Hope in the Age of Permacrisis

True Citizenship in a Climate of Cultural Decline

I recently discovered a wealth of lectures and panels on YouTube hosted by the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), a new initiative announced in June by famed clinical psychologist and author Jordan Peterson. Given the hundreds of thousands of views these videos have received, it would seem the program is already a great success, and the first inaugural ARC conference attracted many of today’s most insightful and visionary thinkers, including Eastern Orthodox iconographer Jonathan Pageau, Catholic bishop Robert Barron, sexual-revolution critics Mary Harrington and Louise Perry, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and many others.

This final address from Peterson himself captures well the overall vision and purpose of the conference and of ARC:

Peterson posits that a strong identity involves merging both freedom and responsibility. Bishop Barron’s lecture, for example, was on the different views of freedom at work today: freedom of indifference vs. freedom for excellence. The former champions self-will above all, while the second reflects the Judeo-Christian understanding of liberty as the capacity to do what one should. Peterson noted in his address that the conference was about reminding people “who they are.” He said, on the verge of tears, “You’re the men and women, individuals made in the image of God, who stumble eternally uphill towards the Jerusalem on the hill, the shining city on the hill.”

It was refreshing to find a “melting pot” of the thinkers I’ve personally been following for the last couple years and to note the exciting vision of the Alliance on its website, which reads:

The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) is an international community with a vision for a better world where every citizen can prosper, contribute and flourish.

We are inviting you to join us in developing a better narrative in response to life’s most fundamental social, economic, philosophical and cultural questions. We reject the inevitability of decline and instead are seeking solutions which draw on humanity’s highest virtues and extraordinary capacity for innovation and ingenuity.

There seems to be a lot to worry about in today’s social climate. I’ve been disturbed in recent weeks by the unapologetic support for the terrorist group Hamas and the attending antisemitism rearing its ugly head on so many “elite” college campuses and in the media. It’s hard to imagine how a culture could so fundamentally abandon its moral compass and the spiritual and political heritage that once made it uniquely prosperous. Postmodern ideologies and their simplistic vision for the world have distorted our vision of human relationships and our ideas about what real justice looks like.

On Citizenship

Organizations like ARC indicate that there is clearly something amiss in the West but that ultimate decline isn’t inevitable. We can still push back against the forces that seek to maim God’s image bearers and instead pursue an alternative vision for human life.

There are others besides ARC to praise. The Free Press, launched by Bari Weiss, a Jewish woman, is another forum where journalism is actually fulfilling its calling to speak truth to power and foster a forum for diverse viewpoints. The same can’t be said for the typical American university or legacy-media newsroom.

Perhaps a meditation on the word “citizenship” is in order in these politically restless times. The beautiful thing about Christianity is that it isn’t tied to the interests of one nation, political ideology, or governmental agenda. Jesus preached the coming Kingdom of God during his earthly ministry, and St. Paul admonishes the church to seek to belong to the heavenly citizenry before paying allegiance to any prior commitment: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, NASB).

Jordan Peterson and his company of brilliant, hope-filled companions are not only asking what it means to be a citizen of a rational, flourishing earthly society, but how we can reopen our lives to the transcendent. A good number of the lectures wrestle precisely with Western Civilization’s departure from spiritual reality, or rather, to be more specific, its insistence on replacing our Judeo-Christian-based foundations with political ideologies—what have effectively become the idols of our age.

The propagators of these new “religion replacements” lead in a way not unlike how the Pharisees in Jesus’ day led—they place impossible burdens on the people but fail to lift a finger to help them do what is said to be required of them (Matthew 23:4). Without God’s grace-filled intervention, it seems that we won’t be citizens anywhere, but rather will end up as slaves of the despots who are arrogant enough to think they can take God’s place. While I hope and pray we continue to contend for the values that allow for a free and virtuous society, perhaps it is first essential that we secure our primary citizenship where it belongs—in God’s Kingdom.

After that, I encourage you to take four minutes and watch this introduction to the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship:

Peter Biles is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 2019 and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications, including Plough, Dappled Things, The Gospel Coalition, Salvo, and Breaking Ground.

Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox!
Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/hope-in-the-age-of-permacrisis


Bioethics icon Bioethics Philosophy icon Philosophy Media icon Media Transhumanism icon Transhumanism Scientism icon Scientism Euthanasia icon Euthanasia Porn icon Porn Marriage & Family icon Marriage & Family Race icon Race Abortion icon Abortion Education icon Education Civilization icon Civilization Feminism icon Feminism Religion icon Religion Technology icon Technology LGBTQ+ icon LGBTQ+ Sex icon Sex College Life icon College Life Culture icon Culture Intelligent Design icon Intelligent Design

Welcome, friend.
to read every article [or subscribe.]