As soon as upon a time in our halcyon previous, disgrace was a thread within the material of our nationwide conscience. This was the idyllic previous once we lived in an enchanted universe — a spot the place our social creativeness was inhabited by notions that there was One watching over us to whom we’re finally accountable. Even should you didn’t have literal notions a few divine scorekeeper, we nonetheless had a social sense that there are actions and attitudes which might be primarily “proper” or “mistaken.” To make sure, gross public violations of those norms carried with them social penalties. It isn’t all dangerous that we’ve got left behind the facile judgmentalism that usually accompanied the general public punishments, however we’ve got additionally misplaced one thing worthwhile within the course of.
One seems to be in useless for any sense of disgrace within the nationwide politic. We stay in an age of relativism with regard to what constitutes reality and morality. I recommend that that is greater than “completely different strokes for various of us.” It has all the time been the case that “the place you sit makes a distinction as to the place you stand.” Perspective makes a distinction, however we now inhabit an rising actuality when “perspective constitutes actuality.” In such a constructed actuality, reality and morality as norms don’t maintain sway. They’re on the market, however they’re irrelevant.
Folks with political energy and limitless wealth are above the fray the place issues of reality and morality get sorted out. They open their mouth (or their checking account), and a brand new actuality points forth. Reality is what they are saying it’s; they’re sovereign over the spoken phrase from which reality springs forth. On this sense, the politically highly effective and the cash brokers have develop into gods. Every day the chief of all of them spins out recent new absurdities with out disgrace and with impunity — which his acolytes settle for and repeat endlessly as if they’re Gospel. The supreme irony of this shameless atheism from the mouth of the political icon is that amongst his most loyal acolytes are those that know so effectively the language of the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Piety and political energy are comingled to assemble new illusions of actuality, and it appears that evidently completely nothing can dispel the illusory allure of the fantasies.
The political universe has fallen beneath a brand new and completely different spell — a false enchantment: a spell that can’t be damaged within the hearts and minds of this infallible one’s followers. As soon as upon a time in our halcyon previous, there was disgrace. No extra. Welcome to the brand new atheism.
W. Stephen Gunter, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus at Duke College Divinity College.
This text initially appeared on Oklahoman: Visitor: One seems to be in useless for a way of disgrace within the nationwide politic