The Paganization of Nations

“Over-civilization and barbarism are within an inch of each other. And a mark of both is the power of medicine-men.” G.K. Chesterton

I remember a comparison of two short stories I read for a literature class in college. My liberal colleagues were horrified when an older man lost his job and found himself on the streets–likely to starve. The man was a native-American whom his white supervisor had disregarded–perhaps because of his age and his race.

In the other story, a tribe practiced geronticide (killing the elderly) by throwing an older member out of the boat and chopping off her fingers as she attempted to reenter said boat.

My fellow students were horrified at the first story but didn’t even blink at the second one. The first story represented oppression of one group against another. The second story was “just their culture.”

And they were entitled to “their culture.”

I still don’t understand how they could so clearly see one injustice and not see the other.

Perhaps it boils down to a philosophy Rachel Jankovic outlines in her book You Who?: Why You Matter and How to Deal with It.

Jankovic compares the idea that all human life is sacred with the idea that people who can make choices matter more than people who cannot.

Since the second idea prevails, we have abortion throughout pregnancy, and sometimes even later. But young children aren’t the only ones who are incapable of making choices.

In my own Pennsylvania, we recently learned that Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s mother miraculously found a safe haven away from the nursing home where she resided until just before an order came from above that could have jeopardized her life.

The order from Dr. Levine required nursing homes to accept Covid-19 positive patients to ensure that the hospital beds they had been occupying would be empty when others, perhaps more valuable to society, needed them.

Dr. Levine says Mother made the request herself. She was capable of choosing, not because of her race or age, but because of a different sort of tribal connection. The elder Mrs. Levine somehow knew when to get out.

Of the state’s 3,806 coronavirus deaths, 2,611 . . . occurred in nursing homes and long-term-care ­facilities.” 

Dr. Mengele was probably nice to his mother too.

I’m guessing my college peers who could so easily divide their logic between the ousted man and the fingerless grandmother nearly three decades ago might find it more difficult to reconcile the deaths of their own grandmothers at the hands of a state official who figured out how to dodge personal tragedy.

Pagan societies sacrifice humans to false gods. They eliminate the weak who might deprive the strong of sustenance or shelter.

Civilized nations protect the young, the weak, the elderly, those incapable of making their own choices, those without the kind of connection Mrs. Levine has.

Pagan or civilized? I know which one we used to be.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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24 Replies to “The Paganization of Nations”

  1. Powerful message. I think these kind of decisions will become more frequent in the future. As I get older, I wonder who will think I no longer matter.

    1. You will always matter, Yvonne. I’ve often thought that the generation in who grew into adulthood as Roe was descending upon us would be the ones who pay the price of Roe on the other end. That is you and I. Thank you. And God bless because these days are darkening.

  2. Before encountering Christ in my early 20s, I held fast to the belief that all truths are equal and things/ people have value only as we ascribe it to them. One of the arguments that persuaded me that existentialism is flawed was a friend who simply pointed out that finite humans cannot ascribe value because our values contradict. There needs to be an Infinite Being in order for any morality to exist. Thank you for this post!

    1. God’s standard (unchanging) calls us to give and assist others. Our values (shifting) call us to ourselves. Thank you, Candice. God bless!

  3. Wow. Really thought provoking Nancy. The Chesterton quote made me sit up straight, internally disagreeing that the deciding line between pagan and civilized was up the doctors. But you make a very good argument. Inequities are being exposed in our society through this virus. The deaths in nursing homes are tragic, but I do sense less compassion over these deaths because ‘they were old anyway’. Is this our culture now? Are both unwanted babies and old people too much trouble?

    1. I fear that is precisely the case. I was a senior in high school was SCOTUS laid Roe down across the nation. Will it be my generation that will be old when the idea of usefulness determines life or death? It does seem so. Thank you, Cathy. God bless!

  4. This is unnerving. Just as predicted by the ethicists who warned us that Roe v Wade would lead us directly to this point, we have indeed now arrived at euthanasia. The train has left the station. For over forty years, we’ve been killing babies, and now we’re killing grandparents. God have mercy!

  5. Powerful. We are called by God to care for the “least of these,” including our elderly, poor, children, and unborn children… also prisoners and immigrants and others who are often voiceless.

  6. Nancy, I was completely and utterly appalled at both stories. It’s beyond my comprehension that anyone, no matter their age, would not have the same reaction to both. And your secretary of health’s directive is just sickening.

    I pray we rise up and have a voice for the voiceless…all of them!

  7. Oh Nancy, your stories and message pierce my heart. Lord, have mercy on our self-sin-darkened hearts. I’m sure I have shared this before, but I have a disabled brother and I know many people would feel his life is “not worth living”. It all begins with an understanding that God is our Creator and Father. We have value because of His eternal touch upon our existence and we were made in His image. And He values every life. So should we. The days seem to be growing darker and darker. May the light and Life of Christ radiate from us.

    1. Your brother’s purpose is vast and unknown to many here. But it is still purpose. Thank you, Melissa, for a wonderful comment. God bless!

  8. Excellent piece, albeit disturbing. I am really thankful how you tackle the difficult ethical issues of our time. You are a voice, Nancy, and I appreciate every blog that you put out there for the sake of Christ.

  9. Your post underlines the critical need to share Christ with others. Hearts must change before actions do. Thank you for approaching a difficult topic.

  10. Those are shocking stats about Covid19 deaths.

    The response to the two short stories is an example of Orwellian doublethink.

    The far left sees the world through a binary lense of oppressed vs. oppressor. Too often, they won’t criticize the culture of an oppressed group, even that cultural practice is evil.

    Political correctness can make people stupid.

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