Long, but good


***

Mike,

Thanks for writing.

I?m sorry but I can?t give you exactly what you want, unless you want
something better and truer than the sort of fraudulent ?hopefulness? and
?optimism? most people seek these days. They want the brand of cheap,
commodified hope you get from a 30-second video where a guy finds his lost
dog or whatever and at the end tries to sell you beer. They want the
inspiration of a viral marketing video. They want it like funnel cake:
sweet, empty and quickly digested.

I could give you that, but I won?t. I could write patronizing, pandering
nonsense telling you everything is fine, this country is awesome, and the
future will be bright and filled with lollipops and puppy dog farts. But
what good would it do, besides win me some PR points? If you want hope, it
needs to be planted firmly in truth, or else it?s like administering
morphine while you die of kidney failure. It?ll make you feel better for a
time, but it won?t save you.

Here?s the truth: I am not happy with this country, and you shouldn?t be,
either. I am disappointed in it. It disgraces itself. It turns from God. It
kills its young. It attacks the family. Am I supposed to pretend otherwise
just for the sake of being festive? While Michelle Obama felt pride in her
nation for the first time recently, I am more and more developing a deep
anger at it, and I think it?s time I admit that out loud. I?m a patriot, but
to borrow from Chesterton, a patriot who is uncritical of his country while
it teeters on the edge of total destruction is like a son who doesn?t warn
his mother that she?s about to fall off a cliff. In this case, however, we
already fell off the cliff. We are shattered on the rocks below, and I?m
truly not certain if we can be repaired.

You want me to get into the holiday spirit and remind everyone that America
is still great, but I don?t know, Mike, does a great country murder a
million babies every year?

Does a great country ignore its own laws and tear its Constitution to
pieces?

Does a great country become among the first in human civilization to
dismantle the institution of marriage in favor of legitimizing sexual
perversion?

Is a great country so confused that it can?t tell the difference between
male and female?

Does the nuclear family collapse in a great country?

Does a great country have historically high rates of divorce, unwed
pregnancy and fatherless homes?

Do little girls get IUDs implanted in them by school officials without
parental consent in a great country?

Do citizens burn down their own cities in a great country?

Is moral relativism the cultural driving force in a great country?

Are churches empty in a great country?

Do one in every five citizens favor forcing priests to perform gay weddings
in a great country?

Is pornography a billion-dollar industry in a great country?

Are there 110 million cases of STDs in a great country?

Are college students unable to name the vice president but able to chug a
fifth of vodka in a great country?

Is higher education overrun by feminists and nihilists in a great country?

Is apathy endemic in a great country?

Does the average person watch five hours of TV a day in a great country?

Are people threatened, fired, attacked, belittled and ripped to shreds for
having differing opinions in a great country?

Do young adults ransack stores just for fun in a great country?

Do schools teach kids how to ********** but forget to teach them how to read
in a great country ?

Is ?50 Shades of Grey? a best-seller in a great country?

Does Christianity decline in a great country?

Are soldiers forced to sit in classrooms and listen to lectures about ?white
privilege? in a great country?

Has the gay agenda so infiltrated even the military that now officers are
chased out of their jobs for telling lesbians to stop french-kissing while
in uniform in a great country?

Does the government hand out birth control to children in a great country?

Do illegal immigrants stream over the border at will in a great country?

Are 151 million people on the government dole in a great country?

Do a majority of Americans vote for Barack Obama twice in a great country?

Does a great country laugh at morality, reject reality and worship
cross-dressers?

Do adults in a great country so lack even the most rudimentary knowledge of
their own great country that they can?t even explain why their great country
celebrates the Fourth of July?

Is this what happens in a great country?

If so, what?s so great about being great? Where is the optimism in that
miserable greatness? Where is the hope for the future if moral bankruptcy,
selfishness, confusion, stupidity, deviancy and failure are ?great??

This is why I?m surprised liberals are still out burning American flags.
What are they upset about? This country has been reshaped in their image.
They won the culture, the government, academia, the media, even the
churches. This is their America. They own it. Yet they aren?t satisfied
because liberalism, like its father Satan, is intent only on destruction and
consumption. It will never be satiated.

You might say most of the examples I provided have to do with America?s
people, not America herself. But the distinction is irrelevant because a
democracy is only as great as its people. Meanwhile, our government is
corrupt and feckless, and our political leaders are cowardly and
self-serving. Yes, the Constitution is great, but it?s still just a set of
laws. If laws are ignored, they might as well not exist. The Bill of Rights
can?t make us great if we don?t follow it, just like your running shoes
can?t make you fit if you don?t put them on and go for a jog.

So in what way is America great at the moment? Are we a moral beacon for the
world now? Where is the rest of the world supposed to locate that shining
light of moral clarity? Is it somewhere buried under the dead children and
the perversion and the porn and the divorce and the drugs and the disease
and the dependency and the Nanny State socialism? What about leadership in
government, or education, or the home? Is American culture great in these
respects?

Face it, Mike. Judge America by any measure ? moral, political, economic,
social, cultural ? and none of it points to greatness. Not by a long shot.
Not even close. Not anymore. Progressivism dominates all of these spheres,
and with its rise our greatness diminishes.

You might tell me that some individuals in this nation still preserve and
shine that light ? particularly veterans and people who serve in other
capacities ? but are they numerous enough to define our culture? Clearly
not. They are great in spite of our society, not through it or because of
it.

All that?s left, then, is the past. Because while we?ve declined rapidly, we
also rose faster than any country before us. We accomplished incredible
things. We stormed beaches, conquered tyrants, built cities; we invented and
pioneered and innovated. We faced down evil and defeated it. We abolished
slavery. We established civil rights for all. We beat the Nazis. We
extinguished Communism. We earned the title of a land of opportunity. A
God-fearing land. We went to church, we raised our families, we worked, we
loved, we prayed.

Look, I?m not idolizing the past. But it?s a matter of historical record
that America was a great country, and an exceptional one. And it?s also a
fact that the historical record is just that ? history. We have to stop
resting on the laurels of our great-grandparents and pretending that
somehow, because they came off the boat from wherever and persevered through
the Depression, we get to mooch off their greatness for eternity. Frankly,
our great-grandparents would be disgusted at our country now, and ashamed of
it, and of us. Their greatness was their own. We don?t deserve it and have
not earned it.

I know I might sound similar to that famous rant from the HBO show ?The
Newsroom? a few years back. In that clip, Jeff Daniels goes on a tirade
about the failures of America, but Daniels made his case that we aren?t ?the
greatest? by comparing our health and economic status to other nations.
Personally, I think money has very little to do with true greatness one way
or another. And in any event, I?m not worried about stacking us up against
other places.

People say to me, ?Yeah, things are bleak, but it?s still better than
Mexico, North Korea, etc.? I?m sure it is. But greatness isn?t attained by
simply staying one step above the pitiful things around you. If nobody in
the room can read or write, and you manage to compose one semi-coherent
sentence, that doesn?t make you Shakespeare. If you want to be Shakespeare,
you have to strive for brilliance no matter how brilliant or idiotic
everyone else happens to be.

?Yeah, but what about all the other countries and their problems?? OK,
what?s your point? If that makes you suddenly cool with a nation that
slaughters children and corrupts the institution of marriage, fine. Way to
maintain high standards for the country you supposedly love. But, me, I want
better for my homeland. When I love something ? and I do love my country ? I
want it to be actually great, not just great compared to Somalia.

And what makes a nation great anyway? I?d say economic status plays some
small part in it, liberties are important, the way the government functions,
laws, industries, military ? all of these are factors. But I?ll tell you
this: In the end, the nation that sends the most people to heaven is the
greatest. Period.

No nation is truly great if it leads its citizens away from truth and away
from God. It?s as simple as that. You find a country where most of the
citizens ? the culture itself, predominately ? is directed toward God,
toward a humble, moral life, toward truth, and you have found a great
nation. I don?t care what else it has going for it. I don?t care if it the
life expectancy is 27 and it doesn?t have a standing army or WiFi. If the
conditions in the country are such that people are living a moral,
God-centered life, it is a great country.

I?m not saying we should be a theocracy. I?m not saying the president?s job
is to get me to heaven. I?m just saying the purpose of life is to stand in
truth, be holy and see God. A culture oriented toward that purpose is great.
A culture that is not, is not.

Now I guess this is the part where I?m supposed to add the caveat, ?America
isn?t great, but it can be great again!? or some such slogan.

Yesterday someone on Twitter told me that America will ?always? be great, no
matter what happens or what we do. Others have insisted it?s divine destiny
that America reclaim its greatness. But this kind of talk isn?t patriotic;
it?s paganism. It paints this country like it?s literally the Kingdom of
God. As if, out of all the thousands of countries that have existed since
the dawn of time, ours is the first that really will last forever. This is
to make Americanism into a religion. It?s idolatry. It?s foolishness,
especially considering the Romans and the Greeks felt exactly the same way
yet even they were evidently wrong.

We have no guarantees, nor should we seek them. The Lord, in His wisdom,
might see fit to smite America from the Earth, like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Can?t say I?d blame Him. Or maybe He will lead us through this dark age to
true greatness. I don?t know.

Here?s what I do know, and here?s the hopeful part: Our priority has to be
our families and our souls. The fate of the country or the globe has not
been put entirely, or even mostly, in our individual hands. But we have
profound jurisdiction over the fate of our families, the spiritual state of
our children, whether our households serve the Lord, and whether we serve
the Lord. That?s our hope for the future. Right there.

We can find greatness if we strive for holiness. We have to. We are entering
an age where only the great Christians will spiritually survive. It?s a
scary time, but if we heed the call to holiness, we can find immense joy.
That?s what I want for my children, though I fear for them quite a bit these
days. I can?t imagine what this country will look like in 30 or 40 years.
Maybe things will have turned around, but honestly I really doubt it. So all
I can do is hold them close, try to be a better father to them and a better
husband to my wife, and equip them as best I can for what comes next.

I believe strongly that real persecution awaits us down the road. I think my
children will face hostility and opposition and maybe even violence on a
level I haven?t yet seen. We are heading into very challenging times, but if
we keep our families together and our hearts with God, we?ll be OK. No
matter what happens, we?ll be OK. And, by extension, if we pour ourselves
into our families and into our faith, we might be able to rescue this
culture and this country from the clutches of progressive annihilation. It
won?t happen quickly, and I don?t know if it will happen at all, but I know
there?s a chance. America is not lost completely. Not yet.

So find strength in the Lord. Love your spouse and your children like Christ
loves the Church. Be a leader in your home. Be willing to sacrifice
everything for your family. Be unwilling to sacrifice your soul for
anything. Confront the reality of our current state and accept that you will
be asked to endure a lot of pain and persecution. Pray. Remember what
America was. Remember who God is. Remember who you are and why you?re here
and that you were put here in this time for a reason.

And that will be your hope and mine. It?s all the hope we need. It?s not
sappy, it?s not sweet, it won?t fit in a Dove commercial, but it?s real.

The greatness of America is determined by its culture, and its culture by
its people, and its people by their love for God. If we can become better,
more virtuous, and train our children in the ways of the Lord, maybe many
years from now ? perhaps when you and I are dead and buried ? America will
be able to call herself a great country.

Until then, we can only pray that God gives us the strength for whatever
comes. And come it will.

So be it.

God bless America.

Happy Independence Day, Mike.