Saturday, February 24, 2024

The More Christianity Comes Under Attack, the More I Am a Christian


It's been a rough couple of decades for Christianity in America, a rough last century nearly for it in Europe. The modern world and postmodern secular age is a fact of life that most of us grew up with. A new default. While I had the basics of a faith passed down through the family life in the small town where I grew up (baptism, confirmation, attended young life often as a teen) it's more accurate to say I'm a cultural Christian, but one who aspires to be more than one. But this bad Christian has read enough history, especially the story of Western Civilization, and seen enough of modernity and postmodernity to make a determination by the second act. 

Postmodernism and the secular age has been a tremendous mistake. Thoughtful people know this. Even thoughtful people who are more or less agnostic know it.

Whatever one thinks of Christianity, I've noticed we're just recreating it anyway through secular terms. Much of the so-called woke culture is simply co-opted Christian culture ran through a secular lens. A libertine lens. But the depravity and decadence of our time is not fooling anyone. 

Earlier this week on MSNBC, Politico investigate reporter Heidi Przybyla warned MSNBC viewership about the danger of "Christian Nationalists" and was a textbook example of today's secular progressive worldview: "they believe that our rights as Americans, as all human beings, don't come from any earthly authority. They don't come from Congress, they don't come to the Supreme Court, they come from God." 

Yes Heidi. That is exactly what not only any Christian would believe growing up in the actual country but also any American. It's literally what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. 

Here's a few excerpts:

" assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..." 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We've now tried a post-American America, and a post-Constitution and post-Republic America... it ain't working. A post-Christian America is just another mistake to add to the tally. 

In a choice between our Rights coming from God, and from Government -- I choose God. Because God gave us life and Government sends us to war and takes our property. 

In a choice between Christian grace and forgiveness, and the new secular one that has merely re-created Christianity on its own terms and agenda without the redeeming qualities of grace and forgiveness -- I choose Christianity.

And when faced with an X/Twitter biography space and character limit, I'll remove my law degree and masters degree in international relations to make room.  

So for me, it is Christian --> in, and my graduate degrees of JD and MAIR --> out. The future of this country will depend on the strength, resilience, and goodwill of Christians, good, bad, and cultural. With an assist from other faith traditions that also see the danger of a government and a political ideology that believes it can become and elevate itself above God. 

The secular world is interested in power, coercion, and control. No thanks. Return to tradition. Return to wholesomeness. And we will have a chance. 

Troy M. Olson is an Army Veteran, lawyer by training, and the co-author (with Gavin Wax) of the upcoming book ‘The Emerging Populist Majority.’ He is the Sergeant-at-Arms of the New York Young Republican Club and co-founder of the Veterans Caucus. He lives in New York City with his wife and son. Follow him on Twitter at @TroyMOlson and Substack at

A Republic, We Will Restore It

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Is Technology Really Making You Lonely?


I've been thinking: perhaps we are too quick to blame technology and social media for the exacerbation of our loneliness epidemic...

The iPhone seems like low-hanging fruit. 

Yes, I agree that there is something inherently anti-social about most new technology, but, ultimately, we are the users. So, if we are accruing 6 hours of screen time a day, it is because we are allowing the devices to control our behavior. 

Pro-gun advocates religiously echo the platitude that "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." In that same vein, I'd like to proclaim that "devices don't control people; people allow devices to control people." 

Social media, in particular, is often made out to be the culprit when examining the loneliness epidemic. From what I've observed, though, social media can serve as an essential facilitator to social connectedness. The Bumble BFF app, for instance, has facilitated many a platonic relationship. And Facebook groups often don't live exclusively online. These digital communities frequently come together to organize in-person meet-ups. 

To be sure, remote work has generated a lot of remoteness in society. It is, after all, called remote work. 

But there are hopeful indicators that social media, while initially blamed for igniting remoteness, can actually assuage it. 

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert, writing for Business Insider, reports on a new app start-up called Groove that may help "de-remote" remote work: 

Groove, a digital coworking app that recently completed its public launch, offers structured hourlong meeting times for business owners and entrepreneurs to connect while working remotely. 

The small-scale chats, with just four users each, have five-minute intro and debriefing meetings, bookending a 50-minute window for workers to conduct their businesses. During the chat sessions, users are encouraged to describe their work, share their wins and struggles, and build business connections with others working solo.

This is a sanguine sign that the market can engender creative new ways to combat loneliness. Groove and other new apps are responses to increasing social atomization, perhaps made worse by the proliferation of new technologies. 

We ought to applaud these developments. 

I would like to reiterate, per my last post, that people have always been lonely, to some degree. This is, unfortunately, a human condition. Please read Alan Ehrenhalt's latest article for Governing, which prompted my blog post. 

But, while this condition of loneliness definitely isn't new, I will of course acknowledge that the modern age - characterized by Uber Eats deliveries, Netflix, and TikTok - has further complicated things. Our response, though, should not take the form of a sort of neo-luddism, wherein we shun technology. Rather, we ought to use this medium to our advantage.  


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Will the Lonely Always Be With Us?


I don't care if I sound like a broken record. I will continue to say it: People need each other. Today, though, we live as inward-looking automatons. 

But...perhaps this isn't just a problem of today. Perhaps people have always felt lonely to some degree...

Alan Ehrenhalt, who I believe to be one of the authorities on the subject of social capital and communitarian thought, wrote a fascinating piece in Governing last month. In the past few months, we've experienced a burgeoning output of articles detailing our current "loneliness epidemic." Just about every publication has written about it. The release of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's report in April of last year certainly sparked a lot of content on the matter. Before that, the Covid-19 pandemic elicited a myriad of op-eds.

Ehrenhalt, however, ably notes that much of the literature on this topic long predates the 2020s. Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, easily the most widely recognized work in this area, was published in 2000. Ray Oldenburg's The Great Good Place, which details America's decline in "third places" - sources of community, such as taverns and cafes, which are separate from home and the workplace - was published in 1989. 

Ehrenhalt points to literature from as far back as the 1920s: "The historian Roderick Nash wrote that 'the typical American in 1927 was nervous. The values by which he ordered his life seemed in jeopardy of being swept away by the forces of growth and complexity.'"

So, I guess this is nothing new...

Societal anxieties about rising loneliness have been with us for the past century, but a combination of trends and events in the last two decades have made the anxiety worse, and probably made the underlying problem somewhat worse as well.

Unlike many authors, though, Ehrenhalt offers some prescription:

Over the years, our parks have accumulated quite a few anti-social pieces of infrastructure: They have built unnecessary fences, placed spikes on sittable ledges and taken out benches instead of making them more inviting. Reversing those sorts of decisions would be a decent start.

West Palm Beach, Fla., has installed moveable chairs in its parks; research has shown that to be a modest incentive to sociability. Salem, Mass., has installed what it calls “happy to chat benches.” Some intimidatingly large apartment buildings have experimented with music corners and tiny libraries to bring residents together. Some supermarkets in Europe have put in slow checkout lanes that encourage customers to make conversation with the checkout clerks. Sounds bizarre, but maybe it does some good.

Ehrenhalt goes on to say that the lonely have always been with us. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be proactive in taking steps to help curtail their increasing atomization. 

Far too many of us today feel deracinated from our families, places of work, and various third places. 

As I noted last year in National Review:

A new, troubling study, however, finds that Americans are now beginning to feel a detachment from civic life. Last month, “The Belonging Barometer,” co-produced by the American Immigration Council and Over Zero, concluded that the majority of Americans feel a lack of belonging to their “family, friends, workplace, and local and national communities.”

This level of detachment is simply unsustainable. Complacency isn't an option. 

Sure, Ehrenhalt is right: some of these New Urbanist remedies do sound bizarre. But they might just be bizarre enough to work...