Romney’s main complaint in the piece is that Donald Trump is a mercurial and divisive leader. That’s true, of course. But beneath the personal slights, Romney has a policy critique of Trump. He seems genuinely angry that Trump might pull American troops out of the Syrian civil war. Romney doesn’t explain how staying in Syria would benefit America. He doesn’t appear to consider that a relevant question. More policing in the Middle East is always better. We know that. Virtually everyone in Washington agrees.
Corporate tax cuts are also popular in Washington, and Romney is strongly on board with those, too. His piece throws a rare compliment to Trump for cutting the corporate rate a year ago.
That’s not surprising. Romney spent the bulk of his business career at a firm called Bain Capital. Bain Capital all but invented what is now a familiar business strategy:
- Take over an existing company for a short period of time,
- cut costs by firing employees,
- run up the debt,
- extract the wealth, and
- move on, sometimes
- leaving retirees without their earned pensions.
Romney became fantastically rich doing this.
Meanwhile, a remarkable number of the companies are now bankrupt or extinct. This is the private equity model. Our ruling class sees nothing wrong with it. It’s how they run the country.
Mitt Romney refers to unwavering support for a finance-based economy and an internationalist foreign policy as the “mainstream Republican” view. And he’s right about that. For generations, Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars. Modern Democrats generally support those goals enthusiastically.
There are signs, however, that most people do not support this, and not just in America. In countries around the world — France, Brazil, Sweden, the Philippines, Germany, and many others — voters are suddenly backing candidates and ideas that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago. These are not isolated events. What you’re watching is entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.
Something like this has been in happening in our country for three years. Donald Trump rode a surge of popular discontent all the way to the White House. Does he understand the political revolution that he harnessed? Can he reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying America? Those are open questions.
But they’re less relevant than we think. At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone, too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live? These are the only questions that matter.
The answer used to be obvious. The overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. And yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.
The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy:
Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would want if they cared.
But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.
One of the biggest lies our leaders tell us that you can separate economics from everything else that matters. Economics is a topic for public debate. Family and faith and culture, meanwhile, those are personal matters. Both parties believe this.
Members of our educated upper-middle-classes are now the backbone of the Democratic Party who usually describe themselves as fiscally responsible and socially moderate. In other words, functionally libertarian. They don’t care how you live, as long as the bills are paid and the markets function. Somehow, they don’t see a connection between people’s personal lives and the health of our economy, or for that matter, the country’s ability to pay its bills. As far as they’re concerned, these are two totally separate categories.
Social conservatives, meanwhile, come to the debate from the opposite perspective, and yet reach a strikingly similar conclusion. The real problem, you’ll hear them say, is that the American family is collapsing. Nothing can be fixed before we fix that. Yet, like the libertarians they claim to oppose, many social conservatives also consider markets sacrosanct. The idea that families are being crushed by market forces seems never to occur to them. They refuse to consider it. Questioning markets feels like apostasy.
Both sides miss the obvious point: Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two. It used to be possible to deny this. Not anymore. The evidence is now overwhelming. How do we know? Consider the inner cities.
Thirty years ago, conservatives looked at Detroit or Newark and many other places and were horrified by what they saw. Conventional families had all but disappeared in poor neighborhoods. The majority of children were born out of wedlock. Single mothers were the rule. Crime and drugs and disorder became universal.
What caused this nightmare? Liberals didn’t even want to acknowledge the question. They were benefiting from the disaster, in the form of reliable votes. Conservatives, though, had a ready explanation for inner-city dysfunction and it made sense: big government. Decades of badly-designed social programs had driven fathers from the home and created what conservatives called a “culture of poverty” that trapped people in generational decline.
There was truth in this. But it wasn’t the whole story. How do we know? Because virtually the same thing has happened decades later to an entirely different population. In many ways, rural America now looks a lot like Detroit.
This is striking because rural Americans wouldn’t seem to have much in common with anyone from the inner city. These groups have different cultures, different traditions and political beliefs. Usually they have different skin colors. Rural people are white conservatives, mostly.
Yet, the pathologies of modern rural America are familiar to anyone who visited downtown Baltimore in the 1980s: Stunning out of wedlock birthrates. High male unemployment. A terrifying drug epidemic. Two different worlds. Similar outcomes. How did this happen? You’d think our ruling class would be interested in knowing the answer. But mostly they’re not. They don’t have to be interested. It’s easier to import foreign labor to take the place of native-born Americans who are slipping behind.
But Republicans now represent rural voters. They ought to be interested. Here’s a big part of the answer: male wages declined. Manufacturing, a male-dominated industry, all but disappeared over the course of a generation. All that remained in many places were the schools and the hospitals, both traditional employers of women. In many places, women suddenly made more than men.
Now, before you applaud this as a victory for feminism, consider the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them. Maybe they should want to marry them, but they don’t. Over big populations, this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out-of-wedlock births, and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow — more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, fewer families formed in the next generation.
This isn’t speculation. This is not propaganda from the evangelicals. It’s social science. We know it’s true. Rich people know it best of all. That’s why they get married before they have kids. That model works. But increasingly, marriage is a luxury only the affluent in America can afford.
And yet, and here’s the bewildering and infuriating part, those very same affluent married people, the ones making virtually all the decisions in our society, are doing pretty much nothing to help the people below them get and stay married. Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo. But working to raise men’s wages in Dayton or Detroit? That’s crazy.
This is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.
For our ruling class, more investment banking is always the answer. They teach us it’s more virtuous to devote your life to some soulless corporation than it is to raise your own kids.
Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook wrote an entire book about this. Sandberg explained that our first duty is to shareholders, above our own children. No surprise there. Sandberg herself is one of America’s biggest shareholders. Propaganda like this has made her rich.
What’s remarkable is how the rest of us responded to it. We didn’t question why Sandberg was saying this. We didn’t laugh in her face at the pure absurdity of it. Our corporate media celebrated Sandberg as the leader of a liberation movement. Her book became a bestseller: “Lean In.” As if putting a corporation first is empowerment. It is not. It is bondage. Republicans should say so.
They should also speak out against the ugliest parts of our financial system. Not all commerce is good. Why is it defensible to loan people money they can’t possibly repay? Or charge them interest that impoverishes them? Payday loan outlets in poor neighborhoods collect 400 percent annual interest.
We’re OK with that? We shouldn’t be. Libertarians tell us that’s how markets work — consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives. OK. But it’s also disgusting. If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it’s happening in the inner city or on Wall Street.
And by the way, if you really loved your fellow Americans, as our leaders should, if it would break your heart to see them high all the time. Which they are. A huge number of our kids, especially our boys, are smoking weed constantly. You may not realize that, because new technology has made it odorless. But it’s everywhere.
And that’s not an accident. Once our leaders understood they could get rich from marijuana, marijuana became ubiquitous. In many places, tax-hungry politicians have legalized or decriminalized it. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner now lobbies for the marijuana industry. His fellow Republicans seem fine with that. “Oh, but it’s better for you than alcohol,” they tell us.
Maybe. Who cares? Talk about missing the point. Try having dinner with a 19-year-old who’s been smoking weed. The life is gone. Passive, flat, trapped in their own heads. Do you want that for your kids? Of course not. Then why are our leaders pushing it on us? You know the reason. Because they don’t care about us.
When you care about people, you do your best to treat them fairly. Our leaders don’t even try. They hand out jobs and contracts and scholarships and slots at prestigious universities based purely on how we look. There’s nothing less fair than that, though our tax code comes close.
Under our current system, an American who works for a salary pays about twice the tax rate as someone who’s living off inherited money and doesn’t work at all. We tax capital at half of what we tax labor. It’s a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of our rich people do.
In 2010, for example, Mitt Romney made about $22 million dollars in investment income. He paid an effective federal tax rate of 14 percent. For normal upper-middle-class wage earners, the federal tax rate is nearly 40 percent. No wonder Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating.
Our leaders rarely mention any of this. They tell us our multi-tiered tax code is based on the principles of the free market. Please. It’s based on laws that the Congress passed, laws that companies lobbied for in order to increase their economic advantage. It worked well for those people. They did increase their economic advantage. But for everyone else, it came at a big cost. Unfairness is profoundly divisive. When you favor one child over another, your kids don’t hate you. They hate each other.
That happens in countries, too. It’s happening in ours, probably by design. Divided countries are easier to rule. And nothing divides us like the perception that some people are getting special treatment. In our country, some people definitely are getting special treatment. Republicans should oppose that with everything they have.
What kind of country do you want to live in? A fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don’t accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement. A country you might recognize when you’re old.
A country that listens to young people who don’t live in Brooklyn. A country where you can make a solid living outside of the big cities. A country where Lewiston, Maine seems almost as important as the west side of Los Angeles. A country where environmentalism means getting outside and picking up the trash. A clean, orderly, stable country that respects itself. And above all, a country where normal people with an average education who grew up in no place special can get married, and have happy kids, and repeat unto the generations. A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything.
I’m just curious; I want to do a bit of a demographic study. If you’re a member of the media, please raise your hand. Okay, okay, put your hand own, please. That’s a very offensive gesture. Shut it down. We knew you were the lying media, but for God’s sake, that’s out of hand.
.. I actually did grow up in Texas, so I am proud to say, the Alamo did nothing wrong.
.. It is certainly the expression of the desire of a mainstream media to slander and just silence us with one thirty second footage.
.. But I think it also says something about the life of the Alt Right. We don’t allow other people to tell us what we can joke about. We don’t play by their rules. We have fun, we can be outlandish, and that is never going to stop.
.. So, the Alt Right can’t be defined by something from the past. We can’t be trapped in the past. But we also need to go forward guilt-free. We need to be high energy, we need to have fun, we need to be a little outlandish, we need to trigger the world. So all I would say is: keep it up. I love you all.
.. So what is the Alt Right? When I first started using that term, it was about mid-2008, and at that point, I think the Alt Right was fairly, you could say, negative in its meaning. We didn’t quite know exactly what it was. I knew that something was profoundly wrong with mainstream conservatism. That was evident enough with the George W. Bush administration, with the neoconservatives disastrous wars in Iraq and so on, and with the rest of the mainstream Right offering no answers, the religious Right, all that kind of stuff. I knew that we had to have a new starting point. I also knew that we needed to — this wasn’t a matter just of tweaking the Right, as it is — this was really the matter of a new beginning. Of a new starting point for conservatism in America.
You can actually look at the starting point of the conservative movement, and they talk about global capitalism, and free markets, and the Constitution, and vague Christian values of some sort. But they never ask that question of “Who are we?” They never ask that question of identity. They probably assumed it. They probably assumed a white America, a European America, but they never really asked about it and they were never really conscious of it.
.. the conservative movement became, in its way, a mirror reflection, a photographic negative, of the Soviet Union. It became an ideological nation, it became a nation based on abstract values, like “muh freedom,” “muh democracy,” “muh bombin’ muh commies and Muslims.” It was never a place; it was never a people; it was a kind of ideology. That’s what conservatism was.
.. So, in a way, George W. Bush was the founder of the Alt Right. He was at least the founder of the term, because I knew that we had to get away from that. We had to get away from him.
.. the Alt Right evolved, it took on new meanings, and in a way it was outside of my control
.. the Alt Right has been organic, that’s why it has succeeded, precisely because other people have picked it up and they have added meanings to it, and so on.
.. After I dropped out of graduate school, I worked in what you could call the anti-war conservative movement
.. I had an idea of where that new starting place was going to be. And that new starting point was going to be identity. And that was going to be the question that we asked first.
.. So what is identity? In a way, it’s the question “who are you?” We all have many different identities. You could say that you’re a student at Texas A&M. You’re into weight-lifting. You went to a Star Trek convention. You like to wear sweatpants. These are elective identities. They say something about us, but they’re elective.
.. you could say, “I’m a citizen of the United States. I grew up somewhere. We all grew up somewhere. We’re all part of something. We all come from someplace.
.. You can go even deeper, and say, “These are my parents. This is my family.” The Left in the eighteenth century had this line “an accident of birth.” An accident of birth. No birth is an accident. There’s no historical or cosmic accident in birth. You come from somewhere. You have parents. They have parents, they have a history. So you’re part of a family. And you grew up somewhere. And you can go deeper, and you can say that you are part of an ethnicity and you are ultimately part of a race.
.. You might not like this. You might really resonate to the idea that we’re all individuals, we’re all citizens. “We’re just Americans. I don’t see color. But color sees you.
.. We all see color. And race isn’t just color. Color is, in a way, a minor aspect of race. But you’re part of something. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of a bigger extended family. You’re part of this world; you’re part of this history. And that race has a story to tell.
.. As a European, I can tell a story about people, people I never will know. Our lives stretch back to prehistory. We first started to become ourselves in the Greek and Roman world. So there’s a story that involves people you’ve never met. As a European, I can tell this story about the Greeks and the Romans, about the foundation of our civilization, about empire, about the coming of Christianity.
.. Sure, Europe’s a place. It’s a place on the map, the people, the blood and its spirit.
.. I think if I were an African-American I could tell a very different story. If I were to say what that story would be, it would be about being rooted in an African continent, and enslaved and kidnapped, and going through trials that perhaps I cannot imagine, but then becoming a people. You’re still a people. That’s the story I would tell. But it’s a different story.
.. So that’s what it means to be part of a race. A race is genetically coherent, a race is something you can study, a race is about genes and DNA, but it’s not just about genes and DNA. The most important thing about it is the people and the spirit. That’s what a race is about.
.. A lot of white people do not want to have a race. They say, “Oh, I’m just an individual. I’m just an American.” You have a race whether you like it or not. You’re part of a race whether you like it or not.
.. When a Syrian refugee — so called — whether they’re from Syria or Africa or somewhere else in the middle east, when they enter Europe, they don’t look at anyone as “Oh, look, lookee there, this man, he’s Bavarian. Oh, he’s a Bavarian Catholic. Oh look, this guy must be from Ireland. Hmm, interesting. He’s Italian.” No, they don’t see that at all. They see us as white; they see us as white men. They see us as a race, and our enemy can see who we are whether we want to define ourselves as such or not. We are white.
.. You can go up, you can look at elective identities — I’m into weightlifting, I’m into Star Trek — and you can keep going down, and you go down, and down, and down, and you get to the root of identity. You get to that base, where you can’t go any further. And that is race.
.. It was an open country for Europeans who confronted people who were radically different than they were. And that confrontation, I’ll be honest, was terrible, bloody and violent. It was terrible, bloody and violent, but we conquered this continent. Whether it’s nice to say that or not, we won. And we got to define what America means, we got to define what this continent means. America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.
.. I re-watched perhaps my favorite movie, which is John Ford’s The Searchers.
.. But we won’t be out on that limb forever. At some point, Texas is going to be a wonderful place to live. It’s going to be a great place to live. But perhaps our bones have to be in the ground before that will happen.”
.. Texas is a wonderful place to live. And there are a lot of the white man’s bones in the ground to make that happen. White people did it. And I’m not going to ever claim that there wasn’t a lot of brutality that went along with it. But we did it. Our bones are in the ground, we own it, and at the end of the day, America cannot exist without us. We defined it. This country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything. We defined what America is.
.. it’s not just whoever happened to do the labor. Other people could have done it. But no one could have imagined it, no one could have designed it, because no one else did. History is proof.
.. Embedded in that slogan “Make America Great Again” is its opposite, and that is an acknowledgement that America is not great. I think we know that. I think we know that in our bones and our guts, that things are getting worse.
.. Previous generations couldn’t imagine that their children would have a worse world than they enjoyed, even a worse world than their parents enjoyed. Now 75% of white people think the country is on the wrong track; who could disagree with them, exactly? Does anyone think it’s getting better? “
.. We assume that America is not great. And it isn’t. And why isn’t it great? America is not great because in my lifetime, America has lost an essence. It’s lost a people, it’s lost a meaning.
.. they don’t talk about America as an historic nation and a people with a story, as the product of a race, of a worldview, they basically talk about America as a platform for all of humanity. They talk about America as an economic system, effectively.
.. Many have talked about the Roman Empire’s decline. It went from being a people to being a population, then to being a mob. I think that says a lot about the fall of Rome. America went from being a frontier, to being a people, then to being an economic platform for consumers from around the world. And let there be no doubt: Americanization, in this worst possible sense of the word, this is what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she said she wanted a “hemispheric open market.” This is what George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg want. They want an undifferentiated global population, raceless, genderless, identityless, meaningless population, consuming sugar, consuming drugs, while watching porn on VR goggles while they max out their credit cards.
.. Don’t deny that that is the kind of passive nihilism that so many in the elite class actually want. They want a world without roots, they want a world without meaning, they want a flat grey-on-grey world, one economic market for them to manipulate. That’s what’s happening in the world.
.. It isn’t just a great erasure of white people. It isn’t just an invasion of Europe, an invasion of the United States by the third world, it is ultimately the destruction of all peoples and all cultures around the globe.
I’m not paranoid, they’re just out to get me.
.. We might not all be able to put it into those words, but we know that that is what America is becoming. It’s becoming an homogeneous consuming mass
.. But just the fact that Donald Trump said that word “great” — “Make America Great Again” — meant that he had higher hopes than the Clintons, and the Zuckbergs, and the Bill Gates, and the George Soroses combined. That he had a sense of height, of upward movement, of greatness, of that thing that makes the white race truly unique and truly wonderful, that striving towards infinity, that however vulgar he might be that he had a sense of it.
.. What we need right now are people who are willing to speak truth to power. I find that there’s this amazing thing about the Left. And I have a certain respect for the Left, believe it or not. I understand the Left in a way. What I find so amazing about the people who are protesting me out there, who are attempting to create the largest safe space in the world of 100,000 people at Kyle Field, is that they think they’re the underdog.
.. Richard Spencer is not the Establishment. Richard Spencer is not running the government. Richard Spencer is effectively a heretic in the modern age
.. Think about those places of power. The US military, public education (academia), major corporations whether they’re financial on the east coast, Silicon Valley, what have you. What do they all agree on? “Diversity is good.” “We’re all the same.” “We’re one world.” “C’mon man, we all bleed red.
.. You might think that that kind of limp liberalism is some kind of underdog perspective, that you’re speaking truth to power by saying that nonsense. You are not speaking truth to power. The military-industrial complex agrees with you, so does every major corporation, so does the US government. You are not speaking truth to power, you are power speaking.
.. These institutions do not want you to have a sense of yourselves. They do not want you to have identity and rootedness. They do not want you to have duties to your people. They do not want you to think of yourself as part of an extended family that is bigger than any single individual, because the moment you have those duties, the moment you have that identity, is the moment that you are no longer the perfect, passive consumer-citizen that they want to create.
.. But I will tell that to white people: have a goddamn identity, have a sense of yourself. Be a part of this family.
.. Having an identity is the greatest challenge to the power structure that there is. Speaking truth to it means speaking the truth about race, about people, about nations, about who we are
More so than any other generation, parents and educators have instilled in millennials the idea that, as Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it, “life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm.”
.. kindergartens have “changed radically in the last two decades.” Exploration, exercise, and imagination are being deemphasized and play has “dwindled to the vanishing point.” Instead, kindergartens are introducing “lengthy lessons” and “highly prescriptive curricula geared to new state standards and linked to standardized tests”—curricula often taught by teachers who “must follow scripts from which they may not deviate.”
.. parents since the mid-1980s have purchased fewer multi-purpose, unstructured toys like clay and blocks that “encourage play that children can control and shape to meet their individual needs over time.” Today’s bestselling toys like action figures and video games “promote highly-structured play.”
.. practically every declining health outcome in children can be traced to the sedentary, indoor, micromanaged lives that now define American childhood.
.. children with mothers fearful of neighborhood safety are more likely to watch over two hours of TV per day, instead of playing outside. When American students are moving for only 18 minutes per day at school, it’s hardly a surprise that we’ve seen since the 1970s a more than threefold increase in the number of overweight 6 to 11 year olds.
Experts meanwhile are linking increasing rates of anger, aggression, and severe behavior problems to a lack of free play. These outcomes are consistent with evolutionary psychology theories that consider play to be a critical part of child development, teaching children to cope with, and ultimately master, fears and phobias.
- .. Angst over hypercompetitive college admissions.
.. University of Chicago law professors Aziz Huq and Tom Ginsburg ask whether the United States is at risk of democratic backsliding. Huq and Ginsburg found that the risk of incremental but ultimately substantial decay in democratic norms has “spiked” and now presents a “clear and present” danger. The authors argue that a “larger shift toward an illiberal democracy” is well within the cards.
.. social scientists have long argued that the origins of authoritarian societies can be discerned in childhood pathologies.
.. In the case of Nazi Germany, Miller is convinced that Hitler would not have come to power but for turn-of-the-century German childrearing practices that emphasized “unthinking obedience” and discouraged creativity. The millions of Germans who ultimately supported Nazism, in Miller’s views, were coping with the legacy of a “hidden concentration camp of childhood”—one enforced by the “clean, orderly citizens, God-fearing, respectable churchgoers” who comprised the ranks of Germany’s authority figures.
.. More so than any other factor—identity, religiosity, income etc.—it was voters’ attitudes on childrearing that predicted their support for Trump. Those who believe that is more important for children to be respectful rather than independent; obedient over self-reliant; well-behaved more than considerate; and well-mannered versus curious, were more than two and a half times as likely to support Trump than those with the opposite preferences.
.. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that few institutions in American society have embraced authoritarianism as decisively in recent years as academia—the arena where helicoptered millennials increasingly get their first taste of independence.
.. Behind these authoritarian efforts are an army of “chief diversity officers”—75 of whom have been hired between 2015 and 2016 at colleges and universities. Their mandate: train students against “subtle insults,” “environmental microaggressions,” and “microinvalidations.”
.. Jonathan Chait sees not simply a “rigorous commitment to social equality” but rather an “undemocratic creed” and a “system of left-wing ideological repression.”
Moynihan understood that politics is downstream from culture, which flows through families. Sasse, a Yale history Ph.D. whose well-furnished mind resembles Moynihan’s, understands this:
.. Sasse’s argument in The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance is not another scolding of the young. Rather, he regrets how the no-longer-young have crippled the rising generation with kindness, flinching from the truth that the good pain of hard physical work produces the “scar tissue of character.”
.. Adolescents spending scores of hours a week on screen time with their devices acquire “a zombie-like passivity” that saps their “agency.”
.. This aligns him against those who believe that schooling should be “a substitute for parents” as life’s “defining formative institution.”
.. Schools should embrace the need of “controlling” students and “the influences by which they are controlled.” Parents must be marginalized lest they interfere with education understood, as Sasse witheringly says, as “not primarily about helping individuals, but rather about molding the collective.”
.. Sasse thinks the generation coming of age “has begun life with far too few problems.”
When Christians defined Jesus in a small way—as a mere problem solver for sin—we soon became preoccupied with sin itself, which is a largely negative foundation. We became blind to much else going on in this world except sin and its effects, which became preoccupations of most monks and reformers. One well- known Protestant reformer actually spoke of “total depravity” to characterize the human situation; another spoke of human nature as “a pile of manure covered with the snow of Christ.” With such a negative anthropology and without inherent human dignity, it is very hard for even a good theology to succeed. Grace can only build on—and perfect—nature; it cannot undo it, says Catholic theology. We must start where the Bible begins in Genesis 1: “It was good, it was good . . . it was very good” (Genesis 1:10-31).
Yet many Christian leaders and churches focus on shame and guilt, atonement and reparation, as if we were children frightened of an abusive father. Is there no greater meaning to our individual lives and history than to be chastened, corrected, and “saved” by God? Is there no implanted hope and goodness to first celebrate? The starting point of religion and life cannot be a huge problem. If we start with original sin (beginning with Genesis 3 rather than Genesis 1), our worldview is scarcity rather than abundance.
.. Grace is the consummate threat to all self-hatred.
.. Rather than being taught that we can and should follow Jesus as “partners in his great triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14), we were told to be grateful spectators and admirers of what he once did. Instead of a totally “Inclusive Savior” we made Jesus into an object of exclusive and exclusionary worship.