Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas and the Culture

Merry Christmas. I know that not all of my readers are believers in the divinity of Jesus, as I am. However, even non-believers can acknowledge the historical impact that Jesus' life and teaching and that of his followers have had on the world. We tend to forget that in the time of Jesus' birth, morality had a very different meaning than today. The Romans considered it a mercy to only slaughter a portion of the civilian inhabitants of a conquered nation while making the remaining inhabitants slaves. Women had no rights whatsoever in most cultures. The poor were considered cursed or morally flawed.

Following the rise of Christianity, these attitudes changed, sometimes slowly, but inexorably. Today, much of what we believe in terms of morality has roots in Christian teaching. I acknowledge there are many exceptions, but the broad outline holds.

So why does this matter to the Tea Party and the nation? I think that we are in practice, moving away from those historical moral lodestones. Looking at the financial crisis, we see that it starts with the attitude that lying about mortgage applications doesn't matter (by all parties, by the way). It is exacerbated by the practice of the federal government and federal reserve putting the interests of banks ahead of the general public, a severe injustice. The practice of running up debts at all branches of government, that we know cannot be repaid also violates long standing Christian principles as well. That both union leaders and politicians were involved makes it no less an affront.

Finally, we are raising a generation of fatherless children. This is not directly an issue for the Tea Party, but it has far reaching implications for us. For starters, single parent households are the leading cause of poverty in America, which has a direct budgeting consequence. Further, fatherless children beget more fatherless children exacerbating the same problem as more young women and their babies enter the welfare rolls. Finally, those children become academic underachievers, compared to children with two parents. The lack of education, and more importantly, solid work ethic and other useful social skills harms the economic growth of the nation.

Certainly, these problems would be lessened if we rewarded the bad behavior less, or punished it outright, in some cases. Federal reserve transparency, reducing California welfare generosity, and requiring proper accounting for liabilities (i.e. telling the truth about them) will certainly help. But ultimately there is a cultural component to the issues we face. Today is not the day to fight that fight, but I urge all of us in our private lives to be mindful of advancing an agenda of personal responsibility, truthfulness and accountability. I doubt that I have a reader who would disagree with those moral lodestones, Christian or not.

And Merry Christmas. We live in a great country where the values I cite are alive and strong, even if under attack. Because they reflect eternal truths, I am confident of their ultimate victory.

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