Reject Doomerism, Embrace Christ

Christianity Supplies What the Dissident Right Is Looking For

Why is there no concerted effort among evangelicals to reach out to the dissident Right? I’ve been thinking about that question after reading a recent post on the crisis at the Texas border (you can read my take here) at Conundrum Cluster’s Substack.

A “Harvard- and Cambridge-educated classical historian” according to a recent byline, Conundrum Cluster was one of the people behind the old Mystery Grove Twitter account, one of the more popular accounts on the dissident Right. It was known for its movie list—which featured films to watch, and in the order specified—as well as republishing long out-of-print autobiographies that punctured the pieties of our post-World War II order. 

In any event, after Conundrum Cluster gave his somewhat contrarian take on the mess at the southern border, he sounded a crucial note that the Right desperately needs to hear today. “America is (or at least Americans are) going to make it through this,” he writes. “We’re not doomed. There’s still a shot of salvaging the situation, it’s even a pretty good shot right now.” This is welcome news.

Black-pill spiraling is popular in right-wing circles. And understandably so. Virtually every major cultural indicator is plummeting. The ruling gerontocracy have the country pointed straight toward a cliff as they head off to cushy nursing homes (or simply remain in office for the rest of their days). Prospects look bleak for rising generations. In response, members of the Right typically try to outdo each other with the worst possible predictions of what the future holds: Will the re-education camps only have two latrines or one?

For Christians, there’s much to be concerned about in our increasingly anti-Christian age. 

Aaron Renn has made a convincing case in his new book, Life in the Negative World, that Christians face perilous times as we venture further into the murk of the negative world. Being forced to quit a job or getting fired due to holding orthodox beliefs will be happening at a more regular clip. The targeting of Christian businesses will increase. There will be heightened social pressure to apostatize from the faith. 

Persecution of various kinds will increase, including the lawfare machine going “brrr.” In a recent example of that, the Biden Department of Justice targeted a group of pro-lifers for violating the FACE Act because they prayed and sang hymns in front of an abortion “clinic.” Six pro-life demonstrators were convicted of physically blocking access and now face up to ten-and-a-half years in prison and fines up to $260,000. Welcome to the world of two-tiered “justice.”

Though things look bleak, we should not lose hope. As Conundrum Cluster points out, “Much of the problem today comes from hopelessness.” Pessimistic statements become self-fulfilling prophecies. Too often, trading various end-of-America scenarios are exercises in LARPing and simply fuel general demoralization, neutering any possible response that could be constructive. If, as Joe Biden has said repeatedly, the federal government holds F15s and nuclear warheads, then what use is there for mounting any kind of pushback? Isn’t it all a forgone conclusion?


“Now, more than ever,” Conundrum Cluster maintains, “Americans need to understand that they have…power to improve their lives. Your problems are solvable by you.” This tracks with an open letter Josiah Lippincott penned to youthful right-wingers: “To the young men of the Right, to the young men of the future, do not give up hope.” For these reasons, Conundrum Cluster has counseled those on the Right to diet well, fix their physical ailments, get regular exercise (including pull-ups), and stop negative feedback loops, which are especially prevalent on social media. These are all good habits. 

Countering our present madness, however, will take something more. Because we are enfleshed souls, the physical is intimately tied with the spiritual. For Christians, our hope is ultimately in Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God and is putting all of his enemies under his feet (Psalm 110:1). 

I don’t know if Conundrum Cluster is himself a believer. If not, I encourage him, along with everyone else on the dissident Right, to dig into the Christian tradition. Start praying, read the Bible daily, and begin attending a local church weekly. As I’ve previously argued, one way to keep your priorities straight is to dedicate Sunday fully to the Lord on social media. 

For most of those in dissident circles, attending a McChurch with a light show and a hipster giving a Ted Talk will not be for you. Fine. Find a church that features a robust liturgy and takes the Bible seriously. Dive deep into the Christian tradition, especially the Church Fathers. Begin going through the lectionary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or read through the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Near the end of Life in the Negative World, Renn points to Samuel 14:6, which teaches that “nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” The right wing can find the hope they are looking for by seeking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They should consider the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And they should heed the lesson of St. Paul in Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

As Megan Basham has noted, “There are no black pills in Christ.” His sovereign hand is over all things. For not even a bird flapping its wings escapes His notice. If true, what does that suggest about His care for those whose creation he saved for last before resting on the seventh day?

Christian hope isn’t some fake, sunny optimism that’s divorced from a clear-eyed view of reality. Christians can still see the manifold political and cultural problems around them and work to do something about them. Instead, it’s a recognition that Christ will triumph—and he will do so through every means at His disposal.

A proper way to conclude is by remembering what St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

We are going to make it.

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Mike Sabo

Mike Sabo is a Contributing Editor of American Reformer and an Assistant Editor of The American Mind, the online journal of the Claremont Institute. His writing has appeared at RealClearPolitics, The Federalist, Public Discourse, and American Greatness, among other outlets. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati.

11 thoughts on “Reject Doomerism, Embrace Christ

  1. Hate to say it, but things are far worse than “no one reaches out to the dissident right”. Far more often, for anyone even perceived as anyone further right than John McCain, every effort is made by Christians to destroy their lives. “Punch right and slide left” is a greater theological conviction of the modern church today than is the deity of Christ. You can see this in the hate directed at books like “The Case for Christian Nationalism”, which is largely a ressourcement work, and proves Stephen Wolfe’s point that Christians today would have excommunicated most (if not all) of their Christian forefathers. If the Church wants to reach out to the “blackpilled”, it needs to stop hunting them, betraying them, and hating them.

    1. That’s about the sum of it.
      The fact of the matter is that churches in America are largely subject to the same “ruling gerontocracy” as the rest of society. In a few cases it’s precisely the same people. But even when church leaders do not also occupy positions of authority/influence in the wider culture, most of them are of a similar age and affected by the same commitments to the post-War consensus as we see in Moore, French, and their ilk.
      All of which to say that the “dissident Right” involves both political/cultural and ecclesiastical dissent.

  2. Selective reporting of the news or not including context offers hope to no one. That goes for how the FACE Act, the conviction of the 6 demonstrators, the number of cases involving the FACE Act being tried per year, and the current tide of threats being made to abortion clinics were either reported without context or not mentioned at all.

    Relying on the Reformed traditions that were written during Christendom is simply a call to replace a partial democracy that includes equality with authoritarianism that requires hierarchy. And guess which group is seeking the highest seat in that hierarchy? It is the group that is offering hope to the Dissident Right. And what they are promising the Dissident Right is that they will protect and save the Dissident Right if the Dissident Right puts them in power by embracing Christian Nationalism.

    Some are simply unable to admit that Christendom, and the Christian Nationalism that came with it, was a disaster for many including the Church and the Gospel. The heavy-handed “Christian” rule over dissenting fellow believers and unbelievers alike associated abuse and atrocities with religiously conservative Christianity and the Gospel. And the conflation of conservative politics with the Gospel shows that some cannot see their own use of syncretism, including those who adamantly deny that they employ it.

    In the end, what those who are calling for a return to Christendom and Christian Nationalism want is a Christian version of what Marx called for. Marx called for a proletariat dictatorship because of the corruption of the bourgeoisie and the belief in the moral superiority of the proletariat. What my fellow believers in Christ who want Christendom to rise again and who define America by past demographics desire is a Christian dictatorship based on moral superiority of the Christian Nationalists. The difference between Marx and those fellow believers is that at least Marx called for the proletariat dictatorship to be established through democratic processes–that is what the Communist Manifesto said. It is unclear if fellow Christian Nationalists believers even care if their seizing of power is accomplished via democracy. Certainly, their ends are not to maintain a democracy. And what is tragically sad for the Gospel is that Marx cared much more about equality than my fellow believers who are Christian Nationalists.

    All of this search for power has been revived and amplified by the 2015 Obergefell decision. That simply shows the intolerance that Christian Nationalists have for those who are too different than themselves. And if Church History is any indicator, what follows America becoming a Christian Nation is that it isn’t just unbelievers who will become oppressed, so to will many believers who don’t hold to the orthodoxy that Christian Nationalists hold to. In other words, the Christian Nationalists want to create a negative world for their dissenters. That means that, just perhaps, if the Dissident Right does embrace Christian Nationalism, they will eventually come to experience it as a trojan horse. As for my fellow believers who are Christian Nationalists, they will hopefully learn in time that following Jesus means seeking to serve others, especially the vulnerable, rather than seeking for power and prestige. For those of us believers who are not Christian Nationalists, we must approach the Christian Nationalists as fellow believers who also stumble in many ways. That is because that is who they are.

    1. Interesting points, and I’ll admit a level of purposeful naivete/disconnect from some labels and “movements” which are taken for granted both in Mike’s article and Curt’s response (Christian Nationalism, blackpilled, etc.). I know those words get thrown around a lot in these forums, but they are ambiguous enough to be meaningless as a basis of a good-faith discussion. For that matter, “democracy” as used in Curt’s response seems to be more of a talisman than an actual adherence to the political philosophy that forms the basis of our Republic (is democracy still good if it engages in evils supported by a 51% majority? How many brutal dictators of the past were democratically elected?)

      However, reading both of these at face value it appears Curt missed the central point of Mike’s article- things are not as bad as they seem, and “all things will work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.” It is to us to be led by the Gospel, and also to lead others with the Gospel as we are commanded to “make disciples of all nations.” In this case, implying anyone- left or right- as being hopelessly beyond the Grace of God feels wrong. But, in favor of Curt’s response, when we stare into the abyss it stares back– we need to watch out for who is evangelizing whom in our engagements with the world.

      I do not mean to straw-man Curt’s argument, but from other people in separate forums I hear the argument “people have done this poorly before, therefore let’s stop trying to do it,” which feels cowardly. Did the top-down imposition of Christianity lead to evils in the past? Obviously- that is why those systems failed and there is no Holy Roman Empire or Spanish Inquisition. Does that mean we accept the status quo and allow our nation to derail itself in the ultimate denial of the Kingdom of God? Obviously not, that is why Roe v. Wade could be overturned so easily on legal (not religious/moral) grounds.

      Open to thoughts– again, I may have missed some context because I have avoided engaging with oversimplified labels and cultural memes. Or, maybe that just added some needed clarity to the discussion…

      1. Curt is a long-standing, self-described socialist activist that doesn’t seem willing to expose his priors in this context.

        As far as I can tell, his only real goal here is demoralizing the rest of the readership.

        Do with that what you will.

        1. Ryan,
          I have no problem with admitting that I am socialist. But I also hasten to add that there is no ideology that is omniscient. And therefore, while I lean toward Marxism and Socialism, it must be mixed with other ideologies because of its limits and weaknesses. As Martin Luther King Jr. said:

          –‘communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social’–

          When King said ‘communism,’ unfortunately he was conflating Marxism with Soviet Union Communism. The two were actually quite different. But suffice it to say that King made some excellent criticisms that could appropriately be applied to Marxism.

          Of course, not all socialists would accept my approach to socialism as being socialist. To understand that, I recommend that you read Rosa Luxemburg’s writings on the Russian Revolution and how she classified, and rightfully so but with some sympathy because of the circumstances, Lenin’s government as being a bourgeoisie dictatorship based on its structure.

          But why are you bringing up my socialist leanings? Is it not to use the label ‘socialist’ as a pejorative in an attempt to silence me by suggesting that my socialist leanings imply that I have nothing worthwhile to say? If so, then you, an anti-socialist, are taking a similar kind of authoritarian approach that some infamous “socialist” leaders from the past employed. Ironic?

          1. The point is not to suggest that you have nothing worthwhile to say. It is a distinct possibility, but that’s neither here nor there.

            It’s to give others fair warning that there’s reason to believe you are not acting in good faith.

            And don’t try to pull the whole passive-aggressive “isn’t it ironic” schtick with me. The problem here is you being disingenuous, not me pointing it out.

          2. Ryan,
            You used the socialist label as a pejorative, that I am not acting in good faith, and claimed that my purpose here is to demoralize the rest of the readership. How is that not discouraging readers from reading what I have written by suggesting, if not implying, that I have nothing worthwhile to say?

            My only point here, and each personal attack or accusation is evidence to this, is that the call for a return to Christendom and a call for a Christian nation is born out of an authoritarian mindset than Biblical concerns. The reason why the attacks and accusations are signs of authoritarianism is because one of the most prominent signs of authoritarianism is to show hostility when one’s traditions are challenged.

            And so in which articles have calls for Christendom and a Christian Nation relied primarily on the New Testament or on the combination of the Old and New Testaments while noting the differences in contexts that exist in those times? In which ones? Rather, those calls rely on the Reformed traditions and those traditions were written during Christendom. That last fact points to the possibility that the Reformed traditions that support Christendom and Christian Nationalism were products of their time more than anything else.

            So is asking people to consider whether the calls for Christendom and Christian Nationalism might not have enough Biblical support necessarily a bad faith effort with the intention of demoralizing readers here? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then one has begged the question of that possibility as being nonexistent.

            In terms of the social issue questions, the point is whether one is opposing equality for certain groups of unbelievers.

          3. “So is asking people to consider whether the calls for Christendom and Christian Nationalism might not have enough Biblical support necessarily a bad faith effort with the intention of demoralizing readers here?”

            In the abstract? No, of course not. From you? Yes, absolutely. You have major disagreements with standard Reformed orthodoxy, as your comments both here and elsewhere demonstrate. That you might think the project the American Reformer editorial board has laid out for themselves “might not have enough Biblical support” does not serve as any kind of basis for questioning whether said support actually obtains.

            That’s because you don’t share most of the basic commitments of the AR board or its readership. You present yourself as offering a friendly, constructive critique internal to this discussion, but it’s not what you’re doing.

            “In other words, the Christian Nationalists want to create a negative world for their dissenters.”

            Yes. The real question is why you’re acting like this is some kind of secret agenda or unintended consequence. It’s the explicit point of the exercise.

            “As for my fellow believers who are Christian Nationalists, they will hopefully learn in time that following Jesus means seeking to serve others, especially the vulnerable, rather than seeking for power and prestige.”

            People who side with the Regime don’t get to criticize anyone else for allegedly “seeking for power and prestige”. That dog won’t hunt.

          4. Ryan,
            I have major agreements with the Reformed traditions regarding the Godhead, Soteriology, and the Scriptures. Then again, those are essential subjects of Christianity. Christians have differing opinions on how governments should function. That is a non-essential subject.

            Why wouldn’t I disagree with all of the atrocities that occurred under Christendom? But note how I separated Christianity from Christendom. Enemies of Christianity want to blame Christianity and the Bible for those atrocities. I don’t. Some define Christianity by the actions of the Christians they focus their attention on. I define Christianity by what the Scriptures say.

            And I don’t claim that the writers here have a secret agenda. Rather, their motivations and goals are rather obvious. That includes the use of their religious views to influence political views and voting. None of that is hidden.

            BTW, what regime am I siding with? I’ve been a third party voter from 2004 through to 2016. The only reason I voted for Biden in 2020 is because his opponent was Trump. And if Trump runs in 2024, it will be the only reason I will vote for any dem who opposes him. Other than that, and my blog will show this, I am very much anti-regime. Go ahead and read the last two articles on my blog, unless you want to read more articles than 2, and see that what I favor is opposed by both the Repubs and the dems. But then again, saying that I side with the regime is another baseless accusation meant to divert attention. Even though I strongly disagree with the Repub criticisms of Biden, I also strongly disagree with the Dem support for Biden.

            But even for those who support the regime, them complaining about what is so obviously true about those here who want a Christian Nation is a dog that hunts. Why? It is because the validity of that complaint depends on how true it is. And since that complaint is valid, that dog hunts and it does so very well

      2. Jack,
        I very much appreciate your comment and I will respond to 2 parts of it. First, I am more pro-democracy with equality than I favor the principles on which our Republic was founded. Just take the original way by which Senators were to be chosen for example. The office of Senator was defined so as to protect each Senator from being accountable to the voting public. Evidence to that is seen in how Senators were originally selected and the length of their term. According to Yates’s Notes on the Constitutional debates, Madison said the following while arguing for a long for senators:

        –‘ If these observations be jsut, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.’–

        The problem with Christendom isn’t just that, historically, there are only bad apples. The problem with Christendom is the structure of the governments and society that result from Christendom. They are based on authoritarianism with hierarchy. And thus there will often be a conflict between those who are oppressed and those with power who oppress them. Here we should remember Jefferson’s definition of oppression given in his 1801 Inaugural Address. It consists of the failure to recognize the equal rights of the minority.

        No government structure comes without tradeoffs. The advantage that Democracy with equality brings is that individual rights are always tempered by equality. That is because when equality is absent, rights become privileges and democracies become authoritarian governments with hierarchy. Of courses 51% can promote injustice. But, again, that comes at the cost of equality and that results in an authoritarian government with hierarchy. Without equality, there can be no democracy. The problem then can become distinguishing a true democracy with equality from an authoritarian government with hierarchy in which democratic processes like elections are used to pick government leaders. Jim Crow in the South provides excellent examples of an authoritarian state governments with hierarchy.

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