|RPM, RPM Volume 19, Number 6, February 5 to February 11, 2017|
The coming of the goddess to the land of our fathers...the title I propose to you as I attempt to describe what I think has happened in particular in America in the last generation. I want to first of all introduce that subject with some thoughts about the great American Revolution.
I believe the American Revolution which is the most critical for America happened very recently. How did it happen? What was it?
Well, I want to look at the influence of the Sixties. What was the agenda in the Sixties? It was an agenda of destruction. But it was also an agenda of reconstruction of a totally different worldview. So that's more or less the plan of my talk in this first hour.
You can probably feel it in your bones, like the rag-tag Colonists hearing the staccato sound of the advancing, implacable British war machine before the Redcoats actually arrived on Lexington Green. Or, like the poorly equipped handful of foot soldiers in the World War II movie Saving Private Ryan, who prepare to defend a bridge in a small French town, sensing the rumblings of the oncoming German tanks and hearing the eerie screeching of their metal tracks over those old cobblestone streets long before that overwhelming firepower appears in sight to blast them into eternity. I imagine most of you hearing me say this sense that there is something afoot in once-Christian America. The earth is moving. The kings of the earth are conspiring together against the Lord and His Christ, and the Christian faith in Christian America in this day and age is under serious assault, and that's why I suggest to you that the most radical American Revolution took place not in 1776, when you all revolted against my king, but in the last generation of the twentieth century.
In these last thirty or so years, we have witnessed the first Great Awakening — of Paganism. In this land known for its spiritual awakenings of the Christian faith, we have witnessed the first great awakening of Paganism, which indeed has deconstructed Western Christendom and produced a radical transformation of this once-Christian society. Couched in emotive language of democratic rights and fair play, religious Paganism has taken control of the collective mind of the West. The pro-gay marriage forces state their case in civic revolutionary terms. I quote: "Just as our forefathers rejected King George's oppressive laws in 1776, we should reject today the unfair laws regulating marriage."
I would suggest to you that between unfair taxes—that worldwide empire did cost a tidy sum—and the gay marriage issue, there is surely no comparison. The latter is the true revolution against the entire Western understanding of the family, of marriage, including that indeed of the pagan Greeks and Romans.
You know, some people don't believe that a revolution has taken place. The radicals on the left want you to believe there's been no culture war, that things are going on just as normal. I remember sitting a year or so ago in a seminar of the American Academy of Religion, and it was a group of radical Feminists sitting up there talking about the culture. And one of them, who had written a book called, The Changing of the Gods, had the arrogance to suggest that nothing had happened. Well, I mean, when you change gods, something serious has happened, right? It's not something like the invention of sliced bread. Something serious has happened.
Another one of these Feminists was talking about the right-wing backlash, and she mentioned one of these typical right-wing books, Spirit Wars, of which I was the author! Well, I quietly hid my name just so that I wouldn't get attacked at that particular moment! Yeah, according to the radicals, nothing's happened. It's just the normal turning over of the American democratic process.
Chuck Colson thinks the war has taken place, but it's far from lost. Don Richard Newhouse claims that America is incorrigibly Christian. He says, "The Christianity of America is as confused as it is incorrigible." And he takes some encouragement from that, that America is still profoundly Christian. But I think a confused Christianity is as dangerous as anything I can imagine. Gertrude Himmelfarb, a Jewish historian and observer of the culture, recently wrote a book One Nation, Two Cultures: A Moral Divide, and stated, "There has been a culture war, and the left won it." David Fromm, in the book, How We Got Here: The Seventies, the Decade that Brought You Modern Life, says that his book attempts to describe "The most total social reformation that the United States has lived through since the coming of industrialization." Roger Kimball, in his book The Long March, describes the upheaval that took place from the Sixties on: "As an upheaval of dramatic proportions, a momentous social and moral assault has been unleashed on our education and cultural institutions. We have lost our moral consensus."
An example of this in the recent news is when Tom DeLay, the third-ranking Republican in the House, offered the opinion about what had happened in America: that "the small elite of opinion-makers was waging a cultural coup d'etat on our country's fundamental values." And the reaction to that was to suggest that he himself was actually guilty of a culture war. A House Democrat said that 'that kind of a statement was ugly, mean-spirited, partisan culture warfare.' But the truth of the matter is, there was an ugly, mean-spirited, partisan culture war, and it happened in the Sixties. And now we're told that we should act as if it didn't happen, and just get on with life, as if things are fine.
I would suggest to you that in this last generation some major things have happened. I want to give you a list and see if you resonate with my observations. Just notice—and I won't go into any detail—the things that have happened in the last generation: the victory of the sexually liberated over the sexually inhibited; the victory of a new censorship of speech over free speech; the victory of women as breadwinners over bread-makers (I mean by that women as mothers and homemakers); the victory of divorce over marriage; the victory of the Feminists over the patriarchs; the victory of a woman's right to abort her child over the unborn child's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the victory of the child's rights over the parents'.
Let me stop there for a moment and say to you a statement from an article written by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1973 in The Harvard Educational Review. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has not changed her opinion from this statement. She advocated liberating our "child citizens from the empire of the father."
The victory of the multi-culturalist over the American melting pot; the victory of gays over straights; the victory of moral chaos over moral consensus; the victory of the irrational over the rational; of the earth/space spiritualists over the materialists; of spirituality over God; of the Postmodern over Modernity; of political correctness over the pursuit of truth; of the rest of creation over human beings.
Just down the road in Princeton, Pete Singer, who is considered by some one of the most influential living philosophers, says this: "For three thousand years at least, the majority of people have considered that human beings were special. Well, not any more. It is no longer possible to live by the idea that there is something special, unique, even sacred about human beings."
The victory of the goddess over God; the victory of DCE/CE over BC/AD. These are not motorcar numbers I'm talking about. Some of you who are aware of what's happening in academia know that in this last generation we have dropped the references to time in terms of before Christ, AD, Anno Domini. Now we refer to time in this totally meaningless and foolish, innocuous way as "before common era" and "common era." What on earth that means, I have no idea, but it enables people to avoid bringing Christ as the center of history, and indeed what that really represents is that history has lost any sense of direction. And the victory of many ways over the one way.
Is that a revolution? That is incredible to me. When you can lay those things down, and people have the gall to say there's nothing that's changed...how can so many, so blessed with the gospel in this country, the fortress of evangelical Christianity in the recent history of the modern world, go so morally and spiritually haywire in such a short time? Vast numbers of red-blooded Americans, including many in prominent positions, such as Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, and Vice President Al Gore, to name just a few of those that you've seen in the news recently, all claim a past born-again Christian experience, and yet now are deep into Deepak Chopra, goddess spirituality, abortion, homosexuality, and religious syncretism.
Let me give you an example. I won't tell you the name of this person, but I'm going to give you two citations. One he made in the Sixties, and one he made in the Nineties. Here's the first one: "The choice is simple. Between the eternal and the passing, between Jesus Christ and the world, I've made my choice. I love Jesus Christ, how about you?" In the Nineties this same man said, "Christianity offers one way to achieve inner peace and oneness with the world. Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism and Hinduism are for others. Increasingly I resist the exclusivity of true believers." 1 Can you imagine the same person saying those two things? That was Bill Bradley. In the Sixties he was a famous basketball player—from these parts, by the way, Princeton University—and he had a dramatic Christian experience and Campus Crusade actually printed his testimony, and I cite from that testimony. And it went all around the country, and Bill Bradley with it. In the Nineties he rejects the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.
A major change has come over that man, which I take is somewhat symbolic of many people in our culture. I just thought of a few names: Donna Sommers, raised in a Christian background, wonderful singer in her own black Christian church, left the faith, became one of these great rock singers. After that she decided she's going to come back to religion, and where does she end up? She's on the psychic hot-line. Belle Hooks, a brilliant black woman who was raised in an evangelical home, went to university and began to study, and rejected her evangelical faith; and I heard her giving a lecture to a thousand teachers of religion, with excitement proclaiming the freedom she now finds in Buddhism.
Something has happened in our culture to turn people away from the gospel and to these other systems of thought. W. C. Routh, a sociologist from the West Coast (sometimes known as the Left Coast), has surveyed believers as to what they really believe, and one of the things he came up with just last year is that nearly half of the born-again believers said that all religions were equally true.
That's half of "born again" believers, so we're not surprised when the Southern Baptists receive a letter on House of Representatives stationary complaining about their attempt to convert the Hindus in their project to preach the gospel in Chicago. They were accused of "overly aggressive and insensitive language which goes beyond the bounds of decorum, tact, respect and understanding." That was a letter from six members of Congress, on Congressional stationary, accusing the Southern Baptists of being un-American. The backbone of the nation is now often treated as the nation's funny-bone, and banished to the margins. How did we get here?
Analysis of how we got here
Well, I'd like to propose to you an analysis of what happened in the Sixties. I'm not suggesting that that's the only way to describe what's happened. It seems to me that it was in the Sixties that much of this material came up onto the surface and out into the streets. We can go back and back and back to find the origins of that, but for the moment, as a social phenomenon I would like to suggest to you that the Sixties revolution really explains where we are today. And indeed, just a year or so ago we celebrated Woodstock. To me it's in some mythical Garden of Eden somewhere, but you know better than I do that it is a real place. As a matter of fact, the people who went there some thirty years ago didn't necessarily go there for an orgy, but they went there for a spiritual search for a Garden of Eden. And those people came up with a radical redefinition of God and man. But not to worry! They were the Hippies! And the hippies would go the same route as the hula hoop and bell-bottom pants. Even Steve Martin doesn't wear bell-bottom pants anymore.
Wrong. While those symbols of the Sixties disappeared, their ideology has taken over much of America. Much to our surprise, by the way. I was a student in the Sixties. I was at Princeton watching some of those radicals and thinking to myself how marginal they were, and that they wouldn't last too long. One of them threw a potato at me once in the restaurant, because I sort of seemed to not be going along with the program, but that was about as close as I got to the Sixties and civil disobedience.
But it seems to me that if we are going to understand where we are now, we have to understand what happened in the Sixties. Two of the leaders of that revolution, David Horowitz and Peter Collier, were leaders of the SDS in Berkley. They knew everybody: Huey Newton, Jane Fonda—all those leaders, they were friends with them, and indeed they were the editors of the Ramparts magazine, which was the official voice of the Sixties revolution. A few years ago they wrote a book called Destructive Generation. They stood back and thought to themselves, 'What did we do?' And the title that came to them, these revolutionaries, was Destructive Generation.
I was up in UC-Davis speaking at their Earth Day Festival a couple of years ago, and on the tee-shirts was the phrase "Kiss Chaos." Kiss Chaos. Those radicals have understood that the point of the Sixties was first of all to destroy what was in place in the American culture. Now, everything was not perfect in the American culture and some of those things those Sixties students wanted were valid things: the end of racism, free speech. Free speech is having a terrible time these days, though, because many of those Sixties radicals have tenure in the universities, and now they refuse students to come and sit in some of their classes. So what happened to free speech?
Three essential destructive elements.
But I want to put my finger on three essential destructive elements. Are you ready? Just three.
Behind the rejection of landlords, the police, the university senate, the war, the American government, was actually the rejection of authority per se. What we thought was just student immaturity in the Sixties has in the Nineties and beyond fructified into a thoroughgoing elimination of the very notion of authority as such. Feminism has destructed the authority of patriarchy: and all patriarchy is, is a responsible leadership of fathers. And during this generation we've seen the demonization of males, and the marginalization of fathers, as there's been a rejection of what's called patriarchy. A profound structure in our society has been eliminated in one fell swoop.
Of course, what's behind that is
Also, we've seen the changing of the guards. That Feminist scholar that I told you about, who wrote the book, The Changing of the Guard, says, "We women are going to bring an end to God." It's interesting that when you attack authority, you finally have to attack the God of the Bible. That was the destruction of authority.
In The Times of London, defending homosexuality, just a few months ago I read this: "Against personal truth, neither Scripture nor tradition..." [actually this was arguing for the ordination of homosexuals in the Anglican church in Great Britain]..I'll start again. "Against personal truth, neither Scripture nor tradition can ultimately prevail." In that sense, you see, the revolution has succeeded. All external authority is banished from the culture. Only what I think is true is now true. Well, that's the first destructive element of the Sixties that seems somewhat sophomoric, but has actually affected the way so many people think. So many people who control the media, and the way society functions—they've bought into this notion of authority, namely the rejection of it.
If the rejection of authority is a theoretical undermining of a biblical worldview and of God, of morals, and of social structures, the specific destruction of biblical sexual boundaries involves so many in what I would call practical transgression. The Apostle Paul calls sexual sins a special thing: sins against the body. Some think that we cannot simply eliminate things like we do today -- "Oh, it's only private sex, it doesn't matter." The Bible says it's the most potent kind of sin. Of course, in the Sixties we had the mantras "if it moves, fondle it." And the call to sexual liberation—radical Feminists demanded that their sisters invent new words: "sinarticulate — to have the courage to sin and to liberate the inner slut." Those are quotes from Feminists.
Erotic Feminist Deena Metzger states that we must "...engage in two heresies: first, return to the Neolithic pagan matriarchal perception of the sacred universe itself; and second, re-sanctify the body." She confesses to a certain angst. "We often feel as though we are defying God in the act of seeking the divine. We must allow ourselves whatever time it takes to re-establish the consciousness of the sacred prostitute."
Do you see how that rejection of authority and the rejection of the God of the Bible caused people now to cement that rejection by real transgression? And so people get captivated and captured by sin, such as Paul says in Romans: God eventually gives people over when they turn away from God in such a powerful reaction. Under the guise of Christian freedom, sin and spirituality are thus ritually wedded.
It's in 1993 where those two thousand mainline Christian women celebrated their newfound faith in the goddess Sophia. They had a number of these rituals. One was a "sacred biting into the apple." That's a good thing, according to this worldview. The Lord said "you must not": that's what they did. And to great cheers, the audience was asked "What taboo have you broken today?" We have certainly seen in our present culture the effects of that destructive liberation of sexuality: the explosion of the divorce rate. We have become leaders in the world, this Christian culture, in divorce. There's a book written entitled, The Divorce Culture. In 1972 forty-six percent (46%)of Americans lived in traditional families, two parents plus a child. Today only twenty-six (26%) percent do. Cohabiting couples have increased seven hundred (700%) percent since 1970. Presently, one-third of all babies are born out of wedlock, and in the black culture, seventy (70%) percent. I learned a few weeks ago that in my own country of Great Britain, that most babies are born out of wedlock...more than the babies born within wedlock. "Living in sin is now the norm" says a study of the University of Michigan.
Here's a wonderful statement from another professor from Princeton. I seem to be very obsessed with Princeton...didn't realize it...except when I come to New Jersey! Professor Stone, who is not a tender-hearted evangelical by any stretch of the imagination, said this: "The scale of marital breakdowns in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent that I know of. There has been nothing like it for the last two thousand years, and probably longer." Think about that for a minute in terms of the way we can sometimes idealize the future and think, well, we can turn this around. We'll save America. We can quickly turn it around. But you see, what has been happening has been so profound at the level of the fundamental building block of civilization. I want to read this to you again, because I want you to take it in. It's not what I say. "The scale of marital breakdowns in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent that I know of. There has been nothing like it for the last two thousand years, and probably longer."
And of course, that destruction of sexual boundaries has become even more powerful in our time, relative to the Sixties. In the Sixties, of course, it was heterosexual liberation, in general. Not too many people spoke about homosexuality and bi-sexuality. But of course today, that is the sexuality de jour, as the French say.
Fourteen mainstream mental health establishments plus the Interfaith Alliance recently declared homosexuality normal behavior, and sent a book to every school board president (14,500 of them) entitled, Just the Facts. You know, our schools have become morally neutral zones. We may not teach morality in the schools! Is it any wonder that our kids go and shoot each other in the schools? If we cannot teach sexual morality in the schools, we cannot teach morality. And all these forms of sexual perversion and gratification are now turned into "civic rights." One classic—it's almost humorous, it's so bizarre—is the case of that school boy, a fifteen-year-old school boy, who won the right to dress in drag to school. A judge ruled in Massachusetts that a fifteen-year-old should not be barred from class while wearing a female dress, high-heeled shoes, a wig and a padded bra. The therapist suggested that forcing the teenager to wear boy's clothes could endanger his mental health! The judge, who was a lesbian, voted against the principal and the school board, and gave him the right to appear in school that way, arguing that to not do so would be to "stifle a person's self-hood."
Again, in the Church of England, I read recently that a vicar underwent a sex-change operation. This man had been married twice and had children; returned after the operation as "Ms Stone" and wore purple robes and a pair of golden earrings.
Can this liberation of sexuality be stopped? How could we possibly stop it on the basis of our present cultural discourse? There is no discourse that can stop it. The American Library Association has internet links to sites that propose safe sex with animals for children, 2 but includes also monitors to block out prayers.
The Utne Reader, which is a high-brow, left-wing magazine, in its last number included an article to encourage children as young as thirteen to come out as gays and lesbians. And the article states: "Sexual identity can be fluid. It's not absolute. This means rejecting the labels of male and female." I couldn't help but think of Genesis 1:27: "God created man; He created him male and female."
You know, this is a radical assault on the biblical view of man and the world. So you get rid of God and you certainly change the way people think about themselves. I find it very ironic that at the time of the "death of God" movement in the Sixties, which I had to study as a student and found it almost humorous, it was so radical, that some of those "death of God" theologians were understanding what the liberation was, when we got rid of the God of the Bible. And it wasn't to be godless: it was actually to see the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome. And one of them said this: "When released from the tyrannical imperialism of monotheism by the death of God, man has the opportunity of discovering new dimensions hidden in the depths of reality's history." 3 And so, I suppose we're asked to believe that a fifteen-year-old boy going to school in drag is the discovery of "new dimensions hidden in the depths of reality's history."
This has been extremely destructive, by the way. Child abuse is up 1300 percent; criminal arrests of teens up 150 percent; violent crime 550 percent; teen suicide 450 percent—all since the Sixties—illegal use of drugs, 6000 percent; divorce, 350 percent. All these are given by bureaus of the federal government, these figures. Birth to unmarried girls up 500 percent; abortion, we can't even give a figure.
The Sixties was the great rejection of the old ways of faith. People left the church in droves, leaving the religion of their youth, organized religion. Official creeds are out. People now want to invent their own religions. Religious experiences, says the sociologist, are replacing religious doctrine. And you know the famous phrase, "doctrine divides, the Spirit unties".
And in this deconstructive stage concerning spirituality and piety, orthodox biblical Christianity is so often the one that is the butt of the attack—the cause of all our present problems, the epitome of bigotry, of small-mindedness, of intolerance, and even violence. Herman Bavinck, the Dutch theologian of the nineteenth century, said about the twentieth: "The twentieth century will witness a gigantic conflict of spirits between the old and the new worldview." Well, Napoleon said, "What time is it?" And I answered, "I have nine more minutes." Actually, Napoleon III said, "One never really destroys a thing until one has replaced it." And so what has happened really—and I'm jumping—what has happened is, there's been a destructive phase, and then followed with a reconstructive phase, a new view of God.
I mentioned to you the "death of God" theologians. "The announcement of the death of God was the obituary of the useless, single-minded, and one-dimensional norm of the civilization that has been predominantly monotheistic, not only in its religion but also in its politics, its history, its social order, its ethics, and its psychology. When released from the tyrannical imperialism of monotheism by the death of God," as I earlier cited, "man has the opportunity of discovering new dimensions." What are the new dimensions? The same professor, David Miller, triumphantly announced that the death of God, the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome.
A couple of years ago a Roman Catholic theologian—actually it was in 1995—published a book: When God Becomes Goddess: the Transformation of American Religion. The good news is God does not have to die; He simply has to undergo a sex-change. The bad news is, He has to change religion and take His humble abode along with the pagan gods of the old pagan pantheon. The new triumphant goddess is not the creator of heaven and earth, but a symbol of the pagan spiritual nature of the earth. And you can find this kind of spirituality in all the non-Christian religions: in Hinduism, American Indian shamanism, in Buddhism. Here's an example in Buddhism: "You're not going to find truth outside yourself. You become a Buddha by actualizing your own original innate nature. This nature is primordially pure. This is your true nature, your natural mind."
That might be a little over your heads. Let me give you a wonderful statement by his holiness, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Gedi warrior, who delivers to our children this new view of God: "The force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. It is all-powerful and controls everything." Somebody said, "Actually, The Force is duct tape, because there's a dark side and it holds everything together."
But the seriousness of this is, of course, that George Lucas has been promoting his deeply-held Buddhism through this Hollywood production that is so brilliantly done, which tells our young people that The Force is created by all living things. This is a new god, you see. This is a god of Paganism. The ancient gods of Paganism have come back to haunt us. New view of man and sexuality.
I suggested earlier, when you change gods you change the way you view yourself. And indeed, when you change the way you view yourself, you have to also change gods. And some people go one way and some the other. The freedom to transgress the laws of the Creator can only be finally achieved by changing one's god. That's why the Hippies went East. They went to find other gods to salve their bartered consciences. Listen to what Janie Spahr, an ordained Presbyterian lesbian minister says. She goes right to the point. In opposing the conservative group in the PCUSA, she says to them, "Maybe we're talking about a different God." She's dead right. You need a new god for a new view of sex.
Joseph Campbell-- some of you may know that name--he was the guru behind George Lucas. And he was raised a Roman Catholic, but he became a Pagan and fell in love with the ancient myths and wrote many books on that, and was on Public Television. And so he helped, really, George Lucas create Star Wars. He describes the calling of every human being, though born in one sex or another, to "transcend duality." This is to be done as in the ancient mystery religions..." I'm citing him. "...by undergoing a series of initiations or mystical experiences whereby the individual realizes that he is both mortal and immortal, male and female." Simply, I want to say that the "new view of God" inevitably brings a new view of sexuality, and that's being proposed to our young people today.
Finally, a new view of spirituality. As I have suggested to you, when you reject authority, and in particular the God of the Bible, and when you engage in transgression, sexual sins of all kinds: then you need to find a spirituality that can take care of you, for God has created within us a mechanism. It's called guilt. It's a nagging pain in the conscience. And you know, I'm convinced that the goal of Paganism, the great goal of Paganism, is to try to silence guilt. And there are all kinds of techniques for doing it, and in particular the technique is this "new spirituality." It's an attempt to eliminate the distinctions that we find so natural, and to what's called "join the opposites," the elimination of duality. We're in the process of seeing developed here in America what's called an "emerging American wisdom tradition." This is going to save the world. You thought it was going to be capitalism that would save the world through American business, but actually it's this new spirituality that joins the East and the West, and joins all these different things that God set asunder—in particular, male and female. And this spirituality is involved in a process of mystical trance-like going beyond the self and the mind and the body, into some kind of state where one feels united to all things. That's the new spirituality, and I can document it in virtually all of these non-Pagan religions, that that is the goal of the new spirituality.
I've managed to come to the end of this lecture almost on time. What I want to do in the next lecture is to place what I've really described as an American phenomenon, because to me that's the most surprising of all: that this Christian country that I discovered when I came over with The Beatles in 1964 —on different planes!—but it was such a Christian nation, and has become such an incubator for this kind of spirituality. I find that one of the most ironic things in my study of history.
But in the next lecture I want to place what has happened in our culture in the last generation in a sort of a coherent structure, which really places it in a much larger perspective as to the history of Paganism at large. So with your permission, I will stop now, and we'll have a break for fifteen minutes, and then we'll come back and we'll get into asking, "What makes this stuff that I've been describing into a system, into a coherent whole? What makes it tick?"
1. Bill Bradley as quoted by Charles Colson, Denying Christ: Has Bradley Lost His Faith. BreakPoint, 10/5/99
2. Beware, Public Library: (Part 2 of 3): The ALA's Agenda of Porn, BreakPoint, Charles Colson, Commentary 8/10/2000.
3. The New Polytheism: Rebirth of the gods and goddesses, David LeRoy Miller
|This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor. If you would like to discuss this article in our online community, please visit the RPM Forum.|
Subscribe to RPMRPM subscribers receive an email notification each time a new issue is published. Notifications include the title, author, and description of each article in the issue, as well as links directly to the articles. Like RPM itself, subscriptions are free. Click here to subscribe.