Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama as the Incarnation of History

It's been almost a month since I've blogged... but then I try not to blog for the sake of blogging, and only write when I think I have something to contribute that is not already being said by others. My thoughts on the recent election have mostly been stated by others (Peter Hitchens, for example) better than I could have stated them myself. 

One thing about Barack Obama I think people are missing concerns the idea that he thinks of himself as some sort of Messiah. This doesn't really get it. A Messiah, including the Messiah, is a man on a mission under orders from a higher power. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." The Messiah is not an independent operator; his power and authority are defined by the mission on which the Higher Power has sent him. He lives in a world of metaphysical absolutes that define his world.

History (since the birth of Christ) is the record of the response of men to the Messiah. The Messiah grounds the meaning of history, but He is not history itself. The distinction between the Messiah and history creates the space in which the freedom of men can exist, and in which men become free co-creators of history with the Messiah. Christ allows men to crucify Him, if they so chose, so that the distinction between Himself and history will endure; history goes on, its meaning secure, even when the Savior is killed and is buried.

Barack Obama, in contrast to Christ, deliberately collapses the distinction between himself and history. Uniquely among American politicians, he does not really sell ideas or policies. His ideas are stale socialist drivel from the 1930's, ideas that would get a politician laughed off the platform were they stated by anyone other than Obama. But no one cares about the ideas, because what Obama is really selling is himself as the incarnation of history. To support Obama is to be swimming with the tide of history; to oppose him is to be worse than wrong, it is to be ahistorical. Christ heralded the advent of the Kingdom of God; Obama heralds the advent of the City of Man

What defines the City of Man is that history replaces metaphysics as the foundation of the world. It doesn't matter that Obama can't explain his abortion absolutism, his terrorist friends, or his crazy pastor, or even offer a coherent account of what he would do as President. Things will be different once he is elected, are different now that he is the President-elect. Philosophical debates about the beginning of life or the morality of revolutionary terrorism belong to the old world, the world of metaphysical absolutes like God and human nature. Obama never claimed to transcend these debates; what he claimed to do is "move beyond them," and the temporal nature of his assertion is exactly right. 

John McCain was the perfect representative of an old world of absolutes - of honor, duty, and country - too weak to defend itself against the magic spell of Obama's historicism. The election post-mortem revealed that McCain himself sensed the "historic destiny" of the Obama campaign and wondered if it was right for him to stand in the way. His doubt caused him to pull his punches and leave the obvious arguments against Obama (e.g., that his politics are reheated garbage from 1933) off the table. If McCain really understood the old world, then he would have understood that metaphysical absolutes judge history, not the other way around. Something is truly "historic" only to the extent that it has a foundation in the true, the good and the beautiful; that is, ultimately in God. The true and the good do not stand aside as history marches on.

What will become of our freedom in the new historical epoch allegedly opened by Obama? There is no space for freedom in our new world, since Obama's destiny and history are one and the same. This is the reason that Obama so casually tosses aside old friends and even family members ("typical white person") and no one seems to care. To be in Obama's way is to be in history's way, and no one has standing before history, not even John McCain. 

The Constitution, once revered as the law of the land, has served its purpose in bringing us to this historical moment, the advent of Obama. It is now a relic of a bygone age, one that will retain some hold over the current generation but little over the succeeding ones. Certainly Obama will not feel constrained by it.

We religious folk will be tolerated, but only so long as we do not stand in the way of history by proclaiming our metaphysical absolutes. Obama-world does not have space for philosophical or religious arguments. These arguments will not be answered because they won't be seen to even rise to the dignity of being wrong; they will be denounced as unfortunate efforts to take us back to the "old debates of the past", efforts that must be resisted rather than answered.

I don't think it will go well for us.


edtye said...

Good to see a new blog.

I don't get your meaning of historic as in 'Something is truly "historic" only to the extent that it has a foundation in the true, the good and the beautiful; that is, ultimately in God.'

Wasn't the holocaust historic in it's evil? Haven't we reached historic levels of abortions? I don't see how these uses tie with your definition.
- Ed

David T. said...


Yes, you are right. I meant "historic" in the positive sense, but of course things can happen that set new precedents for evil, like the holocaust.

There is only one way to measure whether history is making things better or worse, and that is against an eternal standard that is not itself changing with history. The Obama phenomenon inverts this, and judges the good by history instead history by the good. What advances Obama's historic destiny is good, what hinders it is bad.