A TALE OF TWO GOVERNMENTS
“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us.”
It is often said that large government is replacing the natural social order of society that once gave meaning and purpose to local communities. When in reality, the deterioration of this natural social order came long before any socialized government. Is it really that big government is deteriorating our communities… or that big government is a sign that they have already been deteriorating? Since it seems everyone can only see the bad fruit, I will start with the fruit and work to the cause:
iv. GOVERNMENT’S USURPATION: In the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville made the point that the bigger the government gets, the smaller the citizen becomes.
iii. NEED FOR SOCIAL ORDER: In the 1950s, Robert Nisbet dug deeper and made a connection between traditional values and the size of governments. He stated that without an existing social order, the government will inevitably start its social policies to fill the void.
ii. NEED FOR RELIGION TO SUSTAIN THE SOCIAL ORDER: I am stating that without religion, the social order cannot be sustained. I am simply stating that God has proven to be the only incentive great enough to compel consistent virtue across time. Without religion, charity is neglected, and government programs like social security and social welfare are then enacted. The church instills biblical conviction, which results in traditional values. Simply put, without the church, the government will grow.
i. NEED FOR ORTHODOXY TO SUSTAIN RELIGION: I am going a step further and saying that any slight deviation from the ancient biblical Commandments and the biblical institutions cannot be taken seriously, which in turn causes traditional values to lose their undergirding conviction. Both laws and traditions are only regarded when they are unchanging and absolute. In short, any orthodox practice will not do but only a trusted and sure practice; only the most ancient kind of orthodoxy is revered.
Everyone seems to be chopping at the branches of big government while leaving the root untouched. To sum it up: build upon the real religious commandments, and you will have no orthodox practice. With no orthodox practice, you’ll have no conviction. With no conviction, you’ll have no traditional values. With no traditional values, the high progressive values of the world take their place. With new progressive values supplanted, the rise of socialism starts. With the rise of socialism, you end up with the deterioration of our communities that we are currently witnessing. In short, without an orthodox religious practice, progressivism triumphs over traditional values—and erodes our way of life.
It is interesting how the progressive man seems to love the big government of the state but hates the little governments of the church. They have on glasses—those big-framed, trendy glasses that college students and intellectuals seem to love—and through these glasses, these two groups only seem to see the redistribution of wealth when it is done by force and not when it is done by choice. They hate voluntary action but love coercion. The people that belong to the big government of the state think the people who belong to the little governments of the church are bizarre. They see them as bizarre because they do not so easily change with the world. Whereas those people who belong to the big government of the state are literally quite bizarre. They live in a mad state, embracing every wild trend in the world and missing the only trend that has remained steady throughout the long history of these two governments. The little governments of the church are really much bigger than the big government of the state, which is the unseen reason why the big governments of the state keep failing and why the little governments of the church keep growing and why those who belong to the big governments of the state keep proclaiming that “God is dead” when they keep dying, and God keeps on living. The men who belong to the big government of the state, who wear big glasses and who occupy big positions in big schools, are much more foolish than the average men, who would never wear these glasses unless he was making a joke. However, those who belong to the little governments of the church do not take their governments as seriously as the intellectuals take the state. They don’t take them seriously because they have never learned to take them seriously. The government of the church operates voluntarily, which means before anybody can willingly become part of this little government, this little government needs to first become part of them. It is a paradox that people do not keep religious laws, and so they are not taken seriously, and they are not taken seriously because they are not kept. This is due to the concept that the truth is unchanging. Games are taken very seriously when the rules are universal and fair, but the moment a rule is bent, interest in the entire game seems to fall away. This is the existential reality of the church; when the customs in the Bible differ from the customs of the church, the whole thing is not taken seriously—and the church is neglected. Nobody wants to be a part of a pseudo-religion but only a real religion, and the only real religion is that unchanging and ancient one.
The Aristotelian principal in nature—that anything empty will not remain empty for long—is in full force within human nature. Due to the fact that the common man has neglected his own church government, their wives have in turn become devoted to another. One of the wild trends of the intellectuals today is to think that women do not have different tendencies than men when they quite obviously do. Women have always been more attracted to security and men more attracted to liberty. Historically, women have found this security within their community, the church, and the family. But the little governments of the church have been neglected, and their functions have been usurped by the big governments of the state—leaving the perception of the little church as not as great as it once was. So the security of the women is now found, not in any central community, but in the secular academy, in the security of the state, and in the security of wealth, all detached from any central purpose. Women seem to revere those cultured men who wear big glasses and who hide behind the lofty walls of the secular academy, or at least they seem to love the high positions that they occupy—the positions that seem so safe and secure and almost as sophisticated as their glasses seem. They will do just about anything to ship their children off to these very lofty institutions with very low ideals. Forgetting about traditional values—where families are started and where independence is gained; they embrace the security of the worldly values—where family is postponed and sex is perverted and where status is substituted for that old and sturdy independence. In effect, they trust in these foolish intellectuals at the expense of the wise men that they are married to. Her worry causes her to listen to that ancient snake and to treat something other than God as God. She then abandons the peace that she had in traditional values for a worldly pursuit and becomes desperate.
Trust in me, oh little woman,
Trust me I’ll make you safe,
Trust in me, oh little woman
Trust in me, I know the way.
So the women forsook her customs
And her conscious she ignored
She trusted in the world around her
With eyes for wealth galore
Many years had passed by
And she received those dreams
They traveled abroad to big cities
To seek the ends of financial schemes
When that woman was lonely
With no community, nor church, nor friends
She cried out; oh Lord please help me!
I chose the worldly way instead!
I thought it would save us
Higher education seemed so right
I forgot the olden ways
And now I cannot bear the night.
She heard a response:
You trusted in him, oh little women
You trusted in him to make you safe
You trusted in him oh little women
You trusted in him to know the way
He takes care of your own for you,
So the poor you do not know
There’s no need for churches or charities
No need for favors to bestow
The old are placed in homes
Without neighbors or family or clan
Isn’t the safe way so easy?!
They no longer need your helping hand!
The woman cried out, I’m not happy!
There is no central purpose in life.
My people are all now scattered.
Is this the result of all my strife?!
What can I do with all my money?
The wealth that I have gathered up
Now that my family and friends are scattered
Is this the fullness of my cup?!
I trusted in these new values
The old ways I did not esteem
I trusted in the masses
Now what has happened to my dream?
She heard again:
You have received your dreams oh women;
When you silenced your only man.
By your worry the world prevailed,
And caused your family to disband.
Why did you trust in me, oh little women?
Why did you trust me to make you safe?
You should have known, oh little women
Not to trust the ancient snake!!
The average man, having little Biblical conviction, listens to his wife as Adam once listed to Eve; and they both eat of that ancient apple—which humans desire when they wish to be wise in the ways of the word but end up becoming slaves. The progressive worries of life silence the authority of biblical values, and that old desire for the security of ancient Babel reemerges in varying forms. Without strong conviction, people become intimidated by the world, and those good institutions of the church, the family, and the community are eroded and replaced with the security of the secular academy and with an unhealthy emphasis on career, detached from any central purpose. This precisely why the average size of families is decreasing in proportion to the emergence of progressive values. When the traditions of the community are not held as the central aim of life, they will be usurped by the progressive ways of the world and then by the government, and the only remaining social functions revolve around foolishness, play, and selfish ambition. Government’s usurpation of the natural social order of communities is not the cause but a symptom of something deeper. It is a symptom that the whole tree has long been sick. A good tree cannot bare bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. First, make the tree good, and it will produce good fruit.
Some may remedy this fall with the idea of individual thought or with the idea of manhood, stating something to the effect of, “I only need some common sense not to follow the world in any which way.” But is this not exactly what the church is—a group of people who have been freed from the bondage to the world, assembling once a week to reaffirm it? Individuals are weak apart from the larger community. Apart from biblical conviction, humanity has not produced manhood but servitude or even a strange kind of womanhood. There has never been a time in our nation’s history where we have been less religious and more womanlike. There has never been a time in our nation’s history where the church has been so neglected and obscenities have been so celebrated. There has never been a time in our nation’s history where the community has been so trivial, and the government has been so paternal. There has never been a time in humanity when something so epic—as that story of the Messiah redeeming humanity from bondage—has been substituted for something so vile as the progressive values of today. The fact is, for any underlying social order to be sustained, people need to see the institutions of the Bible as the primary institutions. People need to understand that the Biblical holidays and sabbaths are the very institutions from which their community derives its natural cohesion. In recent times, people have held everything else as primary and their very own traditions as merely a secondary obligation. In order to have any lasting liberty, the reverse needs to take place; people must learn to hold their traditions in the highest regard and treat everything else in the world as if it doesn’t even matter in comparison. In short, people need to hold their traditions as REAL traditions, with a real purpose, before we can have any real check upon progressivism and socialism.
People are caught in the trap of seeing religion as only a private endeavor and not as the very thing which makes their communities strong. In short, people need to see religion as a type of government in itself and not only as a private spiritual thing. When religion is seen only as a spiritual endeavor, you hear things like, “I don’t need the Sabbath to be a good person,” but when religion is seen as the institution which makes communities what they are, the importance of social morality, such as Sabbath observances, become much more evident. The Bible was not written for a single man but for a nation. When everyone understands the phrase “upon the virtue of each lies the fate of the whole,” religion will be properly understood and will then act as the needed check on government. When speaking of the “highest good,” Aristotle stated, “Though it is worthwhile to attain the end merely for one man, it is finer and more godlike to attain it for a nation or for city-states.” The Bible agrees with this as it was written not for an individual but for a nation, and the nation itself was referred to as an individual.
Dennis Prager stated that the biggest threat to America today is, “We have not passed down what it means to be American to this generation.” It was not the concept of Americanism that led to Americanism. It was not the new idea of an American trinity that led to the American trinity. It was not a new idea that led to these things, but it was the oldest of ideas. It was not the new idea of “liberty above equality,” that led to liberty being valued more than equality. The founders were not exceptional because they devised a new form of government, but because they recognized the oldest form of government that pre-existed all the others. It was the concept of complete liberation in God alone that led the founders to construct a limited government—and they would limit anything else that would prove to be a threat to this central ambition. The philosophy of freedom does not lead to freedom without an orthodox religious practice that undergirds it. God set the Jewish people apart for a reason and gave them this ancient tradition in the most epic of ways. Christians then adopted this orthodox practice which has led to these great American ideals. Orthodoxy is the sustainer of all liberty. No philosophy can replace the fear of God practiced through the most ancient of traditions. Build upon the ancient traditions and watch the whole thing come thundering down. The idea of a Jew telling Christians about the philosophy of America is interesting, but I would rather hear the Jew tell the Christians about the philosophy of Judaism—but I forgot that Jews don’t talk about Judaism half as much as Christians do, and if they did, maybe we would be hearing about Israeli exceptionalism rather than American. Maybe that is why they are in our country and we are not in theirs, and nobody would agree more than the old Jewish prophets that shaped the new American traditions. What I am saying is that although people like hearing Dennis Prager tell us about Americanism, I think it would be much more profitable to hear Americans speak about Dennis Pragerism. For it seems that Dennis practices the ancient orthodoxy that I am now advocating for. In the following section, I will show how we need to start with Dennis’s private philosophy of biblical Judaism to sustain his public philosophy of American Trinitarianism. The real reason we seek to limit government is because we already belong to a better one. It is better to say it like it is. What we are doing here, in this country, is not devoting ourselves to the principals of any government and tolerating religion, but rather, we are practicing the principals of Christianity and merely tolerating government. When we tell it like it is, then what we are will be evident, and we will be that city on the hill that cannot be hidden. However, if Dennis started preaching the pillars of the Judeo-Christian faith and not Americanism, he would be less of a political speaker and much closer to a rabbi or to a preacher (and it is a theme in this book that until the rabbi and the Christian preacher share a title, nobody will care what either have to say). It is very curious why Jews seem to hate preaching, and Christians seem to love it, given the fact that Christians learned everything they know about preaching from them. The fact that Jews have chosen to be less like Jonah and more like a group of secret scribes is another sign that they are practicing something other than Judaism. The secret scribes have produced a glut of religious legislation. This religious legislation is really just biblical commentary, and if it were called that and not the “oral law,” then it may be a positive thing rather than a tragic thing. They may be secret in that pious sense—that they’re secluded from the wild world—which isn’t a bad thing when the world is partaking in ritual human sacrifices and praising nature. But today, when everyone around them is reading the same Bible that they’re reading, it’s no longer virtuous to be that secretive, just a little strange. Dennis has also joined the ranks of these secret scribes in the sense that he produced yet another commentary on the Bible—but at least Dennis does not make his commentary supernaturally authoritative and then exclusive of both the non-Jew and the Christian. It may not be that original that a Jew wrote another commentary on the Bible, but at least this Jew preaches his commentary as he preaches his philosophy of Americanism, and given the current environment, it is preaching, and not politics, that is needed. The politician believed that the nation would fall due to the violent usurpation of its public liberties. The preacher believed that the nation would fall because its citizens have no desire for liberties at all. The politician feared that we would ban the reading of scripture, whereas the preacher feared that there would be no reason to ban scripture, for no one would seek to read it. The politician feared that the truth would be concealed from us, and the pastor feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevant nonsense. The politician feared the dismantling of the bonds in our communities, where the preacher feared that no such bonds would exist. The politician feared we’d become a captive culture. The preacher feared we’d become a trivial culture, preoccupied with vacation time, reality television, and drunken madness. In short, the politician feared that inflicting pain would oppress us; the pastor feared that inflicting pleasure would oppress us. We are starting to now realize that the fears of the politician are quickly becoming a reality because the pastor's fears have long been our reality.
Exhibit A. The steps that lead to social deterioration are as follows:
STEP 1: CHURCH BENDS ON ANCIENT PRECEPTS: The relative traditions in the church undermine its perception to the general public. Sabbath substitution makes the Sabbath relative, and so religion is no longer sustained in a practical way.
STEP 2: MORAL RELATIVITY SETS IN: The lack of regard for the church not only weakens this natural social order but the lack of conviction leaves men open to progressive ideology—where biblical values no longer guide families and that authority is then placed into the hands of the academy and where the welfare state replaces the functions of churches and private associations.
STEP 3: PRIVATE SOCIAL ORDER DETERIORATES: The church, being the primary association, means a deterioration of the existing social order within the community.
STEP 4: SOCIALISM REPLACES NATURAL ORDER: Government does for citizens what they would have done for themselves.
STEP 5: PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT USURPS TRADITIONAL: The lack of social institutions, combined with the lack of religious conviction, produces the progressive mind, which furthers the deterioration of communities. Parents no longer raise children with traditional values of family, church, and service—but of education, wealth accumulation, and with a heightened emphasis on career accomplishment with almost no emphasis on any community aspirations whatsoever.
STEP 6: NO CENTRAL PURPOSE EXISTS: By severing private efforts from their fulfillment within the greater community, the will to meaning declines. Individuals scatter after anything with no central unity, each going his own way.
(These are the root causes of big government that go largely unseen. This compounding detrimental cycle comes prior to The Road to Serfdom, a book in which Friedrich Hayek starts with final steps, just illustrated, and shows how socialism leads to totalitarianism.)
The fact is, we need an orthodox practice for reasons that aren’t so easily seen, and to do this, we will look at two cultures, the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, and the city of New York.
First stop: Roseto, Pennsylvania, the year, 1890:
The people of Roseto, Pennsylvania, had an extremely long life expectancy compared with the rest of the world. The following passage from Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers illustrates why.
“The Rosetans began buying land on a rocky hillside, connected to Bangor only by a steep, rutted wagon path. They built closely clustered two story stone houses, with slate roofs, on narrow streets running up and down the hillside. They built a Church and called it Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and named the main street on which it stood Garibaldi Avenue, after the great hero of Italian unification. In the beginning, they called their town New Italy. But they soon changed it to something that seemed more appropriate, given that in the previous decade almost all of them had come from the same village in Italy. They called it Roseto.
In 1896, a dynamic young priest—Father Pasquale de Nisco—took over at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. De Nisco set up spiritual societies and organized festivals. He encouraged the townsfolk to clear the land, and plant onions, beans, potatoes, melons and fruit trees in the long backyards behind their houses. He gave out seeds and bulbs. The town came to life. The Rosetans began raising pigs in their backyard, and growing grapes for homemade wine. Schools, a park, a convent and a cemetery were built. Small shops and bakeries and restaurants and bars opened along Garibaldi Avenue. More than a dozen factories sprang up, making blouses for the garment trade… Roseto Pennsylvania was its own tiny, self-sufficient world—all but unknown by the society around it—and may well have remained so but for a man named Stewart Wolf.
What Wolf slowly realized was that the secret of Roseto wasn't diet or exercise or genes or the region where Roseto was situated. It had to be the Roseto itself. As Bruhn and Wolf walked around the town, they began to realize why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited each other, stopping to chat with each other in Italian on the street, or cooking for each other in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town's social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and saw the unifying and calming effect of the Church. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town of just under two-thousand people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the town, that discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.
“I remember going to Roseto for the first time, and you'd see three generational family meals, all the bakeries, the people walking up and down the street, sitting on their porches talking to each other, the blouse mills where the women worked during the day, while the men worked in the slate quarries,” Bruhn said. “It was magical.”
I would say that Roseto had a great foundation because of one forward thinking priest named Father Pasquale de Nisco. He was instrumental in establishing different Church Sodalities focusing on Christian life for boys, girls, mothers and wives. He began to rid the town of petty lawlessness. He encouraged gardens, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and grape arbors.”
Today the people of Roseto are no longer a people; they have almost zero unity, culture, or any community whatsoever. They are almost completely unidentifiable other than the semi-transient people who dwell within in the physical limits of the town and have almost no distinction from those that live around them. Why did Roseto, and every other Christian community, eventually become dispersed, scattered, and assimilated? What could have been more attractive than their way of life? How could they lose the traditions that once were the source of their strength? Some men would say relativity, others would say secularism, and still others would say it's simply the desire to see the world, and they all may be right in part, but there is a deeper and more veiled issue at the core of the problem.
Next stop: Manhattan, New York, the year, 2015:
It is summertime, on a Friday afternoon, in New York City. Much of the city is busy planning their weekend and their nightly festivities, but anyone who has ever lived or worked in certain communities of New York City knows very well that there is something more happening within the circles of a particular group of people. It’s a community of people that have the same language, heritage, traditions, religion, and a people who make up approximately two out of every ten residents in the entire city. This is the Jewish people, and the offices clear out on Friday in the early afternoon as they go home to remember, and to keep, Gods commands by observing a full day of complete rest—as they have been doing for nearly four thousand years. There is only one ancient nation who has been dispersed from their homeland, lost their language, and then thousands of years later regained their land, regained their language, and continue in the same traditions that their fathers have kept. How have the Jewish people been able to maintain their traditions through such adversity when the rest of the world's traditions come and go, just as a flower comes one day and withers the next? How have they continually been able to separate themselves from assimilation and from pressures of the world around them?
It may come as a surprise that the Catholic Church actually encourages moral relativism. How does it do this? It stands for a set of principles that cannot be sustained. It stands for an institutional religion but with altered commandments that do not come directly from the text, which no one deep down takes seriously. They cannot take this religion seriously. How can they? The whole framework and argument break down immediately.
For example, when people partake in the customs that give structure to life, the holidays, Sabbath days, circumcisions, etc.., in all these the people really have no clue of the 'why'. If a father has his son circumcised, will he not for a moment start to think like a human being? Will he not engage his mind and ask, “What are we doing here?” “Is this not the sign of a covenant in The Bible?” “Are we now Abraham’s posterity?” “Should we keep all the laws in the Bible?” I want him to know that the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” But what happens when a religion of theology has replaced them, and the answer is muddled with all sorts of varying answers, with stipulations, with explanations, and with concessions? And the father pauses for a moment, and time sets in, and he walks away, moves on with his life, never understanding why. He walks away with no convictions rooted in the Word but with a confusion and a kind of passive attitude, not with absolute thoughts of confidence but with merely an acceptance of custom. This is not lasting, this is not absolute, and it has no sustainability. They have become a culture of men who do not take their history seriously because they have never learned to take it seriously. The Laws and the calendar are the strength of the people. The Hebrew Calendar can be thought of as written in layers on translucent paper, each placed one over the other. The calendar is first a historical calendar of events that starts with the redemption of their people. It is then layered with a lunar calendar, which marks the times and the seasons. This is followed by the agricultural calendar that incorporates the feasts of the harvests. Each historical event aligns with the agricultural and lunar events. These events are culminated with the advent of the Messiah, which are in direct alignment with the rest so that the redemption of the Messiah is directly aligned with the redemption from Egypt. These are all tied into the cycles of the calendar so that in daily life, man is constantly reminded of events both physical and spiritual, both practical and religious. These events are enshrined within the Laws of the people. Historical, spiritual, lunar, agricultural, and Messianic events are all combined into one calendar described within the Holy Book—written not by man but inspired by God through man. The unity of a people comes from the events written in their laws. If a people do not know their calendar, it can be said that they are not a people at all and if these events are altered and become relative, they all collapse like a house of cards.
If you ask the average Christian if he keeps the ten commandments, he will say: “Yes.” But what about the fourth commandment? “No, not that one. Well kind of, we go to church on Sundays.” Well, then that's a no and not a yes. Right? “Yeah, but we kind of do keep a Sabbath.” Well, how come not on Saturdays as commanded in the Bible and kept by Jews even to today? “They changed it when Christ rose on Sunday.” Who changed it? “I don't know.” Did Jesus, the Rabbi, change it? “No.” Did Paul? “No, they were all Jews and just started keeping it Sunday, I guess.” Where does it say that? “Well, the Bible says they collected money on the first day of the week.” Wouldn't Jews want to collect money on a day other than the Sabbath, so they didn't have to do these activities on the rest day? “Yes.” And didn't they meet nearly every day of the week regardless? “Yes.” And didn't they continue to meet in the synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath? “Yes.” Ok. Enough.
This is the difference between their Law of God and the customs of the Christian tradition, that the Laws of the Jewish people are unchangeable, and the customs of the Christian tradition are just customs. The Law of God is a broad and deep Law, a simple and practical Law, and an animating and empirically verifiable Law. Law, community, academics, philosophy, religion, tradition, morality, spirituality, and everything in between all rolled into one book called the Bible. It is the strength of the people; a story of a man chosen by God; a man that became a family; a family that became twelve tribes; twelve tribes that became a nation, and a nation in which God would reveal His will, wisdom, and nature to the world. Other traditions are celebrated for a finite time before their heritage is assimilated and eventually forgotten, but the ancient biblical tradition has proven to be the only enduring practice capable of producing a people who hold their customs as greater than any fleeting pressures of the world.
I was in my early twenties and was walking into a local pharmacy when I ran into my old friend's mother. As the conversation progressed, I had asked her what her son was majoring in. She responded by saying in a caviler way, “I think he is majoring in women and beer” and started to laugh. However, I immediately saw in her face that she wasn't as happy as she had pretended to be. When I looked at her as she said these things, I knew exactly what she really wanted, and it wasn’t the progressive path. It has been said that a society can be judged by what they do with their children. What is the reason that she would allow her son to leave home, leave his community, abandon any family traditions and values, and willingly give her child over to be immersed in four years of what really is just plain debauchery? Why do we go against better wisdom and accept our children to be partakers in a level of immorality and indulgence that rivals that of the ancient Greek hedonists? Is it not because she is just following the standards of the people around her? But Jesus said when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch. The progressive values of the world around us have taken the place of the traditional values which we have known. We are showing who it is we serve when we trade our religion, traditions, families, and beliefs for temporal security.
The college institution has turned into a place of lawlessness where students are immediately encouraged to profane all things they once held as good and worthy. We are okay if our children sacrifice their values as long as they get a degree. We are okay if they forget about God if they are equipped with a good job. We have considered gain more important than character and have listened to what the world tells us before we have listened to God, and we are left scattered, strained, and longing for what we once had.
I heard a story that captured the essence of this generation. There was a young man visiting home on his college break. He went to a friend’s house and found himself in the middle of an argument. His friend had a disagreement with his father, and the father was clearly in the right. But suddenly, the son responded, “Dad, you don't know; you didn't go to college. I was taught this at college...,” and the father gave in. The father was silenced by the mere mention of the thing, as if all the wisdom of the world were contained within the walls of these institutions. And this simple illustration embodies the spirit of the age that we live in. An entire generation has been intimidated and would do almost anything to ship their children off to these institutions of higher learning. A sentimental thread, no doubt, runs through the minds of fathers and mothers who justify this worship, thinking, “education is the means to betterment.” When their better senses tell them otherwise and when their conscious whispers, “even education has its limits.” “Nothing should be elevated higher than our traditions, our community, our unity, our God.” “Nothing can substitute the need for fathers and mothers to teach their children.” “Nothing is worth breaking apart entire societies and scattering them wherever a transient job may take them.” “Is there a higher goal?” “Is the secular academy the measure of all things?” “Is there nothing greater by which we can measure this pursuit?” “Is there no unity, no community, no guiding purpose by which to judge this decision?” And for a moment, these things surface, but then the world creeps back to the forefront, we suppress our higher wisdom, and trust in the world around us.
America, along with Roseto, has lost the conviction that it once had. When a man does not believe in something, it is not that he will believe in nothing at all, it is much worse, he will believe in anything. A man does not stay empty long, and when conviction is reduced to opinion, men will follow whatever his neighbor deems worthy to follow. It is necessary that men hold to conviction and not mere opinion. The definition of opinion is, “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” The definition of a conviction is, “a fixed or firm belief.” Conviction is rooted in the conscious of a person, where an opinion is not. The beginning of the end of a people is when conviction is reduced to opinion. A man without conviction is like a man driving in a car who stops at a red-light just as the car next to him starts moving, and for a moment, he does not know if he is moving forward or backward, and so he jams on the breaks, and he still does not know the direction in which he is moving. The only logical thing to do is to look out to something immovable in which to judge himself, such as a tree. But the man who does not have conviction has no tree to look to, no grounded point of reference, and is tossed about in any direction society will throw him, as a reed in the wind. When conviction is lost, man can only measure himself by the people around him. However, it is said that when a man dances for a clown, he becomes part of the circus. Everyone, having no conviction, is easily swayed by the progressive world around us, and Roseto’s traditional values of God, religion, family, and community have been undermined and replaced with the new progressive values of the secular higher education, career, and personal fulfillment detached from the larger community. The anxious drive toward the security of ancient Babel has again reemerged. It has taken sway over the average man’s conviction and has undermined his traditional values, destroying the authority of the family and the authority of religion—and placing that authority in the hands of the secular academy. There is a reason why the size of families has decreased with the rise of this new self-fulfillment ideology. The former was a traditional value, and the new heightened emphasis on career fulfillment is a progressive value. The old really does lead to fulfillment, and the new starts with fulfillment and leads to emptiness. We live in a society that not only accepts this collective behavior but encourages it, leading many men astray to run after things that will leave them empty in the end. “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us.”
 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, quoted by Ravi Zacharias in Deliver Us from Evil (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998).
 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
 “My firstborn son,” Hosea 11:1
 Dennis Prager, University of Denver Q & A.
 U.S. values on coins, “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “Liberty”
 Matthew 5
 Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008).
 Dennis Prager, YouTube.
 G. K. Chesterton
 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Kathleen Coburn and B. Winer, vol. 14, pt. 1 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2019).