Worshipping At The Altar Of Power

The second half of the 18th Century – the Age of Enlightenment – saw two different revolutions. The American Revolution was predicated on individual liberty and the Judeo-Christian principles of virtue. The French Revolution was based on the ancient philosophers and the belief that, with enough pressure from the government, man could be perfected. America is witnessing a battle between those two revolutionary principles.

In November of 1793, as France began to descend into the Terror, a worship service was held at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The altar, tabernacle, crucifix, and stations of the cross had all been removed during the de-Christianization program begun three years prior. In the nave, there was a facsimile of a mountain adorned with a Greek temple surrounded by statues of the fathers of Western philosophy. A service was held in praise of reason. The revolutionaries believed in the perfectibility of man and that reason and logic were the paths to utopia.

While the revolutionaries in France chose Logic and Reason, our Founders, more the product of the Scottish Enlightenment, chose Natural Law. They believed that the guiding force of all creation was the universal God whose being could not be fathomed solely by logic and reason but could be understood through the practice of the virtues, which in turn would bring a person closer to God. Hence, they structured a system of government for a virtuous, faithful people. John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our country was founded by men who knew that we are fallen creatures. They knew that improvement was accomplished through the practice of the virtues and that human perfectibility was only obtained through grace.

The Jacobins believed that a just society could be achieved with logic and reason using the tools of merciless force. They believed that power was the path to Utopia. Since the Terror began in the Autumn of 1793, tens of millions of people have died because of this dehumanizing belief.

On Wednesday, January 6th, a mob of aggrieved voters from across the political spectrum stormed the Capitol, presumably in hopes of suspending the certification of electors and preventing the finalization of the election’s outcome. In subsequent news stories, the members of the mob were described as everything from seditious traitors to white supremacists. There does not seem to be any evidence that the mob was attempting to overthrow our government or that racial animus motivated them. However, as we are becoming increasingly aware, everything is now racial. But more important than the unfortunate event itself was the way our political and cultural leaders described it.

Both former First Lady Michelle Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, among others, described the storming of the capitol as a desecration, meaning that that mob had defiled a sacred place. Obama and Pelosi, it is assumed, believe that the capitol building is hallowed ground; that it is a sacred representation of our democracy. While we might agree that it represents our democracy, it would be foolish and dangerous to consider it sacred. Yes, our country was founded on sacred principles and transcendent truths, but these truths are not to be found in the seat of power, but rather where the founding fathers knew they resided, in our Creator.

Our Leadership class does not believe in the God of our founders. They do not fear God the Creator nor kneel for his forgiveness and blessing. Instead, they kneel and bow their heads for BLM or, rather, they supplicate themselves to the power it represents. Power is what they crave, strive for, and worship.

It seems the worship service at the Temple of Reason conducted in Fall 1793 worked because, by Spring 1794. the Committee of Public Safety had consolidated power and begun the purge. In the beginning, the Committee attacked what remained of the Church, the monarchists, and other external groups that threatened its power but, by late summer, the revolutionaries had turned on their own.

In the interest of preserving the republic, they began murdering not only their political adversaries, but also their fellow revolutionaries who were found to lack sufficient revolutionary zeal – or, as our modern revolutionaries would say, they were insufficiently woke. Logic and reason have no room for prudence or mercy.

We hear echoes of the French Revolution in our discord today. We see the descent into the madness of materialism and nihilism, where there is no room for virtue in the endless struggle for power.

Take for example the invocation of the 117th Congress that Methodist minister Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) gave. His prayer included the following: “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths.” Why would Rep. Cleaver devolve into pantheism if not for power? I would assume that he once worshiped the one God who sent his only begotten Son to die for our sins. As a Catholic, I am not versed in Methodist theology, but as a Christian, I suspect they believe in the Gospels.

Rep. Cleaver crafted his prayer for power. To ascend in the house, and maybe someday be elected to the Senate, he made a choice to discard his Christian belief so that, in climbing the ladder of power, his load would be lighter. He has made his choice. By leading a prayer to the gods of many different faiths he is bowing at the altar of power, not the altar of the Lamb of God.

There are many examples, perhaps less vulgar, but immeasurably more harmful. Despite professing their Catholicism, both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden publicly support abortion. It is no accident that neither Pelosi nor Biden would have the power they now wield if they opposed abortion as their professed faith requires. But they too have made a choice to kneel at the altar of power.

The altar of power is deceiving. It seems to promise all one could desire. With enough power, everything could be made right and utopia would be just around the corner. But as our leadership class travels down this path, they will require endlessly more power and less virtue until the whole edifice consumes itself. In France, it took a dictatorship and twelve more years of bloody war. Here in America, let us hope and pray that virtue will temper the Democrats’ lust for power.

Chris Boland can be reached at cboland7@outlook.com.

IMAGE: The execution of Louis XVI. Public Domain.