Thursday, September 12, 2013

Putin and American Exceptionalism

President Putin has once more managed to anger those who would wrap themselves in the mantle of conservatism (e.g.,  The main offense is this passage from his NYT op-ed:

‘My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’

The response to Putin of late has been quite deranged.  The talking points from The Powers That Be have apparently gone out, with Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, etc. calling him a ‘thug’, ‘KGB agent’, ‘dictator’, Stalin sympathizer, etc.  Granted, he is an elected official, so one is always unsure of who is pulling the strings behind the scenes, but this effort to dehumanize him, to brand him as a reincarnation of the Soviet Union, is absurd.  He has done things that many Americans would like their President, Congress, etc. to do:  Ban pro-gay propaganda, encourage the growth of traditional families, fight government corruption, protect the Church, and so on.  Again, he is not perfect, but neither he is the wicked man many are portraying him to be.

As for his essay, there are things good and bad in it.  Though Putin is right when he criticizes the increasingly naked militarism of the American Empire, and the increasing frustration of the world’s nations with it, he is wrong when he implies that attaining a democratic political system should be one of the ultimate goals of every society, and when he encourages countries to place their trust in the globalist-dominated United Nations to protect law and order.  And on we could go.

But these things are only of secondary importance.  What is most crucial to grasp is the understanding of what makes a nation truly exceptional. 

It is not the form of government.

It is not the economic system.

It is not the Renaissance-Reformation-Enlightenment idea of ‘the primacy of the individual’ (Limbaugh, above citation). 

It is, rather, the strength of a nation’s faith, the measure of the Holy Spirit each person of that larger family has been able to obtain through prayer, worship, study, meditation, ascetic labor, fasting, and such things.

Where, America, are your hosts of martyrs and confessors?

Where, America, are your sanctified elders who are adorned with the light of the Holy Spirit?

Where, America, are pure ones who have regained their pre-Fall Adamic powers over nature and wild beasts?

Where, America, are your God-seekers who flee to the wilds of mountains, deserts, forests, and swamps to find the Lord in solitary life?

Where, America, are you healers, prophets, and clairvoyant elders?  Your powerful and rich rulers who gave up their high positions for a monk’s or a nun’s life?  Your fools for Christ who rebuke the powerful to their faces without fear? 

America!  America!  You have many things:  comfortable homes, cars and trucks, smart phones, video games, televisions, music players, microwaves, washers and dryers, computers, novels, vacations, sports, church programs, etc.

But you have not what is truly important:  Our Lord God the Holy Spirit.  Seek Him while there is still time!

Nor should the South feel complacent.  We are too Yankee-fied in these days to feel ourselves safe from judgment.  Furthermore, our pride in our culture and our heroes and our history borders on idolatry and prevents us from seeking closer union with the Most Holy Trinity.  We were judged once for our sins; it is possible the cup of wrath is not yet empty.

But we also know that with the Lord is great mercy.  May we earnestly ask it of Him, and repent, and seek what is truly important, what makes the people of a nation truly unique: the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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