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.
Image Credit: Unsplash