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The Left Returns to Sacrifice

by Christopher Chantrill
January 17, 2004 at 7:00 pm

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EVER NOTICE how lefties are big on sacrifice?  Most of the Democratic presidential contenders were planning to roll back the Bush tax cuts, at least up until the moment they started to appeal for the votes of real Americans instead of movement lefties.

It’s not just lefties that are into sacrifice.  Since time immemorial, humans have felt the need to assuage the guilt and shame of it all.  The way we do this, Frederick Turner reminds us in Beauty, the Value of Values, is with sacrifice. 

Our lives are shameful.  We shamefully select one pretty girl to wed and ruthlessly reject others equally pretty.  We conquer and kill, and elbow others out of our way.  The ultimate shameful fact is that we live day-to-day by killing and enslaving.  For meat eaters, this uncomfortable truth is inescapable.  We breed, fatten up, and kill billions of animals that we have “domesticated” (i.e., enslaved) to our human purposes.  But the position of vegetarians is hardly innocent.  They feed on the carcasses of grossly-modified grasses that once grew wild in the hills of Mesopotamia, and they gobble up many other species that we have dragged into our “gardens.”  So we must sacrifice to wash away the shame and the guilt.

Sacrifice is a kind of magic and magic, according to sociologist Rodney Stark, is the way that humans attempt to acquire things that cannot be gotten by natural means.  It was when the rains failed that the people of the Nazca plain in Peru started drawing magic lines in the desert pointing to the mountains from whence the water used to flow.

But magic is expensive, and men have sought to economize on its cost.  In other words, they cheat.  In our western tradition the first notable instance of cheating occurred on the day Abraham sacrificed a ram to the Lord instead of his son, Isaac.  Others have substituted the bones and the hide of a bull for the entire bull and its valuable meat.  But it was Christianity that took the sacrifice concept to the limit and beyond.  What, after all, is the biggest sacrifice a father can imagine?  Obviously, it must be: the father sacrifices his first-born son.  What is the biggest sacrifice imaginable?  God sacrifices His Son.

When God sacrifices His Son, it means that we don’t need to sacrifice our sons.  God has paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world, and we get to keep our sons, our rams, our bulls, and the Dodge Rams that we might otherwise have sacrificed to atone for our sins.  This has a real effect on the ground, as David Aikman relates in Jesus in Beijing.  Communist Party officials in western China have reported that villagers who convert to Christianity stop sacrificing their animals when family members get sick.  The result is that the Christian families get richer.

In our advanced West, of course, many people have abandoned Christianity and have declared their independence of the Christian experience of Original Sin.  But if Frederick Turner is right they would still need to enact a sacrifice ritual to atone for all the killing and enslaving that every human commits, even the granola lefty who merely enacts a daily slaughter of tender alfalfa sprouts.

Do they ever.  Our modern lefties wallow in sin.  There is the sin of oppressing the poor, there is the sin of patriarchy, there is the sin of overpopulation, there is the sin of global warming, there is the sin of smoking, there is the sin of eating meat, there is the sin of fast food, and there is the sin of gas-guzzling SUVs.  And let us not forget the Four Horsemen of the modern Apocalypse: racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.

All this sin could be handled were it not that lefties aren’t satisfied for us just to say we are sorry. They want us to atone for it all with real sacrifice, for they have thrown over the brilliant Christian invention of symbolic sacrifice, the ultimate cheat where God sacrifices His Son and we don’t have to.  Lefties want us to eat less, consume less, travel less, and “live simply that others may simply live.”  To top it all, they want us to act out the global sacrifice ritual called the Kyoto Protocol.

The lefty twentieth century exhibited a return not just to real sacrifice but human sacrifice, the kind that went out when God told Abraham to sacrifice that ram instead of his first-born son.  Wherever left-wing regimes held sway, whether in a socialism-in-one-country version or in a national-socialist-German-worker version, millions of humans were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the world in the most gruesome manner imaginable.  They call that progress?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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