July 26, 2014

"The cumulative deconstruction has cheapened everything we fought for and everything we might fight for"

From one of the best essayists of our time, Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club writes When God Goes Fishing

There are some subjects that are almost too large for literature, even for Tolstoy, who tried to answer the question “how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world?” by following  the fortunes of  characters in his novel War and Peace.

Some characters seek fame, others  sensual gratification, a few — like Napoleon — pursue an egotistical sense of power. But altogether too many of the rest are content to gnaw their way through the world like insects, not only incapable of answering Tolstoy’s question but unable to even ask it.

Some even want to meet God,  a few glimpse the answer fleetingly and are content. One suspects the present time, like 1812 is a special era, one when more people than usual ask: ‘where is God in this amoral world?’ The answer may be that  ’God is away on one of His customary disappearances’.  For one of the hallmarks of historical discontinuity is that God vanishes temporarily, during a time when old loyalties, ideologies and beliefs lose their power to bind.

The last 70 years have been spent dismantling the mental world of our fathers;  in teaching us about the corruption of America, the emptiness of patriotism and the hypocrisy of organized religion.  But along the way it has had to admit to the brutality of Communism, the fatuousness of manufactured causes, and the perversity of Hollywood.

That cumulative deconstruction has cheapened everything we fought for and everything we might fight for. Like Tolstoy’s characters in 1812, it  has left us with nowhere simple to turn; with no easy way to live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world.
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Today, as Russian troops mass on the border of Ukraine, move rockets to the frontier; as the Middle East goes up in flames and Central Americans flood the southern border the question is not only what is there left to defend but why it should be.  What for?

For the sake of a land grabbed from the Indians?

For the salvation of a nation founded on slavery?

In the name of a God that doesn’t exist?

To preserve a constitution authored by old white men that is a hundred years old and nobody reads any more?

Which leaves us almost where Prince Andrei was on the fields of Borodino……
Posted by Jill Fallon at July 26, 2014 1:51 AM | Permalink