How To Preserve A Moral Culture Through ‘Creative Subversion’ By Louis Markos for The Federalist
In ‘Beheading Hydra,’ priest Dwight Longenecker argues the way to combat selfish and atheistic politics is encouraging Christians to do ‘what they can where they are and with what they have.’
We may live in a postmodern age that has abandoned absolute truth as a relic of the past, but there are still many “truths” that the citizens of the west know in their heart are as obvious as they are non-negotiable. First and foremost is that wonderfully optimistic, if brazenly taken-out-of context maxim from Hamlet: The most important thing of all is that we be true to ourselves. The second maxim follows, that we must always trust our feelings and do what we know will make us happy, mentally stable, and self-actualized.
Then there is that fiercely-held democratic truism that the majority is always right and the government’s job is to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number. Well, they might not put it in those words, but they do expect their leaders to be practical and pragmatic, to get results. In any case, citizens expect, if not demand, constant progress that will make their lives happier, healthier, and blissfully worry-free.
They may or may not believe in God, but they know that nature runs by certain laws that cannot be altered and that scientists and doctors and researchers, precisely because they understand those laws, are to be trusted implicitly. They may or may not believe in a divine moral code, but they know nothing in that code could possibly prevent them from maximizing their pleasure and minimizing their pain. They may or may not believe in heaven, but they know it wouldn’t dare impede upon the way things work on earth.
These are the verities of twenty-first-century America, both inside and outside the church, and they are rarely stated or questioned. They are simply accepted, along with the ground we walk on, the food we consume, and the air we breathe. They are part and parcel of the modernist-postmodernist worldview that is so deeply woven into our psyche that it is all but invisible—as invisible as the water is to the fish that live and move and have their being within its perpetually wet embrace.
Thankfully, Fr. Dwight Longenecker has unwoven and exposed that invisible cloak, allowing academic and lay readers alike to see not only its individual strands but how they function together to, quite literally, pull the wool over our eyes. To do so, however, Longenecker employs a more dynamic and memorable metaphor: the multi-headed mythological hydra that grew two new heads each time one of its heads was lopped off.
In Beheading Hydra: A Radical Plan for Christians in an Atheistic Age, Longenecker, a former evangelical and Anglican priest who was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2006 and currently pastors Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, S.C., links the swirling, interconnected heads of the modernist hydra to 16 “isms” that define the functionally atheistic worldview that so thoroughly pervades secular society that it has come to deceive even the elect.