Morality in America
When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.
Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage. After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.
Americans Suffer from Cultural PRE-Traumatic Stress Disorder
By Nicholas Grosfield
Last week, this article began addressing some broad fears that seem to pervade American culture. Called cultural pre-traumatic stress disorder (in contrast to the better-known post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD), the first part of this article argued that excessive “preparing for the worst” may “lead a person to incur a chronically anxious tunnel vision that alters or undermines their normal cognitive and emotional functionality.” After exploring this further, part two finishes with an even graver consequence: spiritual frailty.
In her book Cultural Melancholia, Christina Cavedon analyzes American fiction surrounding the September 11 attacks, as well as the portrayals by media, political, and other cultural forces of those dreadful events. She refers to “national trauma” or “cultural trauma” time and again as she correlates that to a “cultural melancholia,” although notably, she thinks September 11 is but one event contributing to that collective mindset.
The New Republic references the children of Cambodians who suffered under the brutal Khmer Rouge Maoism of the late 1970s. Decades of refugee life in America has not erased the heritage of the new generations, which “have not enjoyed the upward mobility of children of immigrants from other Asian countries.” The article goes on: “Traditionally, psychiatrists have cited family dynamics to explain the vicarious traumatization of the second generation. Children may absorb parents’ psychic burdens as much by osmosis as from stories…But researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological [emphasis theirs],” where kids express a vulnerability “in their molecules, neurons, cells, and genes” to developing their own PTSD. The article also mentions children of Holocaust survivors and New York City children who were in utero on September 11, 2001. Similar research examines offspring of U.S. war veterans with PTSD.
It is conceivable that, if post-traumatic stress disorder occurs on a societal level, then cultural pre-traumatic stress disorder could exist, too. It may not fit under the “biological” psychiatry noted in the preceding paragraph, but it might play in the same ballpark as “family dynamics.” Borrowing from Cavedon’s Cultural Melancholia—where loud voices like the press and the White House could have impacted many Americans’ post-September 11 attitude—ponder again the opening of part one of this article from last week in the following manner:
Say 10 percent of Americans sit on the “do or die” fence when it comes to the election or guns or immigration or climate change or China or terrorism or who knows how many other topics. That would mean more than 30 million people believe that large-scale danger is about to pounce. And whether they lean left or right, they can find dozens of periodicals, organizations, and speakers to reinforce their fears, one legitimate fact—and perhaps one exaggerated analysis—at a time. Then they direct their kids to the “right” movies, museums, and media, and before long someone else’s indoctrination has become the nervous twitching of their own family and community.
Again, individuals and countries should monitor and defend against looming or potential threats. That this world is fallen and dangerous this article absolutely affirms. But the fear and hyperbole pervading so many headlines and coffee shop conversations undermine the discernment of one’s mind and the strength of one’s homeland.
Before closing, consider one other form of cultural pre-traumatic stress disorder that may be the real culprit. In its article called “Cultural PTSD” (referring to post-traumatic stress disorder, but which also relates to our topic), The Cardus Daily argues the following:
“Ours is increasingly a culture without foundation—highly susceptible to every wind and wave. Insecurity is writ large into the modern psyche. And the recurring images of Sandy Hook; Seaside, New Jersey; the Boston marathon bombing; and Moore, Oklahoma serve to amplify these feelings. Safety and security elude us…Cultural PTSD further represses already neglected religious concerns. It amps up the grasping at anything that promises pseudo-security…[Quoting Oswald Chambers] ‘Worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives.’ It is not the Devil that chokes out the things of faith, but rather the mundane ‘cares of this world.’ This is where unbelief begins. We do not need for our world to end, only to have our imaginations shaped by a symbolic cosmic threat for which there is no recognized spiritual solace.”
In the end, sole fide—“faith alone” in the God who died for us, then came back to life—can offer a person or a people the motivation and ability to find hope. English Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote in the 1700s: “Those that deal with God must deal upon trust…One of the principal graces of a Christian is hope, which necessarily implies a good thing to come…Faith respects the promise, hope the thing promised.”
The Cardus Daily concludes: “There is a cure for this dis-ease. Jesus said, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?’ [John 14] Jesus too offers us a choice: a meaningful life and an even more meaningful death.”
Please pray for Christians in America to ground all aspects of their personal and national destiny in Christ alone (see Psalm 2).
Nikolas Grosfield is a writer from Montana. His work has appeared 180 times in national, local, and other media outlets. He earned a B.A. in History at Cedarville University, lived five years in the Middle East and East Africa. He is a devoted child of God, husband of Elsbeth, and daddy of Oliver and Elias.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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