Forward.....Toward what End? (Pt. 1)

TerryExiles in Babylon

As campaign slogans go, the word Forward was a brilliant choice: Suspended in the dark, with the sun rising over a new day in the letter “O” (coincidentally, brilliantly, the first letter in Obama’s name), the solitary word captured a sense of fresh energy, common direction, and hope. “Forward” was a solid home-run of a marketing effort for whoever got paid to come up with it: Widely accessible, loaded with sentiment, scalable, and it fit beautifully on a bumper sticker.

As a national rallying-cry, however, “Forward” also revealed itself to be a means critically lacking in the first requirement of any undertaking: An end. Forward needs a toward; without it, the slogan was, and is, a mere statement of impulse. It’s simply a report on current trajectory, lacking any useful information about position or bearing. As a nation, we are suspended in darkness and moving, simply because time itself is moving, forward. “Forward” made for a pithy bumper sticker, but it’s a meaningless statement without the “toward.”

Thus, the question before the election is still the question two months after it, and one day before we inaugurate Mr. Obama into his second term: Forward…toward…what end?

For those who voted for Mr. Obama, the “Forward” question is handily summarized in the Party’s 32-page official platform. It’s a fluffy, rainbows-and-sunlit-clouds, shiny-red-apples sort of read, full of “Forward-thinking” vision. For those who missed out on reading it before the November election, I’m sure there will be plenty of repetition in Mr. Obama’s Inaugural Address.

Conservative Christians have easily discerned that the liberally-polished and extensively word-smithed vision of expansiveness, economic recovery, and enlightened social renovation presented to the voting masses is rotten at its core with (among other things) socialism and aggressive godlessness. For this reason, millions of conservatives voted, somewhat desperately, for Not Obama. They rightly understood that under the helm of Mr. Obama and his accomplices, “Forward” is really nothing more than a liberal illusion to dull the senses. They rightly discern that the “toward” part of Mr. Obama’s “Forward” is no mere fiscal cliff, but a nation-swallowing abyss into which many before us have fallen.

It was profoundly discouraging to me to see just how many tens of millions of people bought into the illusion of “Forward.” Granted, the rash ignorance of youth (and the naïveté of older adults who have never challenged themselves to outgrow it), the selective vision of entitlement addicts, and the blindness of those corrupted by socialism and godlessness were appalling but not unexpected: Lost people will think, speak, and behave like lost people and so it was no surprise when this happened in the voter’s booth. But that so many millions of so-called “Christians” bought into it is another thing entirely. Of the 63.5 million voters who voted for Mr. Obama, many millions were Christian — at least in a broad self-identifying sense. These millions included 50% of all voting Catholics and 42% of all voting Protestants — including 20% of so-called born-again evangelicals 1.

Their foolishness has invited much contemptuous commentary in the two months since the election, but the spiritual corruption revealed by their undiscerning embrace of a party whose agenda explicitly seeks to normalize and advance sinful acts such as abortion, homosexuality, and the corruption of God-defined standards for marriage and family — even to the extent of forcing Americans to act against their conscience and convictions or face sanction — suggests to me something more tragic about their souls than contemptible about their intelligence.

In any event, the election happened, Mr. Obama has been handed more time to deepen the damage to our nation, and conservatives are left to survey the political and cultural post-election wreckage and to wonder, uncertainly, how to recover a way in the wilderness. Politically, the Republican vision is lying in a billion-dollar heap of campaign debris over which no one seems to want to assume leadership responsibility, and the Libertarians, Greens, Constitution Party, and Tea Party are all busy reassembling their respective splinters to see what they have left. Culturally, conservative Christians are still reeling from the revelation of just how profoundly led astray so many of their brothers and sisters in Christ have revealed themselves to be by their choices at the voting booth.

As conservative Americans contemplate the prospects presented by the next 4 years, many agree that the urgent priority is to discern a longer-term recovery strategy for diverting the nation away from the abyss we can all see looming. Conservative news outlets and the blogosphere have been filled with editorializing, prognosticating, and saber-rattling rally calls. Many suggest that the way forward is really about looking backward: Our nation, they argue must return to the values of the Founders…to traditional values…or to Reagan-era conservatism. I think some of these calls are well-written and insightful, and I agree with the general spirit of the arguments.

However, while there is much to be said for reclaiming the word “Forward” from the bumper stickers of the nation’s Obama-philes and for rallying around a conservative plan to avert national disaster, it seems to me that all such efforts will end in failure (again) if the “toward” part of the Forward question is not first addressed.

Toward what will we move forward: Toward what end, toward what destination, are we moving as a nation?

Only when we conservative Christians acknowledge and accept our destination can we properly see the course that lies ahead and rally, with resolve, behind the forward cry…

Notes: 1. ?