Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Destroying Democracy

There's no surer way to destroy democracy than to undermine confidence in the integrity of the voting process itself, but this is exactly what the left is doing in this country. First it was the massive voter registration fraud perpetrated by ACORN employees. Today it's thuggery carried out on behalf of Barack Obama in key cities like Philadelphia.

Americans will only rally behind a president if they believe that he was a legitimate winner. One reason Democrats hate Bush is because they believe he stole the 2000 election. If the conviction is widespread that Obama has stolen this election he'll never be able to heal the wounds that fester in our body politic.

Unfortunately, anecdotal stories being aired on talk radio today suggest that intimidation against McCain voters is common across the country, and if this is true it bodes ill for our future as a nation.


The Decline of Art

Richard Neuhaus, in the November issue of First Things, quotes Charles Murray on art:

According to every indicator of population, wealth, access to education, and ease of transportation and communication, the twentieth century had a greater number of talented people available to create great art than in any preceding century in history, by many orders of magnitude. I submit that the legacy that will still be a part of the cultural landscape in, say, the year 2300, in the same way that hundreds of writers, painters and composers from earlier centuries are still part of our cultural landscape, will be paltry. Any plausible explanation for their meager record must take into account the role of secularization.

In other words, despite having numerous creative advantages unavailable to previous ages, contemporary art is thoroughly forgettable. This certainly seems to be true as far as I can see. I can't imagine very much of the music or visual art (except for maybe film) that today befouls our culture still being around even a generation from now. Murray attributes the sterility of contemporary art to the secularization of culture, and surely this is a big part of the problem. Religion has historically inspired great art, and a culture in which religion has become an archeaological artifact has lost a major, perhaps the major, source of artistic and creative inspiration.

Christmas, perhaps, serves as a synecdoche. A secularized Christmas inspires nothing. It's flat, gray, tawdry and tedious. Secularized Christmas produces "art" like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and aluminum Christmas trees. It's only when Christmas is infused with the mystery of the incarnation of God that artists are moved to write hymns like Hark, the Herald Angels and Silent Night. It's only when the original meaning of Christmas (or Thanksgiving or Easter, for that matter) is manifest that it has any meaning at all. It's only when the religious significance of Christmas is emphasized that the full beauty of the season is realized.

Neuhaus goes on to say that even more bleak is the prospect that the artists from past centuries whom we now revere will be forgotten in the year 2300, or long before. Perhaps. Perhaps it will fall to some future devotees to follow the lead of the medieval Irish monks laboring away in their cold, damp scriptoria, struggling to copy and preserve ancient scrolls, to hide them from the vandals, vikings and visigoths and vouchsafe them for a future renaissance. Heaven knows there are plenty of vandals, vikings and visigoths on the contemporary horizon, some even now at the gates.


What Comes Naturally

Richard Neuhaus of First Things quotes Adam Kirsch reviewing a book by Jean Bethke Elshtain:

"Our sense of the natural is constantly evolving - slavery and patriarchy once seemed natural, while in some quarters gay marriage is still stigmatized as unnatural."

Mr. Kirsch evidently disapproves of viewing gay marriage as "unnatural" which raises the question in what sense gay marriage might be thought to be "natural". If by "natural" we mean what is biologically normal, there's certainly no warrant for saying that gay marriage is natural. Homosexuality occurs in nature, but it's not normal either statistically or in any other sense. If by "natural" we mean something like "designed for connubial or conjugal union", then the fact that men are manifestly not designed by nature for sexual congress with each other would seem to render this meaning implausible.

If gay marriage is considered to be unnatural maybe that's because it is; In every sense of the word.