonders: how should we then live? He decides that the cultural task of American Christians today is to focus on their relationship with God. But not just that relationship. Jack also argues that a Christian ought to focus on creating a new counterculture to enhance that relationship. This counterculture would shun modern churches, schools, and sexuality. Key to doing so is creating “under-the-radar” churches, promoting courtship, purity, and anti-homosexuality, and fleeing the public schools. Jack ends his paper with a rallying cry for the church to reclaim the education business.
That is my summary — or synopsis, if you will — of Jack’s argument. To get a fuller understanding of that argument, we must look at each of the Four Stages of Jack’s argument.
Stage One: America Has Become Hostile To The Good.
Jack believes that “American culture appears to be collapsing before [his] very eyes.”
This belief leads him to ask two questions: “What can I expect America to look like in the future, and, as a follower of Jesus, how ought I to respond to the direction America is taking?”
In positing this belief and asking these questions, Jack seems very self-conscious about how this might appear. Time and time again, he will present his ideas from a defensive stance — as if he feels Christianity is some minority religion of people considered mentally ill: “I am fully aware how odd it feels to read someone engaged in social, political, and cultural critique from a standpoint that assumes the Bible is actually true.” But he assures us that he is rational — in fact, he cites a Psychology Today article from the 1960s to argue that fundamentalist Christians are “among the most truly reasonable and open-minded.”
Considering his paper talks about a superior class that is superior in “coolness,” it is interesting that Jack goes to great lengths to express what seems like a defensiveness of his “uncoolness” —
“I know all too keenly how odd, how eccentric, how unsophisticated, how naïve, and how basically ‘uncool’ it is to take the Bible seriously. I can never articulate what I actually believe to be true about God, Jesus, and the Bible without hearing a voice of self-condemnation deep within my own psyche—’you sound like an unintelligent, uneducated, unpolished hick, and perhaps even a little wacky.'”
But he is unapologetic in his beliefs. Which is funny, because I think that makes him pretty cool, actually. Except for when he claims America is coming to end. Why does he claim that?
Well, the United States of America has become not only hostile, but also increasingly so, to something Jack calls “the Good.” The Good is everything that “pertains to the Christian God, Jesus, the Bible, and all things righteous.” The level of hostility that the U.S. shows towards these things — God, Jesus, Bible, righteousness — is at a particularly high and “unprecedented” level. One can see this, Jack says, in how the U.S. government is proactively attempting “to block us from thinking and acting like followers of Jesus.”
These anti-Christian efforts by our government are reaching such an intensity that Christians will soon be forced to either conform to this anti-Goodness or “suffer some kind of harm from the government.”
Jack is arguing all this on the basis of patterns, or what he calls “noteworthy trends.” He mentions nine trends in particular: (1) “an increasing tendency for government officials to shamelessly lie…to ignore the constitution, to engage shamelessly in corruption, to prefer personal power to serving the people, and, generally, to act like an arrogant elite that is above all law and morality”; (2) “a growing tendency for government agencies to place significant restrictions on Christians, interfering with their ‘practicing’ their faith”; (3) “representatives of government agencies officially characterizing people within a Judaeo-Christian tradition as dangerous, potential terrorists”; (4) “a growing disregard for justice in our criminal system”; (5) “an increasingly greater use of…bad propaganda (especially in political campaigns)”; (6) “a trend to accept, normalize, and even celebrate an ever more depraved and degraded version of sexuality”; (7) “liberty to mock, deride, and publicly express contempt for the Good”; (8) “a complete absence of true dialogue and rational discourse”; and (9) “personal moral integrity is rarer and rarer in American society.”
Why is all this happening? Jack believes that a “Beast” — which he later equates with “Leftism” — has organized this hostility. While Jack takes the symbol of a “Beast” from the Book of Revelations, he argues that biblical Beast imagery represents any opposition to God and his purposes:
“It can symbolize any person, society, or institution that asserts itself as a superior power to God and opposes his purposes and seeks to defeat them.”
Of further importance is that the American Beast is not merely sinfulness, as “opposition to God and his purposes” might suggest. The American Beast has a beginning in time and space: the 1850s:
“It was born over a century ago and has been controlling the direction of American culture for approximately 150 years.”
As I said before, Jack never explains why the 1850s. (Is it because of the Civil War? Or the freeing of the slaves? Or what?) But he does articulate three elements of the Beast that originated in that time period: (1) the rise of a “superior class,” (2) “Contrabiblicism,” and (3) propaganda. Honestly I failed to see how this third aspect (propaganda) was either central or relevant to Jack’s primary arguments, so I am not interested in talking about it.
Jack believes that at some point in the 1800s the American Beast intentionally split America into “a two-class society”: the superior class and the inferior class. The superior class is “superior” in three ways: they seem intellectually superior, morally superior, and the public image they present is superior in its “coolness.” That “cool” factor is what gives the superior class its allure. (Here Jack once again reiterates the idea that it is no fun to be considered “uncool.” Jack even defends the Christian fundamentalists of the early 20th century: “I understand the Fundamentalists’ reaction.”) The actual “superiority” of this class is determined by one’s self: “One belongs to the superior class because he believes he belongs, whether anyone else acknowledges it or not.”
Jack gives no tangible evidence or sociological analysis here. He merely says that, if you live in the U.S., you just know that a superior class exists. It is somehow part of being American: if you have “lived in American culture,” this “fact” will “undoubtedly be clear” and it “cannot be denied.”
This superior class does not merely exist. It exists for a reason: to promote the American Beast’s agenda. And that agenda is “Contrabiblicism,” which Jack defines as “a set of values, beliefs, and practices that is entirely different from those taught by God.” One must note, however, that Contrabiblicism is not a rejection of the Bible, but rather a twisting of the Bible. It is “selective about which elements, in particular, it rejects” and thus does not “reject absolutely every tenet of the biblical worldview.”
Stage Two: The Beast = Leftism
After constructing an elaborate and yet entirely abstract idea of the American Beast and the superior class and Contrabiblicism, Jack then reveals that what he really meant all along was “Leftism.” They are one and the same (and Jack reiterated this one-to-one correspondence during a Q&A session at the Summer Institute): “Leftism and Contrabiblicism, as I am using those terms, are exactly synonymous.”
In his paper, he also reiterates the concrete-time-and-space origin of Leftism by giving it a specific beginning — again, the mid-1800s, or “the post-Civil War period of the nineteenth century.”
Important to note is that Jack never actually defines Leftism. Whereas he gave a definition of Contrabiblicism (pretty much “anything that is not Biblical”), he does not explain how a word used commonly today (Leftism; also note that Jack specifically chose this word because of its familiarity) is one-and-the-same as “anything that is not Biblical.” He does, however, give examples of Leftism with a short list of “Leftists” and their ideas: “the theories of Darwin… Freud’s view of man… Marxist theories and eschatology… ‘higher criticism.'”
These examples correspond with the 1850s-ish era Jack pointed to as the origin of the American Beast.
Jack also makes two important clarifications: First, “Leftism” is not static. It can change throughout history. He argues that even though “a Leftist in 1890 did not hold the same values, beliefs, and priorities as a Leftist in 1970,” and “a Leftist in 1970 did not yet believe what the Leftist of 2013 believes,” they are all still somehow the exact same thing. Because what is static about Leftism is its rejection of the Bible.
“All Leftists hold one thing in common: they firmly believe that the values, beliefs, and priorities that they hold (as Leftists) are morally and intellectually superior to the values and beliefs taught in the Bible.”
(At this point, the correspondence with the 1850s-ish era Jack pointed to becomes more tenuous. If what is static about Leftism a feeling of superiority over the Bible, would not Leftism be traceable back to many of the Founding Fathers — or even the humanistic ideas that undergirded the Protestant Reformation? Jack does not explain the relationship between his idea of Leftism being static and his idea that Leftism manifests itself through x but not y — y being whatever x is a response to.)
Furthermore, Jack alleges that — as he believes “Leftism” equals “Contrabiblicism” (aka “anything opposed to being biblical”) — one cannot be a Leftist and a Christian:
“Leftism is always inherently at enmity with biblical beliefs and values. To speak of a ‘Biblical Leftist’ would be an oxymoron. It is not possible to be a Bible-believer and a Leftist at the same time. They are in fundamental contradiction to one another.”
Leftists, and Rightists, and Pseudo-Rightists! Oh My!
What, then, can one be as a Christian? One can, and must, be a “Rightist,” according to Jack. One must respond to the advances of Leftism with reactions from “the Right.” Namely,
“‘A reaction from the Right’ is a rejection of the notion that Leftist ideals are superior to Bible-based, Judaeo-Christian ideals. Because he is persuaded of the goodness and truth of Judaeo-Christian ideals and belief, the Rightist’s reaction involves a defense of the Judaeo-Christian foundation that underlies the traditional values of his society against the attack of the Left—against the new, more modern ideals of Leftism.”
Jack emphasizes a “reaction” by the Right, by the way, in order to defend the “reactionary” nature of conservative Christians today. He inverts that adjective from a negative to a positive. When conservative Christians are “reactionary,” Jack argues that is good. They should be reacting. That’s part of the whole “uncool” business.
But Jack is not thinking merely in terms of the normative Left-Right political spectrum that his words naturally conjure up — though, as he said, he chose these words specifically because of what they conjure up. To Jack, “Rightism” is a strictly religious category:
“When a reaction to Leftism rejects the essential, fundamental core of what makes Leftism what it is, then it is a reaction from the Right…If, in reaction to the Left’s attack, one desires—to a substantial degree—to defend the Bible, its message, and its worldview, then I am defining that reaction as a reaction from the Right.”
(One must note, however, that Jack is not entirely content with being strict on this “does it defend the true Christianity?” rule. He makes some significant exceptions, and never explains why: “I am including a defense of the moral values and fundamental worldview of any Judaeo-Christian tradition as a desire to defend, to a substantial degree, the Bible, its message, and its worldview.”)
Naturally, since Jack is defining “Leftist” as “anti-Biblical,” a lot of what one might think of as “Rightist” is actually “Leftist.” (Though this does require significant stretching of the definition of anti-Biblical to include extra- and non-Biblical ideas.) Insofar as certain Rightist positions are anti-Biblical (or at least extra- or non-Biblical), they are not included in his definition of Rightism (except for his “Judaeo-Christian tradition” exception above, which somehow gets a Get Out of Jail Free card).
“There are other kinds of reactions that I would class as reactions from the Pseudo-Right. These reactions are popularly labeled ‘right wing,’ but—as I am defining the term—they are not authentic Rightist reactions. Why? They do not qualify as Rightist because these reactionaries are not interested, to any substantial degree, in defending the Bible and its teachings. Rather, they are only interested in defending some particular valuable element of traditional American culture.”
Jack thus divides Rightism into two categories: “Right” and “Pseudo-Right.”
Included in “Rightism” are:
(1) Radical biblicism
(2) Evangelical fundamentalism
(3) Fundamentalist evangelicalism
(4) Christian Religionism
(5) Cultural conservatism
(6) American Loyalism/Patriotism.
Included in “Pseudo-Rightism” are:
(1) Constitutionalism (which Jack equivocates with political conservatism)
This is not “Rightist” because it “takes issue with the accepted orthodox values of Leftism, but it does not take issue with Leftism.” This because Constitutionalists or political conservatives “have no problem with the Left’s opposition to the Bible and its teaching.”
(2) Libertarianism (equivocated with objectivism)
This is not “Rightist” because it “forcefully rejects the accepted Statism of Leftist orthodoxy, but it does not take issue with Leftism.” This is because Libertarians “are in complete agreement with the Left’s opposition to the Bible and its teaching.”
(3) Republican Partisanism
This, too, is not “Rightist” because, “Many Republican partisans are thoroughly and unqualifiedly Leftists…They only dissent from the opinion that the Democrats should be in power.”
Christians, Jack argues, must be in one of the categories of Rightism:
“It would be impossible to be a Bible-believing follower of Jesus and a Leftist…If a ‘Christian’ throws his support behind a Leftist agenda, it calls into question his commitment to Jesus and to biblical truth.”
Notice the quotation marks around “Christian.” According to Jack, these peoples’ faith are suspect.
Stage Three: We Must Abandon Ship
Jack admits upfront that he assumes a pessimistic stance for his solution:
“My contention so far is that, humanly speaking, the Beast cannot be beaten. So far as our efforts are concerned, it is indefeasible, for it is too powerful. God could defeat the Beast, of course. But will he? Or, to express it differently, there appears to be nothing we can do to reverse the cultural trends. “
Considering Rightism is the only option for Christians in the United States, and considering that Leftism has so successfully risen since the 1850s to overtake American culture to the point that Christians are being increasingly persecuted, Jack now wonders: what are we to do? We cannot “kill the Beast.” How shall we now live?
Jack presents a variety of scenarios:
(1) God intends to save America, and our role is strictly personal.
(2) God intends to save America, and our role is cultural but not political.
(3) God intends to save America, and our role is political.
(4) God intends to save America, and our role is revolutionary (and thus violent.)
(5) God does not intend to save America, and our role is personal.
(There are, of course, plenty of other options than these. To name a few: (6) God does not intend to save America, and our role is nonetheless cultural. (7) God does not intend to save America, and our role is nonetheless political. (8) God does not intend to save America, and our role is nonetheless revolutionary. (9) God does not intend to save America, and our role is personal yet that personal role will manifest publicly in different ways for different people in different contexts — for some it will be hidden, for others it will be cultural, or political, or educational, etc. (10) God does not intend for us to know whether or not He intends to save America, and thus our role should not depend on guessing games about His sociopolitical intentions. And so on and so forth. Jack does not consider any of these — or any other — options.)
Jack considers the five options he presented through the lenses of two scenarios: the early believers in Rome, and pre-Revolutionary War colonial Christians:
“To compare the actions of early believers in the Roman Empire to believers during the American Revolution will be instructive.”
The difference between these scenarios is that the “cultural momentum” was against the Roman believers and in favor of the American believers:
“The early believers in Rome had no reason to believe that God intended to eliminate the power and influence of Rome over their lives. The believers living in colonial America had perhaps good reason to believe that God intended to eliminate the power and influence of the English monarch over their lives. Or, to say the same thing differently, perhaps the cultural momentum in early America was against the throne and for independence. The cultural momentum in the time of Jesus and the apostles was clearly with the Roman emperor.”
Note that Jack provides no evidence for why he believes Roman Christians “had no reason to believe that God intended to eliminate the power and influence of Rome over their lives.” Nor does he provide evidence for why he believes colonial American Christians “had perhaps good reason to believe that God intended to eliminate the power and influence of the English monarch over their lives.” He does, however, say,
“I cannot propose that the above be taken seriously as historical analysis. I know too little about American history or Roman history to presume to know the cultural attitudes and perceptions at either time… The above is only a conjecture… And yet, while it is only conjecture historically, it is meant to be a serious proposal.”
If we take the propose seriously, Jack argues we can use these lessons to “anticipate God’s will for history” today. And after “anticipating God’s will for history,” Jack concludes the situation we are in is like the Roman Christians (or at least his interpretation of the Roman Christian situation, which is admittedly a conjecture):
“No evidence suggests that God intends to stop the American Beast and eliminate its influence. In fact, it seems possible that we are approaching the very end of the present age itself.”
Thus the correct scenario for America is Scenario Five: “God does not intend to save America, and our role is personal.” The cultural task of American Christians today is to focus on their relationship with God in light of the fact that God is handing America over to the American Beast to wholly consume:
“Since we cannot kill the Beast, we must focus first and foremost on saving our own souls.”
Stage Four: A New Counterculture
To the end of saving our own souls, Jack argues that Christians ought to focus on creating a new counterculture that shuns modern churches, schools, and sexuality. The primary concern in this focus is “(1) we must save our own souls, and (2) we must seek to save the souls of those around us.”
But a secondary concern exists:
“If we care to save ourselves from eternal destruction, therefore, we will have to guard our hearts and minds.”
Essential to the salvation of our souls, Jack argues, is fostering an environment that is conducive to “guarding one’s heart and mind” — in contrast to the “ungodly” culture around us. This “corrosive” aspect of American culture can destroy saving faith:
“The culture and society that has already begun to emerge is an environment corrosive to belief; it is capable of destroying the belief required for salvation.”
Since a culture can be so dangerous as to override the process of saving faith, we must therefore divorce ourselves from such a culture. Not just for ourselves, but for our children:
“The most loving gift we can give to our children is to equip them to keep the faith, to educate them in such a way that they might be able to see past the many false perceptions and illusions that American culture will conjure up for them.”
Since Jack believes American culture has reached a corrosive level, he believes we need an American counterculture. This involves preparatory stages: We need to give up evangelism because, “We should not expect any spiritual renewal.” We need to prepare for persecution; indeed, “We may very well be reduced to the poor about whom James writes.” And we must realize non-Christians and the government are dangerous:
“We should not expect our social relationships and experience to remain unchanged. We should expect increased persecution…We should expect to live with greater danger and risk…True followers of Jesus must be realists about their fellow human beings…There is beauty in every human being, but…every one of those beautiful people out there is in active rebellion against God; and insofar as he is in active rebellion against God, he is dangerous…The government can be expected to become more and more vicious in its opposition to what we believe. We will need to make adjustments in our lives that allow us to fly under the radar of official, governmental scrutiny.”
“There will be persecution” — this is Jack’s resounding theme here. And as an example of what to expect in the horrifying days to come, Jack says we might very well experience what Tim Tebow has experienced:
“We must learn from the experience of Tim Tebow…We can expect more of the same in the future. We will not be respected for declaring our faith; we will be despised for it.”
Beyond the preparatory stages, Jack proposes we need to actively construct “new” communities. We need to create non-traditional and “under-the-radar” churches (Jack references Chinese Christian churches):
“No longer can we rely on ‘churches’ to be our support. Churches have come to cater primarily to social needs, not spiritual ones…Unlike our current churches, we must form communities and networks of support that no longer exist hand-in-hand with the state. The state is becoming an enemy of everything we stand for…As a consequence, we must forge small, informal, unofficial, under-the-radar communities…Probably quite similar to what many Chinese Christians have had to do.”
In addition to new communities, we also need “new” practices. (I keep putting “new” in quotation marks, by the way, because I am not sure how exactly they are new and not merely modeled on already-existing communities or harkening back to practices of previous eras.) These practices include the promotion of courtship, purity, and anti-homosexuality:
“We will have to forge and practice faithfully an entirely ‘new’ set of practices concerning the relationship between the sexes. We must promote…different ‘dating’ or ‘courtship’ practices, entirely different expectations toward the role of sex in marriage…the validity and necessity of celibacy outside of marriage, the illegitimacy of homosexuality…We must establish a counterculture that expects and takes for granted sexual purity…[We must] replace the existing institution of marriage with an entirely new institution…The current institution of marriage no longer does that…It has been compromised by the increasing insistence of the superior class that we accept certain homosexual pairings as ‘marriages.'”
We must also flee the public schools:
“It is quickly becoming time to abandon the public schools. It is becoming increasingly apparent that they have become agents of propaganda for the superior class agenda. They are religious schools promoting the official religion of Leftism.”
Jack ends his paper with a rallying cry for creating new educational institutions, where schooling is inherently religious and includes learning how to read the Bible. The church must reclaim the education business:
“Our priority is the saving of our own soul. Accordingly, education must aid that goal. As American education becomes more and more focused on vocational training and ‘making a living,’ it becomes less and less able to meet the needs of the Jesus-believer…The other possible focus could be on a good general education…The counter-culture we create needs, I think, to find a way to make such an education available to our non-believing neighbors. They will find it more and more difficult to get such an education within the American universities of the future.”
Jack has reiterated this need since the Summer Institute. Most recently, on August 25, Gutenberg published a blog post by him entitled “Believers Must Get in the Education Business,” where Jack once again stresses “the need for believers to begin to develop an alternative educational infrastructure.” Also, once again, this emphasis is within the context of an end-of-the-world narrative, this time by an Indian “futurologist” who shares Jack’s apocalyptic vision.
Love it or hate it, this is Jack’s argument.
The Leftists have won. Christophobia is the new sexy. We must disengage, create our own culture, and push religious education, sexual purity, and anti-homosexuality within off-the-grid, underground communities.
Key to my interpretation of Jack’s thesis is my perception of that thesis as a cliche of conservative American-Christian alarmism. I do not mean that dismissively. I mean that descriptively. In other words, I find nothing unique or profound in the presented thesis. It is actually extraordinarily mainstream and normative within conservative American-Christian circles. It is also strikingly similar to alarmist narratives that have been advanced even before the U.S. was officially a nation.
So while there are some convoluted lines of reasoning and nebulous terminology in Jack’s paper, I am very familiar with this narrative, as I have encountered it hundreds of times before. Jack, like many other conservative American Christians, believes that traditional values and the stereotypical American dream and vision are under attack. In this narrative, a group of anti-Christian thinkers, teachers, and scientists have slowly but surely infiltrated American society and engage in subverting the values that our country was founded on. Our country was founded, in fact, on Christian values. America is a Christian nation.
But not anymore.
Some sneaky atheists, liberals, leftist “Christians,” progressives, Marxists, and secular humanists have employed cultural espionage for two centuries, undermining our values and belief systems. They have declared a War on Christmas! A War on the Ten Commandments! A War on School Prayer! A War on the Pledge of Allegiance!
They have been so successful that everything good and right is now considered wrong and offensive. Christianity is under a full-scale attack. Thus we need to prepare for the onslaught of blatant Christophobia in the United States.
To prepare for this, we must stop fighting the culture wars and we must give up hope of changing the world — or we must stop fighting the culture wars so that we can change the world. Or we must change the world by fighting the culture wars harder. (This part of the narrative is flexible.) We must retreat from the world to some extent and create our own institutions. The U.S. institution of marriage has been corrupted by the gays. The public schools are overrun by secular humanists. Our institutions of higher learning have been hijacked by Marxists.
Only through a new counterculture and new institutions can we guard our hearts and minds. And maybe, just maybe, getting the church into the education business (through x or y type of education) we can reclaim our culture, slowly but surely.
The question, of course, is: is any of this actually true?