- - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

America is facing a spiritual crisis the likes of which our nation has not confronted since the American Civil War. 

Our national discourse has coarsened to a level that is toxic. Facts and reason are being supplanted in our public discourse with nostrums born of emotion bereft of common sense. Identity politics and quack science are rapidly crowding out the time-honored precepts of the scientific method. Political posturing and public-relations buffoonery are replacing measured deliberations and reasoned debate designed to produce principled public-policy accommodations that support the common good. 

Into this breach have stepped two well-qualified, Christian culture warriors, Tim Goeglein and Craig Osten, who, together, have produced a very readable book diagnosing our national crisis and suggesting reasoned, faith-based solutions designed to right the foundering ship of the American culture. 

Each chapter of the book addresses a discrete component of the tattered fabric of the American society to include Religious Liberty, the Culture of Life, Education, Citizenship and Duty, Patriotism and Sacrifice, and the original meaning of the American Constitution itself.  

Each chapter of this fast-paced narrative is preceded by a series of well-chosen quotations from noted thinkers who have previously offered reflections on the subject the chapter addresses.



The careful reader will want to spend some time with those quotations in that they serve to frame the issue addressed in the chapter that follows. Also, in order fully to appreciate this work, it is not necessary to read it front to back. Its structure permits the reader to treat the work as a vade mecum permitting him to dip into subjects of special interest designated by the chapter headings.

Throughout their effort, the authors make clear their belief that the American culture has been defined by the still, small voice of God speaking through the foundational documents of the American Republic, the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. 

They focus their narrative on the principles embodied in the American Constitution, a work of genius which accepts the dangers of unrestrained human ambitions and appetites, while recognizing that, with God’s help and the proper moral framework, human beings are capable of self-governance when they commit themselves to justice and ordered liberty.

Our Founders recognized that the great tyrants of history did not become murderous brutes because of a lack of intellectual capacity, but rather a dearth of moral acuity and self-restraint. That is why they wrote the U.S. Constitution the way they did. As a result, these authors see the road to American restoration as running through the human heart. Frustrating as it might be for us to accept, the restoration of America cannot be achieved en masse, but must take root incrementally in the hearts of every American, one person at a time.

Of special concern to the authors is the alarming condition of American education at all levels. Per C.S. Lewis, the purpose of education is to train the student to value what he should and disdain what he ought. “Should” and “ought” are concepts imbued with moral import.

And, the secular elites who have come to populate the nation’s education infrastructure are overwhelmingly moral relativists who have no real grasp of what “should” and “ought” must be understood to mean. For that reason, such educators are the moral castrati of modernity, pedagogic geldings incapable of performing the true function their chosen profession demands. That fact must be accepted and, over time, purposely redressed, or the American culture will have little chance of revival.

The first three words of the Constitution are “We the People.” Those words clearly fix the responsibility on every American by his moral comportment to secure “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The modern detractors of the Constitution actively disdain responsible personal liberty and self-restraint in favor of a reckless and anarchic libertinism.

And yet, the Constitution is a document that presumes that Americans will take responsibility for themselves and honor the moral principles set forth in the Bible, the handbook for life which, during America’s founding, was a treasured possession in virtually every American home.  

In order to deal with the conflicts between the moral precepts which undergird the Constitution and the radical personal autonomy of modern secularism, progressives insist that the Constitution must be interpreted as a “living document” whose words are reinterpreted to accommodate changes in culture.

For his part, the late Justice Antonin Scalia believed the restoration of the American nation presumes a return to the original intent of the Founders, thereby restoring respect for human dignity, the precept on which true freedom is ultimately based.

In the final analysis, restoration of the American republic cannot come in the absence of a re-embrace of the Christian faith acting as the great rudder employed by nature’s God to guide our nation in the 21st century and beyond. For any reader alarmed about the condition of the American culture and seeking ideas on how it might be restored, this small and clearly written book will be a very worthwhile read.

• Thomas E. Wilson has had a long career as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer.

• • •

AMERICAN RESTORATION: HOW FAITH, FAMILY, AND PERSONAL SACRIFICE CAN HEAL OUR NATION

By Timothy S. Goeglein and Craig Osten

Regnery Gateway, $28.99, 216 pages

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