The Seductive Power of Nazism’s Promise

Nazism has a seductive power to it among the young. It makes promises in a confused world. It is a one people, one land, one culture movement. It offers to us the enemy on a silver platter – the other. It is a siren song of unfettered power and an unobstructed future.

One of the BIG questions of the twentieth century is how did this ever take hold in the most urbane and civilized country in Europe, Germany? How was it that the university and the church were its most willing and early cheerleaders? Nazism doesn’t begin as raw power. It begins as an idea rooted in a rejection of the Enlightenment project, that reason can shine light on meaning and purpose.

Nazism grew out of the Baroque and Romanticism movements of Europe. It was a reaction to the cold and depersonalizing demands of reason that stripped culture of its richness and meaning. It questioned every tradition and put in the dock God himself. Reason brooked no adversaries and was ruthless in its demands. The human spirit broke under its relentless gaze. The Romantic movement, fueled by its godfather, Rousseau, imagined a “back to nature” world, a simpler world, a world where the individual was not a cog in a machine but enriched and fulfilled by rejecting the delusionary constructions of a technocratic society constructed by rationalism. The Romantic movement inspired the world of fairy tales (a la Hans Christian Anderson), home, land and race, free from the forces of depersonalization. The picture gets complex philosophically speaking, but out of this arose images of blood and soil and roads to meaning and belonging. With a few philosophers sprinkled in, such as Hegel and Nietzsche, there is the phenomenon of National Socialism, a utopian paradise of meaning and fellowship.

You can take it from there, and you know where it led. But utopianism still calls! Nazism is not a phase of bad history. It is rooted in the soul’s desire for a simpler solution, a simpler time, an escape from complexity and the movement of the world against single cultures, whether they be Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, etc., overwhelming them with globalism, internationalism, free trade and immigration, and the ever roiling cauldron of mixing cultures, languages, and beliefs. There is no place to run. All traditions must give way to this massive force. Some resist and want their own place back, and they want it to be theirs and no one else’s. Let’s call it natural nationalism. It’s understandable and simple. But it can turn dark rather quickly in moves to expunge the other.

In our day there is a resurgent nationalism across the globe to push back against the forces of modernity and its campaign against homogeneous cultures. Stay tuned. The ending of this story is not foreordained. How it works out depends on choices we make. And that is where we are!

Today Is The Christian Sabbath In Charlottesville

Today is the Christian sabbath, both here and in Charlottesville. May brothers and sisters across color and racial lines immerse themselves in the peaceable kingdom of Christ and become overflowing streams of love and joy that are a stronger force than those that pit man against man. America has seen this before throughout our history. The racial, immigration, and religious riots of the 1800s come to mind. By measure they were large and on any scale scarier than what we know today. Through the grace of Christ the better angels of our natures were given wings that raised us above our earthly fears and freed us to love righteousness and eschew evil. May it be so today.

“Hillbilly Elegy” and Charlottesville Riots

The very sad events in Charlottesville have roots in some of the social forces JD Vance identifies in our Reading Right Book Club selection for August, “Hillbilly Elegy.” Hate has no moral or social justification, but hate can find its nutrients in certain social/soil conditions that are allowed to fester. Jesus talked of soil conditions that lead some to say yes to the peaceable Kingdom of God and some to say no. Soil inspection is a good thing to do. JD Vance helps us to do it. We meet Monday, August 28, 7 PM, at the Lydia Drake Library, 340 High St., Pembroke.