With still another impossibly long presidential campaign at last behind us, it's time to remind ourselves of a truth that may not seem quite to fit all the dollars, time, and energy we've just invested. Here is that truth: Government, good or bad, isn't the big problem.
For government, in the end, is almost always (at least in a democracy) a fairly accurate reflection of the people who elect its leaders. Or perhaps, even more profoundly but less frequently considered, government is an accurate reflection of the hundreds of thousands of unelected people who make up its vast bureaucracies.
So government in our society, big and influential as it is, doesn't so much shape the people as people shape that government. In American society today, two other players do much more to frame the thinking of the people than government could ever hope to accomplish. They are the media and the educational establishment.
I mean "media" in the big sense-including both information and entertainment-which is about the only way you can think of the media these days, since the border between those two specialties seems virtually to have been erased. There's almost no such thing as a news program on TV anymore; if TV news isn't also vividly entertaining, it doesn't last. And like it or not, the same influences affect the print media as well-probably including WORLD magazine. We print people are also scrambling to compete for your attention, and we're influenced, more than we think, by the assertion that information, by itself, just doesn't cut it anymore.
And I mean "education" in the big sense. Certainly that includes government education on the elementary, secondary, university, and graduate levels-a 20-year influence monopoly, from age 5 to 25, on the lives of at least 75 percent of all citizens. But even if that monopoly exhibits a crack here and there, and private education steps in with its own substitute, it is typically private education of the sort offered by the nation's Stanfords, Dukes, and Notre Dames-an ideological substitute that really isn't any different. Sadly, even much of what goes by the name of Christian in the field of education is little more than warmed-over secularism.
Yet as numerous and diverse as all those media and educational forces may seem, they are in important ways an ideological monolith. On almost all the basic issues of life, they speak with a common-and altogether non-Christian-point of view. For example, in our nation's media and educational establishment:
0Naturalism always trumps supernaturalism. The triumph of Darwinism over the last century hasn't ultimately had much to do with science; that is only a sideshow. Darwinism's true impact has been on everything else. For if God isn't the creator of all that exists-if He isn't the first mover-then He really doesn't matter much. Now He can be marginalized. That is the implicit assumption of the media and the educational establishment throughout our society.
0The "out-of-adjustment" explanation always trumps the "sin" explanation. No behaviors anymore (with the exceptions, of course, of intolerance and hate crimes) are always and positively wrong. When something does seem out of kilter with society's norms, it's probably traceable to a bad childhood or some other kind of maladjustment. But even then, the problem is seen as minor. For if we saw our problems to be major, then we would need major outside help. And just as we resist the idea of an outside first mover, our pride forces us also to resist the idea of an outside helper.
0Pluralism always trumps truth. If you can get away with fudging the truth about origins, and simultaneously pull off a huge coverup on the nature of what's gone wrong since then, probably it won't seem to matter much if you also then start questioning the essence of truth itself. So it's part and parcel of today's media and educational scene to argue strenuously that no one, of course, has a corner on the truth. For Jesus to claim, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," is altogether too arrogant and exclusivist for today's mindset.
Indeed, so pervasive has such thinking been within the media and educational establishments that you might consider it a miracle that anyone anywhere takes even minor exception to such non-Christian assertions. But now that we're headed for a few new faces in Washington and several state capitals, let's keep in mind that such profound error is not the government's fault. And even if they want to, the people behind those new faces won't be able to do much about it. The people who want to monopolize your mind are pretty much everywhere.