In 1966, a Time magazine cover famously asked, “Is God Dead?” softening, just slightly, Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphorism of a century earlier by phrasing it in the form of a question. But the entire 20th century was largely an exercise in replacing a God that worked, with one that didn’t — and creating an endless amount of substitute religions to fill the void.
I was going to add this to the end of my last post on the New York Times and OWS, but decided to break it off into a new topic. Back in June, the New York Times famously tossed this statement of faith by incoming editor Jill Abramson down the Memory Hole:
Ms. Abramson said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like “ascending to Valhalla.”
“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”
Note how well it dovetails with this recent item by Charles Cooke of National Review on the mindset of those who make OWS’s water-cannon fodder:
[M]any of the rank-and-file occupiers feel isolated in their lives, and appear to lack basic community ties such as are provided by participation in clubs, churches, and strong families. Indeed, much of the report could have come from the early chapters of Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone. They thus attach to their political causes with something like a religious fervor. For many, a commitment to “social justice” is “not the end, but rather a means to an inflated sense of self and purpose in their own lives.” Crucially, involvement with others who agree with them provides an “overwhelming feeling of being part of a family.” I noticed this on my first trip down to Zuccotti Park, when I saw a telling sign adorning the entrance to the tent city: “For the first time in my life, I feel at home.” On subsequent visits I was struck by the importance of the commune to the project. As much as anything else, vast swathes of occupiers were simply looking for a new club. This group, Frontier Lab dubs the “Communitarians.”
Global warming was one substitute religion, whose cult was exposed by ClimateGate and the sheer illogic of its constant doomsday rhetoric. 2008 was the year of building the Cult of Obama by his handlers and the now self-admitted supine media. Since replacements for religion are largely doomed to failure (see also: rapid growth of Islam in Europe, a century after the Bearded God Killers turned that continent upside down), and that worshiping big government is a particularly poor substitute, it’s no wonder that so many continue to seek substitute religions to congregate within.
As Daniel J. Flynn wrote in 2008′s A Conservative History of the American Left:
Before the religious Right, there was a religious Left. The twentieth-century American Left got ideas from Karl Marx; the nineteenth-century American Left, from Jesus Christ.
“Religious Left” strikes contemporary ears as an oxymoron. Could Michael Moore, Bill Maher, or Susan Sarandon venture inside a church without melting? There are the reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barry Lynn, but they preach politics. The hostility to religion often associated with the Left was not always so pronounced. Indeed, Christianity once served as the primary influence upon American leftists. Its influence on early American leftists was so profound that it put its stamp on their decidedly irreligious offspring. Secular reformers admired the sacrifice and the communal unity of the early religious fanatics but not, generally, the religious beliefs. Religion and politics mixed in the Social Gospel, whose enthusiasts ultimately reached for more social, less gospel. What emerged was a political religion, or, perhaps more accurately, a religious politics. The secular kept the forms without the function. They promised salvation, exalted saints, pursued heretics, revered holy books, enforced dogma, viewed history teleologically, and acted with a self-righteousness generally confined to the elect and an ends-justifies-the-means mentality characteristic of millennial deliverers. They lost faith in God, but not faith itself.
Hence the mindset that Occupies Zuccotti Park, the Times’ offices, and the White House itself.
Update: A brief Winter Solsticial profile of a young heathen who has yet to see The True Light.
More: As Cooke wrote, “Many of the rank-and-file occupiers feel isolated in their lives, and appear to lack basic community ties such as are provided by participation in clubs, churches, and strong families.” Moe Lane writes that a handy new instructional video ensures that Obama supporters will have “a vicious political screaming match over the Christmas dinner table with the people who are subsidizing their college educations.” And thus be drawn back to the barricades for next year.