I’m enjoying Rusty Reno’s new book.
I will have a lot more to say about this in the review. I have reached a similar conclusion about our present historical moment and the impending crisis.
The following excerpts come from Rusty Reno’s new book Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism and the Future of the West.
“We seem to be reaching another turning point. The violence that traumatized the West between 1914 and 1945 evoked a powerful, American-led response that was anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist. These anti imperatives define the postwar era. Their aim is to dissolve the strong beliefs and powerful loyalties thought to have fueled the conflicts that convulsed the twentieth century.
In those years, fierce gods trampled the benign managerial habits of commerce and the liberal norms of free consent and democratic deliberation. Strong and dark gods stormed through Europe, eventually setting aflame most of the world and bringing death to millions
We continue to define ourselves culturally, even spiritually, as anti-totalitarian, anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-nationalist. I call the atmosphere of opinion that sustains these anti imperatives the “postwar consensus …
By “strong gods,” I do not mean Thor and the other residents of the Old Norse Valhalla. The strong gods are the objects of men’s love and devotion, the sources of the passions and loyalties that unite societies. They can be timeless. Truth is a strong god that beckons us to the matrimony of assent. King and country, insofar as they still arouse men’s patriotic ardor, are strong gods. The strong gods can take the form of modern ideologies and charismatic leaders. The strong gods can be beneficent. Our constitutional piety treats the American Founding as a strong god worthy of our devotion …
We live in a time of weak gods.
The “weak gods” which Rusty is referring to like profit, pleasure seeking and individual self expression have been deliberately cultivated since World War II in order to ward off the “strong gods” which dominated the early 20th century. We have gone from one extreme to the other in the 20th century and a reaction is brewing to restore the proper balance. None of us want to plunge back into that disaster but we do want our nations to continue.
This is the face of Christianity in a time of the “weak gods”:
This is one of the faces of Christianity in a time of the “strong gods”:
To study Christianity as it existed and was practiced and was fought over in the Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries is to be transported into a different universe.
This isn’t only true of religion though. It is true of everything. It was religious conflict that set Europe on fire in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was nationalism that set Europe on fire in the 20th century. The strong gods can be religious fervor or patriotism or whatever arouses passion in men and are always in tension with other tendencies in man like dissolution. The background of the rise of liberalism was 150 years of the Wars of Religion. Similarly, the background to our present age was World War I and World War II, which created the present day liberal world order.
Mars is coming back in the 21st century. The era of Pluto is coming to a close.
When the Baby Boomer generation exits the stage of history, they are going to leave behind a mess for their descendants. We’re poised to enter the age of the 70-year-old and 80-year-old Boomer in their nursing homes and retirement communities teaming with embittered non-Whites. As the Boomers die off, racial demographics will radically shift in Europe and North America.
For almost 20 years, I have been looking ahead to this future. It is not something that I desired. I just wanted my descendants to have a future in this country which for reasons beyond my control and due to decisions that were made by the previous two generations have set us on course to this unprecedented disaster. This is the moment of history we have been born in though and our lot is to suck it up and deal with the consequences of those poor decisions.
If anything resembling Western civilization makes it to the second half of the 21st century, it will be because we rose up and took back our birthright for posterity which was squandered in an age of liberal decadence. That’s a good legacy to leave behind after any life.
Note: Sometimes the weight of the responsibility can feel like being Flavius Aetius in the age of Attila the Hun.