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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Friday, June 13 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterWestern materialism

After the fall of the "iron curtain" from 1989 into the early '90s, a scenario made the rounds of conservative circles. It said that Gorbachev and the Communist Parties in the Soviet Union and internationally had proactively decided to end the cold war because they had already won. By then, the argument was, the free world had already given in to the materialistic and atheistic philosophies of the Marxists and were doing a better job at selling materialism without resorting to dictatorship than the Soviets had been able to do. I guess the faction of the conservative movement that was hooked on conspiracy theories considered it necessary to believe that we were even worse off after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the authoritarian regimes in Russia and its satellite states than in the cold war.

And even though I don't think it's true that the party leaders and politicians ever hatched such a conspiracy, I also am inclined to say it makes enough sense to win believers. Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, giving oneself for others, knowing God through holy humility) have continued to decline throughout the west, even as they had declined among generations of Soviet-bloc children not allowed access to the sacraments and teachings of their parents' and grandparents' churches.

This is the complement of my observations on Wednesday about how the prosperity of the West, in the 1960s, when glimpsed over the "Iron Curtain," should have persuaded the followers of Marx of the superiority of our system. Richard Nixon, while vice president under Eisenhower, dared to preach this message in a face-to-face encounter with Nikita Khrushchev in the famous "kitchen debate" that he inaugurated during a visit with the Soviet dictator. And Khrushchev was escorted to Disneyland on his tour of the United States in the hope that the happiest kingdom on earth would infect him...and maybe it did.

Yes, materialism and turning away from life lived in a personal holy God is rampant in western Europe and North and South America, but its roots are much deeper than the rise of Marxism a century ago. It predates even the French, and the American, revolutions, being one offshoot, as Marxism is another, of the enlightenment, and before that the renaissance, the humanistic flowering of intellectual life that challenged every man and woman to be his own king and queen, the creator of his/her own earthly paradise. But that movement is only one of the forces competing in our culture now and for the past two or three centuries. But it's infinitely better to be able to take our places in the competing armies on this side of the tearing down of the wall.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Things I've learned from my children (last of series)

21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.
22. It will, however, make cats dizzy.
23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
24. The mind of a six-year-old is wonderful.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

— Sent by Trudy Myers

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