God Forgotten: The American Version

Critical race theory has been slithering like the snakes on the scalp of Medusa through our education system for decades.  It is, I believe, at the heart of what ails this country.

Protester throws tear gas canister back at police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon in June 2020. (Tito Texidor III/Unsplash.com)

I was sitting in the living room after dinner watching what passes for news these days. A long-time family friend, who had been helping with the dishes, walked in, stood in the center of the throw rug in the center of the room, and placed a hand on her hip. She asked, “Are people suing the colleges yet?”

Our friend has always had a thing about professors. This has put me in a peculiar position over the years as I happen to be just that, a full-time humanities professor. I admit that this can be an embarrassing thing to admit. Humanities professors are often characterized as political activists of the worst sort. Our friend is fond of pointing out that too many professors, regardless of discipline, come off as condescending even when they have no other claim to fame than they managed to conform to the current academic orthodoxy. Today, this means they are in bed with left-wing ideologies. That I am of a conservative-ilk is neither here nor there. Most colleges and universities are dominated by leftists. This is nothing new.

“Why should they be sued this time?” I asked.

“For turning students into racists,” she replied matter-of-factly.

Staring into an abyss

I could see where it was headed, as we’d been down this road before. Critical race theory (CRT), linked to the Neo-Marxist Frankfurt School, has been slithering like the snakes on the scalp of Medusa through our education system for decades. Too many continue to avert their eyes from the monster for fear of being turned to stone in their tracks. Not me. CRT is a familiar topic in my house. It is also at the heart of what ails this country.

I imagine a lot of parents are talking about CRT. If not, they should be. As an offshoot of the Frankfurt School, which developed in the 1930s to produce a Neo-Marxist political philosophy influenced by Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud and others, it has chewed into the frame of American society, our education system, like a host of angry termites. A wide range of practitioners—Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, and Marcuse to name a few—applied the theory to gender studies, religion, and other areas of sociology and culture. They were troubled by the fact that Marxism ran into a dead end in Western Europe after WWII. Their conclusion, in large part, was the Protestant ethic. They were appalled and blamed it all, either directly or indirectly, on God.

Juggling competing versions of critical theory made the Frankfurt School a convoluted affair from the get-go. Its foundation was built on a bed of shifting sands and because of this ignored critical aspects of reality that undermined its basic premises. When you mix-and-match the likes of Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and Hegel in an attempt to generate a coherent theory, what do you get? Incoherence and a mockery of reason that have been at the core of the movement since its beginning.

Unperturbed by the absurdities in its reductionist approach, however, critical theory is now employed by groups such as Black Lives Matter and other “anti-racists,” where all is reduced to the color of skin one happens to be born with. They are rather dull lot and so mimic tactics that have failed repeatedly in the past. Possibly their most innovative turn was to add the term “race” to “critical theory.” Vive la revolution! The basic premise of this tired movement is that the only way to combat discrimination, in this case racial discrimination, is by way of even more racial discrimination. In other words, their idea of a cure to the disease is to introduce a variation of the same pathogen.

This seems crazy until you realize they aren’t attempting to rid America of racism; they are looking to spread it. Why? Divide and conquer, the old Marxist stratagem. It’s that simple. And it’s not very clever, though proponents like to think it is. In fact, it’s boring. People all across the political spectrum are tuning-out the noise. But this is just what they want. Left to their own devices, they gain political power and seek a tyranny of the minority in which they will reign by terror.

“You’re absolutely right,” I said.

“What?” the family friend wasn’t accustomed to my agreeing with her so quickly.

“They’re right, too,” I added.

She stood looking at me.

“It’s time to quit denying it,” I continued. “Systemic racism exists. It’s in our schools, the government, the military, the CIA. It’s in our justice system. It’s everywhere.”

“Wait a minute. Aren’t you the one always saying that systemic racism is a myth?”

“I was wrong. It’s real”

“Really?”

“Yep. These American Marxists have been studying monsters for so long, they created their own. They’re the ones that unleashed racism and now it is systemic. Look around. White Fragility and Anti-racist trainings are government-sanctioned indoctrination camps that produce division and hatred. They go under varying titles, the current favorite being Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the old DEI, because it sounds benign. Who could be against that?”

Our friend smiled. “It depends on what you mean by equity.”

“Exactly. Or diversity or inclusion. Good luck getting definitions. When asked, they’ll fall back to a default position claiming it all depends on context so there can be no stable definition. It’s all relative. Whoever is in charge can employ the terms as they see fit. Reason be damned.”

She nodded. “It’s all about power. They’re trying to make a reality out of ghosts from the past.”

It was my turn to nod. “More like demons. They want us to believe we live in a haunted house.”

“It really is getting bad,” said our friend. “These American Marxists, as you call them, don’t seem to believe in forgiving, only revenge. It’s like we’re regressing into the primordial muck.”

“Chaos,” I said, “that’s what they want.”

“They forgot something.”

“What?” I asked.

“Order arises out of chaos.”

“But what strange beast will slouch out of that muck?”

God forgotten

In 1983, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his acceptance speech for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, observed, “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’” He went onto repeat the phrase. “Men have forgotten God,” numerous times during the speech. As it was, so it is.

I have been rereading Solzhenitsyn. His work is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it. As shown by the governmental targeting of churches during the COVID scare (SCOTUS has been pushing back), and ploys like the debunked 1619 Project that are designed to re-make American history in order to subvert America, in Solzhenitsyn’s speech we find a warning:

It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.

CRT may be less than original in its mode of hatred, in fact it is banal, but it is still evil. Hannah Arendt, in her case study Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, concluded that Eichmann, one of the major organizers of Hitler’s Final Solution, was not an amoral monster but, rather, merely shallow and clueless, a ‘joiner’, in the words of one contemporary interpreter of Arendt’s thesis: “he was a man who drifted into the Nazi Party, in search of purpose and direction, not out of deep ideological belief.” Evil favors bureaucratic collectivisms populated by shallow and misinformed joiners. A government that allows, even nurtures, an education system that promotes and idolizes mediocrity in it students signals a country ripe for destruction. That’s the aim of CRT: destruction of America.

When God is forgotten, or, at best, placed on the back burner in the shadows of consciousness, He becomes a vague notion, a testament void of conviction, “Yeah, sure, I believe in a higher power. Now pass the joint, lift a beer, and turn on the music.” This attitude, over time, creates a vacuum. Nature may abhor vacuums, but evil relishes them. Rioters looting stores in Minneapolis and Chicago are joiners, people adrift seeking to fill a void that is striving to devour them. They have been taught that hate, not love, will fill the chasm gnawing at the center of their being. This is the essence of evil: God Forgotten.

We must separate from CRT. The primary reason is that America is founded upon a Judeo-Christian ethic and the two cannot co-exist. This country was founded on belief in God. When God is forgotten, through a combination of neglect and lies, we are no longer America.

Founding Fathers and dirty dishes

“Okay,” said the family friend, “you’ve made your point, but what to do about it? Christianity is on the decline in the West and has been for decades. Young people are simply not interested in what they have been taught is an impossible fantasy invented by a people afraid of death. God is being forgotten in America, slowly and surely. Seeing a problem and solving it are two different things. What can one person do, or even a thousand?”

She was right. It’s like a bad day fly fishing when no matter what fly you cast, no fish rises.

“Good question,” I said after a moment’s pause. “I’m not sure how to answer.”

Vatican II, lauded by some and maligned by others, saw the problem clearly and sought to address it by applying the truth of Christ to modern life. One way of doing this is by bringing the Church Fathers into contemporary discourse. We might gain insight, for example, from reading Tertullian (155-220 AD), who has been called the “Father of Latin Christian Literature.” Tertullian argued that many people of his time hated Christians simply because they were ignorant of Christ. In the first chapter of his Apology, he asked, “For what is more unfair to hate a thing of which you know nothing?”

Though most people today do not actively hate Christ, or will not voice such a feeling publicly, far too many are indifferent to Christ and therefore know little to nothing about Christianity. As St. Maximilian Kolbe observed, “The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.” As in the hatred Tertullian’s time, people today are indifferent because they have been conditioned to be so.

“Maybe the best we can do,” I continued, “is to stand for truth.”

Our friend grimaced. “If you start talking about Jesus to a bunch of college kids, most of them will go glassy-eyed in the first minute. You know that. You’d alienate them more than they already are.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“What?”

“Have you tried it?”

She shrugged and looked at the floor. “I work in a grocery store. It wouldn’t be appropriate to give sermons to the customers.”

It was my turn to shrug. “Who said anything about sermons? I said we need to stand for truth. People act like they need to convince people about truth. They don’t. The truth is the truth whether people believe in it or not. It’s enough to uncover it in a world where others are doing their best to cover it up.”

Tertullian, in the same argument, wrote, “The proof of their ignorance is this, that those who once hated Christianity because they new nothing about it, no sooner come to know it then they lay down all at once their enmity. From being its haters, they become its disciples.”

“I wouldn’t know where to start,” said my friend.

“I don’t either, not really. Why not have some fun with it? Ask somebody in your grocery line if they believe that dinosaurs, gargantuan lizards with long, gnashing teeth, some of which could fly, once roamed the earth. Isn’t that outlandish? It’s crazy when you think about it, right? Then ask them if it isn’t it miraculous that anything exists at all, the sun and the moon, rocks and water? If they believe in dinosaurs, and there is plenty of evidence they existed, why is believing that Jesus once walked the earth and performed miracles such a leap? There’s ample evidence for that too. Ask which they think is more improbable, something out of nothing by chance or by creation. See what they have to say.”

“Some of them would say it’s not the same,” said our friend, “that bones from the earth and words from a book are different. What then? Wouldn’t they have a point?”

“How would they know about dinosaurs if not from words in books or movie scripts? How do they think the paleologists learned about them? Words. Communication. Tell them they might want to look into both sides before jumping to a conclusion on something this big. Leave it at that. Tell them what they owe, give them the receipt, and wish them luck. You wouldn’t want to hold up the line.”

“Some of them might complain to my manager.”

“Take the chance. Plant the seed. In some it might just take root. Whatever the case, you’ve stood for truth. If you cause people to wonder, some, maybe most of them, will realize it’s hard to believe that all the problems in the world can be reduced to the color of one’s skin. The universe is too big for that. Humans are too complex.”

“Philosophy begins in wonder,” blurted my friend. “Who said that?”

“I think it was Aristotle. He might have added, ‘as does the love of God.’”

Our friend paused for a moment and smiled. “Where are my manners? I abandoned that mess in the kitchen to your lovely wife.”

“Thanks for helping. We made quite a mess of things in there.”

She removed her hand from her hip, turned around, and walked to the kitchen.

I stood and followed her. The trashcan was overflowing last I looked. Time to take it out.


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About Jack Gist 10 Articles
Jack Gist is a professional writer and teacher who has published essays, poetry, and fiction in journals such as Catholic World Report, Crisis, Galway Review, First Things, The Imaginative Conservative, New Oxford Review, Academic Questions, St. Austin Review, and many other national and international venues. He can be reached at Revival Writing.

32 Comments

  1. I would like to see more essays about the Frankfurt School.
    Its evil agenda brought about the Cultural Revolution we’re having, and still so few people know about its origins and founders.

    • You might also be interested in Antonio Gramsci’s ‘long march through the institutions’. It is all of a piece. As well as postmodernism in general, with its denial of objective reality, truth, and the Logos.

  2. Excellent article, Prof. Gist. You’ve put an insane cultural spasm — seizure, really — in a comprehensible context. Which is never an easy task.

    I do hope Gist is your nom de plume, however. I would hate for you to lose your job because you’ve committed the ultimate sin of thinking for yourself.

  3. “evil favors bureaucratic collectivisms populated by shallow and misinformed joiner”
    so true.

    What to be done? – take a stand for the truth. True again.

    please take a stand for truth about the evil of abortion – go to “declaration-for-life.org” and take a stand and sign the pledge

  4. Mr Gist has seen the Truth and compared it to the evil,hate,& misery practiced today by
    the American Democrat Party.Two World Wars started by the German people in the 20th Century alone should make Americans hair stand on end. The Catholic Bishops in Germany today.Along with our Pope Francis are “greasing the skids” again.Meanwhile America’s trash can hasn’t been emptied but a couple times in 65 years.

    • I would offer January 6, 2021 as the Republican Party death knell. Jesus was not visible at the Capitol, but he must have wept for our democracy. 1/6/2021 as was 12/7/1941 a “day that will live in infamy”.

      • We live in a Constitutional Republic not a democracy but facts are always irrelevant to drama queens like you, Morgan.

      • Let’s see, there was looting and rioting during the 2020 “summer of love.” The DNC convention was silent. VP Kamala Harris publicly supported the looting and the riots. After getting a one day exposure to the “summer of love” the Capitol built a wall(fence) and brought in border guards. The same wall and border guards that are being denied to people living along the Southern border. It’s always do as I say, not as I do.

  5. Jack Gist, a professor who has tenure and therefore cannot be fired, goads his much lower employed grocery-worker friend to take actions for which she could easily be fired. “Take the chance…Whatever the case, you’ve stood for truth,” he says while tapping on his phone to smile with contentment at the amount of money in his Roth IRA.

    What a courageous man of integrity this Jack Gist is. There’s apparently nothing quite as satisfying as criticizing someone for refusing to pay a price you know you won’t have to pay yourself.

    • Anyone below a certain income level can contribute to a Roth IRA and the same maximum amount of annual contributions applies to everyone according to their age.

    • Where has there ever been an equity of effects?

      Is only the one who has a tenured safety to speak objectively of the truth and asks for a clarion call in support or does one let the evil grow exponentially because a heavy price may be leveled on some but not others?

    • He’s not the only one in that regard. Plenty of other insulated intellectuals, Catholics and “conservative” have given the same advice, especially on social media. When one is in a war, one must recognize who the enemy is and what their capabilities are before responding; mere assertion for the sake of “assertion” or “taking a stand” is part of the idiocy that is liberalism.

    • A personal animus is showing. Maybe Gist has the tenure others were denied. Maybe a failing student wants to own a victimhood.

      Not to worry. Lots of grocery clerk jobs are open, and opportunities to stand for truth are available too. From the tenure track: Be brave. Be courageous. Know the truth. Then stand up and let it show.

  6. As a teacher in San Diego during the 1970s, I recall people talking about Herbert Marcuse, (Frankfurt School’), author of “One Dimensional Man”, and how brilliant he was. Marcuse was at the University of California San Diego at the time, and had a following among the self appointed “intellectuals “. This nasty brew has been simmering or some time, now boiling over.

  7. It’s quite apparent that we need to get rid of CRT for equity. Its practitioners are typically white, so it’s clear that their corrupt philosophy demonstrates their racism. What’s worst, these white racists are turning people of color into racists as well. So sad. Need more be said?

  8. Greetings Aleksandr,

    I’m happy to say my friend in the article, who apparently knows academia to a much greater extent than you, realizes tenured faculty can and do pay the price for standing up for what they believe in:

    https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2015/02/firing-professor-mcadams-when-a-catholic-university-collides-with-political-correctness/

    https://www.thefire.org/professor-mike-adams-suicide-will-always-haunt-me/

    The list continues to grow. Nobody is safe.

    Pax

  9. By painting the issue of racial justice as focused on critical race theory is perpetuating racial injustice. For white Catholics the discussion of this is always uncomfortable because racism benefits them. One way to stop openly discussing racial injustice is to portray the movement for racial justice as tainted the illnesses of critical race theory. As Catholics, we need to move beyond CRT and look at the issue from the lens of the Social Teachings of the Church. Let’s take and read the book of the Black priest-theologian Bryan Massingale, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Get an overview of this theology here linked:
    https://news.fordham.edu/living-the-mission/catholic-scholars-confront-racism-and-describe-how-fellow-catholics-can-help/
    or this
    https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/assumptions-white-privilege-and-what-we-can-do-about-it

    • “For white Catholics the discussion of this is always uncomfortable because racism benefits them.”

      For all “white Catholics”? Always uncomfortable? Because racism always benefits them?

      Your remark is loaded with accusatory assumptions and one-sided biases. Who, exactly, is being racist here?

      • This is a typical way to stop the movement for racial justice: paint it as driven by critical race theory and scare its sympathizers. This way discussion about systemic racism is stopped and so no action is done and those who benefit from this unjust system continue to enjoy it so. This author is definitely doing this with this article here. White Catholics who do this prefer whiteness over witness!

        • Greetings Samson,

          Really? This is your response?

          Vague generalizations that point accusatory fingers with assumed moral authority and dodge critical discourse by ignoring reasoned criticism attempt to provoke emotional responses to avoid reality in favor of an ideology that crumbles under the slightest scrutiny.

          You, sir, have no argument here. Calling names is your only recourse.

          Pax

    • Samson,

      As Catholics, human dignity is at the core of social theory. Reducing a human, Catholic or not, to the color of their skin is stripping them of the dignity that, well, signifies human being. Dignity is not reducible to race, socioeconomic state, etc. It is, thankfully, much more complex and rich than that.

      Your post, though appreciated, commits gross over-generalisations that are the hallmark of CRT. You may not intend this, and I’m happy to grant the benefit of the doubt, but by pitting “whites” against “Blacks,” as you have done here, you perpetuate, inadvertently or not, the very discord you seek to avoid. In other words, your argument is convoluted (at best).

      Pax

    • For white Catholics the discussion of this is always uncomfortable because racism benefits them.(sic)

      The objective racism of the marxist Burning Looting and Mugging cabal doesn’t benefit me at all. However it does appear to be a windfall for people like Patrisse Khan-Cullors.

    • The accusation that anyone who challenges Critical Race Theory is somehow protective of racism is absolute poppycock. How can we advance as a fair and equitable world if the answer to any kind of intellectual investigation or even simple questioning is to charge the investigator/questioner as a racist? Your support for Critical Race Theory makes you a brainwashed, non-thinking, anti-white bigot. See what I did there?

  10. I think asking a simple question of others can get the “God-thing” discussion going: “Do you think there’s life after death?”

  11. There is an old saying that those who seek equity must do equity.
    *
    I read an article titled “Owning up to our lesser evils” by Elizabeth Bruenig. In it she wrote:
    *
    “…that evil is thoughtless, that it engenders a refusal to reckon with the nature or consequences of one’s actions. Evil rejects reason and contemplation, and it is fundamentally unreflective”.

  12. It should be noted that CRT isn’t directly related to the Frankfurt School, but emerged from a combination of the Cultural Marxism that “evolved” from the Frankfurt School with postmodernism.

    CRT itself isn’t the main problem, it is whoever is behind it. I believe in passing laws, identifying the perpetrators, and removing them from power (Which would include their ability to publicize or “teach.”) The US needs good censorship.

    To fight it at an intellectual level it is necessary to pin the perpetrators down with definitions. What would be a good procedure might be something along the lines of an inquisition. Once good laws are passed, they could be held at fault for peddling what is false.

    It comes down to this. Would a geologist be allowed to “teach” that the earth is flat? Of course not! So how is it that certain activists who have perhaps purposely nonsensical things to say are permitted to “teach” evil under the guise of good?

  13. “So how is it that certain activists who have perhaps purposely nonsensical things to say are permitted to “teach” evil under the guise of good?”

    Well said. That’s the $64,000 question.

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