It pains me more than I can say to announce that my wife recently filed a petition of divorce, and I have agreed unreservedly to her request for a mutual, and amicable, parting. While this will come as a great shock to my readers, it will not surprise those who know us best. We are both exhausted from nine years of excruciating struggle to save this marriage. I can safely say that I have learned through bitter experience the truth of the saying that nobody knows what really goes on in a marriage.
He’s found out, as Wu Ching-Tzu said at the end of The Scholars, “…immortal fame is not easy to attain!” and sometimes the hard part is after you attain it.
I’ve followed him for a long time, some of the things he says are very good. The thing that’s come to bother me about his viewpoint, however, is the constant fear–especially in the correspondence he reveals from people on the wrong end of this culture–that those who profess and call themselves Christians will no longer be able to reach the highest rungs of the latter in this society. He’s not alone in that sentiment, he’s just more fearful in the manifestation.
Some of us could have told him that these upward aspirations wouldn’t work, especially those of us who grew up in places like South Florida where meaningful Christianity was difficult (and Dreher was certainly aware of places like that.) Two things kept the illusion alive for him and others. The first is the overweening entitlement mentality that is such a strong undercurrent in Scots-Irish culture. Dreher’s done things to distance himself from that (like becoming Orthodox) but the idea that we have a “right” to move up is still strong..
The second is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Up until that time you could practice your faith, but there was no obligation of an employer to honor that. For example, if you didn’t drink, you could forget about getting very far in the construction industry. By eliminating discrimination by religion as with discrimination by race, it began the “fulfill our dreams” race among many different kinds of people, and that included Evangelicals. How much of that motivated the rise of the “Religious Right” will require historians that can write, as Tacitus would say, “sine ira et studio.”
Today of course, this paradigm is being seriously undermined. Critical race theory has basically proclaimed the whole thing a failure became of “structural racism.” The left has discovered a lacuna in the Civil Rights Act: there is no provision for political stance. Since politics and religion (or lack thereof) are so deeply intertwined these days, you can discriminate by religion via political affiliation. (That doesn’t just apply to religious conservatives; the Georgia Log Cabin was booted out of a gathering venue when the owners of the venue discovered that they were Republicans.)
Dreher is a big fan of Dante (and so am I.) Dante wrote the Divine Comedy in the wake of his exile from Florence, a victim of the ups and downs of Italian politics. Dreher should realize that politics has these ups and downs, that history is a long game until Our Lord puts it to a stop, and that the supernal vision that Dante saw at the end is our ultimate goal. Until then Dreher will discover what my father meant by his expression “too soon old and too late smart.”